Backstrom: Dragon Slayer
February 1, 2015 5:08 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Angles with Dirty Faces meets House for a maverick cop drama that manages a bit of humanity from its fast moving cadence of misanthropic tropes.

Free to watch on Hulu:
posted by four panels (11 comments total)
Forget to mention it's a new show, so it can be watched in real time instead of the typical weekend binge.
posted by four panels at 5:09 PM on February 1, 2015

Make that Angels with Dirty Faces.
posted by four panels at 5:11 PM on February 1, 2015

I'm trying to like this, because I like Rainn Wilson, but he comes off as trying way too hard to be misanthropic.
posted by Etrigan at 7:10 PM on February 1, 2015

I didn't make it through the entire episode, just hated it. Backstrom didn't come off as misanthropic to me, just bizarrely racist and run-of-the-mill misogynistic.

I didn't expect I'd like it - I stopped watching Bones after the first few seasons, once Hart Hanson re-tooled to be some kind of wacky workplace comedy, but I was curious to see what a show that was Hansonized from the get-go would look like. I figured the sexism was inevitable, but was not expecting the racism.

To quote the AV Club recap: What’s most obnoxious about Backstrom’s racist rejoinders is that they aren’t even rooted in genuine racial animus, merely a desire to be obnoxious in the most efficient manner possible. But he’s acquitted again and again, because for the show’s hook to work, Backstrom has to make up in competency what he lacks in agreeableness. ... Backstrom is also a misogynist, a fact so evident on its face it’s unfortunate how often the show insists on forcing female characters like Backstrom’s partner Detective Gravely (Genevieve Angelson) to constantly point it out. The series’ tendency to show women going out of their way to tell Backstrom he hates women is as tacitly affirming of his sexism as the show is of his racism. Hanson seems to think he’s tut-tutting Backstrom’s treatment of women, when he’s actually just using his female characters as mouthpieces to remind the audience what an incorrigible scoundrel Backstrom is.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:05 AM on February 2, 2015

I watched a bit of this; it felt like nobody really cared about it. Writers, producers, etc. I'm sure Rainn Wilson is having a pretty OK time, and the actors are glad to have jobs, but there didn't seem to be any passion invested in the scripts or ideas or even the characters. People may be working very hard, but probably not on things that mean anything to them. I'm sure it makes them easy to manage.

(If anyone from Backstrom reads this, sorry if you are actually passionate about this in some way; I only watched a small bit.)
posted by amtho at 7:46 AM on February 2, 2015

I'm a sucker for fiction in which an older male character actively and successfully takes on the role of father-figure for a younger person. That's just something very important to me, and I like seeing representations of it in art. I like it especially since it's so rare to see that sort of dynamic without it being presented as creepy or inexplicable, like something that could only ever happen as the first step in a journey towards pedophilia or the like. So, I really like Backstrom for having such a relationship. I really like that we get to see Backstrom interacting with his ex-girlfriend's (or ex-wife's?) son. Backstrom is an asshole to the kid, but a loving asshole to him. The show presents Backstrom spending time with and caring for the kid, and it doesn't question this -- or, at least, not really, not much. And I like that.

But, yeah: the racism, the sexism. So done with it. There are so many interesting ways for someone to be a misanthropic asshole. It's a shame.
posted by meese at 9:08 AM on February 2, 2015

I'm a bit annoyed, since Leif Persson is an interesting person and (from all accounts I've heard) a really engaging crime writer. It feels like a lot is lost in translation here.
posted by koeselitz at 10:11 AM on February 2, 2015

The AV Club bit describes it pretty well. Their mention of FOX seeking the new House MD does a good job of underscoring the problem. Why can't Backstrom just be racist and misogynist without being constantly redeemed and defended for it? Dr House's failings were tolerated because of his skills but the individual offenses didn't get smoothed off in near real time. He was also actually good at his job. It's not entirely clear that Backstrom is good at his, rather than sporadically lucky.

I don't mind a problem character when there's something more going on. My grump is awful people doing awful things to each other for no good reason other than gawking at the shittyness. The whole point of the shit from Backstrom seems to be the shit.

I think I'll give episode two a shake but I'm not optimistic I'll be sticking with it.
posted by phearlez at 3:15 PM on February 2, 2015

i like how the writers are using retro cognition as his trick. The last scene with the doctor was excellent. The isolation and failed moral character is given. It's about ethics and his gift for truth. His disposition towards self destruction is similar to Holmes in as it relies on solving crime, doing good in a nililistic world. The trials of redemption are what BS seems to convey. The scene were he shoots himself and the perp is dark humor but it played out rather common place. The show has a lot to overcome but it's potential is great. The fact that he is in command can account for his staff being dismissive to some degree of his shortcomings.
Like the village drunk, they protect him because they must trust and help save his skill to achieve justice.

Is this show in worry of cancellation, absolutely not.
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 PM on February 2, 2015

phearlez: Dr House's failings were tolerated because of his skills

And he was a general asshole, not specifically a racist and sexist asshole (at least, from what I recall). It sounds like they kind of tried to out-House House with this character.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:03 AM on February 4, 2015

”It would still have made more sense to boil the bastard down to make glue, Bäckström thought. For in spite of his many failings and shortcomings, he was still a man with a strong sense of basic justice.”

"I'm a bit annoyed, since Leif Persson is an interesting person and (from all accounts I've heard) a really engaging crime writer. It feels like a lot is lost in translation here."
posted by koeselitz

Really, lost in translation?
Bäckström är en cynisk och fördomsfull person som fullständigt saknar goda egenskaper. [källa behövs]Han är rasist, sexistisk, homofob, han har dålig hygien, är överviktig, oärlig och egoistisk.

Seems the U.S. Producers toned the character down. Persson is a great writer. Have not heard anything personally that would dissuade me from still thinking so by creating such a character.

The only comparison to House and Backstrom is they come from different professions dealing with the darker side of human nature and they broke the law in what they percieved to be the higher good.
They both have prejudices and bigotry. This is a given, what makes the story resonate is the viewers perspective and what they take away despite moral and ethical dilemmas.
posted by clavdivs at 11:47 PM on February 4, 2015

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