Monthly Archives: February 2009

Weirder than weird

I know that some people found New Town, the Edinburgh based property crime pilot episode, quite good. The witch household watched it, as it came recommended (or maybe suggested is more appropriate) by our excellent colleague on Eurocrime.

What could be more interesting than new crime, set in a lovely city, and featuring property? That’s what we thought. It was only the belief that ‘surely it will have some point soon’ which kept us going. Can somebody please tell me what was good about New Town? The poor little boy was quite sweet, I suppose. The island girl, maybe. Unless she turns out to be an axe murderer in disguise.

Actually, New Town itself looked good. But who could dream up Purves and Pekkala? No relation of Serafina, I can tell you.

The accompanying programme with Ian Rankin about Edinburgh was much more fun. I only wish I hadn’t fallen asleep in the middle of it. No reflection on Ian.

The Class

Trust a French secondary school to come equipped with champagne glasses. Just in case the teachers need to celebrate. Other than that, French schools are surprisingly similar to English ones.

Can’t decide if it would have been beneficial to read up on The Class before seeing it, or not. As it was, I wasn’t entirely sure if it was ‘real’ or acted. It couldn’t be real, but it felt real. It is both. François Bégaudeau used to be an ordinary teacher in an ordinary, difficult Paris school. Then he wrote a book about being a teacher, and before he knew where he was, François was playing himself in the film of the book, in a real school, acting with real students from that school.

They used lines in some cases, and sometimes the children simply said what they wanted to say. That’s why it’s so real. This is a school in a disadvantaged part of Paris, with many immigrants, including children whose parents don’t speak French. It must be physically and mentally exhausting to work in a classroom like François’s , but for the cinema audience it’s also incredibly inspiring.

The students are horrible a lot of the time, but they are also very human and normal. I particularly liked the ‘baddie’ Souleymane, who could do nice work if he tried. He didn’t try much. Am a little shocked that they wouldn’t use an interpreter for his mother. Also intrigued that they use student representatives for even quite private discussions. But each country to their own. There is a good and there is bad.

The behaviour of the students was openly worse than I’ve seen in my well-off part of England, but I think that’s just a surface difference. Behind our uniforms and slightly politer forms of address, you have the same children.

Go and see The Class. The end is what you’d expect, and quite sad, but still inspiring.

Abby’s wedding

While on the subject of weddings, let me tell you that our favourite forensic scientist got married on Valentine’s day, which is a nicely romantic date to pick. I wasn’t there, unfortunately, though as she is a lovely person I’m sure Pauley Perrette would have invited me, had she known I’d be interested. Or not. Hollywood is a long way away from Stockport.

A friend of hers who was there has blogged about it, so that the rest of us can feel included. Thanks to Sarah for writing about when Abby got married. Sounds like all of NCIS were there, including Kate.

Royal engagement

At last!

Living in exile I have not had to follow Crown Princess Victoria and her boyfriends in detail, which is good. But it’s hard not to wonder what will happen, if, and when. After all, this young girl is now 31, and if she’s to start producing her own little princes and princesses, then she shouldn’t wait.

And in this day and age, how do you announce your engagement if not on YouTube? Here it is, for anyone who can manage five minutes and 28 seconds of Swedish royal chatter.

I hope that Daniel will be good to her.

Rule no.38


Well, this week’s NCIS was fun. Some role reversal never goes amiss. Sometimes it does, I suppose, but not this time. DiNozzo takes over from Gibbs, without Gibbs going to Mexico. Nice bit of advertising for Samsonite. (What do you put in yours?) Kept wondering if it had anything to do with Mark Harmon having a cold and not feeling up to it, but they couldn’t very well write that into the script. Could they?


I think we need more surprises. More laughs. Who’d have thought to see Gibbs doing campfire? 

Let’s hope the DiNozzo fans were happier this week. Even the Gibbs fans here were happy. So there. Di Nozzo discovered something about leadership. How hard it is. ‘Boat, Bourbon, basement. I get it.’


And I’d never heard of rule 38 before. Neither had they.


(Photos © CBS)

Mercury Rising

We felt we might as well continue along the autistic path and watch Mercury Rising while we were in the mood. It’s a fairly typical action movie starring Bruce Willis as an FBI agent. It stops being typical when the person he has to protect screeches all over the place, which makes it harder to escape the bad guys.

