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Monday, November 20, 2006

Review of Uber-Morbid Romance Story

I'll be flying to DC to see my sister and my new niece for the Thanksgiving weekend. Also, my mom is flying all the way from Malaysia! I haven't seen her for a few years. My other siblings living the US are also arriving, so it'll actually be quite the Low reunion ;-). It's a rare phenomena. The earth axis might shift!

I'm not looking forward to embarking a plane, what with the new rules about carry-on thingies. They call it the Rule of Three. Something like, three ounces, three bottles, three something. Clear plastic bag so they can see it. So stupid. Yeah, yeah, I get it about the security and all that. But I can still say, SO STUPID?

Fortunately, I won't flying on the airline-that-hates-Gennita, DELTA, because our airport has finally gotten another airline to provide several flights to DC, and they are DIRECT! Hooyah. No layover at Atlanta this time at least. And yes, this time, I'll bring more than one ID! Heh.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Going to relatives/friends or having them over?

Last night, I watched Cold Case, a TV show that I enjoy because it's a combination of unsolved murders and time travel. In this series, the detectives (team) open up boxes of unsolved files (cold cases) and then the viewer is given a vignette of the time period.

For example, if it's about a murder in the 70s, you get to hear some cool 70s music while the characters, in horrid bell-bottoms and funny flicked-up Farrah hair walked around and talked the 70s lingo. Cut to present day and the detectives would go about interviewing the surviving witnesses or relatives to the case and these characters are first seen in their youth and then they morph into their older selves, most of the time played by other actors. So if the witness was a boy from the 70s, let's say, and he looked like Leif Garrett in his prime, he might, in 2006, 30 years later, be a balding guy with a beer belly ;-).

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I like this show even though it's pretty unbelievable how these cases get solved (come on, most people can't remember details and conversations that clearly after 30 years) but the storylines are compelling and like I said, its "time-traveling" aspect is entertaining. Some episodes are more riveting than others, like the one with the autistic boy who witnessed his parents' murder.

This week's, however, managed to both make me go "ARGGHHH!", "GAH!", and "Ooooh, neat twist!" and I still can't decide whether I like it or not. The cold case is about a woman who was gunned down in the 80s (yay, got to hear some kewl funky tunes). It started with the suicide of a small time crook in present day and the cold case team was brought in because for some reason, he was watching a old dating tape of the victim at his death. At first, they figured that he was just the type to scam a lonely woman through a dating service, but the question was, why was he watching her tape at the time of his death?

Anyway, not going into too much of the story, this dead woman was presented as a plain Jane, bespectacled, overweight, flower-print wearing, desperate woman who READ ROMANCE NOVELS NON-STOP. Her name was MARTHA. She's interested in MORTUARY STUDIES. Her roommate from that time explained that her head was "filled with that crap" and that she was constantly looking for her soul mate or whatever.

The point being made was that this woman's mindset was so lonely and so romantic that when she finally went to make a tape for a dating service, and when a good looking guy that the detectives called Rico Suave (remember him?! The scammer did sort of look like him) showed interest, she fell, hook and line and sinker, for him, after the initial stage of disbelief. That was my Argggh! stage. Because all romance readers can't differentiate reality from fantasy, you see. And oh, yeah, we're all plain, dumpy, lonely, and desperate females.

Okay, for the sake of watching this story unfold, I accept this premise, that this woman fell in love with Rico Suave. Lots of women have been scammed by charmers. BUT, wait, wait, there's more. Here comes the GAH moment. Upon finding Rico had, in the past, tricked women of similar kind out of their money and possessions, what did our lonely gal do? Did she call him names? Did she let him walk out of her life after a confrontation?

No, no, no, no, no. She was a romance reader, and still in love with her idea of what love was. So she offered to be Bonnie to his Clyde (I didn't use this term), and that she would HELP him with his crime spree. She understood about loneliness and lonely women and what they wanted, she said, and she could HELP him get more than just credit cards and TVs. If he would let her stay with him, she would HELP him get rid of these women after he'd convinced them to hand over their life savings. You see, plain, lonely and dumpy women had secret cash stashes. She knew this because she led that life, you see. Gah! Gah! Gah!

