The Top 5 TV Shows That Have Influenced Me
As a crime writer, I’ve been influenced by shows that use intricate plots and settings to show the ups and downs of being human in a less-than-perfect world. The following are my top five:
- Touched By an Angel was a popular American series that ran for nine seasons. I’ve long been attracted to stories of people who have reached turning points in their lives. Sometimes they’re between a rock and a hard place. As they’re grappling with personal demons, conflict, and touch choices, along comes an angel in human form to guide them and impart God’s wisdom.
This show inspired me on many levels. At the beginning of Murder at the Book Group the main character, Hazel Rose, is standing at a crossroads. She is at loose ends in her life and is hard pressed to make even the smallest of decisions. Solving the victim’s murder gives her the opportunity to grow and to get out of her rut.
- Taggart, one of the UK’s longest-running series, is an unflinching police drama from Scotland. I rent the DVDs from my local library. The story lines are intricate as are the personal relationships of the recurring and guest cast members. I enjoy the depictions of the relationships, many of which are unenviable and riddled with friction between characters who are far from perfect. Twists and turns in the plot culminate in the killer, or killers, being identified. More often than not the end comes as a stunning surprise.
These gritty stories are set against Glasgow’s grand architecture.
In my estimation Taggart is a must-see show for crime writers.
- Don’t be fooled by the idyllic-looking county of Midsomer—its murder rate beats that of any urban area. Passions run high and evil lurks everywhere. Midsomer Murders is a quirky British detective drama based on the crime novels by Caroline Graham. Unlike Taggart, the main characters enjoy satisfying relationships. The guest characters tend to be eccentric and harbor pasts (and often presents) replete with secrets and scandals. They are often involved in the arts, academia, and the occult: painters, actors, writers, professors, fortune tellers, etc.
I especially liked the episode “Written in Blood,” where murder took place in a writers’ group.
- A miniseries based on the riveting novels of Herman Wouk, Winds of War and War and Remembrance closely follow Mr. Wouk’s accounts of World War II. I enjoyed the depictions of the war and the weaving of personal lives of the fictional characters throughout the saga.
This is a great character study told against the backdrop of World War II events, an entertaining way to receive an education in history. Storytelling at its finest.
- As Time Goes By (1992 – 2005) was a BBC-produced mannered romantic comedy about Lionel and Jean, who were lovers in their youth only to be separated due to a communication failure (communication issues dog every relationship, don’t they?). But they meet up again thirty eight years later—sure to gladden the hearts of romantics everywhere.
As Time Goes By portrayed well-drawn characters in relationships that were very real. They love each other, despite occasional minor conflicts. My husband and I share the same affectionate marital banter that Lionel and Jean enjoyed. The humor was natural and not manufactured.
I try to emulate this tone and interaction for my characters. Most stories have a romantic component and Murder at the Book Group is no exception.
What are your favorite TV shows?
Do any TV shows stir your creativity?