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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2012 5:37:10 PM PST
C McGhee says:
William A. Smith- David McCallum as Ducky

He is sterling in that role & can give good advice about internet dating.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2012 5:39:24 PM PST
C McGhee says:
Hikari- A Life Born of Fire

I'll look for that.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2012 5:44:51 PM PST
C McGhee says:
William A. Smith- unpleasant vinegar

I do enjoy the anticipation of watching something I know nothing about that has such greatly divided reactons from those that have seen it. I may or may not like the show but I certainly enjoy the uncertainty before watching.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2012 6:30:11 AM PST
CM: Ducky certainly made at least one spectacularly bad date choice, did he not?

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 7:09:03 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
One of the Encore channels was airing Lars von Trier's Dogville last night. I've never seen a single von Trier film because of the poor reviews I've read over the years, but I seriously entertained the idea of watching it. Then, I noticed it runs for three hours and I asked myself if I could endure the tedium for that long. I decided in the negative. My von Trier-free existence continues unaltered. "Oh, what a beautiful morning; Oh, what a beautiful day....."

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 7:26:09 AM PST
Cav: Boy, did you dodge a bullet. In context of the holiday season, that would be coal in the stocking.

On a more pleasant note: the Met kicks off the broadcast season next week with Ballo, and quite the substantial season it is: lots of Verdi, including Aida and Don Carlo, Berlioz's Les Troyens, all of the Ring and Parsifal as well. An instructive lineup for understanding what one might call Big Opera.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 9:36:32 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
William A. Smith

Not watching Dogville can be seen as an early Christmas present to myself!

It sounds like a good lineup from the Met this season. I'm on board!

Also, it would be odd if, this season of all seasons, Verdi and Wagner were not well represented.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 9:46:08 AM PST
Cav: It's the 200th anniversary of Verdi's birth, for one thing, and this year they will broadcast all four of the Ring operas in the new production (just 3 of them last year). I look on Parsifal and Les Troyens as a bonus.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2012 11:20:09 AM PST
Hikari says:
@Mr. Smith

Hathaway is Catholic; it was the Catholic priesthood he was studying for. It is not explicitly stated in the earliest episodes, but later on, several times it is mentioned. So perhaps Hathaway's spiritual battle becomes a bit more sharply delineated. As a Catholic priest, he would be required to go all in; celibate for life, no love relationship save with God. He decided that he was not cut out to live entirely separate from the world. In his choice to become a cop, he goes somewhat at a 180 and flings himself into all the seamiest, darkest segments of the world headlong.

His ecclesiastical training and natural inclination has given him a bedside manner nonpareil with grieving families that have lost loved ones through violence, so his pastoral training has not been wasted.

>>>Need I point out, by the way, how offensive the term "gay lifestyle" is? A biological imperative is not a lifestyle.<<<

There is a biological imperative, and then there is free will and choice. The imperative may be beyond one's control, but the pusuit of sexual relationships, whether gay or straight is where the choice and lifestyle come in. I'm heterosexual; that is my biological imperative. I'm also single; that is my condition. I can't exercise my biological imperative unless I am in a sanctified marriage and have my activities be pleasing to God. This is my belief, and this is what Hathaway was struggling with--we may try to speak the truth in love, but the truth will always sting, no matter how softly it is delivered, when it's not what people want to hear. Unfortunately. James could not cope with this and has chosen instead to inform people that their loved ones have been murdered. I could say more, but since this isn't a theology forum, I feel I've already pried the lid off enough worms.

>>>And dare I say that the situation to which you refer is a contrived and melodramatic bit of backstory.

The situation to which I refer is the entire crux of DS Hathaway and what makes him tick. It's why he's a cop. If this situation does not resonate with a viewer, then I'm not surprised that they cannot bond with the character.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 11:46:00 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2012 11:46:47 AM PST
H: I will merely note that your underlying theological assumptions are highly questionable on the subject of gay people, and leave it at that. Truth? Curious to see you at the same time espousing so retrograde a position and speaking approvingly of modern theological positions. You may not be aware that the Episcopal Church has just approved a service for the blessing of same-sex couples. But this is not a theology forum, so I will confine myself to considerations in the realm of drama.

The more I see of Lewis and Hathaway, the less convincing I find them as characters. The more episodes I see, the less convincing I find them as fictional constructions. The first point I will grant is to a degree a matter of taste. In any series drama, I use what I call the dinner party rule. Would I want to be at a dinner party with the main characters? If not, the series is likely to be an unprofitable use of my time. That is a matter of taste.

