Women’s Murder Club (“Maybe, Baby”)

Season 1, Episode 5
Date of airing: November 9, 2007 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.60 million viewers, 6.5/11 in Households, 2.0/6 with Adults 18-49, 2.7/7 with Adults 25-54

In which the writers focused a little more on the homicide (and disappearance) at hand while taking a few steps back when it comes to the relationships the characters are involved in. If it hadn’t been for the final scene that of course had Lindsay and Tom making out in her apartment after sharing some of their emotional and dramatic back story with the viewers, this episode would have been the first one not dealing with Lindsay’s love life, which would have been incredibly refreshing. But now I just fear that the relationship drama was put on hold with this episode because of the highly emotionally charged murder investigation of the week, which dealt with a dead husband and a missing woman who is about to give birth or may have given birth already right after her husband was killed point blank. When children or babies are involved in the homicide investigation of a crime procedural television drama, the stakes seem to be much higher for the detectives and the writers seem to take the story more seriously for the sake of the characters. In the previous episode we’ve had some horny seniors, and now we got to see what it’s like when Lindsay Boxer is investigating the murder of a father-to-be, while the child-bearing mother-to-be is nowhere to be found.

Bullet out of the head.

If this episode was just here to explain Tom and Lindsay’s baby-less back story, then it was quite the interesting way to put the back story into the spotlight, even if some serious eyerolls were the symptoms by the end of the episode, when Tom decided to go for his ex-wife’s lips as he was starting to hand out wedding invitations. If there is anything I could do without when watching television, it is stories like these, in which separated partners get back together, even though one of them is already in another relationship that walks closer to the altar with each episode. And because the make-out session happened during the closing seconds of this hour, the remaining 42 minutes had to be filled with a solid homicide investigation that made a little too much use of the red herring principle: Characters got introduced who were supposed to be the suspects in the investigation, and then it turns out the writers weren’t interested in using any of the established narrative, so back they went with the missing mother-to-be and her best friend, who should never have been emotionally able to help Beth do what she did. You just miscarried a baby yourself, but a few weeks later you’re ready to help your also highly pregnant best friend to get rid of her own baby? I’m coughing a lot right now.

But the episode was still emotionally good to go. When crime procedurals come around with these kind of episodes, they can always show what the writers have in store when it comes to emotionally manipulative stories, and how forceful the characters in the shows are when it comes to these kind of stories (as in, how hard the detectives of a crime procedural will get into the case to catch the perp when the victim is a child or a baby). For Lindsay, the world seemed to stop when she realized what kind of case she was working on, although the writers did explain themselves away by creating this back story of a miscarriage, although in hindsight I’m not so sure it was even needed. It certainly makes WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB a crime procedural in which the detectives have reasons for their steely-eyed focused investigation, but in the end this episode seemed like it was just created to let Lindsay and Tom have that moment and to promise that this show isn’t just about the murders, but also still about the relationship of the characters.

Lindsay likes to confront his exes for not doing their job to her liking.

But yeah, one or two red herrings less would have been wonderful. I didn’t really need Clayne Crawford’s idiotic and sexist character, whose only reason for existence was to make life hell for Lindsay during a few minutes in the interrogation room. I also didn’t really need the B story of the baby buying “adoption,” which seemed like a story that was worth to be the A story (selling babies in the back alleys or on the black market — even more so a crime story that could make the detectives angry and focused on getting the perps), but here it is, filling airtime and maybe taking away screentime from the Lindsay/Tom story that clogged the final minutes of the episode. Maybe I should be thankful for that, because all I want is less relationship drama, although what would WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB be without it?

Women’s Murder Club (“Grannies, Guns and Love Mints”)

Season 1, Episode 4
Date of airing: November 2, 2007 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.60 million viewers, 6.5/11 in Households, 2.0/6 with Adults 18-49, 2.8/8 with Adults 18-34

I am still waiting for the first episode that does not deal with Lindsay’s love life, because that would be wonderful. Suddenly I can understand why WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB wasn’t successful enough for ABC to renew it (the network should have stuck with it though — a soft reboot for the second season and it may have been CASTLE before CASTLE premiered), because maybe the audience was a little annoyed by how often the writers were focusing on the love lives of the characters and not the murder cases, for which they probably tuned in. But then again, I haven’t read James Patterson’s novel series (I just recently found out that the titles for the Women’s Murder Club series are actually quite clever, and I’m stunned Patterson kept it up for more than 13 novels), so I don’t know if the love stories were part of his narrative as well. If so, then maybe it could have been a splendid idea to cut it all out for the show or at least tone it down considerably. Although I do have to say that the writers may have forgotten all about Jill’s DA lover from the first two episodes, because he is not being mentioned, let alone does he have screentime. In fact, it’s Linda Park who gets credited (shame she doesn’t have screentime in this episode either), which means the writers wanted something else out of Jill’s position at the District Attorney office.

