NCIS/NCIS: Los Angeles – Uncaged, Something Blue, Unleashed, Rendezvous

So. I’ve not written much here about either of the NCISs. The last bit of attention they got was when they both had a seriously good episode back in the winter. Since then I’ve restrained myself from moaning about the state of things.

And when both NCIS and LA managed to offer up pretty strong 23rd episodes I didn’t know what to expect of the season finales. What we got was weak; clichéd as far as LA was concerned, and slightly lowkey for NCIS, apart from the last five minutes. Perhaps it sensed me wondering whether they were about to leave us for the summer with nothing more than an ‘ordinary’ episode.

Seems we are to worry about the father-to-be for the next four months. The man who fainted last week, is now risking his life in South America. Oh well, I suppose Delilah can hold off giving birth until September, if that’s what it takes. Or are we to have more team sacrifices?

I didn’t like seeing Mrs Hanna taken hostage last week, but when I worked out where we were heading, there was no avoiding the admiration that they dared, yet again. Although, we are back to my old complaint that it’s the women who go and the men who stay.

And then we had Sam Hanna ‘going rogue,’ which is something we have come to depend on too much. Macho is all very well, but some common sense would be refreshing. DiNozzo was able to hold back when they cornered Trent Kort a year ago. There is more to life than revenge. I’d have liked to see Sam act differently. If they’d let him, there could have been a final episode with feeling instead of what we got.

All in all, LA was better this year than NCIS. The latter offered two good episodes out of 24. The biggest disappointment with LA was the end, plus the fact that so much of the action hinged on individual team members lives. What about the general public, or plain unbiased crooks?

A year ago a fellow LA fan voiced her concern that the show wouldn’t be renewed. That risk looks greater now, because they tied things up fairly neatly. No cliffhangers. Granger is gone and Hetty is feeling her age. And we have two couples in the small team.

As for NCIS, I don’t see how they can survive without Gibbs, but he could do with retiring along with Hetty. The way we left our heroes this week, Gibbs could be killed. But that would be the end of NCIS. I’d rather have left off after episode 23, when we had a ship-based crime, plenty of humour and a happy ending.

NCIS

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Hacksaw Ridge

There are many questions you can ask after watching Hacksaw Ridge, the true story about the man who refused to carry a rifle in WWII and who saved countless soldiers’ lives, and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Did it have to be so violent, and did it have to show quite so many dead and maimed soldiers? In this instance less would definitely have been more. Besides, you see less of the film if you have to look away a lot of the time.

Hacksaw Ridge

Did we really need to have parts like ‘corpse with rats #4’ on the cast list?

Couldn’t it have been clearer about when the earlier parts were set? We had to look it up, to ‘unconfuse’ ourselves.

And might it have been better to stick to what surely must have been rules back in the 1940s, like did nurses have long flowing hair on duty?

But the main question must be, if Desmond Doss was able to save 75 wounded soldiers at Okinawa, through sheer determination; how many unnecessary soldier deaths have there been in all other battles before and after?

I am not wanting to complain that others have not done what he did. You need a strong character and plenty of courage to achieve even a fraction of what Doss managed. But seeing that he could return out on to the battle field over and over again, and come back with more and more wounded comrades; how many half dead soldiers do armies leave behind everywhere?

Keep following Follow the Money

Yeah, I know. There is another week to go for season two of Follow the Money. But, phew, there is a lot happening, isn’t there?

Bedrag/Follow the Money

I’d have thought that the time scale of things is fairly tight, in which case Kristina’s pregnancy is moving faster than all those crooks. But maybe not. It could be that they are chasing after The Bank for absolutely ever. Poor Mads, and poor Alf for that matter. They are a bit naïve at times, while astute on other occasions.

Now though…

For the first time it seemed that Claudia suddenly got scared, instead of merely turning her coat and sailing in the prevailing wind. I can’t decide if I think she’s good or bad.

And it’s so hard to accept that both Christensen and the Swede are bad guys, when previously they have played sympathetic characters. (In US drama, the baddie is ‘always’ British, and here it appears they get a Swede in to do the deed.) Poor Nicky who’s looking for a father figure. He’s so capable, and he should be doing something good with himself. As for Bimse, he’s so forgiving and has his friend’s back, no matter what.

Bedrag/Follow the Money

Amanda is a good type. Unusually likeable for a banker with an addiction. But bad Jens Kristian for hiding the fact that he is married. Until that point I liked him (no, not like that). And poor, poor Hans Peter… We didn’t see that coming, but then Søren Malling has had bad luck in the past.

We’ll have to be patient until the last two episodes, especially as we’ll miss them and need to wait even longer than a week. I wonder if anyone will still be standing at that point?

Dame Vera Lynn: Happy 100th Birthday!

Dame Vera Lynn: Happy 100th Birthday!

It was the old soldiers who made the programme. No matter how much fun it is to hear famous people say lovely things about our Vera Lynn on the occasion of her 100th birthday (Wow!), it was the men who fought in WWII, and who are still with us, like Vera, who started the waterworks, both on me and on themselves.

Hearing Vera discuss the past with her daughter was almost like hearing any mother and daughter pair hark back in time. And that’s good in itself, as it proves how normal she still manages to be. Dame and the forces’ sweetheart she may be, but deep down Vera Lynn comes across like that aunt from east London I never had.

