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(Coffee) Shop Talk

Welcome to the shop where I talk about things that go well with coffee, which is almost everything.

I was sick today, so I decided to take advantage of my natural inertness and fulfill a longtime dream. I spent the entire day watching T.V., specifically the TNT channel.

So all of my critical thinking today has revolved around the comparative aesthetic qualities of CSI:NY versus Law&Order. My verdict is that CSI:NY is more artistically appealing. It has dramatized flashbacks, special effects, better acting, and a better storyline and character development among the regular CSI team members. However, I feel that the plotting of individual episodes on Law&Order is far better. The episode plots on CSI:NY are sometimes good but often downright silly, and sometimes the the investigators conveniently forget to ask fairly obvious questions so that it will actually take them an entire episode to solve the case.

Law&Order, though, in spite of it’s frequently tired, cliched dialog and the virtually nonexistent acting ability amongst extras, has flawless plotting, episode after episode. Some of them go beyond flawless to the level of exquisite. One of the episodes I watched today hinged on the intricacies of what happened behind closed doors between a divorce lawyer and his client: if she said one thing, it meant that her husband was retroactively obligated to cover her medical expenses, but it was possible that the lawyer was lying about what she had said, and if he had lied, then it was possible that her ex-husband had bought him off, and if that was true, it was possible that the client was the one responsible for clubbing the lawyer over the head with his own Harvard beer mug (at least, it gave her a motive). How’s that for complexity?

My point being that in the old L&O’s, there is a very genuine-feeling twist or turn every two minutes. The episodes are formulaic, the actions and mannerisms of the extras are implausible, and interactions between characters always have an improbable ease and fluidity to them, but the mysteries really are mysterious, the plots twisted, and the issues frequently complex (complex in a delicious sort of way that makes you feel that they just came out like that, not like someone was purposely trying to write a convoluted plotline with deep issues.)

If I’m only going to sit down and mindlessly watch one episode, I would pick CSI:NY because the actors are better eye candy and…well, pretty much everything about it is great eye candy. The flashback sequences have fun cinematographical elements, too. But if I’m going to be sick and miss a day of work, my brain will hardly feel rotted at all after keeping up with four hours of classic Law & Order.


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