Tuesday, December 30, 2008
There was a "Murder She Wrote" marathon consisting of four feature length episodes of the crime-solving mystery writer. The quartet had plots involving the FBI and stolen security secrets, slavery and Jessica's great aunt (Angela Lansbury in a bonnet), a convention of writers and a treasure hunt in Ireland. None were set in the murder capital Cabot Cove, but still it turned out that two of Jessica's friends were killers.
Aside from bits and pieces of Miss Marple, I watched a few episodes of Poirot with my mother. My mother has seen most episodes of Poirot already but due to lack of anything else on the television (and lack of anything else to do), she didn't mind watching them again. I had not seen these episodes before, but impressed my mother by quickly guessing the murderer, before the Belgian detective did. In the episode "Poirot at Christmas", I guessed the killer so quickly that my mother took to telling me I was wrong to throw me off the scent. I didn't quite identify how the crime was committed, but considering it involved a balloon that squealed like a pig that was hardly surprising.
Suffering from my customary inability to sleep in a strange bed, I also saw a bit of the 1978 film "Agatha" about the writer's disappearance. It starred a young Dustin Hoffman, as a journalist, not as Ms Christie!
Along with Christmas Cake and sprouts, I've had my fill of Christie and Fletcher for a while.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Wallander - just a three part series this one, but it probably cost a fortune for the BBC to make. The second episode had a rather over-the-top plot which seemed highly unlikely, but showed Wallander at his most Morse-like, i.e. falling in love with an unsuitable woman which clouded his judgment about the crimes. The third episode wasn't any more probable, involving a cross-dressing postal worker. I like the scenery and the doom-laden take on society falling apart, and I loved the theme music, but the plots were rather lame and I'm not sure I could have taken any more episodes. I deleted the two episodes of the Swedish version I'd recorded from BBC4 unwatched.
Life - Crews bought his ex-wife a white horse and found out who the real killer was. But lots of loose ends remain, setting up a second series where he can find out how high the corruption goes. And perhaps what becomes of the horse? I'll be tuning back in.
Cold Case - it hasn't come to an end so much as it isn't on the schedule for the next week, perhaps it is just taking a Christmas holiday. Frankly, I'm in need of a break too from its daily dose of misery.
One show that shows no sign of ending is Prison Break. "We're not getting out of here" seems to apply as much to the viewer as the Fox River gang. Its like being stuck in a maze (which actually also happened to me this week) - just when you think you are near the exit, the corridor turns into a dead end or you find out your mother worked for The Company.
Coincidentally the killer from Life turned up in Prison Break as a buyer for Sylla and Dutch from The Shield turned up as a gay man in Cold Case.
The General to Lincoln Burrows in Prison Break.
Working for the Company doesn't sound so bad. Bring on the bassett hound!
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Then the Sunday Times television critic A A Gill (the Marmite of critics, but I'm very much in the love camp even if I don't always agree with him) writes today about the death of the television detective in relation to Wallander. His theory is that the detective characters are still great but are let down by the plots (the article can be read here).
I think he has a made a good point. Many current shows rely on smoke and mirrors, tricks and quirks to distract from the slightness of the plot. The ante is upped on the levels of gore, nastiness or science to compensate. Perhaps we've seen it all before.
But does that matter so much? My favourite thing about Morse was not the crimes or their resolution, but the character of Morse and his relationship with Lewis. The plot is largely secondary to that. In the Rebus novels (particuarly the early ones), I was frequently disappointed with the whodunnit element, as I was with the Henning Mankell book I read, "Return of the Dancing Master", but enjoyed the characters. If the characters are strong enough I think the detective can survive.
So I will continue to watch the detectives even if all of the good plots have already been used. Although, of course, I do have a higher tolerance and intake of detectives than the average person.
Last night on the Alibi channel, I saw that Rebus was on and the episode was "The Hanging Garden" which I think is the only Rebus book that I've somehow managed to not read. This was from the first series of the show, when Rebus was played by John Hannah. As much as I like Ken Stott, I think John Hannah is a better Rebus. Despite his alcohol dependence and general rubbishness at relationships, the Rebus of the books does quite well with the ladies and I think John Hannah is more plausible in this aspect, at least as a younger Rebus.
Some of the other casting choices weren't so great. Siobhan Clarke was Scottish like her colleagues rather than English as in the books, and Rebus' daughter Sammy didn't seem as feisty and her relationship with Rebus was too good. But these are small points.
It was the best detective programme I've seen in some time.
It used voiceovers, flashbacks and freeze frames, rather experimental for a British show and it pulled it off. The plot was a great one, with some good twists that I didn't see coming.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
It started with a harrowing scene with a teenage girl setting fire to herself on a rapeseed field in front of the eponymous policeman. It didn't get any happier from there. The murderer's preferred method of execution was scalping and although you perhaps didn't see as much as was suggested, it was unsettling to watch.
There is something slightly odd about the BBC's Wallander, about the way it has been filmed. It doesn't look like a modern television show. Something I think to do with the light. It might be the daylight of Sweden is different from ours, I'm not sure. But there was something unnaturalistic about it and it looked more like Bergerac or British shows from that time than things on television now. Or perhaps it is a more European look and the obviously British actors jar with the Swedish landscape.
I wasn't entirely sure about Kenneth Branagh at first. He literally seemed too big for the television screen. Rather than Morse, it was Boyd from Walking the Dead that he reminded me of most. Perhaps he didn't shout quite so much and it was a more nuanced performances than Trevor Eve ever gives but it was in that school.
So again it is another new show that I neither love nor hate but will be adding to my schedule to see how it develops.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Last night however I returned to Law & Order Special Victims Unit. The one episode I'd previously seen of this series featured a ridiculous virtual reality plot which is always a sign of being out of ideas, so I'd been put off it. Last night's episodes weren't as bad, but still they seemed overblown, as if it was trying too hard to shock. Which is a strange thing to say given the subject matter of the programme, which has always been disturbing, but one episode last night in particular crossed the line.
Olivia went undercover in a women's prison to find a rapist Corrections Officer. The plan worked too well and he tried to rape her. He was stopped but his pants were undone and pressed next to her face. This was too much. We don't normally see this much and nor do I think it is necessary.
I think I may just stick with my regular diet of shows.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Cop Charlie Crews was convicted of a triple murder he didn't commit and served 12 years in prison before the conviction was overturned. He receives an undisclosed amount of compensation, but chooses to return to working for the LAPD. His time in prison has given him greater insight into people which he uses to solve cases and at the same time slowly piece together who framed him.
"Life was his sentence. Life is what he got back" is the tagline for the show which is spoken by Crews' attorney in the introduction to each episode.
The first episode wasn't that great. Often first episodes are a bit slow as the scene is set but this was all done in the introduction which is repeated each time. But since I'd recorded two episodes I stuck with it and I found the second episode more interesting. The cases he is given to work on aren't that interesting, but I'm hooked by the on-going story of his case.
The style of the show is odd though - it doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be dark or light. We see Crews spending his millions and picking up women, seemingly enjoying the celebrity and wealth he has found, but on cases he is brilliant but random, in the style of Goran from Criminal Intent. He seems to have a liking for fruit (which reminded me of Prot in K-Pax) which is a rather tame and lame quirk. But then parts of it are darker - the horrific crime he was accused of and that we aren't sure who he can trust. There are documentary style talking heads bits with people connected to him and the case (his ex-partner, his ex-wife, the cop from the original case) but I don't understand who is making a documentary and why.
So I don't love it and I'm beginning to think that The Wire has ruined all other television for me as nothing lives up to that, but there was enough in this to keep me interesting. I would like to know whodunnit.
