TV NIGHTS 2013
Borgen is a radical Danish political drama shown on BBC4.
The following comments are on episodes 7 and 8.
Keeping a secret
The main theme of episode
7 was how to run an election campaign and secretly receive radiation therapy treatment.
Prime Minister had suddenly declared new elections.
He explained that there was a need for broad consensus among
political parties concerning the future of the country and its economic policy.
previous episodes Birgitte, the party leader of the new political party New Democrats, was diagnosed having precancerous cells
in her right (or left?) breast, and she went through a surgery followed by daily radiation therapy treatment.
She didn’t tell anyone but kept it as her secret.
was not quite made clear why she kept it a secret, but as a rule, a politician going through a treatment, is seen as a weak
However, when someone has a secret and tries to hide it, he
or she keeps distance to other people.
When someone is tired
and in pain but tries to hide it, he or she simply look serious and hostile towards others.
People notice such changes, but only feel confused because they don’t know why those changes happened.
Katrine noticed those changes, as did the other leading members of
the New Democrats, and Birgitte’s children.
But not until Birgitte
performed extremely poorly in a televised political party leader debate, did she realise it was time to share the secret.
Since Birgitte was an experienced politician, neither the editors
nor the rest of the media handled her with kid gloves.
First she told
her children. It was clearly difficult for her to do so, but she did it.
The hardest part was to convince the
children that she would be all right in a couple of weeks.
was pleased to see the children with Birgitte the following morning, when she came for her daily radiation treatment.
He had repeatedly told her that sharing the secret with family members was crucial
for the treatment.
The next step was to inform the leading members of her
political party, the New Democrats.
After the leading party members
had accepted the situation, they suggested that Birgitte should go public about her treatment.
Initially Birgitte said no, but after she was informed that at least one newspaper already knew she was ill,
she decided to go public.
She received much sympathy (and flowers) from supporters
and from the leaders of other political parties.
The New Democrats hoped
this sympathy would increase the support for the party.
Leaks and campaigning
episode 8 the theme was political campaigning and finding out who leaked information to another political party.
It was also about Torben and his editorial career at the news department of TV1,
his love life, and struggle with the boss.
The New Democrats had
planned to align with other, more established opposition parties.
after the other opposition parties tried to force Birgitte’s party to sign their political programme without having
a say on it, they hesitated.
They initially agreed to support the programme, although
they saw weaknesses in it.
Soren Ravn was back now (see previous episodes), not as
a political candidate, but as a consultant especially concerning the party’s economic policy.
out several weaknesses in the opposition’s programme.
But when the
other opposition leaders tried to belittle Birgitte in a media conference, and popularity ratings went down, they were very
unhappy with the situation.
It was a good point by the writers and producers to show
how seemingly caring attitude towards another politician (presenting Birgitte as the member of the opposition who was weak
and having radiation treatment), is in politics used to belittle another politician.
if this wasn’t enough, somebody seemed to be leaking information from New Democrats to Conservatives, Birgitte’s
Every time the New Democrats had agreed upon a new policy,
and were ready to promote it, the Conservatives promoted exactly the same policy ahead of New Democrats.
Birgitte and Katrine came to the conclusion that one of their closest party members must have been leaking
It was Nete who had been leaking information.
After she had been found out, Nete explained that she had always admired Birgitte
and her strength.
However, after Birgitte had performed extremely poorly
in the political debate, she had lost her faith in Birgitte.
She had been
contacted by the Conservatives, and decided to help them by leaking information.
had to leave the New Democrats, of course.
Here we see again how
momentary weakness and poor performance from the side of a politician can make people doubt this politician’s general
The next move from Birgitte’s side was to cancel
her party’s support to the opposition parties and their programme, and let the New Democrats stand alone.
A vote for New Democrats was a vote only for the New Democrats, said Birgitte.
This was appreciated by
people who came in large numbers to the party’s first, big election campaign rally.
the past episodes we have witnessed how Torben’s family life was in disorder.
Torben was the chief editor of the news department at TV 1.
wife wanted Torben to do his share of the household chores. They were also having family councelling.
Torben was really a workaholic whose editorial job at the news department demanded often working at the TV
station late in the night.
The new boss, Alex, was frequently picking on him and
demanding changes and better viewer ratings.
Torben wanted to change
jobs but learned that although he was highly qualified and appreciated as professional, he was not anymore attractive on the
editorial labour market; he was too old.
He was becoming more
and more confused and desperate, and initiated a relationship with Pia, a director and a close co-worker at his news department.
When Torben’s wife guessed he was having an affair, she demanded
Pia to be transferred to another department.
This appeared to be an
impossible move since Pia was the most experienced director in the news team, and very much needed during the election campaigns.
Torben’s wife arrived unannounced to the TV stations and declared she knew
about the affair between Torben and Pia.
Since Pia was still working at the department, she demanded Torben to
give her the front door keys to their home.
When Torben was starting
a live broadcasting of a programme together with Ulrik, another news editor, Alex, the boss, appeared and made new demands
Only with the help of Ulrik did Torben manage to go
through the sending. After that he collapsed.
This was a great account of how multiple problems in private and
professional lives can have a negative impact on a person's psychological and physical well-being.
To be continued...
Borgen - a radical political drama
I must say that Borgen
is the most radical political drama I’ve seen in decades. The
thirds series has hitherto consisted of more radical elements than most follow-ups put together.
It may be that not all middle class people (who probably form the majority of those who watch Borgen) find
it appealing to see an ex-PM establish her own political party.
prefer status quo in politics, where everybody has their own given place and role.
in politics are ridiculed or ignored altogether, because they stand for ‘the odd ones’, and because they add to
They might not appreciate the focus being so much on money
and on how Birgitte manages to fund her new political party.
The third radical
element is of course the fact that most of the main characters are women. They are women in power positions or at least in
decision making positions.
I’m particularly thinking of Birgitte and Katrine.
None of them is pictured as iron ladies who do not have any weaknesses.
the contrary, they have their own weaknesses as personalities, as private persons towards their husbands, parents, children,
They also have their weaknesses as professionals. This
is a very unusual way of portraying women in drama.
episodes concerned the political question of prostitution and the past of a political candidate.
Should prostitution be seen as a crime?
and her New Democrats are asked to take a stand in the question of whether prostitution and buying sex from prostitutes should
Intitially both Birgitte and Katrine were in favour of
it, but after some research into the topic, and especially after hearing the opinions of a representative for sex-workers,
they were not so sure.
The question of prostitution made our friends Birgitte
and Katrine and others to ask their ex-husbands and boyfriends about their potential visits to prostitutes.
This episode informed us of the existence of the different forms of prostitution.
There are those who work in brothels, and are at least to some extent protected. There are ‘street workers’
who live relatively dangerous lives.
There are those who are forced
into prostitution, often without access to any help against violent or brutal customers. They usually don’t have a chance
to keep their earnings.
Most of the prostitutes pay taxes of their earnings. Yet,
they do not have many rights.
This episode didn’t present us with a good solution
that would resolve the problem, but hopefully made us reflect upon our views on prostitution and prostitutes.
The past of a political candidate
The second episode presented us the problem of picking right political
candidates to a new party.
Birgitte picked a very intelligent, knowledgeable person,
a Professor of Economics, to represent the party and its economic policy.
This person, Soren Ravn, was also expected to create an innovative economic policy to the party, in collaboration
with other leading party members.
Soren Ravn had unfortunately a particular disadvantage; his past. Some 25 years ago he had been a left-wing radical, and a member of the Communist party. He had never
tried to hide these facts.
When the other political parties realised that this was
a candidate who would very likely gain New Democrats a seat in the parliament and a considerable share of the votes, they
did what political parties do; started a smear campaign against him.
they attack his economic policy or views on society? No.
Did they attack his current private life? No.
Instead they picked 25 year old pictures of him in which he was taking part in
a demonstration, visiting Moscow, and so on.
A newspaper made accusation
of Ravn having been a KGP agent.
This became the headline in most newspapers and the topic
in most TV debates.
Although it was shown that he had not been a spy,
the suspicions remained active.
Katrine had the task of digging into his past and finding
all potential skeletons the media might wish to exploit.
When she learned
that a past girlfriend of Soren Ravn had committed suicide, she attacked him fiercely demanding to know what had happened.
It appeared that the suicide of the girlfriend had been a personal
tragedy, but not ‘caused’ by Soren Ravn.
decided to withdraw his candidacy, because he realised that there would be no end to the intrusion into his private life
Katrine felt very guilty afterwards and apologized to
So, Birgitte and his New Democrats will be looking for new candidates
in the following episodes!
During these two episodes Birgitte made finally a
couple of visits to hospital to find out why her fingers sometimes became numb.
ended with her having a smaller surgery to remove cancer cells from her breast.
asked if somebody would be collecting her from the hospital after the operation, she didn’t have any answer.
No one knew she was in the hospital...
To be continued...
There is no free
In the previous episode Birgitte decided to establish
a new political party since she was not anymore considered to ‘fit in’ her old Moderate party.
Birgitte invested her own money in the new party to get it started, but there is a limit how much even a relatively
wealthy individual can invest in a party.
There were plenty of new
people coming in and expressing their wish to become members of the new party, which had got the name New Democrats.
However, they were less keen on paying membership fees.
when Jon, one of the active members, informed that a banker was willing to donate a million to their Party, it was received
as good news by everyone.
However, when Birgitte was invited to have a second lunch
with the banker, who expressed his great admiration for Birgitte, it became clear that Jon had consulted the banker when drafting
the financial policy of the new party.
Birgitte had to say no to
She also had to consult her ex-husband to borrow money, because she had to pay back the (large)
sum her party already had used of the donated money.
regard this as the first lesson for all those who plan to establish a new party and keeping at least to some
ethics while doing so!
Defining the ideology
Birgitte’s new party had attracted plenty of supporters,
all full of ideas, hopes, and dreams.
Unfortunately Birgitte noticed
that many of these ideas and views did not correspond to her ideal of the new party.
She simply had to say no to many policy-ideas and to many supporters whose suggestions were too strange to
The party needed to have clear direction and well-defined policies.
This must be one of the most difficult tasks the leader of a new political party
has to do.
On the one hand, you wish as many as possible to join
On the other hand, you wish to be assured that all the
members share and approve of the same policies.
Otherwise you might receive unpleasant surprises when a member
of the party
expresses publicly opinions that are quite contrary to
your own views!
Pigs and pork
Birgitte has been seeing an English (divorced) architect, Jeremy
Welsh (played by Alastair MacKenzie, whom she met during her tours to Hong Kong.
came to Copenhagen and they were having dinner in a famous restaurant.
Jeremy got ill, so ill that he threw up –on Birgitte.
A fellow diner
at the restaurant generously documented it on the camera of his mobile phone, and soon hundreds of thousands of viewers had
seen it happening on the YouTube.
It was the news headline on most newspapers the following
day and shown on most TV channels.
The question for the New Democrats was what to do with
the situation. Should they exploit it or try to ignore it?
that Jeremy became ill because he was allergic to antibiotics, and the pork he had been eating, had traces of antibiotics
Obviously, the pig that got antibiotics was sent to the slaughterhouse
Therefore, there were still rests of antibiotics in the
pork when it reached the restaurant.
This became a big issue for
the whole political elites.
The Parliament was expected to vote on the proposition
to reduce the number of inspections of pig farms within a couple of days.
decided to consult her brother who was a pig farmer. She took Birgitte with her to meet him.
Katrine’s brother gave them information on modern pig farming but demanded that his name would not be
mentioned as the source of information.
Birgitte decided to use the
opportunity (thanks to the unintentional attention she had received) to promote her party and its policies.
I’m glad that he writers and producers of Borgen decided to inform us about the methods pig farming
in large-scale, and also of the fact that millions of pigs are killed because they are too weak for us to eat!
not sure if these are real life facts or only fictional, but it makes us reflect upon the modern farming methods.
Far too seldom do we see farming become the topic of a political TV drama!
Birgitte and her team
of close, trusted friends were finally starting to get the attention they deserved.
is well-known that the best method for the established parties to fight against a new political party is to ignore it.
Therefore, it remains completely the task of the new party to make itself known
The media struggles
There were also power struggles in the TV 1 between Torben, the head
of the news programme, and his boss, Alex.
Initially it was the boss
who was dictating the rules for Torben, but finally Torben decided to take over or take back his role as the one who
decided what the news programmes should be showing and doing.
had difficulties in accepting that Kasper had moved on after their divorce and was seeing other women.
She blindly tried to see the wellbeing of their son as the reason why she was criticizing Kasper
for his lifestyle.
To be continued...
New BORGEN 16/11/2013
It’s time to return to Borgen, the great political drama from the Danish Television.
I strongly recommend that you read
comments on the previous episodes of Borgen to understand the past interrelationships between the different characters.
Most of them appear in
the new episodes, and there are references to their past relationships. You find those comments in the middle column of this
The new episodes were produced by Camilla Hammerich
and Pernilla Skov Sutherland, and the writers were Adam Price and Maja Jul Larsen.
Back to political life
Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen), the previous Prime Minister, left politics a couple of years ago.
She is also divorced and she and the children
have recently moved house.
Yet, the relationship between Birgitte and her ex-husband,
Philip, seems to be better now than it was a couple of years (episodes) ago.
leaving politics, Birgitte has earned a living as a speaker/consultant in the corporate world.
However, she started to get tired of trips to Hong Kong, and of somewhat banal questions stated to her frequently.
At the same time her Moderate Party had shifted towards right
over the years.
What annoyed Birgitte most was the collaboration
between her party and a right-wing party concerning migration policy and especially the new law on deportation of migrants
who committed crimes, even those who committed smaller crimes (demeanours).
approach Jacob Kruse, the new leader of the Moderate Party (and the one who tried to backstab Birgitte earlier), and expressed
her intentions to return to political life.
Birgitte made it clear she would be supporting the new leader, Kruse didn’t think Birgitte would fit in the ‘new
Moderate project’. She would be rocking the boat!
old party friend Bent Serjo (played by Lars Knutzen) advised her to challenge Kruse’s leadership.
Since the party conference was taking place within a month, Birgitte decided to do so.
She approached Katrine Fonsman (played by Birgitte Hjort Sorenson), the news presenter at TV1, and asked her
to become her news officer. Katrine said yes.
Kruse won the leadership contest with a couple of vote’s margin.
who are involved with or familiar with the political life must recognize the way party-people were behaving in this episode.
Denmark may not have ‘backbenchers’ in the same
way as the British Parliament has, but there are similarities.
thought this was the end of Birgitte’s political career, but it wasn’t.
She decided to establish a completely new political party.
had noticed that many were unhappy under Kruse’s leadership in her own party, and there were also unhappy politicians
within other political parties.
These unhappy politicians
shared a vision that pointed towards the political centre, with human rights in focus.
Changes in the news room
There were restructuring going on at TV 1.
The reliable and talented editor of the news programme,
Torben Friis (played by Soren Malling) had received a new, younger, commercially-minded leader, who wasn’t satisfied
with the way Torben Friis ran the News programmes.
the News programmes to become lighter to attract more visitors.
sure all TV and newspaper editors and journalist are watching with great interest what is happening in Borgen’s TV station(s)!
Torben accepted Katrine’s request to be on a leave for
a couple of months, but Torben’s boss wasn’t happy with that.
felt how the pressure was on him from different directions.
his news programme and a discussion programme called Juul & Friis got good ratings, the new boss was not satisfied.
Katrine and Kasper and their
Katrine and Kasper Juul
(played by Pilou Asbaek) had a child together but they decided to live separately.
Katrine was now ‘a single mother’. However, Kasper, who was now working for TV 1 , tried to spend
as much time with their son Gustav as possible.
had difficulties in coping with motherhood, home work, and work duties.
mother looked after Gustav, when Katrine was at work, often late in the evening.
mother was somewhat disappointed in the way Katrine approached her role as a mother.
In her eyes, Katrine had never admitted to herself that she couldn’t arrange her life in the same way
as she had done when she was single.
I’m glad the
producers didn’t reduce the ‘motherhood’ to a ‘hug and a song before bedtime’, but stressed
the practical problems related to the task of combining children and a career that demanded working flexible and late hours.
The new party ‘New
This episode managed
to show us several of the numerous aspects which are involved when planning to establish a new political party.
Birgitte was talking about the political apathy of the Danish people, and of the need to respond to that apathy.
However, establishing a new party does not happen by inviting 'ordinary citizens' to join in and form a political
A new political party demands established faces in its ranks, and it needs money.
Political activists who might change their party political loyalties have to decide whether they are loyal
to the institutions, to the political parties they belong and have belonged to for a long time, or to their ideals and visions.
The person who plans to establish a new political party must
have financial support or be a relatively wealthy individual.
Borgen, Birgitte is relatively wealthy.
She can afford to
hire a press officer, buy or rent a building for the new party, and so on.
persons to be contacted as potential members of the new Party must be selected carefully.
The plans must proceed in secret for a long time, before the existence of the new party can be announced officially.
Obviously in Denmark, you can establish a political party without
showing any list of hundreds or thousands of people who support it.
political parties can enter the parliament, and Coalition Governments involving smaller parties are not unusual in Denmark.
Birgitte’s old friend Bent was initially chocked by the
idea of establishing a new political party.
He told Birgitte that she was disloyal to her old party.
Later on, after his attempt to mediate between Birgitte and
the new leader, Jacob Kruse failed, he decided to join Birgitte’s new party.
Next week we will see what the future of the new political party, the New Democrats, will be!
I must say I enjoyed watching the new episodes of Borgen. I sincerely hope the following episodes are equally
interesting. To be continued...
|by P. Niemenmaa
13/11/2013 Cabaret -the film
This great film from 1972 by Bob Fosse, starring Liza Minelli
as Sally Bowles, a nightclub entertainer, and Michael York, her shy, English admirer Brian Roberts, won several Oscars.
I loved this
film when I saw it for the first time during the 1970s, and I still love it. (It was shown on BBC1 on 13/11/2013).The film is based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel Goodbye to Berlin,
and to some extent on the Broadway musical version called Cabaret.
Life in Berlin
in the 1930s
It tells about the
life of entertainers and their friends in the nightclubs of Berlin in the early 1930s.
Life is confusing, and both entertainers and the visitors try to forget what is happening outside,
in the streets of Berlin.
They try to ignore the increasing support for Nazis
among the population and the brutal actions of Nazis.
as if they were trying to convince one another that by having fun the Nazis would disappear.
Liza Minelli's Sally Bowles is the main entertainer at a club called Kit Kat Klub. A great, sensitive
performance by Minelli.
She meets the Englishman Brian Roberts at the boarding
house where she lives.
Sally and Brian become lovers, and truly believe
they are in love (really for the first time), but in the end Brian’s wish to continue to pursue his academic career
back in Cambridge, and Sally’s wish to become an actress win.
film is at its best in the scenes at the club.
performances (music mainly by Kander & Ebb) are great; Maybe this time, Money makes the world go Round, and Life is a
Cabaret are unforgettable.
