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From True Detective, to Aquarius and Bosch

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From True Detective, to Aquarius and Bosch

Post by jade1013 on Wed 26 Aug - 9:45

From True Detective, to Aquarius and Bosch, LA is the ideal backdrop for TV crime shows

August 27, 2015 - 12:00AM

Craig Mathieson
Film, music and TV critic


Detective Harry Bosch, played by Titus Welliver, casts his wry gaze over LA's storied panorama. Photo: Aaron Epstein

Easily the best thing about the flawed second season of True Detective was the airborne photography of Los Angeles' vast freeway system: hypnotically troubling and seemingly unending, the concrete arterials succinctly suggested everything the eight episodes struggled to make clear. The dialogue was sometimes stiff and the plot confusing, but when the camera floated above the chaos you saw the city as a chain of anonymous connections where one troubled situation led to the next.

California's signature city, and its transit system, is having a bumper year on our television screens via law enforcement dramas. In the first episode of Aquarius, Channel Seven's period police series, a character looks down on the winding neon glow of Sunset Boulevard at night in 1967 and describes the thoroughfare as "an electric snake", ready to ingest the entire world.

Cop shows set in New York have long emphasised the city as a place of congestion, where buildings are crammed together so that malfeasance forms in neglected corners or dark basements. In Los Angeles there is light and space, and wrongdoing happens in plain sight, often with the confidence that comes of institutional corruption.


David Duchovny plays detective Sam Hodiak in Aquarius. Photo: Supplied.

Aquarius, which debuted on the streaming service Presto earlier this year and is now screening on Seven via Wednesday evenings double episodes, is well aware of the LA crime tradition, which has its modern iteration in the coolly concentrated novels of James Ellroy (a major influence on True Detective's recent run) and movies such as Chinatown and Heat. But matching it – let along furthering that lineage – is another matter.

Concerned with a missing 16-year-old girl, Aquarius is a choreographed pursuit between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective searching for her, Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny), and the messianic cult leader who has ensnared her, Charles Manson (Gethin​ Anthony, Game of Thrones' late Renly Baratheon​). Hodiak's flat-top and Manson's greasy locks are just one of their many opposing signifiers, but the show will struggle to keep them apart.

It is two years before the Tate-LaBianca murders will make Manson and his "Family" infamous, and the show has chosen to position him at the centre of crime and corruption. Anthony plays the still imprisoned cult leader with a southern flourish, but the bigger invention is portraying him as a criminal mastermind, blackmailing the compromised and powerful and ceremoniously stabbing to death a boutique clerk who catches one of his followers shoplifting.

To accentuate the generation gap, Hodiak is assisted by several young officers, including undercover narcotics detective Brian Shafe​ (Grey Damon), and they're literally diverted from pursuing Manson by other cases that blatantly speak to the era's many changes, such as the murder of a white woman that her guilty husband blames on an influx of African-American neighbours.

The show keeps applying contemporary signposts to a 1967 setting to path the way for viewers, whether it's Shafe's interracial marriage or Hodiak's jazz drummer father who smokes marijuana just like all the rebellious kids do. Hodiak's actions sometimes hint at the LAPD's untouchable status in that era, but Duchovny's portrayal is unfortunately softened at every turn.


A more nuanced, modern take on the city's thin blue line can be found in SBS's Bosch, a quietly detailed and solid adaptation of the LAPD homicide detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch, at the centre of author Michael Connelly's series of novels. Played with gruff self-acceptance and stubbornness by Titus Welliver, the veteran officer feels connected to the city's tarnished fabric: the series begins with him facing a civil suit for a wrongful shooting.

The LAPD's complicated role in Los Angeles gives the ten-part series a deep backbeat, with the now ubiquitous Lance Reddick (The Wire, Lost) as a deputy chief whose duties tend to the political. The show has a feel for police stations and the bond of serving together, not to mention a dry sense of humour: on the show Bosch's fictional exploits have already been made into a bad Hollywood movie.

"City side or Valley side?" Bosch asks a man confessing to a two-decade-old murder in which the body was found in Laurel Canyon, and Welliver's worn, watchful face adds to the sense that because Los Angeles is a locale where people perpetually arrive that past wrongs are forgotten, or simply misplaced. Crimes may or may not be solved in Los Angeles, but there's always another show and another season.


The Sydney Morning Herald

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Re: From True Detective, to Aquarius and Bosch

Post by sir on Wed 26 Aug - 9:51

Thanks

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Thank you Maria!
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Re: From True Detective, to Aquarius and Bosch

Post by Duchovny on Thu 27 Aug - 6:26

thanks
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