The music specialists had much nice to say, as did those famous people dug up to talk. Odd in a way to have Paul McCartney sit there as though he personally remembered listening to Vera on the radio during the war. Maybe he did.

But as I said, the old soldiers, reminiscing about hearing Vera live somewhere in Burma, or on the radio, and crying at the memories; that’s what made this programme. Telling their own stories, and singing along to We’ll Meet Again, before finally wishing their star a happy 100th. There’s not many of them left.

(Photo © BBC)

Regular

I read an article, probably in the Guardian, on eating the same thing – in the same place – all the time. I believe it was seen as odd.

Now, most of us tend to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, with little concern for nutritional variety or boredom. We just do. And if you’re the type to eat breakfast out, then that is the meal where variation is not required. You can pop into the same café every day of your life if you want to.

And can afford to, obviously. I’d say that having the money to pay for meals out in restaurants all the time is what matters. Not going to the same restaurant every time, nor ordering the same dish. Or not having to order, because staff bring it without being asked.

I don’t have the money, and I like being at home. But I can see the attraction in being a regular somewhere.

In fact, I used to be a regular in an Italian restaurant in London many years ago. Not every day, as I didn’t live there. But every time I was in London I ate there; sometimes several times a day. Once I discovered this place and realised I felt comfortable there and that the food was just right, and affordable, it became my home from home.

I believe this is what we need. We don’t want to trawl round looking at new places every time. I made ‘friends’ with the staff, and got acquainted with many of the other regular diners, some of whom ate out every day because they had no cooking facilities where they lived, often in rented rooms. It’s no different from drinking in your local [pub].

‘My’ restaurant is no more. It was housed in a narrow in-fill between larger properties, and the time came when land in London became so valuable that it had to go, and it has been replaced by a run of dreadful shops. I miss it every time I walk past, and if it was still in business, I’d eat there every time I’m in London.

When we held hands

There we were, behind a makeshift curtain on the stage at one of the sixth form colleges in Halmstad, staring down at a bucket filled with compost. And then we walked out in front of the audience, hand in hand, and I certified that I had in fact seen a naked, Spanish man at the back. That’s all Björn Granath needed me for.

I must have looked the type who just adores being the one to ‘volunteer’ to come up on stage. I wasn’t, but realised I had to, since my friends on either side didn’t really fit the bill for looking at naked men.

It was the mid-1970s and we’d come to see Dario Fo’s Dom har dödat en gitarr men folket har tusen åter,* brought to us by Teater Narren. There were two of them, but I can only recall the one who held my hand, and whenever Björn has popped up on screens since that night, I remember the bucket. And how much of an idiot I felt like.

(I have to point out here that bucket of compost in Swedish ‘could’ sound just like naked Spanish man. So I didn’t lie.)

Björn’s character had to persuade the other character that there was this person in a state of undress at the back. Sounds like typical Dario Fo, if you ask me. And I suppose he did ask me.

I’ve just learned that Björn died earlier this month. Far too early. He was only ten years older than me. But at least from those early beginnings, he went on to pretty close to the top in Swedish drama. And now that I’m no longer standing in front of my grinning companions, I suppose I quite liked my couple of minutes up there.

*’Han matado una guitarra’ in honour of the then recently murdered Víctor Jara.

Hidden Figures

I’ve been known to check my watch in the cinema. That is, if I can manage to see what time it is. I have to admit to having checked it during Hidden Figures too. I wanted to see – I hoped I’d find – that I had lots more film left. Ten minutes. Just ten minutes of a film I could have watched all night.

People are busy saying it’s not fun enough to do well in the Oscars. I suppose it depends on what you look for in a film, and the current climate is perhaps not ideal for black role models or intelligence, or even something as unsexy as the US space programme.

Hidden Figures

For me it’s the best I’ve seen since From the Earth to the Moon. I could easily watch it again. And that is why I worried we were not even going to get it on our local screen. A few days before the UK release it seemed we’d have to travel to see Hidden Figures, and I realised that perhaps we live in a small town more interested in sex and action movies, the more mindless the better.

But then, there it was. Only a few screenings, and the audience was like us, old and sedate and with few oversized trays of popcorn, multi-coloured sweets and fizzy drinks.

And what a story! What a great title! I didn’t know the three leading actresses from anything, and it was all the better for it. This way I wasn’t seeing a superstar pretending to be a maths genius. After Apollo 13 it seems we need an Ed Harris lookalike working for NASA, and I was happy with Kevin Costner. He could almost carry off being clever. Jim Parsons, however, is far too much Sheldon Cooper to work in this role as genius sidelined by clever black woman. I couldn’t get a grip on what he was meant to be like.

My companions who understand maths a bit better than I do, felt that while dumbed down, the maths was mostly OK.

Hidden Figures

I’d have loved this story if it had been mere fiction. I loved it a lot more for being mostly true, and to see the real three women at the end was marvellous. It was so good to know that they did well and were role models for many who came after them. And fantastic to see the real Katherine Johnson honoured by President Obama, and equally great to learn that she has had a long life with her second husband.

The film leaves me wanting to learn more.