Since I was a child, I always been fascinated with crime solving television shows. Since I saw MacGyver and Knight Rider in the 80’s. There were also Matlock, Columbo and Murder, She Wrote. For me they were more than just entertainment. They were mind games. They made me use my imagination. I wanted to solve the problems as much as the characters did. Sometimes the criminals irritated me. Especially when they were thinking they would get away with murder or any other crime. Most times I was wrong about the guilty one. The victim became the guilty or the other way around. The unreliable narrator really got me fooled.
But after seeing a lot of different crime solving shows during the years, I’ve learned to be more sceptic. I’ve also studied screen play writing and drama which has made me look at television and movies a different way. Human behaviour has been interesting to me for years. That’s probably one of the reasons why I watch them.
I’ve noticed I’m getting better at seeing the guilty one. I give you an example. I watched an episode of CSI: NY called Unwrapped. It was about a woman’s husband being killed in a robbery. To make it short. First the suspect was an old boyfriend of the woman. Then they interviewed her sister and her male neighbour was in the same room. A little later in the episode when the detectives had gone through the evidence, I thought “what about the neighbour?” And in the end, he really was the killer.
‘I’m really getting good at this’, was my thought. And who said watching TV is not good for you. I live for shows like Sherlock (mostly the Jeremy Renner one), CSI, True Detective, Legends and Law and Order, just to mention a few. They feed my mind and imagination.
Then there are shows like Twin Peaks where the viewers mind are intentionally fooled. That’s one of the fascinations about the series. Mysterious and creepy at the same time. Now they’re planning 9 more episodes in 2016. I doubt it will have the same effect. I think they shouldn’t do it. A classic should remain classic. How long can Bob kill anyways? He should just be put to rest, I’ll say.
Just had to mention this. This post is about unreliable narrator after all. I still haven’t watched it. But one day I will.
The Fall plays some fun games with this trope. It is a film of two levels, stories within stories – a girl in a hospital listens to stories told by a bedridden man, and we see her visualisations of the stories he tells. Trouble is, they don’t share identical internal dictionaries. One great example is that he talks about an Indian and his squaw, but the girl, who was friends with a Sikh, imagines a bearded subcontinental man in a turban. The Fall also features a classic example of In-Universe Creator Breakdown.