Would that I could keep this up the whole time, but alas a diet solely consisting of whisky, flu tablets and painkillers just isn't practical when one has to hold down a proper job and household without all that 'support' that those vacuous little children in Hollywood refer to, if ever, when explaining how they maintain their fabulous jetsetting lifestyles, shiny homes and bony hips. Grumble.
Anyhoo, household managed under duress (freezing temps, annoyed parrots) and some of the mighty dvd backlog caught up on.
Just about up to date on Burn Notice, and just as well as Friday's ep went MIA from the tv schedule (if they moved it, I never found it).
I wasn't keeping up with Burn Notice because it was very same old same old so I was rather surprised to read they'd actually moved forward on the whole burn notice thing, and, well, I'd have had to lie down if I hadn't already been lying down when I read that. I mean, golly. Not that it's much progress per se, as Michael seems to be still tracking down the people wot burnt him, but whatever. USA shows are gripped in the iron vice of formula and plot by numbers and Burn Notice has a likeable enough cast to sail me through the most improbable shenanigans. I don't mind the addition of Grant Show as Michael's CIA fanboy, Jesse is still a waste of space and Michael's mother is still twenty times scarier than he is, as it should be.
In one of the repeeats on W, which I was also catching up on as Ten has a nasty habit of cutting out stuff that will be immportant later (I had no idea Michael had a brother until I saw the episodes on W), and there was a line about Sam mothering Michael. Well, of course Sam mothers Michael, and Michael usually doesn't mind it. Why would he? Have you seen Michael's mother? Not a lot of mothering there, snorkle.
Also, bemused at the anitpodean slang that keeps popping up. I mean, Sam saying things like 'easy peasy' I get because we've seen the video evidence that Bruce has been to the land of the long white (Xena/Hercules). But Michael chucking a u-ey and gunning it? Really?
Hawaii Five-0? No idea, Ten vanished that, too. The finale went completely MIA last night. Had I known, I would have had a much needed early night (you can never set Ten shows as they never ever screen when scheduled) but I gave up after 35 mins, bugger that for a game of soldiers, I was tired and unwell and not best pleased.
Leverage? S3 on W is winding up and I'm catching up on S4. The first episode was boring, but the second, I squealed, I screamed, I'd seen a ghost: Tim in his father's hat. It was Leverage doing Ellery Queen, and I really should have guessed that from the title but hello to Little Miss Slow On The Uptake. Thank goodness I was a fan of both and had just ripped through the dvd box set, but I guess that was the idea and it was a perfect pastiche/homage to the Ellery Queen episodes, complete with costumes, creepy mansion, and hidden passages.
But it was Tim playing Nate playing Jim playing Ellery that was the biggest head fuck I've had all year. The hat was bad enough but then he started throwing in all the mannerisms. Seriously, Tim, just when I stop seeing your dear late father every time I switch on Leverage, you go and put on the hat. It was fun, though, I loved it. I do wonder though, how it was for Tim as he must have surely had to have sat through the box set himself. Whatever, silly fun. Had to be done.
Torchwood. Which we get to see before the UK in some weird fluke and I'd spoil spoil spoil up the top of this post, before the fold, but I cannae be bothered, even if I do owe the bastards for last time. So, Gwen and family, Jack, PC Andy and a whole lot of very earnest and serious Yanks in a story that seemed to be rolling forward at the time but didn't really get anywhere except get the gang back together again during a rather pointless but very dramatic helicopter chase along the beach. I did like Gwen grabbing the earmuffs for the bub before firing at said chopper, it was a nice touch, very Clive Owen.
I don't know where it's going but I liked it very much, the American writers tightened it up a lot (bang bang bang) and the American money made it all very shiny and gee whiz (bang bang bang). So, Jack's the only person on the planet right now who can get an oopsie. Interesting. Some of the other zombies, more than a bit gruesome. American CIA guy, really annoying and patronising.
But yeah, interesting. I'd try and recap, but it was mainly a lot of running about, exposition and recapping and explosions, but it was cool, and I've missed Jack, I really have. So happy so see Jack back on the telly. Also, No real spoilers so far to really eff up the Brits. Pity. I so owe you for the Ianto death notice spoilers, I really, really do.