Friday, October 17, 2008
It will be a scene from the life of a group of people. They will be wearing the fashions of whatever the chosen period is and there will be a song from that time playing. Either there will be some obvious tension in the scene or someone will profess to being the happiest they’ve ever been. Someone will soon be dead.
2. Cut to the second scene. A dead body.
3. A retro police person carrying a file down to the basement bearing the name of the victim in the previous scene.
4. Fourth scene is the present day (this will be in sharp full colour with naturalistic lighting). A discovery is made or someone turns up at the police station – something that leads to the case being reopened.
5. Cue the dramatic theme music “Waaa, Waaa, Waaaa, De De De ” etc (I’m not very good at expressing music noises).
6. Next scene is present day and the detectives visit either the nearest and dearest of the victim or the person who was the chief suspect. You will see the person in question as they are now, with a quick flash to them “back in the day”. The drama of this will vary – it may be that they are an old man now and boy when the crime happened, or if it happened in the 2000s, they might just have a slightly better haircut now.
7. They will be asked a question and their response will be seen as a flashback, always with period detail and soundtrack.
8. Something that is mentioned in this will send the detectives onto another suspect.
9. Repeat the above three stages with an average of four more people. (Optionally, it can be peppered with hints of the personal lives with the detectives, normally their doomed relationships, but this would be a slowly evolving sub-plot over a whole series).
10. Evidence given by the last of these people will led back to one of the people interviewed previously. Return to them and repeat the process of question and flashback again. This may reveal the murderer or it may lead back once more to one of the other people already questioned, who will then be the killer.
11. The killer is arrested. He/She looks sheepish, both as he is now and as he was at the time of the crime. Montage of all of the characters in their current setting (with a brief glimpse again of them in the past), looking wistful or depressed. Melancholic or outright heartbreaking music from the period plays over.
12. Then the piece de resistance, the victim appears and smiles gratefully at the arresting officer. The arresting officer acknowledges them (even though they aren’t really there). All the while, the heart-wrenching music continues, tugging at the heart strings of the audience.
13. The case box is returned to the basement with “Closed” written on the box.
14. The music starts up again “De, Dedde Da” etc
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Elsewhere on a channel called something like Thriller Zone, we came across Manimal. A relic from the 1980s that I’d heard of but never seen. “This should be right up your street” harrumphed the OH, before going in the other room to listen to sport on the radio. The premise of the show is (I quote) “a man who can change himself into any animal fights crime”.
To say it is ridiculous would be a huge understatement. From the bits I saw, this man (played by Simon McCorkendale, who I’d seen before in “Death on the Nile” and is a poor man’s Remington Steele) turned himself into a parrot so that he could eavesdrop on a conversation and a big cat so he could scare some villains. You didn’t see much of the big cat (presumably because of budgetary restrictions) hence my inability to say for sure whether it was a lion or tiger, but we did get several close-ups of the parrot looking thoughtful. The day was ultimately saved by an elephant, but it turned out that this was an actual elephant, rather than our man in disguise.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Randall and Hopkirk Deceased was a case involving a scam with a fake spiritualist. I was struck again about just how weird this programme can be. Hopkirk spied on one of the con men and caught him pretending to be an orchestra conductor, putting on a classical music record and standing in front of a mirror with a baton in his hand. It had no bearing on the plot whatsoever but it is these little quirky bits that make this show so good.
Next was an episode of The Professionals from 1978 entitled “Everest was also conquered”. When a senior policeman claims on his deathbed to have killed a woman called Susie, Cowley’s former mentor asks him to investigate. The duo uncover a web of corruption (corruption is always a web!) involving police and respected businessmen. Parts of it were predictable including the “twist” at the end, but it was saved by the banter between the pair. Not sure if it was an intentional joke, but people in the episode kept referring to them as “Doyle and Bodie” when it is normally “Bodie and Doyle” and it sounded ridiculous the other way round, like saying “Dec and Ant” or “McCartney and Lennnon”.
Sadly I had to go into the office after The Professionals finished, but I enjoyed this luxury.
Monday, September 29, 2008
The OH has banned me from watching it. I don’t see how he is going to enforce this exactly but he is doing it for my own good since an episode of it yesterday left me sobbing.
I’ve often mused on whether it is callous to watch so many crime shows, that depict so much death and suffering and what that must say about my character. What makes most crime shows tolerable is that they focus on the process of solving the crime or the criminal without too much time given to the victim. But recently I can’t stomach SVU and now it seems Cold Case is too much for me, and what these have in common is that you are constantly reminded of the victim.
The episode of Cold Case that had me in tears involved a murder from the 1960s (my favourite period so I was looking forward to this one) but it was a case that had only just come to light when a body was washed up by the sea. It was the body of a child. I should have just turned it off at this point. The story involves four year old twin girls, an abused wife and a wonderful Sixties soundtrack that just added to the sorrow. It was all too much for me to take.
Perhaps the OH was right to ban it.
Nonetheless I recorded (is that the right word – captured perhaps?) an episode of Psych that I hadn’t seen before. It involved alien abduction, tanning salons and speed dating. A fairly typical plot then!
I also recorded an episode of Criminal Minds which turned out to the season finale of season 2 which I’d seen nothing of, so I deleted that without watching it in the hope that I will be able to watch the full season at some point. A similar fate befell an episode of Intelligence, which I’d seen the first ever episode of, but that wasn’t enough to allow me to follow what was happening in this one.
I hope to be able to store up some more viewing for those long winter nights, but I’m not going to resort to Colombo just yet.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Someone at the OH's work gave us a DVD of the first series of Morse which is three episodes. I thought this wouldn't last very long. We made the mistake of trying to watch one when we came in on Friday night after a concert. I fell asleep 10 minutes in, the OH faired a bit better but still didn't see the conclusion. I tried to watch it again on Saturday night but fell asleep twice! So we still have three episodes left to watch.
The sixth and final season of Homicide has also arrived chez us. We had read that it wasn't very good but it had to be better than nothing? The first couple of episodes weren't bad at all. There was a Pembleton shaped hole that they were trying to fill with Giardello's son, but otherwise it was ok. After about five episodes I started to doze. There was a double episode with Kellerman as a Private Investigator but still sleep was calling me. Tonight we will resume watching this, and then perhaps it will be back to Morse.
Hopefully on Wednesday we will have Sky installed although I won't reap the benefits of it until next week as I'm away for the rest of this week.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
The new service will hopefully be more reliable and give me access to more detectives, but the one thing I will miss about the current provider (when the service actually works) is the on-demand channels. Through this service I was able to watch the whole of the first series of Criminal Minds and around a dozen episodes of Cold Case.
To make the most of it while I could (and the OH was out watching sport), last night I thought I would watch a couple of episodes of Cold Case. After 20 minutes of loss of service (this is why it is going), I decided that I would cherry-pick the episodes to watch as I've seen episodes here and there and don't have enough time left to watch them all. I decided that I would go with my favourite period in history, the 1960s. The three I started up weren't from that decade but the fourth one "The Volunteers" was. It involved hippies, Vietnam, draft-dodging, illegal abortion, Black power and communes. There was music by Jefferson Airplane and references to Woodstock and bell-bottoms. It was marvellous.
Of the 11 episodes currently available to watch, it turned out only one was set in the Sixties, so I just watched the next two episodes in the sequence as it looked like there might be an interesting background plot involving the detective, Scotty Valen's girlfriend. The next episode was "The Lost Soul of Herman" which was about basketball and the 1980s. It wasn't bad, but not was good as the previous one (the Eighties are never as good at the Sixties). Then it was "Resolutions" which was a crime from the cusp of the millennium.
I stopped after that as the OH had returned and we ended up watching a bit of Quadrophenia instead!
