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Friday, February 8, 2013

Dark and Disturbing Shows Light Up Winter TV

Winter TV line up: The Americans, House of Cards and Ripper Street.

A number of new television series are getting underway, and several have dark and disturbing themes. Boston Globe television critic Matthew Gilbert has brought us his picks for winter viewing.

He tells Here & Now’s Robin Young, “all the good shows are dark,” including the FX series “The Americans,” Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Ripper Street” on BBC America.

“The Americans” stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Russian sleeper spies living as an average American couple in Washington D.C. in 1981. Gilbert says the show captures the year beautifully.

“You really feel the urgency of these spies,” Gilbert said. “They’re still in the middle of the Cold War, Reagan has just come into office, and he’s kind of renewed the FBI’s efforts to find these sleeper spies.”

Gilbert is also a fan of the Netflix series “House of Cards” – especially star Kevin Spacey, who Gilbert says “is wonderful to watch on this show. He is a devil but he’s so slick and smooth.”

Netflix is releasing all thirteen episodes of “House of Cards,” so if viewers choose, they can watch them all at once.

Gilbert said he does not approve of that strategy. Watching episodes over time lets you savor them, he said, and a community can build up around a show as viewers exchange notes about a particular episode.

Another show on Matthew Gilbert’s list to check out is “Ripper Street” on BBC America. It’s set in nineteenth century London, just following Jack the Ripper’s killing spree.

The show stars Matthew MacFadyn as Inspector Reid, the head of the police unit that failed to catch the Ripper.

The show is “origin of the rock star serial killer,” Gilbert said, but without glorifying violence.

“We are meant to feel the horror of what’s going on, unlike the FX show ‘The Following,’” he said, which also centers around a serial killer, and ““fetishes killings in really gruesome ways without showing all of the costs of that violence.”


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  • James

    Did that smug self-centric twit just say “rockstar serial killer”? How much TV do you watch, dude? Sure, TV violence doesn’t desensitize anyone.

  • Pjlsaptop

    As a school board member who deals first hand with policy
    dealing with curbing and addressing school safety issues, I
    to your earlier story on how schools recover from trauma.   Such a sad
    reality we must address today,  and even more traumatic in that these acts
    of violence are no longer isolated  nor infrequent.   The
    incidents you covered were all end results of individuals who, in serious need
    of help,  acted out in horrific and hard to comprehend ways. 

    With that story and sad reality of the world fresh in my mind I was so dismayed
    you chose, in the same hour, to cover a story on some of the most sordid and
    dark entertainment to ‘lighten  up our Winter TV”.   Shows with the
    most evil and disturbing behaviors of mankind.  Serial killers, drug
    dealers and purely sadistic and evil characters reduced to entertainment.


    How and Why did you did you justify covering a story that
    addresses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in our nation’s students and teacher
    and follow up with  a light hearted look as some purely evil human


    I heard  “We are meant to feel the horror of what’s
    going on”.   Actually I just did in your previous
    story.   And then  “fetishes killings in really gruesome ways
    without showing all of the costs of that violence.”  Again,  you
    just educated me on the cost of violence in a previous story.  A school
    that ban balloons because if they popped students would jump under tables.


    There is no simple solution for the violence we are living
    with on a daily basis in our nation.  However, nothing will change until
    we collectively  say ‘Enough of accepting horrific violence as a routine part of
    our society’.  And one of the first steps  is being both responsible and sensitive to our role in the desensitizing
    of previously incomprehensible acts of violence.


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