Saturday, April 10, 2010

STory Within a Story

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I find a show I like, I tend to buy the DVD of a season. I did it when I discovered Monk and again recently when I realized I liked Castle. In case anyone doesn’t know the story line of Castle. He’s a mystery writer who tags along with a female homicide detective and there’s an undercurrent of sparks between them.

It's like a treat to be able to watch an episode when I need a break. One of the things I like about getting DVD’s of TV shows is the bonus material. In Castle’s case there is a featurette of Nathan Fillion the actor who plays Castle tagging along with a real mystery writer. It was fantasy on top of fantasy compared to my life. The mystery writer he tagged along with was Stephen J. Cannell. Let’s say my working conditions are barely on the same planet as his. His spacious office and separate library made me drool.

One interesting note about Cannell that I got when I heard him speak at Left Coast last month is that he writes for five hours every day, seven days a week. He said it was a carry over from his old TV writing days when he had to churn out scripts. Of course, some of that five hours probably takes place on the private jet that was in the background of his photo in the Left Coast program.

The Castle character lives pretty well, too - in a gigantic fabulous apartment in New York. He never seems worried about deadlines or has writers block or for that matter seems to write very much. He’s too busy hanging out at murder scenes wearing his bullet proof vest emblazoned with WRITER across the back. Though his book mentioned on the show actually came out and lists the author as Richard Castle.

Castle often wears a scarf and I was thinking of a bizarre plot where my fictional sleuth Molly Pink is a big fan of the fictional mystery writer and sends him a crocheted scarf.

The one downside of being a mystery writer watching a show about a mystery writer is that I can usually pick out whodunnit when the character first appears in the show.

Who’s your favorite TV detective?


Jill said...

Ah, old faves... I haven't seen many episodes of it, but I love the Nero Wolfe (by Rex Stout) TV movies. One of the best crime fiction characters ever created!

Charmaine Clancy said...

Mine used to be Columbo. :-)

signlady217 said...

Gotta go with Columbo, played by Peter Falk. Loved his "gimmick" of turning back as he starts to leave and saying "Just one more thing..."

And of course, Angela Lansbury's Jessica Fletcher on "Murder, She Wrote".

And...and...and... :)

(Way too many good ones!)

Betty Hechtman said...

Jill, I have never seen any Nero Wolfe movies, but will check them out.

Charmaine and Signlady, Columbo was great and I think Jessica Fletcher was like a grown up Nancy Drew for all of us. Who didn't want to be her with all her adventures and then writing about them.

Camille Minichino said...

I'm always disillusioned too when I can figure out immediately whodunit!

For that reason I like shows like Dexter (and the old Columbo) where it's more about how/whether someone gets caught.

And when I'm watching TV of course it's for research!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I really enjoy Castle, too, Betty. I especially like the beginning narration, something like: "There are two kinds of people who think about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers!"

Terri Thayer said...

I like to watch Bones and In Plain Sight. More for the interplay between the two main characters than the plots, though.

Betty Hechtman said...

Camille< it research with me, too :-).

Linda, the beginning of Castle always makes me chuckle.

Terri, the interplay of the characters is what it's all about. One of the things I like best about the Castle character is his relationship with his daughter.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I just started watching Castle after hearing Steven J. Cannell at SleuthFest, Betty.

You know what's ruined some of the TV shows for me is how illogical some are. I watch them and think, "No one would ever do that."

The biggest "ruin" for me is watching Bones these days. Now that I live in the DC area, I know that no one could EVER drive as far as Bones and Booth do without stopping for traffic. Somehow that REALLy bugs me. Silly, isn't it?

Betty Hechtman said...

Joanna, I know what you mean. The TV shows have all these consultants, but when it comes down to it, I think as book writers we're far more concerned about getting things close to right.

Ellen said...

Often as not, I figure out whodunnit fairly early in the book. I don't pay that much attention to the clues, I pay attention to what the author is setting up.

Favorite cop/detective show? Barney Miller.

misterreereeder said...

Picking a favorite would be hard. Depends on what I may be watching or who might be mentioned. I liked Columbo and Jessica Fletcher. I also liked the HART To HART series and a doctor series with ... I think Van Dyke playing the Doctor.

Betty Hechtman said...

Ellen, it's good that you figured out how to enjoy mysteries even if you're able to figure out whodunit.

Misterreader, I think it's interesting to watch some of the old detective shows now. I have DVDs of Columbo and Murder She Wrote and am amazed at how slow the pace is.

I always liked Hart to Hart, too. Also Macmillian and Wife and MacCloud. I was actually on the set of MacMillian and Wife once and stood next to Rock Hudson.