Monthly Archives: November 2013

Bishop to NCIS; being the new girl

Most of us may well learn to love her. Eventually. But I have to admit to more resistance to Ziva’s replacement than I had expected to have. I am open to a replacement. I had just hoped to cringe a bit less on introduction. Ideally I’d have liked someone older and less perfect looking. Maybe not white. Certainly not blonde.

Emily Wickersham as Ellie Bishop is nice to look at. The trouble is, I had heard she appeared in The Bridge, which I’ve not seen. I did watch three episodes of Bron, and had to stop because the female, aspie detective was so cringe-worthy I almost blushed (which is not normal for me when watching television). By association, Bishop looks very similar, though I understand she did not play that role in The Bridge. But here she is; behaving oddly to say the least, and in what my aspie radar suggest is almost pure copycat casting. ‘To food associate’ is not enough of a quirky excuse. None of Gibbs’s earlier recruits; Kate, McGee, Ziva, have been absurd choices for the job of Special Agent. Bishop doesn’t seem to know what the job entails. She appears dense.

But, this is fiction, and I’m sure any dense-ness will have been magically removed by the next episode. Hopefully, or I’ll soon be blushing my way through more NCIS. To put if briefly; Bishop is not in the slightest an original character. And that’s disappointing.

I have heard complaints that she sidelined Abby and McGee too much. She did, but with a bit of luck that was merely for introductory purposes. Nell in NCIS: Los Angeles seemed to duplicate Eric’s job, but a few years on here we are, most of us happily seeing their twin nerds geeking away.

Bishop and McGee

OK, that’s enough moaning about Bishop. Unless she sinks NCIS, in its 11th season. The plot of Gut Check was far better than I’d been led to believe. The description of it beforehand had me thinking Bishop was a clairvoyant, which really would be taking the biscuit.

I like the new SecNav. She’s growing on me. She could even have a fling with Gibbs if she wanted, although that would be unseemly (in real life, anyway).

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Suitcase

After a while I became afraid I’d lose ‘my group’ as we walked round Piccadilly station in Manchester yesterday. Despite the fact I know the station well, I could begin to understand the anxiety the children of the Kindertransport must have felt on arriving in Britain.

Suitcase - Hanni

It began with me feeling anxious I wouldn’t be allowed on ‘the journey’ because I’d booked too late and every place was already spoken for. And all I wanted was to watch a drama; not to save my life.

I became aware of the production of Suitcase only a couple of weeks ago, as it was about to premiere at Glasgow Central. A crowd-funded drama about the Kindertransport, it was free and it was coming to a railway station near me. Or you. I felt despondent when I realised my only opportunity of seeing it was on my way to Scotland, as I passed through Piccadilly. And then I couldn’t get a ticket!

A very kind person suggested I call at the ‘box office’ (a suitcase, actually) for returns, and I did, and then I was shunted aside and had to wait and that’s when my anxiety levels rose. Just like a refugee. But then the suitcase lady handed me my own numbered label and gave me permission to join the blue group.

Only an idiot like me would go to a promenade theatre performance wheeling a suitcase round with them. But that’s what I did. It seemed almost appropriate, although the superior – and nasty – English lady having tea frowned at it for being red. (And before you are up in arms over my rudeness; this woman was an actor, showing us how some British people didn’t want the refugees.)

Suitcase - English lady

We started under the escalators, where we witnessed the children’s tearful goodbyes, as well as their arrival here, being serenaded with cheery songs. At times the noise and bustle of normal station activities almost drowned out what the actors were saying, but that too fitted in with what it must have been like back then.

Suitcase - Railway porter

As we shuffled between various corners of the station for more intimate sketches with one or two people, refugees, host families, fundraisers and volunteers, it felt as if the real passengers at Piccadilly didn’t really notice us. Rather like it might have been for the original children.

Suitcase - Czech boy and host's daughter

There was the Czech boy who begged us to find work for his clever mother. The railway porter who collected money for the refugees. We met a sister and brother, arguing like siblings do, before they were separated forever. The boy was desperate for the toilet, but they were in a new and strange place.