How are we not surprised that the old man had some kinky drugs in his pocket?

The murder case was okay, but I never really felt the urge to follow the story and be interested in what kind of red herring the writers were about to uncover next before going with the most obvious outcome of Robert Picardo’s character being the murderer. The second episode may have managed not to make Bob Gunton’s character the killer to make an example out of the idea of the most well-known guest star always being the killer on police procedurals, but I guess WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB couldn’t have done that all the time. I was a bit disappointed by the fact that there weren’t additional unruly things going on at the old-folks home. Harold was already horny enough to jump at the first thirtysomething woman entering the premises and the sexcapades Logan was telling Lindsay about also sounded like something troubling could have been happening in the retirement center, and when that is usually the case, crime is not far away. It makes me think how weird and awkwardly hilarious it would have been if one of the seniors were behind the crime, simply for the sake of making some extra dough before going into the afterlife (maybe the funeral needed to be extravagant). But of course the seniors were only able to be the victims on this show, they are never allowed to be the ring leader of their own little money-making operation.

Meanwhile, the writers pushed a little too hard to make this episode entertaining, as Harold stayed horny for Lindsay and Winnie constantly confusing Lindsay for her daughter. It’s almost like WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB was never supposed to be the dramatic and serious crime drama the way THE MENTALIST would be a year later, but then I wonder why the drug-related death of Jill’s former boyfriend needed to be in this episode. First of all, why was Jill given that dramatic story when she already had one of those in the previous episode? And secondly, Robert’s death felt like it was added to the episode, because the writers realized they didn’t have enough material for 43 minutes of television. Too random is the fact that Jill asked an ex, who is also an addict, to roam the streets for information, and too weird is the fact that Robert died the same day he went into the precinct to be asked to be a contact person, an informant. This morning he went in there to see his former love, and not even 12 hours later he was already in the fridge. Death must be happening quickly on this show.

The boss may or may not be happy about the recent headline.

The status after four episodes is this: There is too much talk about Lindsay’s love life, there is no back story for Cindy (she is just here, an unexplained attractive twentysomething single in San Francisco), Jill has most of the drama of the show at the moment, and men are killing too many women. If it weren’t for the cast, I probably would have just stopped watching the show now.

Victim/perpetrator rate: It’s a little difficult to count the victims and the murders here, since Edna died very much indirectly of the men’s involvement, while Dennis wasn’t involved in Reese’s death. Still, for the sake of this being a crime procedural, there have been two victims and two killers, even if Allan was the only one doing the actual and active killing. So, two female victims died by the hands of two male perpetrators, and that makes for a new standing, making San Francisco obviously the city of men killing women left and right. Among victims, the new standing is Men 3-6 Women, and among killers, it’s Men 6-1 Women.

Women’s Murder Club (“Blind Dates and Bleeding Hearts”)

Season 1, Episode 3
Date of airing: October 26, 2007 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 8.94 million viewers, 6.1/11 in Households, 1.9/6 with Adults 18-49, 2.6/7 with Adults 25-54

Even though this show was run by two women, and this particular episode was co-written by a woman, as well as directed by a woman, I still can’t shake the feeling that it’s made to be a show that only knows women as people who talk about men, and men only, if they aren’t talking about the murders they investigate. For Lindsay this episode was all about the date she was supposed to be on, and then went on by the end of the episode, while for Claire this episode was about figuring out whether or not it’s still good to at least try and have sex with her disabled husband. For those two, the Bechdel test is something they have never heard of, which is why I was happy that at least Jill and Cindy weren’t dealing with guy problems. As much of an annoyance it was to see Lindsay going through her guy troubles in this episode, it was refreshing that Jill was written into an emotional back story, in which she had an opportunity to be a person than a love interest. If that could happen with the other characters as well (and just let Claire be a married woman who starts discovering her sexuality with her wheelchair-bound husband again), then I would be more accepting of WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB. Because right now this is just a dating show involving three women, who happen to solve murders with the assistance of a fourth woman who happens to be married already.

