Monthly Archives: January 2021

Back on form

NCIS are back, and in more ways than one. Three so-so episodes before Christmas and now another three in January. And they’ve been good. Some even downright exciting. Delilah is back, and she’s on a romantic holiday with McGee, who’s shrunk nicely into his beard.

When I say romantic, I mean romantic for those two. They don’t get their kicks in the ordinary way.

If anyone is reading this, could I respectfully ask that not all British actors are villains? It’s so obvious. Not all villains are British, but the other way round appears to be an unavoidable pattern. We don’t even get to ponder who the ‘unknown’ bad guy might be.

So we had the holiday in the sun, where obviously all the action shifted to McGee and Delilah.

Then at last it was back to the early taster of when Gibbs shoots McGee. We understand why, and that it can’t end entirely badly, but there was some nail biting as to the how on Earth?

Last it was the turn of Torres and Bishop to have their own locked in episode, being in severe danger, some fifteen years after DiNozzo and Ziva spent quality time in that cargo container. Again, we knew, but we didn’t know how.

The priceless look on Gibbs’s face when he arrived at McGee’s with all those computers…

Please keep this up! We need something good after all this time.

Photo © CBS

Trains, Brains and Automobiles

‘Is Anne Hegerty still alive?’ asked Daughter as we watched the first part of The Chasers’ Road Trip: Trains, Brains and Automobiles. She felt there was a real possibility that not all three Chasers would survive Mark Labbett’s driving of that Winnebago in the American Midwest.

And yes, he did scrape the kerb quite a lot. Anne winced as they hit yet another unfortunate piece of US road edging. I could tell she was trying not to be too harsh on the driver, but I know that feeling. See past the bumps, kind of thing, and hope to survive.

‘Well,’ I said, ‘I think she was this morning. She posted the link on social media, alerting me to the programme’s existence. So probably.’

As for the Resident IT Consultant, who very rarely watches STV, he came in to join us for ‘a few minutes’ but when the hour was over, he was still there. Same went for the second part this week, where yet again he was coming for a few minutes. At least this time we knew he’d stay, and it did seem as if Anne was alive.

Daughter finds Mark Labbett really annoying. I quite like him, while acknowledging he is rather annoying. And then there is the more normal Shaun Wallace, although I haven’t quite grasped what it is he does every morning. Not sure it is normal. Nor were those shorts… I mean, really!

Some of you may recall my admission on here that I have never watched The Chase. I still haven’t, so Mark and Shaun are completely new to me. But I like intelligent – or clever – people. Even those who fail the Mensa test.

In Trains, Brains and Automobiles the three travel the ‘world’ to pit their abilities against those of [so far] animals and children. And so far they’ve fallen short most of the time. But that’s as it should be. Entertain us as we discover that small humans are not stupid. Nor are small monkeys. Or dolphins.

For me it’s been good to watch a mainstream television programme and enjoying it. This happens far too rarely. I might even have a go with the real deal, The Chase, one of these days.

Photo © ITV

From one M.A.S.H. to another

There was a time when M.A.S.H. was an important weekly occurrence in the CultureWitch house. Had it been now, it would most likely have turned up somewhere to stream. I suppose it might now, even. I haven’t looked.

But back then, in the late 1980s (so you can tell I was already watching old episodes) I managed to fit in welcoming our firstborn between one Wednesday and the next. It was the last ‘fun’ I had before heading off to the hospital in the night, and when Son and I arrived home a week later, M.A.S.H. was our first point of call before we both went to bed.

Happy 85th Birthday to Alan Alda!

Dumbing down?

What kind of a start, I mean, ‘Christmas’ episode, of Doctor Who was that? Apart from the possibly meaningful release of lots of new Daleks, it was mostly mush.

I’m all for feelings, but then I want to feel those feelings; not having them spoken about as though we need stuff explaining to us. It was all touchy feely, with few resolutions.

Captain Jack eyed up several of the Doctor’s fellow travellers. Why? And what was he doing there? His brief stint a year ago was OK. A bit fun. But this felt pointless, and I say this as a fan of the good Captain.

So we’re losing two companions. I’m not impressed by the advertised replacement, but as Daughter said, we’ve generally liked them once they get started. Let’s live in hope.

But it felt vague and bland. The bright spot, surprisingly enough, was Chris Noth. I almost felt as if I was meeting a much missed old friend. Let’s have him back. He was camper than Captain Jack.

And what’s with this season’s Christmas University Challenge? Those were no celebrities or famous people. Mostly. They were people doing jobs after having been to university. Mostly. Despite the questions feeling somewhat dumbed down, I was intrigued by what these people don’t know.

Geography is one subject they didn’t pay attention in. But let’s go for Svalbard at all times. Has to be right at least once. And and, I’m so old! I must be. There are things one knows through having lived through a period when those things happened. The man who graduated in 1967 turned out to be valuable. As did anyone with a useful hobby. Like an interest in football.

I did find I could cheer the Courtauld Institute team, though, and we loved Kate Fox from Loughborough. Hers was not just a funny face, but there was knowledge behind it.

And I have to say we did not dumb down at all, having our nut turkey and brussels sprouts accompanied by the Downton Abbey film. Good food and good trustworthy entertainment with the right amount of tears, even on a second viewing. And the dowager duchess will lick the stamps herself!

When your nose fails

Many years ago I was having my photo taken. It was either the individual school photo or a passport photo, by an unknown photographer. That’s why I felt I wouldn’t make a fuss and delay things, when I could feel my glasses sliding down my inadequate nose. But he stopped and said, you will look better if you push your glasses up. So I did.

It taught me something. This is why I wish whoever is in charge of filming Bull would tell Geneva Carr to get a better face mask, or better still, get her a better mask. Or at the very least, have her pull it up, when it slides down as she speaks her lines. The others all seem to have functioning face coverings.

But having said that, Bull is still doing well. Four episodes before Christmas, and all featuring masks in a mostly realistic way.

I understand from my in-house viewer that NCIS: New Orleans have used face masks from the beginning of the new season too.

So why not NCIS? How long can they go on pretending they are flashing back to 2019? Even if they do it for a full season, however long or short that may end up being, they will at some point have to face a future after mask-wearing, if there is such a thing. It’s not going to be just a short, embarrassing interlude, which can be ignored forever after. Besides, hairstyles have changed. You shouldn’t keep having the actor in late 2020 pretend they are still in the previous year.

Speaking of noses, while it is charming to have Sean Harmon pretend to be his dad, they just don’t have the same noses. Gibbs the older would probably carry a face mask better than Gibbs the younger.

I’m not saying the three episodes we’ve seen so far have been bad. Just that real life implications grate a bit when the pretending is carried too far.