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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Fall - 2013 TV Series


The Fall is a crime-drama with Gillian Anderson as a senior police officer investigating a string of murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I've always had a hard time with Gillian's name. I want to say Lillian Gish, but that's not right because Lillian is from another age entirely. And Anderson always makes me think of Mr. Anderson, aka Neo from The Matrix, which is sort of like the ultimate X-Files, which is where Gillian made her name. What kind of a name is Gillian anyway? New, apparently. Nothing in the Wikipedia entry is dated before 1900.
    There are only five episodes so far and we watched them all on Netflix this week. It looks like there might be more episodes in the making.
    On one hand, it's kind of your typical show about a police investigation of a serial murder. On the other hand it's rather well done. We've got all your standard ingredients, pretty girls, sex, drugs, corruption, politics, villains and heroes. We also know who the killer is from the get go.
    We also have Kalinda from The Good Wife in a minor role, though she is not quite as perfect here, but then she isn't playing the ninja-assassin that she plays on The Good Wife.
    There were a few things in the show that got me to wondering. The first is the primary villain, the killer. There is no doubt that he is the killer. He is obviously suffering from some kind of psychological compulsion. Not as much as his victims, but still. The problem is that he is also a loving husband and father, a professional (he's a bereavement counselor) and gives off no indications that he is crazy as a bedbug. Of course, all we see of him is what the director shows us, but none of the other characters give any sign that they have detected anything amiss. Well, except for his (8 year old?) daughter, who is suffering from recurring nightmares. His wife occasionally looks sideways, but that could just as easily be explained by the normal everyday stresses of a working couple with kids. I'm wondering if this is even possible. Is it possible for a person to have two sides to their personality and keep the malfunctioning part hidden from even his closest confidantes? I don't buy it, but then I tend to be inquisitive and discrepancies draw my attention.
    Then there is the rowdy, wife-beating loud mouth and his cronies. These guys are loud, obnoxious and threatening, but other than one guy beating his wife and fighting with the police (which is part and parcel of being Irish in Belfast, or so one might be led to believe), they haven't caused any harm. But who do you (the audience, me) want dead? The killer, or the loud mouth jerks? All of 'em, but the loud mouths right now. The SOB is threatening you, your wife and your family? I'd say shoot him dead now and claim self-defense later, but that's TV, and that's a TV reaction. The killer? Well, we only know who it is because the director has told us. In real life, we would still have to track him down.
    I can't imagine what it would be like to have rowdy loudmouths for neighbors and not be able to move away. Maybe the self-cleaning oven analogy also applies to small ovens, i.e. maybe they will burn out or self-destruct in a relatively short time and things will become calm again. How long are you willing to wait for something like that? Six months? A year?
    Lastly, there is "doubling" which is what you do when you have a job that requires one kind of behavior and a home life that requires another. I think most people do it to some extent. When you are at work there are certain things, certain kinds of behavior that are required of you. Obedience, speaking politely, not hitting people. When you are with your friends some or all of those restrictions may be lifted. So this is something the heroines in our story do (Gillian and Kalinda), but it is also something the killer does, though maybe we should call that tripling, since he has a professional life, a home life and a killer life.

P.S. I Googled for the origin of the self-cleaning oven analogy and drew a blank, which surprised me. I thought everything was known. I did find one reference to it:
I say let them kill each other, per the doctrine of the self-cleaning oven theory. ...it was posited by a sociologist who was originally referring to gang wars in US ghettos. His point was that assuming that the overwhelming majority of those involved are gang members, they will eventually kill most of each other off. 

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