The duo consisting of Liza Minelli’s Sally
and Joel Grey’s Emcee make truly entertaining performances. (Alter Ego tries to imitate Emcee sometimes...).
Interestingly, while the presence of Nazis becomes more and more visible in the street
scenes, the performances at the club grow more and more grotesque.
nightclub life is for creative, wild, different people, and for ethnic and sexual minorities.
In other words,
all those groups which were later on forbidden and often sent to concentration camps by the Nazis.
In the final scene, Emcee performs his song praising how ‘everything was beautiful in Berlin, and in
the club’, but after saying goodbye in several languages suddenly disappears behind the curtain.
The camera moves to the audience, and most of the men in the audience are now wearing a Nazi uniform.
What a great film!
12/11/2013 The Escape Artist, final episode
The Escape Artist is a thriller-style legal drama on BBC1, written by David Wolstencroft, directed by Brian
Welsh, and produced by Paul Frift and Hilary Bevan Jones.
episode was the final episode of the drama.
now seen four final episodes of recent crime and other kind of drama within a week!
The three other dramas were Truckers, Ambassadors, and Inspector Montalbano.
Justice experienced as injustice
Will Burton (played by David Tennant) was hoping that Liam
Foyle would be convicted for murdering his wife.
Foyle had the best possible defence in the shape of Maggie Gardner (see comments on previous episodes).
She built a convincing case, and the outcome was that Foyle was freed due to lacking evidence.
Will was left in a state of confusion. From Will’s perspective, the law and justice system had failed
to bring justice to him and his murdered wife.
since Will was a barrister, he knew that from a legal point of view, justice had been done.
He knew that Maggie
had done only what she was expected to do; successfully defended her client.
was also aware that he himself had successfully defended Foyle (see comments on the first episode of this drama) in an earlier
murder case, and thus, let Foyle get away with a murder.
defending Foyle, Will had been aware that Foyle was a nasty person and very likely guilty, but at the same time
he was determined to win the case.
Winning a case was
what was expected of him by his law firm- and by Will himself.
was his competitor and she couldn’t resist taking on a high-profile murder case like Foyle, although the murder victim
was the wife of a fellow barrister.
In other words,
this drama suggests that in the legal system winning a case is far more important than any moral considerations.
Both Will and Maggie had accepted this as the truth, and did
not hesitate to defend criminals with the aim of getting them acquitted.
this time Will was confronted with a personal drama.
wife had been murdered and a clever barrister helped the murderer get away with the murder. It didn’t seem right to
He decided that there must be another
way to punish Foyle than directly through the legal system.
was certainly no Raskolnikov (the main character in Crime and Punishment), with moral doubts about his own plans to commit
No, Will planned to get away with the murder of
I’m not telling you how he did it and describing
the following proceedings in the court room, since you might wish to watch the repeat of this drama.
court room Will was judged as 'not proven guilty' of murder.
sum it up, Will used the system in the same way as Foyle had used it.
this drama, there was no justification of actions based on moral principles, but only a justification based on what is possible
with the law as the frame of reference.
The Escape Artist was
a good drama, but the final episode made me feel a bit uncomfortable, though.
Next week there will be something new here... (but I have no idea of what it will be!)
09/11/2013 Inspector Montalbano, final episode of series
This time Salvo Montalbano and his team were trying
to solve two cases, which both consisted elements of double-crossing.
episode began with Salvo having a strange dream about a wooden coffin found on a field. Catarella was for some reason speaking
Latin in that dream.
Later on he received a call from Livia who wanted
to come for a short visit.
She was feeling tired and sad but couldn't recognize any real reason for feelings
The weapons, the
robbery, the lies
A farm owner reported
suspicious activities taking place on his land. Somebody had put a strong door to a cattle shed.
Salvo’s team investigated and found evidence of the presence of guns and even missile launchers. Was
this about weapons trafficking?
There were a couple
of Tunisian workers in the farm. Salvo suspected they were not merely workers, but involved in something else.
The counter-terrorism group let them know that they would be in charge of the investigation.
For some reason they kept Salvo informed of their activities, but to Salvo’s annoyance the information
was misleading rather than helpful.
The other case concerned
a robbery. The husband of Loredana Di Marta reported his wife being robbed while driving home late at night.
According to him the robber took her money (she was carrying with her more money than usual) but not her jewellery.
Salvo suspected there was something strange about the robbery
and let Mimi and Fazio check the background of the husband and wife.
himself interviewed Valeria, a friend of Loredana, and noticed that she was very seductive and volunteered with more information
about Loredana and the robbery than he had expected.
was sent to the seductive Valeria as an admirer to find out more information, since he was the one who liked to be the lover
It appeared that Loredana and Valeria had been planning
the robbery together.
They wanted to get rid of Loredana’s husband and
of another person who had blackmailed Loredana.
They planned to
kill the blackmailer but not the husband. Instead they planned to scapegoat Loredana’s husband for the murder of the
Premonitions become true
As I said earlier Salvo had a strange dream in the beginning of the episode and Livia didn’t know why
she was feeling sad.
After the robbery case was solved Salvo received
a message from the counter-terrorism groups about a body they had found.
was just going to drive Livia to the airport, but since they had time, they drove first to the place where the body had been
They came to the side of a field and it was just
as in Salvo's dream; a coffin in the middle of the field.
Salvo and Livia came close enough to see the body in the coffin, Livia recognized the young man in it.
It was the boy they had once tried to adopt (this happened in previous series of Montalbano).
Livia recognized him because she had met him quite recently. Salvo didn’t recognize him; he had only
seen him as a boy.
liked the idea of introducing dreams and premonitions to the final episode of the series 3.
The premonitions in
this episode were 'ordinary' premonitions which people can recognize.
Today dreams and
premonitions seldom appear in any kind of drama.
If they do, the storyline is about someone trying to fool another by
dream messages and false psychic activities.
(Although it remained a mystery why Catarella was speaking latin...).
I wonder if there will be new episodes of Montalbano on their way?
If not, then this one was the final episode of a third drama
during this week.
Unfortunately, the BBC website does not tell anything
about the future of Montalbano.
I'm going to miss Salvo Montalbano.
06-07/11/2013 Ambassadors and Truckers
This week it was time to say goodbye to two interesting
dramas on BBC, namely to Ambassadors and to the Truckers.
was an original satire on the life of the ambassador (David Mitchell) and his deputy (Robert Webb) in Tazbekistan.
In the final episode people of Tazbekistan were revolting against
The ambassador, of course, was ill-informed of the intentions of both the British Government
and the President.
The Home Office demanded that they found out about the rebels (who they were and what they
wanted), while at the same time being on a good footing with the President.
Perhaps the most entertaining part was the arrival of a British interrogator whose task it was to find out if the employees
at the embassy had been leaking secret information to foreign nationals or foreign secret services.
I must say David Mitchell and Robert Webb make great modern, middle class characters in an embassy environment,
which clearly is under-exploited and -explored as the scene of dramas, satires, and comedies.
the role of an honest civil servant, who is trying to please everyone, and prefers a wait-and-see attitude to the revolt
Webb's character is a bit more radical, which explains why he is the deputy, and
not the ambassador.
I sincerely hope this duo continues to collaborate in comedies and satires.
William Ivory’s Truckers has certainly made good use
In several episodes we have visited the old Market
Square, the interiors of numerous pubs, hospitals, and department stores.
the final episode the focus is on the one hand on Glen (played by Harry Treadaway) and on the other hand, on the relationship
between Martin Banks (John Dagleish) and Michelle (Jenn Murrey).
Becoming a manGlen was trying to decide whether he should tell
his girlfriend Caroline, about his night with Wendy (see last week’s episode, when Wendy seduced Glen) or not.
His father, Malachi, told him not to tell her. Instead, he
should become a man.
In a man’s world things are not always pretty,
he said, but that’s just part of life.
decided to ask Caroline to marry him. Caroline said yes.
seemed to be going to the right direction, but Glen was still not quite sure if it was right to get married
without telling Caroline that he had been unfaithful to her.
Glen finally met Steven, he apologized for his earlier behaviour and told Steven about his coming marriage.
Steven told him that honesty was the most important thing in marriage.
However, when Glen asked
if he should tell Caroline about Wendy, Steven said no.
more and more confused, and at their engagement party he was drinking generously.
would say there was a cognitive dissonance in his mind between what he thought was the right thing to do, and what others told
him was the right thing to do).
Finally he decided
to tell the truth to Caroline. Caroline’s reaction was to put an end to the party and to their engagement.
Later on, there were a couple of fighting scenes between Caroline’s
father (and his support troops) and Malachi, Steven, and Glen.
was not happy with these developments and disappeared from the office and from his home.
He drove to a quiet place where he wanted to be reminded of what his father had told him when he was a child;
try to aim high, and find your own way.
now sure that he had done the right thing.
Caroline would not be coming back, but he could accept and live with
Martin and Michelle
In all previous episodes we have seen how Martin
became more and more aware of the presence of Michelle in the office, and how Michelle tried to help him to take over the
firm and manage it in the best possible way.
was now sure of his feelings for Michelle, who was still living in the office! (Why on earth couldn’t she simply rent
a flat? Surely she got paid for her work?).
Since Martin found
out that Michelle was sleeping in the office, (and that she did not have a boyfriend), they had become closer friends.
They were used to keeping company to one another in the office,
when the truck drivers were out on the road.
invited Michelle to the Playhouse, and she was happy to accept the invitation.
there was trouble heading their way in the shape of Martin’s ex-girlfriend who came to tell Martin that she had changed.
Fortunately Martin was strong enough to resist her charm, and
he assured Michelle that she was the one he loved.
‘Martin and Michelle lived happily ever after’.
was the end of the Truckers. I liked every episode of it.
05/11/2013 The Escape Artist
The talented barrister Will Burton, played by David Tennant,
arrived home (to their weekend cottage) one evening only to find her wife, Kate, murdered, and for a second
he also saw a man in the window.
This man was Liam
Foyle, the same man he had successfully defended a week earlier in a brutal murder case.
In this second episode we are shown how Will had difficulties in keeping away from the office.
was a witness (and the husband of the murder victim), and thus, couldn’t participate in the preparations of the case
Will had difficulties in staying at home, since
everything at home reminded him of his wife.
to be a father to his son, although he too needed time to recover from the shock.
Gardner , who is defending Foyle, had some doubts, but tried to keep a ‘professional attitude’ to the case (everyone
needs to be defended, etc.).
Maggie’s father (?), who noticed her doubts,
reminded her that if Will Burton had the case he wouldn’t hesitate at all.
is as manipulative and nasty as he was in the first episode.
He has a neighbour providing him with an alibi
for the time of the murder. But is it a true alibi?
neighbour was a person with low self-esteem, and she had developed admiration and feelings of loyalty towards Foyle (which
she hoped to be mutual).
During a trip to the cottage where the murder had
taken place, Will and Jamie, while emptying the cottage, found Kate’s pregnancy test, which was positive.
Jamie also talked about the events for the first time and said
he was sorry he couldn’t prevent it from happening.
learned that there wasn’t enough evidence against Foyle.
secretly met a couple of fellow barristers from his office, and tried to guide them on the right track.
However, there was some rivalry developing in the office
among the barristers, and someone might reveal his involvementI
think there is something missing in this drama.
for example, has he characteristics of sociopath, but the motive for killing Will’s wife (and potentially trying to
kill his son) is unclear.
Is this all bluff? Will there be some strange development
to this drama? Is Foyle innocent, after all?
see next week, since the next episode is also the final episode.
In the beginning of this episode a fisherman friend gave Salvo an octopus. Perhaps this was a symbolic expression of
what was to follow?This time Salvo Montalbano
and his team have two complex cases to solve.
The first one was a robbery
at a supermarket, and the second one the murder of the girlfriend of a young man who was a reckless driver.
The supermarket links
The supermarket manager Nicotra contacted the police after finding out that his office had been robbed.
He became very nervous when Mimi asked him who had access to the keys to the
office and the drawer in which the money was.
He asked it because there were no signs of anyone breaking in. The
case became more complex after Nicotra was found hanged in his home. Was it a suicide? Was he guilty?
A local TV station’s (a competitor to the station whose reporter is friends with Salvo) reporter accused
Salvo and his team for his suicide due to their brutal treatment of him.
politician called Mongibello seemed to be behind this campaign against Salvo and his team.
However, there were signs indicating that Nicotra had been killed, and the hanging was arranged afterwards
to make it look like a suicide.
It appeared that the supermarket belonged to a mafia family
Before being the manager of the supermarket, Nicotra had
been the accountant for all businesses of the Cuffaro family. Thus, he knew everything about their activities.
To Salvo’s surprise he was contacted by an officer representing a governmental counter-terrorism groups.
Cuffaro family was suspected of selling weapons to Islamic terrorists.
Mongibello, the politician, appeared to be involved with the Cuffaros.
case had links to very high places and when influential people are involved, there are always forces trying to prevent the
police from doing their job.
Salvo and the counter-terrorism officer arranged a trap
to Mongibello, who was asked to deliver 2 million Euros against information binding him to the murder of Nicotra.
Mongibello took the bait. During this operation Mongibello was killed by a sniper,
not by the police.
Now he was certainly not going to reveal any information
to the police.
The murder of
a young girl
Giovanni Strangio was
a reckless driver who had a confrontation with Salvo during which he shouted at and threatened Salvo.
Salvo arrested Giovanni, but his lawyer and his father who was the President of the Province, appealed to
the Prosecutor, and the Prosecutor let him walk.
The following week the
same young man came to Salvo to report a murder. It was the murder of his girlfriend.
other inspector, who was involved in the case (because Salvo suspected he was targeted due to the high-profile nature of the
other investigation), suspected that Giovanni had killed the girl.
didn’t think so, but the case was very complex.
Giovanni had not been quite truthful; he hadn't been
in a hotel in Rome as he originally had told.
A female friend of Mariangela,
the murdered girl, revealed that recently she had been seeing another man.
She also revealed that during the school
years Mariangela had been in a relationship with her teacher who happened to be Giovanni’s father, or stepfather,
to be exact.
In the end, Salvo became convinced that Mr Strangio, the
step-father of Giovanni, had killed the girl.
It appeared that the Mariangela
had been 2 months pregnant.
Salvo suspected that Mr Strangio had demanded her to have an abortion, but that she
He then had killed her intentionally or accidentally,
and asked Giovanni, his step-son, to help him out.
the stepson the best lawyers if he became the suspect.
Giovanni realized that he had become the main suspect, and no lawyers showed up as was promised by his step-father, he decided
to hint Salvo about a missing bathrobe Mariangela used to wear, in order to save his own neck.
Salvo met Mr Strangio, the President of the Province, and informed him that they were going to arrest
Giovanni for the murder.
He also told him that they had found the bathrobe and would do DNA tests on it.
The following day Salvo, when having a meeting with his boss (who was willing
to through Salvo to the wolves at any time!), was informed that Mr Strangio had committed suicide.
He had left a letter after him clearing the name of his step-son from murder charges and explaining
that he was the one who had killed the girl.
I must say both of these cases were very complex and a
bit difficult to follow.
They also raised serious questions about the functioning
of law and order as soon as people in higher positions are involved.
is, of course, a question of balance, since falsely accusing a politician, is a serious matter.
Such accusations, if proven wrong, may still ruin the reputation, career, and life of an innocent person.
I have a question to you:
In the beginning of the episode, did you notice when Salvo was standing on the terrace of his home, his back
to the sea, and talking to Livia in the telephone, there was something floating on the water.
What was it? A submarine? Or what?
To be continued...
Wendy, the truck driver
tonight’s episode the focus is on Wendy (played by Sian Breckin), the female truck driver.
Female truck drivers are not very usual, but at Banks of England where she works she is accepted as ‘one
of the guys’.
Wendy is a tough, tomboyish girl, or at least she
wants to be seen as such by others.
She has a turbulent
past, and she is a recovering alcoholic.
Her parents divorced
when she was a child, and she has a confusing relationship with her mother.
mother is in the habit of becoming ill as soon as she wants Wendy to return home. Wendy plays her part, and hurries back home.
Wendy and Steven
In this episode Wendy entered into a personal relationship
with Steven, the truck driver.
The problem was that
she was used to ‘leading’ in a relationship and that was something new to Steven.
Wendy too needed to learn how to let another person come closer to her without being scared (and showing it
by becoming hostile towards the other person).
Steven to see her mother, and the meeting was embarrassing.
mother did her best to insult Wendy during their meeting.
arranged a surprise birthday party to Wendy, but Wendy had already started to feel she wasn’t worth a relationship or
True to her behavioural patterns, she is doing everything
to destroy their relationship.
There is a fight, confusion,
mother getting ill again just as Wendy is about to open a bottle of vodka.
It all ends with Wendy deciding to stop trying to reach the love
of her mother. She accepted that there would be no love in their relationship.
And she didn't drink that vodka!
Instead, she reached out to Steven again, and asked him to give
her and their relationship a second chance.
this time Steven appeared as the ‘grown-up’ in the relationship.
must say this episode gave an interesting picture of a complex and bad mother-daughter relationship and of an attempt
to gain insight into one’s own (or Wendy’s) destructive behaviour.
To be continued...
PS read also
my comment on the differences between Truckers and Escape Artist at the end of the previous TVNight-comments (below).
29/10/2013 The Escape Artist
This is a new, thriller-style legal drama on BBC1, written by David Wolstencroft, directed by Brian Welsh,
and produced by Paul Frift and Hilary Bevan Jones.
David Tennant plays the
role of Will Burton, a very talented barrister, who never lost a trial.
Tennant with his expressionless face is very suitable to play the role of a barrister who is only concerned about winning,
and doing so by following the book of law.
Will has his weaknesses,
though. He avoids the ‘politics’ of making higher career in law.
is more interested in law and the legal cases themselves than on the career opportunities which are available but demand
socialising with the right people.
Kate is the good wife of Will (played by Ashley Jensen)
and the mother of their son Jamie.
She is the one who provides Will with emotional and mental
support whenever he needs it.
The murder case
Since the barrister Will Burton is so talented, he is
given the task of defending a man who is accused of an unusually brutal (and sadistic) murder.
Toby Kebbel plays the role of Liam Foyle, the murder suspect.
certainly can express the sinister mindset of a potential murderer (feeding the birds in the attic does not at all make him
In the court room Will argued that the main claim against
his client was not accurate.
The murder suspect was assumed to have used his credit
card to visit websites showing images of extreme violent sex, indicating that he had murder in mind.
However, Will showed, that his client may have been the victim of an identity theft, and thus not the person
who visited the pages with violent sex.
Liam Foyle is acquitted, and
the trial cancelled. It became yet another victory for Will.
After the trial
There appeared strange incidents at the Burton family. Kate saw Jamie waving at a stranger who was standing outside the family home one night.
family was staying at their weekend ‘cottage’, Kate saw a man standing outside the window and watching her
while she was having a bath.