How can someone update his profile when his last login was the day before the update?

I did like that Jill was give the back story of being a runaway teen, even if it was essentially just a way to create a story for this episode that had her connect with the daughter of a victim, because emotional counterweight and all. Seeing this personified version of Jill levelled up the episode, and one can only hope that this wasn’t the only hour of the show that had one of the women be an actual character in the episode instead of a love-hungry law enforcement officer trying to catch the latest guy who murdered a woman. And thank the heavens that the writers didn’t twist the story around to have Alexis and her hipster boyfriend Milo (who looked like he was about to create the “legalize marijuana” movement) be the killers of Alexis’ mother, because that would have been a little too crude. Granted, the way Alexis ended up kidnapped and almost murdered as well made no freaking sense, but I guess that is what happens when men are the villains and can’t keep themselves away from women they think are their property. It’s even more weird when it was revealed that the gym trainer did CPR to save Emily, but then must have transformed into a real sadistic human being who could not stop himself from kidnapping his victim’s daughter and then strangling a detective. I guess killing Emily awoke the lust for some more murder?

Alexis was just a little bit of a cliched character though — even though she was 17 years old, she had it quite together when looking at her dead mother, and she didn’t seem quite bothered by losing her best friend when she temporarily moved in with Jill and then decided to split and get married to her weed-loving boyfriend to get emancipated. I get the feeling that Alexis’ story was much bigger than the writers were able to handle, but alas, it brought us closer to Jill, who is a central character after all and has proven that she has emotional range. The same can be said about Claire, who was unsure what was happening in her marriage, but it seemed like she had it all under nervous control when she arrived home in sexy lingerie to bring a rise out of her husband (it’s a good thing he knew where his priorities lied when his wife showed up — the football game on the TV is turned off, and eyes are on the wife!). Meanwhile, I wouldn’t mind if Lindsay gets some of that emotional depth, because she doesn’t have any. All she is dealing with besides the murders is her ex-husband, who does not seem to be running the department and instead is always involved in her love life somehow. Things are probably going to get worse for the character, when the Kiss Me Not serialkiller storyline is heated up, because I cannot imagine that Lindsay will ever be a real emotional character with that kind of baggage.

Jill is proud of her rule-breaking decision.

And finally, so there is a club after all? For a second I was thinking that Cindy just hoped this was a club and the other three woman never considered themselves part of the club (which means Cindy sort of created the idea of a club on a hunch and in a rather coincidental fashion), but now that she is part of the club, she doesn’t have to deal with thinking about it again. Let’s just hope that Cindy is in fact on speed dial with the other women — seeing her only dealing with Lindsay could get boring pretty soon, and also wouldn’t really make the club an actual club. Although maybe Lindsay really needs a different friend to tell her to get her mind off of Tom, since neither Jill nor Claire are interested in putting their bodies between Lindsay and Tom.

Victim/perpetrator rate: It’s the most cliched case of crime procedurals — a man killed a woman. The new count therefore is Men 3-4 Women when it comes to victims, and among the fictional killers, it’s Men 4-1 Women. Men are now in the lead on both regards, as previously anticipated.

Women’s Murder Club (“Train in Vain”)

Season 1, Episode 2
Date of airing: October 19, 2007 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.71 million viewers, 6.6/12 in Households, 2.1/7 with Adults 18-49, 2.8/8 with Adults 25-54

In which Cindy sort of realizes she is in the club, but all she gets to hear is that there is no club. Judging by this show’s title, of course there is a club, but I’m seriously doubting that the writers were ever interested in creating an unofficial club, in which women solve homicides in an official capacity, because there is nothing more boring than watching a novelist solve crimes during his or her off-days (I wouldn’t know, I actually never watched MURDER, SHE WROTE, which was before my time). Besides that, the first two episodes didn’t make the impression that Lindsay, Jill and Claire were banding together to swap intel they got from the crime scenes or from the murder suspect, so that each of them can have their own little opinion about what might have happened and who really is the killer among the list of suspects. There doesn’t seem to be a murder club, and that makes me think it’s going to be Cindy who “officially” creates the club and gets the three friends of law enforcement into the game, since these three women are apparently Cindy’s only friends she has. Like I said during the previous episode’s review: Cindy is the only one without a love life, while the other three are terribly busy with emotions over their somewhat functioning or deconstructed love life.

