Public Television’s David Suchet and Poirot

For those Agatha Christie mystery fans, I saw the “David Suchet on the Orient Express” documentary on public TV.  If you have ever seen the many tv/movie versions of her “Murder on the Orient Express”, you know that David Suchet is the consummate Hercule Poirot, her lead character. I’ve seen Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov perform as Poirot in the past, but they played their part more like comedy.  Kenneth Branagh’s recent performance as Poirot was good drama, but his mustache was so big that it was distracting as was his grey hair.   For me, David Suchet’s dramatic portrayal for Murder was the best.

David’s Poirot has the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen. He can stop you with a look. Besides being one of the vainest characters I’ve seen (besides Sherlock Holmes), Poirot is also one of the most insightful characters ever developed.  His too-tight collars, too-tight shoes, and Belgian accent let you know just how vain his character was.  David has played Poirot for a quarter of a century in 13 series, including 50 short stories and 33 novels. (Being Poirot kokopico)  I love David Suchet’s Poirot.

Imagine yourself in the situation of knowing a man had been stabbed a dozen times in his sleep by someone.  And, you are asked to determine who killed him.  Did the punishment of the man fit the crime?  And, would you be justified in walking away knowing the man’s original crime set all of this in motion?  Get Agatha Christie’s novel or see Murder on the Orient Express in public television movie form.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Advertisements

Review of television series Bitten

The series started with Clay (played by Greyston Holt), an anthropology professor, who we soon find out is a werewolf .   He falls in love with his human student, Elena (played by Laura Vandervoort), and brings her home to meet his “family”.

However, Clay is also the Enforcer for the werewolf pack who should have known better.  Chances were that something would go wrong, and it did.  The alpha pack leader, Jeremy (played by Greg Bryk), would have killed Elena if she had seen him change from wolf back to human.   Clay, believing that Elena saw Jeremy’s transformation back to human, bit her to save her life.   But, the leader assumed that she would die from the bite anyway, as had all bitten women in the past.  However, Elena painstakingly survived the transformation.   After she was free to leave, she ran away back to the big city, hating Clay for biting her.  In the two years that she was away, she fell in love with human Phillip (played by Paul Greene).

Werewolves were a supernatural race of half-humans who were male-ruled and didn’t have females at all.   Human women were used as tools to give birth to male werewolves that the women could never claim.    The “happiness” of existing in secret male wolf packs was always short-lived.   Secrets and lies kept the werewolves below the radar for centuries.

However, when the outside wolf packs learned about Elena being the only female werewolf to survive, they all wanted her for breeding.   Leader Jeremy went by a code of honor that was no longer being used by outsiders.   Enemies to their pack were from within and without of their society–other werewolf packs, mutts (werewolves without affiliation to a pack), witches, the law, etc.

For instance, all his pack’s enemies used weapons, anything from knives, drugs, guns, computers, etc. against Jeremy’s pack which usually fought bare-handed.  Jeremy made several fatal decisions trying to live by the traditional rules with which he was raised.

There were sizzling sex scenes and lots of violence (hey, we’re dealing with werewolves here!).  But, I believe that Bitten was a great vehicle for the actors’ careers, especially for Laura Vandervoort.   A woman having two good-hearted and good-looking men who desire her is a fantasy that some of us women have.  The actors made me believe in their werewolf society.   The actors were also diverse in race and language.  The special effects were meticulous, showing great attention to detail.

Bitten was a Space Canadian tv series broadcast by Syfy from 2014-2016 and based on the Women of the Otherworld series of books by author Kelley Armstrong.   I only saw the first season because when the show went on hiatus, I had a hard time resuming watching it.   I can’t keep up with new start dates, changes in week days and times, etc.  Thanks to the library’s DVD copies, I was able to watch all 3 seasons of Bitten recently.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Libraries are still FUN!

Since the first group of cave dwellers, there have been story tellers.  A great deal of human history was passed on by librarian-types, those who wanted to share survival tactics, knowledge, and history.

In recent years, some people have said that libraries are no longer necessary because we have technology at our fingertips with our “smart phones”—iPhone, Android, etc., with which we can do research, but nothing can take the place of the enthusiasm of a great librarian.

Years ago, I went into the library and never looked back.    My first job ever was a page (a job which entails shelving and retrieving library materials and even circulating materials) in my local branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in East Baltimore.   I shelved books and magazines daily and gladly while in high school.   I fell in love with reading.   With a book or magazine, my imagination was able to travel warp-speed to other people’s lives, investigate dangerous places and situations, and fantasize safely.

I worked in a library for the next 30 years from the time before Baltimore Junior College became Baltimore City Community College—from student worker to secretary to circulation technician.  I loaned books, magazines, rooms for meetings, and computers to our college population.   Even some community members were provided limited library services as well.