The police was informed but they couldn’t find any
intruders on the premises.
One night when Will returned home, he found the house
dark, his wife brutally murdered, and his son hiding in a box.
For a second,
he also saw Liam Foyle standing in the hall.
There was a funeral and
there will be a new trial. Will’s fellow barristers promise him all the support they can give.
Will learned that Maggie Gardner will be defending Liam Foyle in the trial.
Maggie Gardner (played by Sophie Okonedo) is a top prosecution barrister, always keen to win her trials.
She and Will often met in the court rooms representing the opposite
sides in trials.
The first episode was a promising start for a thriller-style legal drama.
It is interesting how the BBC can
offer us at the same time two dramas that are so different from another, namely The Escape Artist and the Truckers.
In the legal drama everything happens in an upper middle-class environment, and all characters are well-educated and
'beautiful' people, except for the killer who lives in an attic flat, and doesn't look like an upper middle-class
In Truckers, on the other hand, we have only one graduate, namely the owner of the small transport
firm Banks of England.
All the other characters are working-class, prostitutes, or 'white trash'.
While Will Burton has a modern town home and a weekend cottage large enough for a big family to live in, the
Truckers live in small houses and small flats.
However, in both dramas the question that is often present
concenrs what is 'right and what is wrong'.
PS There is
also a hilarious 3-part satire about ‘Ambassadors’ on BBC2.
British Ambassador Keith Davis, played by David Mitchell, and his deputy Neil Tilly (played by Robert Webb), try to run the
embassy in the best interest of Britain in the fictional, former Soviet republic Tazbekistan.
I’m not going to comments on this one since I don’t have time for it, but I warmly recommend Ambassadors
to anyone who likes a drama in which everyone is offended!
It adds to the originality of BBC dramas by introducing us in a humorous and somewhat exaggerating manner
to the life of the ‘elites’ in an embassy somewhere ‘far away’.
This time Inspector Salvo Montalbano and his team had to investigate
why someone exploded a bomb outside a warehouse.
A week later there was another
explosion outside another warehouse in the same area.
Since the warehouses
were empty no greater damage was done.
Among the people who lived
and worked in that area were some who were connected to mafia and drugs.
Salvo and the team assumed the bombs had something to do with protection money.
They were warnings to the owners
of the warehouses not to ignore paying protection money.
The mysterious new neighbour
had also got a new neighbour, a mysterious woman, whose car wouldn’t start. Salvo gave her a lift to town.
He became somewhat alarmed when the mechanic at the garage where the neighbour’s
car was sent told him that the engine had been deliberately tampered with.
neighbour, Liliana Lombardino, explained that she had moved in first and that her husband would be joining her in a couple
Liliana was very keen on becoming acquainted with Salvo.
Salvo wasn’t sure if it was because she felt attracted to him or because
she had some other motives for doing so.
He also learned that Liliana
had a young lover, which made it less likely that her interest in Salvo was based on attraction.
There were several red herrings sent on the path of Salvo and his team concerning the bombs, and nothing seemed
to be what it appeared.
Salvo wanted to know what had been in the empty warehouses.
In the warehouses there had been computers which belonged to the
firm in which Adriano Lombardino, Liliana’s husband, worked.
day when Salvo and Liliana were on their way to the town by car, someone tried to crash them. There were also shootings on
the road side.
Salvo got a warning call from a reporter friend at the
Some reporters had been told by an anonymous caller where Salvo would be in the evening. The plan was to take compromising pictures of Salvo at Liliana’s home. It was a set-up.
The mafia connections
Salvo suspected that the mafia had something to do with it all.
How was Liliana involved with mafia? What was the reason for the bombs and shootings?
It appeared that Adriano Lombardino was involved in drug trade.
He was connected to a mafia family who was trying to take over the drug trade in an area controlled by another mafia
Adriano smuggled drugs in the computers he was selling.
Since the other mafia family was after him,
he had instructed Liliana to become friends with Salvo.
the bomb explosions, he had emptied the warehouses and moved the computers in the house where he and Liliana lived.
It became a war between the families, in which Liliana and her young lover ended
up as casualties.
Salvo arrested a mafia boss and gave an interview in the
He was hoping to catch the attention of the other mafia members, and deliberately gave false information
in the interview.
He spent the night in Liliana’s house, and waited
for the men hired by mafia to arrive to look for the drugs.
first person to arrive was Adriano who had been in hiding.
He said he had seen the interview and guessed what
Salvo had in mind.
He wanted to give himself in, because he would feel safer in prison than outside of it.
There was a shooting scene in the last minutes of the episode and the two killers
sent by the mafia to look for the hidden drugs were shot.
was very serious, full of action, and gave an idea of how competing mafia families operate.
Salvo had to tell
a witness, that he was witnessing against against a mafia boss, and asked if he still was willing to give evidence.
The witness said that he was.
This maybe an indication that the attitude towards and fear of mafia in Sicily is
changing. People are not anymore as afraid to take action against mafia as they used to be.
I have a question to my Italian readers:
What was Salvo eating when he and Liliana were having dinner at home of Salvo’s housekeeper?
It was something called ARANCINI. Do you have a recipe for it?
Send your asnwer to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To be continued...
24/10/2013 Truckers on BBC1
Meet the impulsive Steven
third episode of Truckers the focus is on the truck driver Steven, a divorced relatively young man who enjoys casual sex.
Steven (excellently played by Ashley Walters) has a big ego,
and he has a tendency to act on impulse.
He is good at finding
last minute, temporary solutions to problems, but sometimes these solutions themselves lead him in trouble.
Planning ahead does not come naturally to him, and that makes it difficult for him to be a husband and a father
to his two sons.
Steven is divorced and his ex-wife, Danielle (played
by WunmiMosaku), had told her that she and the boys were living in Spain.
The right to see the kids
The episode began with Steven pretending to be a fireman and having sex
with one of his female ‘friends’.
To his workmates
Steven gave the impression that casual sex was exactly what he wanted.
there was another side to him, the one who tried to keep in touch with his sons.
When Steven found out that his ex-wife Danielle and the boys were not living in Spain but in Derby (a nearby
small town), he felt betrayed.
Without telling Danielle
(or the school) he picked the kids from school and enjoyed an afternoon with them.
Naturally this led to accusations of Steven being selfish and reckless.
Steven was not willing to accept such an image as the true image of himself and claimed
that he must have a right to see the boys, since he was their father.
The weekend adventure
suddenly stopped arguing and simply stated that the boys would be staying with Steven over the weekend.
Of course, this was not suitable for Steven who had work to do during the weekend. But at the same time
he could not say no.
His only solution was to have the kids in the truck
while working (which he clearly was not supposed to do!).
the weekend he learned some new things about the boys, about their habits and problems, and things were going quite well,
until somebody stole the truck- with the boys in it...
a considerable amount of confusion, shame, and anger, there is a good (but not too rosy) ending to the story.
not going to spoil it for you by revealing everything.
episode was an excellent account on relationships gone wrong, and on attempts to correct them in a warm, humorous manner.
It was also a good example of how children can be a visible
part of a drama aimed at adults.
The music in the background
gave it the road movie feel.
To be continued...
19/10/2013 Inspector Montalbano
How dare you pick a new Livia without telling us!
Montalbano (played by Luca Zingaretti) is back!
the grown-up Montalbano, the original Montalbano.
been well-informed of the fact that a different actor played the role of the young Montalbano.
Using a different actor is quite natural, since the young Montalbano was supposed to be younger than the grown-up
A different actress played the role of younger Livia
than the role of grown-up Livia.
This too is natural since we expected the young Livia to be younger than the
The name of the actress who played Livia in the
original Inspector Montalbano is Katharina Bohm (Boehm).
not sure if the name of the actress playing the role of young Livia was ever mentioned in the list of cast!
Today, when watching Inspector Montalbano, to my horror I realized that although the grown-up Montalbano was
still played by Luca Zingaretti, Livia was NOT played by Katharina Bohm.
checked against the cast list but Livia was not mentioned in it, as usual.
and the Italian TV: Do you really think we don't notice, when you change the person who plays an important female role?
DO YOU REALLY THINK WE DON’T NOTICE, WHEN
YOU REPLACE A BLONDE ACTRESS WITH ANOTHER BLONDE ACTRESS?
I really liked Katharina’s Livia. She was
a soulful Livia and her presence was strongly felt. She was a likeable Livia-figure!
BBC did not give any information
of this change.
I had to visit Italian websites to find information about Livia and about the new Livia!
(and my knowledge of Italian is VERY limited).
Livia is Lina Perned, a Swedish actress. It is too early to say whether I like her or not, but she seems to be a bit too ‘wooden’
in her role.
There is another Swedish actress in Montalbano;
the one who plays the role of Ingrid.
She is a kind of Anita Ekberg of La Dolce Vita. I like her role character.
In the first episode, Montalbano and his team have to solve the mystery of several burglaries.
The burglaries all took place in the homes of filthy rich, who were not too bothered (financially) by the
This time we were also reminded of how the austerity
measures in Italy hit the police forces.
Montalbano and his
team had their resources cut. Now they had access only to two cars and five bicycles!
Montalbano became attracted to the young and wealthy bank manager Angelica who is one of the victims. (To
me this was a sign that Angelica was somehow involved in the burglaries!)
appeared that the burglaries were only smoke screen to carrying out a particular burglary; the burglary into the home of a
This loan shark had ruined the lives of many families.
Some of the relatives to the families whose lives had been ruined decided to get even with the loan shark. After the burglary, the loan shark committed suicide.
Angelica, who was part of the plot against
the loan shark, was shot too, but survived.
was certain sadness to this episode.
between the life of the filthy rich and the reduced resources of crime fighting groups was a good move.
The young Fazio has now the role of keeping Montalbano out of trouble. Such as getting involved with female
To be continued...
17/10/2013 Truckers on BBC1
Truckers is a new follow-up on BBC1 written by William Ivory,
directed by Sheree Folkson, and made by Company Pictures.
is about a small transport firm, its new boss and the truck drivers.
Banks, the son of the owner, suddenly finds himself in charge of the firm called Banks of England, after his father passed
The events take place in East Midlands, mainly in
It is a kind of a mixture of road movies and socio
drama with warm humour.
We see truck driving in open landscapes (like in
American road movies) and in the inner city area.
the characters learning to accept and live with divorce and betrayal, and finding their inner strength.
Each of the individual episodes focuses mainly on the life of one the characters.
Trucker Malachi refuses to accept his marriage is over
In the first episode a week ago we followed how Malachi (excellently
played by Stephen Tompkinson) refused to accept that his marriage was over.
had been divorced for over a year but continued to share the house since none of them could afford to move out.
Everything changed when his ex-wife informed him that she and
her new boyfriend were getting married.
She said that Malachi
had never really been present in their marriage. He was only happy when on the road driving his truck.
Things were made worse when their son admitted that he liked mother’s new boyfriend.
It all ends with Malachi chasing in his truck the boyfriend in his little car (as homage to all good road
movies). The chase ended at the Old Market Square of Nottingham.
climbed on top of his truck, took off his clothes, and declared in his speech (to anyone who was willing to listen) that he
really was a great guy.
Father the hero- father the deceiver
In the second episode we follow Martin Bank, who
inherited the firm, when he tries to lead the firm, the truckers, and to modernise the business.
Martin (played by the adorable John Dagleish) is different from the others, partly because he is university
He has a degree from business school, and he has
some work experiences of business management.
also a bit shy, hesitant, and very used to being seen as ‘nothing’ compared to his father.
He believes that his father was a great entrepreneur, and that everybody respected him.
The truckers don’t even try to hide that they have no high opinion of Martin.
Martin tried to introduce new methods, such as ‘telemetrics’ to keep track on the truckers when
they are on the road. The truckers didn’t appreciate it.
was also rationalising many administrative tasks, such as direct payments on bank accounts instead of cash payments.
Martin was getting familiar with all aspects of the business
by going through the books of the firm but couldn’t find insurance documents for the trucks nor national insurance payments.
Slowly it became evident to him that, after all, his father
was not such a great guy he had learned to believe.
had left the trucks uninsured, meaning that the truckers too were uninsured while driving.
He had made business with a shadowy figure. When Martin told this businessman that in the future all payments
would be made directly on his bank accounts instead of cash payments, he refused to accept it.
In the family home, where his mother lived (with the memory of a perfect husband), Martin also found documents
of payments to some strangers.
These strangers were
his father’s second families. He had wives and children outside the ‘main’ marriage.
As if this wasn’t enough his girlfriend who moved with him from London to Nottingham, has difficulties
in adjusting to life in Nottingham.
Her career was in
fitness modelling, which involves plenty of training, calorie counting, tanning, waxing, and sleeping with a potential contractor.
She wanted Martin to be more assertive, and more aggressive
in his approach to his business and subordinates.
they separated. Martin realised that they had completely different values guiding their life choices.
I liked the first 2 episodes of Truckers. The second episode
especially was great with its focus on the modern vs. old way of leading a firm. Today
it is not unusual that university educated take over the leadership of firms which were previously ran by self-made men.
I liked the idea of a new leader
introducing modern methods to an old fashioned business.
And the idea of a son as a leader who follows the
law unlike his father who did nothing but cheated.
Martin is the one who plays by the rules but does not receive
any appreciation for that.
His father was a cheat, both as an entrepreneur
and as a father and a husband, but still most people adored him.
father reminds me a bit of the play Charlie Peace, shown on Nottingham Playhouse (see previous comments a couple of weeks
ago), a play about a charming villain who used to live in Nottingham.
The final episode of the young Montalbano
It’s a pity this was the last episode of young Montalbano.
I started to enjoy identifying
the personality traits that became characteristic to the middle-aged Salvo Montalbano.
This time Salvo and the team had two cases to solve.
Who killed the old man?
The first case concerned a wealthy, old man, who was brutally killed in his home.
The likely suspect was his only son, who was an alcoholic, and seemed to have difficulties in dealing with
He was married to a woman who was not too keen on
marrying him, since she was in love with another man (who was poor).
the end the killer of the old man was not the son (who inherited everything) but a neighbour.
This neighbour, an old woman, lived on a small pension after her late husband.
She had been helping
the old man with cleaning and cooking (without pay). She had also provided
him with some sexual services against the promise of an inheritance.
The old man had repeatedly said that he would
left everything to her.
However, one night she heard him promising to leave
everything to his son.
She confronted the old man, and when the old man said it was true, she killed him.
A couple of weeks ago I pointed out to the fact that in Sicily
most women were completely dependent on their husbands or other men financially.
we see once again what that can do to women!
The second case began as something Salvo thought
was a prank.
Somebody had visited a restaurant which had a fish
tank (for fresh food), pulled out a fish and then shot the fish.
was a note under the fish but unfortunately it was wet and covered in blood and the words could not be read.
The next Monday there was another killing of an animal. This time a chicken had been shot.
was a note saying; I am still contracting. After a week yet another
killing of an animal took place. The killed animal was a dog. The message was the same.
Now Salvo and his team could not treat the incidents as a joke anymore.
The killed animals
were getting bigger, but none of them could make any sense out of the message.
They started to think the animal killings themselves were a
The first letters of the surenames of the owners of the animals formed a pattern, that might be Ecco
A goat and an elephant (at a visiting circus)
were also killed.
Salvo suspected the case had to do with some religious
He contacted a religious expert (a hermit like scholar),
who explained that the messages were related to the Kabbalah and had to do with the creation myth.
The conclusion was that the madman might have been planning to kill huge numbers of people after killing the
Since the letter O from the world Dio was missing,
the person or persons to be killed were likely to have a surname starting with an O.
They collected all inhabitants with a surname starting with O into a cinema.
Here we learned also that
Salvo was not a good public performer whereas Mimi had a natural talent for it.
it became clear that the person they were looking for was a man who had lost his wife and child in a car accident.
He was (in his mind) re-creating creation and expected that
by means of the killings his wife and child would return back to life.
had put explosives in the cemetery to create ‘God’s light’ for this purpose.
In the last minutes Salvo and his team managed to prevent the explosion.
Meanwhile, Livia had to go on a holiday trip alone, since Salvo was busy.
Next week (I think) we will see the return of Inspector Montalbano...
04-05/10/2013 Theatre and TV NIGHTS
This time the comments are on a theatre performance at Nottingham Playhouse, and on the young Montalbano.
Charlie Peace- at Nottingham Playhouse
On Friday evening I went to see a play about the life and legend of Charlie Peace at Nottingham Playhouse.
Charlie Peace was a notorious villain and showman in the 19th
He was mainly a burglar but there are also a couple
of manslaughters on the list of the crimes he had committed.
was an entertaining and attractive man, and women enjoyed his company.
killed the husband of a woman he was having an affair with. The motive is a bit unclear, but after that he was wanted for
murder in England.
He was famous for disappearing, changing his name,
and for moving around England. He was a master of disguise.
Peace was active in Leeds, Nottingham, and in London.
He was finally caught, found guilty, and executed.
He became a popular, mythical figure already during his lifetime.
Later on the myth about him became a myth of a ‘nice’ thief, stealing only from nasty, rich people.
Peace is a play by Michael Eaton. It is directed by Giles Croft.
play presents the life of Charlie Peace as a theatrical show (with music), which is very suitable way to approach the story
of Charlie Peace.
Nottingham playhouse has an interesting, flexible
This time the stage had a stage within it, and original
graphics, designs, and videos reflected onto it; images of playhouses, lounges, bedrooms, house facades, and moving trains...
I must say I enjoy the way playhouses have adopted modern technology.
The use of modern technology does not turn life performances
into poor imitations of films or TV shows.
On the contrary, they simply lift and support essential features of
In Eaton’s play Charlie is first introduced
to us when he is ready to be ‘hanged by the neck’.
of showing us the hanging, Charlie himself speaks to us.
can’t stand still and simply wait for the hanging but asks us: Surely you came here to learn about my achievements
So, we go backwards in time and watch episodes of
Eaton and Croft wish us to be seduced by the charming
side of Charlie first.
Even the killing of the husband of the woman Charlie
was having an affair with, becomes merely an episode among other episodes in his life.
We are not more shocked by the killing than Charlie is.
the second act the focus is more on making us see his acts as immoral.
We are made to see that we have witnessed
the acts of a sociopath.
But Eaton and Croft will not wish us to change our
opinions of him completely.
They wish us to
contemplate on our conceptions of ‘right and wrong’.
Why is it that we love the entertaining burglar
and showman Charlie Peace, but condemn the thief and (accidental?) killer Charlie Peace?
Peter Duncan is charming as Charlie Peace, and Norman Pace’s showman comes as close to an archetypal
showman as possible.
The comments above are some of the reasons why you
should go and see the play at Nottingham Playhouse in October 2013.
The young Montalbano
TV stopped working (it didn’t get a signal from the aerial). Therefore, I had to watch Montalbano on the internet.
I’m not too fond of watching programmes online,
so I’m not sure if I saw the most interesting points in tonight’s episode of Montalbano.
This time Montalbano received an anonymous letter predicting the death of a construction worker.
