Monday, July 30, 2007

Song of the Week: Talking Heads "Psycho Killer"

The first in a possible series.

It really doesn't get much better than this - a song which combines a few of my favourite things; New Wave, New York (David Byrne is so New York despite not actually being born there) and fictional serial killers.

Hearing this after a drink or two, I am liable to do a side-to-side swaying New Wave guitar playing dance & mouthing along to the 'fa fa fa fa fa' bit. Embarrassing I know.

A Quick SVU

My mother came stay at the weekend and the sun was shining for a change, so my viewing over the past few days has been minimal. I did however sneak in a quick episode of SVU in bed on Saturday night after mother was tucked in for the night. I missed the first ten minutes of it so didn’t quite understand how the disappearance of a pregnant woman fell under the remit of this department. It was nonetheless a decent enough episode with a few twists and turns, and ventures down blind alleys before the woman was found (but alas, not saved) and the culprit apprehended.

The OH continues apace with his rewatching of the Sopranos, but I keep falling asleep, so not much more to report there at the moment, but I've not much planned for this week, so think I'll be catching up on some viewing.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Growing old with the Sopranos

Not technically a detective show, The Sopranos does feature an awful lot of crime and is one of the best programmes ever made, so I'm including it here (its my blog, I make the rules).

Last night, we started to rewatch the first season of The Sopranos. The OH has a bold plan for us to rewatch the whole lot in order over the coming weeks. (I think it is going to be broken up by the arrival of the next set of 'Homicide Life on the Streets' but we'll see).

Re-watching the first two episodes last night, I was struck at how young the cast look. Obviously it is most pronounced with AJ as he was a little dumpling of a child when it began and is a man by its end. But its true of the rest of the cast too, just in a more subtle way - they all look a bit smoother, a little less gnarled back in the early days.

The show started back in 1999 but we came to it late - obviously in the UK we always get shows later, but we also didn't get into it much later on, once the first three series were available on DVD. I struggled to stay awake to watch much of it when it was on television so found having it on DVD was a much better way to watch - plus you don't have the frustrating week-long wait between episodes.
So it was probably 2003 before I really began watching it in earnest, which means that the cast have aged 7 or 8 years to my four. Even so, it got me wondering about how much things in my life have changed during the course of this series.
Like Tony Soprano, during this time I've lost a parent. He lost his mother, I lost my father - neither of whom were particularly sane. Like Carm, I've stuck with my man during this time, deciding its easier to turn a blind eye to his faults (whilst Tony's major failing is being a murdering mob boss, my OH has committed the lesser sins of sports obsession and a fondness for cheese). I would have like to have blossomed into a beautiful woman like Meadow did during this time, but alas I haven't - I've just got a few more prematurely grey hairs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fascinated & Flummoxed

My taste in cinema is normally wildly different from my taste in television. It has often been said of me that I’m “only interested in black & white films from the Ukraine’, which, whilst a gross exaggeration, does point to the truth that I’m not one for the Hollywood Blockbuster. And as for the multiplex, it ranks just after Victoria Beckham and seafood in my list of dislikes.

I am willing to watch a thriller in the comfort of my own home but have become rather tired of spate of ‘plot twists’ where the menace was a figment of the imagination or a split personality. It was interesting Fight Club, but dull in the Machinist, annoying in Identity and downright ridiculous in Secret Window (I make no apology for spoiling the endings of those films – I’ve saved you half a days viewing there).

So it is rare that my cinema trips would be relevant to this site, but on Saturday, we went to see Zodiac. It was showing at a nearby arts cinema so we were spared the popcorn chomping masses. All of the reviews I’d read felt compelled to mention how the long the film was, so I’m not going to break with that tradition – it was a long film. But it held my attention, even though I knew the case wasn’t going to be solved (which again isn’t a spoiler – it’s based on a true story). Robert Downey Jnr was as good as ever and the boy Gyllenhaal wasn’t bad, but I came away rather taken with Mark Ruffalo or rather his character, Inspector David Toschi.