Mercury Rising

Simon is a nine-year-old autistic boy who accidentally comes across some national security information, and the FBI try to prevent him being murdered like his parents were. Would have been fine apart from the noise Simon makes when he is disturbed, and most of what happens is pretty disturbing.

The only thing which annoyed me was that the adults insisted on eye contact with Simon. I’ll put it down to the film being so old that maybe they knew no better. Daughter felt I must be charitable.

Snow Cake

Over on Bookwitch there is a new page listing books on Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Following on from yesterday’s post here on OCD, we’ve got Autism, too. To celebrate that it was Alan Rickman’s birthday on Saturday, we watched Snow Cake. Daughter had been uncertain about the film until she looked it up, and then got very enthusiastic all of a sudden.

Snow Cake

Sigourney Weaver did an exceptional job as Linda, the autistic mother, whose daughter is killed in Alan Rickman’s car. He calls to see her, and gets persuaded (forced) to stay and organise the funeral, so that he can take the rubbish out for her the day after. It’s a small community, with some good people and quite a few busybodies.

The woman with the sympathy cake provides some hilarity, which of course leads to the snow cake of the title. Linda eats snow, and is more obsessed with neatness and cleanliness than Monks with his OCD. But she learns, too, and can adapt a little to Alan Rickman’s presence, and even to her daughter’s funeral do.

A belated happy 63rd birthday, Alan!


Be careful what you discuss with author Caroline Lawrence. If it’s a film or television series she will most likely have seen it. She probably also owns the DVD. Over lunch in her flat last month we somehow got onto the subject of OCD, so she immediately whipped out the first season of Monk for us to borrow, along with a jiffy bag for us to return it in. Professional, or what?

Well, I hope Caroline isn’t expecting it back too quickly, as we’re still only halfway. Watched two episodes tonight, as it’s half term and Daughter needed entertaining. It also gives the Resident IT Consultant something to feel superior about. Not even he is that weird. Neither am I. Almost, but not quite. Ex-policeman Monk can come and neaten up our house any time.

It is very unrealistic, and I don’t often say that about television series. My tolerance threshold is fairly high. But Monk is charming and fun, and it makes a change to have a hero who is a wimp. Makes me feel more hopeful.

Today’s episode featured one of our favourite regulars from NCIS, as well as a one-off character from Daughter’s favouritest NCIS episode Sub Rosa. (He was the one who did it.)

In the other episode poor Monk went into the wrong house, instead of his own. I remember well when the man who lived in the flat above ours, when I was a child, accidentally came into our kitchen instead. Monk didn’t even know he doesn’t own a popcorn maker, but our neighbour at least noticed the table cloth in the kitchen had changed since he went out.

Che, part two

The second part of Che is all about his Bolivian venture. Unlike the Cuban revolution, it had no happy ending of any kind, so maybe that’s why it feels less uplifting? Or perhaps it’s simply that I kept wondering of Che had lost his marbles.

As a film it’s as good as part one, and I feel anyone with some interest in the man, as well as in modern history, will want to see both films. But it’s bleaker, less varied. We follow Che as he enters Bolivia in disguise, and then as he gathers guerillas to help him overthrow the Bolivian government. I kept thinking of a friend I once had, a Bolivian student leader, who would have been only marginally younger than Che’s guerillas.

We never see the classic photo of the dead Che in the film. The one that as a child I remember vividly from the television news, despite knowing nothing about the man or what he’d done. I do remember feeling that it wasn’t right, using his dead body as a trophy.

Che dies heroically, but I hope that he had realised by then that Bolivia was not Cuba.


Is it that I’m too tired, because I can’t quite work out why the latest NCIS episode was called Deliverance? Makes me think of the film with the same title, except I don’t believe they are similar at all. It was more digging into Gibbs’ past, which is why Mike Franks turned up again. I think it’s good for the ‘boss’ to have his old boss there to restore the balance.

Franks and Gibbs

Tried to follow the reasoning of one fan over at Special Ops over the timings of the past, which the writers had come up with for the plot, but it doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t think about it. Some fans also felt it was ‘too Gibbs centred’, again. I don’t see that you can complain about the main character being the main character, even if you prefer DiNozzo. Swings and roundabouts.

On a different note, I was pleased to find that Sara Paretsky seems to be a fan of NCIS, too. She’s just introduced Abby and McGee in her online Warshawski story. I knew there was a reason I like her.

(Photo © CBS)