Monthly Archives: October 2009

An NCIS Halloween night in

The witch's pumpkin

Ever the realist, I knew we wouldn’t manage three, let alone four, NCIS episodes on Halloween, even with our enthusiasm. So we watched Chimera the day before, because it’s ‘only’ spooky, and not really Halloween. And the question is whether that early bit of vomiting goes all that well with lunch? At least I don’t feel seasick by association, or I’d have had to join McGee with his travel sickness pills.

Abby in Witch Hunt

So after lighting the pumpkin in the front window we settled down with another two Halloweeny sessions. First the season four Marilyn Monroe episode,Witch Hunt, which is always good. Ducky looks particularly handsome in this one, I think, when he has tea with Ziva in autopsy. Although you can tell the tea cosy is brand new for the occasion, and not one he uses all the time. There’s a bit I still don’t entirely understand, towards the end, but I will one day. The line ‘he’s doing a lot of driving for a dead guy’ is good, though. Also need to brush up on my Klingon knowledge.

Code of Conduct

Not wanting to overdo things, we finished with the current Code of Conduct. After all, we might have missed something the first time round.

(Photos © CBS, and H Giles)

Sarah Jane all over the place, except possibly here

I’m really annoyed now, and that’s annoying, because it’s taking away some of the enjoyment of Sarah Jane. I thought when I blogged about the new season of Sarah Jane last week that I had finally grasped the how and the when BBC was doing things. But, oh no. Still got it wrong, and were it not for iPlayer we would have missed half of it.

So, it’s two episodes a week, Thursday and Friday, is it? Well, that could have been made clearer. A lot clearer. A lot earlier.

Daughter and I like to watch every other time; i.e. saving each ‘half’ episode to watch them together. To do this it helps to know not to miss the Friday second half. Even a half witted witch can smell aliens when the second half appears to be about something totally different.

Tip to the BBC – now you can change your broadcasting pattern, to make us miss Sarah Jane in some other way.

I could do without the lengthy and rather OTT start to each episode, however. Dear Clyde is sweet, but he is no James Bond, and for people who watch every episode of Sarah Jane (however hard that is proving to be) it gets – well -repetitive in the extreme.

Nigel Havers and Elisabeth Sladen

On the other hand, having both David Tennant and Nigel Havers at once is quite something. So I’m in a sufficiently good mood after Sarah Jane’s sad love affair to be slightly less annoyed. (Not forgiving anyone, though!) I was so hoping Nigel Havers would turn out to be good (=the opposite of evil), because I do quite like him. I was about to say despite him being blonde, but he looked pretty dark/grey this week. Was he a fake blonde, back when?

Sarah Jane's attic and the Tardis

In a way it’s really annoying that even a witch not under the spell of David Tennant goes all gooey at the edges when the good Doctor shows up, and on the wrong show. Oh, well, I’m all for people appearing in related programmes. The more the merrier.

Code of Conduct

Dare I assume that even CBS expected to air episode 5, Code of Conduct, this week instead of last? It just doesn’t make sense to have an ‘eve of Halloween’ story eleven days before the day. To broadcast it on the Tuesday before Halloween would just about work.

Halloween lab

Sorry, just being a bit Aspie about it. Suppose I hadn’t quite got into a Halloween mood last week. NCIS haven’t done a real Halloween episode since season 4, I think. But this time of year makes for good background to a little bit of gruesome murder or whatever.

Agent David is finally with us, and it feels both good and slightly weird. Tony was back to being an idiot, and Palmer was incredibly brave in hoping to be kissed by the boss.

Pumpkin in autopsy

Gibbs was surprisingly light hearted and seasonal. You just never know when that man is going to be fun, and when he’ll slap people’s heads. All part of the charm…

And I knew immediately who the murderer was. Clever me.

(Photos © CBS)


You have to love Swedish tabloids. Well, you don’t, and I don’t, but as I googled Krister Henriksson, I sank low enough to read the tabloids, as well. And they don’t just write a few ‘facts’ about the actor, they look him up properly, red tape and all, so now we know how much money he made last year. Really!

Krister is the Wallander everyone raves about these days. Sorry, Branagh! My first Wallander was someone else again, Rolf Lassgård, so when Krister suddenly turned up on the box, I watched most of the episode not realising I was seeing Wallander himself. Oh, well.

