Like most people in America, I've recently found that I watch way too much television. Taking stock of what I watch, I've categorized the shows into a few groups. Here's a description of one of them.
Assholes Solving Mysteries
This genre kind of snuck up on me, but actually makes up a very large percentage of the things I watch. (Examples: HOUSE, PSYCH, CASTLE, BONES, MONK, SHERLOCK, ELEMENTARY. Interestingly, this category is almost entirely made up of single name titles when limited to those that air in the US.)
These shows are all very formulaic; the obnoxious detective (who can't relate well to mankind) manages to solve the mystery in 42 minutes flat, generally to the chagrin of the other characters in the show. There's a sort of SCOOBY DOO reveal in which the detective simultaneously details the elaborateness of the murder and gloats about being right and/or a genius. There are generally two classes of mystery:
The one in which we, the viewers, see the culprit committing the crime and then watch the detective solve it
The one where we don't know whodunit and then watch the detective solve it.
I call this second class "He's The Guy" mysteries, because careful viewers can pick up on telltale clues left by the production team. That guy you've never seen before but inexplicably has lines interacting with important characters? He's the guy. That teapot that the camera lingers on just a little too long in an establishing shot? It'll have fingerprints, and they'll prove that He's The Guy.
Astute readers/viewers will notice that 3 of my examples are directly based upon Sherlock Holmes, but set in a modern environment. (HOUSE being, in my humble opinion, the one that survived the transition most successfully.) Even the ones that aren't directly based on the works by the master of great asshole detectives himself -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- contain tropes he made great use of:
Genius mind turns to chemicals when idle (HOUSE, SHERLOCK, ELEMENTARY)
Genius has complicated relationship with inferior superiors (HOUSE, PSYCH, BONES, CASTLE)
Genius has contemporary so that he'll have someone to whom he'll explain the mystery's solution. (All of the above.)
I blame growing up with a MURDER SHE WROTE fan (that one based on Agatha Christie rather than Doyle) for my love of the 42 minute mystery, but I'm unsure why I â€“ and the rest of America â€“ gravitate toward preferring that their mysteries be solved by assholes.
Maybe that says more about our culture than we'd like.
The author lives in Vancouver, Washington, USA with his girlfriend and a menagerie of cats, rats, fish, birds, guinea pigs and robots.
Among other inanities, he strives to use investigative techniques to work young starlet breasts into every aspect of rational discourse -- focusing on the discourse, thus making it not perverted. Also, has recently begun a career as "Internet hairstylist."
He can be contacted via email and Jabber IM at 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. He likes to be contacted.
(All press inquiries, however, ought be directed towards the author's agent, Alistair Hoel, via email to email@example.com.)