Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the end of this, and think you might, go away. I’m not holding back, folks!
So my mom and her RTP-palooza has broken my heart. Kind of. I mean, don’t send flowers or anything, but if there’s one thing my mom and I love, it’s a detective show. And if there’s another thing she loves, it’s one in Portuguese where for some weird reason, I can understand a large portion of the dialogue and don’t have to ask a million questions. Why I understand better a show about mayhem and murder rather than shows about say, kids and their grandparents (Pai a Força might as well be in Russian), I have no idea. My grandparents didn’t bequeath me a huge vocabulary concerning police blotters and arrest warrants.
Cidade Despida (The Naked City) was the story of a policewoman who is head of a unit in Lisbon. Apparently (I didn’t see this part) when she is transferred in from Porto as the lead cop, the boys’ club of her police station doesn’t respect her, but she is awesome and prevails over the sexist twats. And their twattiness begins to melt away. Kind of like S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Van Buren in the original Law and Order with Lenny and Benjamin Bratt. Except this one looks and dresses like Aeon Flux grew her hair out so much it won’t do the cool flip thing anymore.
Awesome In New York.
Awesome in Lisbon.
Seriously, the whole time I was watching, I wondered, why did it take Van Buren till almost 50 to be sporting lines like “You don’t like me because I’m in a skirt?” when Ana (Caterina Furtado) is doing it at, say, maybe 30.
Ana has felt for a long time that someone is watching her. She doesn’t sleep. She habitually runs- I mean, really RUNS– in the wee hours of the night in locales so beautiful you will have your fingers on your dial to your travel agent. If there were affordable flights. Or still travel agents….
But she can take care of herself. She packs heat. I’m not sure what the gun laws are in Portugal, but I’m pretty sure that my mother’s fear of knife-weilding white slave traders says something about the relative rarity of the heat-packing over there…. at least it 50 years ago (laugh at me now…). Ana’s boyfriend, an arty, sweet, concert pianist, regularly makes her dinner with all the wine and roses fixings a woman could hope for, but she prefers to let work-related stress eat her alive. In the shower. Fully clothed.
But this is just the story arc that runs over the whole series – each week has (had) its own separate plot. Episodes have a beginning, middle, and end and a social message. For example, “orgies are a complicated emotional minefield that can end in murder after 30 odd years of being forced to partake unwillingly.” Okay, I’m being a bit flippant about it, but seriously, this isn’t just a junk soap opera where you get a tiny morsel of goodies each time you watch. This is a whole, juicy sandwich with a pickle spear garnish. Each episode, the viewer is teased with a haunting detail of the larger story of who exactly is haunting this woman. MMMMM!! Each week, I got ready to order a bigger and bigger sandwich.
She just found out about the boyfriend.
So imagine my surprise when I figured that last week, when it was revealed that (Woah!) it was her BOYFRIEND who was taking pictures of women he murdered in puddles and then submitting them to art galleries anonymously. His ultimate goal was to eventually square the collection off with a picture of her body…. I thought it was just another episode. I thought that next week, she’d simply show up, just like Lt. Van Buren after she fired on a suspect at an ATM, with her kids on the scene in the family minivan. She had some ‘splaining to do to the mucky mucks, but Van Buren stayed afloat, even in her skirt. Ana would hold her head up high and come back to work and just be single now, solving crime. Eating sexism. That really old guy that didn’t like her, he’d be arguing for her not to get transferred back to her native Porto by the end of August.
No. Not so. This week, instead, the same actress was in a period piece about Porto in the 19th Century. That last shot of Despidea, of her finally getting some sleep in her bed, in the apartment with the amazingly hot, brown, mod (MOD!) wallpaper, that was it!
Dick Wolf has totally skewed my expectations.
But on the bright side, this series did win “Best Detective Series” at the Moscow TV and Film Festival in April. I’m glad for them. And I wish, wish, WISH they were all so easy to understand. And had fewer women acting like crying fools and more women kicking ass.
Yes, I mean you, lady who looks like Melissa Gilbert on Vingança.
This morning, I had to be content to watch João Baião introduce the Museu do Porco. Yes, that means “Pig Museum.” It was reminiscent of a collection of merdinhas collected by a crazy person in an attempt to fill their empty lives with cute, pink animals. I was crying inside.