You could easily make the argument that right now, there’s almost too much television, specifically good television, on right now. I mean, we need to do things like hold down a job, take the dog for a walk, enjoy summer…things like that. We can’t spend all of our time inside.
But the truth is that there is in fact a shitload of good television in our orbit right now. Even now, in the throes of summer, there is good stuff to watch- you know, like True Blood and baseball. I’m not even including The Newsroom*, a show some people like, some people hate and some people refuse to acknowledge the existence of.
* I can’t stand the show and refuse to watch it. This would be a non-story if not for the fact that Olivia Munn is on The Newsroom and I’m a devoted Munn-Head. I think that says a lot, that I’d continue to ignore a show that has one of my favorite people on earth on it. It’s akin to me ignoring a Will Ferrell movie. Just crazy. But let’s move on.
So yeah, there’s a lot of good television out there. So much that the idea of taking on a new television show is daunting, borderline laughable. Mad Men and Game of Thrones just ended. I would think we’d all need a break before Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead start up again. But we’re currently in dead space, meaning it’s almost a perfect time to potentially hitch our wagon to a new show.
So for your consideration, I’d strongly suggest The Bridge.
The Case FOR The Bridge…
The Bridge is about the bridge that separates El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.
Here’s two fun facts for you:
- In 2012, El Paso was named the city with the lowest crime rate in the United States with a population of over 500,000 residents.
- Juarez was recently bumped from it’s spot as the world’s most violent city, but remains in the top five.
Two cities living completely opposite lives, separated by some border agents and a bridge. That’s it.
It’s with that as a jumping off point that we have The Bridge, a new show on FX, helmed by Meredith Stiehm, who was one of the main writers for Homeland, and based on a successful Danish series about what I imagine is the slightly less threatening border between Denmark and Sweden.
The show’s pilot starts off with a dead body being laid right smack in the middle of the bridge. It’s a body cut in a half- half in America and half in Mexico. And then, get this- it’s actually two people. The top half is a local American judge who wasn’t keen on immigrants. The bottom half belongs to a Mexican woman who disappeared a year and a half ago- one of over two hundred who go missing every year. It’s the discovery of “this body” that sets things in motion, specifically the teaming up of an El Paso cop with a cop from Juarez- two people who couldn’t be more different, but are bound together by a crime that seems like the tip of the ice berg.
On top of that, there’s a recently widowed trophy wife who finds out that her husband, Bob Vance from Vance Refrigeration, was most likely up to some shady shit and there’s a mumbling loaner who may or may not be the killer, but definitely has no problem smuggling senoritas into the States in the trunk of his car and whisking them away to a life of leisure in his small trailer conveniently parked in the middle of nowhere. We also have two local reporters, a pot-smoking son and a police chief with just enough tenderness to be cool with a lead detective who is suffering from Asperger’s.
The pilot gets off to a sluggish start, as most do, but by the fifty minute mark, has you hooked. A good pilot sets the plot in motion, lays out the main characters, gives you a taste of the setting and ideally leaves you asking questions to yourself as you lay in bed after. The Bridge checks all of those off of it’s to-do list.
The Case AGAINST The Bridge…
Another show about a gifted female law enforcement officer partially crippled by a disorder? What is it- Homeland Does Texas?
The show’s female lead is Diane Kruger, playing El Paso detective Sonya Cross. Although not mentioned, but alluded to in the pilot, Cross suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, which makes her frosty to deal with, but brimming with stone cold resolve. She’s a talented investigator, but a tad bit of a wildcard who needs to be kept on a short leash. There are times during the pilot when you’re wondering why they didn’t fly Carrie Mathison in.
Let’s be honest, a show about a regular Joe cop would be kind of boring.
The Case AGAINST The Bridge (continued)…
So what about the serial killer angle- that seems like The Killing, which it might be, I didn’t watch The Killing, so I wouldn’t know. But it does seem like a show takes a pretty big risk when going down the “chasing a serial killer” route. What happens when they find him or her? It seems like you’d be setting yourself up for a short run, which I think is what happened (or is currently happening to) The Killing. As good as the pilot of The Bridge was, I couldn’t help but wonder about the longevity of the show.
In an interview, the show’s producers cite The Wire as inspiration and say that they’re goal is to make a show not about a serial killer, but about the towns of Juarez and El Paso. That’s reassuring and explains why they introduced Bob Vance’s widow, the two reporters at the local paper, and briefly touched on what Detective Ruiz’s life in Juarez is like (he’s the one honest cop in town and his co-workers pull double duty as body guards for drug cartels.) It showed that they’re serious and intend to use these murders as a gateway into the larger story, similar to how The Wire used drugs.
Check it out. I had a lot riding on it when my darling wife and I watched the pilot, because we watched it instead of The Bachelorette. By the time the show was over, Kim and I both turned to each other with the same look on our face and said essentially the same thing- interesting, very interesting.
And that’s exactly what The Bridge is…interesting, very interesting.