Thursday, August 17, 2006

Beyond dark

Last episode of SVU I saw was the nastiest thing I think I've ever seen and I've watched all of Cracker, which taking some beating.

There was a warning before the show started as seems to be happening more frequently. The plot was about a nine year old black boy being shot in the playground. The shooting was then linked with a white supremicist group. There several twists in the tale, but the final revelation left me dumbfounded.

The boy was adopted by a white couple and the man was a prison guard. The thinking all the way along was that this child had been picked because an ex-convict member of the racist group had a grudge against him from being in his prison block. However the shocking conclusion was that evidence was found that the couple were complicite in the killing, had taken out a huge insurance policy on the child and had specifically adopted a black child for this reason.

I know its not really, but the evilness of this act left me feeling sick.

I thinkI'm going to take a break from SVU for a bit.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Quote of the Week

From Criminal Intent:

Goran: Your father had some interesting belongings
Man: Yes, he only shopped when he was drunk and only bought what made him laugh.

The same could quite easily have been said for my own father.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A week's viewing

I've watched a lot of detective programmes this week due to illness and all round inertia. As well as the heroic amount of Law & Order, I've also watched the following:

Diagnosis Murder (x2) - the first I've mentioned already, the second involved a deranged shrink trying to blackmail Sloane into murdering someone for him. The plot was pretty much stolen from 'Strangers on a Train' but with less tennis.

Sue Thomas FB Eye(x2) - The rather woolly portrayal of the FBI was getting on my nerves slightly, but the second episode involved human trafficking so was dark enough to balance out the fluffiness of the rest of it.

Ironside (x2) - I still don't like this much. The second episode was about a cop killer, who, if I've understood it correctly, was angry at the police after being caught drunk driving so then went on a revenge killing spree. It seemed a bit extereme to me. Still not happy with the portrayal of the token African American - not sure what his actual job is, but in this episode he just seemed to offer refreshments to the team. As for the blonde woman, her role is just to look pretty and blonde.

Monk - a massive four episodes, including a hilarious one where he was put on anti-depressants and became upbeat, wearing hawaiian shirts and referring to himself as 'The Monk'. He lost his powers of detection, nobody liked his new persona and he had to revert back to his old ways. Perhaps not the most sensitive portrayal of OCD, but I do still like it and shamefully I often find it quite moving. The last episode was the introduction of his new assistant - I much preferred the original assistant, but apparently she wanted more money to stay in the show.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Nicole Wallace? Who?

A bizarre episode of Criminal Intent last night.

It started reasonably enough with the theft of a diamond by a young Japanese women and the murder of her accomplice. It was going well - Goran was dipping into his vast knowledge of everything to deduce that she wasn't from Japan, but American as she didn't behave like a Japanese lady.
And then suddenly, Eames and Goren decide that something the suspect said reminded them of someone else. 'It sounds like Nicole Wallace' .
It then turned into this cat and mouse game with Olivia D'Abo, who they obviously knew previously and lots of references to previous crimes, which the OH and I knew nothing of. The last time we saw Olivia D'Abo, she was Kevin Arnold's sister and had just brought her hippy lover home to meet her stubborn father.
It was all very fascinating but confusing - it only all became clear when I looked it up on Wikipedia this morning and found out that she was Goran's archnemesis, who had appeared in several previous episodes and will surface in a couple more yet.
So long, Nicole, until the next time.

More praise for SVU

The new series of SVU on Hallmark has been spectacular.

In the first episode, Elliot went undercover to befriend a rapist, in the hope that he would work his way into his confidence and become his new partner. Elliot described his cover-story crime of abusing his step daughter and the pair go looking for girls in a van, raising the question of whether they are in fact encouraging this man to rape again. When Elliot reveals himself to be a cop, the rapist tells him that he thought there was some truth in the things he was saying when he was undercover and those urges won't fake. And everyone is left wondering if he might be right. This was dark.

In the next episode, Olivia rescues a young pregnant woman from killing herself and then takes to court the successful scientist who it is claimed raped her. Slowly, they uncover a web of lies, including that the young woman had been drugging a series of rich men and extracting their sperm! It was possibly a bit far fetched but the young woman was a convincing sociopath and I was gripped.

Then an episode where the son of Elliot's former partner is arrested for beating up his female friend. It turns out the boy is on steriods, but it is the father who is pushing him too hard. Elliot loses it complete and beats up his former partner. All sorts of inner demons are revealed and things spiral out of control between the father and son.

Another really dark episode. There is phone call from a nine year old girl who claims to be locked in a room and hasn't eaten for days. Olivia talks to her and desparately tries to get to confide in her so that they can track down her whereabouts. The trace on the mobile phone throws up some confusing, conflicting information and the rest of the team have their doubts about the authenticity of the call. There was a great scene with Munch talking into a voice distorter, pretending to be a child. Olivia remains convinced though. This episode was so tense, I'm sure I'm going to get an ulcer.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Plethora of Crimes

The upside of being ill is that I've been able to stay at home and watch more detective programmes. Something other than Law & Order for a change.

