Bizarre, baffling, and blistering is how best to describe this new television creation on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel hosted by author James Ellroy, novelist of The Black Dahlia, LA Confidential, and Blood’s A Rover. The show with its “Twilight Zone” like theme and film noir styling is nothing like anything you have seen on television. While not for the faint at heart as the preceding warnings prompts, it is for anyone fascinated with true crime, unsolved mysteries, and police investigative dramas.
How to describe it? How about like an acid trip version of the crimes and events the show discusses. Part tabloid fodder and true crime reality show, Ellroy hosts, with his trademark alliteration, pulp speak and film noir wardrobe, discussing a plethora of odd LA crime stories, murders and Hollywood scandals. In case Ellroy himself, the graphics and music aren’t trippy enough for you, the show also includes “Barko” the computer-generated, corrupt, drug-addicted police dog who Ellroy converses with in a ‘Son of Sam’ homage (Barko was also the name of Ellroy’s first Bull Terrier and appears in several of his books). You truly have to witness the show for yourself to appreciate its oddities and original genius.
For all his profanity and pontification, at the heart Ellroy is a man who never go over the unsolved murder of his mother. His mother was murdered in 1958 and his book My Dark Places is his autobiography about his mother’s murder. The show takes a semi-autobiographic turn in each episode thus far as Ellroy discusses how other murders (including the ‘Black Dahlia’) affected his own life and obviously his writing.
In this clip Ellroy discusses his mother’s murder on the show.
While Ellroy’s public persona is outlandish and seemingly obscene (he is a huge personality unlike anything we’ve seen in any author since Truman Capote), in person he is gracious and humble especially when one-on-one with his fans. I’ve heard him speak publicly on two different occasions in Los Angeles and on both occasions his public persona seems greatly exaggerated like a stage performance because immediately afterwards he’s quiet, approachable and considerate.
Ellroy has committed to six episodes for the series and I hope he will expand his commitment to the show. There are countless stories to be told from his legendary point of view. I am a huge fan.
“James Ellroy’s L.A.: City of Demons” (The show is on Investigation Discovery at 10 p.m. Wednesday. Click here for a link to the show’s website.
In this clip Ellroy discusses the show and its creation.