Dropping into your ex putting on a new shirt in front of his future wife is awkward.

At the end of the day though, I came to the realization that WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB is quite the terrible show. If Mediaversity ever reviews it, the grade “F” will most likely come out of it, because not only is there a finite amount of non-white characters in this story, but even among women, in an episode written by Barbara Hall, a woman (that reminds me, I should start watching the second season of JOAN OF ARCADIA), they cannot pass the simple Bechdel test. It’s almost like the women were constantly talking about the men in their lives, when they were able to stop talking about the homicide investigation at hand for a few seconds. It doesn’t help that Jill is the one character with more than one lover in her corner, and because of her complicated schedule of love, she has got to talk it out with one of her best friends. It’s certainly logical, but damn if I ever wanted to skip forward during an episode, it was when Jill and Lindsay had a conversation about with which guy the former is currently not having an affair with. I get that with four women front and center on an ABC dramedy television show, you can only talk about guys at times, but does it have to be on such an annoying level that almost forces me to open the back of my skull, so that my rolling eyes can escape to freedom?

I liked Claire’s predicament at home a little more, because at least there is a drama story behind her disabled husband trying to find where life figures him of importance — although I did have to laugh at him for not being able to cook freaking pasta sauce of all things. So, it splatters? Maybe you should turn the oven down a little then. In the meantime, I would love it if Lindsay’s emotional predicament would be toned down or completely cut out of the show, because at this point, and we’re still early in the show, it’s already crumbling my cookie. She thinks she is over Tom, but it turns out she is talking to herself over being over him instead of thinking about the homicide investigation ahead. She is talking about how she and Tom should have gotten together for dinner as a married couple, instead of keeping distance from him, because making friendly conversation with the boss is definitely not the greatest thing to do when you’re in homicide. Also, I just hate it when the separated couple still has feelings for each other, especially when one of them just introduced us to their new partner. And of course said new partner is portrayed by Ever Carradine — the blonde actress you go for during the first decade of the new millennium when you need a recurring girlfriend character to prove to the central female character that she is not over her ex just yet. Didn’t the same happen on ONCE & AGAIN? I don’t know, because it’s such a long time ago when I watched it.

One of those men is not the killer.

This is still a crime procedural, so maybe a few words should be said about the actual crime plot here. Three people were killed in a subway, and the first guest character who shows up to have words with the lead detective is Bob Gunton, who is just too famous to not be a red herring in a crime television drama. Consider me surprised that he was not the murder at the end, although his appearance in the second act had me bored throughout most of the episode, as I sat here, waiting for the story to get back to Lazar Software, because with Gunton’s appearance you knew that he would somehow be involved in the murder. But yeah, he wasn’t and instead his dumb asshole of a son ordered the hit, and to make matters even worse for the treasure box of tropes, it was a biker who pulled the trigger and we had a Hispanic character in a gang who was behind bars for most of the episode, his story told from that perspective. It was the middle of the first decade of the millennium, social media had yet to be found somewhere, so I guess writers didn’t know how not to make things problematic for non-white people in this show.

Victim/perpetrator rate: This episode had three dead people and two who murdered them. Two of the victims were men, and both perps were men. Among the fictional victims of the show, it’s now Men 3-3 Women, and among the fictional killers, it’s Men 3-1 Women. San Francisco is kind of dangerous to live in, when there are already six people dead after only two episodes.

Women’s Murder Club (“Welcome to the Club”)

Season 1, Episode 1
Date of airing: October 12, 2007 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.85 million viewers, 7.3/13 in Households, 2.5/8 with Adults 18-49, 3.2/9 with Adults 25-54

I am not even halfway into the first season of COLD CASE and I already decided to pick another crime procedural, even though I don’t know why. WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB is known to me though — not the series of novels, but the show, which happened to premiere at a timeI was hungry for all American television shows, so I naturally watched the first few episodes and sort of liked some of the characters from the beginning. The Kiss Me Not serialkiller storyline has always been in my brain ever since I watched the show (I don’t know why), and besides half of the female cast of the show it might even be the reason I decided to pick the show up and go for another watch. Side note: Having thirteen episodes with Angie Harmon (the ultimate dark-haired tough detective on cop shows) and Laura Harris (the female lead from DEFYING GRAVITY I fell in love with in 2009) being the lead of each of the hours is always a good way to waste some time. What a shame that one I’d rather not see typecast in these kind of shows and the other has foregone Hollywood for a quiet life outside of the pressure of TV shows getting cancelled.

