Comets and comics

‘Is that really him?’ asked the Resident IT Consultant, when Neil Gaiman appeared on the screen in Big Bang Theory (yes, I know. We’re a few weeks behind in our viewing). I’m glad I’m our Resident Neil Gaiman Consultant. And he’s probably the only cameo celebrity on BBT that I ‘know.’

Big Bang Theory, The Comet Polarization, with Neil Gaiman

Is it me, or have they had a lot more famous [for other things] people on the show recently? Maybe it’s just that they are inviting ones I’ve heard of and recognise, without having to Google them after.

With Bill Gates the other week I was shocked to discover I was old, and so was he. When Leonard started babbling about having met Gates as a child – Leonard, not Gates – I did a mental double-take and worked out that it was indeed both possible and probable. And that I too could have met the young Leonard and been an adult at the time…

Back to Neil. It made a lot of sense to have him, with the comic connection. And poor Stuart could really do with some success and attention. I know the Gaiman effect from personal experience. If he links to your whatever-it-is, your hits shoot up dramatically. It happened to me, and when Daughter put a photo of Neil on her photo blog, I said to send Neil the link and sit back and wait. Don’t think she believed me, but the old witch was right, yet again. When Neil says ‘click’ to his fans, they click. And there’s a lot of them, as Stuart discovered.

And speaking of discoveries, ten years ago Penny wouldn’t have cared about having her name on a comet discovery. She’s gone geek over time. But she’s right, we should all have our names on what we find, be it comets or planets, or anything else.

Photo © Chuck Lorre Productions, Warner Brothers

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Cliffhangers-R-Us

Well.

Is it me, or is it them? Am I older, wiser and more cynical [only], or are they not writing such good end of season episodes any longer?

NCIS went out of their way to make Mark Harmon – or do I mean Gibbs? – seem nicer. A sort of ‘I’ll share my worst moment if you’ll share yours.’ Things are so bad that I almost like Kasie in Abby’s lab. That’s without a period of grace having passed.

It made more sense having Sloane go crazy on screen than reading about it beforehand. But I’m still not sure about everyone seemingly having a big, awful past.

Anyway, the end of season 15 of NCIS made such an impression on me that two days later I had to ask Daughter how it had ended. I just didn’t remember without a prompt. And I will not spend all summer worrying about the Director.

Which brings me to who I will spend all summer not worrying about in NCIS: Los Angeles. Hidoko, I will worry about. I don’t feel it was conclusive what happened, except it probably did. Odd that nothing was shown, though.

But all the rest? Nah, not worrying. There was too much; personal quarrels, lots of bangs and far too much fire. And Mosley… She’s gone from quite OK and providing some fresh input, to being stir crazy, rather like Sloane. It’s great to have another woman boss, and a black one at that. But did they have to portray her like this? She could have worried about her son while still being lucid and professional. Is it men writing women?

But this being mean and unprofessional, while demanding sympathy and dressing to the nines? Was sending Hetty to Vietnam a test to see if Mosley could take over? Granger could have. Now Hetty is back, and she’s the only one who acts normal.

Sam walked just fine whenever he lost the stick. Unless finding yourself in a vehicle on fire will put an end to any walking, good or otherwise.

We’ll see when September comes.

The one she doesn’t mention

We are not really any the wiser regarding why Pauley Perrette left NCIS. But it’s always possible to deduce something that may be close to the truth. After Abby’s last episode it was as if Pauley had to get it out of her system and she tweeted some very cryptical stuff.

I can see that she wants to save the jobs of her friends still working on the show. Whether the secret is so big and so bad that knowing about it would bring NCIS down is anybody’s guess. Or if she just thinks it would. Pauley had the opportunity of keeping quiet, but I can see that doesn’t sit well with her.

On the other hand, if she really wanted to have a go at someone, she’d have done better to get her act together to say something more lucid and meaningful. That opportunity is now lost.

But, OK, there are tweets saying nice things about most of her co-workers. We can start making our own deductions based on who is not mentioned. In fact, the most interesting tweet was Pauley saying she’d had a long conversation with Don Bellisario.

Because we know how Bellisario was shunted off his own creation. It was always something I felt uncomfortable about, even if he was a slave-driver. But what if he wasn’t?

And who got rid of Pancho Demmings? In fact, who was it who thought that practical jokes were good to play on their fellow actors on the show? Could that have had anything to do with Sasha Alexander leaving?

It’s one thing to have Gibbs the boss in the fictional team, but why should the actor playing him be boss of the team of actors away from the cameras. I felt uncomfortable when David McCallum spoke about Mark Harmon as though he was the one they all looked up to, the one who looked after his gang. If there was any looking up to be done, it ought to be the younger actors to Ilya Kuryakin. He’s the real deal here.

I have clearly read too much celebrity gossip, but there have been one or two bits of information about Mark’s personal past behaviour that always made me wonder what he thought he was doing.

And then there was Dave, the dog.