On reflection Krister is Wallander. I’d never heard of the man before that embarrassing Wallander mistake, but I gather he’s done quite a lot. It’s he who shouts ‘Hermione’ in such a strange and Swedish manner when he reads the Harry Potter audio books. And he owns a theatre.

For reasons I needn’t go into here, I’ve just read a 16 year old interview with Krister, which is interesting. It’s well before any Wallander, for one thing. It also seems that he was getting fed up with playing boyish types, on account of looking so young. Now that he is close to retirement age, that feels odd, but we were all young, once.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Henning Mankell wrote ten Wallander novels. We now have season 1 of Krister’s Wallander films, comprising 13 episodes. And season 2 is being filmed, with at least another seven. So I’d guess it’s the old ‘based on the characters of’ thing. But at least everyone loves them, and maybe one day they will be allowed to graduate from BBC4.

I can hardly go anywhere without people enthusing about Wallander. And you lot are getting so much better on the pronunciation front. Hope Branagh is listening.

(Photo from

The spider web tattoo

Around here we like to give people what they want. Within reason.

Gibbs and Abby © CBS

Who’d have guessed people would clamour quite that much after spider tattoos? But you are, and you are most likely here because you want one. The sensible ones will only want it for dressing up, and we all want to dress up to be Abby Sciuto, don’t we?

Abby © CBS

It’s not easy finding good photos of Abby with a clear view of the spider on her neck. Ever dutiful, I have taken it as my task to go through some episodes of NCIS to grab a tattoo as soon as I see a good one.

McGee and Abby © CBS

I don’t think it counts as stealing. Mr Bellisario should be pleased we like his creation so much. Just borrowing.

Abby © CBS

Being a little short on time, I have decided to publish photos bit by bit. After all, watching almost 150 episodes would take a while, even for a dedicated soul like the witch.

Gibbs and Abby © CBS

So enjoy these while you wait. Halloween is almost here.

(Photos © CBS)

PS You might also enjoy these Abby pictures from season two.

Imperial War Museum North

Imperial War Museum North

I love architecture, and the whackier the better. I tend to love most new arty buildings, which up here in the wastes of Manchester includes the Bridgewater Hall and The Lowry. Until yesterday I had only ever admired the Imperial War Museum from across the water by The Lowry. Up close, I’m not so sure.

Hard to find the way in. It’s whacky and arty, but getting in has some sort of useful functional feel to it. It’s why you’ve come all this way. When you have an asymmetrical warehouse, why skimp on door size?

The staff were lovely and helpful, so it’s not the human side of things I’m grumbling about. The shop is well lit and well stocked, so you can see to spend your money. The toilet is not as well lit as it could be, and with black doors and a mirror that makes you think the place is twice the size, you could go wrong.

Jukebox, Imperial War Museum North

Lovely views over the water should make the café really attractive. But the first thing I noticed, before I’d even climbed all the stairs up, was the smell of school dinners. Second, it’s dark, despite the large windows. It’s noisy, with excellent acoustics if listening to the clatter and din from other visitors is high on your agenda. You can barely hear the person sharing your table, which could be quite useful in many relationships.

Main exhibition hall is very dark. When it comes to preserving old paintings I’m all for darkness. Here I can only guess it’s meant to make it more warlike and atmospheric. The drawback with so much atmosphere is that oldies like me can’t see very much, which almost defeats the idea of looking round a museum. Also whacky and asymmetrical enough to make you get lost, which could add to the fun you have.

And I did say the shop was well lit, didn’t I? It was still slightly tricky to find the exit, which doubles as the entrance, so you have already come through the doors once, and it should be plain sailing. Though, as soon as you’re close enough, they open automatically, which is a useful hint. I’d be willing to pay not to go up in the lift in the tower by the almost non-existent doors.

Michelle Magorian

Other than that it’s OK.

The jukebox is wonderful!

The event organised by the Manchester Literature Festival on Sunday, with children’s war novelist Michelle Magorian was excellent. If a wee bit dark.

More tea

To continue with the tea theme from yesterday’s blog, I actually managed to sit out on the deck with a mug of tea and a slice of toast with the Resident IT Consultant’s plum jam on Saturday afternoon. When I discovered that it was both sunny and quite warm, I felt it was sensible to make use of the garden furniture that some lazy soul has omitted to store for the winter.

I happen to have an especially good idea of how rare it is with tea-outside-weather on the 24th of October. Seventeen years ago (are you ready for a year-by-year account?) it was dark and very wet and dismal, although the sun peeped out for ten minutes or so just after four in the afternoon.

