Midsomer Murders

July 2, 2018

So yes, I am currently binge watching yet another British cozy mystery TV series on Netflix, along with I think half the people I know. And for much the same reason I binge-watched Poirot and Miss Fisher — Barnaby is just so comforting to be around. It also reminds me of living in the UK in the 90’s (I’m still on the early seasons which are set in the 90’s). After not very many episodes of these, one does start to draw conclusions.

1. I can’t help but think Hot Fuzz wasn’t just a parody of all cozy mystery series set in the English countryside, it’s actually straight-up a parody of Midsomer Murders, isn’t it? It’s the body count in each one that does it, I think.

2. I want to know more about why Sgt. Troy has an X-Files poster hanging in his bedroom.

3. Where I’m at in season three we’ve got to the point that all cozy mystery series eventually get to, some sooner rather than later, where the detective goes visiting relatives in order to find new murders to solve. That Barnaby is an actual homicide detective and yet still encounters dead bodies while innocently visiting aunts and things makes this trope particularly noteworthy here. I think Jessica Fletcher still holds the record for having the most relatives innocently and tangentially involved in murders.

4. Everyone was so excited to tell me about the birdwatching episode (which I haven’t got to yet) that they failed to mention the episode with the excruciating writing group that appears to include Lady Catherine de Bourgh (it isn’t her, I looked it up, but the mere thought of such a thing gave me nightmares).

5. Over the last couple of years I’ve binged Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Poirot, and now Midsomer Murders, and I have come to the inescapable conclusion that my own detective, Enid of Haven, has more in common with Tom Barnaby than either of the others. I believe this is mostly because the Coast Road more resembles the post-Thatcherite English countryside than it does jazz-age Europe or Melbourne.

Make of that what you will.

 

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TV catch up

April 13, 2018

My God.

It’s like I’ve been eating nothing but frozen chicken nuggets for the last six months. I mean, I like watching Flash and Supergirl, but they’ve both settled into their grooves and they’re not, like, earthshattering or anything. Rebels is great but it’s animated and sometimes I want more. Jessica Jones season 2 has been flat at best. I can’t even remember what other TV I’ve been watching.

Then I watched the new episodes of The Expanse and Legion.

Filet Mignon, perfectly cooked.

So damned beautiful. Like, they’re paying attention to the framing and the design and how it all comes together, and it’s got hooks and zing, and they’re showing me things I’ve never seen before.

As a fan of the books, I’ve been waiting for that Bobbie and Avasarala escape scene for years. Blasting off in the racing pinnace? So great I can hardly stand it. And now we’re going to Io? Yayayayayayayayay!!!

And Legion. There’s never been anything like this. I love it.

Hell yes.

 

I’m actually kind of stalled out on TV watching for the moment. Distracted by other things, just not interested, I’m not sure what. It’s actually not a bad thing, not being in the mood for TV. I’ve been reading a ton, these past couple of weeks. Of course that may be from all my library holds coming due AT THE SAME TIME. Heh.

Star Trek: Discovery:  I finally finished it, and while I liked a lot of it — the characters, the twist, the novelty of having a clear protagonist with a clear arc rather than the usual ensemble format of Star Trek, it also had a lot that just pissed me off. The soap-opera nature of the drama. So many places where everyone was just dumb as bricks. (Seriously, how many times does Burnham decide that the right thing to do is completely interrupt the very dangerous situation they’re in to go ask someone — usually someone really untrustworthy — about how to handle Klingons? Too many times.)  Really aggravating. Not sure I’m on board for season 2. People keep saying “but the first season of a new Trek is always bad!” Okay. Sure. But I’m afraid that the faults on this one are baked into the show’s ethos.

Jessica Jones season 2:  So, I watched two episodes and was kind of “meh” and wasn’t going to watch any more but I heard it got better so I watched the third, which starts with Jessica and Trish getting rid of a body, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember where or how the body came from. Like, no memory of how they got into this situation in what was clearly a continuation of what happened in the previous episode. And this may be why I’m not watching a lot of TV right now — I’m just not engaged enough to even pay attention.

And Star Wars Rebels is finished. Argh!

Maybe when Legion and The Expanse start back up in a couple of weeks my level of engagement will kick back in.

Oh — the book recommendation:  All Systems Red by Martha Wells. It’s a space opera/cyborg story. A cyborg trying to get along with people who don’t understand it, which is a story we’ve all seen before. But the voice on this one is so good, so distinct and engaging, that it blew me away.

There are apparently sequels on the way. *grabby hands*

 

TV catchup

February 26, 2018

I will never catch up on all the TV I want to watch. I just need to be resigned to that.

Altered Carbon:  Watched the first episode and haven’t heard anything that encourages me to watch further. So…much…cyberpunk…  and I think three dead women he’s pining over? I dunno.

The Flash:  I love how they’ve just gone full gonzo this season. Nothing makes sense. I like it anyway.

Runaways: It really feels YA and that’s a good thing and I liked it.

Legion and The Expanse are about to start back up. Star Wars: Rebels has aired but I haven’t seen it yet.

I decided to give up on The Orville. It wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t looking forward to it. I am, however, looking forward to catching up on Discovery, even though it’s kind of weird and upsetting. The second Mudd episode was kind of great. (That’s the most recent episode I’ve seen, so no spoilers, I’m way behind. That’s where the catching up comes in.)

And there’s all the stuff I haven’t watched. Babylon Berlin looks right up my alley in terms of style-heavy historical and I’ve heard good things. Britannia has been recommended to me. And is that right that Sean Bean has a new series?  I’ve also heard that I need to watch The Good Place but I’m a little scared to.