After that, I worked at the Johns Hopkins University Press as a Permissions/Office Assistant for a short time where I had the pleasure of handling and reading books and professional journals, as well as copyrighting the same.   I also got a chance to work with authors which was a thrill!

Now, I’m an author (see my website at https://nervikularose.com).   In the past year, I joined a book club, Woodlawn Page Turners, for which I have read a book a month.   We are reading Jodie Picoult’s book Small Great Things for June, but we will be off-site discussing it over great food.   I will be writing a review of that book for my blog (https://nervikularose.wordpress.com).

To this day, I am more likely to have a book or journal in my hands rather than using my phone or laptop to read a book.   I use an audio book only when the physical book is not available or when I’ll be doing a lot of driving.  It was great hearing Ta-Nehisi Coates, a former Woodlawn High School graduate, reading his own audio book, Between the World and Me, to me.   It would make a great book assignment for high school students as it was written to his teenage son.

And, let’s not forget the TNT television show, The Librarians, in which an ensemble of librarians live out the adventures we can only imagine.

Libraries today are staying in the thick of things, providing computers for typing papers and game play, conducting classes and workshops, having speakers, providing musical entertainment for all ages, etc.    Visit your local library especially if you’ve never been to one in your life and not just for the computer games!

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of The Alienist television show on TNT

A few years ago, I read the 496-page crime novel, The Alienist, written by Caleb Carr, originally published in 1994, but I wasn’t in the habit of making notes then.    The film rights to Carr’s book were purchased by Scott Rudin and Paramount Pictures but didn’t come to their television division until nearly 24 years later when a 10-part-event tv series was adapted.

I watched a marathon of the first season of The Alienist television show on TNT recently.  All the characters were deeply flawed.   And, adult men preyed on young boys who only wanted to survive, eat, and find a place to sleep.   Some boys had poor parents while others were homeless.  Prostitution of boys was not shown in history as much as that of girls.

Doctor Laszlo Kreizler, played by Daniel Bruhl, attempted to solve the murders of young boys by using the 19th century version of psychology.   Of the people he recruited to help him, the doctor pointed out everyone else’s faults but his own.   He has book learning, but the “friends” have common sense enough to add up the facts and draw their own conclusions.    He needed all these people to come into his life or he eventually would have ended up in an asylum himself.   He had read all the popular writers in his field of psychology and tries to help others of lower standing in society, but he himself was emotionally and physically disabled.

His housekeeper, Mary Palmer, played by Q’orianka Kilcher, hooked his shoes and helped him to dress as well.   She didn’t speak at all, but the looks she gave the doctor and others was understood.  The doctor and Mary became lovers.

The newspaper illustrator and painter of portraits, John Schuyler Moore played by Luke Evans, lived with his grandmother and ventured into the city’s red-light district nightly to have sex with the same prostitute and drink, reliving a love lost.   He tried to use his knowledge of brothels to help find the murderer, and in trying to be of help to the doctor, got himself into dangerous situations.

Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, played by Brian Geraghty, is a quiet honest man among corrupt police (like Captain Connor, played by David Wilmot, counting bribe money openly in their offices) and political crooks (like former police commissioner Thomas Byrnes played by Ted Levine).   Roosevelt was Police Commissioner in New York in 1896 and “authorized the purchase of a standard issued revolver for the NYPD”.  It was the “Colt New Police Revolver in .32 Long Colt caliber”.

The Police Commissioner’s female secretary, Sara Howard, played by Dakota Fanning, was rare in the police department at that time.   Though she dressed appropriately for her job, she was raised like a boy and drank whiskey in public.   Sara was abused by her male co-workers in a male-dominated profession.  She had a good mind, but she too felt like an outsider socially and emotionally.

The two Jewish detectives, Marcus and Lucius Isaacson (played by Douglas Smith and Matthew Shear), did the research for the doctor, introduced new criminology techniques they heard about such as fingerprinting, etc. to help find the murderer. They, too, were treated like outsiders and were also in danger.

The doctor’s Black male servant, Cyrus Montrose, too, (played by Robert Wisdom) was always ready to serve and defend the doctor in this dangerous undertaking.

Stevie Taggert, played by Matthew Lindzt, was the young boy who went under cover in the brothel which catered to older men by providing young boys for sex.

Maxie, played by Dominic Boyle, was the main male prostitute who dreamed of being free like one of the murdered boys.

I really liked the historical flavor of the show with the fights for rights that were going on then:  women’s suffrage (right to vote), one woman in the police department, etc.  The mutilation and slaughterhouse ripping of the children’s bodies brought tears to my eyes, but the men who ran the brothels were just as much to blame as the murderer.

As usual, the rich got away with their bad habits that would put the average person in jail.   While the poor might sleep several generations in one apartment.  Mass production did give people jobs, but those people were treated as part of the machinery with no safety precautions, lived in housing that should have been condemned, and had no medical care, nourishing food, or living wage.