OK, I’ll speed up a little. 1995 was by far the best, when we had almost summer conditions, which was most useful for a party with far too many guests. Everyone we invited could come (!), so it was lucky that we had a warm and sunny day, as well as a marvellous train bouncy castle in the garden. After that it’s been pretty grim most years.

Five years ago at the tennis club we had a stroke of luck when the deluge held off for the two hours the party lasted. So, in actual fact, I have not had time to step outside with mugs of tea most years. It helps if the birthday child goes away, which removes the need for partying.

Didn’t even have to bake a cake.

His Greatest Hits

He’s not a bad singer, is he? That Frank Sinatra, I mean.

I may be old now, but I was young when I grew up, and old men like Sinatra where just that; old men. Famous, and you saw them in magazines all the time, with the most recent wife. So I was never interested in Frank, or most of the other old men. One or two of his songs might have made various charts or lists at the time, so I would have done some passive listening.

But I’m a believer in greatest hits compilations, which is why I got myself an early Christmas present last year while out scouring the charity shops for things to buy for my lovely family. I decided it was most unlikely that anyone would realise that a Frank Sinatra collection would be any good for me, so I’d better buy it myself.

And how I have enjoyed it! I don’t think it’s his voice particularly, which is good, but nothing extra special. It must be a lucky combination of songs, musical arrangement, and his singing. I don’t know. But it’s a favourite for when I sit down with an actual CD. In this age of iTunes, the shuffle is my choice nearly all the time. But sometimes, perhaps with the pot of tea on a weekend afternoon (not too many cucumber sandwiches or scones, I’m afraid) I like a CD to play from beginning to end. And it’s often Frank.

Sarah Jane, the third season

Sarah Jane has a new hairstyle. I’ll have to think about that, before deciding if it’s good news or not. Good news is that Sarah Jane is back. ‘How back’ is another question. We discovered it was on last week, but on closer inspection it seems to have been the third episode this week, so who knows?

Maybe he does. I have a vague idea that Doctor Who will pop up some time, and sooner rather than later will be fine.

I’d really like it if the BBC could make a little more noise when their children’s programmes are on. I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again a few times. Unless people read the small print of afternoon television every day, we’ll just miss our programmes. After a look at the website, I think each episode is on about six times in a week, but it’s not totally clear, so I may be wrong. I’m old, so that’s quite likely.

Watching the first two episodes back-to-back yesterday, I decided that Sarah Jane has a lot in common with NCIS. Both are ignored by television reviewers most of the time, although maybe they don’t sneer quite so much at Sarah Jane. That will be because it’s our national treasure, Russell T Davies, who’s involved. And he, like Shane Brennan in California, knows how to write good scripts.

That’s why this adult must watch. I have given up on most other children’s programmes, mainly due to lack of time, but Sarah Jane is a must.

I suppose the hair was OK.

The second biggest show

The Guardian’s Will Dean, who writes their ‘Watch This’, asked ‘so what do we know?’ this week. Not much, but it’s always fun to say clever and sarcastic things about that which we don’t know all that much about. Just watch me!

We’re gratified, but surprised, to find that Sky have bought NCIS:Los Angeles. I suppose that once they discovered the number of viewers, they felt it was a ‘must have’. Or perhaps FX didn’t want it. Who knows? Channel Five openly admit to not knowing much on their website. They only know two weeks in advance they say. I’d say they are only willing to tell their customers two weeks in advance. That’s different. And if it’s not under FAQs, then don’t bother asking, because they won’t know either.

I wonder if Sky realise that NCIS:Los Angeles have all these people watching, because they have just watched NCIS? They are sandwiched together for a reason. As Will Dean says ‘it’s easy to sneer – and the clunky dialogue and daft edits seem designed to elicit such a reaction – but this is currently the second biggest show in the States.’ So what does he know?

It is well done, but you have to fall in love first. And that may be harder if you jump in somewhere in the middle of it all. You can do with some background. What I thought as I watched last week’s episode – the one with a ‘second Callen’ type – was that it’s a bit like doing something in the company of your best friend’s other best friend. It can work just fine, or it can be a little tricky to get on.

And no, I won’t be putting any pictures up here of any of the actors if they are not wearing clothes, so just go away if that’s what you came for. Honestly! Search engines!