Actually what I didn't realise until I looked it up this morning on IMDB is that Caan and the other two casino employees are characters from another show, "Las Vegas", so American viewers presumably would have known all about these characters before they popped up here. I've never seen "Las Vegas" so didn't know that they were definitely good guys, which perhaps added some mystery to the show that in-the-know viewers wouldn't have had.
This main storyline didn't conclude within the episode, which annoyingly ended with a "to be continued". It is next shown on Hallmark on Monday at 6pm when I'll be at work, but I suspect that it may not even be continued in "Crossing Jordan" but the story would have been wrapped up on "Las Vegas" instead. So I may never know what happened.
Although the sub-plot in this episode was actually what kept me watching. This involved the possibility of a very young child being a psychpath, and fortunately this bit was resolved, albeit sadly, within the hour.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I've never seen Barnaby Jones but the name is familar, but Longstreet was entirely new to me. A show about a blind detective! Whilst the character in my book is appalled by the idea and sceptical about how he detects, I'm fascinated. I want to see it.
Sadly, it doesn't seem to be available on DVD. Another lost gem? I'll probably never know.
The character settles on watching Harry O instead, a show I've only seen once. I would be more than happy with his choice of programmes. I'm craving 70s crime shows.
Friday, August 29, 2008
But more than that I'm wondering why Franka Potente wanted to be in this show?
She appeared for two episodes at the end of this series as the daughter of an Armenian gang boss. She was very good. She is a good actress. But I don't understand why she would want to do it. Perhaps her indie credentials from Run Lola Run are behind her since appearing in the Bourne films, but really they weren't as bad as this mindless dross.
I suppose the same question could be asked of Forest Whittaker and Glenn Close too.
I hope it paid well.
This reading has included some more crime novels. Firstly, I got back into the Rebus series and read the final two books in the set. I especially enjoyed End Music and thought it was a good farewell to Rebus, who I shall miss.
Next I borrowed a George P Pelecanos book from the OH, the first in his Washington series “The Big Blowdown”. It took me a little while to get into it, but I enjoyed. Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of the next instalment “King Suckerman”, can’t get a swap for it on “Read It Swap It” and my library doesn’t have it. I will probably crack soon and buy it but at the moment I’m loathe to pay full price for it.
Then I read "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" the book by Jeff Lindsay on which the television series was based. It was similar to the programme but there seemed to be one plot difference, so there was still some suspense there for me.
Last weekend I read “The Shape of Water” by Andrea Camillieri, the first of the Inspector Montalbano books which are set amongst the corrupt officials and gangster in Sicily. It had a decent plot but wasn’t too heavy-going. It is the perfect sort of read when I don’t want to think too much.
Yesterday, I started “The Return of the Dancing Master” by Henning Mankell, This time my reading has taken me to Sweden, and it’s a much darker journey than the one to Sicily. Its quite graphic, but I like the characters in it so far. The thing I don’t like about, and I realised is what puts me off a lot of crime novels, is the book itself. It is one of those squat books, that implies low-brow. At least it doesn’t have a black cover with blood-soaked dagger on it and the author’s name in a huge font. I like my crime books to look just like any other books, to look like they might be good literature too.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
But it is true. The character that aggrieves me the most is Vic’s estranged wife, Corrine, an emergency room nurse. It isn’t so much that she is a despicable person, but that this is the worst written part in direly written show (a show that I’m still watching though).
If there is ever a scene in the hospital, you can guarantee that Corrine will be the nurse on duty. This is a mother of three children, yet she is always on duty whatever the emergency. Is Farmington’s hospital so bad that they can only employ one nurse?
This is what separates The Shield from something like The Wire. The Wire across its 5 seasons must have close to a hundred characters and even small parts are fully formed. The Shield may have a high body count, but beyond that it doesn’t seem to pay for extras and every plot involves the same few characters. So if there is any nursing to be done, Corrine Mackay is going to do it.
Last night though her character annoyed me beyond the omnipresent nursing. Last night she had a dream. It was a dream about Lem and burgers. She gathered together the Strike Team (her estranged hardman husband and two hardmen cops) to tell them about her dream. It was supposed to be symbolic, but it was the symbolism of the worst teenage poetry.
They would have been justified to have laughed in her face. I would have. In fact I did. Another night of laughing at The Shield (except for the bit were someone was whipped with chains - nobody laughed at that.)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
And thus my love-hate relationship with The Shield continues.
Last night we watched two episodes of it. I laughed through most of the first episode, vowed to try to take it more seriously, then had to chide the OH for laughing.
Lem (the blonde one who looked more like a surfer than a cop) was killed at the end of the previous series. This one opens with Vic (the Angry Baked Bean) vowing to find his killer and “make them die in the same way….but slower”.
This is the standard of the dialogue throughout so it is no wonder we are struggling not to laugh.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Murder One Bookshop on Charing Cross Road.
Perhaps its window display had previously been crime books so I hadn't paid it so much attention. But yesterday, the display was a glorious selection of DVDs.
I never thought a stack of Bergerac DVDs would make my pulse quicken. Actually, until yesterday I didn't know there were any Bergerac DVDs. And there at the bottom, Ironside Season 2, presumably a USA import.
So many detectives, but alas I've so little money. Next month I will return with my wages, but until then is there any harm in browsing?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Another tenuous choice - nowt to do with detectives, but it has the word "killing" in the title and was used in the film "Grosse Point Blank" which is about a hitman According to Wikipedia, Ian McCulloch told Smash Hits magazine that the song was about "a moon with a machine gun".
Actually it doesn't seem quite to tenuous a choice at all now.
Also I have a bit of thing for Ian McCulloch. I think its the arrogance.
The first episode “Encore” was about a man who had been suspected of murdering his first wife and then his second wife was murdered too, with some similarities. The next episode, “Saviour” has a family man suspected of killing his wife and son, being labelled a “family annihilator”. The characters and conclusions in these episodes were very different, but in both suspicion fell on the husbands due to insurance policies on their wives. This made me think that it perhaps isn’t such a good idea to take insurance out on your wife because either a) it will fill you with an uncontrollable urge to murder her or b) she is bound to get murdered and you will automatically be the prime suspect.
Next up was an episode called “Deceit” about gay lawyers. Not one of the best episodes, but a chilling ending. Then there was “Atonement” about a murdered model, which featured Michale Imperioli (Christopher from the Sopranos who I find quite attractive even though he resembled Gonzo from the Muppets). The model was a shallow coke addict which led to her being murdered. This episode reminded me that all photographers are sleazy. I’ve yet to see an episode of any murder show featuring models and photographers where the photographer isn’t a callous sleaze.
I’ve seen a bit more of Medium. I’m surprised the couple have three children as I’ve never seen two people wear so many clothes to go to bed. Is it a family show so we can’t see man’s bare chest?
I attempted to watch a couple of episodes of SVU but they seemed to be particularly gruesome episodes (I know sex crimes are never a barrel of laughs, but these seemed particularly vicious) and I found myself not having the stomach for it.
Saturday morning, I enjoyed an episode of Randall and Hopkirk deceased, which featured a great moment when Randall was nearly drowned and for a moment he appeared next Hopkirk, wearing a white suit too.
I’ve also watched a bit of Law & Order too but that will be a separate post.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The last couple of episodes I've seen weren't so much about her solving crimes but the difficulties of living with her special powers, her moral obligations and how it conflicts with family life.
It is a more interesting show than I had thought and I'm keen to watch more of it. The middle child, who may have the same powers, is so adorable and a brilliant little actress too.
I was in Spain the week before last and the poolside bar played a lot of Bob Marley. Not the political stuff (I've cleared a pub in the past by putting "Redemption Song" on the jukebox) but the more poppy ones. Which reminded me that I hadn't picked this obvious choice for my Song of the Week.
