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July 22, 2010

Rizzoli & Isles 1.2: "Boston Strangler Redux"

TV: Rizzoli & Isles

I really didn't like this episode. Really. It went beyond mediocre indifference to outright dislike. Now, everyone's allowed an off day once in a while, but you're on notice, show. If you don't improve I'm going to go catch up on House instead. To find out my many issues with the plot, the characters, the writing, and the setting (so basically everything!), click on the nifty link below.

The plot: A Boston Strangler case, already? I mean, sure, it's natural for a Boston-set procedural to go there eventually, but the fact that they did so in the second episode makes me suspect that they started out with a lack of original ideas, and that doesn't bode well for the show's future. The case wasn't solved in any satisfying manner, either. Rather than detecting, our heroes stumbled from one suspect to the next, and then seemed to look at the clock, say "Nope, not far enough in the hour yet!" and decide the murderer had to be someone else. There was no reason for Rizzoli to wait so long to look at her brother's pictures, except for the supposed sibling rivalry that the show never really bothered to make us believe, and if she's as good a cop as they keep telling us she is, that wouldn't have stopped her.

Guest stars: I actually liked Donnie Wahlberg, and the childhood history between him and Rizzoli was interesting, so I wouldn't mind if he stuck around. Brian Dennehy, who you I last saw as, improbably, Kublai Khan, was less exciting. It was pretty obvious that something was off about his character from the start, and all his stuff about Rizzoli being female seemed designed to tell, rather than show, us that Women in the Police Force Have It Very Hard. Okay! We get it! (Same with the various prejudices of the one suspect's Irish mother. Asking if Frost spoke English? Really? When raciist and/or sexist characters are so over-the-top, it takes something away from the fact that this is a real issue and makes it into a joke.)

Characters: I still like Rizzoli, but she can't carry the show by herself for long. I hated Isles in this episode. It's like they took Brennan from Bones, watered her down, made her thoroughly unlikeable, and then tossed in a few random attributes to make her different. The result is by no means a coherent character. If she's so into fashion, why was she wearing that ridiculous get-up at the baseball game? If she can't understand people well enough to function in society, why is she suddenly psychoanalyzing them? She just makes no sense, and I want her to go away. But I suppose that's unlikely since she's a title character.

I still love Lee Thompson Young as Frost, but he was tragically underused in this episode. Will they ever let the poor guy do anything but vomit? The former partner wasn't as interesting in this one, and somehow looked completely different. Was it the same actor? Rizzoli's family is still okay, and I like the brother, but the parents got a big sitcommy in this episode. I'd like to see more of Rizzoli and her brother working together, as long as it doesn't result in this random "You're my brother so I must ignore your evidence!" nonsense.

The writing: This episode was filled with conversations that made no sense, either in context or on their own. The most egregious example of this was the one with Rizzoli's father at the station. Why on earth were both her parents there, anyway? Why did Rizzoli suddenly ask him about the family business, in the middle of a murder case? I get that we're supposed to see that the mother is trying to get the kids out of the police force and the father isn't/doesn't really know, but it was very clumsy and really made no sense as a conversation. The episode was full of these exchanges, where someone said something and then someone else said something else, and it was supposed to be a response but really wasn't the same conversation at all. Some shows do things like this deliberately, to make certain points, but here it just felt careless and clumsy. Another example: At the end, Rizzoli starts explaining her dating history to Isles, seemingly out of the blue. They're friends, right? This is a weird conversation friends to be having - either they'd have already had it, or they wouldn't want to. And nothing happened as a catalyst to make them have to, either. Hello, exposition fairy!

The setting: I still don't really feel like we're in Boston, despite the fact that they said the word "Boston" at least twice a minute in this episode. The traffic report at the beginning of the episode was a dead giveaway - I've been listening to Boston traffic reports for ten years, and I have never heard one that short or that coherent. They make no sense. They refuse to use official names for any roads or bridges or anything. I'm pretty sure they're designed to make sure outsiders get lost. And the traffic is never, ever just "fine" everywhere. That whole "No traffic problems, even though it's a holiday!" nonsense? (And wait, it was a holiday? What was it? Am I misremembering?) Really, the episode lost me right there.

Posted by Kat at July 22, 2010 11:00 AM
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