Sunday, November 25, 2007

Inappropriate Timing

I watched a few episodes of the final series of The Sopranos yesterday and then went to bed to watch Law & Order SVU. An episode involving a child possibly being killed during an exorcism and abuse that include running a cheese grater down a child's face. Horrifying stuff. The episode ended somberly, 'Dick Wolf' appeared silently to start the credits before the theme music started. So far so serious as befits the subject matter. But then the Channel 5 announcer cuts through the music with the chirpy announcement that 'Mrs Soandso from Margate has won this week's CSI £5,000 prize draw'. This quite broke the mood and seemed wholly inappropriate - could it not have waited until the titles were up and we'd mulled over the episode's issues? It seems that the television programmes are becoming secondary to the viewers phone-ins and I don't like it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A little Law & Order

Not been watching much recently, I’m afraid as I’ve been very busy with other things and watching the nonsense that is ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ which I seem to have been sucked into for yet another year, despite vowing each time to never watch it again.

I did catch an episode of Law & Order last night that I hadn’t seen before – from the Benjamin Bratt era. It was a disturbing tale (when isn’t it?) of the 13 year old son of a crack addict, who kills an old lady. From initially being a mouthy wannabe gangster, gradually you saw him as a child born into horrible circumstances with no way out. It was rather moving and even Sam Waterston turned in a good performance.

I've got a big decorating project to see to this weekend, plus some family issues, so I'm not sure how much viewing I'll be doing over the next few days, although I do find these shows oddly soothing so perhaps I'll be watching alot.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Enough with the nostalgia

I'm sick of it. All of this looking backwards. Yes, I love the 1960s, a decade before I was even born. I love its music, its fashion, I even write for a website about it. But in the last month I've been overwhelmed the amount of harking back to the past, mainly on account of Facebook. Old friends are popping up all over the place and whilst I'm pleased to receive a quick email saying they are still alive and doing well, that is probably enough. But no, reunions are happening all over the place, where you sit and talk about who kissed who when you were fifteen. Its fine for about ten minutes but then I'm bored. I want to talk about present, the future, the abstract. The past is a finite resource. Move on.

What has this to do with detective programmes, you may well wonder. Not that much really, except last night we watched an episode of T J Hooker on the Screen Gems channel.

The OH is a big fan of the opening titles of T J Hooker, the music and Heather Locklear, so we only intended to take a quick trip down memory lane but there was nothing else on so I thought we may as well watch the whole episode.

It involved some dispute in the trucking industry, with some gangster sabotaging the cargos of an old man and his daughter. The daughter had a pet orang-utan called Venus, who appeared in several scenes in various outfits before anyone even remarked on its presence, as if every trucker had a simian companion.

T J Hooker is very much a product of the 1980s. It was produced by Aaron Spelling, the police cadets wear shockingly short shorts and a big name star (Shatner), attractive blonde (Locklear) and some action scenes were obviously enough in those days to pass as entertainment. There was no mystery to be solved, no psychological element, just a straightforward cop gets bad guy, all done and dusted in 45 minutes.

The OH loved it, harking as it did back to a simpler time. I hated it which is strange considering I love Charlie’s Angels, Remington Steele and a host of other shows that have similar faults. I think it might be down to William Shatner, who is such a ham.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Bill: Moving Target

Having read about this a few months back, I spotted that this week was the start of The Bill’s groundbreaking interactive storyline. As mentioned before, I’ve not seen The Bill in years. The only characters I recognised were Carver and Smithy, although there were a few more familiar faces with a few refugees from EastEnders and Millie from This Life.

But it wasn’t all the new cops that was different – the dialogue seemed very stilted. I couldn’t decided whether;
a) it had always been like this but my standards are now higher after watching so many great American shows,
b) each clue was being picked over deliberately to draw our attention to them because of the interactive element
c) the actors weren’t very good

I think it may have been a combination of all three.

The story involved the whipping of a young Asian man, a Rock Against Racism concert and a politician very much in the George Galloway mould. It wasn’t really that interesting until the end of the episode when a shooter gunned down the politician and a community leader type. Personally, I’d have rather they’d have gunned down the band that was on the stage before them, who were very much in the Keane mould.