According to Wikipedia, Marley had wanted the lyrics to say "I shot the Police" but feared the reaction from the Government. The song didn't attract any controversy but there is an interesting article here about why it didn't when compared to "Cop Killer", although it does focus on the Eric Clapton version rather than the Marley original.
As part of a feature on The Wire in the London Paper yesterday, they had a quote from Barack Obama, as The Wire is apparently his favourite television show. The quote was about his favourite character being Omar Little, the gay stick-up artist.
That’s not an endorsement. He’s not my favorite person, but he’s a fascinating
I can't imagine David Cameron watching The Wire, although I could imagine him claiming to watch Hollyoaks or Skins to appear to be "down with the kids".
I found this interesting feature about it here.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Two episodes of Medium that I fell asleep in before the end
Two episodes of the first series of Cold Case
An episode of Diagnosis Murder that I started to watch whilst in Spain, but it turned out it was one I'd already seen.
I'm away again this weekend so I doubt I'll get to watch anything for a while yet. Bother.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I’ve no idea why the BBC choose to repeat this particularly episode on this day. It wasn’t a particularly good episode and it involved the death of a cricketer. Considering how exciting Kevin Pietersen was playing at the weekend, for once I think I’d have chosen cricket over detectives!
Monday, June 16, 2008
I'll confess here and now. I don't like Radiohead as much as everyone else does. For a while I was convinced they were the most over-rated band in the world.
But then I'll here certain songs, and realise that actually they are pretty good and I can see what all the fuss is about. "Fake Plastic Trees" is my favourite Radiohead song, but even I can't pretend that it is detective related, so instead, here is my second or third favourite, "Karma Police".
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Except for Ironside on ITV3 early in the morning.
Yesterday, I actually got up at 6.30 to join the Ironside-athon from the beginning. Five episodes (although I only ended up watching three as it turned out I'd already seen the last two). Then another three this morning, although I only got up in time for the latter two. There are another two episodes on in the small hours and if I didn't need sleep I'd be tempted.
Whilst I appreciate the extra Ironside, there doesn't seem to be any logic in the scheduling with episodes now skipping about between series without reason. I prefer the earlier series with Eve. I don't mind Fran so much, but I'm not keen on the later episodes device of showing you what is going to happen in the episode before it starts (it was a common device, but not one I like). Also everyone's hair is bigger in the later shows. Mark has a huge afro and mustache, Ironside looks like he's had a blow-dry and even Ed has more hair. Because the fashions are so obviously from the Seventies in these episodes, they look more dated than the Sixties' episodes where the main characters were more staid looking.
The topics covered in this weekend's episodes included; defection from the Soviet Union, vigilantes, witchcraft, and remorse over shooting a young armed robber, but the best episode was one where Ed had to bring a hitman back to San Francisco on a flight from Chicago. More screen time from the delectable Don Galloway is always welcome (he is surely the best-looking fictional policeman ever), but it was also another beautifully constructed episode. There was an urgency to get the hitman back to San Francisco as Ironside believed whoever hired him would now in turn want him killed. Sure enough this turns out to be true and Ed's task is complicated when the flight is re-directed to Reno and he is left to protect the prisoner, never really being sure who he can trust. Actually, the twist in the tale was pretty obvious but it was still well worked and there was more suspense than in your average show.
Unfortunately, this Ironside-fest won't last. It continues for the next few days, but will be over before next weekend, when there is no more Ironside at all. Next up it looks like a run on The Rockford files.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
I've seen an episode or two of it before, but this afternoon I came across a new "on demand" channel that included Season 4 of Cold Case.
As I didn't have much else to do (I'd already been to the shops, repotted my tomatoes, read the newspaper and done lots of walking) I watched three episodes of it on the trot.
The first case involved high school kids in a mall massacre, the second a female Iraq war veteran and the third an urban miner. Each time the team interviewed several potential suspects, before eventually find their culprit, who each time was someone they'd already interviewed earlier.
I'm pleased I've found this series as there doesn't seem to be much else on at the moment and it is easily watchable. As the fact that I've just watched three episodes in one session illustrates.
The episode was called "Know Thine Enemy" and it involved abduction, rape and power games between husband and wife. It was mile better than the previous episode, but somehow I couldn't help feel that I'd seen it all before, probably on Law & Order SVU.
I had wondered how it would end, the show more than the actual plot. Before watching it I wondered if he might die, but as the episode progressed I thought being fired or resigning would be more likely. Then it just ended. They solved the case, justice would be served and he gave some reassuring words to Havers.
I feel cheated. I want closure as much as an American in therapy. Apparently, the BBC were getting rid of it to clear space in their schedules, although I shudder to think what new reality television torture that might be.
Monday, June 02, 2008
It started with a section on Life on Mars and how many people believe a return to the Gene Hunt style of policing is what this country needs. From there, it went back through the history of the depiction of police on British television, how that affected the public’s perception of the police and what the police themselves thought of each show.
It wasn’t anything particularly intellectual and some of it wasn’t particularly accurate even (incorrectly saying Gene Hunt policed Hyde, calling Cracker a policeman and claiming Silent Witness was responsible for the rise in interest in forensics, which surely must be more down to CSI?). But it was still an interesting little history of British police shows.
Whilst Dixon of Dock Green obviously looks tame and idealistic by today’s standards, it did briefly raise an interesting point that I’d never really considered before relating to class. Being a police officer back then was very much a working class occupation and the standard portrayal of cops was largely comic, showing them as bungling. Dixon was the first wholly positive portrayal of this working class type, so although it doesn’t look particularly exceptional now, it was quite a change back then. This hadn’t occurred to me before but thinking just of Agatha Christie plots, the amateur detective (Poirot or Miss Marple) is an upper-class amateur, always getting on up on the working class police man. I would have liked the documentary to have explored this more, but it didn’t.
I also found out about a programme I’d never heard of before but that goes by the same name as later US show, Law and Order! The UK Law and Order was from the 1970s and was controversial in showing wide-spread police corruption. The real police hated it and demanded the BBC withdraw it, which they didn’t and then real life cases of corruption hit the headlines. This programme claimed that the show hit such a nerve that it forced the police to look internally and make changes.
Another interesting artefact was Police, a fly-on-wall documentary series with Thames Valley Police, again from the BBC. The police were obviously confident that they could be held up to close scrutiny and the show was initially popular with police and public alike. Then there came an episode about a rape where the interview technique the victim was subjected to was horrific - questions about whether she was on the game or (bizarrely) whether her periods were normal. This rightly caused outrage and apparently led to the police changing how they dealt with rape reports.
It was good to see the positive impact that television shows have had in the past, outside of just providing entertainment. Sadly, I feel this is happening less and less as the BBC is more concerned these days with chasing viewer figures than changing society.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
As I've mentioned before I love it when someone famous from one show turns up in another. But then there are those minor players who have appeared in a staggering number shows.
Take Richard Anderson, who appear as the father of drug-using niece in today's Ironside. He may have found success in the Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man series, but his crime show CV comprises:
- Hawaii 5-0
- The Streets of San Francisco
- Perry Mason
- Barnaby Jones
- Charlie's Angels
- Nero Wolfe
- Knight Rider
- A Team
- Hardcastle and McCormick
- Simon & Simon
- Murder She Wrote
- and five episodes of Ironside, each time as a different character.
Then there is Robert Lipton, who played the would-be murderer in the episode "One Hour to Kill". He has appeared in the following:
- The D.A.
- The Mod Squad
- Police Story
- 21 Jump Street
- Murder She Wrote (in three episodes as different characters)
- LA Law
- The District
- Without a Trace
- and two episodes of Ironside (again as different characters)
Just by following the careers of these minor characters, I could fill up my schedule for months (if only I had access to all those old shows).
