NCIS – Keep Going

Wow. They really can do it if they try. Was this week’s NCIS a happy accident, or have they been listening? Or, perish the thought, had they kept a little something extra good up their sleeves in case the world needed cheering up?

I’ve been watching some old episodes this week, so feel quite confident in stating that Keep Going would have fitted in well in almost any of the older seasons. The middle ones. Some of the flashbacks coincidentally were from the episodes I watched. Weird.

Gibbs, Torres, Palmer and Ryan

So, first they actually wrote a good script. Then they directed it extremely well. They let Palmer be the main character, with Torres the only newbie there for him. And there was admirably little to be seen of Quinn. Gibbs behaved just as you’d expect him to, which means that he was back to old, normal Gibbs. The kind of Gibbs you don’t think about, because he just is.

Abby was given more time than of late, which is what we want. There was more life to McGee, and Ducky was Duckier than ever. Bishop was OK, and did I mention that Quinn didn’t get enough of an opportunity to annoy?

The vertigo was more than real. I almost fell off my armchair watching the street down below. Palmer was scared and not abnormally brave standing on that ledge, working hard to persuade the suicidal young man not to jump. He gave so much of himself. The flashbacks were clever, in that we both got to see snippets from the good old days of NCIS, but they also fitted in with the story, which isn’t always the case.

So it was feelgood on two fronts; story with wow factor, and revisiting the past. You could tell the end was coming, but it was no worse for being obvious.

(Photo © CBS)

So long, Granger

I’d like to think that Miguel Ferrer, who died yesterday, told NCIS: Los Angeles scriptwriters to stick a knife in him. If you know you’re ill and if you are still working, it’s such an obvious thing to do, killing your character in style.

I’m obviously speculating here, which is something I don’t approve of. We’re in a cliffhanger, waiting to see what will happen in LA, but Deputy Director Granger has clearly been unwell, and now he’s not just been arrested but stabbed. As Daughter pointed out, they already have him unconscious in a hospital bed.

Granger

Owen Granger was that kind of character I’ve come to realise I like. By that I mean they turn up and act bad and you hate them and want them gone, and then ever so slowly, they inch their way into the show they’re on and gain respect, and love. (Vance was another one we mistrusted deeply.)

And I wonder if he was brought in, in case Hetty was looking for retirement? In which case we have a Dallas situation, like when they retired the Ewings’ mother and then her replacement died and she herself came back, not as old or tired as had been made out.

Thinking about it now, I feel as if Granger has been – mostly – elsewhere for some time. They are talking about him, but he’s not actually there with the rest of the team. Like Daniela Ruah’s pregnancy, maybe this was planned long ago.

So, it remains to be seen what they do about Granger. I’m assuming they will kill him in the next episode. In which case he died with his boots on.

Miguel Ferrer can’t be replaced.

(Photo © CBS)

NCIS: Los Angeles – Hot Water

Well.

Who’d have thought?

I know I’ve been saying NCIS: Los Angeles has had the better writing for quite some time now, but Hot Water was really something. (Even the Resident IT Consultant noticed it was good.) It was a bit like Philip Pullman’s Tiger in the Well, where one by one the team is taken out and you’re not left with much.

Well, you’ve got the ladies, who unlike me are probably stronger than a washed out Twinings Earl Grey. And Beale. And they had their escape route down the hatch. Unless that was a red herring. But I don’t think it was.

OK, so all the alphabet agencies are either very evil [all of them] or they are surprisingly stupid to have been taken in by the mole. I mean, someone must be able to think! Yes?

I take great care not to leave my dead bodies where just anyone can find them, especially if trying to appear normal. So why would NCIS?

In a way not much happened. Yet. And now we have a two week wait before we are continued. It had better be worth it.

NCIS – Willoughby

So, they could have killed Quinn.

Instead they had to go and ‘write out’ someone else from the show. Was it the viewers not wanting anything muslim-friendly that did it? I had even been watching Willoughby thinking it wasn’t bad. For season fourteen, I mean. It had things to recommend it.

And the end; not even a ‘to be continued.’ Although it feels as if this is another bad guy who has to be chased through a few episodes before they get him.

Strangely enough, while missing this episode for over a week, for various reasons, I’d been thinking back to season three, the first episode, and how I cursed myself for arranging to host a dinner party that night. I recorded NCIS and then couldn’t sleep, so got up really early the next morning and more or less cried my way through it. Then watched it again, crying almost as much, and it wasn’t until I woke Daughter and watched it for the third time with her, that I was almost back to normal.