TNT definitely knows drama!

Other sources:

Wikipedia

IMDb

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

Energetic and Talented Bruno Mars

I feared for the talented and energetic Bruno Mars and his Hooligans dancing outside on top of the Apollo Theater marquee in Harlem, New York, when I saw their 24K Magic Live at the Apollo show on CBS November 29, 2017.  After all, the building is 77 years old.

They did the Apollo proud with their stylish singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments.  I saw Bruno Mars sing a love ballad on an award show a couple of years ago.  Who knew that he would blow up!   My favorite song of his is the ironic love ballad “Grenade” in which he sings about the great lengths to which he would go to save his loved one (taking a grenade, train, bullet, etc.), but his loved one wouldn’t do the same for him.  I love the line– “…Tell the devil I said hey when you get back to where you’re from.”

I also saw Kathy Bates do a great impression of his 24K Magic song on the Lip Sync Battle television show recently.

www.doowopsandhooligans.weebly.com/band-members.html

www.apollotheater.org/about/history

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

 

 

Review of American Gods, Starz TV show

By Rosa Griffin

War is declared—old gods versus the new gods in April 2017!    What a climax for the finale of the first season of Starz’s American Gods cable television show.   Mr. Wednesday shows who he really is in the finale.  And, he gets Easter (or Ostero), female god of spring to reveal her true power that she held dormant for a long time, taking a back seat to new gods being worshipped.   So many gods, so little time.

Old gods were waning because they were no longer being worshipped.  New gods like technology, food, gambling, drug and sex addiction, etc., were moving into their territory and being worshipped.   Mr. World is a new god who sees no necessity for a war if the old gods join the new gods.   The cast is a delicious mix of diverse veterans as well as actors lesser known to me.

Dealing with the fickleness of the gods had always been violent.  And, if a few thousand humans were killed along the way on many occasions, it was to be expected.  Human survival has never worried the gods.

Old gods

Ian McShane plays Mr. Wednesday, who you know is either a powerful or crazy “man” from the beginning.

Rickie Whittle plays Shadow Moon, Mr. Wednesday’s human sidekick.

Emilie Browning plays Shadow’s wife, Laura, who died and came back mysteriously.

There is a “man” that leads you after death and also dresses dead bodies like a mortician.

Another “man” who dips his pen in “ink”, writes the stories told in a book, and helps the dead body dresser.

Pablo Schreiber, the tall handsome red-headed/bearded leprechaun, Mad Sweeney, is used as a pawn working for Mr. Wednesday and shares in the guilt of Laura’s death.  He explains to Laura that good people suffer sometimes more than bad because of the whim of the gods.

Yetide Batake plays Bilquis the goddess of love who swallows her worshippers whole.

Peter Stomare (one of my favorite actors) as the old Slavic god who kills with a hammer.

Corbin Bernsen as the Vulcan god of guns, based on the Roman god of weaponry and fire.  He snitches to the new gods.

Orlando Jones, Mr. Nancy, convinced me that he could tailor suits for Mr. Wednesday and Shadow Moon, although the spiders hanging around his threads were creepy.

Adult themes only.   All are pawns in Mr. Wednesday’s game of the combat to come.

The histories of the characters are wonderfully and painstakingly developed.   The cinematography and special effects held me spell bound.  The writing is flawless.  I can’t wait until next season.

Television Shows I Like as of 8/18/17

Kolchak:  The Night Stalker

A Place to Call Home

Preacher

American Gods

Big Bang Theory

Supernatural

Grimm

Taboo

Black Sails

Lucifer

Good Behavior

Two Broke Girls

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Penny Dreadful

Strange Sex

Humans

Being Human

Bitten

Lost Girl

Haven

Michael Moore (any documentary he produces)

Ken Burns (any documentary he produces)

American Horror Story (Season 1)

The Walking Dead (Season 1 & 2)

Monk

Poirot

Sherlock Holmes (all TV versions)

Agatha Christie anything

Ballykissangel

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Ms. Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Dr. Blake Mysteries

Doc Martin

Doctor Who

Father Brown

Foyle’s War

Midsomer Murders

Downton Abbey

Charlie Rose

Tavis Smiley

New Tricks

Living Single

Martin (Lawrence)

The Wayans Brothers

Are You Being Served

As Time Goes By

In Living Color

The Ed Sullivan Show

The Daily Show with John Stewart

Susie Orman financial presentations

True Blood

Twilight Zone

Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Thriller

Real Sex

Dark Shadows

Star Trek (all sequel versions)

Outer Limits

Tales from the Dark Side

 

(I must apologize for not blogging in 2016.   It was a rough year for me health-wise.   I plan on being more communicative every two weeks on Friday afternoons.   I may be talking about some of these shows some time in the future.  I’m sure I have left some out.)