The interactive element is that you could go online after the show finished and browse the case notes and the incident board. I’ve had a quick look at this but can’t see that it is adding anything much to the episode unless you’ve got the memory of a goldfish and need any possible theories spelt out for you. I had thought that the interactivity would have involved audience votes on who to arrest, where to look for clues etc so this seems a little disappointing.

But it is early days with there being another two episodes to go so I’ll probably give it another go next week and have another explore round the website in case there is anything I’ve missed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Song of the Week: Jane's Addiction "Been Caught Stealing"

Another song about theft! In fact a veritable 'How To' guide to stealing if you what you want to steal is a razor. It doesn't really cover grand larceny.

Completely unrelated to detectives, but the pub I used to frequent in my youth, someone had written 'Perry Farrell is lush' on the door of the ladies' toilet. Was he lush? I'm not sure, but this is a great song nonetheless. Actually if I'd been a better detective, I'd have found out who wrote it but I never did.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Aerial Antics

I've been away for the weekend to my mother's. Despite her weekend viewing habits consisting of alternating between the Hallmark Channel and ITV3, I didn't really watch anything properly as we were chatting, the Morse was one we'd seen, PD James was later installments of a story and the Columbo was yet again one starring Patrick McGoohan.

On Saturday night on returning from the pub, I was determined to watch Law & Order SVU. Unfortunately, the television in the guest bedroom (ok, the spare room - guest bedroom being a tad too grand for a room in a terrace) doesn't have an outside aerial so the reception is sporadic with Channel 5 being the worst. But I was determined (perhaps on account of the lagers) and set about trying to get a picture and sound by moving, twisting, turning, contorting the aerial every which way. After 10 minutes of this exertion, I admitted defeat and threw down the aerial onto the bed. Which produced the best reception!

So I got into bed with the aerial and started to watch the show. Only to fall asleep about 10 minutes later.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Song of the Week: Johnny Cash "Folsom Prison Blues"

The anti-hero narrator of Johnny Cash's song wishes he wasn't in prison, but unlike Michael Schofield (Prison Break), he hasn't come up with a madcap scheme involving tattoos and cyptic clues. Instead he's singing about the state he's in, which is a pretty miserable one, but a marvellous song.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Familiar Faces

Detective programmes are always rich hunting ground for spotting actors known for other things, either before they were famous or after their star has faded. Columbo is the possible exception as in the seventies episodes, they may have got some people while they were in their prime.

One of the Monk double-bill yesterday starred Andrew McCarthy. Sweetly handsome, object of teenage desire, Andrew Carthy here has a cold-hearted philanderer and killer. I would have been shocked had I not already seen this particular episode and already witnessed how age had hardened him. If she could have seen how he'd turned out, Molly Ringwald would surely have stuck with Duckie.

But the big spot of the day came in Law & Order SVU. The Law & Orders are always good for the spotting game - most of the cast of the Sopranos have popped up in it somewhere along the line and a few of The Wire too. But last night's guest was wholly unexpected. The episode, 'Surveillance' involved an attack and stalking of a musician. The first suspect was the conductor, a good-looking man in his fifties with a distinctive drawling voice, who was strangely familiar. The OH didn't recognise him at all. Then inspiration struck - it was Dex Dexter!

Who? You may well ask. Dex Dexter, one-time screen husband of Joan Collins/Alexis Colby in Dynasty, that's who. As a youngest watching Dynasty, I though he was quite dashing although my father assured me he was a dreadful actor, perhaps not in the league of Ken Kercheval, Dallas' Cliff Barnes who was agreed in our household to be the worst actor ever.
Anyway, I was certain it was him which was surprising as I hadn't seen him since the late 80s. On looking him up on IMDB I was proved right. It was Michael Nader. He doesn't seem to have done much since Dynasty besides a stint in All My Children which doesn't get imported to the UK and an episode of Perry Mason that I've yet to see.
Unfortunately, his character wasn't guilty in this case so he disappeared from the screen mid-episode. But it was good to see him again.