Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why I'm No Fun To Watch TV With

I've noticed something recently, I'll call it the "Theory of Guest Star Relevance to the Mystery Plot," or more simply "He Did It!" Basically, if you're watching a mystery/detective/police prodecural/crime story on TV, you can accurately predict the perpetrator by their relative name recognition. You don't have to know the plot, you don't have to pay attention to clues, you don't even have to watch the damn thing, all you have to do is look at the guest stars, and realize which name is most recognizable. If this person is not the victim, they will almost certainly be the criminal.

I first stumbled upon this years ago, while watching the movie Striking Distance with Bruce Willis. Robert Pastorelli was in the credits, and he was relatively famous at the time, coming off of Murphy Brown and the American reboot of Cracker. It seemed he had a relatively minor, walk-on role, but the moment I saw him, I realized he was the killer. You werent going to have an actor with his name recognition have three lines at the beginning of the film and never be seen again. Sure enough, at the end, he did it.

Just in the last several weeks this has been borne out again and again. Brian Dennehy on Rizzoli & Isles? He did it. Lochlyn Munro on The Mentalist? He did it. Kay Lenz on The Closer? She did it.

Of course, it only spoils it for you if you're an absolute TV nerd and have some bizarre mental database of everybody who's ever been in the movies or on TV, and have assigned your own imaginary Q number to them in your head so that they can be appropriately stratified. But what kind of crazy person does that?

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