5 Favorites of 2009: Hilary Davidson

Television

Torchwood: Children of Earth
I wasn’t watching the BBC’s Torchwood, but the fact that its third season was promoted as a stand-alone miniseries drew me in. What impressed me about Children of Earth was that the story only became darker and more complex as it unfolded, building to a brutal resolution. The aliens are evil, yes, but the real horror comes from the humans: the politicians who worry about their image problems and how to deceive the public rather than their willingness to sacrifice children; the bureaucrats who carry out orders they know are morally repugnant; and Captain John Harkness, Torchwood’s central character, who helped create this monstrous mess in the first place. Truly great television.

Durham County
When I was growing up in Toronto, Durham County was an area east of the city, a bedroom community that people commuted from but rarely visited. On television, it’s become my favorite destination. The premise of this Canadian show sounds simple: a Toronto homicide detective moves back to the suburbs with his wife, a cancer survivor who is still in recovery, and his two daughters — one of whom has a habit of designing crime scenes in her dollhouse. The move is supposed to be a fresh start for the detective (he needs one, given that his last partner died a horrible death in front of his eyes), but from the start, it’s clear that his past isn’t going to stay dead. This is pitch-perfect, twisted noir at its finest.

Fringe
It took me some time to warm to this show, but I’ve been deeply drawn in by its second season. Even during the lamest moments of the first season, when it was limping from one monster-of-the-week episode to the next, I kept watching because of John Noble, who plays the mad scientist Walter Bishop. (How can you resist a character who will be knee-deep in gore at a crime scene and yet will suddenly develop a craving for a cheeseburger and milkshake? I can’t.) Now that Fringe has plunged into a full-fledged exploration of its wild mythology, I’m enjoying every moment.

DVD

Bhowani Junction
I spent the first months of 2009 watching a lot of Ava Gardner movies. Lily, the main character in my novel THE DAMAGE DONE, has a lot in common with Ava — including an attempt to escape her past by moving to Spain. Because Lily idolizes Ava, I decided to watch every film the actress made. I’d already seen her most famous ones — The Killers, Mogambo, The Sun Also Rises, The Barefoot Contessa — but my favorite discovery was Bhowani Junction, which I’d never heard of (it wasn’t released on DVD until the beginning of this year). It’s the story of the fight for India’s independence, told from the point of view of a half-Indian, half-English woman (played by Gardner), who kills a British officer who attempts to rape her.

Film

Star Trek
Apparently I am both a Trek nerd and a J.J. Abrams fangirl (see Fringe, above). I didn’t realize this until I saw this movie and got the old Trek references. (Hey — the Romulans tortured Christopher Pike with the same awful slugs that Khan used in The Wrath of Khan!). It was a pleasant surprise to have familiar characters reinvented this way, and I never get tired of Leonard Nimoy cameos (again, see Fringe).

Hilary Davidson’s first novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, will be published by Forge in October 2010. Her short fiction appears in Crimespree, Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp, A Twist of Noir, The Feral Pages, and other dark places. Her story “Anniversary” is included in A PRISONERY OF MEMORY & 24 OF THE YEAR’S FINEST CRIME & MYSTERY STORIES, and her “Son of So Many Tears” will be in Thuglit’s 2010 anthology. Visit her online at www.hilarydavidson.com.