Anyway, the romance-reading influence is carried throughout the whole hour with the woman now assuming NAMES from the novels she enjoyed (this was nicely noticed by the chubby detective who took it upon himself to read the leftover stash of romance books she'd left behind). And in the end, after presumably a year of killing off poor, besotted, lonely women, our girl couldn't live with herself any more because she realized this wasn't romantic or nice.

This leads to the part of the story where she was murdered. And the case was unresolved till now, with the playing of her tape at the suicide.

Presumably, Rico Suave offed our girl when he had no further use for her any more, right? Case close, right?

No, no, wait, there's more. Here's the "Oooh, neat twist!" part. The detectives found a shed that Rico Suave had rented and in it was sort of an altar of love, with memories and keepsakes of our girl Martha. There were also five other tapes in that storage, out of which four of the women died from being run over (different states, natch). I'll let you decide who the real killer was ;-).

But the point here is that Rico did commit suicide out of some kind of loneliness himself, and that he remembered the love of a woman who had given him what he deemed was "true love" (his version, 'kay?) and that he must have loved her in his own way and missed her, from all the pictures of her he'd kept in that shed and him killing himself while looking at her dating tape. romantic. Arrghh! Gah! Neat twist.

I'll give points to the writers for putting in the small scenes showing the detective sitting at his desk or walking around reading the romance novels. The covers did look like 80s covers ;-). And he didn't make any sneering remarks at all, thank goodness. Even at the end, where they usually show the cold case box being put back on the shelves (now marked SOLVED), he was still absorbed in the romance book. Makes me like this particular detective a little more, although he's always been shown as insensitive to the point of rude.

The last scenes also always show the dead person appearing like a vision, sort of a closure, watching the living. So you get a shot of Martha in a wedding dress (something she wanted) and her sitting in the park reading a romance book.

Anyway, while watching the episode, I couldn't decide whether I was mad at the portrayal, or amused by the opinions of the different characters (from roommate to detectives) of a romance reader, or admired the twisty ending that there was some kind of love there between Rico Suave and his plain woman. The portrayal was obviously a cliche; the spouted cliches from the characters themselves rang true enough, though, that I think the writers knew they were going to make a few romance-lovers mad at them; and so they gave us the ending, a bitter-sweet sort of anti-romance subtheme that left me thinking.

In the end, isn't that what a story is supposed to do? You might hate the premise but it's the emotions that are brought out in the reader/viewer and the ending that matter?
(I do want to add that my initial indignant splutter went something like:

Hit my head with a bigger anvil, will ya?)

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NancyB said...

I just flew to Atlanta and I was very careful to put my under 3 ounce bottles of lip gloss, Tic Tac's, Excedrin, and a Tylenol PM (cut in half for me by my mom)in a proper sized ziploc bag. I was so proud that I was following the rules I was showing off my ziplock bag to everybody and left it at home on the kitchen counter. Turns out you can buy all that stuff in the airport also!
I hope your travel is uneventful, I kept a very close watch on my ID when I flew so I didnt have a repeat of your last trip :)

Rhonda said...

Have a safe and uneventful trip!! Hope you have a great time with your family!

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Mary Stella said...

Sounds like high times with the Lows! Enjoy your time with family, Genn.

Gennita Low said...

The only good thing about Atlanta Hub is the shopping. There are plenty of nice shops to browse and lots of eateries to get drunk...I mean, EAT,

Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

Thanks, Mary! Have a good Thanksgiving with yours too!

Kathleen Dante said...

Can I say, "Argh! ARGH! ARRRRRGHHH!!!" Lame twist, IMO. Though the stuff about the male detective reading the romance novels was something.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your flights are uneventful. =)


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