The letter arrives too late to do anything to save the Albanian
worker. He was found death on a construction site.
have been suspiciously many fatal accidents at building sites. Could these be murders instead?
The case is assigned to Carabinieri, military police.
Initially, Montalbano is not too keen on
collaborating with the Carabinieri.
However, when he
meets the Carabinieri officers in charge of the case, he realizes that they share similar values when it comes to solving
This officers is also very ill, and Montalbano likes
to help him in the case.
It appears that mafia is trying to force the owner
of a building firm to sell its construction sites to a mafia owned firm.
this owner is not willing to sell, mafia arranges the killings as warnings.
We also learn that the killed Albanian
worker was not a construction worker at all, but an undercover police officer.
connection to mafia gives the episode a more serious tone.
we all know what mafia is able to do, we understand the severe nature of the operations the police and the military police
have to take.
Together the police forces arrest those construction
workers who worked for mafia.
The confessions of these men are expected to lead to a guilty verdict to the mafia
boss, who likes to own the whole construction sector in the region.
29/09/2013 The young
The murder of the loan shark
This time Salvo Montalbano (played by Michele Riondino)
and his colleagues have to solve the case involving a murdered loan shark.
There is also another case in which
the ‘honour of a woman’ is put into question.
appears that the murdered loan shark was a very nasty character.
He charged a huge interest on the loans, and
he also demanded sexual favours of his female clients.
of these women were ashamed and did not wish to report him to the police.
who were involved in the murder were the niece of the loan shark and his debt collector.
The niece had been abused and kept in captivity by the loan shark.
She allied with the loan shark’s
debt collector, and the two of them decided to kill the loan shark and steal his money.
However, they let an innocent man with learning disability to do the dirty work for them. The nice pretended
to be attracted to this man, and persuaded him to kill the loan shark.
National female myths
version with the young Montalbano repeats a theme we became so familiar with in Inspector Montalbano (played by Luca Zingaretti).
We meet women who kill or find someone else to kill their (abusive or not) husbands or other male relatives.
The motive is money.
Some time ago I suggested it was great of the BBC4
to show European crime dramas, since each country has its own national myths which are reflected in drama.
learn about other countries by watching their crime (and other) drama productions, although the characters are fictional.
The female myths seem to vary in crime drama from different
I would say that the female myths in Sicilian Montalbano are different from those
we are used to seeing in British and Nordic drama.
borrow some features from reality.
For example, it is still usual in the late 20th century (the young
Montalbano) and in early 21th century Sicily (Inspector Montalbano) that a large proportion of women rely economically on
their husbands and male relatives.
In Northern Italy
it is more usual for women to make career and earn their own income, not simply to survive but to be independent.
Therefore, it is not so surprising that the fictional Sicilian
women try to get access to money by nasty means!
himself is attracted to independent women; women who have their own career, or who are ‘recklessly in charge of their
life while being married’.
The polarised myths
of women are that of the Mother image and Puella Aterna/Hetaera image.
the drama the warm and protective mother figures turn into ‘conspiring, murderous bitches’.
We see this happening through the eyes of Montalbano. This means that we are shown Montalbano’s anima
images (female side of a man projected onto real women).
Montalbano is attracted to Livia (who is from North and who works) and other independent women.
He fears commitment as we see in Inspector Montalbano; he and Livia are still not married.
He is surprised when Livia and other independent
women show a different side of their personality to him.
Livia talks about marriage, babies or about adopting a child, she turns into a smothering wife in the mind of Salvo.
In Inspector Montalbano we became familiar with Ingrid, a reckless
fun-loving woman who was married to a rich man but lived in a ‘free’ relationship.
This Puella Aeterna character helped Salvo to solve many cases, and they became good friends.
In British and Nordic crime drama we are used to seeing Amazon women who make careers as inspectors, as business
women, or who at least participate in working life.
counterpart is the Medium woman who is often portrayed as ‘false’ psychics.
Puella Aeterna women,
if present, are either prostitutes or in some other way women who do not 'fit in'.
In Montalbano the Medium women are women who see ‘visions’ or who are teachers.
Livia has some of the features of Amazon woman but she too is more of a Puella Aeterna.
between Salvo and Livia was deepening when Salvo’s father made an unannounced visit. He met Livia instead of Salvo.
Salvo revealed why his relationship with his father was cold
and distant. His father was hardly ever at home when Salvo was a child.
Salvo’s mother died, his father sent him to live with relatives.
He himself moved to another town to live
with a woman who had her old children from a previous marriage.
felt insulted and neglected on his own and his mother’s behalf.
may be the reason why he later on appreciated independent women; they can look after themselves.
And why he didn’t appreciate his colleague Mimi, who had a very relaxed attitude towards adultery.
To be continued...
This time the comments are on the film version of the merchant
of Venice, a documentary of Angela merkel, and on the young detective Montalbano.
Merchant of Venice on BBC2.
This is a film version of Shakespeare’s play directed by Michael Radford.
central question stated in this film was why Shylock (played by Al Pacino), the money-lender
Jew, was so keen on having a pound of flesh from Antonio (played by Jeremy Irons), his Christian,
merchant client, who failed to repay his loan on time.
take place in Venice. Shakespeare wrote the play during a time when Protestant reformers were discussing whether having interest
on loans was a sin or not.
Antonio is a successful merchant but as any merchant
he sometimes had cash-flow problems.
He was also strongly
against usury. He also disliked money-lender Jews, and often openly showed how Shylock disgusted him.
Who needed the money?
Antonio need the money?
He needed it to borrow money to his secret lover (as I understood it in this
film) Bassanio, who wished to woo a beautiful, rich woman called Portia (played by Lynn
Bassanio had already lost all his own wealth.
Antonio was in the habit of bailing him out, and was willing to lend him money this time too.
As said before Antonio had short-term cash-flow problems, and therefore needed to borrow the money he wished
to give to Bassanio.
They turn to the rich Jew Shylock, who was a money-lender.
Shylock knew that Antonio was hostile to Jews and hostile to lending money against interest.
To their surprise, Shylock promised to lend the money without interest.
However, if Antonio failed to repay the loan on time, Shylock would demand a pound of Antonio’s flesh,
stated Shylock. Antonio accepted the terms.
business is in trouble (his ships at sea are in trouble!). He can’t make the repayment on time.
Meanwhile, Bassanio is getting married to Portia. He won her hand after passing the test (he opened the right
casket with the picture of Portia in it). The test was in the will of Portia’s father.
Bassanio learned about Antonio’s troubles, and told Portia what had happened.
Portia provided him with the money, and Bassanio hurried back to Venice to help his lover.
Justice to some
was Shylock so determined to demand the flesh of Antonio?
even offers of large sums of money could change his mind.
the time of these events, Shylocks daughter, Jessica, eloped with Lorenzo.
married and Jessica became a Christian. Jessica also took (or stole) some money and a ring before leaving home.
Shylock felt betrayed by his daughter and by all Christians.
was asked to show mercy concerning Antonio, but Shylock only insisted that he was acting as any Christian would have acted
in the same position.
It was part of their agreement. He owned a pound
of Antonio’s flesh, argued Shylock.
The dispute went
to court. There was a Doctor and a law clerk assisting in the case.
court decided under the advice of the Doctor that Shylock had the right to demand a pound of Antonio’s flesh.
No one knew that the Doctor and Law Clerk were Portia and her
maiden Nerissa disguised as men.
When Shylock was
ready to cut a piece of flesh of Antonio, the Doctor (Portia) stopped him.
Doctor specified that he had the right to cut a pound of Antonio’s flesh, but should do so without spilling a drop of
Since that was not possible, Shylock said that he
accepted the repayment of money instead.
The Doctor said
he had no right to the repayment since he had rejected the offer earlier in the court.
And, further, Shylock, who had the status of a foreigner in Venice, was now accused of trying to kill a Christian,
and as a punishment lost everything he owned.
also forced to convert to Christianity. Thus, Shylock lost everything of value to him.
The female touch and the rings
Bassanio approached the Doctor and the clerk and wished to show his appreciation by offer them money.
The Doctor (=Portia) rejected his offer of money, but accepted
some ‘souvenirs’. (S)He asked for Bassanio’s ring.
was the ring Portia had given to Bassanio, and made him promise to keep it for the rest of his life.
Bassanio tried to explain that he couldn’t do that, but reluctantly departed from it under the pressure
from the side of Antonio. (‘It’s only a ring’)
was aware he was breaking a promise.
Later on when they
all had returned to Portia’s home to celebrate the court ruling, Portia and Lerissa revealed to the men that they were
the Doctor and Clerk.
The role of women as lower than men in society was
stressed in this film.
Thus, a promise to a woman was not as important
as a promise to a man/lover.
Portia and Lerissa could only do their ‘good work’ disguised as men.
There were many rings in this play. Ring is a symbol for something
that binds and unites. Such a bond should not be broken.
Shylock, the outsider
As for Shylock, the ‘loser’ in this
story, the message is perhaps that outsiders cannot win.
is always the (ethnic/national) majority that dictates the rules, and they tend to favour the majority.
Shylock’s mistake was to act in a cold manner without empathy, believing that by claiming he was following
the law he could win.
Al Pacino makes an interesting Shylock. In his Shylock,
we see an individual person with his strengths and weaknesses instead of an archetypal Jew.
And Jessica? She seemed to be missing her father in her new role as a Christian’s wife.
I liked this interpretation of the Merchant of Venice.
showed a good documentary on Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Andrew Marr made an interesting portrait of her life and
Her early life as the daughter of a Lutheran Priest
in East Germany, her career in science, and after the Berlin Wall came down, in politics certainly was interesting to follow.
All her previous experiences helped to create a politician who is a good listener, a good negotiator, and who
really is a champion of the European ‘Project’.
Merkel is today, as Andrew Marr pointed out, the most powerful woman in the world.
On Sunday (or Monday) we will
see if she still is German chancellor after the elections.
The young Montalbano on BBC4This time the young
Montalbano has to solve the case of stolen beer bottle tops, a mysterious case of a child who was kidnapped for a couple of
hours, and he also has to tolerate a new deputy inspector, who is very different from him.
The young Montalbano is a spin-off of Inspector Montalbano, and it shows the early years of Montalbano's
detective career (see also last week's comments).
The first case involved the smuggling of drugs. The compulsive collector of beer bottle tops (and everything
else you can imagine) had by mistake received a sending of beer which was used to smuggle drugs.
The drugs were
hidden in the bottle tops. Later on the criminals returned to find the drugs in the collectors cellar.
The second case was about a disagreement between business partners but had also more serious mafia connections
(these appeared in the Inspector Montalbano as well.
deputy Augello is more interested in women than following the leads, in Montalbano’s opinion.
Yet, he tries to be polite and introduced Augello to eating pasta in a Sicilian way in his
new home (see last week’s comments).
learned to know a nice girl called Livia in this episode. She is the woman we became familiar with in Inspector Montalbano.
again, the Sicialian landscapes were beautiful.
See you next week...
12-15/09/2013 TV (Weekend) Potpourri
It was my intention to write only about the final episode of What Remains, the British crime drama.
However, I decided to mention also a couple of other, pleasant TV moments; Amadeus,
Montalbano, and Hitler!
On (very) late Thursday evening BBC1 showed Milos Forman’s ‘Amadeus’ (: the director’s
cut) from 1984.
In this film Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life as a
composer is mainly seen through the eyes of Salieri (played excellently by F Murray Abraham), who is a talented, contemporary
Salieri recognizes a genius in Mozart, and struggles with his
feelings of envy.
It is difficult for him to understand how God could be
so cruel that he let the voice of God (in form of music) pour out of the writings of a silly, unsophisticated young man.
Mozart (played by Tom Hulce) in this film version truly is silly and lacks all
the ability to follow the etiquette.
He lacks empathy towards other
people, and unintentionally hurts the feelings of others.
to the contemporary musicians, his taste is vulgar.
also picks politically sensitive or dangerous themes (Figaro) to his music. But his compositions revolutionise music.
Forman showed us the relationship (and difference) between a talent based on
order (Salieri) and a talent based on chaos (Mozart).
He also wished
to stress that a genius does not arise from being a rule-follower, and that a genius may be seen as vulgar by his contemporaries.
The young Montalbano
I used to watch Inspector Montalbano, I was curious to see what a spin-off like this can offer. It's shown on BBC4 and
the events take place in Sicily.
In Saturday’s episode we follow the young detective
when he tries to solve a killing that took place in the hotel where he was staying.
is new to the town Vigata, and we are shown how he found that gorgeous house with a terrace (the one we became familiar with
in the initial drama).
In Inspector Montalbano the middle-aged detective often
showed insight and empathy towards people living in poverty. He did not point fingers.
the young Montalbano returns to his mother a boy he caught stealing, the mother thanks him for not reporting the incident.
Montalbano asks why she is not keeping an eye on the boy(s).
She tells him that she is a widow who has to work to provide for the family.
But she earns so little that she has to work from morning to evening. The boys won’t obey her.
This woman will later on become the housekeeper for Montalbano.
It is an interesting way of showing how social problems can lead to criminality. There is no need to point
fingers at anyone, only to show what ‘is’.
And, the drama
also points at a solution. Instead of living on zero-hour contracts, she will become Montalbano’s housekeeper with a
The landscapes are as beautiful as in the original drama.
There is also a half a century old crime to be solved by the
young detective along side with the current crime.
Our contemporary Europe is in recession, full of chaos,
and social misery.
Therefore, it is good to be reminded of what happened in the early 20th century, when
the social, political, and economic circumstances were quite similar.
This programme shown on C4 used old documentary and propaganda films
as visual material. Hitler’s party attacked political opponents first.
They did not attack established larger parties but the Communists.
The message was that Hitler did not suddenly rise to power. He did not immediately suggest
wing groups, such as the Communists, created chaos in the middle of depression, and no political party was willing to defend
The National Socialists used provocation to create physical
and armed conflicts with Communists and workers’ unions.
enough seats, and particularly after becoming the leading Party, it was time to change school education, the police forces
and the army.
Now the targeted groups were not political opponents but
homeless people, disabled, and the Jews.
Germany became a totalitarian
state slowly without people noticing it before it was too late.
Today we see
right-wing groups increasing their share of the votes in most European countries.
see a dangerous development taking place in Greece, where the Golden Dawn is growing in influence.
It attacks mainly left wing protestors and immigrants as well as those who help or defend immigrants.
It uses intimidation, verbal and physical abuse to gain its goals.
It has wide support among the exhausted and confused population and it received
7 percent of the votes last year.
We certainly should keep in mind how the National Socialists
came to power. It can happen again, in any country when the circumstances are suitable.
What Remains-the final episode of the crime drama
After Hitler’s rise it was time to watch the final episode
of the British crime drama What Remains on BBC1.
Our retired detective
Len Harper continues to figure out why and how Melissa Young died, and what the relationship between her and her neighbours
Action action action
The final episode is more action-packed than all the other episodes put together.
To sum it up; Joe Seller confessed to killing Melissa. But Len suspected he was protecting someone.
When he learned that Liz,
the girl who lives with Joe, had violent past, he suspected that Liz committed the killing and Joe was protecting her.
Vidya, who was becoming friends with Liz, became aware (from a school picture)
that Liz and Michael had been schoolmates.
Liz attacked her but was
arrested before she had time to harm Vidya.
When Michael arrived home, Vidya confronted him about Liz. Michael
had to leave the flat.
Elaine did not let Peggy leave the flat, with the result
that Peggy wanted to commit suicide. She didn’t have the strength to do it, though.
not sure if she finally did so or if it was Elaine who ‘helped her’ commit suicide.
Elaine kept her body in the flat. She was turning into a ‘mad woman’.
Kieron had strength enough to confront his son, Adam, and tell him that if he was to find out that Adam had
anything to do with Melissa’s death, he wouldn’t hesitate to report it to the police.
When the original crime was supposedly solved, and Joe and Liz arrested, Len moved to the empty flat in the
Vidya had her child. Was there a happy ending? No.
In the final scenes Len acted as the babysitter to Vidya’s child, while
Vidya was having a date. Life was seemingly returning to the 'normal'.
was leaving some leaflets to the flats in the building, when he noticed that Elaine’s and Peggy’s door was ajar.
He went in and felt a strong smell coming from the flat. Elaine was
downstairs to collect some ice (!).
Len found the body of Peggy.
Elaine had returned, saw Len, and hit him with a bag of ice.
returned home she found the wounded Len. She too was attacked by Elaine, but managed to fool her, and escape whereas Elaine
The past revealed finally
It appeared that Elaine and Peggy had had a confrontation with Melissa
in the attic.
After Elaine repeatedly insulted Melissa, Melissa tried
to insult Elaine by revealing that Peggy had plans to leave Elaine.
tried to stop Melissa (she feared Elaine’s reaction) from telling more, but since she continued talking, Peggy strangled
This was the dark secret that had forced her to stay with
In the final minutes of the drama, Len shot Elaine (who
had not been wounded enough to stop her from attacking others) with bow and arrow.
I feel very exhausted! Yet, the storyline
in What Remains was quite plausible.
It had all the elements of
the drama that arises from domestic conflicts, including the temporary madness suffered by many of the persons in the shared
The final scene is a classical ending to most thrillers,
Something new next week..or Montalbano??
TV Weekend Potpourri
The weekend began on Friday with a film adaptation of Shakespeare’s
The Tempest on BBC2.
It was a tragic fantasy with the great Helen Mirren in the role of Prospera
(in the original play this was a male role),
a disappointed, betrayed, and disgraced lady, who now ruled the
which was an island, with the help of magic.
I loved the
way the expressed magic in this film was really 'magical'!
was a kind of childhood magic which should remind us of the fact
that in ancient times when human consciousness was
still under development,
magic played a far more important role in everybody’s life than it does today,
least as far as we are aware of it!
The Last Night of the Proms
On Saturday it was time to say goodbye to the Proms, with
waving and sing-along on BBC1.
(see also previous comments on Proms below latest comments).
The Last Night of the Proms was presented joyfully by Katie Derham,
and the BBC Symphony Orchestra was
conducted by Marin Alsop.
Marin Alsop is the first female to conduct the Last Night
of the Proms.
She did it confidently, embracing both the orchestra and the audience.
She was adorable.
She even managed to establish a humorous, musical dialogue with the enfant terrible,
the violinist Nigel Kennedy, who must be the nightmare of every conductor
(but who really hoped to have a chance
to work with him).
Marin Alsop made also an interesting take on the National
at the end of the Proms.
The American operatic star
Joyce DiDonato performed perhaps
the most soulful ‘Danny Boy’ I ever heard, and Rule Britannia was
convincing (and she didn’t have to work hard to get people
to join in the sing-along).
Nigel Kennedy turned his violin into an emotional cat.
He then added improvisations as if he was
playing a jazz session,
and managed to pop some balloons as well while performing.