Diagnosis Murder - shamefully I'd already seen this episode, so didn't really watch it properly - I did some dusting while it was on (I really need to learn how to take it easy when I'm ill). It was the episode with the tabloid journalist, brothel and suspected corrupt cop. It was also the episode where Amanda gave birth.

Wycliffe - a plot featuring kidnap and horse-riding. I thought the main suspect was played by Keith Baron (of appalling comedy Duty Free fame), but it wasn't him. It was only on for an hour which wasn't really enough time to build up the suspense. I like Wycliffe though - he has a good craggy face and reminds for of Arsene Wenger.

Ironside - it wasn't afraid to tackle the big themes of police rascism and victimisation of ex-cons. Unfortunately, the ex-con being victimised turned out to be the cold blooded hitman they were hunting, so it clouded the message somewhat.
It all worked out fine in the end and concluded with Ironside and Mark having a game of darts!

This programme really hasn't aged well and I much prefer Raymond Burr in Perry Mason.

There doesn't look to be much else on for the rest of the day until, of course, the Law and Orders come on Hallmark tonight.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Law & Order Overkill

I was slightly worried on Saturday that I wouldn't get to watch many detective programmes this weekend as I had quite a lot of other things to do. However, I needn't have feared as I did manage to watch several episodes of Law & Order.

The first episode on Saturday night was from the original Law & Order. The opening scene was rather grainy, so I made the bold prediction to my OH that it was an old episode (he prefers the older series so I did think it would keep him onside). I couldn't have been more wrong. It was so new, they even mentioned blackberries - as in the technology, not the fruit. It was a pretty good episode - the main interest coming from a gang boss and his son trying to play the system to get off with a murder charge.

Next we watched another episode of Special Victims Unit. A body of an Eastern European immigrant was found in a garden - it had been there about 3 years. The woman was a twin. As soon as this was revealed, I guessed that there was going to have been a switch - the old switcheroo as I called it to my OH who looked bemused. It also involved a doctor, a dentist, a diplomat and wife-beater with his mail order bride. I dozed slightly and missed the ending, but my OH told me who did it.

As I was sleepy, I moved into the bedroom, where my only option was to watch yet more CVU on Channel 5. I came in half way through the episode and fell asleep before it finished, but frankly it was a relief as what I did see of it, the plot involved men illegally adopting children so they could abuse them. Far too disturbing for me - as I've said before, I prefer a good murder.

I watched another L&O last night, but I'm struggling to remember now what it was about as I think I've had L&O Overkill (which isn't a bad name for a series, if Dick Wolf fancies doing another spin-off).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

More Special Victims Unit

This is definitely growing on me. Compared with the outlandish and silly plots in CSI and Linley this week, this is believeable and dare I say it, thought-provoking. The law aspect gives the writers plenty of scope for different plots, without having to resort to disaster-movie storylines or melodrama.

I missed the first 10 minutes, but caught up quite easily. A young woman with Downs Syndrome had been raped. Her over-protective mother was reluctant to have the matter investigated as she didn't want to upset her daughter. The mother wanted her to have an abortion but the manager of the day centre she attended took her to court to take away her guardianship, as he believed the young woman had the right to have the child if she wanted.
The rapist was found, but then there was a conflict of interest for the lawyer (the attractive blonde woman with glasses) in that if she testified that the women was capable of raising a child, it could be used by the rapist's defence as evidence that she was capable of consenting. A tough call indeed.
Good gripping stuff all in all.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Career Change?

I have thought about becoming a detective.

On more than one occasion. Even as an adult.

Putting aside childhood aspirations based on Red Hand Gang, Captain Caveman or Scooby Doo, my first proper thoughts about becoming a detective were raised by a programme that, rather shamefully, I now can't remember the name of.

I think it was a BBC programme (British anyway) and it was about two sisters-in-law who set up their own detective agency, after one of them used a private investigator to follow her husband who was having an affair. Newly liberated by her divorce and hoping to help other women in similar situations, she pairs up with her sister-in-law (whose circumstances I've forgotten - widowed perhaps?) under the guidance of the dishy detective who helped her. In the second (and I think final) series, the sister-in-law had gone and it was just the one woman.

I've tried searching for it on the internet, but Google has failed me. I know the title was the same surname twice with an 'and' e.g. Smith and Smith. I can't remember any of the stars or character names either.

But this show more than any other made me think it would be possible for me to be a detective. I even went so far as to look up local detective agencies in the Yellow Pages.

