When Did The Morality Play Become The Mortality Play?


Have you seen the television lately? I don’t mean the news, which is always bad, or the advertisements, which are always bad, but the dramatic teleplays…which are getting pretty bad. I leave out the reality shows and the talent quests because children may be reading these computers and I do not want to be accused of depraving them.

With the dramatic TV series we have aways accepted a certain level of violence and mayhem. I remember seeing the old  1950’s DRAGNET series with Jack Webb and he gave some of the criminals in it a pretty severe talking to. I remember squirming with discomfort as he tongue-lashed them. The thought of the sneer and the monotone kept me from a life of crime, I can tell you.

Even the more physical shows like Mike Hammer or Peter Gunn rarely had murders right, left, and center each week. Bodies were decently shrouded if seen at all. Not so these days.

I have just glimpsed a bit of an English series that has murder as the main theme – apparently it is going on all the time in Great Britain and the police are angry about it. They are angry with the murderers, angry with the witnesses, and angry with themselves.  I think they would like to kick the corpses if they could, but are prevented by union regulations. Fool that I am, I always thought England had a lower murder rate than Chicago but not if one is to go by the telly. If you are going to Europe for holiday I should fly over the place, if I were you, and touch down in Beirut or Damascus. Safer.

Back in the USA, they have computers to solve the crimes. Also to commit the crimes. Also the computers are the victims of the crimes. I think the whole thing could be done out of a dark basement in Silicon Valley and everyone else could be let go. Might make it difficult to accept the Emmy Awards but Bekins or Allied Van Lines could send Angie and Sol down to the theater and they could roll the black boxes up the aisle for the acceptance speech.

I think Australia is still in the  stage homicide stakes, though the dear old Hector Crawford days are finished. I suspect they stopped when the Victorian police got rid of the big red siren on the Falcons. That and the hats. When trilbys, brown suits, and narrow ties went out the spark seemed to die. A natural death, as they found out at the coronial inquest…

I am not a crime fan. I can read the classics of the 40’s and 50’s – indeed I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes when he turned the Imperial English knob down to 2. I can cope with the movie versions of Hammett or Hammer. I just quail at having nightly mayhem here at home. I never want to be in the middle of the messes they depict daily so I don’t want to live ’em or die ’em vicariously.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s