Monthly Archives: September 2011

Vintage Abby, and the spider web tattoo


Hometown Hero from the end of NCIS season two has a lot of Abby in it.

Abby and Gibbs

Here are some – well quite a few, actually – pictures from the weekend when Abby and Kate wanted to go to a spa, and couldn’t. Which gave rise to Abby’s instructions to Palmer: ‘Your hands on my body. Now.’

Palmer and Abby




Abby and DiNozzo


McGee and Abby

Gibbs and Abby

And here is Abby, signing off.

Abby's signature

(Photos © CBS)

NCIS: Los Angeles – Lange, H.

There was a lot of shooting. Killing, even. So maybe the Resident IT Consultant is right in saying NCIS: L A sends the message that it’s OK for Americans to go abroad and kill foreigners?

Hetty in Romania


Eric and Nell

Nell, Eric and Vance


I prefer to think that it’s fiction. Still with a lot of death, though. As season openers, this was a good sight better than big brother NCIS. We’d been left on a proper cliff, and we wanted to see what would happen.

Good that we know more about Callen’s past. Bad that it’s so sad. And I had rather hoped more of an agreement could have been reached with those who perished at the end. Very interesting to see what they did with Hunter. Not quite what I had expected.

The trio at home worked well together. I sometimes think Director Vance works better in L A.  Nell and Eric are a team, and it’s fun to have two people working things out together, instead of Abby working all alone. The Oreo cookies was a good test of who’s boss, and my money is on Hetty.

Amazing how more than one boss ‘mistakenly’ don’t register agents who hand in their badges.

And now we all think the Black Sea looks like the Californian coast. Personally I’d say it’s more the cars they go wrong with when they pretend home is away, somewhere.

(Photos © CBS)

Who’s dying?

Is he? Dying? The Doctor? Really?

It’s what he keeps saying. Looking upset about it. Tomorrow. Which I guess is next week.

Cybermen and the Doctor

I find it easy enough to dismiss these things as hype to get us all worked up, and more interested. But then I found myself thinking that maybe, really, perhaps? After all, we’ve seen it already.

But then there is the Christmas episode, and it’d be a shame if they had to cancel it due to plot inconsistencies.

I suppose there is always time travel. It could be one he made earlier.

Craig and the Doctor

Craig did well this week, and baby Stormageddon was lovely and quite wise. And the Doctor was unusually aware about normal things like the need to clear up a house that looks like a bomb went off.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

They must have struggled with Benedict Cumberbatch’s hair. It’s not meant to be straight. It was – sort of – but kept waving at the back. Can’t quite get over Gary Oldman’s transformation from Sirius Black to Smiley.

The new Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is like good coffee or dark chocolate. Not that I use either, but I suspect it’s how it must feel if you do. Like this film. It’s pure art. It’s like being inside a good painting. Somehow.

I can’t say I understood all of it, and I can no longer recollect if I ever read this particular novel by John le Carré or not. Suspect not, but the Resident IT Consultant assured me they stayed close to the plot. But it’s not the kind of film you need to understand. You just enjoy. Immerse yourself.

It probably helps that it was directed by a Swede. I’m not sure why, but it appears to be something Swedes are good at. And Tomas Alfredson strikes me as very good indeed.

As usual the authentic 1970s were too authentic, so to speak. But it looked good. And I’m amazed to see they unearthed some blue cups this time. We’ve had the green ones in every single period film or television programme for decades.

Colin Firth

Benedict Cumberbatch

NCIS – Nature of the Beast

Is it going to be a case of killing your Kate and still having her? One episode of sister Rachel might seem reasonable, but two? I feel we might be in for even more. Not that I mind as such, but I wonder if this is the next best thing to the impossible resurrection of Agent Todd?

Oh well.

The start of season nine was beginning to look ill-fated as I had to wait almost 48 hours to watch it. But we finally sat down, and managed not to slurp soup all over the sofa. (We were only able to squeeze in the viewing by having our – badly planned – dinner with NCIS.)

Gibbs and FBI Agent Stratton

To be honest, it was OK as an episode, but not exactly a season-starter. That’s what I thought, anyway. Nice to see people back, but with it being DiNozzo centred, there was far too little of most everyone else. It’s as if when we get together again after a long wet summer we want to all meet in a ‘group hug’ and there was none of that.

It felt like a weak copy of the beginning of season seven, coupled with Gibbs’s amnesia from Hiatus. Michael Weatherly is a good actor, but he seemed to be flogging a dead horse in that hospital room, being over-analysed by his Dr Cranston.

The baddie looked bad from the word go. I’d love more sympathetic bad guys, so that I can feel surprise and disappointment when they are revealed. OK, so we did get a bit of that with DiNozzo’s quarry, who was the one I’d been sure it wouldn’t be, because of Abby.

Vance and Gibbs

We are clearly in for a rough ride with the new SatNav (I know what his title is!), but he’s got some good points. The old one was too whiny.

It’s nice to be back. Let’s have more of the whole team next week!

(Photos © CBS)

We Are Three Sisters

The winds on Haworth Moor are fierce. They carried all the way to the Quays theatre last night for the new play about the Brontë sisters, by Blake Morrison. Or possibly about Chekhov’s fictional sisters.

Blake has blended the two sister groups so that you can’t tell where one ends or the other begins. You don’t need to know anything about either the Brontës or Chekhov’s play, but if you do, you’ll notice all the details he has stuck in places throughout.

There was a little publicised post show talk in the Quay stalls, where actor and director Barrie Rutter told us about some of the background, before he was joined by all three sisters plus brother Branwell, their father and the curate for some personal thoughts on the Brontës and Haworth and the play.