However, there were two things holding me back (besides not having a sister-in-law to go into business with and a handsome mentor):

1) I couldn't drive (and still can't). This makes following a suspect difficult - car chases would be somewhat one sided if I was on foot.
2) I'm terrible at recognising people. It wasn't just that I needed glasses (which I now have) but I just don't recognise people out of the context in which I'm used to seeing them. I walked past my own mother in the street once - I was only used to seeing her in our house. I'm rubbish at the picture round in pub quizzes and I've failed to recognise Kathleen Turner on five occasions (once in person, the rest on screen or in a picture). Again, this would make missing person work rather tricky.

I am incredibly persceptive and intuitive, but alas these skills are going to waste as I lack the more practical skills necessary for a career as a PI.

(I also look rubbish in a trenchcoat)

Not much of a mystery

More Inspector Lynley last night.

An attractive young woman was murdered in Hyde Park. She had wanted to be a human rights lawyer, but recently changed her mind. She was a virgin, but had gone into internet porn/chatrooms as a career change to work for her half-sister, who had been abused by her father. The lawyer she had been dating, had another fiancee 15 years ago who was also murdered.

I guessed who the murderer was about 30 minutes before the end i.e. a good 25 minutes before Linley did. Linley couldn't see the wood for the trees as he took a dislike to the lawyer - perhaps on the basis that he was posher than Lynley, which isn't allow. Lynley had a dig at him for living in Notting Hill which made me wonder where Lynley is supposed to live - I doubt he's living on the murder mile in Hackney.

My OH half-heartedly watched this along with me, but his attention was waning. I doubt he'll want to watch it next week and to be honest even my patience in being tested with this. He's no Morse.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oh indeed

Last night we watched the remaining two episodes of Season 3 of The Wire.
So it is all over again and now we go back to waiting for the fourth season to air. I wish they'd get a move on with it, although I do prefer to watch this sort of programme on DVD, rather than have to wait a week between episodes. The suspense will just be too much for me.
I'm curious to see who will remain in the fourth series, given that a fair number of characters ended up dead or in prison. And its focus is going to be on education - there must be some crime in there somewhere though and some type of wire tap - otherwise the title is going to be rather meaningless.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

CSI NY: Tigers and Prom Dresses

I managed to stay awake for through a whole episode of CSI New York last night, which I think is a first.

What I particularly like about this (and the Law and Orders) is seeing parts of New York. Last night's episode took in Bronx Zoo and the Meatpacking District.

It also contained some pretty harrowing scenes - a man torn limb from limb by a tiger, Gary Sinise hacking a pig with a range of sharp implements, and general scenes of butchery (unlike my great aunt Meggy, I've no interest in seeing what goes on in a slaughterhouse - it was her idea of a good day out, but that was in the days before television).

The secondary plot involved a debutante, a carousel, experimental cosmetic surgery and a deadly spider. Pushing the boundaries of believability somewhat, but then anything is possible in America and it wouldn't be much of a programme if everyone was just shot.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

When you walk through the garden...

The Wire. It is quite simply the best television programme ever made and I'm not usually one for making such bold sweeping statements.

In the UK, it has just been shown on FX, which means that most people haven't even heard of it. We discovered it (I'm including my OH in this as he loves it too) because there was an article in The Guardian's Guide magazine about it when the first series was released on DVD and being a big Soprano's fan (its an HBO programme), my OH decided to take a chance on buying it.

The first episode didn't really grip me - it was ok, but to be honest, I struggled with the dialogue. I'm a white middle class woman from England - the language of the streets of Baltimore is somewhat alien to me. Also my hearing in general isn't that good - I really struggle with song lyrics. (I was convinced the lyrics to Primal Scream's 'Country Girl' were 'What kind of Pope are you?' - rather than 'What's a poor boy to do?).

Anyway, since we'd bought the set, we had to stick with it, and by the end of the second episode, we were hooked. And my ears began to adapt to the accents and dialects. After we raced through the first series, OH tracked down the second on Ebay (from Hong Kong) as we couldn't wait for it come out here. Then Season 3 from the USA (recorded off the television - probably not legal to resell it, but we were desparate).

So now, we are revisiting Season 3 for I think the third time. It is, as my OH says, like an old friend. Admittedly, that would be a rather violent old friend with no morals and a Class A drug habit, but an old friend nonetheless.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Law & Order: Sport Utility Vehicle

The only other detective programme that I managed to watch an entire episode of this week was Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

This isn't my favourite Law & Order show because it doesn't usually involve murders. As I said in my first post, I prefer a murder and I think this is because there tends to be more variety in the motive of murders than other crimes. However, the episode on Saturday night was interesting because the rape was of a police officer, which then twisted into a storyline involving police corruption, which I do find fascinating.
It was a good episode - not quite as gripping as the regular Law & Order episode where Cregan is under suspicion and his own officers have to investigate him.

