Sunday, 26 September 2010

I watched a wonderfully over-the-top performance by Elizabeth Taylor in The Mirror Crack'd this morning, with Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple. In fact there was a pretty stellar cast, including a very youthful Pierce Brosnan in a non-speaking role.

But the star of the whole piece by far was a floral swimming cap Liz wore for the party scene, a stylish headpiece we sadly see very little of today.


Monday, 23 August 2010

So it's been a while, I know. I've been busy. Busy watching mysteries that is.

New kids on the block (well, my block anyway) include -

Castle (on alibi)
The smokin' hot captain from Firefly is a famous crime novelist. After helping the police with their investigations into a series of murders apparently based on his books, he takes a shine to the detective in charge (feisty, gorgeous and about as hard-bitten as hollywood gets) and inveigles his way into her team as a sort of advisor.

So far, so good (ish).

(oops, wrong castle)

Unfortunately the stories are all run of the mill, sub-CSI/Law & Order and mundane. Plus they're shot to look like Desperate Housewives, Weeds et al. Castle's snazzy apartment, wise-head-on-young-shoulders daughter and flighty but fun mother are also too identikit to make you care one iota about them.

It's a shame, but it's a real let-down. Only worth watching if you've run out of Diagnosis Murders. And that's saying something.

Oh there they are - look, she's wearing a sassy, don't-mess-with-me leather jacket

Moonlighting (on DVD)
What an AMAZING programme. We used to occasionally be allowed to stay up and watch it when we were kids. Even now I can remember how exciting, how illicit that felt.

Once, when my Dad came back from a trip to Hong Kong we stayed up to see him when he arrived back late and Moonlighting was on. In amongst the presents he brought back there was a little turquoise dressing gown with a Chinese dragon embroidered on the back for me. Even now I think of that as one of the best nights of my life. I can remember it so clearly, watching David and Maddie bickering, talking over each other in rapid-fire staccato sentences, Dad walking in the living room larger than life. It was so exciting we even put the big light on.

Thinking back it must only have been on at about 9.30pm, but it felt like midnight.

Now I'm watching them again years later, years older, and I'm struck by how much fun they are. The stories themselves are pretty preposterous - let's face it they're just the framework to hang all the flirting, moralising and sarcastic quips on.

Oh, and the fashion. The glorious, ridiculous fashion! Eat your heart out ladies, there's never been anyone as consistently stylish as Miss Maddie Hayes. The gigantic shoulder pads, from which hang the softest peach-coloured satins (not silk, natch, this is the eighties). The over-sized clutch bags, co-ordinated with neutral shaded court shoes. The big hair, so perfectly coiffed and hairsprayed to within an inch of its life.

Now I see why there's a ruddy great hole in the ozone layer. It's all thanks to the Elnett-happy hair stylist.

And they don't ever really solve the mysteries. The stories either wrap themselves up of their own accord, or else someone dies and it sort of fizzles out. One episode finishes with Maddie wielding a fire-hose on a hotel stairwell and everyone is left in a soaking heap on the floor. No summing up. No gathering of the suspects. Nothing but a madcap chase round the building and a truck load of water.


I wonder if we'll ever see a Law & Order / Without a Trace / CSI finish like that. It'd be a bold and brave move.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

NCIS - Not Convincing, It's Stupid

I watched one of the latest NCIS episodes this week, and it's the same old stilted, inappropriate banter, fake bonhomie and unlikely characters as usual. These people are in turns deeply unprofessional, borderline sociopathic and utterly incompetent. And when they're not, they're the worst offenders for trotting out long complex monologues about what the problem was and exactly how they arrived at the final explanation. Always when they're against the clock! I might try that at work, see how it goes...

Oh Jethro, you may be the irascible leader of a motley, improbable investigative team - but you're still a looker!

well, hello lay-deez...

Meanwhile... on the latest CSI: New York (my favourite of the CSI series) there was a woman slowly losing oxygen and contracting hypothermia in a death-trap water tank. When Mac Taylor solved the riddle that would enable them to rescue her, instead of just rushing over and doing what had to be done, he stood in front of the team and explained - line by line! ha! - why it was the correct answer to the riddle. Y'know, like you would if a young woman's life was hanging by a thread and every second counted. I mean, it's always important that everyone understands that you got it right, and exactly how you came to that conclusion, before you save someone's life.

On a slightly different note, I found this picture of Gary Sinise online - looks like smiling is painful. Stick to the moody roles Gary!

what, like this? but it hurts!

Monday, 1 March 2010

So as I was writing my first post I switched on alibi (oh how I love thee, murder mystery cable channel) and they were showing the MSW cross-over episode with Magnum P.I. (Magnum on Ice). I've seen it before as it's included in my box-set of series 1-5 and, although it isn't one of the best, it certainly has considerable entertainment value given that it involves 2 mid-eighties tv regulars at the top of their game. Oh yes, they're on fire!

I've never seen such a dazzling array of pastel-coloured floral wrap dresses (on Jessica, natch) - it's as if she's the walking embodiment of Hawaiian glamour. It's a shame they use the 'he's behind you!' trick a little too often (twice in less than five minutes!) but apart from that there is real chemistry between the two main actors.

It's a 2-parter and Jessica only features in the second episode. Unfortunately this means that the first episode (which is focused solely on Magnum) isn't included on the MSW DVD sets or in the series runs on tv. So I've never seen it!

There's an excellent scene in which Magnum (who for their first few meetings, Jessica calls 'Mr Magnum' - ooh she's a proper lady) breaks into Jessica's hotel room while she's running a bath. He compliments her on her writing (he's just finished one of her books) and tells her that he likes the way her mind works. As unlikely as it may seem, I think he's coming on to her! She sure is hot stuff, standing there in her bathrobe (which he also compliments her on).
I love murder mysteries. I love reading them. I love watching them on tv, film and in the theatre. I love talking about them with my family and friends. And now I love blogging about them. I cannot state how much I love murder mysteries of all kinds.

I've been a fan of Murder, She Wrote (MSW) since I was a little girl. It used to be a special treat to be allowed to watch it. I can remember being thrilled that I was actually watching a programme with the word 'murder' in the title! With my parents' consent as well! Shocking. Of course, it isn't exactly CSI - you rarely see the dead body and in an episode I watched recently the body lying on the morgue slab was visibly breathing. You could even see his eyes moving under the lids! Brilliant! (In case you're wondering, it was episode 2, series 1, called 'Deadly Lady' about a millionaire's supposed death aboard his luxury yacht).

I also really loved the ITV original Miss Marple series starring Joan Hickson, mainly because the era was re-created so convincingly. The clothing, the accents, the way they made it look real and not like a pantomime version of the fifties (are you listening, ITV makers of recent Poirot episodes??). I'm not entirely sure why, but the actors looked at home in their costumes - which in fact made them look less like costumes and just their regular clothes. In the new episodes of Agatha Christie adaptations the clothes seem to be wearing them, not the other way round.

I was cajoled into starting this blog by my brother ( who seems to think that my almost encyclopedic knowledge of certain mystery series is too good not to share with the world. So here I am! I'm not sure where to start, so I might start with the next one I watch... won't be long then!