Sunday, July 11, 2010

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

The new TNT series "Rizzoli & Isles," based on the two primary characters in a gripping series authored by thriller writer (and Maine resident) Tess Gerritsen, premieres tomorrow night (Monday, July 12) -- and I'm not sure how I feel about the way the people I've imagined in my head for seven books are being portrayed on screen.

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.

But I was curious. So when I got the opportunity to see the first "Rizzoli & Isles" episode before it premiered PLUS indulge my relentless quest for free and interesting entertainment, Husband No. 1 and I traveled to Boston on a recent weeknight for an event that also featured the author signing "Ice Cold" -- the newest (and No. 8) book in the series.

I should note here that this experience didn't end up being exactly "free." There was the $6 in tolls, $15 to park the car, $13 for drinks while waiting for the doors to open and the book I had to buy ($18 at a discount). Not counting the food we ate later because we were so hungry after the rest of the crowd crowd mobbed the servers carrying the complimentary hors d'oeuvres, our "free" outing cost $52. But I did get another photo with an author for my collection, a free t-shirt advertising the show, and assurances from 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, does not 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 show. Since the TV series doesn't exactly mirror the books, will the books begin to resemble the TNT series? At least one past book covers 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 withg 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. As I try to sift through my own reactions, I look forward to hearing what others think about the transition from the pages to the screen.

1 comment:

chris remick said...

I know what you mean about reading/watching. Somehow the pictures in my head never match up with a directors. I do agree that Mr. Monk is the best...I will miss him!