The first episode "Up, Down and Even" involved Eve's niece being arrested for drug possession. What followed was a diatribe on the dangers of drugs, but it was so dated that even the dangers didn't seem quite so dangerous. One boy sleeps a lot in class, another doesn't do athletics anymore, a group of girls skip school to lounge around giggling - I'm sure teachers and police today wish that drug problems were so innocent.
The language too was dated. Kids were being "turned on" to marijuna use, which was "groovy". One "drug fiend" even used the phrase "better living through chemistry". There was a soundtrack of ethreal beauty about lost causes including B J Baker's "Melody Man" and despite the obvious anti-drug message of the episode, it didn't seem that far away from 60's exploitation films like "The Trip".
Next episode saw a complete change of pace. "Why the Tuesday Afternoon Bridge Club Met on a Thursday" had a lighthearted feel to it in comparison with the previous episode, which is bizarre considering this episode involved a murder and the last just involved a bit of cannabis. The family member this time was Ironside's aunt, a prominent member of the Bridge Club. When one of her bridge friends disappears, the aunt suspects foul play and has Ironside investigate, but she and her cronies can't help but get involved. The husband, it turns out, has a bit of a Crippen complex, but in case we should ever find it too gruesome, there is bouncy incidental music to keep things jaunty.
Lynley is still foppishly good looking, but plot was still paper thin. The son of a posh family, old friends of Lynley naturally, goes missing. Fast forward 12 years (although most of them don't really look to have aged that much) and his body is found. Lynley persuades his sister to return from Rome for the funeral, and "accidentally" ends up bedding her. She is then found splattered on the pavement and our hero finds himself a suspect.
Of course, we know it wasn't him, but he has to find out who it was. Unfortunately, there is never any real sense that Lynley might really get charged with it (this is afterall the start of a new series) so there is no dramatic tension. The final "twist" whilst being fairly obvious, didn't make much sense in terms of motivation.
The 10 minute chase scene through Rome must have been great for the actors and crew but didn't add anything for the viewer. The whole thing could surely have been wrapped up in 60 minutes rather than drawn out to 90.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Since I've watched nothing but Homicide and The Wire this week, it seems only fitting that I pick a Baltimore song.
It isn't anything to do with detectives, but like The Wire and Homicide Life on the Streets, it is about the streets of Baltimore.
And its by Gram Parsons, the acceptable face of country music, the grandfather of alt-country, the pioneer of country/rock fusions etc etc etc. Actually the older I get the more country music I like, but Gram Parsons was one of the first country-ish artists that I liked.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Last night in an episode of Homicide, I encountered something I like even more but that happens less frequently:
Crime shows mentioning other crime shows
In this episode, "Abduction", it is suggested that the police use a hypnotist to get more information out of a child witness. Falsone is unconvinced, but Giardello says "At this point, I'd even use that woman from Profiler".
Thursday, May 22, 2008
This may be one of the most traumatic things I've seen on the television.
A man is pushed into the path on an oncoming subway train and is trapped between the train and the platform. He is alive but his spinal cord has been severed and he can't feel his legs. The trains needs to be lifted away from him so that he can be pulled out. But once he is moved, his heart will stop in 30 seconds and it is a 5 minute journey to the hospital. There may a million to one chance of survival, but this Homocide, it doesn't do miracles or fairytale endings.
Into this situation comes Frank Pembleton, a murder police faced with a victim who is still alive but who knows he will die soon. Bayliss interviews the suspect, Lewis searches for the victims girlfriend, but the episode is mainly a two-header with Pembleton and the dying man. The big questions about life and death have never been so urgent.
The man (played exceptionally by Vincent D'Onofrio before he was in Criminal Intent) is no simpering victim. He is angry with life, with the world, with the twist of fate that has led to this and Frank Pembleton is his friend in his last minutes.
In the past week, I've been to the theatre twice and the cinema once, yet here it has been this, on the small screen, a medium often derided as low-brow, that has left the biggest impression on me.
I read recently that the average Londoner will spend 5 years commuting during their lifetime. Travel safely.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The episode was called "Smell of Success" and involved the death of a woman by the means of an exploding scratch & sniff book.
I don't mind a bit of quirky and kooky but this was too much. It was all too quirky and all too kooky and all so sickly sweet. I like things with a bit more grit.
Of course, I have been known to completely change my mind about programmes (Psych and Ironside for example) but I'm not sure it will happen with this one.
Today's episode had William Shatner as the Special Guest Star. He played a criminal who was in prison after Ironside had persuaded him to turn himself in, but now his wife had been murdered, leaving his son alone. There was nothing wrong with the plot but Shatner was his usual hammy self. I don't understand how he managed to get work as an actor. This rather marred the episode for me.
I watched another episode of it yesterday morning, which was much better. Ironside was alone at home as Mark was at his evening class and Ed and Eve were at the opera. He received a threatening phone call, saying he had an hour to live (the episode was called "One Hour to Kill"). Tension was built up as the episode moved between Ironside anticipating his fate, Ed convinced something wasn't quite right and Mark struggling with some detail in his mind, trying to place its significance. There was suspense, but also a discourse on perception, guilt and the human mind.
Besides the drama, there were also moments of levity involving Ed's inability to understand opera and a pessimistic pizza maker. It really was a great episode which made it worse that it was then followed by today's Shatner ruined effort.
But we are now in possession of Season 5 of Homicide which should keep me entertained for the coming week.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Psych – I feel thoroughly ashamed that I was so harsh on this when I first saw it as I really like it now and wish I could watch it more often than once a week. The settings of the last few episodes have been; a Spanish soap opera, a Lodge and a fashion party. Each one has brought with it ridiculous jokes. Unfortunately, it looks like this week’s is the last episode of the second series. I feel that I may need to buy the first series on DVD soon. I may have a little bit of a crush of the main character, Shawn.
Law & Order – I don’t go out of my way to watch this anymore but on Sunday it fills a hole in my schedule. Despite my dislike of Sam Waterston, it is still usually believable and well-written.
Dexter – Again I have to retract my earlier reservations about this show. I’ve been gripped by it for the past few weeks. First they thought they had the Ice Truck Killer. Then they realised they didn’t. Now we know that it is Dexter’s sister’s boyfriend. But they don’t know that. There is also some new twist involving Dexter’s biological father.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I'll confess that this song has nothing to do with crime at all. It has the word "thieves" in the title, but nowhere in the song. It is a song about love actually (aren't most songs?). But it is by New Order and its great.
Friday, April 18, 2008
“The Shouty Man” (Trevor Eve as Superintendent Boyd) is still shouting his way through every episode but with the added tension of him looking for his estranged son. The plot in the first two episodes was a credibility stretching yarn involving various terrorists groups, plus some thoughts on the nature of parenthood.
Besides the poor quality of the plots though, the thing that has started to annoy me in the more recent series is the clothes worn by the team. They are far too well dressed to be realistic. I know there are probably plenty of stylish detectives out there and I don’t believe that they must be in the Columbo/Frost scuffy model, but really, this lots look like they’ve taken far too much time over their appearance.
Spence is probably dressed by Paul Smith, always looks sharp and is bizarrely looking younger with each passing series. Stella is the epitome of French chic and is probably dressed by Agnes B. Dr Grace Foley, with her coloured knits and statement necklaces, looks like she’s had a makeover with Trinny and Susannah. Even Boyd, a man racked with guilt, anger and aggression, still finds time to buy suits that aren’t from M&S.
It just doesn’t seem realistic. Surely it is odd for a whole department to be this well-dressed? Not even the CSI teams are this universally well-groomed.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I didn't quite make it up in time for the Rockford Files double, but I did see the triple-bill of Ironside.
