I would like to thank the Traces series (Monday, 9 p.m., BBC One) for making me come to what I feel is a very Zen understanding that will motivate me for the rest of my natural life: not all TV has to be sweet.
I mean, good TV is fantastic, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing better than putting your phone down and immersing yourself in an incredibly high-quality TV show – and mediocre TV still has its place (something light to make dinner), and in reality, if all TV were good (on every channel! Every hour of the day!), we wouldn’t have time for work or sleep or family or friends because we’d be propping our eyes
But it’s nice that there’s TV that’s not so good occasionally because it frees up an hour of our lives to do something else. The Guide: Hanging In – Sign Up for Our Home Entertainment TipsContinue ReadingTracks, though. When Emma Hedges (Molly Windsor) returns to Dundee to start her new job as a laboratory technician, she is persuaded to enter an online course that teaches the principles of forensic science. Using a fictitious murder case, she is asked to identify the victim and figure out how he died. Here’s the premise, which is so insanely ridiculous that I just have to retell it verbatim from the BBC blurb:
But Emma knows exactly who the victim is after the first module: her mother!” May I counter that from the very first moment, with a very simple, “What?” “Traces” makes you ask questions.”
For instance: Why would someone whose mother was murdered and who is obviously still very affected by it pursue a career in homicide investigation that is obviously very triggering? In the very same town where she murdered her mother? Or: why, if her father was still living in Dundee, did she move to Nottingham with her aunt for 18 years instead of him? Actually, is it because they cast a Nottingham-accented actor and had to write around that? Or, why would you have your hand tattooed by an anchor if your mother was killed after attending a boat party (don’t even get me started)? Remembering that your mother was abducted and later killed at a sea festival? Is that what you’re trying to hold in mind? With the tattoo? Does that remind you of this murder? “I have hundreds more questions like that, and I’m not kidding, but I was too distracted by the stupid conversation – “By the way, good job getting that job!”; “Dad, answer your phone. Where are you?”; as well as this back and forth that nearly had me flipping my laptop over – “Where’s your mom?”
And a totally over-the-top storyline (I’m pretty sure the whole murder arc somehow relies on a traffic jam that happens in the first few seconds of the show) to write down more of the same. I think she’s dying.” “What?
If you like murder mystery shows — because, frankly, who doesn’t like to hear a Scotsman say “murder” with joy? Come on, that’s class, so there’s definitely something for you here, kind of.
If not… Have you ever felt that not all TV needs to be good? Did you, maybe, imagine spending time on something, literally, something else?