Ego enjoyed the sing-along of ‘You’ll never walk alone’,
while also counting how many other flags
than the British
and the English flags were present.
to see in the middle of the sea of British and English flags
a couple of flags of other European countries. But no EU
flags this year.
Hats were great fun to see as well.
the Last Night of the Proms!
On Sunday 08/09 it was time for a new episode of the British crime
What Remains on BBC1.
Our retired detective Len Harper continues to figure out
why Melissa Young
died, and what the relationship between her and her neighbours was.
This week we learned that Kieron, the neighbour with a son called Adam
(see previous comments), has
problems with alcohol.
That’s why he avoids drinking alcohol at all.
this week's episode he visited a pub
with a neighbour, was ‘talked into’ drinking a couple of beers,
and turned into a ‘Hulk’.
He returned home, and
tried to force his girlfriend to have sex with him.
she had a nasty day already with Adam,
who had decided that Patricia would become his girlfriend.
We also learn that soon after his divorce, Kieron had a
short sexual relationship with Melissa. Adam
didn’t like it.
Adam seems to have a very complex relationship both with
father and mother, and with all potential girlfriends of his father.
mentioned previously Vidya created a profile of Melissa on
social media. She had received at least one letter to ‘Melissa’.
It was from an old girlfriend of Melissa, who didn’t know
Melissa was dead.
It is through her Len Harper learned that Melissa
had or thought she had a boyfriend.
This boyfriend showed to be
Kieron, who said they only
had sex a couple of times, nothing more.
is becoming friends with Liz, who has still not
revealed why she never goes out.
Yet, she seems to have
sexual needs and
Michael happened to be quite suitable to fulfil those needs.
relationship between Elaine and Peggy is getting problematic.
Peggy has expressed her wish to leave Elaine,
but she hasn’t got anywhere to go.
Elaine feels so desperate
that she first pretends to be
sick and then prevents Peggy from going out.
She is jealous. I wonder if she
was jealous about Peggy’s
‘friendship’ with Melissa and how jealous?
Len’s brother died. We have seen Len visit him
in the hospital in previous episodes.
Next week we will see the final episode of What Remains.
Many of the neighbours could potentially have killed Melissa.
But did they?
I must say I enjoy watching this drama.
The characters are interesting but not extreme.
The writers clearly prefer to explore the secrets and
shadows of the minds of somewhat ordinary people.
What Remains- a crime drama
Strange people in a strange house
We follow the retired detective Len Harper in his attempts to find out
if a girl
called Melissa Young had killed herself or being killed.
I like this crime drama because it is not
about collecting and analysing
great crime scene evidence.
It is not about figuring out how a mysterious
serial killer uses ancient symbols.
Or how the serial killer leaves these symbols behind him in the
crime scene for the detectives to be found..
No, this is about a person, Melissa, who died a long
time ago. The main task for Len is to
figure out what kind of a person Melissa was, and what kind of
she had with her neighbours.
Are these neighbours lying deliberately to mislead the detective?
they lying simply to avoid getting involved for quite innocent reasons?
Mobile phones and computer are used
carefully in this drama; only just enough for us to understand that this is about modern times.
evident that some of the neighbours share a past.
The young Michael who recently moved in with his girlfriend (or wife?) Vidya, recognizes his previous
(and hated) schoolteacher in Joe Seller.
Joe lives in the basement flat, but why is the young Liz
Fletcher living there as well?
It is Michael who finds her there (after stealing the flat keys from Joe!).
They are old schoolmates but we are not informed of the reason for Liz being there.
Liz never leaves the flat
or house. Is she afraid of people, or is Joe her controlling husband?
Vidya is the only person who sincerely
tries to help Len in finding out what happened to Melissa. Remember, she did not live in the building when Melissa was still
Vidya uses a picture of Melissa to create a profile of Melissa on social media. I'm not sure what she
is trying to find out. I suppose we will learn more in the next episode.
Elaine and Peggy
are lesbians, and their relationship is perhaps a bit too predictable. Elaine is the aggressive person in the relationship
and Peggy the one lacking in self-confidence.
They obviously knew more about Melissa than they let the
police understand. But did they kill her?
Kieron Moss is divorced man with an adolescent son, Adam.
Patricia is Kieron's new girlfriend but Adam seems to think he has a chance with her...
We are shown
some flashbacks into the life of Melissa. It is becoming clear that she was a shy person who liked to help others and
was not good at (mentally/verbally) defending herself.
By the end of episode 2, we know that something was seriously
wrong with the attitude of many neighbours towards Melissa.
I have to mention the strange house with the flats,
It makes an impression of a house that pretends to create middle class privacy to individual
households but failing in this task, and it has scary corners and shadows, and a strange staircase...
say I like the 'ordinariness' of the characters in this drama. I think they quite well reflect ordinary Britons today!
I look forward to seeing the next episode.
22-25/08/2013 TV Pot-pourri
This was a boring weekend. Most TV programmes were repeats.
The weekend was only brightened by a couple of programmes;
by the Proms on BBC4 and by a new British crime drama on BBC1.
Proms is an annual
British Classical Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall.
This year it is between 12/07 and 7/09. During the
final days the festival is also present in the ‘Parks of Britain’.
the festival you can hear a variety of British, European, and international classical music, and also some film music performed
by great orchestras and conductors.
It is shown on BBC4
and you can hear it on Radio 3, and of course online on BBC’s website.
If you are a music lover, PROMS certainly
is something for you.
Unfortunately for me BBC4 shows it between 7pm and
9pm. I usually don’t watch TV before 9pm.
on Thursday I happened to be watching it and managed to see Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra perform Prokofiev’s 5th
symphony, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin.
say I enjoyed both listening to the music and watching the extremely expressive conductor Nezet-Seguin.
The orchestra seemingly enjoyed playing the music as much as he enjoyed conducting it!
On Friday night I missed nearly half of the sending but saw the great violinist Nigel Kennedy perform Vivaldi’s
Four Seasons together with the Palestine Strings from the Edward Said Music Conservatory.
There were also additional improvisations with Kennedy’s own Orchestra of Life.
I enjoyed listening to the different ‘shades of feelings’ flowing from the stringed instruments.
What remains- a new crime
drama on BBC1
On Sunday a new
crime drama, titled What Remains, started on BBC1 (9pm!).
this drama a partially decomposed body found in the attic of a building is the starting point.
We follow Len Harper, a detective, who just reached retirement age, when he tries to find out who the dead
The body appears to belong to a girl who lived in
one of the flats in the building.
She had inherited
the flat from her mother who used to live in the flat.
surprise of Harper the neighbours who lived in the same building didn’t seem to know much about the dead girl.
She had been dead for two years and no one had reported her
According to the neighbours she just disappeared,
had moved away, they believed.
We learn something about
the neighbours. Some are relatively new in the building, whereas others have lived there for years.
One of them, a man living in the ground floor flat, openly admitted that he never liked that girl.
I like the detective Harper (played by David Threlfall), who retires
at the end of the first episode.
shouldn’t be investigating the case anymore.
is difficult for him to retire in the middle of a case, which is easy to understand.
Who would like to end a career by leaving the last case unsolved?
The theme consists of a dead person no one seemed to be missing.
This is more interesting and original than any mystery killing, because today it happens quite often.
I also like the idea of presenting seemingly ordinary neighbours
living in and sharing the same building instead of living in the usual semi-detached houses and sharing only the same street.
I’m going to follow this crime drama.
19/08/2013 Southcliffe and the Mill
Southcliffe showed us that TV drama can be excellent.
In the final episode yesterday evening we saw the journalist,
who had been reporting on the shootings in Southcliffe, returning there a year later to make an update of the situation.
One of the ex-soldiers (see comments on previous episodes)
was in such a bad state that he considered shooting himself or alternatively shooting other people.
But people did not see or feel his suffering. They did not see ‘it coming’ as little as they had
seen that something was wrong with the killer a year earlier.
It was only the journalist who could sense something
awful potentially happening.
This episode made it clear to us that most people
who experienced traumatic events do not simply return to normal life after a couple of weeks.
They don’t ‘pull themselves together’ and forget all about the events. No,
they dwell on the memories of the events or on the memories of the persons they have lost.
Each of the main characters in Southcliffe had their own peculiar ways of dealing with the
loss of a parent, friend, or a child.
attempts to make sense out of the memories led to actions which came close to both madness and creativity.
I also liked the way silence was used in Southcliffe.
There was no background music filling empty moments in this drama. We were asked to share the
silence with the main characters.
was an excellent TV drama. It was dealing with a difficult topic but did it in an original manner.
The final episode of the Mill
The final episode of the Mill was about conflict and reconciliation.
It showed us how difficult it was for the workers to unite
behind a shared goal, and to fight for it.
The new owner of
the Mill began to show a different, more insightful side now that he inherited the Mill from his father.
He tried to learn to follow the principles and progressive thoughts of his father.
He understood that the problems and disagreements with workers
would not go away.
Reconciliation was the only way forward. Working
conditions, hours, and wages had to be negotiated.
To what extent this reflects the reasoning of the entrepreneurs and owners of the 19th
century is not clear. However, many of the entrepreneurs of that time
were progressive men, who realized that literacy and encouraging ambitions among their work force, also assured that the owners
got good workforce.
The Mill illustrated the troubles and difficulties
related to early industrialism very well.
We should try to
keep in mind that today in many parts of the world there are workers whose working conditions are not much better than the
working conditions of the workers in the Mill.
are the workers who provide us with inexpensive clothes, shoes, and computer gadgets.
SOUTCLIFFE and the MILL
on C4 continue 11/08/2013
Human irrationalism exposed in Southcliffe
is a ‘sleepy market town’ in which a local person
went on a shooting spree and shot 15 persons.
In today’s episode we follow the reactions of the people
to the shootings.
This is an excellent episode showing us how good
drama is done!
Many of the residents in Southcliffe lost a relative
or a friend,
and have to learn to live without them.
journalist who was born in the region was given the task of
finding a more personal approach to the tragedy.
His task is to interview local people and find out more about
What kind of a person had he been? What kind of a child had he been?
What sort of a neighbour
had he been?
development and reactions
first interviewed an old man who lived next to the killer and killer’s mother.
He tried to get the old man to tell something about the killers that would make him
sound more like
a potential killer.
The old man is silent and only says that he has
nothing to tell.
There was nothing particular about the killer.
journalist met several other persons who also said that there
were no ‘signs’ of what was to come.
This was of course very frustrating to the journalist.
And it gave a surprise to us, who watched the drama.
were the comments like ‘He was a mad loner’, ‘
I knew there was something wrong about him’?
After all, those are the comments we are used to hearing when
has suddenly killed tens of ‘innocent’ people in some part of the world.
Instead, we are shown quite strange reactions from the side of those who are
trying to understand that
their daughter or girlfriend is not coming back, ever.
takes pictures of the corpse of his daughter in the hospital’s morgue.
wife becomes ‘mad’, starts screaming, and hitting him
when she learns about these pictures.
A man who was supposed the get married could not accept that there
would not be any wedding, since the
girlfriend was dead.
He tried to commit suicide once (and at the end
of the episode made the
second attempt which seemed to be successful) and set fire to his home.
I certainly like the depth psychological approach to the reactions
of people in this drama about killings.
In an ordinary, sleepy market town no ‘signs’ of
madness are visible.
No signs of inner conflicts within individuals are visible
or at least no one wants
to see them!
When all doubts, fears, unsolved conflicts are repressed,
a tragedy may expose them in an unexpected manner.
look forward to seeing the final episode!
I’m not going to tell you what happened in
today’s episode of the Mill.
Instead I tell you something about the background to the drama.
The Mill as a cotton factory is based on the real cotton Mill
called Quarry Bank Mill.
Some of the characters in the drama are based on real historical characters.
For example, the owner of the Mill, Samuel Greg, in the drama
is based on a real character.
The real Samuel Greg was the entrepreneurial owner of Quarry Bank Mill.
Greg was his educated wife.
They both were quite liberal and progressive persons.
You can read more about the Mill, about the characters in it,
and what is fact and what is fiction in
the drama on Channel 4’s website:
You can learn more about the Quarry Bank Mill buildings,
exist still today, on the website of National Trust:
TV Potpourri 09-11/08/2013
Since I’m currently not following any particular drama, I’ll be presenting this weekend a simple
potpourri of various programmes I’ve seen during the last week.
will not being comment upon Edinburgh Festival. I leave that to the ‘big media’.
Pramface is a relatively new BBC comedy. It is currently shown on BBC1.
It is about a couple of teenagers, Jamie (played by Sean Michael Verey) and Laura (played by Scarlett Alice
Johnson), who have a child together but who are not married.
rest of the cast consist of the family members and friends of Jamie and Laura.
like the idea of putting a couple of teenage parents in the centre role of a comedy.
After all, it is not at all
unusual today for teenagers to have a child.
parents have two main difficulties.
To begin with, they are expected to be grown-ups for the sake of their baby.
Secondly, since they themselves are teenagers, they are also
supposed to share the lifestyle of their fellow teenagers.
a very difficult combination in real life and certainly worth a comedy.
are also other factors indicating that the producers and writers wished to introduce a bit of realism to the comedy.
The comedy takes place in current Britain suffering of recession.
The father of Jamie, for example, is out of work.
Friday episode he had to attend a ‘positive mindset for jobseekers- course (or something like that).
Initially he is not too keen on participating or reading the
material he was given.
However, the team leader makes it clear to him that,
if he wished to keep his jobseekers allowance, he’ll have to do the course!
takes his task of developing a positive mindset so seriously that he begins to annoy other people in his surroundings.
Good Night, And Good Luck
This is a little masterpiece by the great George Clooney (2005).
film is about the broadcast journalist Edward R Murrow (played by David Strathairn), and his consistent stand against Senator
McCarthy and his paranoid attack on American people in 1950es.
suspected that half the America had turned into Communists or fellow travellers.
His witch-hunt of potential
communists created a climate of fear, suspicion, and betrayal among the Americans.
is interesting that this paranoid hunt for communists coincided with the Cold War.
A corresponding paranoia and
even greater terror was evident in Stalin’s Soviet Union in the same time period.
Clooney makes his film in black and white to give us the feeling of the 1950es when there were no colour televisions
The broadcasting scenes in the film were made in
the same studio as the broadcastings made by the real-life E. Murrow.
himself has a role to play in this film, where both costumes (the huge suits!) and haircuts shout about 1950es (not to mention
the cigarette smoke).
These real life events belong to those historical
events we should not be allowed to forget.
It is also a reminder
of the important role of the journalists and broadcasters in society if and when they decide to see their role as such.
The Mill is a British drama shown on Sundays on
C4. The events take place in the early years of industrialism.
storyline is not necessarily original, but the historical facts are real.
Most of the cast consist of workers
and owners of a factory.
Accidents at work happened frequently in those days.
The workers easily had a hand or leg cut out in the machines
of the factories, since the machines seldom were made safe to use.
is a good reminder to all those who doubt why we should have our current health and safety regulations.
There certainly was a time when health and safety regulations did not exist.
Many of the workers were children and they worked full days. Usually people worked 12 hours a day, 6 days
This is a good and a serious reminder to those,
who ask if we shouldn’t be getting rid of all work-related regulations.
workers were, of course, dissatisfied with the situation.
each of them had to fight alone without expecting the support of fellow workers.
Why? Because they were afraid
of losing their jobs if they complained.
Once again, the
drama is a good reminder of those days when no ‘nasty trade union’ disturbed the relationship between workers
Southcliffe is also shown on C4 on Sundays. It is
about a (fictional) killing drama that took place in a small town.
the first episodes we already learned that an unhappy, bitter person goes on a shooting spree killing several innocent residents
in the community.
Yet, it is not about the shooting itself but about
the people involved, and about the events that led to the shootings.
are several soldiers returning home from Afghanistan, and having hard time in trying to adapt to a ‘normal’ life.
Most of them need either psychotherapy or pills. Since psychotherapy
seldom is available, the ex-soldiers rely on pills.
is an unusually slowly moving drama for a British drama.
We have to adapt to the ordinary, boring, repetitive
life of the main characters.
be making some new comments on this one on Sunday evening.
Indiana Jones and the last Crusade 03/08/2013
This time Spielberg and Lucas picked a theme that’s the
myth of the myth (see also last week's myths).
Jones (played by Harrison Ford) is looking for the Holy Grail, but the Nazis too are looking for it.
Indy as a boy
The film begins humorously by referring to numerous myths in cowboy movies and in silent movies, which follow
one another in a rapid tempo.
Here we see Indiana
Jones or Indy (played by River Phoenix) as a young boy.
a scout who -together with a fellow scout- accidentally finds in a cave (?) some nasty men stealing a cross which
Indy thinks belongs to a museum.
Indy steals it from
them but is caught in action and the chase begins!
the following 5 to 10 minutes Indy is chased by the nasty men and the scenes imitate numerous film myths.
He turns first into a cowboy trusting his faithful horse (Jolly Jumper?) to ride him to safety.
Unfortunately, the nasty men have a car which is faster than
Indy sees a train in front of him, and jumps onto
it, only to see that the nasty persons are doing the same.
we are shown a chase which used to be quite typical in cowboy movies and silent movies.
We see the very long, moving train from the side.
see Indy running over the top of the coaches, and the nasty persons chasing him. There are plenty of chain reactions...
The train turns out to be a Circus train, and in each coach
we will find different animals from snakes to lions! And Indy lands in each of them, but escapes.
Finally, he jumps out of the train and runs home!
Father and son
we meet his father, Henry Jones, who is a Professor in Ancient languages, and who does not like to be disturbed by Indy.
Who plays the role of Indy’s father? Sean Connery, of
Last week I said Indiana Jones movies borrowed from
James Bond movies, and here we have the ‘real’ James Bond playing the role of Indy’s father.
There is a hate-love relationship between father and son, as there often is when both are independent spirits.
I’m sure Lucas had in mind some kind of senior and junior
relationship between James Bond and Indiana Jones!
Henry Jones, has an annoying habit of calling Indy ‘Junior’, which he is; namely Henry Jones Junior.
Indy hates being called ‘junior’ and instead prefers
to be called Indiana Jones after his dog.
Later on in the
movie when Indy is again the grown-up Indy, it becomes clear that Indy is not quite happy about the way the father treated
him and his mother in his childhood (but this will not develop into a deeper Oedipus complex!).
But Henry, the father, refuses to admit any neglect from his side.
He claims that ‘I didn’t
tell you to brush your teeth or to go to bed, because I thought that would teach you self-reliance’.
It is the perfect lie told by every egoist father who prefers work to his family!
Yet, Spielberg and Lucas make it all sound very entertaining.
The Holy Grail
returns to the grown-up Indy, who is given the task to search for the Holy Grail.
Holy Grail is said to have magical powers, and it will give you eternal youth and eternal life if you drink from it!
Indy is not interested, but when he learns that his father,
who had been given the task initially, had disappeared, he is ready to take on the task.
Indy travels to Europe, to Venice, where he meets an assistant, the beautiful Elsa.