Last night was their first time on a traditional stage. Previously they have performed the play in a different shape, and in two weeks’ time they will switch to yet another. It takes them at least one night to get used to a new way of doing it.

Blake’s long-standing fascination with the sisters shows, although he has also used artistic license and it’s not all true. The curate for instance, is an invention, and the doctor and the teacher are straight out of Chekhov.

We met the sisters at home in the parsonage. It was Anne’s birthday, and their home was invaded by both the doctor, who was in love with her, and the teacher, who was busy handing out copies of a little book he had written. The new curate arrived and started sweet-talking the ladies. And there really was a Mrs Robinson. She was Branwell’s love interest, and she wore green, and she behaved rather shockingly for Haworth, which turned out not to be like Harrogate in the end.

The servant Tabby wavered from the role of almost mother to the children, to that of someone who was afraid she wouldn’t be allowed to stay. I was struck by the mention of the black spots on the potatoes, which is something I’ve always remembered from Mrs Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte.

Emily, Charlotte and Anne talked endlessly about their dreams for themselves and their writing. Charlotte and Anne went off to London, while Emily stayed at home, angry about all the attention. She didn’t want to write another book and she didn’t want to be discovered.

We Are Three Sisters

But for all their differences, they were together at the end, only days before Branwell’s death, which was so soon followed by the others’. But they said, ‘there’ll be our books, and in the end we will be remembered.’

Yes, ladies, you are. And according to Barrie Rutter your lives were not as ‘bloody gloomy’ as Mrs Gaskell made out.

(On at the Lowry for the rest of the week. And I would have loved to have given an unwanted Victorian ornament for them to break. Just didn’t have one spare. They emailed round to ask for ornaments to break, needing one per performance.)


Calm down dear, it’s only a wedding.

He helicoptered in, or so I was told. It’s what you do when you are busy and rich at the same time. Having been charmed over some dinner by the owner of our local bookshop he said he’d call round, and true to his word he did.

Not that I had much interest in him, but we felt we should make up numbers, just in case, and also to gawk at someone famous at close quarters. It was good that we did. Not too many people turned up, I suspect mainly due to lack of publicity. Although the ones who did come were of the fanatic fan type and they couldn’t believe their luck.

So, to make everything seem ‘busier’ I persuaded (forced, more like) Daughter to have her photo taken with him. It’s quite a good one, actually. And I sat down and chatted over tea or something. And I bought his autobiography. Actually, I felt sorry for him, so bought two copies… He had an early Quaker background, and I mistakenly thought it’d make a good present for the Grandmother.

I read the first hundred pages or thereabouts. Then it got a bit same-y and I gave up. Lots of photos. They all had a caption that went ‘here I am with X.’ X being somebody famous.

At least by the time Daughter needs to write her autobiography she has one picture which can have the caption of ‘here I am with Michael Winner.’ Unless that is too shameful to admit to.

In today’s paper there was a photo of Michael next to another lady. Also quite a nice photo. It seems to be his brand new wife. As Michael is 75 it’s amazing that Geraldine Lynton-Edwards is his first wife. After an immediate cynical thought which I will keep to myself, I wish them every happiness.

(I want to stay on good terms with Daughter, hence no photo here.)

Happy Birthday Ducky!

It’s David McCallum’s 78th birthday today. I wonder what it is that makes actors so happy – and able – to work to a high old age? Not saying Ducky is old, but to be able to play a man who is below retirement age is pretty good.

Ducky and Palmer

I hope David will continue as Ducky for many years to come. We can’t imagine NCIS without their resident Mallard. He may seem oblivious to his ‘boring’ chatter at times, but sometimes he is more than aware of the effect he has on people.

‘Did I tell you about the time when..?’

(Photo ©  CBS)

Downton again

Well, they need to keep Matthew alive, don’t they? We decided he can be allowed to be injured, but has to stay alive. The question is who they are going to sacrifice? And who, if anyone, deserves a white feather. I’d have done anything to get one, if it had been me.

In my next life I will be the Dowager Maggie Smith. She’s wonderful! Awful, but wonderful. I thought perhaps that Matthew’s mother was getting a little too aggressive in sending people off to the war.

Mary has grown on me. Can’t quite make out her spiteful sister. I feel sorry for her half the time and hate her the rest. And the budding nurse was never interested in the chauffeur, after all. Oh well.

Love Mrs Hughes. There’s something about those devious women who will stop at nothing to look after their family. Let’s hope Mrs Bates comes to a sticky end, and preferably soon. O’Brien hasn’t improved, but for a moment it was almost possible to feel sorry for Tom. And Daisy has grown up.

We had far too many stops for refreshments. Next week we’ll watch afterwards and save half an hour in commercials.

The end of the miracle

Was it going to be the end of Torchwood? It was hard to decide until very close to the end of the last Miracle Day episode last night. Some people died. Others didn’t. And I did suspect that one of the ‘surprises’ in the last minutes was about to happen.

It’s been fun, and quite exciting, but it’s not been Torchwood as we know it. It was just that little bit (!) too American, but I guess that was unavoidable. It was only ever Gwen and her family and her devoted former colleague who carried the Welsh side of the affair.

Torchwood - Miracle Day

There was some unpleasant government behaviour, but I suppose not even Russell T Davies could have predicted how close to our present reality it would end up being. Not all episodes were written by the same people, and it shows. Some are a lot better than others.

The mole is suitably sinister in her trusted role, but most of the other baddies aren’t terribly bad. That was left to the politicians, who are real pros. I can’t help wondering if they sailed too close to WWII for some viewers. And what is it with gay sex scenes, now that their entertainment value has been ‘discovered’ and apparently cleared with the guardians of all that’s decent? I don’t mind, but it seems somewhat one-sided.

We can have more Torchwood. The question is, will we?