Six Degrees of Seething Pain

The makers of Durham County borrowed the British model of crafting lean TV, spread over a tight 6 episode arc, but they also transcended the premise of suburban malaise by focusing on developing engrossing character arcs that tread into some familiar terrain, but avoid the clich├ęs that usually turn great concepts into wildly uneven hybrids, or predictable fodder.

One can cite elements from American Beauty (emotionally dislocated teens who loathe their wonky parents), Desperate Housewives (a series of strange crimes that unearth past conflicts and dark secrets on a single street), Twin Peaks (brooding visual tones and grim characters), No Way Out (a detective steering a crime investigation away from his potential involvement), and Slaughter of the Innocents (a teen/child, fully versed in the nomenclature and behavioral patterns of serial killers, emulating the detective father) as influences, but in almost every case, there’s a turn that ensures Durham County can’t follow those plotlines.

What the filmmakers have chosen to investigate is a whole series of human conflicts with a murder backdrop, and a location that’s slowly driving suburban inhabitants crazy – or at least goosing stressors to their breaking point. And once detective Mike Sweeney arrives in Durham County, he discovers close associations that are destined to change his life in ways he never wanted.

The finale of Season 1 is cathartic, but we’re left hungry for more adventures, if you will (which will apparently happen in 2009, when the show continues with Season 2 on TMN and Movie Central).

Durham County may get lost among the more obvious crime series on DVD, but for fans of tight crime tales set in the ‘burbs, it’s a superb treat.

Next: [REC]. You know, the Spanish film remade as Quarantine, because we need more Anglo remakes.


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