I’ve been watching the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries series. I’ve enjoyed them. It’s been fun. There’s daring do. The clothes. The sets. The cars. There’s romance. But the bottom line is I won’t rally for a season four now that she’s kissed Jack as she goes flying off with her Father to England to return him to Mother.
Why not? After season 1, I continued to watch, but not with my whole brain. Phryne, charming and outré as can be, just is. She is a woman of mid-forties. She is a force of nature, with money and skills that come from a free-wheeling and colorful life, sometimes because of the wealth, sometime because it was scrabble. It’s interesting, but Phryne is not about to change.
I watched the second and third season for the changes in Dot and in Hugh. They were far more nuanced. Dot became–there is no other way to say it–and Hugh accepted. And, Jack, while handsome and with, admittedly, a great voice, was bound to fall. It was interesting to watch the tension between the two characters, but Jack didn’t stand a chance.
It’s the reason I get bored with many of the mystery shows that are out there that are centered on a single character. I stopped watching Castle. I could name a bunch. I watch, but I fall off. It’s like my old Nancy Drew that I read as a kid. I loved them, but Nancy? Well, she was Nancy through and through. I read them because they were there.
I liked Broadchurch because you never really knew if Alex Hardy was going to make it through. He’d been to hell and back and was always looking like he was ready to make the trip again. I liked the Murdock Mysteries more for the intricacies of the plot and the historical fun with the visits from Conan Doyle, Tesla, etc. Not sure Murdock changed enough, but he did open up and accept more–but I’ve only seen through season four. Sigh. Netflix!
So why does this matter? Because when I write I want the mystery to impact the ones who solve the mystery. If there is a dead body it shouldn’t be just a problem, it should be a life that is now gone. It shouldn’t be clinical, it should be bloody or messy. Something was taken! Before Emily Pouverain Delaqua’s grandmother dies, all Pouvey wants is to know the stories that came before her. But Grandma’s death creates a situation where she must understand who she is and what’s been left to her–she is writing her own story. Tommie Terrer can want to be a world famous detective in-training without causing chaos all around her, love her sister, obey her parents and still be amazed at a ‘real live dead body’ next door, worried about who it is, and need to find the brute who killed.
Point is–both of them become something they were not at the beginning of the story.
I’ve always said that I read for plot. I was lying to myself. I did root for the characters. They had to solve a crime, but it had to change them. It’s not human to not be changed by traumatic events. The events that changed me were not traumatic, they were brave or foolish or risky or different. I’ve got a list. All together that list changed me, made me. That’s who I am now.
That’s what I want for my characters.