Elsa is a scientist and as in any good James Bond
movie, she really is an enemy, in this case a German spy! There
are plenty of secret doors and tunnels in this movie.
The couple lands in Venetian underground caves, which are
full of rats and secrets.
They find information relevant to finding the Holy
However, they are followed and chased by some strange
figures who do not wish anyone to find the Holy Grail.
are shown a boat race with wild shootings, when Indy and Elsa are trying to escape.
These scenes imitate
scenes in many action movies or thrillers (Puppet on a Chain by Alistair Maclean comes to mind). They survive, of course,
But Indy learns that his father is held hostage
in some bunker on the German border.
In the following
scenes we see Indy finding his father only to be captured by the German Nazis, who wish to get access to the diary of the
father, in which the map to Holy Grail is.
The next scenes imitate Second World War movies, Kelly’s Heroes, and other movies.
escapes on motorbikes, escaping fighter attacks, tanks...
They even make a short visit to Berlin, where Indy accidentally
gets Hitler's autograph!
Each of these scenes is full of entertaining
In one of the scene Henry Jones rescues himself by spraying ink from his pen into the eyes of a German
A fellow adventurer who is with them says that indeed
a pen is a powerful weapon!
Finding the Holy
Finally they are on their way towards the ruins
where the Holy Grail is supposed to be hidden.
film, the maps and information about the Holy Grail are said to originate from the first Crusades (1096-1099). Therefore,
I assume the Grail was hidden somewhere in Anatolia or between Anatolia and Jerusalem.
But the Nazis have found their way to the same ruins as Indy and his companions.
There are plenty of skeletons on the ground showing that many have tried to reach the Holy Grail without success.
The Nazis demand that Indy makes an attempt to go deep into
the caves to look for the Holy Grail.
When Indy refuses,
the Nazi leader shoots Indy’s father in the stomach.
claims that the only thing that can save Henry Jones is the Holy Grail with its healing powers.
Now Indy is forced to make an attempt to save his father's life.
There are 3 tasks a ‘candidate’
must pass in order to open the route to the main chamber in which the Holy Grail is.
For the third task there are no rational cues, but it simply demands having 'faith'. Indy is successful and reaches the chamber.
There he meets a Knight, a thousand
years old knight, who is guarding the Holy Grail.
also a Nazi leader and Elsa (who was a spy) enter the chamber now that Indy has opened the route to the chamber.
There are plenty of grails and Elsa picks one of them. The
Nazi trusts her choice, takes it, and drinks water from it.
was not the right Grail. He turns into a skeleton!
Holy Grail is a wooden grail made by a carpenter, claims Indy.
finds the wooden grail, fills it with water, and hurries to his father to let him drink out of it.
It works. The wound in his stomach begins to heal.
Elsa becomes greedy and wants to take the grail with her.
the Knight had warned them that the Grail should not pass a certain point outside the chamber, a warning that Elsa ignores.
The whole building, ruin begins to shake and falls apart. Everyone
is rushing out. Elsa falls in a hole and doesn’t make it.
Holy Grail is for drinking water. This water makes us feel our emotions, memories, and helps us to make good judgments.
The Knight who was guarding the Holy Grail was wisdom itself.
There will be something new next week...
Myths and Indiana Jones 27/07/2013
Need some entertainment?
When you need some
entertainment and adventure, watch Indiana Jones movies. They will not let you down.
BBC1 is showing
currently some Indian Jones movies.
Indiana Jones and
the Temple of Doom is a great adventure movie directed by the adventure movie master Steven Spielberg and produced by George
I love the idea of adding all the great myths of
the world and some smaller myths as well into the adventures of Indiana Jones.
are old myths from India to Greece, and modern ‘myths' which were created by movie makers and script writers.
The character of Indiana Jones was created by George Lucas.
Jones, played by Harrison Ford, is a Professor in Archaeology, which makes it easier for him to get involved in adventures
related to ancient cultures and myths.
The events in most of the Indiana Jones movies take place before or
under the Second World War, which makes them as such a bit 'ancient'.
James Bond as inspiration
Jones and The Temple of Doom begins with Indian Jones (involuntarily) sharing the company of a boy and a woman in
This time the companions consist of a little boy
called Short Round (played by Jonathan Ke Quan) and a female nightclub singer called Willie (played by Kate Capshaw).
This as such is a theme in many classical and movie myths;
a trio consisting of a man, a woman, and a child.
is escaping enemies they’ve met and made at a nightclub in Shanghai.
scenes are full of movie myths, and might be seen as humorous versions of the action scenes in any James Bond movie.
We see nasty Chinese criminals with nasty weapons, and Indiana
Jones fighting alone against enemies who attack him from left and right.
trio ends up in the Indian subcontinent after having to leave in panic the airplane in which they thought they could make
an escape from Shanghai.
They are on their way to Delhi, but without a motor
vehicle or a bike Delhi is far away.
Scenes inspired by Tarzan
Here we have another
mythical theme inspired by other movies. It is related to the jungle.
it is related to female behaviour in the jungle, at least as it is expressed in movies.
Do you remember old Tarzan movies? In those movies there were always a woman, Jane or some other woman, landing
in trouble in the jungle.
In the movies, Jane- or any other woman-although
being inexperienced in jungle life and animals, always decided immediately to have a dip in the nearest river or lake.
The river or lake was, of course, full of snakes and crocodiles!
It became the duty and impressive task of the hero Tarzan to
‘save the lady in distress’, and to kill the crocodile.
some reason, men in these movies seldom had a similar need to risk their lives in such a manner.
I suppose the movies reflected the image of the nature and
role of women in the minds of male directors and producers.
we might add, in the minds of millions of those who watched the movies.
the Indiana Jones movie the events do not take place in Africa but in an Indian jungle.
While walking towards Delhi the trio, consisting of Jones, the little boy and of Willie, encounter all kinds
of animals living in India, from elephants and monkeys to spiders.
In these scenes Spielberg deliberately lets all animals, insects
and elephants, attack (and be noticed by) Willie, while leaving Indiana Jones and the boy alone.
Willie is screaming and running away from one animal after another.
Meanwhile Indiana Jones and the boy play cards. They are fully preoccupied with accusing one another of cheating!
The film was made in 1984 and our image of women and understanding
of ‘female weaknesses’ are completely different from those of the 1940es and 1950es.
Well done, Spielberg and Lucas, for making a point of that!
The Kali worshippers
a while they encounter some poor villagers, who inform them that all their children have been captured and kept as slaves
in the Palace of the Maharaja.
The local Maharaja is
either a Kali worshipper or in the hands of Kali worshippers.
Jones also learns that there are some valuable and magical Sankara stones in the region. He must have a look at them!
Naturally, Indiana Jones, the little boy, and Willie find their
way to the Palace, where they are invited to stay for a dinner.
the dinner, the Trio meets also the maharaja, who is a young boy.
Willie is hungry but leaves the table even hungrier. She cannot eat although she is offered delicious food like fried spiders,
eyeball soup, and monkey brain..
The young Maharaja assures
Indiana Jones that all stories about Kali-worshippers belong to history.
(plenty of entertaining incidents here!), the trio finds a mine, where children (from the village) are forced to work day
and night as slaves.
They also witness an evil Kali worshippers’
meeting in which a young boy is sacrificed to Kali.
the evil worshippers become aware of their presence (especially after Indiana Jones removes the magical stones from a statue).
They are captured and Indiana Jones is forced to drink some
potion that makes him a Kali worshipper (!).
We learn that the
same potion had been given to the young Maharaja. In his daily life,
the Maharaja was not aware of the actions he was supporting during the night time.
Here we might reflect upon some deeper ideas of the dark and light sides of human mind and nature.
I also suspect that our (Western) fascination of 'Kali' comes from the Britons who lived there for centuries
rather than from Indian religion.
But the movie continues;
Willie is to be sacrificed to Kali. The task to carry out the sacrifice is given to Indiana Jones.
Short Round, the little boy, is the only one of them who can think straight.
They will of course escape. It is the little boy who breaks the spell under which Indiana Jones has been acting,
and the fight can begin!
Here we witness the meaning of children in myths;
they are the ones who stand for new solutions and ideas. Thus, Indiana Jones must be saved by the little boy.
The masterpiece in the escape sequence is the rollercoaster ride in a mine cart.
The film ends with
the trio returning to the Indian village together with hundreds of children who had been freed from the slavery in the mine.
Indiana Jones is not anymore eager to find the magical stones.
The only one he had kept, he gives to the eldest of the village.
is an amorous kissing scene involving Indiana Jones and Willie in the end.
it’s time to return to ‘ordinary life’..
To the top of page
Blues, Part 2 08/06/2013
This is an excellent drama
from the Swedish Television, and it goes much deeper than any ordinary crime drama.
is about horrible crimes committed during the Second World War, about surviving relatives hunting down killers today, and
our A Unit being assigned to investigate seemingly unrelated murders that will lead to the dark secrets of the past.
It is also about modern Europe where collaboration between the police forces
and research institutes of different countries already has become self-evident.
Investigations in Italy and Germany
this final part of Arne Dahl crime dramas we were following Arto, the member of the A Unit who had recently and surprisingly
inherited a large amount of money from a distant relative.
him across Europe in search of information and evidence.
We were shown
beautiful Italian landscapes while Arto was interviewing a seemingly respectable, powerful old man, Spinelli, who was also
the leader of a crime syndicate.
The old man claimed Arto looked familiar, and that he
might have met a relative of Arto during the war.
It was a brave move from
Arto’s side to go and visit this powerful man.
As a consequence his hotel room was searched and he was followed
wherever he went.
Yet, he established a good relationship with his Italian
They were always meeting in restaurants in which they ate well and drank Italian wine.
However, after the A Unit established new leads, Arto was sent to Weimar, in
The tragic family history and revenge
The other main figure we were following was Reina, the only surviving
member of the Russian girls, who were prostitutes and who were used as prostitutes.
appeared that she was the daughter of the man who was buried in the cemetery without a name (see Part 1).
Reina and her sister Magda were searching for the butchers, who tortured their father when he was a child
in Germany during the 1940s, and who finally killed him in Stockholm some 18 years back.
killers learned that Reina was not among the girls who were killed earlier (see Part 1), and sent a killer after her.
Reina was having an affair with a Swedish girl, Dyta, but she had to escape
when the girlfriend informed her that the killer was looking for her.
were a couple of thrilling scenes. Reina was leaving their shared flat only to meet at the front door the killer.
She ran down to the basement followed by the killer, to garage, up and down stairs,
and finally managed to escape the killer.
Unfortunately, the killer
remained in the building, and when Reina’s Swedish girlfriend Dyta returned home, he was waiting for her there.
The killer tried to get Dyta reveal where Reina was, but since she didn’t
know, he brutally killed her.
When Reina finally returned to the flat, she found Dyta
lying in the bed covered in blood.
Reina was so desperate she considered jumping down from
the top of the building, but in the last minute decided to contact her sister instead.
sister had learned more about the killers of their father, and the two girls decided to travel to Italy.
To Weimar and back to Italy
In Weimar Arto visited a research institute that had during the war acted as a brain research institute where
painful experiments and torture were carried out on prisoners.
of the current institute revealed that there had been three ‘butchers’ at the institute.
These butchers carried out experiments on prisoners that reminded of the way the Jewish old scientist was
killed in Stockholm (see, Part 1).
They had not been able to verify whether these three men
were still alive. They had all been experts in brain surgery.
One of them
has a German name, another a Swedish name, but the third one was a mystery.
the available information, Arto figured out that the old, Italian leader of a crime syndicate, must have been one of them.
He had changed his German name into an Italian name (Spinelli, if
I remember it correctly.)
Arto contacted his Italian colleague and informed him
of the findings, and they decided Arto was to return to Italy.
Who was the Swedish butcher?
A Unit came to the conclusion that the killed Jewish scientist, Sheinkman, was a converted Jew.
From the evidence, they
also concluded that he was originally the Swedish scientist who had carried out horrible experiments in Weimar during the
The real Sheinkman died in Weimar, and the Swedish scientist simply
took over his identity (and his diaries).
This was of course terrible
news to the family of the killed scientist, who had lived in the thought that their father was a Buchenwald surviver.
The third butcher..
When Arto returned to Italy, he was immediately kidnapped by the
men of the old Italian, Spinelli.
He was taken to Spinelli, where Arto confronted him about
his true identity.
He also confronted himself by asking about the third butcher.
Arto asked if Pertti Lindroos (the relative he had inherited) had
been one of the scientists in Weimar during the war.
The old Italian
admitted all his claims, and told Arto he was going be killed in the same way as they used to kill people in Weimar.
Meanwhile, Reina and her sister Magda had reached the villa and saw that the
Italian was going to kill Arto.
Here the drama turned into a ‘Western’ in
which the girls armed with handguns walked towards the group surrounding Arto and started shooting.
Spinelli’s men started shooting back and somewhere in the background the Italian police was on their
way to the scene.
Arto was shot, and for a while it seemed as if couldn’t
Fortunately, next time we saw Arto, he was in
an Italian hospital bed.
He had the unpleasant task of telling his wife that there would not be any purchase of
The money he had inherited had blood on it.
Back in Sweden
Against a beautiful Swedish summer lake landscape, Cilla told Paul
that she wanted divorce.
Kerstin was trying to establish a relationship with her
little (adopted) son.
Jenny, the boss of the A Unit, refused to decide which
team members she was willing to let go (see Part 1).
We saw Gunnar
establish a relationship with his new girlfriend.
Jorge was still longing
for having children with Sara, but Sara firmly kept her standpoint on the topic.
This certainly was a great drama.
particularly liked the way how it established a collective guilt for the horrible crimes committed during the Second World
Also among the ‘good Scandinavians’ were persons, scientists, who without remorse had committed
terrible experimental crimes.
done, Swedish Television, the writers, directors, and actors.
I'm going to miss the A Unit.
Europa Blues 01/06/2013
I honestly thought the 2 episodes last Saturday were the
last episodes in the Arne Dahl crime drama series. I was wrong.
seem to have saved the most serious two episodes last.
Nationalism, Nazis, and prostitutes
time we are following several serious storylines.
We have a retired, 92-year-old
Jewish neuroscientist murdered, and hanged upside down from a tree in the cemetery.
also have a middle-aged man found dead at Skansen, the Zoo. He had been killed and then thrown to wolverines (who ate a bit
We have 6 Russian/Ukrainian girls who were forced to work
as prostitutes. They managed to escape back to Russia and Ukraine.
story began in an underground coach where a couple of Swedish youngsters started to sing ‘Du gamla, du fria’ (the
Swedish national anthem) while showing their swastika tattoos to a Muslim girl in front of them.
They continued to the cemetery, where they kicked down Jewish gravestones.
They even made Sieg
This was followed by the old Jewish scientist entering
the cemetery to pay a visit to the graves of some of his friends.
Somebody attacked him. We didn't see
who it was.
The next thing shown to us was our A Unit entering the
scene where the old man had been found dead.
Who killed him? Initially, it looked like the Nazis had done it,
but later on the team doubted it.
Somehow they figured out that the other killed man, the
Skansen-man, was the pimp of the Russian girls.
It appeared that the Skansen-man was of Greek origin, with links
to an Italian gang dealing with human trafficking.
know who killed the old man. We don’t know but suspect that the Russian girls killed the Skansen-man.
also saw the Russian/Ukrainian girls being killed when they finally arrive in Ukraine. Who the killers were, we don't
Jenny has a big problem
Jenny Hulten, the boss of the A Unit, has been asked to reduce the number of team members
in her A Unit. She was furious at first and did her best to defend the
However, the police forces were making cuts, and had decided to save by cutting down the funding of her
A Unit. How is she going to decide which team members to keep, and which ones to
The other team members
Viggo has become used
to being a (good) father, and now he learns that the girlfriend, Astrid, is pregnant again.
Dear old Viggo is happier than ever.
got a strange reason to be confused and happy. Apparently, a relative of his had left him a nice sum of 3 million Swedish
Arto’s wife immediately began to plan what they
could do with the money.
She arranged them to see a summer house near the sea (costing 3 million) next day(!).
Gunnar is having his first date in ages.
A nice academic,
who (for some reason) seemed to fancy Gunnar when Gunnar was asking for her help to interpret phone messages of the Russian
Kerstin’s suitability as a mother is under investigation.
In the last minutes of the episode she received a message telling that her application to adopt her own son (see comments
on previous episodes for explanation) had been accepted.
The mysterious cleaner
have to add a new-old character to the cast. It is the cleaner.
The cleaner is a man of foreign origin, who seems
to be a mind-reader and a bit of a magician...
He appears always out
of nowhere, when any of the team members is in need of some philosophical thoughts from an outsider.
This time Arto was the one getting a ‘treatment’ from him.
told Arto that he has to travel to Italy to find out about the gang who is somehow linked to the murders they are investigating.
Arto is not happy because his wife wants him to concentrate on buying the summerhouse!
Arto heard our cleaner singing in Italian and began to chat with him about Italian
The cleaner asked if he was familiar with another melody.
Arto listened carefully and said he was not familiar with that one, and asked what the lyrics said.
Our cleaner said that he sang ‘easy come, easy go’.
we clearly have a clue to what is waiting for Arto concerning the great inheritance!
wonder if the cleaner isn’t the collective soul of the A Unit?
Two extra observations this time:
It was summer and it was hot. In all previous episodes we have witnessed winter or at least rain.
the short scene at Skansen. Did you know that Skansen has adorable bears, who know how to get food from tourists...
To be continued..
Part 2 25/05/2013
Part 2 is the final part of Many Waters, and therefore, we expect
all the confusing things that happened in Part 1 to be explained us.
afraid only some of the many confusing mysteries in Part 1 were solved or explained to us.
Kerstin was told to take a couple of days off, because she was judged to be too emotionally involved.
police-officer, who was suspected of killing a refugee, was Kerstin’s ex-boyfriend, Dag.
It became evident in Part 2 that Dag, the ex-boyfriend, never accepted their separation.
He is hiding, but keeps on sending messages to Kerstin, telling her
that he wants them to be a real family. That makes Kerstin feel sick. Why?
tries to find him, and every lead takes her closer to the terrible truth with its roots in the past.
Meanwhile, Paul and Sara are sent to investigate if the supposed serial killer was telling the truth by claiming
that there were bodies buried in a certain spot.
This spot happened to be the same region in which a couple and their little
boy had disappeared recently. The only bodies they found belong to that couple. The
little boy was never found.
DNA analyses showed that the killed couple were not the boy’s biological parents. The boy was adopted.
What about the illegal migrants?
The killed migrant and the other, arrested migrants were only preteding to be refugees. They
were professionals educated in chemistry and medicine. Why were they
Why did one of them wish to do cleaning work in the Pharmacy company?
The pharmacy company was obviously developing a vaccine against malaria.
the developmental costs were high, meaning that poor Africans would never gain the benefits of the developed malaria vaccine.
It wasn’t made clear in Part 2 if the African pretending-to-be-refugees
were engaged in industrial espionage, but that was my conclusion.
