Western TV

For fans of television westerns, the cancellation of HBO’s Deadwood at the end of its third season left quite a void. That was also a huge loss for fans of creative, expressive, and frequent profanity, but good cursing is easier to find on television these days (British import Skins is my current favorite for creative profanity and inventive slang) than westerns, particularly those with “old west” or frontier settings. However, there are a number of interesting shows out there that we might claim as contemporary westerns, either because they are specifically and distinctively placed in a western setting (as with the original C. S. I. in Las Vegas) whether or not they share generic roots with the western, or because they are western in both  setting and (at least arguably) genre.

Two series that focus on law enforcement (traditional western territory), and which (interestingly) star female protagonists, and which are also located in specific western places are Saving Grace (Oklahoma City) and In Plain Sight (Albuquerque), and both series are shot on location in their respective cities.  I’ve just started watching Saving Grace‘s first season on DVD, and I watched In Plain Sight somewhat sporadically when it premiered last summer. I hope to go back and start watching it more seriously from start to finish to get ready for this coming summer’s season two premiere. Thus far, I like both series quite a bit,  not nearly enough cursing in either one for my taste, but, to give credit where it’s due, Holly Hunter’s Grace Hanadarko in Saving Grace indulges in plenty of other bad behaviors so that I don’t feel the absence of profanity so much.

I must admit that I’m somewhat interested by the heavily-advertised Harper’s Island, which premieres this week on CBS. This is a murder mystery set on a island off the coast of Seattle.  I’m intrigued by the specificity of the setting, but the premise, suggests more than a fair possibility that series will both hokey and clunky, combining the worst of Agatha Christie (someone’s killing all the guests on the island one by one), slasher movies (someone’s killing all the guests on the island one by one), and reality television (rather than voting someone “off the island” each week, the series promises to kill a new character each week). I may wait until some of the reviews start to come in on this one before I decide whether or not to commit to it.

In the meantime, I have repeats of Saving Grace and In Plain Sight to watch.


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