TV suspense


Tonight’s virtual visit was to the island of Shetland. This visit was inspired by the televised version of Ann Cleeves’s story, Dead Water, on Netflix.

At the link, click on the road to “drive” into the town of Lerwick. If you turn around (use the cursor to pull the picture one way or the other), you’ll be facing the sea. I can imagine the Vikings coming over the horizon.

Can you see them, too?

Google Maps view of the ocean from just outside Lerwick, Shetland.

PBS is looking good for Saturdays although it’s very odd when an established program changes its main characters, especially if you’ve missed any transition.  So far, the story is still ticking along, but the only character from the previous programs is Dennis Waterman.

New Tricks, cast and characters

 

Up-side is, it’s still on.

Scott and Bailey‘s up next.

The latest Miss Marple in the PBS series Masterpiece Mystery is Endless Night, a bit of an oddity because Miss Marple isn’t a character in the book.<-  [highlight to see spoiler]   Continued spoilers, and a good review, are at the blog, The Agatha Christie Reader.

I’m happy that the stories continue to be made for new audiences as well as for those of us who apparently can’t get enough of Mrs. Christie’s books (the blue volumes in the near-top left and right shelves).

In addition to being happy to see the remake of the story, I liked seeing Tamzin Outhwaite’s name in websites about the episode. I last saw her in Redcap.

I was also tickled to see Janet Henfrey in the cast.  I so enjoyed her as Mrs. Bale in As Time Goes By with Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer.  Her attention to the shipping forecasts reminded me of my dad talking about the persistence of “gale-force winds” in the Scottish isles, an apparent feature of the radio weather reports in England in the early 1950s.

It makes it hard for younger people in the acting profession to get work when so many of their older colleagues continue to work well in the craft, but I do enjoy seeing familiar faces in familiar stories.  Aspiring novelists may also have a tough time breaking into the ranks of well-known stories and characters because of the devotion of readers to their favorite writers.  I know that if I’m reading another one of the Christie books, I’m not reading the stories of newer authors.  I try to balance it by reading contemporary authors during the day when it’s easier to concentrate and saving Mrs. Christie for my soothing nighttime reads.

So, I’m sitting here, allegedly multitasking by checking a Sisters In Crime email list, emailing a thank-you, cribbing information on formatting ebooks, and watching the movie Scoop on Netflix.  I’ve read that multitasking doesn’t actually work, but it seems that I’m doing it anyhow.

While I’m multitasking, a little voice in the back of my head keeps telling me I’m missing something. It’s a nagging little feeling, nothing momentous (thank goodness), but just something.

Through my haze of reading, typing, muting the story when suspenseful things are happening (I’m fine with mysteries, but I don’t [gracefully] do suspense), I think, “Lovejoy.”  It finally dawns on me that one of the primary characters in the movie is Ian McShane, an actor I haven’t seen onscreen in years. That little voice isn’t in the back of my head, it’s coming from the television.

Now I’m going to have to waste time looking on Netflix for Lovejoy. I don’t have much hope, but you never know.  In the meantime, back to Scoop.

On the Sisters in Crime email list for “the great unpublished” (Guppies), one of the discussions was how a member discovered Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti series that is set in Venice, Italy. I’m a Brunetti fan and I was pleased to see recommendations for books by authors who set their stories in Italy.

The pièce de résistance of the discussion (as far as I was concerned) was the revelation that an Inspector Brunetti television series is available, in German!  (pardon my squeal of excitement)  I now have a list for people-who-give-me-gifts, and am thinking up nine gift-giving days, such as Mother’s Day, my birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas.  I suppose we could add St. Patrick’s Day, the first day of spring, May Day, Hallowe’en and Flag Day.  That makes nine, right?

Again, thanks to the Guppy list and the generous members.

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Update

The first two-program Brunetti video set arrived yesterday and I watched the first program, “Vendetta.”  I (along with my three-week old granddaughter) enjoyed the show.  The scenes of Venice were delightful; the characters, although not identical to what I imagined while reading the books, are well-cast; hearing German took me back to Europe; the story was well-produced.  The subtitled were useful for scenes in which the German words weren’t clear, or for dialogue in which I just didn’t know the words. My baby was lulled throughout.

All in all, a success.  I look forward to (eventually) seeing the entire series.

On Netflix, I have just discovered Phryne Fisher.

The first two episodes of the series (all that I’ve seen, at the moment) are of excellent quality, capturing the elegance of the 1920s. I also find the characters to be engaging.  I’m hoping that the books are as evocative.

One of my pet peeves is stories, whether written or performed, that have incorrect military information.  Some of the wrong information is simple, such as my current peeve, and some of it is illogical made-up-stuff.

Tonight’s irritation is with an episode of “Unforgettable.”  In the story, a Veterans Administration doctor has been asked by Unforgettable’s main character about a veteran who is a person of interest in a murder (the Crazed Veteran is always a popular character if you need a military person in your story).   The veteran in question would be fluent in Pashto, a language in Afghanistan.  The doctor replied to the detective that it would take several tours in Afghanistan for a soldier to become fluent in Pashto, and then says that she does have a client in counseling who fits the description — a corporal.

Insert rant about ‘if you plan on writing about something, learn the basic information about it.’

In the Army, a corporal is an E4, a junior enlisted rank.  If this person were a corporal he wouldn’t have had enough time in service to easily become fluent in Pashto, unless he’d been demoted multiple times.  Pashto is a language that the Foreign Service Institute rates as a level 2 or 3 language, levels that take between 34 – 48 weeks of full-time study for basic proficiency. Unless a person were being trained as a linguist, it is unlikely that the Army would invest the time for the training.

Which brings us to another point.  The photo of the uniformed ‘person of interest’ shows a relatively long-haired white-bread man (for today’s military) in an Army uniform, wearing infantry brass backed by a light blue disc.  An infantryman in Afghanistan is not surprising, however, an infantryman wouldn’t have linguistic training.  If an infantryman had acquired fluency in Pashto — either from multiple tours in Afghanistan or from language training — he would have been in the Army long enough to be more than a corporal.  Still, for story-purposes, a Pashto-spouting bad guy is more menacing than your average veteran.

Then there’s the fiction that he’s a corporal.  In today’s Army, very few military occupational specialties (MOSes — ie, ‘jobs’) use the rank of corporal.  An E4 in the infantry would be a specialist unless he were filling a leadership position.

Specialist is a designation retained from when the Army had ranks from Specialist Fourth Class up to Specialist Seventh Class alongside the NCO ranks of the same pay grades.  In today’s Army, and of the specialist ranks, only the E4-Specialist rank remains.  I’d say this story character wouldn’t be a corporal because, as I said before, if he’d been in the Army long enough to be fluent in Pashto, he was probably demoted more than once and wouldn’t be leader material.

Now if this service member were a Marine, then the corporal rank is appropriate — although, as a Pashto-speaking-E4, he still would be suffering from the time-in-service problem concerning the language fluency.

The holes in this one story point are large enough to drive a truck through.

Writers — and producers and directors — if you’re going to use the Crazed Veteran character in your stories, at least do the poor guy the honor of getting his backstory straight.

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