He is still being blamed for the break-up. But if it was him, there is no explanation for those badly written tweets in the last week. I wish Pauley had taken more care over those. Much can be said while avoiding being libellous.

If it’s actually so bad at NCIS that many wanted to complain but didn’t dare, so it was left to the one who was popular enough that she could, then someone needs to take a deeper look at what’s wrong. On who is wrong.

Whichever way this ends; if CBS had finished the show after season 14, the fans could have looked back and mourned their loss. Now, we will be mourning something far worse, something that will take away any pleasure we’ve had from NCIS over a decade and a half. Either we will [eventually] know, or we will have to keep guessing. I don’t know which will be worst.

Eurovision 2018

Strobe lighting. Eurovision was better without it. I can close my eyes as well as the next witch. But when I do, and especially at this time of night, the inevitable becomes, well, inevitable, and I fall asleep.

Daughter was saying she liked the German entry, and I was puzzled, not having noticed it. I dozed off with Serbia and completely missed Germany.

So what do I think? I liked Ireland. Norway wasn’t bad, and Spain got better for each short repeat. I liked Slovenia’s hair, and Finland’s outfit. France was OK, and that’s something I don’t often say. The vampire needed an interpreter. Or did he?

Didn’t mind who won out of Cyprus and Israel. I disliked both. And Daughter was somewhat scandalised at my negative view of the Swedish entry. Well, it did nothing for me. And if the singer is who Daughter reported him to be, then he’s part of a dynasty, and as such is successful enough as it is.

It was fun to see Daniela Ruah not wrestling people to the ground, or shooting them, even if her first dress was rather ghastly. Although, where was Kensi when ‘our’ SuRie was attacked? A good wrestling to the floor would have been useful.

And Graham Norton is tiresomely not Terry Wogan.

Bull – Death Sentence

What an end to Bull! Marvellously done!

Death Sentence turned out to be, well, about death sentences, in more ways than one.

The legal one, I didn’t know about. We are obviously aware that in some states they have the death penalty, but I’d not really understood how such a trial might work. A sort of ‘all or nothing,’ with a ‘quite a bit’ as an option. It’s really pretty dreadful, and I don’t particularly like to think about it.

And poor Bull, feeling not entirely himself, and drinking too much and sleeping too little. It’s not good for you.

I didn’t totally understand where Marissa was coming from, though. She admires him and his work. That much is clear. But was there more? We don’t want more.

Interesting too to see what the ultimate point of Professor Jameson was. There could obviously be more to the man than we’ve seen, but this was some climb-down.

Look forward to next season, hoping it won’t be as short as this one was. I need more than 22 episodes!

Bull - Death Sentence

Photo © CBS

NCIS – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

After suspecting the scriptwriters on NCIS: Los Angeles of being on drugs this week, it looked rather like their colleagues over at NCIS had taken some as well, even if the effect was short-lived. That was one unlikely and jolly poker game chez Gibbs!

Then it turned more into a greatest hits, with every Fornell, former dead agent and every jailed bad guy doing a cameo. The more the merrier?

They did their best to scare us into thinking the worst, but I can see through those tricks by now. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t bad stuff happening. In fact, are they reading this blog? If not, it’s either a case of great minds think alike, or that the world is full of people putting forward the same opinions as me. That’s two characters I’ve been wanting to see off, who are now gone. Not saying I dislike the actors; just that their characters have been a bad fit.

Well, either Gibbs really did come to Abby’s sickbed, or they did ‘it with mirrors’ the way I suspected earlier. Last week there was another kiss. From McGee. And apart from the hospital scene, Mark Harmon and Pauley Perrette stayed firmly separate to the bitter end. That teary goodbye at the Navy Yard, but without Gibbs? Expected, but wrong.

I hadn’t wanted to speculate on how Abby would leave, but this felt just about right. At least it suited her personality.

And oh, that coffin! Priceless.

(Shame that they waited so long before inviting us into Abby’s home. That was a lot of gothic for a few minutes’ worth.)

On critics

A comment on here recently made me think. It wasn’t terribly well written (here I go again, criticising…) but I found it interesting, and it made me consider what I do on CultureWitch.

My task, as I see it, is to go on and on about NCIS and Roger Whittaker. And anything else that takes my fancy.

But then I discovered that every single blog post in the last few weeks seemed to be negative. That is all right, as not everything is good, and one should be honest. Although I do try to keep Thumper’s mother in mind and control my worst instincts.

Luckily I read Grace Dent in the Guardian. She’s their new(ish) food critic, and she had the temerity to criticise a restaurant, which apparently led to complaints.

Luckily Grace Dent had just the right words for me; ‘a critic should offer, if need be, criticism. And things closest to our hearts often get special drubbings because we know the subject backwards.’

I’m so grateful. Grace has put me back where I needed to be. I only moan about NCIS getting it wrong because I have loved them for so long and know them so well. And because they get things wrong.

That’s all.