White Collar. Still in the cute puppyness of S1 over on W, my channel du jour of the moment, it seems. It was the bible one, and I appreciated Peter's scepticism because I thought any minute now Neal was going to break out the acoustic guitar. Seriously, bro, dial it back a notch, will ya?
Mainly, because I had to watch it the next day on the couch with the Peanut Gallery, there was minor heckling, like when Peter tells Neal to avail himself pronto and Neal flounces out (and flounce is the word) in a blue and grey ensemble and then arrives in black. More costume changes than Modesty Blaise or Mrs Bradley I note. Oh, he just didn't get the memo on everyone wearing black and went to change in a phonebooth, reasons the Peanut Gallery.
Continuity error: Neal states here he was never a gun guy, forgetting the round in the chamber, and also, taking a few dollars off the value of the book by using it as a shield. Not half as cute as the old hip flask catch, but I guess you go with what you've got.
Neal is oddly cooperative in this episode, and Peter actually uses Neal's mad thief skillz to solve the case via illegal searches (I can imagine the chaps over at Law and Order frothing over fruit of a poisonous tree or whatever it is, but never mind). Peter is also the man with the facts, even though Neal is established as a master forger of ye olde parchments, but whatever. It's a taste of what could have been, even if Neal's scenes with the femme fatale of the week borders on the cringeworthy in their awkwardness (girl germs! girl germs!).
The other one was the stolen gold artefacts one, where Neal has the cheek to be mildly appalled, starring Newcastle's own Sarah Wynter as the femme of the week. Oh, they love their bad girls over on White Collar. I love how cheeky Neal is. I love how, when Peter is chucked out of his own home he makes a beeline for Neal's, and makes himself so at home there, too. I just love how friendly the boys are in these early episodes.
Somebody should really point out how happy Neal is running about with Peter, and how miserable he is running after Kate and her sadistic scavanger hunt, and how desperate were they for the sub if they could wait months for Neal to wave the bottle label near an open flame. I mean, seriously. The world's most half arsed plan. Just sit back and wait for Neal to figure it out, never mind the variables? And I thought the schemes of some Bond villains were convoluted and overly complicated.
I was amused that when they're filming down at Times Square they go to all the trouble to make the fake tv station, yet in the window you can clearly see the CBS logo reflected. Reminded me of the first episode of Adam Adamant where he ascends to the top of the car park and there's a big ITV sign in the shot. Which would be fine, if it wasn't actually a BBC show.
Anyway, Neal is so cute in this episode, just adorable.
In series three, it was the black widow one, and yes, Matty did get the Texan accent out, sounding far less Texan than he ever does in series one, to my further bemusement. Oh, it was so silly, but worth it to see Tim tango. Oh my. Oh my indeed. It was nice to have a Peter episode, with Peter being decent, sexy as anything and lovely.
It was also sweet to see Neal playing nice with the team, even being nice to Diana, too. So sad that he's being entirely dishonest (or is he?). It's a pity Neal never gets to see Peter dance, I was kind of looking forward to one of those jaw dropping smiles Neal does, like when Peter took off on the horse last season. Neal squee, in other words.
So, no Neal squee, alas, but it was a cute enough episode, and I loved the 'insurance investigator Barbie' snip from Diana. Yay. At least Peter has recovered all the smarts and cunning and mad surprise skillz he had back in the first series, the stuff that made me (and Neal) love him so. Peter has to be a match for Neal, not a comedy foil. I notice too that Mozzie has been far less clownish this series, and I appreciate it, though I still resent him bitterly for being the santa on Neal's shoulder (cf the Bell Company's performance of Faustus). But I suppose that's the whole deal, the two of them, fighting their cold war over Neal.
I don't know what Neal is playing at though, playing at boyfriends while he's got his bags backed and fake passport burning a hole in his pocket. I guess Neal really is a bastard, after all. (Gentlemen writers, this sort of behavious is not considered winning by most women, there's bad boys and then there are those who are just bad news).
The Eagle. So I bit the bullet, unwrapped it and decided to see just what exactly they'd done to my Marcus. To recap, The Eagle of the Ninth is one of my most favourite books ever, so much so that my first trip to the UK was pretty much a pilgrimage in Marcus's footsteps, from Dover via Reading, Bath and York, to Carlisle and the wall and over into the lands of the wild painted peoples, aka dinner with my family.
