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Happy Christmas!

13 long years

No, I suppose they weren’t really. 13 years can fly by if they want to.

Handily, one of my dreams before I woke up this morning provided a few extra episodes of NCIS. And no, I can’t recall what they were like. Just that I was sitting comfortably, watching them.

It’s handy, in that one of the reasons CultureWitch set up shop was so she could go on and on about NCIS. To begin with she did, but more recently it looks like she’s been busy [with other things]. Had tea and cinnamon buns with Son and Dodo at the weekend. Dodo was never a fan of NCIS when Son tried it on her, but it appears that he is gradually wearing down resistance. They are now on season nine, which for Son will be the umpteenth reviewing. And as he pointed out, you notice things when you return to the old stuff.

The other thing Culture wanted to go on and on about was Roger Whittaker. He has sensibly retired. But not so much that he didn’t provide a brief telephone greeting to his fans via the German Fan page on Facebook a few weeks ago. I believe it was an ‘I am proving I’m still alive and well’ kind of message. (The German popular press likes exaggerating.) He said he was writing new songs. Maybe you can’t keep a good songwriter down. I doubt he will record, but would be more than happy to be proven wrong.

One of the comments Son made about NCIS is that when it began, Mark Harmon was the right age to be a federal agent. Today marks Mark’s 70th birthday – ☺️ – and he is really too old for this federal agenting. Perhaps the cliffhanger back in May was to herald Gibbs sailing into the sunset?

Anyway.

I’d be breaking out the cake and the 13 candles later, were it not for an actual invite to an actual blog related party. Garden variety, so we can breathe, but not necessarily on each other.

Not even if

Did you see the photo in the press – in my case The Guardian – of people enjoying themselves in a nightclub on the evening of July 19th? It didn’t take long, did it?

And then someone asked me if I’d come along to a concert in December. Doesn’t matter which concert, or where. Although, the fact that it’d take an hour to get there and I’ve never been before is somewhat anxiety inducing. But apparently the tickets were for unreserved seats. And not unreserved as in 50% capacity or anything. No, the full deal.

I really wanted to be helpful, to say yes, to sound positive. And maybe in four months’ time things will be really normal again. Not me, but ‘life’. I will hopefully be normal again one day. But I suspect not by December.

I wondered a little if it was because the act was not anyone I have a great deal of interest in. But I quickly came to the conclusion that not even if it was Roger Whittaker himself, returning for a late concert for his best fans, would I say yes.

Real life wives, rescue dogs and a screen husband

This is both late and early. I was going to muse on season 18 of NCIS, but took my time watching to the end. It wasn’t bad, but neither was it so riveting that ‘I couldn’t wait’.

To begin with I wondered if they were going to let the rescue dog be the way out for Mark Harmon, rather than just for Gibbs. It seems he’s staying, though, at least as someone outside the team. And the dog has already found another worthy owner. But seeing as it was Mark’s rescue dog that sort of did for the whole NCIS spirit, it made sense to introduce the loveable dog towards the end.

I think I mentioned that I watched the first two episodes of NCIS New Orleans, just to see how they dealt with Covid. And one way appears to have been to use Scott Bakula’s real life wife, Chelsea Field, to play his on-screen romantic interest. Means they can kiss.

When Pam Dawber wandered into Gibbs’s diner it looked like this was another Covid solution. So handy that actors marry other actors. If not for Covid, I feel there is unnecessary nepotism in this case. Shall we now wait for the younger Harmon son to turn up as well? But I like Pam. She’s a good match for Gibbs. And she has great post-Covid hair.

It’s definitely been a case of Ten Little You-Know-Whats for the team. With Bishop leaving and Gibbs permanently in his basement, it’s a team of two. It was rather obvious how they paved the path for Katrina Law to be the next female agent. But that’s fine. I like her so far, and there is the sympathy angle for Agent Knight. But it still felt like far too small a team, and McGee is no Gibbs. McGee is best as himself.

I’m assuming the news that Gary Cole is joining NCIS for a major role, means he will be the new Gibbs. Younger than Mark Harmon and older than Sean Murray, he looks right. I used to think Gibbs was irreplaceable, but this could be a working solution. I just hope Gary will be less rightwing than Diane Lockhart’s gun-loving husband.

The season end cliffhanger was less of a cliffhanger in those last few seconds. I feel we could have been deemed mature enough to wonder about Gibbs’s fate over the summer.

A good Good Fight

That was a really fun episode of the new season of The Good Fight. I’m talking about the second one. (The first one dealt swiftly and sensibly with all that has happened in the world since last time, and thereby also to many of us.) But number two was crazy.

At first it seemed like any episode of this 45th President fighting group of lawyers, but with Marissa wanting to train to be a lawyer and the firm hiring Carmen, another fresh new lawyer, they each got a storyline, which each brought a smile to faces unused to fun for so long.

I won’t say too much in case of spoilers. Harry Potter featured. So did Inigo Montoya, in a way. It’s always worth learning a new language, even if it in this case was unrealistic. We might speak two languages, but we don’t know all the words in both of them. But it was useful. And fun.

Also, I must learn more about the Grateful Dead.

Roger’s 85th!

Roger Whittaker is 85 today!

(Photo by Helen Giles, Köln 2009)

NCIS – And then there were, erm, not very many

left. At all.

The scriptwriters and those who decide what happens in NCIS ought to be ashamed of themselves. If the purpose is to remove as many characters/actors as possible before the end of season 18 and, one has to assume, the end of the whole shebang, there is no need to decimate the cast quite as harshly as this. Apparently they even omitted telling Emily Fornell that she was going to be no more.

