Monday, June 23, 2014

Upcoming BBC Mystery - 2014, 2015

This is older information - for the latest, follow this link. 

Endeavour - 2nd season. Americans can catch this excellent Inspector Morse prequel every Sunday on PBS, from July 6 to July 20. Bringing back Shaun Evans as Endeavour Morse, and the lovely Roger Allam as his ursine mentor, Inspector Fred Thursday, the show follows the pair as they investigate a series of murders among Oxford's evocative spires. Needless to say, there shall be opera, ale, romance, and old cars. For those of you who can't wait, check out my reviews: Trove, Nocturne, Sway, and Neverland.

Agatha Christie's Poirot - 13th and final season. At last, we on this side of the pond are going to see the conclusion to the long-running series starring David Suchet as the eponymous Belgian. The old cast members, Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson, and Pauline Moran, will reprise their roles as, respectively, Captain Hastings, Inspector Japp, and Miss Lemon. Two episodes will air on the PBS Sundays after Endeavour, July 27 and August 3 - these two, and the last three will be exclusively online at every Monday from July 28 to August 25. Update - Reviews thus far: The Big Four, Dead Man's Folly, Elephants Can Remember, The Labours of Hercules.

Gracepoint - 1st season. Already filmed, and also starring David Tennant, this American remake of the superb British miniseries Broadchurch will air this fall on Fox. Frankly, I'm skeptical. The trailer seems a point-for-point copy of the original - nothing unique. Another thing: will they keep the religious element? It was essential. My review of the original.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sherlock Holmes - The Aragorn Complex

[The third of a series of posts which bind my twin loves, philosophy and TV detectives, for no reason whatsoever. Previously: Broadchurch: By Grace Ye Have Been Saved, Inspector Morse: The Transcendence of Art. Upcoming: Foyle's War and moral absolutes.]
Irene Adler: Do you know the big problem with a disguise, Mr. Holmes? However hard you try, it's always a self-portrait. 
Sherlock: You think I'm a vicar with a bleeding face? 
Irene Adler: No, I think you're damaged, delusional and believe in a higher power. In your case it's yourself. 
~Sherlock Season 2: A Scandal in Belgravia

According to Guinness World Records, Sherlock Holmes is the single most portrayed literary human character ever. There’s just something about this middle-aged white bloke in a deer-stalker that awakens the fanatic in a person. In modern times, we tend to shape him in the image of our own cultural mores (as we have Doctor Who)Watching the representative Holmes of each decade is almost like an automatic acid test of the zeitgeist. The latest two, in particular, highlight our modern take on heroes.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Inspector Morse - The Transcendence of Art

[The second of a series of posts which bind my twin loves - philosophy/theology and TV detectives - for no reason whatsoever. Previously: Broadchurch - By Grace Ye Have Been Saved. Up next: Sherlock Holmes - The Aragorn Complex. Upcoming: Foyle's War and moral absolutes.]

“Your aesthetic sense seems to be causing you no end of trouble, Chief Inspector,” says one suspect in the enormous body of Oxford-dwellers under investigation by Inspector Morse.

Anybody that has known me more than a week or two will probably tell you that one of my nerd obsessions is British detective shows. But my standards are high. While your average chalk-and-cheese buddy-cop mystery show is fun, I get bored unless it starts to take a stab at something deeper (see Midsomer Murders, Elementary).

Inspector Morse, at first glance, doesn’t seem to do this. Morse is a broody intellectual with odd habits. Sergeant Robbie Lewis, his partner, is a cheerful, ordinary family man. It’s the Formula. 

But Morse is more than the sum of his eccentricities (as, for instance, Hercule Poirot has become under the subtle grooming of David Suchet.) Morse doesn’t just like good things because they are commonly accepted as Good Things, but because they are genuinely excellent. And while the show has shot Oxford’s homicide rate into the stratosphere, its mystery doesn’t really center around death, but around life, and the longing for something transcendent.