If you were to tune your television to NBC tonight around 9pm, you would find something very sad: the last episode of a fantastic series you never got to see. Hyped up throughout the Olympics (which, I guess, nobody saw either), “Heist” is one of those rare shows you could get pretty excited about. Featuring Dougray Scott leading a crew about to rob every jewelry story on Rodeo Drive – on Oscar Night, no less – it’s a seminar in great television writing.
Crisp, non-sequitur, surprising, tense, and thoroughly joyful, as brought to you by Doug Liman, the talent behind “Swingers,” “The Bourne Identity” and the inspired dialogue of “Go.” This show had a killer pilot, and the episodes got even better as it went on… the flawed, beautiful cop klepto, the burglar who looks like Jim Carrey and behaves like Bill Pullman in “Ruthless People,” the black-and-white cop team that kicks cliché’s ass… there are so many delicious low-hanging fruit in this series it’s ridiculous.
There’s a kind of writing out there right now that can best be defined as SNARK. In its purest form, it can be found from the fine folks at Gawker and Defamer, even well-respected online zines like Salon and Slate. It’s the attitude of “Best Week Ever” and “I Love the ’80s” on VH1, and its dumber cousins can be found on too-clever-by-half television shows that trade easy sarcasm for street cred. I’m not saying you do this, but Snark is the usual patois of internet comment sections.
Even though it’s Generation X’s vernacular (at least what we use when we’re not trying very hard), I like to think I’m not really in the snark business. If I dislike something, I tend to rant, and if I don’t, I usually think it’s goddamn beautiful. But many editors – and perhaps TV execs – are being fooled by the dull fool’s gold of snark’s potential.
This is what makes “Heist” so brilliant – it actually rode Snark and Clever over into Soulful. This is the hat trick of our generation’s art, and it makes the show’s rumored cancellation all the more sad. That’s the third show that has broken my heart over the last six months, along with “Eyes” and “In Justice.”
Why didn’t people tune in to “Heist”? Well, it probably didn’t help that shows named “Hustle” and “Thief” premiered at exactly the same time. Or perhaps this show needed a full season to germinate an audience, something struggling NBC had no interest in trying. As for me, I’ll say it right now: it hit my personal demographic in the sternum, and I’ll be tuning in tonight to relish a story that will never have an ending.
Speaking of good television, THIS IS GOOD TELEVISION: