Monday, November 19, 2012

Things I have learned watching BBC murder mysteries

Mr. RK and I don't watch TV, but we are addicted to several BBC series (Dr. Who, Agatha Christie, etc.) - and murder mysteries are right up there. But I can't help thinking there are some common themes, regardless of who is writing, starring or producing. We recently got hooked on a show called Midsomer Murders. By the look of it, someone in that fictional county gets whacked every week. This show is no exception to the rules, which I have outlined below.

1. Everyone who has household staff of any kind - an assistant, a cleaner, a cook, etc. - is going to get killed, probably violently. It's these poor schmucks that always, ALWAYS end up finding the bodies.

2. Every detective genius has a not-so-bright sidekick, who nevertheless ends up unexpectedly shedding light or saying something out of the blue that stimulates the detective's little gray cells and ends up - voila! - helping him solve the case.

3. Drink something caffeinated before you watch this stuff. With few exceptions, there will always be lots of "arranging matches," as Eddie Izzard puts it, before you get anywhere near the plot.

4. Invariably, if the detective is a man, he'll be a foodie, and have some kind of OCD.

5. Inevitably, some kind of secret or illicit sex relationship will be revealed. Usually it has nothing to do with who killed whom, but it helps break up the arranging of matches a bit.

6. If there is a pet involved, it will usually be more helpful to the detective, in terms of solving the murder, than the humans.

7. If the murderer used poison, s/he will be stupid enough to offer a drink or food to the detective, who will be smart enough not to drink it (even if it appears that s/he does.)

8. The motive is almost always greed, sex, or revenge, coupled with a person who has totally gone around the bend. I'd really like to see it be over something like, say, food, or a parking spot, or bad fashion choices. Like Mrs. Jones is afraid that Mrs. Smith is going to win the cupcake baking contest, so she puts arsenic in the frosting. Wendy is sick of Larry wearing ball-busting pants to work and taking her parking spot, so she pushes him down the elevator shaft and makes it look like an accident. Something interesting like that.

9. Once the detective finds out who the murder is, s/he will never just say, "Hey! You're busted. Down to the station with you." S/he will lay out a long-winded speech telling the killer exactly why s/he did it.

10. The killer won't, as you'd think, start to run away during the speech. Rather, s/he always A. denies it and B. then admits it with a gleam in their eye.

There's your guide. Happy watching!


LL Cool Joe said...

"Like Mrs. Jones is afraid that Mrs. Smith is going to win the cupcake baking contest, so she puts arsenic in the frosting. Wendy is sick of Larry wearing ball-busting pants to work and taking her parking spot, so she pushes him down the elevator shaft and makes it look like an accident. "

See none of this would work. It's not elevator, it's a lift.

Ball-busting pants I'm assuming are nut crushing trousers?

Frosting is icing.

And cupcakes are fairy cakes.

:D. You must get the small details right too. :D

Charles Gramlich said...

That cat absolutely looks like a detective. I could see a series of books about him! or Her!

Birdie said...

I want that cat!

My husband watches the old Mission Impossible. He watches and I mock because every story is the same.

G. B. Miller said...

I haven't watched any of the modern BBC mysteries, except maybe the pathetic rip off called "Law & Order U.K.". I usually enjoy the older series that were around, but I do have to agree with you about some of the plots being the same.

But sometimes the sameness makes it unique.

However, I did like the Sherlock Holmes series with Jeremy Brett, if nothing more than the actor who played Watson treated him like an intelligent human being, as opposed to the moronic version that graced the screen back in the 30's & 40's.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I love Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes too and also David Suchet's Poirot. No one does gentlemen detectives like the Brits.

Claire said...

Poirot cat! Loved this breakdown. :)

Lynn said...

Sounds a little like the plots of Murder She Wrote or Columbo. :) I'll have to look for that program - probably on public television?

Granny Annie said...

Like Lynn, I was also going to say Murder She Wrote. Actually when you think about Law And Order, it has a mix of the same issues and tells. I miss Lenny from the old episodes. I have to disagree with my friend G.B. on the subject of Law And Order UK. I loved it and thought it was better than the US versions. I watch the Midsomer Murders adventures on Netflix and enjoy them too. Our post office has a visiting cat that someday I hope to photograph. Much like your cat above.

Rock Chef said...

I have my own theory about these stories. The detectives are infact serial killers.

Think about it.

Little Old Lady arrives in village where nothing has happened for 200 years.

People start getting killed left and right.

Little Old Lady pins murders on the gardener.

Police are mightily impressed.

Little Old Lady moves on to next village...

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Very Funny and Very True! Have you ever watched "MORSE" or I should say, "INSPECTOR MORSE"...All rentable on Netflix, I'm sure---He was a GREAT detective and such an interesting man. Well read; loved serious music; etc., etc....To me, this was 'the best' of them. And now, the new one with Morse's sidekick, (The wonderful actor playing Morse
died and there was no way they could replace him.),...BUT, "INSPECTOR LEWIS" is very very good, too....It all takes place in Oxford and I think the University has rubbed off on them all....! Check it out!

Darth Weasel said...

Never forget the best murder mystery show of all time...Psych. Where invariably they shall first guess the wrong perp but then find the right one who was often wrong even though they were right (if you watch the show it makes sense otherwise...move along, nothing to see here)

Riot Kitty said...

Joey: I am laughing my ass off, having totally forgotten that pants here are underwear there. Fairy cakes though?? Really??
CG: Funny that you mention that...I am writing a series about a cat detective (children's book.)
B: I haven't seen that, but the movies don't seem terribly different from each other.
GB: Have you seen the BBC Sherlock? That's really good!
Debra: I love Poirot! He apparently got so into the character that he got all OCD at home and started answering the phone with a Belgian accent.
C: Thanks! I thought of a few more when we were watching a show last night.
Lynn: Netflix and PBS.
GA: I actually only saw Murder She Wrote when I was or two episodes. If you watch Midsomer Murders, funny enough, the guy who plays the main character also played a cop in the series before, and was known as a "reluctant heartthrob," according to the trivia. I would love to see the cat!
RC: Excellent! Poirot and Miss Marple are smart enough, that's for sure.
OLOTH: I haven't seen any of those but I will check it out.
Darth: I haven't seen that either, but it sounds standard.

Ileana said...

I like your ideas in #8 and I got a kick out of reading these, especially #10 and the gleam in the eye. lol

I will have to tune in now since you've peaked my curiosity!

Happy Thanksgiving!! :)

Riot Kitty said...

Hey chica, Thanks! And let me know what you think.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I just thought of another GREAT American one..."COLUMBO" with Peter Falk..This is CLASSIC with it's humor and Columbo being this disheveled seemingly rather dumb(NOT!) guy.....And his famous line, as he would be leaving the murderers house or business..."Oh, just one more thing..."!
Worth renting from Netflix!

Anil P said...

Ah! Human drama.

Here in Mumbai, a parking lot could well be a "legitimate" reason for someone to whack someone, there's so few parking lots to go with.