Thursday, December 13, 2007

American Crime Shows in Korea

America's love for crime drama shows has rubbed off on Korea.  These shows are great shows to veg to.  You don't have to think while you watch them.  I like to watch these when I'm trying to take a nap or when I'm writing or eating.

The ubiquitous crime show import is the CSI series.  The show appears with subtitles about a year after the season shows in America on the Korean channel OCN.  With about 450 episodes between the three versions of CSI, (the original in Las Vegas, Miami, and New York), there are hours and hours of mindless TV fun to be enjoyed by Koreans and English-speaking expats alike.

The cheesiest and my favorite of the shows in the Miami version.  Lt. Horatio Caine (played by David Caruso) is so over the top.  I think that his pair of dark shades should be considered a lead character in the show and given their own credit.  Below is a picture of Caruso as Caine with his co-star, Caine's Shades.


Here's a sample dialogue from a recent episode I enjoyed.

A man is shot and falls off a balcony onto a sharp ice sculpture at big afternoon party.  The ice impales him through the chest.

Medical Examiner: Someone shot this man in broad daylight, in a house full of people.  That's just cold-blooded Horatio.

Lt. Horatio Caine:  Its cold-blooded alright.  It's as cold as ice.  [Horatio puts on his sun glasses]

Fox Channel Korea has a whole list of crime drama imports from the supernatural Dresden Files all the way to the very original Dexter (about a blood-splatter expert for the Miami police department who moonlights as a serial killer).  One thing I like about Fox Channel Korea, is that they have an easy-to-read programming grid that can be read by English speakers (or machine translated if necessary).

Fox Channel Korea's staple is Law and Order.  They mostly show Law and Order:Special Victims Unit (which they've they've translated to the less sensitive "Law and Order: Sexual Offenders").  This show is one of the classiest of the crime show imports.  It features quality acting and less-cheesy story lines.  One major difference between this and CSI, is that in Law and Order shows they don't play techno music during montages of lab technicians doing their work.  I like that.

A show that I actually never saw in America, but I enjoy every time its on is Medium.  I didn't watch the show in America because I don't believe in the world view the show promotes.  I believe in God and many things we can't see, but don't believe in ghosts.

The show revolves around Allison Dubois (played by Patricia Arquette), a law school-grad who can see ghosts.  The ghosts are usually victims of crimes and reach out to her to help her solve their death.  She does this by working as a consultant with the district attorney's office. 

I find it humorous how the Koreans chose to translate Medium (which they know only as a drink size at fast food restaurants.  Here, the show is known as "고스트 앤 크라임" which is a hangeul transliteration of "Ghost and Crime."  Here's  a promo image from the Fox Channel Korea web site:


There's also this great family aspect to the show.  A good fourth of the show happens at her home and her life with her husband and her daughters.  The home drama can be a bit over the top, but there are these very endearing scene in bed with her husband.  They lay awake talking about money issues, or her latest dream, or his problems at work.  the acting is mostly great--Patricia Arquette one an Emmy for best actress in 2004, and was nominated again in 2007.

So, as long as American studios crank out these crime dramas, expats in Korea will be able to enjoy escapist shows with English dialogue.

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