So, Marcus mumble mumble as our dear little American actor introduces himself. Sigh. Okay, I get that they used Americans to symbolise where the empire building is going on these days, except there is no American empire - where are the roads, offices, hospitals, brothels, pubs, theatres and shops that the Romans and Brits knew how to supply to the funny little locals? Anyhoo, pretty but mumblely Yank, from the American mumble school of acting (I am incomprehensible, therefore I am intense), aside, it was chock full of Brits, even though I never recognised Dougie and Mark until the credits rolled. That was never Douglas 'I don't even bother to text in my performances these days' Henshall. But it was.
I guess the American accents were just a bit jarring as I'm used to my be-toga'd personages speaking in crisp RP, and I was fretting that they were about to turn my beloved childhood treasure into another effing 'Nam film, and you can imagine how my poor heart sank when we open with squaddies paddling their way up dank looking water courses. Fortunately we were onto more familiar territory after that terrifying little opener.
My biggest relief was how it was reasonably and surprisingly faithful to the book. I had some quibbles, but once we got to the end and I realised they were for dramatic and slashy purposes, I settled back and let them get on with it. I'm not sure how you could slash up EOTN anf further, but they managed it, removing even the cockblocking Cotia. I'm also okay with them removing the whole Marcus disguised as a mad Greek eye doctor bit. Possibly a bit too colourful for our mumbling hero, and a bit too plotty for a two hour film, though it did address the whole how on earth does this Roman soldier think he's going to pass through hostile territory thing in the book.
It's also been a couple of yerars since I last read the book, but wasn't Esca freed before the grand adventure? It seemed rather unsporting to force Esca up the A1 without his considered consent. I could be wrong though, I've been working my way through the back catalogue and it has all started to blur. But I'm pretty sure in the book it was a big thing that Esca was free to choose.
I wasn't that impressed when I heard they'd cast Jamie Bell as Esca, and I'm still not thoroughly convinced, but he was a good enough counterpoint to Mumbling Marcus, and I kind of liked this new, shifty Esca, especially as his doubtful loyalties and probable literal back stabbiness were the main plotz. Oh joy when he revealed himself completely loyal to Marcus, so loyal. Oh, love!!! This is proper buddy stuff.
So, all that brooding and glowering before, that was just Esca being Esca then, huh? Well, he was from oop north, I guess. I just adored the boys walking off grinning together, never mind that in the book all of Marcus's hopes about restoring honour and the legion were shattered, the good folks of Iowa demanded a happy ending, bugger the history books (yes, the eagle, pure piffle, but the Ninth was gone for good). Just for once, I concur with Iowa. Bestest buddies should always walk off into the sunset together.
So, is there any good EOTN slash out there? Because damn, there wasn't any about that I could get my hands on when I first read the book (yes, I was twelve, but I sure wasn't reading it wrong).
I'm also bemused that the dvd contained an unrated version, with stuff too strong for a modern film audience, but quite okay for a kiddies book. Snork. They should try making The Mark Of The Horse Lord. That really is grim and depressing.
Never mind, basically, I liked it, it wasn't bad, it was very close to the spirit of the book, even if they fudged quite a bit in the second reel. Phew! Marcus check A-OK. I was so worried, it being a sacred childhood text and all, but it was better than I ever could have hoped.
Not like when we saw an ad for the Borgias and were thinking of other historical dynasties ripe for the plucking, like the Hanovarians: Puddings! More Puddings! We've lost the American colonies. Even more puddings! With George IV played by some buff 24 year old American. Or, better yet, to really mess with our heads, Hugh Laurie in full House mode (Blackadder reference). Heh.
Oh, one more thing. Dear filmakers, when your sword and sandal brief says Act 1, Scene 1: The Bronze Age, they don't actually mean that everything was bronze or of a bronze pallate. I swear, if I see one more bronzed up bronze age flick...oh, hello, Henry Cavill. Looking particularly bronzed today, are we?
Literal Filmaking 101, I see.
Sorry, it's one of the many things I adored about That Mitchell and Webb Look, the way they always got the lighting exactly right for whatever they were skewering, be it Spooks (big on the artic blues) or a 70s sitcom (big on the browns).
That was pretty much it, I think.
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