More than that though, I’ve found myself still thinking about the film and the case long after we left the cinema, which was befitting really as the film was about obsession as much as it was about a killer. This lead to much internet-searching on Monday. After reading the ever-useful Wikipedia and entering the crazy world of the IMDB messageboards, I discovered a whole site dedicated to the case, and a web of intrigue, theories and conspiracies which would give JFK’s assassination a run for its money.

Plenty of professional police and amateur sleuths have tried to unmask the Zodiac Killer but to date no one has been charged and the facts of the case are still somewhat foggy. And it is clearly going to take a better detective than me to solve this one, but I’ll definitely be watching the film again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Shouting at the Dead

The 20 most used words in the English language are as follows:

the, of, to, and, a, in, is, it, you, that, he, was, for, on, are, with, as, I, his, they

But if you are Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd of 'Waking the Dead', you could probably add 'Spence' to that list.

He's hardly on screen a minute without hollering the name of his long-suffering colleague, Spencer Jordan. Boyd is one angry man - I'm unsure of whether it is the character or if that is Trevor Eve's only style of acting - whatever it is, poor Spence seems to bare the brunt of it. The others in the team are snapped at certainly, but the most shouted name by a mile is Spence.

We've been re-watching selected episodes of the third series this week and I wish I'd been keeping a tally of how many times he's shouted 'Spence'. And if I'd had a pound for every time, I'd easily have enough to buy the boxset of the fourth series.

Crime Hotspots: Oxford

Given the fierce rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge universities, everyone connected with the latter must have rubbed their hands with glee when Morse was on the television.

The Oxford of Morse is still a romanticised place, life centres around the University colleges and quaint little pubs serving real ale, and the town is awash with opera fanatics. But lurking amongst its dreaming spires are murderers aplenty.

Episode after episode is described as the death of an academic of some sort, usually of the more civilised subjects Classics, History, Literature etc (little if any reference is made to those involved in its Engineering department). Coming to Oxford as a student, don, professor, or visiting lecturer was portrayed as an undertaking thwart the danger. Much safer to go to Cambridge which, to my knowledge, hasn’t been the setting of any major crime show (spies, rather than murderers are Cambridge’s thing).

I wonder what effect the depiction of Oxford as a hot bed of murder and deceit had on the number of applications to its prestigious seat of learning? Probably very little as studying to enter Oxford probably doesn’t leave much time for crime drama – a lesson that would have served me well in my youth when my stunning academic career was sidetracked somewhat by Remington Steele, Moonlighting and Charlie’s Angels.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Eleven Months of Viewing

So what have I been watching in the eleven months since I last updated?

  • Several series of Law & Order SUV (now my favourite L&O series)
  • Quite a bit of regular Law & Order but I'm less keen on it without the legal powerhouse that is Stone
  • A couple of random episode of Homicide Life on the Street which spurred me to buy the first season on DVD. I'm now waiting eagerly for the second season to arrive from Amazon
  • The fourth season of The Wire - it did not disappoint.
  • The final season of the Sopranos (another illicit copy)
  • Four seasons of The Shield - its awful, it makes me feel cheap
  • A few episodes of Adam Adamant Lives (really once you've seen one, you've seen them all)
  • Six big series of Waking the Dead
  • One episode of Medium
  • Probably a smattering of Monk, Columbo, Diagnosis Murder etc in the mix

Just One More Thing

She re-enters the room unexpectedly, in the style of Columbo.

I got tired with this blog last year when I realised that my viewing habits weren't making for interesting reading. Rather than watching a couple of different shows a week, I had moved on to getting very very obsessed about one show at a time, watching a whole series of it, then moving onto another obsession. That didn't inspire me to write much and I didn't think anyone was reading this.

But today, I decided to revisit my detective blog and it turns out I did get two comments about a year ago!

So I'm going to revive this blog and perhaps I may find a couple of readers again.

Now, where should I begin? I've seen quite a few programmes since I last wrote...