There wasn't much of my favourite Richard Belzer in it, although episode with him do tend to be ruined by my on-going suspicion that it will one day be revealed that he is in fact guilty of all the crimes. If ever a man that a look of guilt, it is him. And he is called Munch, which is fantastic because he does look just like the figure in 'The Scream' by Edward Munch.

Things did get a bit confusing in the middle of the programme, when my OH flicked channels in the ad break onto another episode of SVU (or SUV as I keep calling it) and it took us a few minutes to realise it was the wrong episode.

Caravanning with Inspector Lynley

On Friday night we watched the Inspector Lynley Mysteries, episode 'One Guilty Deed'.

It was a fairly boring episode, although I was relieved that the natural order had been restored, i.e. Linley was back and dire comedian/celebrity golfer Jimmy Tarbuck’s offspring wasn’t going to be a regular.

The episode was set in a typical English seaside town, the sort always brings to mind the lyrics from the Morrissey song ‘Everyday is Like Sunday’
‘This is the coastal town,
That they forgot to close down'

Most seaside towns in England are like this – my hometown is, the Norfolk coast where I frequently visited as a student is littered with them, and so it would seem is Kent (or the Kent Badlands as my OH described both this and last week’s locations).

The writers got a bit carried away with their ‘class-differences’ fixation this week. “Wouldn’t it be funny to make the upperclass Lynley have to stay in a caravan!’, they must have thought. Not especially. (My family used to have a caravan and as much as I hated it, I don't like to see other people being snobbish about it).

One of the guest stars was Ester Hall, who was recently in 'Waking the Dead' as the new pathologist and in the BT adverts as the single mum starting a new relationship (or in my OH's view, a desparate woman who will have any man so that she can dump her kids on him). Anyway, it made a change to see her looking haggard and poor as a woman who had spent most of her life on a caravan park.

The 'mystery' was a bit harder to solve than last week's, where I had guessed the culprit and motive within about 10 minutes (so it didn't matter so much that I fell asleep long before the end). But it still didn't leave me feeling that satisfied, which might explain why we then tried rather desparately to watch the last series of 'Waking the Dead' which my OH was convinced we couldn't have seen every episode of, but which in fact we had and fairly decently too.

Barriers to Viewing

I wouldn't want to give the impression that all I do is watch detective programmes on television. I watch quite alot, but nowhere near as much as I would like to. The obstacles to my viewing pleasure are threefold:
1). I do have a life. I have to go to work. Today, I will miss The Rockford Files and Diagnosis Murder (not much as it is the school holidays so there are more kid's programmes & films on than usual). I also have a bit of a social life. Yesterday, I had to watch my OH and friends play cricket, which meant I missed Diagnosis Murder, Columbo and Perry Mason.
2). I share the television with my OH who is fanatical about sport (football, cricket, basketball, cycling, boxing - even darts and snooker).
3) I fall asleep very easily. Nothing to do with how interesting whatever I'm watching is - in fact it is more likely to happen if its something I'm enjoying. As a result, I've hardly seen a full episode of CSI.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Where it all began: The Red Hand Gang

The Red Hand Gang was my favourite programme as a child.

If you weren't a child in the late seventies/early eighties (lucky you!), then you probably won't have heard of the Red Hand Gang as it doesn't seem to have left a legacy like other kids programmes of that era.

Basically, it involved five children and a dog solving crimes that they happened to witness or get caught up in. The seminal episode was the one where one of the gang witness a boy being kidnapped.
I loved this programme. While I played on my swing in a garden with a locked gate and high fences, they were out roaming the streets solving mysteries with no adult supervision. I was insanely jealous of Joanne, the only girl in the gang and had one of my first crushes on J. R., the most streetwise of the gang! (Another early crush was Jason in Battle of the Planets - he was the surly one - my taste in men hasn't evolved much at all).
My friend Sophie and I even wrote to Jim'll Fix It to ask if we could meet them. We received no reply.
I've not seen it repeated recently - its probably for the best as it might not live up to my fond memories of it.

Confessions of a Detective Show Junkie

I'm obsessed with detective programmes. I never tire of watching them, although I am starting to find that I've already seen most episodes of Columbo and Perry Mason.

I will watch any crime-related programmes - I like private investigators and police, but don't mind if the sleuthing is done by doctors, lawyers, authors or busybodies.

I like the grim 'n' gritty ones that make you question your faith in humanity - Cracker, Waking the Dead, Taggart, Morse. But also like the light-hearted ones - Monk, Diagnosis Murder, Moonlighting etc.

I am slightly concerned that I do prefer 'a good murder' to other sorts of crimes, as it is a rather morbid, but I will watch other types of crimes - as I said I'm not fussy.