Sunday, September 12, 2010

TV Detectives in Days of Yore

We picked up a few back issues of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine at our Sisters in Crime chapter meeting yesterday. One of them, AHMM June 2005, has an interview with William Link (of Levinson & Link fame). The focus of the interview was on the television series Murder, She Wrote, then fresh out on DVD. Near the end of the article, Link bemoans the ageism that plagues the TV industry. He claimed even people in their forties were having problems (I'm riding the ragged edge of disaster in that case!) getting networks to look at their stuff. He also talked about hit shows like Columbo no longer being possible because of the focus on forensics.

Naturally, I went into the other room to discuss this with my spouse, who is even less qualified to write for television than I am, despite her superior writing credits. Only the inexperienced need apply, I suppose.

I proposed that one could do a series similar to, say, the old Ellery Queen: one old detective, one young detective. Perhaps the older detective would be the old-school detective, some grizzled police detective, and the young detective could be the forensics person. If Link were younger and had started writing in a different era, he might have had a Columbo that was savvier to high-tech. Certainly my favorite detective paid strict attention to details, and the show's villains came up with some clever, frequently technologically based, alibis.

Gwen proposed that the TV character closest to J.B. Fletcher now was Richard Castle. Very true! He has the same 'worldwide fame' and a talent for solving crimes. Fortunately, he's in a bigger town than Cabot Cove. I said that it would be a great team-up to bring J.B. Fletcher to the Castle show. The only disadvantage is the difference in networks. ABC would need to get permission from CBS to use the character.

"What they ought to do," Gwen said, "is put her at the table with the other writers during one of his poker sessions. She could do a cameo." She also felt that Jessica should have all the chips in front of her during the scene.

They wouldn't even have to identify her character. TV mystery buffs would KNOW. Anyone got an 'in' with Angela Lansbury or ABC?

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