Suitcase - Kurt

My suitcase lady who objected to the workshy foreigners coming here and ruining things for the English. The couple who ‘knew’ they were getting a young boy, but ended up with a much older girl. Who didn’t even speak English!

Suitcase - volunteer

The volunteer organiser, trying to keep track of everyone, and wondering what to do with the leftover children no one wanted. And at the end, the children writing home, and reading letters from their parents, exhorting them to behave. When the letters stopped coming.

Here one lady had to be led away on a friendly arm. It could easily be too much for anyone. I felt like crying, and my country wasn’t even in the war.

Most of the children assimilated eventually. But Kurt, the one who needed the toilet, never got over the loss of his sister, of having to be grateful all the time, and being passed round lots of families. Heartbreaking.

Suitcase - red

There was music, and there was dancing. They even offered round baskets of doughnuts at the end. And I picked up my suitcase and went to find a train, still wearing my label. I’m so grateful I was allowed to join in.

(Shared with Bookwitch)

Trekking

We needed something to watch with our pizza. The thing about the diminished numbers of the Witch family means we eat in front of the television rather more than we used to.

I’d carried the Big Bang Theory upstairs, so didn’t feel like trekking after it, which left me wondering whether I could put up with an episode of Star Trek, which I did have on the right floor. But I have to admit to having felt less enthusiasm over Star Trek than expected. Our progress can hardly be called that. We’re on about the third or maybe fourth episode. It’s going to be a long journey.

So I trekked up and grabbed Big Bang Theory after all. Which was a good solution in one way. We felt more like it. But we had inadvertently arrived at the episode where the boys are in the middle of nowhere, dressed up as, well, as trekkies…

Big Bang Theory

You can’t win, really.

Whereas we did like the most recent film once we got ourselves over to a cinema (which is now quite a long time ago) before the film was replaced by something a bit newer. I like Benedict Cumberbatch, whatever side he was on. Most of them, it seemed like.

Star Trek Into Darkness

And there was the Spock romance, in both Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as the episode of old Star Trek we watched when we got home. Round and round in circles we go. Hoped we’d at least manage to lose Captain Kirk, but oh no…

2×36

36 is a good age to be. I know, because I tried it once. Congratulations to Brian Dietzen and Sean Murray whose turn it is to have a year of being 36. Hopefully.

Brian celebrates his birthday today, and Sean tomorrow. Have a nice day – each – boys, and don’t let it get out of hand like Palmer’s stag night.

Palmer's stag night

There used to be three NCIS birthdays in mid-November. Happy belated birthday to Cote de Pablo, who is hopefully enjoying some well earned rest.

Facing Extinction

You couldn’t say that in connection with just anyone, but with Terry Pratchett it sort of works. It is no less awful, but it is the truth. We all are, of course. It is not right to presume that Terry will have an early need for that gravestone, the inscription of which he was discussing with his assistant Rob on the programme Facing Extinction.

Which we watched almost eight months late. That’s the danger of recording programmes because you don’t have time. You forget. Terry forgets very little, and it was a different lack of time that led him to travel to Borneo to visit the orangutans once more. Before it’s too late. For them. Or for him. For us.

Anyway, the title of the show was pretty apt in all its awfulness.

Terry really wanted to meet Kusasi again; the large, old orangutan he met in the mid-1990s. That’s the thing with Terry. He likes the most diverse things in this world, and thinks about them more than most. We should all think more, about more things.

He was a bit wobbly on his legs, and I found myself thinking he’d make the perfect travelling companion for me. Wobble together, kind of thing. But other than that, you wouldn’t know about the Alzheimers if the BBC didn’t ram it down your throat all the time.

(Which reminds me of the tale Neil Gaiman told in Manchester last month, about Terry phoning him for some help with writing his biography. Neil suspected the worst, but in the end the answer to the question Terry had called about was such a minute and unimportant detail, one which most ‘normal’ people wouldn’t necessarily remember, either. It was whether the two of them walked down 42nd Street in New York. Or 43rd Street.)

