In Uncategorized on April 20, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Snow-clad Minnesota, a stray deer bounding in front of a car with someone knocking in the boot to get out causing a distraction and an accident waiting to happen was the intriguing opener. This then cut to a flashback of small town life in a typical small town American idyll.

Martin Freeman, playing Lester, when not being embroiled in marital discourse, chasing insurance clients away with his over-eagerness to sell or being beaten up by his high school nemesis contemplated his lot and decided it should be a whole lot different. Egged on by dangerous drifter Billy Bob Thornton to disclose all the gory details he agreed that the bully didn’t deserve to draw breath. Hess, the bully and reputed gun runner connected with Fargo, had  karma about to catch up and bite him hard.

Lester was surrounded by American idiots  - the kind that want the biggest of everything and believe that you have no value as a human being unless you are one of the upwardly mobile with a closet full of guns, legal or otherwise. It was easy for a British audience to see why he snapped eventually but I wonder what an American audience makes of it all. They try to emulate that stereotype of success and the good old boy mentality is not normally shown to be unlikable.

The homicides and general violence racked up throughout the episode and small town America never looked so interesting. It is by turns darkly comedic and violent. It looks like a series to be watched.


Endeavour – Neverland

In Reviews on April 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

A boy, Tommy Cork, is reported missing from a broken home. Meanwhile, the body of a journalist is found on a railway line in mysterious circumstances. 

Establishing interior shots of a prison and rosary beads with a soundtrack of a church choir which was eventually revealed to be one Morse was a member of. The “Amens” were juxtaposed with the “Ahhs” of Detective Inspector Thursday at his medical, someone being given a rather large cheque for a Widows and Orphans charity, lot of shots of burlesque, a dummy winking at the camera, a grey estate with everything being bought on tick (neverneverland), a runner running off into a field in early morning mist and the title sequence took us right into the story with all the elements that would prove to be important. It was a clever way of giving us multifaceted information in a short space of time. Within three minutes we had everything we needed to settle into the story, even if we were first time viewers.

A time of voluntary streamlining was mooted to Thursday by his obsequious boss who had already taken Morse’s ideas and passed them off as his own in an important speech. He categorically refused to go into training of new cadets and said it was being on the front line or nothing for him.

A death by misadventure on the railway lines of Eric Paterson proved to be death by “Mr Blunt-object-to-the-skull” and he had missed at least one appointment. It was unlikely to be coincidental that he had been asking questions about the charity event on the Saturday and had arranged to meet the local journalist before he died.



The whodoneit element of these programmes is only part of the appeal. A sense of time and place, a nod to a quaint version of England that is fast disappearing and actors good enough to make us overlook that Morse proper has been off our screens for more than a decade.

Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, Jack Laskey, Sean Rigby, James Bradshaw, Shvorne Marks, Abigail Thaw and Sara Vickers are all believable in their roles – although I would have expected more to have been made of a black/white relationship by others at that time even if the growing love between Morse and his girlfriend was all that was important to the characters themselves.

The “cherchez l’argent” rule doesn’t always apply to the motivations of the baddies in such dramas. In this case it was a red herring but to say more would give too much away. All I will say is that the ending was the kind that makes you chuck a cushion at the TV.

Rupture – Simon Lelic

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Rupture, or A Thousand Cuts in the US, is a first novel by Simon Lelic. Set in the sweltering heat of the city in summer what should be an open and shut case bears closer examination by a female inspector. Lucia is interested in why a fairly new History teacher at a secondary school which is about to be  a flagship Government success story has fired a gun at assembly killing several children and a teacher before turning the gun on himself.

The chapters alternate between Lucia’s experiences in the course of the investigation and the people she interviews giving their versions of events. As Lucia digs deeper she finds, that of course, there was more to it than meets the eye. Lucia continues to dig even when it means that she will be in trouble herself and she descends into old habits while acting like a dog with an old smelly bone. There’s little to be gained by holding on, but she can’t quite give up.

No doubt for artistic reasons Lelic doesn’t use quotation marks and his characters say “would of” and have other annoying tics. The English teacher in me wanted to bring out a big red pen – something I don’t even own – just to make a few changes here and there to aid understanding but of course it was done to add an air of authenticity to the chapters meant to be recordings of interviews. It is difficult for an author to successfully write in a number of character voices and to try and carry off about thirteen was ambitious. Was it over-ambitious? I’m not sure. 

The main thrust of the story is how institutions toss some people to the wolves in order for the institution to survive. 

Sadly, the miscreants rang all too true and I could have changed the central pupil’s character with a name – or two – of my own. There are of course stereotypes – like the unreconstructed PE teacher who wants to be one of the lads, or the police officer who is a disgrace to the badge – but stereotypes exist for a reason. They are out there in real life and easily identifiable to everyone who will read this book.


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