The suspect is actually sad about the victim’s murder.

WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB is probably just a show that is interesting for readers of James Patterson’s novels. The show itself couldn’t be more generic in its crime drama genre, the characters aren’t that interesting from the beginning, even when it helps that three of the four leads are already friends with each other and have a light repertoire of stuff to talk about which makes for fun and entertaining scenes here and there, and the murder cases are written like on most of the other crime dramas you may or may not have watched. There isn’t a lot of variety in WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB, which begs the question why ABC decided to greenlight this show (answer: James Patterson is the reason — with his library of novels, the studio probably wanted to make sure he stays with the studio). Maybe some of the cast members had talent gigs with the network or studio, so they naturally landed on an ABC crime drama, or maybe the writers actually hoped to make something outstanding out of what we have all seen before already, both better and worse. The only draw for WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB, if people don’t know the author behind the novels, is probably part of the cast (for me it was Angie Harmon and Laura Harris back in 2007), but that would also mean the show has to be more about the characters than the homicide investigations, yet this episode didn’t really make it look like this is the case.

There was more focus on the homicide investigation than the women’s love lives, which also have gotten attention at some points during the episode. Lindsay has her ex-husband as a cop, and judging by her reaction to his glorious news of getting married again, she may not be over him entirely; Jill has a doctor boyfriend and a DA lover, because of course she has, since this is California and there cannot be a show partially set in the genre of the legal drama, in which the attorneys, judges and bailiffs are not involved in some shady romance plots; and Claire has a husband in a wheelchair, portrayed by an actor who is definitely not disabled, which means the ABC television season of 2007/2008 is guilty of not following the unwritten rule of inclusion. If we had social media back then (and Facebook was just about to become huge, while Twitter was just about to come to everyone’s attention), we would have mouthed off about the decision to cast a body-abled actor into a disabled role. The only female character without a love life right now is Cindy, but only because she hasn’t been included into the titular club quite yet, although she was already being given free reigns by the lead detective to go investigate and follow clues, because Lindsay is definitely that trustworthy.

Welcome to the hunt of the serial killer.

So yeah, the show has its problems, but it also comes with a few perks, even if there aren’t enough of them to even convince me to watch the next episode. It’s probably a good thing then that WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB only has thirteen episodes and is a good way to spend time watching a crime drama when I’m not in the mood for a different crime drama. Besides that, maybe the Kiss Me Not serialkiller case is going to keep me entertained, which of course had to return into the spotlight after Lindsay caught us all up about who the killer is and what his (or her) modus operandi is, because no crime drama television show cannot live without the serialkiller in the back story who haunts the central characters, and who gives the writers an opportunity to create a narrative and freshen up those episodes that may have a little too much homicide investigating going on.

By the way, what about the murder investigation of this episode? A reporter dies and the writers conclude it with a rather weird story said dead reporter worked on, which is why she made the leap on Lindsay’s car with three bullets in her stomach. I do have to say though, I found it even weirder that Theresa’s former stalker has gotten so much screentime and even turned into a friendly character for the victim before her death. I got the feeling there was a story missing here, and I would love to know in what kind of romance Theresa was involved in with her stalker to make her lapse a restraining order. Instead of creating yet another red herring to fill airtime with, maybe this should have been the story to focus on in the third or fourth act. It would at least have given me emotional depth, because that is what the show is missing after the first 43 minutes. That and more songs by Rilo Kiley to open the episode with.

Victim/perpetrator rate: There were three victims in this episode, two killed within the homicide investigation of the week, and one killed within the season arc involving the Kiss Me Not killer. Two victims have been women, the third victim was a man. We have two killers here, one man and one woman, who have committed said serious crimes within the episodic homicide case. That brings the first episode of WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB to a rate of Men 1-2 Woman in victims, and Men 1-1 Women in perps.