The day we watched I’d been reading Terry’s new Discworld novel, all about trains, and I was feeling very into trains, travelling, and Terry. And within hours, I’d received – by weird coincidence – an invitation to travel on a steam train with Terry. The sad thing being I had to say no…

Facing Extinction - Terry Pratchett and Rob

But you know, it’s the way all sorts of stuff just coincides. Weird. And it’s rather lovely to see how Terry and Rob get on. Rob didn’t know he’d be tying his boss’s shoelaces when he got the job. Just as well, or they might have looked for another type of assistant.

This was very much a feelgood programme, despite the disappearing rain forests, the poor orangutans, the oil palms and the illegal trade in endangered species. It’s the way Terry Pratchett considers everything and everyone. It’s the way he considers himself lucky. It’s the way he makes the rest of us feel.

As to why I delayed watching this for so long… I don’t have a good excuse. We have all delayed doing far too many things for far too long. Hopefully it won’t be too late for the orangutans. And hopefully we’ll have Terry for many years still.

Better Angels and The Livelong Day

Two good episodes from both NCIS and LA this week, and interestingly both seemed to be on the same track as my reading at the moment. War in NCIS and trains in LA. How did they know? Actually, the war angle is not so strange. We are all working towards Remembrance Sunday (whatever that is in the US, WWI still ended at this time of year, no matter where you are/were) tomorrow.

The sentiment in Better Angels is a great one, but the wartime scenario felt a little farfetched. Admittedly, I had just read a similar Allied soldier/German soldier thing, but this one featuring pilots with Gibbs Sr was weird. Where were they?

We already knew Jackson had been in the war, but it makes him as old as Ralph Waite, or older. The ‘what if?’ premise is a good one, though. If that had happened, then none of this would have been possible.

As for LA, in real life Sam Hannah would have been dead. Most likely, anyway. But it makes for good entertainment, when you know he won’t die, on account of being a main character. It’s nice to have episode characters with, well, character. Kept wondering about Dead Man’s Switch, but the Resident IT Consultant reckoned they might not have them on US trains.

That aside, this episode was very nicely train-centric, especially for something set in California and not on the East Coast. They were a little mean to Deeks, but then he has gone a bit funny and seems to veer from one strange idea to another.

I suppose what I’m saying is that neither episode counts as stupidly outlandish. Hoping Eric will be officially permitted to wear shorts, and that the NCIS office will never be quite as empty as it was this week. Camp fire between two agents? That’s just sad.

NCIS – the women have it

So, we’re back to season three mode, with various women being borrowed for a week at a time, to fill the gap Ziva left behind. Whether it’s because they really haven’t found the right replacement, or if they want to give us – and themselves – some time to breathe, and grieve, I have no idea. It’s good that they haven’t rushed into finding just any female to fill the David boots.

Abby and Abby

Though I almost wondered if Agent Borin was going to be the – surprise – one. That would have been novel, letting an existing character take over. Especially one we like. When she left Gibbs’s basement last week, I thought it could be a double bluff. Or they are waiting to see what viewers’ reactions are.

That old partner of Mike’s who turned up for two weeks before retiring, was so clearly marked that no one would ever fear she’d be ‘the one.’ But Agent Grady? Not that I had realised she was an agent. I thought she just attached equipment to Gibbs’s trousers and was awkward.

Maybe we’ll see – far too much – more of McGee’s Delilah? Anyone who can give DiNozzo a heart attack is halfway there.

SecNav

And the dear new SecNav. Gibbs had his suspicions about her. Not that she’d demote herself to Agent, but interfering is another thing. It was quite funny when he gave her the elevator treatment. ‘Urban legend!’ Hah.

SecNav and Gibbs

I wonder how long we’ll have women dangled tantalisingly in front of us? If we are to have a slightly used character, my money is on Abigail Borin. I enjoyed the Gabse/Gabbs pairing, except they are perhaps too alike.

Gibbs and Borin

And speaking of women, I hadn’t thought before, but in Mike’s granddaughter, they have given Gibbs a replacement daughter. Might explain why he’s mellowed.

(Photos © CBS)