I still have yet to hear a satisfactory defense of the more important issue--narrative construction. It is not satisfactory to call the narrative construction "realistic", because, manifestly, it is not. Too many versions of the mysterious Chinaman. It is not satisfactory to pretend that it doesn't matter. If it doesn't matter, then we would be better served with an episodic form that emphasizes the workplace and character--like (to take two venerable examples) Barney Miller or Emergency!

That's it in a nutshell. A detective drama has to be successful as a well-constructed narrative, and I think the evidence abundantly points in the opposite direction.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 12:25:16 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Another aspect of Hathaway's seminary training and his personal faith is that, on at least one occasion, as the body of the killer and suicide was being removed, he stood with head bowed and didn't immediately respond when Lewis spoke to him. It immediately struck me that he was saying a silent prayer for the soul of the departed. I liked that about him.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 6:42:06 PM PST
H nbd Cav: I really would like some sensible reaction on plot construction. Unless you wish to opine that it simply does not matter--in which case I would be inclined to conclude that your critical senses are on hold simply because you are so entranced with the characters. A position which I find incomprehensible, frankly. But then I have always been big on aesthetic distance. There are very few things indeed that I hold in uncritical esteem of any sort.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 10:49:22 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
William A. Smith

I just accidentally nuked a long response to your post just as I was coming to the close. Sigh. Unfortunately, it's too late at night now to try to reconstruct it. I'm half asleep as it is, and that was probably what caused me to do whatever it was that made it disappear. Sorry. I'll try to redo it tomorrow.

(This is nice: at one time I would have been really annoyed at this happening, but, at this moment, I don't really care that much. Some would say that is progress.)

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 7:04:31 AM PST
Cav: I would be quite happy with a short one. Or a test--suggest an episode that would deem to have decent plot construction. Neither Wild Justice, nor The Gift of Promise, please, nor the one that drags the Stasi in kicking and screaming. (That might have been a Morse.)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 10:08:20 AM PST
Hikari says:
>>>Curious to see you at the same time espousing so retrograde a position and speaking approvingly of modern theological positions.

What you refer to as retrograde, I simply view as my Scriptural mandate, if you mean my view that God created sex for marriage and marriage for sex, among other reasons. I'm not perfect, by any means. I've had my slip-ups, and I've paid for those. So has Hathaway, actually. We both suffer for it, but he can take comfort in being fictional; I have to live with my mistakes.

Which modern theological positions have I approved of? Where theology is concerned, I don't have much use for modernity, actually. I am glad that they don't drown women any more for being witches--would that count? :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 10:18:31 AM PST
Hikari says:
>>>Another aspect of Hathaway's seminary training and his personal faith is that, on at least one occasion, as the body of the killer and suicide was being removed, he stood with head bowed and didn't immediately respond when Lewis spoke to him. It immediately struck me that he was saying a silent prayer for the soul of the departed. I liked that about him.<<<

I remember that scene. It's an example of something that could have been a throwaway moment, or they needn't have put in, but it's a tiny brushstroke that adds to the canvas that is Hathaway. It's a tall canvas; they have a lot of space to fill in.

Lewis' hands-off approach to matters of faith is understandable given the terrible loss he has suffered; there's probably a large element of anger at God there, if he were willing to take a good, hard look at it. Back when Robbie was Morse's DS, I never had the sense that he was openly antagonistic toward God or the church; he was set in counterpoint to Morse as the 'warm, grounded, solid, more conventional' one of the partnership. One would suppose a traditional upbringing in Newcastle might have included being raised in the church. 30-plus years of investigating heinous murders, as well as losing one's wife tragically would institute a spiritual crisis in anybody. But I think they are bringing out these elements now to contrast him more with Hathaway. I can't help hoping that Hathaway might bring his guvnor 'round--faith is a great comfort in times of loss. I don't want Robbie turning into an old, bitter man. Into Morse, in a word.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 10:40:56 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2012 10:45:37 AM PST
Hikari says:
@Cav & Larry & anybody else who watches "Inspector Lynley":

I'm going 'round the carousel again with this show, having watched all the episodes once already.

"For the Sake of Elena" from Season 1, about the murdered deaf student was a particularly strong episode. I had forgotten that Lynley and Havers spent a whole case in Cambridge. Cambridge looks lovely on film, Mr. Smith. The impression I had was of a more bucolic, pastoral atmosphere then in Oxford.

DI Lynley can go to Cambridge, but Helen will still follow him there like a noxious fume cloud. He even spends the night with the effervescent Miss Clyde . . it's a wonder he didn't bleed to death, stuck with all those poisoned porcupine quills. Not warm and fuzzy, our Helen. If spending the night with Tommy can't thaw her out, nothing will. She was even more frigid to him (didn't think it possible, but yes) the morning after. Tommy is so 'the girl' in this deal . .bounding after her like a hurt puppy dog. He should have taken that as his cue to flee the scene and never look back. But no. Our 8th Earl of Asherton must crave abuse because he marries her.