I still have reservations about some things in Ironside - the portrayal of women is old-fashioned and its inclusion of a black character tokenistic - but I think it was probably quite progressive in its day.
Having watched more of it now, I do like the tone of the show. It is pretty bleak stuff. The mood is resolutely sombre, the sun rarely shines in this San Francisco and the streets are unfriendly. This is not the sort of outlook I would generally associate with the 60s and 70s. This is the flipside of free love generation - the fear of the crumbling of society. A world that is in moral danger of falling apart. And in that respect it feels pretty modern.
Today's trio of episodes were on the following subjects:
- Illegal abortion
- Bomb threats on campus
- Con men
A variety of topics, but all covered with upmost seriousness.
I noticed the character of Eve Whitfield (played by Barbara Anderson) more in these episodes. She is not just some blonde. She is a Hitchcock Blonde transplanted into television. She has the icy beauty that belies vulnerability. The first two episodes were the final ones from Season 2, the third was the start of the third season, which was the last series with Eve Whitfield and I think she will be hard to replace.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Of course, I don't mean the channels have all stopped transmitting (although our providers, Tiscali are more than a bit rubbish. I mean there aren't any detective programmes on for me to watch. Hallmark (the home of the detective) has Jericho on which is sci-fi. There are various Law & Orders on later but I think I've seen them all already. Most disappointing.
Perhaps I should have an early night so I can get up at 6am for a double-bill of Rockford Files, followed by by three helpings of Ironside on ITV3? It sounds good and all over by 11am which leaves me with plenty of time to go about my business.
Monday, April 07, 2008
The Wire is not suited to television. It is the first ever DVD series
It isn't so much that audiences are too thick to understand the show. It really just doesn't work very well being viewed episode at a time once a week. There are too many characters to remember viewed like that. It needs to be watched a few episodes at a time at least. This makes it ideally suited to the DVD format.
I preferred watching The Sopranos on DVD too, but if there was no choice, you could still watch it on a weekly basis without losing too much. But not The Wire. You need to spend time with it, absorbing it to fully appreciate it. You also can't miss an episode. Its predecessor, Homicde, you could watch like a regular cop show, dipping into it occasionally, but this is where The Wire was a marked departure.
It has to be watched on DVD. But we haven't reached the stage yet where series are released straight onto DVD. Poor films often go straight there, but that is out of necessity, not choice. Series need to be shown on television first, even if that isn't the right place for them, so hopefully the show will gain more popularity now in its rightful format.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
- To update this blog more - I'm doing pretty well on this front. I've made double-figure posts each month so far and well on target for a bumper April.
- To watch more detective shows - not so sure about this one. I have tried to mix things up a bit and watch a greater range of shows, but still room for improvement!
- To discover at least one new show that I like - this has been achieved with Criminal Minds, I loved the first series and am keenly awaiting my next installment of it.
- To work my way through the Remington Steele box set (22 episodes is looking pretty daunting right now) - very poor showing on this one, I'm afraid. I think I've watched about 8 episodes at the most.
Detective Carver is the real hero of The Wire
As much as such an ensemble show can have a main character, this was probably McNulty. But as the series go on McNulty becomes less and less likeable and in the final season something is even said about realising that you aren't the hero.
For me, a real hero is someone who goes on a journey, who develops and learns. McNulty doesn't do this. He doesn't really change. It may look as if he has matured at one point in his relationship with Beadie, but this doesn't last. Colvin isn't in the show enough to be the hero. Instead I think that is Carver.
When the show starts, he is inept, indistinguishable from his partner Herc. Then it is revealed that he has been a spy for the management in return for career progression, but he realises he was wrong. In the third season, he learns about community policing. By the end of the whole show, he has progressed up the ladder, but is responsible, has a strong sense of what is right. He has grown and is, for me, the unsung hero.
My first theory is this:
Bunny Colvin has had the most positive impact
Drug dealers may have been locked up, murders may have been solved, but at the end of the show, the cycle is shown as continuing. One addict may recover, but there is always someone else succombing to it. And where one drug lord is dethroned, there is always another one coming up behind to take over. The war on drugs has not been won.
I therefore contend that perhaps the only person who has done any real lasting good is Bunny Colvin.
This has nothing to do with his career in the police force or his radical approach to drug crime. It is because he took Namond Brice from the street corner, gave him a stable home and education. This is one true success of the whole show. Its only a small thing in the grand scheme of things but the life of one young man has been saved. None of the police can lay claim to having done that - things ended badly for all of the kids they tried to help (D'Angelo, Wallace, Randy, Bodie)
But for anyone who did enjoy it, is missing it and/or can't wait for the next installment, may I point you in the direction of ITV3 which is currently showing Dempsey and Makepeace.
Dempsey and Makepeace is just like Ashes to Ashes, except better. Like Ashes to Ashes, it features:
- a mismatched pairing comprising:
- a posh woman
- a sexist man with outmoded views, but who is still rather attractive
- constant will they/won't they sexual tension
- car chases
- 1980s fashion
- witty one-liners
The main difference is that rather than being a figment of someone's imagination, Dempsey is just on secondment from America. So there is thankfully no hallucinations or evil clown figures. Just crime capers and the hint of a possible romance.
Today's episode involved the robbery of a Bank of England van containing half a million pounds in used notes. The criminal gang wore gorilla masks which seemed particularly apt today as it was announced that Charlton Heston had died.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
When we returned, there was a DVD of the fifth season of The Wire waiting for us, which made post-holiday blues a bit easier to deal with. Until of course, it was replaced by the post-The Wire blues, which are especially hard since this was the final ever season.
The fifth season was good one. I won’t go into too much detail as it hasn’t been shown in the UK yet, but it was as good as previous series. The plot mainly revolves around an audacious plan by McNulty and Freamon that could only end in disaster. A new layer was added with the addition of the press to the already complex story.
But now it is all over. In a way I’m glad it has ended while it was still brilliant, but I doubt we’ll see anything as good as that again for some time. The final session worked well in tying up some loose ends (nearly all of the main characters across all previous seasons at least had cameos here) but of course it wasn’t a neat happy ending because these things continue, “because the game is always the game”.
If I was a fan of rap or heavy metal, it would be really easy to find songs about murder, slayings and shootings, but my tastes are more refined. This makes finding the Song of Week a bit harder, as I’m determined to stick with what is my idea of good music.
I’m not a huge fan of The Clash. I think I have trouble getting over the fact that they were mainly posh boys (son of a diplomat, anyone?) which makes it harder for me to take their political stance so serious. But this song is pretty good.
Way better than anything by bands with names like Slayer, Dismember, Razor or Cannibal Corpse!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
But today, our attention turns to another US city, San Francisco. Perhaps not so prominent recently (there is no CSI SF for one thing) but my reason for featuring it is more personal. I’m off to San Francisco this week.
In a bid to prepare myself for the trip, I was planning on absorbing some San Francisco crime drama. Sadly, I didn’t have access to ‘The Streets of San Francisco” which I remember vaguely but fondly from my childhood, but I did manage to watch a few episodes of Ironside, one of which featured the post office on Geary Street prominently in its plot.
Looking for something more contemporary, I was going to indulge myself in some Monk, which is set in San Francisco. But it is just set there – it is actually filmed in Canada.
I turned my attention then to cinema. I’d already seen Vertigo which is quite famous for its use of San Francisco locations, but watching another SF based Hitchcock, The Family Plot. The location didn’t play quite as big a role in this one though. I also attempted to watch Bullitt which shamefully I’d not seen. The city looked great in it, plenty of shots of the cable car, but I’m afraid I fell asleep in it.
