Cagney & Lacey, Quincy M.E and C.S.I, all top quality crime capers in their own right. Mix them together, add in a dash of Xena: Warrior Princess and you’ve got the highest rated cable channel show debut in America -- Rizzoli & Isles.
TNT have aired two seasons in the US and season two premiers tonight on Alibi (Sky 132) at 10pm. Nestled in their listings amongst popular whodunnits such as Diagnosis Murder, Jonathan Creek and Inspector George Gently you’d be forgiven for skipping past yet another cop show in favour of a Come Dine With Me double bill. But Rizzoli & Isles is a cop show with a not so subtle difference.
Episodes of the hour long show see members of the Boston Police Department solving murder mysteries alongside the sub-story of Jane Rizzoli’s family life. So far, so blah.
However, the series piqued the interest of millions of viewers in America with the on-screen chemistry of the leading ladies. Internet forums were soon buzzing with salacious speculation, sparking online debates and more than a bit of fan fiction. Here’s why America fell in love with Rizzoli & Isles ....
Wait .. Wasn’t That A Bit Gay?
Yes. Really, really gay. The lesbian subtext is done in a way that’s less ‘will they, won’t they?’ and more ‘oh they are totally doing it’. But before you rush to the sofa with just the remote and a box of man-size tissues for company, there’s very little girl-on-girl action to witness. And by very little, I mean none whatsoever. What does happen is a whole lot of lingering looks and touching - dubbed ‘eye sex and totally gratuitous, totally gay touching (TGTGT)’ in the popular lesbian subtext recaps at AfterEllen. Sadly the flirtatious bickering and titillating chemistry between the two leading ladies may never come to fruition, mainly because the producers have realised that while sex sells, no sex sells better. Promo teasers such as this probably didn't do the ratings any harm either ..
Take A Shot When ...
All the great TV shows have a drinking game, it’s what makes them so great. Who cares about trivial issues as plot and dialogue when you’re shit-faced? The Rizzoli & Isles game comes with a warning that you may need to enforce a shot limit. Without it you’ll be paralytic by the first ad break. That aside, embrace your inner lesbian and down a shot when anything remotely gay happens, especially bickering leading to sexual tension (this alone will have your liver begging for mercy if you play the game all season), sleeping in the same bed, intimate dinners and the most lesbian activity of all, home improvement. The list goes on. Print the rules off, pop down the offy on the way home and practice your ‘sick voice’ for when you have to tell work you’ve got a 24 hour bug tomorrow.
Law and Order veteran Angie Harmon shines in the role of Jane Rizzoli, Boston PD’s only female detective. She plays a tough cop with a heart who prefers sensible shoes and has a distinct hatred for tight fitting dresses. The fact she has a swagger that makes John Wayne look like he’s mincing only adds to her gun toting, bad guy catching, butch lesbian stereotype image. The one thing that detracts from her sapphic tendencies is Rizzoli’s almost weekly affirmation that she’s straight. There may not be a pay cheque large enough for staunch Republican Harmon to go gay-for-pay and lock lips with her co-star but she looks good holding a gun. Who doesn’t love a woman that can handle a weapon?
Encourage the mrs to watch this with a suitably attractive gal pal and the odds of securing that long awaited threesome just went up by at least 10% - scientific fact.
Sasha Alexander plays Dr Maura Isles, Boston PD’s chief medical examiner. Adopted at birth, she’s the biological daughter of the local crime kingpin who murders his enemies with an icepick. It makes for an awkward family reunion. Short on social skills and fascinated by dead people, Maura won viewers hearts by coquettishly wielding a scalpel and wearing impractical designer outfits. In real life she’s the daughter-in-law of Sophia Loren, which is just the kind of trivia snippet Maura will randomly throw in during an episode. She loves nothing better than combining her penchant for fun facts and dead people with a bit of over-the-corpse flirting with Jane Rizzoli. I can’t pin down whether Sasha is a highly skilled actress or shameless flirt, either way, I’m convinced she could develop chemistry with a house brick if she was contractually obliged.
Before any male egos get unnecessarily bruised, the writers always find a way to script in a random guy for either Jane or Maura to work out all that pent up sexual frustration with. Whether their weekly booty call gets to join in on any Rizzoli & Isles sleepovers is another matter. As the show covers a spectrum of sexual orientation bases you could try using it as subliminal messaging. Encourage the mrs to watch this with a suitably attractive gal pal and the odds of securing that long awaited threesome just went up by at least 10% - scientific fact. Don’t be alarmed if your gf’s bff keeps showing up unannounced and deploying some TGTGT there’s probably nothing to worry about. Probably.
Once everyone realised the show was one big tease they let their fingers do the talking. By TYPING. Obviously. Frustrated writers have taken to their keyboards to churn out stories which mostly follow one main theme - Jane and Maura consummating their relationship; everyone loves a happy ending. Thousands of different versions are available for you to quench your thirst for some girl-on-girl literary romps. Though, if you’re not keen on reading the horny musings of someone typing with one hand it may be best to stick to the official books. Author Tess Gerritsen created the characters and while the novels show no signs of Rizzoli or Isles lezzing it up any time soon, Gerritsen has admitted she is intrigued by the on screen relationship. I bet she is. Saucy minx.
Come For The Subtext, Stay For The Mysteries
While it’s the subtext that spices things up, there wouldn’t be a show without some semblance of a plot to follow. If you had a misspent youth spending afternoons watching Diagnosis Murder, Petrocelli or Murder She Wrote you’ll love Rizzoli & Isles.
Combining elements of just about every cheesy murder mystery ever shown with dark and grisly murders from Gerritsen’s novels ensures there is enough intrigue and depth to hook you into the show. The blend of quirky American humour sometimes jars against the gruesome murder plots but the mix works well enough to not leaving you feel as though the show is one big joke. Unlike other protracted American shows such as Lost or 24 there’s no real need to follow the characters back story. Each episode stands alone and anything you need to know is helpfully reiterated by one of the characters, leaving you free to join the show in season two.
TNT have handily compiled a video recap of season one to whet your appetite and prepare you for tonight's installment.
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