Thursday, February 03, 2005

Disbelief Suspended

I don’t watch as much television as I used to, especially in the case of RTL Televizija after the first season Big Brother. One of the rare exceptions was The Grid, British-American mini-series about MI5, MI6, CIA, FBI and other agencies fighting al Qaeda. At first sight it looked like the best of both worlds - BBC was there to provide its high dramatic standards while TNT provided big budget and some high-profile actors like Dylan McDermott, Juliana Margulies and Tom Skerritt. The plot was complex and characters multi-dimensional. However, as plot progressed, it turned more and more melodramatic and predictable, with the usual mix of romance, cheap pathos and shootouts to take away any suspension of disbelief.

Each time before The Grid was aired, I watched 1-800-Missing, less ambitious and less known drama series, one of those second tier TV products that make most of RTL Televizija’s programme. Based on the juvenile books by Meg Cabot, the general plot deals with female FBI agent (played by Gloria Reuben) investigating missing persons cases with the help of young psychic woman, played by Caterina Scorsone.

The latter is probably the reason why this series works despite low budget and not so inspired writing. Although it could all be interpreted as my very own subjective perspective and matter of taste, Scorsone is, for lack of the better word, plain-looking. While most heroines in average American or Canadian TV shows look like they are models or actresses that accidentally strayed from their path to California, Scorsone’s character look like someone you could stumble into every time you go on the street. It is her very plainness and lack of artificial perfection Hollywood that make her character believable and, together with it, the whole psychic concept of the show. Same phenomenon, in somewhat lesser degree, worked for X-Files in its early days when Gillian Anderson, due to her pregnancy, looked much chubbier than the average TV show heroine; because she looked more like an ordinary person, this allowed viewers to suspend their disbelief and accept aliens, liver-eating mutants, vampires and similar elements of the plot.


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