Of course, the big one in San Francisco crime is the real-life crime of the Zodiac case. I loved the film and am still intrigued by the case. So in between photographing the bridge, vintage shopping, visiting galleries and bars, I’m determined to solve the case!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
The dangers of the London underground presented by Paul Weller. There aren't many songs about beatings that make you want to sing along loudly (Killing of a Flashboy has that effect too but that's probably just on me).
Despite what Paul Weller has become (a grumpy has-been with no musical relevance and a tragic haircut) this is undeniably great.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
But this week was much better. To start with there was the slight intrigue about Hathaway’s sexuality. Once the notion was planted, he suddenly seemed almost camp, especially the way he held a cigarette and Lewis stood in for the curious viewer, hesitantly asking what we want to know. Modern fellow that he is, Hathaway side stepped the question neatly.
I guessed the ‘whodunnit’ a good 15 minutes before it dawn on Lewis. I think the OH was quite impressed with my powers of detection, but then claimed that he would have solved it too had he been paying full attention. But I doubt it somehow.
Friday, March 07, 2008
In the last 36 hours, I've watched the following:
Crossing Jordan - I watched it but through my flu-haze I struggled to follow it properly. It was nearly over before I realised there were two separate crimes, which was why I was confused. Like I said, I'm ill.
Season 5, Disc 2 of The Shield - three episodes in total. I wasn't enjoying it but then as the plot moved away from the Strike Team and onto Dutch and Claudette instead, I started to get back into it. I had only just remarked how I would prefer it if they had their own spin-off series, when Claudette fell down and the episode ended. We now have to wait a couple of days for the next installment to arrive.
Law & Order SVU - the second episode about Olivia's brother and whether he is a rapist. I'd seen the first episode a while ago but missed the follow-on, but last night, all the loose ends were tied up.
Intelligence - the first ever episode of it - or rather the first twenty minutes of it before I crashed out. It looked quite good although a poor man's The Wire or Sopranos perhaps.
Ironside - another good episode about using a television show to trap a killer. The television show was part Crime Watch, part debate. It was interesting that the same worries about crumbling society and rising crime were issues in San Francisco in 1970s as they are in the UK today.
Charlies Angels - an episode from series 3 about a psychics. Not bad, but it is late period Angels where Farah has been replaced by Cheryl Ladd and its just not the same. I miss Farah's big hair. I attempted to watch a second episode involving 'the death of Charlie's favourite folk singer'. The plot involved drugs and laundrettes but even so I slept through it.
Cold Case - Whilst I've seen other cold case based programmes, I'd not seen this show before, perhaps because it is on Sky One, rarely a good sign. But it was ok. It was about the murder of a yuppie trader and although it was complete with 80s soundtrack and detail, it didn't get in the way of a pretty good plot. I liked the device of switching between how the person looked at the time of the murder and how they are in the present.
That's an awful lot of crime - no wonder I feel ill but at least I've managed to avoid Diagnosis Murder.
Anyway, I must get back under my duvet as Randall and Hopkirk will be starting soon.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Some episodes weren't as good as others, but on the whole I was gripped by it. Annoyingly, the series ended with the first part of a two-parter, so now I'm impatient to find out what happens next.
And know I'm totally in awe of profilers. I've come across them in other shows (Profiler obviously!) but here they most impressive. Of course it is fiction but still it must have some basis in reality and now I wish I'd become a profiler. These people are seriously intelligent. Their job and this show answer the question of 'why' which is what interests me most
In honour of Criminal Minds' structure of ending the show with a quotation, I've started a new blog feature, unimaginatively entitled 'Quote of the Week'.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
So this morning, when the opportunity arose to watch Ironside, I embraced it despite not being a huge fan of the show on account of it being based in San Francisco. Only today's episode turned out to be one set in Los Angeles. Nonetheless I stuck with it becuase it turned out to be a lot more interesting than the previous episodes I'd seen.
The episode was "Five Days in the Death of Sgt Brown", and was from Season 6, back in 1972. Ironside's sidesick Ed Brown was testifying in court in LA and then the gang were in a hotel in the city, relaxing with drinks on the balcony when shots were fired. Ironside has flashbacks to when he was shot. The others panicked and checked he was ok. Then they noticed that Ed was missing - and looking over the balcony, there he was shot and on the ground!
He wasn't actually dead though and what follows was 5 days that took in a complex tale involving spinal injuries, experimental surgery, another balcony fall, hallucenations, kidnap and a small amount of homoerotic tension thrown in for good measure.
As ever, it all ended well and I'm left rather glad I'm not going to LA as, aside from the drug gangs of The Shield, they have a problem with dangerous balconies and my balance isn't the greatest.
There are t-shirt, baseball caps, jackets and protective vests, all branded with the simple white letters F B I. I've seen them in several shows -Prison Break, Criminal Minds and Sue Thomas FBI spring to mind immediately. The item of clothing is usually navy blue (or is it a special shade of FBI blue?) with white lettering.
It does concern me that these items would be very easy to recreate so in the interests of research, I did a quick internet search and indeed on Ebay, there are FBI t-shirts available to buy, although they are in black, so they wouldn't fool me. There was also a sweet FBI jacket for a dog, with the letters standing for Food and Bones Investigation. Cute, but I don't approve of dressing dogs.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Usage: Most episodes of Criminal Minds.
Related Terms: Perp (short for perpetrator) as used in Law & Order series
Sunday, March 02, 2008
These series have in common that they are both action packed and no where near as good as their popularity suggests. So much action happens in each episode, something is always happening, and yet you can miss an episode without really missing much in terms of plot development. Neither requires much thinking - in fact thinking probably hinders viewing as then you start to worry about plausibility, character development and other things that the writers haven't let get in the way of the action.
Prison Break ended frustratingly, but I'm still hoping that it has actually ended now. It should have ended 5 minutes before the end of the second series really.
The Shield started back up with its usual over-the-top bluster - a hilarious scene of a riot in a church where Ronnie (the member of the Strike Team who seems to get two lines of dialogue a season) was whacked over the head with a crucifix. He used up one of his lines asking who hit him, to which Vic replied 'Jesus Christ'.
We are getting The Shield through our DVD rental service as I wasn't going to pay for another series of it. So we are being drip-fed it, disc at a time. The next one will probably arrive on Monday, so until then, its back to Criminal Minds.
The standout episode for me so far was 'Derailed" which guest-starred Chris Bauer (Frank Sabotka from Season 2 of The Wire) as a paranoid schizophrenic who takes the passengers on a train hostage. Elle, one of the regular profiling team, happens to be on the same train, and the rest of the team have to work to save her and the other passengers. At the start of the episode, we were given a small insight into the minds of each of the other characters, which comes to have some bearing on what unfolds later.
Chris Bauer was excellent as ever, and there was a risky move of having a person there representing the voice in his head, which could have been terrible but it worked. Some comments on IMDB about this episode complain that there were unresolved things in the episode to do with the other passengers, but that didn't matter to me as I don't need everything neatly rounded off. There are also complaints about the inaccuracies of drivers licenses, car number plates and train/flight timetables in the episode, but really life is far too short to worry about such things!
I don't know why this song didn't occur to me earlier really.
Suede aren;t a fashionable band to name drop these days, but back in the day they meant a huge amount to me. I was given free tickets to see them when they'd just released their first single, The Drowners, they played six songs for a radio show and blew me away. At 17, the songs about unsuitable love, sordid sex and drugs seemed hopelessly glamorous and they wore great shirts and had great floppy hair.
This song was originally a B side and as they say, a live favourite. It has a special place in my affections as I won a competition on the XFM breakfast show to see Suede by naming the song that the DJ was acting out and it was this one. It was only a few years ago, they were well past their prime and the OH laughed at me for still going.
