"Thankfully," the reviewer wrote, "we don’t see [the murderer] killing the tykes, just their remains, unearthed along with the poor dead kids’ dollies. We do get to spend quality time, however, with the lunatic, as he torments some of his still-living 8-year-old victims."
"Disgusting," he concludes, and I'm apt to agree. But that's not the point. Rather, the point is that his review sounds like a rerun of the torture-porn debate that has cropped up in discussions of crime fiction for a few years now. Once again, television follows where crime fiction has already trod.
Where else has it done so? Think of The Wire. What inevitably capped the litanies of praise for that much-praised show, with its large cast and season-long story arcs? "It's just like a novel!"
Why is fiction the standard by which dramatic television is judged? Does TV inevitably follow trends rather than set them? If so, why? Has any critic ever said that a novel is "just like television!"? Was this meant as praise?
Here's part of what I wrote two years ago in my original "Why books are better than television" post:
"That shortcoming is especially noticeable in shows about forensic investigation, where characters will recite aloud to one another lines like "In some respects, he meets the typical profile: White male, 30 to 35 years old, lives alone, good job, some graduate school. You know, I bet he tends not to have many friends and has trouble forming relationships with women." Real investigators would know this stuff and would not need to spout it to each other. The actors' delivery is invariably wooden, and the scenes destroy the suspension of disbelief that is necessary for drama or fiction to work. In fiction, this sort of thing is called an information dump. In television, it's called Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."© Peter Rozovsky 2011