A 79th birthday for Roger Whittaker

Roger Whittaker

Happy 79th Birthday Roger!

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

What can I say? Well, not the title of this film, obviously. I stumbled over the words for the first one, and add a second film and I’ll have to call it Marigold 2. But to get back to the saying; Marigold 2 is as fun and entertaining as Marigold 1 was. I worried in case the usual thing about a sequel not having the surprise element to offer, would mean it suffered.

But I reckon that a film that makes someone like me laugh out loud in the cinema, can’t be bad. (I’ve been informed that Daughter’s peers are not Marigold fans. They didn’t see No. 1 and don’t plan to see No. 2. That’s their loss.) Us oldies deserve more films featuring old people, even if we are delusional when we believe we are Richard Gere or Lillete Dubey.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Maggie Smith still gets most of the good lines, whether she’s in India or at Downton. Here we have two women aged 79, who start new jobs and enjoy them. One of them finds new love, and so do quite a few others, even when it takes them a while to realise where true love is to be found.

And inevitably there is sadness, although it is dealt with off screen. It’s as with nudity and sex; more powerful when not seen. Sooner or later we all have to check out, and far better we didn’t waste time dunking a teabag into lukewarm water before we do.

Sonny might be an impossible optimist, and he might get a lot of things wrong, but he also gets things right. After all, whose idea was any of this Marigold stuff?

And I’ll have a beautifully lit up courtyard like this, please.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

NCIS: Los Angeles – Expiration Date

Sahib? Seriously? I suppose the scriptwriters for this week’s NCIS: Los Angeles wanted to appear to be genuine. I just wonder whether having their returning Gurkha character address white people as sahib was the best way to do it.

But, he was very charming, and they were right to have him return. (Interestingly IMdB has not listed the actor. They have one of the other Gurkhas instead. One Gurkha is much the same as the next one…)

Gurkha, Deeks and Kensi

Did we really want to see Kensi and Deeks in bed? Perhaps it’s the beginning of the end.

Now, I liked this episode, much as I have liked nearly all LA episodes this season. But when you stop and think, there were an awful lot of deaths (perfectly all right, it seems) ‘in return for’ having Sam Hanna survive. LA tends to be very bloody. Maybe this week was no worse than average. Could be I just started to count the bodies.

(Photo © CBS)

Ambassadors

It’s been a busy week. As Bookwitch I’ve travelled to Edinburgh three days running. Were it not for that, I’d have attempted to get myself invited to the Grandmother’s neighbour’s flat last Thursday.

This 90+ gentleman was about to be visited by the Russian Ambassador, and he had asked the Grandmother to be present. I believe there was some medal that was to be handed over to the neighbour, and at first I thought it unlikely that the real Ambassador would make a house call like that.

But then I remembered that when I was about 16, the then Soviet Ambassador called in at my school. That seemed quite natural at the time, so why not now, if an elderly man was to be honoured?

And only hours before this medal presentation, I managed to squeeze in the week’s NCIS, before dropping off with exhaustion. OK, so they shouldn’t say bad or fictional things about a real Russian Ambassador, which I assume is why they have someone slightly more junior as a recurring sometimes bad and sometimes good character.

But I think of him as the Ambassador, and I’m sure he was referred to as such in one of this season’s episodes. I might have to watch again, just to check. (I’ve been trying to, actually. Just seem to run out of time, which is why I am barely halfway through my private repeats.)

NCIS – We Build, We Fight

Wow! Again.

This was one strong episode from a strong season of NCISs. Directed by Rocky Carroll, no less. Apparently the man is difficult to work with, or so he thought.

We Build, We Fight

Interesting plot about a gay marine, which I believe the cast felt strongly about. And it shows. Plenty of homophobic characters as you’d expect, and very nicely dealt with. After the teary end to the story about our dead hero, I felt we were due something to cheer us up, and I was right.

Baby Palmer and admirers

It was a baby we needed. Palmer and Mrs Palmer (give the woman a cheese burger!) finally have a little baby Palmer. Even Gibbs smiled.

They had better not kill Hollis Mann off! Lovely to see her back. Not so lovely when you think about Gibbs and his reaction to her presence. Ducky would appear to be on the right track.

Hollis Mann

(This is the only kind of visit to autopsy that I will tolerate from Hollis Mann.)

(Photos © CBS)

Fortitude

When we last saw Sarah Lund, she and her jumper were on the way to Iceland. Whatever else you might say about Sky’s Fortitude, we now know they have arrived, in some kind of Ice Land. Actually, not the jumper. There appears to be a jumper embargo for Sofie Gråbøl this time round.

As Governor of Fortitude, the strangest fantasy Nordic outpost you could imagine, she is a little disappointing. Though not as disappointing as many of the others. I suppose it’s what you get when Americans jump on a bandwagon that has already left, and mostly also arrived. They write what they admire, or at least what they hope will win them viewers, but which they know very little about. They seem to know the Nordic countries and their peoples much like fans of The Killing and Borgen reckon themselves to be fluent in Danish.

Fortitude

It was beautifully filmed, and they have an interesting collection of actors, ready to pretend – or not – to be Nordics. Some are, and are acting in their non-native English. Most of the others are native English speakers, but not in the slightest Scandinavian. There is sex, and drinking, and saunas. We ‘know’ this is the way of us Scandis. And it is, but perhaps not quite like this.

I almost liked the detective from the Met in London, American though he was. Can’t say I liked any of the other characters. It is possible to like both criminals and stupid people; just not these ones. Michael Gambon’s old and drunken cancer sufferer was perhaps the closest to feeling real, which I put down to Michael being a terrific actor.

When I wasn’t wincing, I found I couldn’t get Virus au Paradis out of my head. I do hope it’s not bird flu, or mammoth flu. With a bit of luck all the gruesomeness will be mere crime and human greed, with a bit of stupidity thrown in.

I don’t know whether I want to watch more of Fortitude. I have no curiosity regarding the what or the why or the who, and because I didn’t like them much, I won’t even want to visit an old friend, even one who is boring. But we’ll see how I feel next week.

(Actually, a few brownie points to Richard Dormer for being more of an obnoxious Danish policeman than most Danes.)

Goodbye, Demis

I was boarding with the Gs in 1977, when Demis Roussos turned up on television one night. That was the difference between Sweden and the UK; you would actually get famous people just popping up on the screen here.

Never a big fan, I had, nevertheless, been a fan, and had an LP or two. I can no longer remember what my favourite tracks were, because for some reason Demis became one of those who were eventually purged from my collection. I don’t know why. It’s not even as if getting rid of a few LPs gave me all that much more space.

He was a bit unusual. Perhaps that was it.

Anyway, there we were, eating dinner with the television on in the background. Mrs G exclaimed when she saw him enter the stage. She was someone who knew when something was amiss in the Messiah, and she knew that Dr Hook were playing locally (when I moaned about missing them), but she had not come across Demis.

‘Just wait until he starts to sing,’ I said.

Yeah, I don’t think either Mr or Mrs G expected what they heard. But you know, with hindsight, he was all right. If you ignore his [lack of] dress sense.