Tuesday, July 13, 2010

From the pages to the (small) screen....

By Pat Remick

Well, since the theme is "summer" I'm going to talk about a new summer television series that premiered last night: "Rizzoli & Isles," based on the two primary characters in the gripping series I adore that's authored by thriller writer Tess Gerritsen.

I suspect I reacted like a lot of Gerritsen's avid readers when I first heard that gorgeous Angie Harmon would portray plain Jane Rizzoli, the no-nonsense, driven Boston homicide detective. My response: Are you kidding me? And forensic pathologist Dr. Maura Isles as a blonde? Say it ain't so. These ARE NOT the people I've imagined in my head for the past seven books.

I did have an opportunity to view last night's episode a couple of weeks ago as part of my relentless quest to enjoy free and interesting entertainment, Husband No. 1 and I traveled an hour away for a premiere event that also featured the author signing "Ice Cold" -- the newest (and No. 8) book in the series.

I should note that the experience wasn't exactly "free." There was the $6 in tolls, $15 to park the car, $13 for drinks while waiting for the doors to open and of course, the book to buy ($18 at a discount). Not counting the food we ate later because we were so hungry after the rest of the crowd mobbed the servers carrying the complimentary hors d'oeuvres, our "free" outing cost $52. But I did get another author photo for my collection, a free t-shirt advertising the show, and assurances from the Tess Gerritsen that she's more than OK with how her characters look and act on the small screen.

I'm not sure I am -- not that anyone's asking.

Gerritsen, by the way, doesn't write the scripts. But as she works on future books in her series, I have to wonder whether Jane will become Angie Harmon and if Dr. Isles will begin to look like Sasha Alexander and start acting as girly as she does in the TV show. Since "Rizzoli & Isles" doesn't exactly mirror the books, will the books begin to resemble the TNT series? At least one past book cover has been redone to show the TV show actresses and Gerritsen's newest novel proclaims on the cover that it's a Rizzoli & Isles mystery.

I also wonder whether any of the episodes could ever be as good -- or as heart-pumping exciting -- as the books, although I will confess to a gasp or two while watching the premiere episode. Haven't you been dismayed at one time or another by how a movie didn't measure up to the book on which it was based? When I get behind in my popular fiction reading and learn a movie will be made from a book, I don't even bother to read it because I don't want to be disappointed. Or I'll read the book but never watch the movie.

However, I did have a different experience after watching the Swedish film version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." I'd given up the struggle of trying to read the book (too much "information dumping," too many Swedish names, etc.) and I wanted to see the movie because I was curious about all the buzz. The film was so good, and the characters so compelling, that I forgot I was reading subtitles. It left me so intrigued that I picked up the second book in Stieg Larrson's series and intend to read the third. (Warning: the movie does contain very brutal scenes).

Nonetheless, I think even TNT may be a little concerned by how fans of Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles will react to its interpretation of these characters because it put together the following video featuring Gerritsen discussing how she views the changes. I look forward to hearing what others think about the transition from the pages to the screen.


Joyce said...

I just wish they'd quit putting shows on channels I don't have!

Laurissa said...

Joyce, Maybe you can find the full episodes for viewing on TNT's website.

I watched the episode last night and really enjoyed it.

I guess we can't expect the TV shows to be just like the books (or maybe we can, lol), but it usually doesn't work out that way.

I read Kathy Reichs' books about forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan. I also watch the TV show, "Bones" which is based on Reichs' books, and I like them both. The character is completely different in each, though. In the books she's in her forties, divorced, a recovering alcoholic with an adult daughter. On the show she's portrayed as thirty something and never married, no kids.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I missed the premier (still recovering from the wedding.) I'll be sure to go back and watch it.

I have a couple of Tess's books on my to be read pile. Now i'm not sure if I should watch or read first.

Jennie Bentley said...

What Joyce said. We're trying to avoid cable - we all watch too much TV as it is, especially the kids - so we've stuck with major networks so far. This is something I might have enjoyed watching, but alas... And I'm ashamed to admit I've never read Tess Gerritsen - always thought she'd be too gory for me - but maybe I need to try one. I do like Angie Harmon a lot, and although she's not a plain woman, she pulls of plain pretty well, at least in the clip. My big pet peeve right now is the Stephanie Plum movie. But let's just not go there, huh?

Annette said...

I watched the premier last night and thought it was very good. Now I want to read the books.

Patg said...

I'm still amazed that anyone couldn't read TGWTDT, but as someone must have said before:
Different Strokes.
Oh well.

Jennie Bentley said...

Pat, I couldn't get into the Stieg Larsson books either, and I'm from Scandinavia, so the Swedish names wouldn't bother me one bit. Maybe I should have tried to read it in the original rather than the translation, though. I just thought it was horribly slow moving with nothing much happening and a very unappealing voice. Possibly I didn't give it enough time, and the hype did perhaps turn me off. Then again, I hated the DaVinci Code, as well. Passionately.

PatRemick said...

After pushing my way through The Girl Who Played with Fire (that Lisbeth Salander is an incredible character), I am flying through the new Tess G book -- Ice Cold. I think it's one of her best yet --lots of chills (yes, pun intended) and thrills. Despite my ambivalence about the Rizzoli & Isles pilot, I may watch a few more -- they've signed on for 10 episodes. The first plot was based on her book The Apprentice, BTW.

Tv Show said...

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Patg said...

Arghhhhh! The da Vinci Code too, Jennie!!!!!!
That was so good, well not as good as Angels and Demons, but great. OTOH, the third one, (I can't even finish it) is a snore.
Oh well.