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Author Topic: Amazon Prime Video
Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 11, 2018, 10:43
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I skipped the 3rd and went right to the fourth episode of the Mr. Whicher series: The Ties That Bind.

This one starts out fairly well. A man hires Whicher (who obviously must need the money because this is not the kind of case he relishes) to follow his wife and gain evidence on her infidelity. I’m going to throw spoilers in here because I don’t recommend that you watch this. It starts good (a straightforward story) and then makes the error that most such detective shows do: they throw twist upon twist.

The problem with twist-upon-twist is that it means that nothing you ever see has any meaning because it’s not true. When a show is always twisting, you can never take it at face value thus why bother at all? This episode in the series falls to that excess. We never (as in the first episode) get to follow the investigation through the eyes of Mr. Whicher and become privy to, more or less, how he perceives the case. Instead, we’re left completely in the dark and watch as the Magic Detective’s omniscience somehow sees through every artifice, red herring, and lie. We're supposedly supposed to be tickled pink when we see the resolution of all the twists but at some point you just emotionally tune out and couldn't care less.

The first episode (based on a true story) was good if only because they had to (more or less, I presume) stick to the real story. This provided some discipline for the plot and it worked very well.

In “The Ties that Bind,” there is no end to plot-extensions. If a MacGuffin is a central device (with a strong cast of arbitrariness) that exists to move the plot along then there must be a thing called a MacPuffin. The air is let out of the previous plot conclusion (or suggestion) as another one is puffed up to replace it in an almost never-ending string.

The ridiculousness is too complex to go into (or simply to recall). But it turns out that Whicher was being set up all along. The husband and wife had agreed to a divorce if she takes the blame for infidelity. This is all well and good but this is mentioned much later in the episode after the plot had already been huff, puffed, and blow hither and thither by other things — especially by other trysts (at least two…maybe more) that watered down the idea of following this original woman’s infidelity.

And even then, there is no real conclusion to this, no confrontation between Whicher and the man who used him. Throw in the artifice of incest as well near the end which, I suppose, could have been the basis of the story to begin with but is like a new story bolted on at the end so why bother with all that which came before? Yikes. And if that was a run-on sentence, you can understand what it is like watching one of these run-on plots.

Whicher himself is a 3/4 of a character. He’s a good actor and character to base a series on but he’s missing backbone. He’s so “sensitive” and “caring” (which is fine, per se). But never is there a real confrontation where there should be one. And the man never seems to care if he gets paid or not. There’s just the lacking counter-balance of other traits and behaviors in him. Why would this man pursue this career, for instance? Something’s missing.

Whicher has, I forgot to mention, quit the police force (since the beginning of episode two) and works as a private inquiry agent. (Few he encounters has ever heard of that term.) His estrangement from the police department is completely botched because he was completely vindicated (episode one). They let on between episodes one and two that he had some kind of mental breakdown. Why? He was right and was proven to the world he was right.

Very badly written. But Paddy Considine does do a great job of playing the detective as slightly wounded. It’s just that he’s way too much of a doormat in all this. And this fourth episode’s ending was so obvious in its coming that it was laughable. Too bad. This is a good actor and a potentially very good character. But the writers are complete hacks, offering nothing but mundane plot points and twists that we’ve seen far too often.

Again, do watch the first one in the series, The Murder at Road Hill House, but I can’t recommend that you go further than that.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 11, 2018, 10:55
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Twists can be overdone, but then you do have Witness for the Prosecution, in which the twists come late and turn an interesting tale (interesting perhaps most notably for the interplay between barrister and nurse) into an outstanding work. The original short story was hardly worth reading, but when Christie converted it to a play she really improved it -- and the movie version is even better. (So is the later TV version with Diana Rigg as the title character.)

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 11, 2018, 11:39
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The original short story was hardly worth reading, but when Christie converted it to a play she really improved it -- and the movie version is even better.

I have generally found that movie versions of Christie's novels/stories were better than the original book. This is especially the case with David Suchet's Poirot.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 11, 2018, 14:18
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I’ve never read an Agatha Christie book. But she can be forgiven a great deal because her gadgety plots were her shtick that one came to expect. Realism? Agatha Christie? Not gonna happen and to some extent, we give her a pass on that and had a lot of fun with the excess.

