Posts tagged “showtime”


Brotherhood is the latest Showtime series. I watched the first episode and I quite liked it. You could describe it (in a fashion reminiscent of Altman’s The Player) as West Wing meets The Sopranos meets The Wire (second season). But that doesn’t mean it was derivative, it just had familiar elements of storytelling, character, less than style.

But 3 minutes before the episode wrapped up, they went to the indie-emo-gritty-yearning-soft-hard-rock-song thing. Ya know, where a white guy-sing shouts slowly over plucky distorted guitar, while there are a bunch of slow shots. A character looks wistfully out at his city. Another turns over in his bed and stares at the wall. Meanwhile, the mother feeds her bouncing children in the kitchen, unaware of ill portent, as life carries on normally for other characters. I don’t know if those were the shots they actually used in Brotherhood, but they are so generic that it doesn’t matter.

I just read something about Michael Mann and his legacy in revolutioning the way we see TV drama, and they cited that very phenomenon. And normally, I don’t mind it. It evokes some great emotions on Rescue Me, on the Shield, the Sopranos. I remember Homicide: Life On The Streets using music (specifically Tom Waits’ Cold Cold Ground) very well. There was just something default about Brotherhood doing it. Oh, it’s a show, it’s dramatic, we better toss ’em the song at the 52 minute mark. Felt perfunctory and actually pulled me out of the show.

We build this language of signs and symbols that we use in drama (and in every form of storytelling, like advertising, and products, and web sites, and interfaces) and they are effective short hand. But we have to be careful to really mean them when we use, else they come off as insincere and cliched.

I’m excited to keep watching Brotherhood, but they’ve got me a bit on the defensive, ready for them to screw up. We shall see.


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