The song is about someone being beaten to death, possibly for wearing a frilly shirt and having floppy hair.
Monday, February 25, 2008
The little flashback to Shawn and Gus as children, I found charming and in their grown-up versions, I found them more likeable this time around. The plot involved the murder of a restaurant critic, again a well-worn plot but this time it wasn’t the obvious angry chef who was guilty. There was also a funny bit about magic mushrooms which seemed quite daring for a family show!
In this episode, Gus’s uncle Burton visits who is under the mistaken belief that Gus is the psychic and Shawn is his assistant. It was an age old farcical problem but amusing nonetheless, especially since the uncle was, like myself, a television detective fan. He mentioned “Hill Street Blues”, “Murder She Wrote” and “Manimal”. It is rare that television detectives acknowledge other television detectives so this was a nice touch.
Unlike Numb3rs, the show does not involve a gimmick to solve the crimes. He solves them through old-fashioned observation skills and it is all the better for it.
There is a point with all this, other than giving you an insight into my academic background. Yesterday I watched Numb3rs.
I didn’t understand it. It involved a lot of squiggles on boards and the word algorithm was bandied about. I tried to concentrate really hard but I didn’t get it.
Actually again I’m being a bit harsh. I understood the crime solving bit, I didn’t understand the maths part or why they needed it to solve the crime. For all his fancy formula, it seemed a pretty simple solution that didn’t need maths at all – just a bit of thought.
The numbers thing is a just a gimmick, tacked on to differentiate this show from the other crime shows. Simple detective work isn’t enough these days – there has to be some clever-clever techniques involved. I blame CSI. And don’t get me started on the number in the name.
Later I watched Lewis, a good old-fashioned style detective programme, but unfortunately I fell asleep in that.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Yes, its back after a prolonged absense. The feature of (at times tenuous) crime related songs!
Getting us back in the saddle is Bruce Springsteen with Murder Incorporated.
This a song about how dangerous it is out there on the streets, which seems appropriate after watching all of those episodes of Homicide Life on the Street.
I'm quite partial to a bit of The Boss actually. My mum likes him too and its rare that our musical tastes coincide and or a time (when I was still at home) whenever we went anywhere in the car together I'd insist on listening to Bruce.
But for some reason the OH thought we should give it another go. I think it is because they played "Geno" last week. He can always be won over by a bit of Dexys Midnight Runners.
I was so tired from work and yoga that I couldn’t be bothered to persuade him to watch something else instead. But I was so tired, I fell asleep and missed half of it anyway.
Then I woke up and we watched an old episode of SVU, the one where Olivia is undercover with some environmental protesters. We’d seen it before but it was still worth watching. An old episode of SVU is better than a new Ashes to Ashes anyday.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I have attempted to watch Criminal Minds when it was shown on Channel 5 on a Saturday night, but, as is so often the case, I’d always fallen asleep. Also joining a series part way through meant I struggled to grasp the different characters in the team, so it was much appreciated to have the chance to see the first series from the beginning. I now know that Gideon is returning from sick leave, traumatised by some past experience and that the rest of the time are learning to trust him. I know know that one of them came from the bomb department, another from sex crimes and one is a child genius.
I enjoyed the first episode so much, I watched two more, the third one being one I’d previously dozed off during and it made much more sense now. Its not as good as Homicide (what is?) but I’m hoping I can convince the OH of its merits and watch another batch tonight. Afterall, we will not, under any circumstances, be watching Ashes to Ashes again tonight.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
What struck me most about this season of Homicide, you could almost see the seeds of the ideas forming that were to evolve into The Wire. The on-going plot with drug-dealer Luther Mahoney is very much a taste of what is to come with The Wire. As he corner him in the season finale, Lewis says he can live with the drug dealing, but not the killing – similar sentiments are expressed by D’Angelo in The Wire.
The other thing that developed further in this series was the character of Mike Kellerman. While Munch will always be my idol, I have a slight crush on Kellerman. Looks-wise he’s not my usual type (too blonde, too boy-next-door looking and I’ve not forgotten the jeans with smart jacket crime), but he’s developed in this series. Actually, he has crumbled mentally (at least twice) and embarked on a doomed, drink-fuelled relationship, but he has come a fully formed character and looked quite cute while doing it! In fact, he may well be a precursor to The Wire's McNulty.
I was disappointed that we got to the end of it so quickly and I may have to go back to re-watch it soon. I have to wait until May for the next instalment but I’m also concerned that we are running out of Homicides to watch. It feels like sacrilege to say it, but I’m actually starting to think that Homicide might be inching ahead of The Wire to become my all time favourite show. Just a couple more seasons left, plus just one more season of The Wire. What will we do afterwards? A huge hole will be left in my viewing as nothing else is as good.
Monday, February 18, 2008
In between dozes, I watched the following:
Murder 101: College Can be Murder
Described by the Hallmark announcer as ‘the new Diagnosis Murder”, which was a fairly accurate description in that it was a crime show, starring Dick Van Dyke and it wasn’t very good. He played much the same character as in Diagnosis Murder, except this one was a lecturer in Criminology rather than a doctor so it was set in a university rather than a hospital, but he was still the same irritating character. It also, like Diagnosis Murder, involved his son Barry, who, as far as I could tell, lived with him, was a Private Investigator but not playing his son this time. A few other lesser Van Dykes also cropped up in lesser roles.
Agatha Christies Poirot – Murder in Mesopotania
Despite telling the OH I didn’t like Poirot much, I ended up watching this. I wondered whether it might have any interesting undercurrent about politics in the Middle East and Colonialism, but it didn’t unless that happened while I snoozed. The plot involved the murder of an archaeologist’s wife, who we were supposed to believe was captivatingly beautiful. I found her insipid. The resolution involved asking us to believe that someone could marry the same man twice without realising it. What I refer to as the “Martin Wellbourne Scenario” after a similar plot in The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin. Frankly, I don't believe it is possible. Mrs Perrin knew all along that Martin Wellbourne was Reggie, just as Jodie Foster in Somersby knew it wasn't really her husband. So I couldn't believe this was any different. Nonsense.
After this was finished watching the rest of the Homicide DVD which was majestic and deserves its own post. More later
Friday, February 15, 2008
First up was Ashes to Ashes which was on its final chance. Still not really liking it, so it may have been the last time we watch it. The only decent thing in last night's episode was that they played Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners.
Then we went back to the boxset of Homicide. The first episode was called Blood Wedding but was nothing to do with the Lorca play of the same name. It was shaping up to be an interesting episode, but sadly I feel asleep before the end, the champagne earlier having gone completely to my head.
Monday, February 11, 2008
By way of introduction, we re-watched the final episode of Season 3 and then embarked on Season 4 and ended up having quite a Homicide marathon.
(Warning – if you have not seen the series but plan to do so, the following contains a huge spoiler).
The Season ended with Frank Pembleton having a stroke. It was pretty harrowing on first viewing back in September, but since then my aunt has had a stroke and is still in hospital, her progress being very slow.
The actual stroke scene in Season 3 was pretty bad, but storyline about the after effects in Season 4 reduced me to tears. There was a scene where he is raging about the coffee always running out, but to the confusion of his colleagues, he uses the word ‘bagel’. Then during his vital shooting test which he must pass to stay in homicide, he is unable to recognise the word ‘magazine’. These incidents were all too familiar as my aunt continues to confuse the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ making the most basic of communications a struggle. The look of frustration on Pembleton’s face is one I’ve seen in real life.
Apparently audiences couldn’t stand to see him like this so(against the wishes of the actor, Andre Braugher ) he makes a sudden and full recovery. Sadly in real life there isn’t such a simple solution.