These surprises were played off of some interesting minds (Perot, Miss Marple) who were more than a match for whatever MacGuffin or MacPuffin came their way. There was fun in that.

But don’t try this at home. And it certainly doesn’t work in the Whicher series.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 11, 2018, 14:36
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I believe the first, and only Agatha Christie book I read for years was "Curtains." With the development of Kindle and free books, I started reading some of her other works over the last couple of years or so.

Her writing is not what makes the books. I believe that is it, by a long way, her characters which make her books popular. After that, I agree her gadgety plots helped make her popular.

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 11, 2018, 14:41
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Introducing a collection of Christie plays, Ira Levin (author of the great mystery play Deathtrap) noted that most writers have only one noted mystery play to their credit. But Christie had 3, the other 2 being Ten Little Indians (based on the novel And Then There Were None, which was titled Ten Little Niggers in Britain) and The Mousetrap. The latter has been playing for decades.

The book had other plays as well, but I only read the big 3. And they're all well worth it.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 11, 2018, 16:28
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I find Christie's books sometimes read like screen plays. I don't know if she had this in mind when she wrote, but they do seem to translate into plays and movies quite well.

I had the same feeling when reading a couple of Michael Creighton books, especially "Disclosure," which book, might be appropriate reading for those who think only men are sexual harassers and weaponize sex.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 11, 2018, 16:49
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Crichton was involved early on with movies (his first 2 novels, at least under his own name, were both made into movies, and later he made his own), so it wouldn't be surprising that after a while he probably wrote novels with an eye on basing movies on them. You can bet he did this with Jurassic Park. (Sometime I might have to see if I can recreate my parody review of it, Jurassic Fart, about a colo-rectal veterinarian at a cloned dinosaur theme park.)

I'm not sure when Christie's works started to be made into plays and movies. And Then There Were None made it in the mid-40s, and may have been first.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 14, 2018, 13:46
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I had mentioned the show, Case Histories, earlier. The first two-parter was pretty good or at least showed promise. The second two-parter in season one is One Good Turn. It’s not as good by a long shot but the series does show promise.

But it’s plagued with plot points that have become cliches. Jsckson Brodies’ secretary is a token-black-female who is, of course, smarter than any man and wastes no opportunity to criticize her boss or to otherwise sneer. This is a bad character and an actress who can’t inflate it with anything beyond a stereotype.

Jackson’s ex-partner on the police force, Louise Munroe (played by Amanda Abbington) is hovering just above the same kind of bland stereotype and cliche as his secretary. Of course, in her eyes Jackson can’t do anything right and is always an annoyance even though he keeps handing her information on a silver platter while the police spend all their time telling Jackson that he's crazy to think a crime has been committed. This is all overdone. The show is desiccated by a lack of creativity and imagination in the story and characters.

Still, once in a while it does something witting or intelligent that gives you hope that the writers will pull their thumbs out of their asses and try writing something original instead of putting together pieces of cop shows we’ve seen a hundred times.

Interestingly, this two-parter ends somewhat abruptly, not quite resolving all the story lines. Still, I’d rather have this than what is typical these day which is to draw out two episodes worth of content into four or five, a fatal flaw of “Shetland” come season three, and something “Bosch” is quite guilty of.

So I’ve moved onto the start of the third two-parter in season one: When Will There Be Good News? Hopefully the good news will be that Jackson won’t be having a flashback to a traumatic moment in his childhood every find minutes. (I barely exaggerate.) This is so overdone it could become a drinking game.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Amazon Prime Video
on: October 14, 2018, 17:46
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I saw the final episode of Season 3 of Shetland and have to agree with you. They should not have taken more than 3 for the story.

I also found it very funny how PC the show has become. There is first the detective named Perez. OK, his 10x grandfather was part of the Spanish Armada which was destroyed as it made its way around Scotland down past Ireland on its return to Spain. (1588 as I recall) Then there is the detective's female boss, who is a lesbian. Then there is the detective's step-daughter who goes to Uni and immediately falls for a black Brazilian and leaves daddy. The detective is falling for an Indian or perhaps Iranian woman who works in the government. And there is even a villain who is of Pakastani ethnicity. Amazing the diversity which abounds in and around Shetland. It would appear every Brit series which is shown on PBS abounds in PC messaging. But given the recent article about 51% sexual normalcy being too high for the BBC, perhaps I shouldn't be amazed.

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