(I think that was a brilliant idea!).
Still, it does not explain why the policeman shot one of them.
It became clear that the same pharmacy company was carrying out experiments on a new drug to treat alcohol
abuse, as well.
Dag, the police officer, was part of the experiment (I
told you that there were some strange experiments going on at the end of the comments on Part1!).
This new drug had side-effects, such as increased aggression, distorted image of reality.
In the past Kerstin and Dag had been together.
Kerstin had doubts about Dag’s character and mental health.
she became pregnant, she didn’t tell Dag. She gave birth to a son, and left him for adoption.
Later on Dag learned about it. He found out who had adopted the son.
The couple that was found
killed, was the couple who had adopted their son.
Thus, it was Dag who killed
them. Now he wanted to unite Kerstin and the son, and the three of them to become a real family.
In the final scenes of the drama, Kerstin and Dag are fighting. The A Unit appeared in the last minute, and
Dag killed himself.
The drama ends in that we see Kerstin looking at
her son through the window.
The child is playing outside. Kerstin now is trying to ‘adopt’ her
son. The end.
A good drama but with
I was really disappointed.
So many interesting points were left unanswered.
How did Dag get involved
in the experimental drug with dangerous side-effects?
Was it on the
Private Institute where he had been treated for alcoholism?
the A Unit interested in the legal aspects of this experiment?
it interested in the legal aspects of the activities of the Pharmacy Company?
is so easy to focus on a dramatic ‘love story’. In this drama it was the past love story between Kerstin and Dag.
This theme was stressed even more by focusing on the love relationships of the
Paul’s wife Cilla admitted she was jealous, because
Paul was in daily contact with Kerstin, with whom he had a short sexual relationship.
Jorge was jealous when Sara was sent away on duty for a couple of days, and so on.
I honestly think there would have been more
interesting questions to pick as the main theme.
Yet, I have to admit that all the
Arne Dahl crime drama series have been engaging.
22/05/2013 Swedish crime drama Many Waters, Part 1
Strange things are happening
An illegal immigrant,
or someone, who was supposed to be deported from Sweden, got shot by the police. There is some doubt about
the correctness of the police officer’s account of the shooting episode.
It appears that the police had
got a message from the Migration Office about the hiding place of these migrants.
Our team ‘A Unit’ was
given the task to investigate the shooting.
All the illegal migrants seem to be lying, but why?
The man who was shot was obviously the son of a Minister in Nigeria or Uganda.
The officer who shot
the migrant happened to be Kerstin’s ex-boyfriend. We haven’t been told yet what the dark secret between them
This officer disappeared after been interrogated by the team, but makes mysterious phone calls
to Kerstin, reminding her of the past.
But, as I said, we don’t know what happened in the past.
A small thief and a mysterious dead man
A small thief, who calls himself
‘master thief’, got an anonymous phone call about an empty flat.
He broke into the flat,
found some money, a strange letter, and a body of a dead man.
A neighbour heard him entering the flat
and called the police.
The thief tried to negotiate a deal with Viggo and Arto who were questioning him, the help
of the letter he had found.
When Viggo and Arto followed him to the flat, where he had seen the body, he ran away.
The boss, Jenny Hultin, was not pleased with Viggo and Arto...
In the letter,
which was supposed to be written by the dead man, the writer admitted he was a serial killer and also told where the
bodies could be found.
that mystery enough?
How do illegal migrants, a cleaning firm who employs illegal migrants, a pharmacy
company in which the killed migrants had been working, the dead man who claimed to be a serial killer, hang together?
I don’t know. But what about the following explanation?
Perhaps the pharmacy
company used illegal migrants, poor or helpless Swedish people without relatives as guinea pigs in some dangerous experiments,
and had a deal with the Nigerian or Ugandan government concerning the profits of the drug or chemical weapon they were
developing under the nose of the Swedish police?
To be continued...
Latest comments: To the top of the mountain, Part 2 11/05/2013
Previous TV Night comments:
To the Top of the mountain, Part 1 04/05/2013
Husband 09/05/2013, 02/05/2013 and 25/04/2013
Bad Blood 27/04/2013 and 20/04/2013
Whitechapel, a crime drama on
The new Swedish crime drama the Blinded Man,
13/04/2013 and 06/04/2013,
The secret in their eyes- a thriller.
Silence - a thriller
Spiral- a French crime drama
TV Nights Week 19.
the top of the mountain, part 2
In this second and final episode we are supposed to find out how
paintings, and paedophiles hang together...
Who did and what?
David Billinger, the owner of the restaurant Goose in Stockholm, was involved in the
smuggling of cocaine.
The bomb that exploded in the restaurant was the work of their Dutch competitors in
drug smuggling. David’s brother, Sverker, did not survive.
David gave orders to kill the
undercover police (who died in a car explosion in Netherlands).
Paul and Kerstin were in the
restaurant by the time of explosion. They survived.
Jorge was shot by the Dutch gangsters, who
in turn were shot by David’s hit men.
Fortunately, Jorge was wearing a bulletproof vest and
Now all our heroes in the team have been shot or hit in the head at least once. If
they continue this way, they’ll all be dead within two weeks.
nasty truth about David
David was not only involved in cocaine smuggling, but
had an even nastier past.
Sara’s dedicated work to reveal the online paedophile ring indicated that David
was the leader of the ring, and that the online pictures of children came from him.
David had sexually abused
his own daughter when she was a child.
He had also published pictures of her in a paedophile magazine.
Now we understand why the daughter stole a million from her father, David.
the final scenes the daughter confronted David about the past events.
David denied and claimed that nothing had
happened, and that she has a sick fantasy world.
And the personal
Jorge is truly in love with Sara, and Sara seems to be equally in love with Jorge.
Viggo’s family drama seems to be heading towards a happy ending, now that the girlfriend has decided
to stay in Stockholm, and has temporarily moved in Viggo’s home with the baby.
Paul and Cilla seem to
be quite happy too.
I’m sure the writers will find something terrible to happen to them
all in the final two episodes!
The best in the show
The best thing I noticed this time was the snow and the winter weather.
Have you noticed that
it’s been winter in each episode?
That’s good, because it shows that police work can be done even
when it snows and rains.
Next week’s episode will be delayed because on the next SATURDAY I’ll
be following the EUROVISION SONG CONTEST
Politician's Husband, final episode 09/05/2013
In this final episode of Politician’s Husband, we
see Aiden getting even with Bruce.
Bruce had fooled Aiden to bid for leadership, and then
betrayed Aiden by pretending to be shocked by his behaviour.
Bruce to accept a proposal of business activity (in the belief that he, Bruce, is misleading Aiden), which leads Bruce to
accept bribes from two undercover journalists.
That scandal ends Bruce’s
ambitions of becoming the leader of the party.
Aiden also assumes that
his wife Freya was having an affair with Bruce.
While Bruce is busy accepting
bribes from the journalists, Aiden gives a speech of his lifetime in the House of Commons (about ethics in politics!).
The nanny of the children of Aiden and Freya makes false accusations against
Aiden’s father gets too many and too often unpleasant surprises
in the family dynamics, and his heart fails him.
Freya realizes that
Aiden did not only try to get even with Bruce but with her as well. She threatens to leave Aiden.
In the final scenes of this drama we see the happy couple (yes, Aiden and Freya) waiving to the journalists
in front of Number 10 Downing Street.
One of them became the Prime
Minister, the other one Deputy Prime Minister.
I think it was Freya who
became the PM.
Unfortunately, it was not explained on what grounds she
The writers of the drama did not let her utter a single
sentence that would have revealed what her political preferences or visions were!
only conclusion is that she was elected because she was an opportunist without any own opinions.
She was simply
a marionette. Not very flattering, I’m afraid.
with this drama was that it tried too much to surprise the spectators. The surprises were never explained or analysed in depth.
Perhaps the writers themselves didn’t know why they picked the solutions they
TV Nights 04/05/2013
To the top of the mountain, Part 1
Nine months has passed in the lives of our fictional characters since the last episode.
The first part of this drama begins in Netherlands, where a Swedish family is travelling across the country
in their car.
Suddenly the car exploded. The Dutch police asked the
Swedish police for help to solve the case.
There seemed to be smuggling
of cocaine going on between Netherlands and Sweden.
The team is also involved in revealing a paedophile ring sending
child pornography online.
cocaine business is somehow connected to a restaurant called Goose in Stockholm.
man who was killed in Netherlands was obviously an undercover police officer.
owner of the Goose, David, wished to buy a Miro-painting (a stolen painting?), and asked his right hand man in the restaurant
to set aside 3 million crowns for the purchase.
Before he got to collect
the money, his daughter arranged a burglary in the restaurant and stole the money!
not quite sure what kind of relationship this daughter and father–pair is having..
In the last minutes of
this episode somebody tried to kill David. Was that related to the cocaine, to the painting, or to what?
As always, the private life of the team members is more interesting than the complex criminal
Viggo received a surprise
visit from the girl he had met in a nightclub in the last episode. Now she had a newborn child with her.
It seemed that the child was Viggo’s, who was very happy, and began to plan a life together with the
Unfortunately, it showed later on that the girlfriend
had found another guy to live with, and was planning to move to the Northern part of the country!
Viggo needed to consult Arto who used to be a (mafia) lawyer. We’ll wait and see what happens in the
Will Viggo become a single father?
The dinner party
wife, Cilla, wished to learn to know Paul’s workmates better and asked Paul to invite Jorge for dinner, who accepted
Jorge in turn thought that Kerstin would appreciate a
dinner party too. He didn’t know anything about the shared ‘secret’ of Paul and Kerstin.
Kerstin is going through hard times, since her priest boyfriend died.
She thought it was not ‘fair’
that the man she loved should die a couple of months after they had met.
dinner party was somewhat embarrassing. Cilla had a bit too much wine to drink and enjoyed the company of Jorge, while Paul
and Kerstin sat in silence.
And the rest of
Meanwhile Gunnar was forced to watch child pornography
pages online day in and day out. It made him feel sick.
Sara is a girl
who was also assigned to work on the case.
Gunnar asked how she managed to work with this kind of sick material.
She said that she swam a lot.
Sara worked hard and managed to crack the code to the paedophile ring.
However, they have to wait for couple of days before the next ‘show’
During a birthday party for a higher boss in the police forces, Sara
met the whole team, and especially Jorge, who fell in love with her immediately.
attraction seemed to be mutual.
I’m not sure how the cocaine smuggling, the stolen
money, and the paedophile ring are connected.
That will be revealed
to us next Saturday.
I liked the way the events in the personal life of the characters in this episode were continuations
to the events in the last episode.
To be continued...
The Politician's Husband
In the second episode of this drama, we see
Aiden struggling to accept that the family and political roles are now reversed.
He is now the one who is supposed
to offer landservice to Freya, who is in the cabinet.
It is difficult tor anyone who has to leave his or her familiar
structures due to early retirement or due to any other reason
For a politician used to being in a relatively
strong power position it is even more difficult than for most people.
Aiden expresses his anger, frustration,
and feelings of being out of control also in form of aggressive behaviour in the marital bed.
Not a political but quasi-psychological drama
This is becoming more and more
like an American quasi-psychological movie (or even a thriller).
I must say I don't like the development.
Why do I not like it? Because it is not really a political drama anymore.
Because I still don't know
to what political party Freya and Aiden belong.
Because I don't know in what year these events took place.
Are we in the 1990s or in the middle of current austerity years?
Because Freya has not yet expressed any opinions
that might define her policy ambitions as the Work and Pension secretary.
I suppose we are going to witness how
Aiden becomes more and more 'paranoid' in the coming episodes.
Perhaps his son's illness will
give him some perspective to life, but I doubt it. This is not going to become any existential drama.
attempts to show how sick the power struggles in Westminister are. Perhaps the writers should have aimed higher...
To be continued at least one more episode..
Bad Blood, 27/04/2013 on BBC4
and final episode of Bad Blood had so many plots and reversals of facts that it was hard to keep up with all the changes.
The Kentucky Killer Senior and Junior
As said earlier, an American serial killer, called the
Kentucky Killer, had moved to Sweden.
Jenny’s team tried to
put the pieces together, and their conclusion was that there were two killers, a father and a son. Let’s call them Senior
Kentucky Killer Junior had witnessed in his childhood
how his father tortured and killed people. Or at least, he had seen the torture chamber.
came to Sweden to track down Kentucky Killer Senior, and to kill him.
But Senior managed to kill Junior first
–without knowing that he had killed his own son.
Killer Senior was finally caught, he claimed that he was a CIA agent specialized in terrorists (and torture).
This, of course, explains why the FBI hadn’t been able to catch him..
Senior claimed he had only killed terrorists, and his task in Sweden was to stop Muslim terrorists, who had
been smuggled to the country, from entering the USA.
their plan was to create a new 9//11.
His son, Junior, had obviously
been one of the terrorists' collaborators.
But that was not quite
It emerged that the Muslims, who had been smuggled into the country, were victims of torture carried
out by American soldiers.
They were going to be living examples of that kind of
torture. In the last minutes of the episode they had a chance to do so at the Conference of Amnesty International in Stockholm.
So, the Swedish police was praised by the FBI for catching the killer
(s). No unnecessary modesty there...
private life of the characters
The best part
of this drama was not the complex serial killer plot, but the private life of the main characters.
In the final episode Paul gets closer to his son and wife, and the quality of their family life improves.
Kerstin’s new boyfriend, the priest (who was involved in the smuggling
of the torture victims) is terminally ill. There is obviously no happy ending to this saga.
Gunnar hesitates to contact his son. He leaves text messages to his son. Remember, they haven’t seen
in 15 years.
The drama ends with Gunnar finally travelling to the countryside
where his son lives.
To his surprise, the son meets him with open arms, and
he is invited to meet his wife and son.
The Swedish touch
realised how slowly everything and everyone was moving in this episode, especially the way the team was working.
They were working in the same room, chatting about their private life (although
not with everyone) while working on the case, checking information, sending emails.
is a very Swedish way of working. It is relaxed, social, and very informal way of working.
The relationship between
superiors and subordinates, too, is very relaxed.
also liked a couple of scenes in this episode.
Especially, the one in which the police tried to follow
Justine, one of the suspects, surrounded by vegetable-, fruit-, and meat- stalls in the Saluhallen (I think it was) in the
To be continued...
The Politician’s Husband on BBC2
Husband is a new British political drama on BBC2.
directed for BBC2 by Simon Cellan Jones. The main characters are, of course, politicians.
Aiden Hoynes (played by David Tennant) is a politician who takes risks with his career by challenging the
Freya Hoynes (played by Emily Watson) is a talented
politician and married to Aiden.
While Aiden seems to be a real blabbermouth, Freya
is more reserved and observant.
In the first episode
we learn to know Aiden and Freya and their two children, Noah and Ruby.
Noah was diagnosed with Asperger’s
when he was 5 years old.
We also learn that Aiden is backstabbed by his political
friend, Bruce (played by Ed Stoppard), when he bids for leadership.
plays Machiavellian games with politics, and has his fingers in many plots!
resigns from the cabinet. He is full of anger.
Freya is offered the cabinet post of Work and Pensions (in real
world Iain Duncan-Smith’s post!), which she accepts.
Bruce plays Mephistopheles to her Margareta (eh...)
by flattering her for her talents.
Since this is about
British politics, there must be much backstabbing and Machiavellian plots.
the coming episodes we can expect more backstabbing even within the family, now that Freya has her own career to think about!
I sincerely hope there is some space for real political debates too.
suspect that the director and writers were somewhat influenced by Borgen, which has been commented upon on this page previously.
To judge from Politician’s husband and from Borgen, there
clearly is a fashion that can be called ‘political fashion’.
dress suit for women, and dark blue or dark grey suit for men.
life must also be integrated in the political life in modern political drama.
there must be at least one family member with specific problems, illnesses.
To be continued...
TV Nights Saturday 20/04/2013- Bad Blood
The Swedish crime drama continues
was wrong. The Swedish crime drama Blinded Man was not an end to the series, but continues with the same cast but under a
The new drama one is called Bad Blood. It is is shown on two successive Saturdays on BBC4.
Both follow-ups belong to Arne Dahl crime drama series.
The first episodes
of Bad Blood began with the team from the previous episodes of the Blinded Man (see previous comments) gathered together again.
A nasty serial killer from the USA
They are having a surprise party for Viggo’s 50th
birthday. Suddenly Jenny, their boss, appears and tells them about a phone call from the FBI. A nasty serial killer is heading
This is a bit confusing. Why was the team there? Surely
not only to celebrate Viggo?
In the previous episodes it was made clear that the each
of them was selected to solve a particularly nasty crime. Usually, they worked for Police districts in different parts of
the country and one of them was ‘imported’ from Finland (the walking lexicon).
The writers and the produced have some explaining to do, I think!
a nasty serial killer is heading for Sweden. Unfortunately, FBI can only tell them that the killer is a white, middle aged
The team goes to Arlanda, to check arriving flights
from the USA. They don’t catch the killer.
Several sadistic killings take place in the first episode.
There are also a couple of ‘good Samaritans’ helping
to smuggle a couple of refugees into the country. It is not clear how these events are related to the main theme.
Sex, sex, and sex
Some of the team members are having a night out to celebrate Viggo.
They all end up having sex.
Kerstin Holm has found a new boyfriend who is a priest.
They are having sex.
Paul is reunited with his wife. They are having sex. His
wife points out that nowadays they are only having sex after having something to drink!
Gunnar, the policeman who was shot in the previous episodes, is not having sex. He is just drinking.
Gunnar is thinking of his children. He hasn’t seen them in 15 years. He doesn’t know how
they look like today.
A great detail in this episode is Gunnar having a
dream in which he is asked to identify a body supposed to be his son.
asked if he can identify the body, he says he doesn’t know.
just what Bergman would have had his characters to say and do?
Gunnar decides to make a call to his daughter. The
daughter is surprised but does not reject his attempt to become friends. A good start.
another interesting detail is that Paul’s son has become a ‘difficult’ teenager. Paul doesn’t understand
When the son appears in a scene in which Paul and his friends are
checking some criminal gang activity, Paul gets a nasty chock. His son is involved in criminal activity!
We still don’t know why the serial killer has come to Sweden, except to kill more people. The team is
not closer to catching him.
Well, I suppose we know more next Saturday.
To be continued...
TV Nights 18/04/2013 Whitechapel
Whitechapel on ITV3 is a repeat, I know!
Unfortunately, I missed the first episodes earlier, but
now had a chance to see them.
The frame story is that an experienced (murder) crime
team in East London’s Whitechapel gets a new boss, a young, well-educated, inexperienced boss.
The team is not very happy about it.
Nor is the
new inexperienced boss, Joseph Chandler (played by Rupert Penry-Jones) happy about it. (I wonder if they name was selected
after Raymond Chandler?).
Chandler is painfully aware of the fact that he lacks
experience and has got a fast track career ticket, and is expected to do well in his position.