(Tommy may be an aristocrat, but he is not easy--he seems to propose marriage to every woman he beds. Deborah turned him down, as we recall . . and he flew straight into the warm and welcoming embrace of Helen. I am, of course, speaking satirically.)

What is wrong with these women? Earl Lynley isn't exactly deformed to look upon. And he's an EARL. Also, and even more importantly, he is a decent, good person, a romantic to the core. Despite his tendency to paint his sargeant's house without her permission. Poor Tommy--he meant so well. And it did look a gazillion times better, Barbara.

Apart from 2 dead girls and Tommy's romantic woes, there were other good bits. Quite a saucy outing for DS Havers, who is in the proximity of two unclothed gentlemen; there's the, er, cheeky scene in Lynley's hotel room. Havers has just arrived in Cambridge and goes to Lynley's room, to find him freshly returned from a run and in the shower. She's on the bed, with her eyes averted modestly to a pile of papers; we, on the other hand get a full, if rather arty longshot view of the aristocratic posterior through the glass shower door. Gratutitous--and thoroughly appreciated. Kudos to Nat Parker who does the entire scene shouting through a glass door while his bum is on display, or else, while lounging dripping wet in the doorway clad only in a towel. This discomfits his sargeant who hastily leaves the room without finishing her sentence. If I didn't know that Lynley's heart inexplicably belongs to prickly Helen-with-the-mushroom-hairdo, I'd accuse Tommy of flirting brazenly with his underling.

Yeah, I had to press Rewind. How many times, I will not say.

I wanted to post last night, but I seem to have lost my wireless signal . . .hope it's not forever.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 11:03:44 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2012 11:15:11 AM PST
H: OK, let's take three traditional positions:

1. Women should not be ministers or priests (no women apostles; St. Paul on women keeping silence in church);
2. Divorce is forbidden ("What God hath joined, let no man put asunder");
3. The literal inerrancy of Scripture.

Strictly from the viewpoint of criticism, as opposed to fandom: why do I get the feeling that you are creating background elements for these character than cannot be substantiated from the text? Why, for example, assume that Lewis has "a large amount of anger towards God"? Given his background, it is at least equally likely (in my view, more likely) that he grew up without religion at all? If you don't walk Lewis to be bitter--take it up with the writers.

Why assume that Hathaway was saying a prayer for the dead? Because that's what you want him to do?

These are, of course, indicative of different approaches to criticism. As I noted about, there are very few things about which I am uncritically enthusiastic.

More to the point: I would appreciate one of two things: either a view on plot construction, or an example of an episode with solid plot construction. Neither Wild Justice nor The Gift of Promise will do--mene, mene, tekel upharsin, specifically tekel (Daniel 5:27), they have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 11:04:21 AM PST
Hikari says:

Being the series sl*t that I am, I had an episode of Foyle's War as an appetizer to my Lynley, or maybe I should say as the main course to my dessert. Though I will say, while I certainly find Nat Parker dishy, Michael Kitchen's virtue mightn't be so safe around me, either. :)
The episode 'The Russian House' was one of the strongest ones of the entire series; in fact, it played more like a feature film than a typical episode of this show. The war has been over for a month; DCS Foyle is driving himself around these days; he's just threatened his superiors that come hell or high water, he's retiring in four weeks, whether or not they have his replacement. Paul has gone to Brighton and become DI Milner. Sam is also near Brighton, working as a housekeeper/artist's model to a wealthy local artist with a grand house. Very interesting details about the fate of the 'White Russians' who fought with the Germans against Stalin.