Other – successful – television shows have ended after many seasons, with all or most of the characters still standing; some of them even living happily ever after. Or they could try repeating the bomb that that blasted most of the Navy Yard nine years ago.

But before that, please leave us with some characters left to watch. Even love.

One of the things that makes for a successful show, is the building up of many supporting characters; the ones who come back every now and then, and who we like and who add to the breadth of our NCIS family. The loss of three characters in as many episodes looks like carelessness.

We have devoted fifteen years to this. Yes, I know. It’s season 18, but we started late and went faster to begin with. Those years amount to a quarter of my life, and half Daughter’s life. Yes, we’ve done other things as well, but it’s a long friendship.

To start with we also rewatched many episodes. Less so now, because we are busy with other stuff. Returning to older episodes has always been an enjoyable pastime. But it’s harder to have fun with characters in the past, when you know that there will be a sad, or completely wasteful loss of their lives, later on. You can’t laugh at the ridiculousness of someone, if you know something that you’d rather not know about.

And to think that just the other day we were speculating about the speculations that Mark Harmon might semi-retire next season. We were discussing who could take over from Gibbs and make it work.

(The answer is Abigail Borin. She is [the only] well known and likeable character we have, who is still alive, and who is boss material.)

Mello

2011 was a good year. Well, we thought so, Daughter and I, as we reminisced about that early Eurovision quarterfinal, or whatever they call it, which we caught on our half term in Sweden ten years ago. With hindsight it appears most of the good songs that year were on on the night we watched.

Last night we watched this year’s Swedish final, because now you can get Svt online, and also after the fact (we forgot it was on…). So we had ourselves some late night singing and gyrating and mostly bad puns. Some of the songs were quite good, and some were not. Daughter was happy with the winner, who will travel to Rotterdam in May, while I would have preferred someone else.

But at least that someone else proved that singers with good voices still get the opportunity to compete. There were two Klaras. I think this one was the Klara with a C, so Clara. Plus guitar. And a much less outlandish outfit. Or there were last year’s winners, who didn’t make it all the way this time, despite all that gold.

Though, having said that, I didn’t watch as much as I might have . There was more or less uninterrupted strobe lighting for the two hours. Nicely done, but I wanted my eyeballs to survive.

And Mello, which is obviously short for Melodifestivalen, but sounds like a snack, was quite a revelation. Most Swedes I know watch every instalment, commenting on social media on everything, down to the frequency of the boy singers touching their you-know-whats (I assume to make sure it didn’t get lost).

The man who has run this show for the last two decades is Christer Björkman, who I seem not to have known back when we were twelve. But I did read about his Stockholm house in one of my recent house interior magazines, shown before he takes himself off to the States to give them their own Eurovision. (Yes, I know. But let them have  their fun.)

For Daughter there was Måns Zelmerlöw. He’s now been around long enough to almost count as a grand old man. Especially considering the winner last night was 19. Anyway, Måns is lovely, but I do wish he’d use his real local accent when he talks.

Once it was over, we sat and listened to some of the 2011 songs, one of which stuck in my head all night. The wrong one.

NCIS – not many left to kill

SPOILER ALERT

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This might not be enough. But then there was no warning at all of spoilers when Daughter stumbled on the bad news for NCIS episode seven. Although I suppose one could have guessed some of it, by paying attention.

So, I firmly believe it was right for someone to die from Covid. It’s realistic and it might tell some doubters what’s what. It also only works if it’s a longstanding character, who you know and like. And from a practical point of view, it is often worth not killing the main characters. Although, consider the impact!

So we, and Jimmy, have lost Mrs Palmer, and their young daughter her mother.

We now have a veritable stable of what I call John Wayne characters; men whose wives are dead. It’s too much. Not only is there only one more wife who could be killed off – and I sincerely hope not – but there are no male equivalents. Neither Sloane nor Kasie nor Bishop have partners.

There has been talk of losing Sloane. She wants to run a bar in Costa Rica. Maybe. Personally I thought she looked more like she’s ill but is trying to hide it by talking about Costa Rica. I am probably wrong. It’d be ‘nice’ for a character to leave willingly, and while still alive.

They wore face masks at last, now that Covid has caught up with them. Possibly not always worn correctly as far as time and place is concerned, but this is fiction. It’s enough that they do.

We need more new characters being introduced. Not necessarily to kill them off, but the team can’t really spare anyone else now. And please keep Ducky on his computer screen, where he will be much safer.

Letting the side down

I have to admit to feeling disappointed, but greatly relieved we had already watched to the end of The Mandalorian. While I don’t like having past enjoyment ruined after the fact, it would have been worse watching Gina Carano in this wonderful series, knowing what we know now.

I had liked the fact that they made her role female, a fighting female, at that. And I liked seeing someone who did what she did without being impossibly stick thin or looking like she’d just come from her hair stylist. I felt she – by which I probably mean her character – did something for women.

Instead it seems Gina is just another crazy or brainwashed supporter of you-know-who (and I don’t mean Voldemort).

I was going to say, why don’t people learn to keep their unsavoury opinions to themselves, in order not to jeopardise their careers? But perhaps that would be worse; having someone like that hide behind a normal facade.

She’s not the only one for me, this winter, having just seen off someone I’ve known for over fifty years, someone almost exploding with indignation over how unfair life in the US will be [under ‘socialism’], and forgetting decent manners and any of the human kindness they previously possessed.

That’s what saddens me. That someone like you-know-who can ruin the lives of people like these two women, and anyone who had happened to like them. Before.