Peak TV. Argh.

 

I run this thought experiment every now and then:  what would it be like to watch TV with Thomas Jefferson? First off it’s a fun image. But it’s also a way to think on what the Founding Fathers might have thought about what the future looks like, especially the future of the U.S., when some of them weren’t sure their new country would even outlast them.

This week, because I’m very studiously avoiding politics, I’ve been watching the Olympics with Thomas Jefferson.

I think he’d be delighted with the entire concept of the Olympics — athletes around the world competing in the name of achievement and sportsmanship. (Yes, I know all the arguments about the Olympics being corrupt and a huge money sink. Let’s talk ideals here.)  For an Enlightenment-era thinker, a peaceful international sporting competition inspired by the ancient Greek games is pretty much the pinnacle of human accomplishment. He’d love it.

I think he’d be nonplussed at the sheer number of countries. Dozens and dozens of them. So many countries.

I think he’d also be nonplussed by the image of women competing in skintight outfits.  But I think he’d slowly come around when it’s explained to him how hard women had to fight to be able to compete at any sports at all. And I’d remind him that Abigail Adams would love it and be so proud of them.

Winter sports, however, would be kind of baffling in general. How many different ways can we find to go very fast on ice? Lots. Lots of ways.

And I think he’d be absolutely fascinated by electronic timekeeping. The ability to measure and compare speeds out to a hundredth of a second, instantaneously. He was a scientist on top of everything else he did, and in some ways that’s the most astonishing part of modern sports.

 

It’s award nomination season time again (I’m eligible to nominate for both the Nebula and the Hugo, and I try really hard to do both). I’ve already posted my own work, and now in the interest of completion I want to post about other people’s work that I really liked.

As usual, I haven’t read nearly as much as I should, especially in the area of short fiction. One of my goals this week is to try to cram in some reading to find some gems. I have, however, managed to get in a few novels — mostly new entries by old favorites.

Tool of War, by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is set in the same world as his Shipbreaker and The Drowned Cities, and nicely wraps up the stories of characters from all those books.  These are some of the best action/thriller novels you’ll read, and all grounded in really solid and thought-provoking science fiction, mostly in the areas of climate change and bio-engineering. Good stuff.

Persepolis Rising, by James S.A. Corey. The latest in the Expanse, and this book does something I don’t think I’ve ever seen space opera of this kind do. Plenty of space opera deals with galactic empires and the fall of galactic empires. This one covers the start of one.  It’s great.

Best series:  The Hugos have a Best Series category with some pretty specific requirements, and I’m happy that once again Wild Cards qualifies. I know I’m totally biased on this one, but this is a series that’s been running for 30 years, with 20+ volumes, and has remained cohesive and consistent and is also some of the best superhero storytelling in the genre. It really deserves a nod.

Movies:  Always a fun category. I’m definitely going to nominate Colossal, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Downsizing (I gave it an A for effort if not execution).  I’ll probably also nominate Wonder Woman.

But TV is where things are really going to get tough this years. We’re at some kind of peak TV. It’s amazing how much good TV there is out there. Enough that so-so shows I would have put up with 10 years ago are just right out now. Who has time for so-so when there’s so much great?

I’ve got three shows I really want to push this year. The Expanse, of course. Probably episode 2.13, “Caliban’s War.” You know, the one where everything goes to hell. Again. Love it.

Legion. I can’t stop thinking about this show. My favorite episode is “Chapter 7,” the one that operates on three different levels of reality, where David talks to himself and figures out some of his past, and then becomes a true and honest-to-goodness superhero, much to everyone’s consternation.

And finally Star Wars: Rebels hasn’t just grown on me, it’s become one of my favorite things on TV, and I’m kind of dreading the show ending this year. It’s because of the prequel thing:  with the exception of a couple of cameos in Rogue One, most of these guys don’t show up later. I’m very worried. But never mind that for now. Last year included what may be my favorite episode of the show:  3.15, “Trials of the Darksaber,” in which Kanan Jarrus finally comes into his own as a mentor, and Sabine finally comes to terms with her past. And they do it at the same time, together, in a great piece of storytelling. (In looking up this episode #, I discovered the Kanan is voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr., which I somehow had not figured out before. The man who starred in Wing Commander, all grown up.)

 

monday update

January 29, 2018

It was my birthday yesterday! It was a laid-back birthday weekend, and sometimes that’s okay. Officially tired of winter, even though we need more snow. If it’s going to be cold I at least want there to be snow to go with it. Except that means it’s harder to get out and ride horses. Argh.

The latest secret WiP hit 50,000 words yesterday. So that was nice.

Waiting on a bunch of other stuff. I hate waiting.

I’ve been watching Runaways, and I like it quite a lot. It’s interesting — it’s rather slow paced, because there are five families we’re following, who each have their own foibles and storylines. It’s a lot to pack in, and it takes its time.But it does a pretty good job. (Contrast this with Inhumans, where every single line of dialog was ham-handed exposition. I only made it through two episodes.)

I think the slow pace actually helps ramp up the tension an incredible amount. We know right away something is horribly wrong — and we know the kids are in terrible, terrible danger right from the start. It’s all just waiting to see it hit the fan.  I messaged a friend, “I am so worried about these kids! So worried!”

I think it also helps that I’m not attached to the comic, because the show changes a lot.  I went back to the few issues I have to check. And I have to say, I really like the changes the show makes. It’s more streamlined, the backstories are all firmly established in our world and don’t need the larger context of the Marvel comics universe to explain them the way the comics do.

But the most important thing, the dinosaur Old Lace, is there. And she’s adorable.