This episode features an uncomfortable scene between Milner and Foyle; Foyle's come to investigate the murder of Sam's employer, because Sam is involved. This is on DI Milner's patch, and the new DI can only be termed 'stroppy' with his former guv. Milner's constable, a belligerent youth named 'Perkins', who seems to think he's a character in some American gangster film lips off to Foyle. Foyle is not amused. The whole scene rang false to me--we are asked to assume that Milner, the soul of gentilesse and deference to the chain of command, who had parted with Foyle on good terms just one month prior, and who in fact JUST saw Foyle hours before at the christening of Milner's daughter--has undergone a complete personality change. Later on, Paul reverts to form and attempts to apologize for that misunderstanding, and also for not reprimanding his subordinate officer. He is sincere. Foyle rebuffs him, saying "Well, you should be (sorry)." Such testiness and holding of a grudge does not seem to be in character for Foyle either. I know Anthony Howell is not involved in later episodes--I really hope that is not the very last scene the two have. I didn't like it one bit.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 11:31:37 AM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Hikari: It may be my imagination but I am pretty sure just about the time Tommy stepped out of the shower, Havers took a peek!! His pursuit of a women who has pretty plainly stated that she just wants to be friends is one of the reasons I cannot appreciate lynley. Mooning over a woman is acceptable in high school or even in college--but after a certain age it is just embarrassing. The fact that she seemed unimpressed after their to-do in bed says something about her--or about Tommy. I really don't know what the viewer is supposed to draw from this episode. In real life, not all first time sexual encounters are "great" but Helen is actually acting a little bored or slightly embarrassed about the whole thing. I will agree that overall Tommy is a handsome man--but there is something strange/different about his mouth--no upper lip when he smiles???. Also the fact that he is a very decent man--I don't know how many ladies in their late teens, 20's right up the mid-30's did not tell me that they would want a husband like Alan Alda--not just his character in MASH but the way he came across in interviews--a very nice man. But what I believe is that most would really rather have/date/even marry someone with a real dash a "rough" about them. I don't have much for or against Brad Pitt as an actor--but I cannot see him as handsome--or even good looking. But he has a sorta sly/good humored dangerousness about him that seems to attract the more lustful notions of millions? of young to old women. Tommy has never come across as dangerous in the episodes I have watched. If I were going to make him a strong character I would at least have him lose his temper, explosively in at least one episode, and just beat the crap out of some really nasty bad guy. Havers provides the tension in this show for me--when she is not in the scene--well, it is sort of boring. This is based on watching only 4 or maybe 5 episodes. Maybe it gets better???

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 11:54:14 AM PST
Three questions:

1) Most importantly: Who committed the first mudrer in The Draughtsman's Contract? Was it the wife? The daughter? The group who commit the second murder? And are the clues in the drawings actually clues or just red herrings? I hadn't seen this film in 30 years and was more confused and intrigued the second time. What a great stylist Greenaway is. I never get too much of him.

A joke on myself: when I first saw this film I did not know that the upper classes in England paid servants to post as statues! I thought it was some bizarre symbolism of Greenaway's! But isn't it telling that no one in the ruling class even cared that the"statue" had seen one murder and possibly two. An interesting comment on the class system.

2) What was the film in which John Malkovich played the captain of a doomed liner?

3) What was the film in which Charles Dance played D.W. Griffith?

I saw these films some time ago and would like to locate copies.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 12:01:56 PM PST
still discussing tv mystery series? I have seen none as good as thorne, not even Morse and Lewis. Apparently two more episodes are on the way!! George Gently is quite good, but I cannot sith through any more episodes of Vera. I admire Ms. Blethyn but this is just too irritating and preachy for me to take. I have written to that PBS station and asked them to please bring back Inspector Gently? Fingers crossed.

I recently rewatched seasons one and two of both Sherlock and Wallander. Wallander is right up there with Thorne and Morse for gritty, inventive and realistic plotting, not to mention superb performances. The episode where Tom Beard is killed is outstanding, even with the plot holes.

Sadly, Sherlock still sucks. I actually prefer Elementary for three reasons:

1) Jonny Lee Miller is more interesting an actor than Mr. Cumberbutch.

2) Lucy Liu is-well, you know.

3) No godawful Steven Moffett.

Will there be a fourth season of Wallander? I actually prefer the UK to the original series.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 12:08:15 PM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Mr. Smith: Far be it from me to chide you a bit, but I have been waiting for years to use that verse from Daniel in a put down--but I have saved it for something really serious. I thought about saying that to my ex-wife when we met to sign the divorce papers--but--alas I was too kind-hearted and she had given me 100 percent custody of my son. I also was going to use it with a "friend" of 30 years who turn out to be . . . anyway, you probably have many such quotes in your arsenal, and I have only a few.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 12:09:44 PM PST

Trial over, as you no doubt guessed. I have now served on yet another hung jury. Doesn't any prosecutor have a smoking gun? They cannot overcome reasonable doubt--again.

I will answer your last email on Wednesday. I just stopped over here because I was checking on my amazon account.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 12:28:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2012 12:39:52 PM PST
Answering two of the three questions posed by the TAS:

3. Good Morning, Babylon.
2. A Talking Picture.

As to the first--it has been some time since I saw that admirable film.

How interesting it is that some are too lazy, or too clueless, to ferret out information for themselves on IMDB and other useful sources.
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Initial post:  May 8, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 5, 2013

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