Whereas this time I didn’t mind the wait from the week before the week before Christmas. They need to bring some of that sense of expectation back. I believe NCIS can be rescued, despite DiNozzo’s departure. As long as someone does something about Quinn.

Red River Valley

It was an oblivious kind of torture. I never meant to plague my uncle, nearly driving him crazy. I was merely being seven years old. And oblivious to anything but the latest EP I had found in his home.

It didn’t belong to him. Obviously. No, this deliciously red-coloured EP must have been bought by Eldest Cousin, and once discovered by me as we visited over the Christmas holidays, I played it. All. The. Time.

Hence my poor uncle’s despair if he had to listen to it One. More. Time. I heard him, but I still played on. It was so good.

The best of the four tracks was Red River Valley. Except that’s not what it was called in Sweden where it went under the slightly outlandish title Vid foten av fjället, sung by Sven Gösta Jonsson. He was labelled The Rocking Sami, and he performed wearing traditional dress. And he was lovely! I was a fan for quite some time (he now comes across as more mediocre than I was aware of at the time).

And then one day, many years later, I discovered there was a version in English as well! Lots of them, really. My own personal favourite is by Roger Whittaker, but any version will do.

A Monster Calls

This was the film we tried to go and see all week. We should be grateful it made it to the local cinema, because who would want to be deprived of a good long cry? As it was, Kleenex were required, and there was a bucket too.

A Monster Calls

I can no longer recall the exact details of the book by Patrick Ness, and by that I mean the minor characters and any minor plots. I think there were some. They are not in the film, which is good, as you don’t want to detract from the main story about Conor, his dying mum and his angry grandma. And the school bullies, because to be beaten up every day as your mother is dying is obviously [not] what a 13-year-old boy needs.

A Monster Calls

The film let us concentrate on Conor’s nightmares and the subsequent meetings with a tree monster who comes to the house (voiced by Liam Neeson) to tell him stories.

Then there is grandma, played by Sigourney Weaver, doing a good British accent, while going around being at least as angry as her grandson. And who can blame her; she is losing her child, and gaining a grandchild who hates her.

A Monster Calls

At first the film went so slowly I was afraid it would ruin things but, almost imperceptibly, it sped up and before we knew it we were hooked, by Conor’s dismal daily life, and his mum’s sufferings, and you could literally see her getting worse.

Beautifully filmed in the Northwest, it looked like home to us (not quite as I’d imagined it from the book or from Jim Kay’s illustrations).

And it was only on the way out I remembered I had tissues in my bag, after casting around in my mind what we could possibly use to mop those tears with.

(Also posted on Bookwitch)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

This was absolute bliss. Whereas it is generally ‘quite nice’ to revisit a film and its characters, the concept of J K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them beats most that I have seen. Even though I obviously read the book [by Newt Scamander] however many years ago it was published, almost as an afterthought, the new film is such a tremendous bonus!

It’s something you didn’t see coming, separate but still belonging to Harry Potter’s world, and it couldn’t have been better. I never thought of Newt Scamander as anything but an obscure historical character, with an interest in animals. The film about Newt shows how wrong I was, and how Rowling’s magic just carries on and on.

As someone said the other day, it’s rather a relief to have a film like this with almost no children in it. It meant we could see Muggles and Wizards in the New York of 1926 as it might have appeared in just about any film; it was all about adults going about their business, which in Newt’s case was rescuing creatures at risk, and trying to teach other magic people that the beasts have a place in the world too.

Kowalski, the wannabe baker Muggle, was a Rupert Grint kind of man. Quite ordinary but also quite brave and someone who adapted well to the seemingly crazy world of magic. The two main female characters, sisters Tina and Queenie, were just as intelligent, kind and beautiful as you needed them to be. And Eddie Redmayne’s Newt was mysterious and enthusiastic and kind, with a nice sense of humour towards his ‘walking stick insects’ and dragons and all the other creatures.

The bad guy was so charmingly bad that you almost believed he might be all right. And the remaining characters made for a rich background.

Isn’t it wonderful how you can have a spin-off like this from a ‘mere’ children’s publishing sensation? Something so good and fun and mature, which wasn’t born from the usual film mould?

I don’t often float away from cinemas, especially not in the middle of the night. But I did this time. And I felt happy.

(Also published on Bookwitch.)