He is also somewhat neurotic. He cannot stand dirt, and cleanliness is his top priority. It helps him to concentrate
(but what about the others??).
The first killer replicates the murders of Jack the RipperThere is a murderer in full action in London’s East End. He
(or is it a she?) is killing women, mutilating the bodies, cutting the bodies...
murderer leaves no fingerprints, clues, evidence after him. What to do?
appears that the murderer is a copycat killer replicating the killings of Jack the Ripper.
This is and will be the main theme of Whitechapel; murderers replicating historical crimes!
The team needs the support of the original Ripperologist Edward Buchan (played by Steve Pemberton), who initially
becomes a prime suspect.
The team doesn’t like him and his expert knowledge.
Especially, the self-appointed top dog Ds Ray Miles (played by Phil Davis) doesn’t like him.
There is mutual mistrust and corresponding misinterpretations of the intentions of the team members and the
However, slowly the members and the boss learn to work
together, undertsand each others way of working, and begin to get results.
the end, the murderer replicating the murders of Jack the Ripper, is located, and the last victim of the supposed replicated
murders is saved.
The murderer commits suicide, because his work is done.
For him there’s nothing left to live for.
I like the idea of using
historical crimes as source of information to solve current crimes!
TV Nights: 13/04/2013 The Blinded Man, Part 2
second and final part of the Blinded Man offered us as much violence as the first part.
is back from Tallinn. He survived the crucifixion (he was nailed in the wall), but is ashamed of his own stupid behaviour
that landed him in trouble.
Jenny’s team becomes slowly aware that the Russian
Mafia, after all, isn’t behind the killings.
One of the detectives
is shot while they are keeping an eye on the house belonging to one of the bankers suspected to be on the killer’s list.
We learn a bit more about the background of the main characters,
usually through mobile phone calls from family members or ex family members when in the middle of duties.
Arto Soderstedt (played by Niklas Akerfelt), the walking lexicon, for example, has 5 children and he calls
them after their order number instead of their names (Number 5 was sick...).
also has unusual links to and knowledge of the Russian Mafia.
wife gets tired of him for never being at home, and decides to have some time off. Alone. Without children.
She leaves the task of finding a babysitter to Paul!
think this should have been a drama in 4 parts. Then we would have had a better understanding of how past events had shaped
the main characters and turned them into the persons they are now.
Who was the killer?
Finally, they think they have identified
the killer. Goran Anderson is a bank clerk who was fired because of low profitability
(and yet there seemed to be millions available for bonuses to the leaders-sounds familiar).
The news was a chock to him, since he had been a dedicated worker at that bank most of his life.
By a strange coincidence he happens to be visiting the bank to collect his belongings
just when a bank robber makes an attempt to rob the bank.
the robber (who works usually for the Russian Mafia) and takes over the robbers guns.
he gets the idea to use the guns to kill leaders of financial institutions.
the final scenes we find Paul once again going alone to face the killer (see the first episode), who has two persons as hostage
(he is planning to kill them).
Paul tries to talk him out of the plan and to unarm him,
which is difficult.
When the situation seems hopeless, Paul is helped out by Jorge who shoots the killer.
Then it is time to say goodbye to the team members. They came from different
parts of the country, and were put together only to catch the killer.
I said, this should have been a 4-part follow-up.
Perhaps the best thing
with this drama was the way co-operation between the police in different countries (Sweden, Finland, and Estonia) was made
to look like as a normal and everyday routine. That’s how it should be.
plus was seeing all these suburbs of Stockholm and all the underground stations!
There will be more Arne Dahl’s crime dramas, but unfortunately I don’t know if they involve Jenny
or any of the team members.
To be continued...
A new crime drama began tonight on BBC4. This time
we are offered Arne Dahl series from Sweden.
Totally 10 episodes
will be shown on Saturday evenings.
The Blinded Man- Part 1
first 2 episodes are directed by Harald Hamrell, and authored by Cecilia and Rolf Borjling.
It is about a potential serial killer who seems to target wealthy financiers and businessmen.
Detective Inspector Jenny Hultin (played by Irene Lindh) is in charge of a team aiming to catch the killer.
Jenny’s team consist of the best detectives, although some of the team members have difficult personalities.
a month ago I stated that Spiral was hard to watch because of the brutal violence shown in it. I also stated that the Scandinavian
crime dramas are easier because of the aesthetic violence shown in them.
I must take that back.
The first episode of the Blinded Man was full of brutal violence, conflicting characters, and scary moments.
As said a middle aged very competent Jenny Hultin is
the leader of the team.
The team Jenny has set up consists of very different personalities, which is exactly
what Jenny wanted.
We have an older team member, Viggo (played by Claes Ljungmark), whose ability to function
in ‘action’ is questioned a couple of time.
We have an interesting ‘hero’
in Paul Hjelm (played by Shanti Roney), who is somewhat introvert but fast in action. Introvert in the sense that he doesn’t
tell others what he is going to do before acting.
He is so fast in action that he disobeyed orders and
ran into a Social Service Office, where a refugee had taken staff as hostage.
The refugee had a gun,
and Paul Hjelm shot him. Why he did so, has not yet been revealed.
Is he a racist, as investigating
police officers suggested?
Did he think that by shooting him, the refugee had a better chance to stay in Sweden?
There is Jorge Chavez (played by Matias Varela) who has difficulties with anger management, and
there appears to be rivalry between him and Paul.
are numerous theories about the killer. The killer is someone who has been hurt by the financial crises.
is a psychopath, who for some reason targets financiers.
The killer belongs to the Russian mafia. The killer wants
revenge for a teenage girl who was insulted by the old financiers at a gold club...
The old man, Viggo,
follows a lead to Tallinn. He follows a criminal, but is caught by this criminal and his gang. He gets literally crucified.
To be continued next week...
06/04/2013 The Grand National
The Grand National race at Liverpool's Aintree
is a 'must' for me, and for many others who usually aren't following horse races.
The challenging racecourse is nearly 4.5 miles long and the horses must jump over 30 fences.
of the fences have 'bad reputation', since horses can harm themselves on them.
However, changes have been
made to some of the fences this year to address this problem.
Congratulations to Auroras
Encore and Ryan Mania
This year's winner was a horse called Auroras Encore with a Scottish born
jockey Ryan Mania. Congratulations.
It was a good race, and this year there were no harmed horses or jockeys.
Unfortunately, I didn't do my homework with the horses and their performance before betting.
I do, I often get at least one of my 2-3 bets right (each way- my horse coming first, second, or third).
time my first bet was on Sunnyhillboy, but the horse fell. My second bet was on Always Waining. It came 10th.
Grand National winner seldom is the one with the best odds. This year was no exception to this rule!
30/03/2013 TV Nights
BBC4 has obviously
decided to show films instead of crime drama follow-ups.
don’t mind watching films, especially if the films are good!
The secret in their eyes – a thriller
BBC4 showed an Argentinean thriller ‘The secret in their eyes’ (orig. El secreto de sus ojos).
It was directed by Juan Jose Campanella (2009) and based on a novel by Eduardo Sacheri. This film received
an Oscar for best foreign language film in 2010.
The story begins during the 1970s when a young woman is raped and murdered.
Benjamin Espositio (played by Ricardo Darin) is the Federal Agent assign to solve the murder case.
parallel story takes us to 2000 when Benjamin Espositio already is retired, only to realise that he doesn’t like the
‘freedom from work’.
He decides to write a novel of the events that took place during the 1970s.
The storyline demands you really concentrate on it. On the other hand, the film is so intense
that you will not have any difficulties in concentrating on it!
It is an intense film, in which both philosophical
and political dimensions are added to the crime drama in a surprising manner.
search for the killer
Benjamin gets well along with the Judge Irene Memendez-Hastings
(played by Soledad Villamil).
He is attracted to Irene but hesitates to show it, since he is not sure of her feelings
The only one who seems to understand him, is his an assistant, the alcoholic friend, Pablo.
There is also the nasty agent Romano, who tries to frame two innocent construction workers for the murder
of the young woman.
They confess after police beats them up.
Benjamin exposes Romano’s
method, and files a complaint against Romano, who becomes a life-long enemy to him.
Ricardo, the husband
of the killed young woman, finds it hard to restructure his life, and relives repeatedly the events and conversation with
his wife during their last days together.
He asks Benjamin how the person who killed his wife
will be punished, and Benjamin promises him that the killer will do life.
Ricardo accepts it. He
thinks it’s better than death penalty. A life full of nothing is the right punishment, he reasons.
shows Benjamin old photographs belonging to his killed wife.
Benjamin focuses on one face appearing on several
photos. He thinks this person might be the killer.
Finally, they think they know this man is the killer,
but the problem is that he is extremely difficult to find.
They learn that the killer writes letters
to his mother. The ingenious assistant Pablo analyses the letters of this man to his mother, and with the help of some pub
mates they figure out that the ‘friends’ he mentioned in the letters refer to football players.
killer is a passionate football fan. They decide that by attending football games they will find this killer. They find him
but first after attending several games.
Now this should be the end of the film. But it isn’t. Suddenly the normality of Argentina is changed
by a military coup.
The rules of justice do not apply anymore. Secret police hunts political enemies.
Benjamin and Irene learn that the killer was not sent to prison but is now working for the secret police,
as is Romano.
They try to protest, but Romano laughs at them and simply states that they now live
in a new Argentina.
The killer is more useful as a spy and informant than in prison. Who cares what he
did in the past, Romano declares.
Things move fast forward; Pablo is brutally killed in Benjamin’s flat. Benjamin
has to escape to the countryside. Irene gets married.
This is a brilliant move by the director
and author. The story begins in ‘an ordinary country’ that could be anywhere. The focus is on solving the crime.
Then, suddenly, a military coup changes everything. We are not anymore following crime fighters
and criminals, but forced to accept that political ‘reality’ sometimes interferes in a brutal manner.
Twenty years later
Benjamin is now retired,
and finds life boring. He decides to write a novel of the previously mentioned events. Society is once again more ‘normal’.
Benjamin contacts Irene and asks her to read the novel. He also tracks down Ricardo.
I’m not going to reveal the end of this film, since some of the readers might wish to see the film without
knowing the end.
But this much I will reveal; the final chapter between Benjamin and Irene has not yet
23/03/2013 TV Nights
Silence – a thriller
was no new follow-up on BBC4 tonight, but instead there was a thriller.
I decided to watch it, and am now happy I
This thriller is called Silence, and it was directed
by the Swiss born director Baran bo Odar.
The events were set in Germany.
The beginning is both in the present and in the past
In the beginning, we see various characters, police officers, family members living their somewhat ordinary
middle class lives.
We also see some episodes from the past in which
two men in a car follow an 11-year old girl riding a bike.
One of the men goes after the girl, rapes her, and
accidentally kills her.
He demands that the other man helps him to hide the body.
The crime theme refers to the disappearance of a girl in current time.
The case seems to have
many similarities to the case in which an 11-year old girl disappeared and was later on found dead.
place 23 years ago (see above).
The shadows of the past
are following numerous characters, whose scars from the past have not healed.
is the police inspector who was in charge of the old murder case. The crime was never solved.
When the disappeared girl is found murdered, he is desperate to find the killer.
We have the mother of the murdered girl who still lives in the same house, and who has kept the room of the
daughter as it was when she was alive.
of the other girl makes her to relive the tragic events from the past.
have the parents of the disappeared girl. They are waiting.
They are not really hoping to see her alive again,
but they need to know what happened to her, and to find her.
is a talented detective who has been on sick leave since his wife died.
Due to his suffering, his sensitivity
is increased also concerning the new and old crime.
the details of the disappearance of a girl emerge in the media, the man, who helped the other man to hide the body 23 years
ago, immediately sees the similarities.
He is now seemingly
‘happily’ married and has two children. But he knows the past is catching up.
The film proceeds like a series of photographs (I bet the director is also a photographer!).
This is an unusual thriller.
It does not show much violence, it reduces the moments in which we
are predictably expected to feel the approaching danger.
is about ‘angst’, about the past catching up, about doubts.
HAPPY LUNAR NEW
10/02/2013 TV nights
It was hard to say goodbye
to Borgen, but life goes on. There are other follow-ups on TV, and now and then you can watch a good movie.
The drama that replaced Borgen on BBC4 is a French
police drama, Spiral, produced by Son et Lumiere.
Several episodes of Spiral have been shown
earlier, but I haven’t followed it from the beginning.
The reason is that this drama sometimes
shows violent acts as they are; violent.
The shown violence might reflect the brutality of the
actions of real criminal gangs engaged in human and drug trafficking.
I must admit I’m
not too keen on seeing ‘realistic’ violence.
The kind of aesthetic images of crime scenes and victims
of crime as shown in Nordic drama, in Killing or in the Bridge, are thrilling enough for me.
suppose this is because they are not quite real. They don’t remind me of real violence as the violence in Spiral does.
Spiral might be seen as a French version of Law & Order, which has a UK version and a US version.
The UK and US versions have a clear-cut storyline, and no doubt is left in the mind of the spectator
that the aim of the officers and lawyers in this drama is to catch the criminals and sentence them in prison.
merit of the UK Law & Order is exactly this fight for justice, because there are hardly any UK crime dramas with such
a clear-cut storyline.
The Spiral, on the other hand, has numerous shades of grey between what is legal and
what is illegal.
The police officers need their informants, and the company they have to keep is somewhat
The police officers sometimes find themselves acting as brutally towards the crime
suspects as the brutal, criminal gangs themselves act towards their victims.
In the latest episode
the African activists were seen as heroes by some and as criminal terrorists by the police.
prosecutors and judges are all the time reminded of their sensitive role, and how they must protect their integrity and reputation.
The defence lawyers have to find ways to defend their obviously criminal customers, which sometimes
means helping the suspects to invent not-so-white lies.
In other words, it is not easy to decide
who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’ in Spiral.
Instead, Spiral demands some
concentration from the side of the spectator, since individual events in one episode may have a significant impact on the
events in another episode.
Women in (crime) dramas
The French Spiral has
a female Police Captain Laure Berthaud (played by Caroline Proust) who is as original as Sarah Lund and Saga Noren in the
It seems that being original, impulsive, sharp, and a bit ‘crazy’ have
become the characteristics of the ‘new police woman’.
These women are often
stubborn in their work role and messy in their private life.
In myths (see the article on Myths on men
and women on the middle and right column of this page), they correspond to the myth of Puella Aeterna.
They are quite different from the previous image of the Inspector/Police woman, whose aim was to make career
within the police force.
A good example of this is Helen Mirren’s Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison
in Prime Suspect. Her inspector corresponds to the Amazon-woman in myths.
is yet another change in the way women are seen in TV crime drama.
The Puella Aeterna-police woman is not anymore
silently judged as unfit as woman, but accepted and respected as she is.
Previously, it was common
in TV (crime or other) drama to condemn women, who did not fit in the Mother-image which has been the only accepted image
of women for a long time.
Sometimes they were condemned by others in the drama or by the spectators, sometimes
by the role characters themselves who played such female roles. Not so anymore, and that is good.
Women in Hitchcock's Birds
A couple of days ago I saw once more
Hitchcock’s Birds. It is a great movie. You can see it over and over again and always find something interesting in
But consider the female figures in Birds, and compare them with modern female images.
The film Birds was made in 1963, and we have to bear in mind that both men and women had quite different gender
roles at that time.
In Birds the population of a small community called Bodega Bay is attacked by birds
on several occasions for an unknown reason (I’m not going to speculate here about anything else than gender roles).
There are three main female characters in the film.
To begin with, Melanie is a ‘spoiled,
rich girl’ coming to visit Mitch (and bringing along lovebirds).
Annie is a schoolteacher, and Lydia is
the mother of Mitch.
Mitch is the only important male figure. He looks after his mother, is in love with
Melanie, and used to be in love with Annie.
is very attached to his son Mitch, especially after her husband, the father of Mitch, died.
She does not quite
know how to live without a husband. She was used to having a man around who would tell her what to do and what to think.
In every scene in which the birds attack people, the men are somewhat
active and try to defend themselves and women, whereas women are quite helpless.
When the family suspects the birds are going to attack the family home, Mitch alone is doing the hammering
around and inside the house to cover all windows, doors, and other spots that might attract the birds.
the birds attack creating a noise that sounds like a scream, all the females are trying to find cover close to walls and corners.
They are covering their faces by hands.
Mitch is the only one who is trying to kill the birds
and to prevent them from entering the house.
When he sees that some of the birds are trying to get
in through a window, he struggles with them while trying to shut the window.
His hands are covered
in blood, but he finally manages to shut the window.
During his struggle with the birds the
women sit paralyzed and stare at him.
Mitch does not say a word.
He does not ask the women to come and help him.
Can you imagine modern women
acting as helplessly?
Can you imagine Sarah
Lund, Saga Noren, and Laure Berthaud as helpless women waiting for Mitch to rescue them?
you imagine modern men accepting to struggle with the birds alone without
expecting some help from the side of the women?
Wouldn’t a modern man
shout: Bloody women, don’t just sit there, come and help me to shut this window!
is only one bird-attack scene in which women act resolutely.
In this scene, Melanie
goes to the school to escort Cathy (the little sister of Mitch) back home. She waits outside the school building.
While the children are in the classroom singing, Melanie becomes aware that the school is surrounded by birds.
She goes inside to warn Annie. Annie uses her authority as a schoolteacher, and instructs the
children to go out silently and calmly.
Together the women evacuate the children
and protect them from attacking birds while they are running away from school.
did they act resolutely in this particular scene?
Because there were no men present in it!
Thus, women could only act resolutely, when no men were present.
This was part of the behaviour
dictated by the old gender roles.
Men were supposed to be the ones who protect women, and in order to do so, women had
to be helpless when men were present. Men could not ask for help from women.
Yet another interesting
scene is the one in which Melanie wakes up to noises, after the main attack by birds is over.
is asleep and Melanie does not wish to wake him up. She is curious and wishes to find out what the noise is and where it comes
She finds her way upstairs and gets into a room where the birds attack her.
WHY is she not crying for help?
Because she was not supposed
to be curious and go alone into that room to find out about the noise!
After all, there was
a man in the house. She had been disobedient to the gender roles.
Oh, I’m so happy our
behaviour is not anymore dictated by ridiculous, old gender roles.
The world is not perfect but it is better than
it used to be.
Dallas, Dallas, Dallas!
is back with Jr, Sue Ellen, Bobby, and some new characters to represent the younger generations.
I must say I
was disappointed. I'm not sure what I was expecting, perhaps some form of nostalgia. But the storyline was too predictable,
and I don't seem to be able to enjoy the same storyline anymore. Must be getting old...
Bobby and Jr
are now too old to be the main antagonists, but instead there are younger generations in the Southfork who can do that
job. But never underestimate the older ones..
Bobby's son Christopher has interest in enviromentally friendly
energy solutions whereas John Ross is after oil!
Of course there are some beautiful young women who are in
love with the same man. I suspect the marriage that took place in the first episode, will not be a happy marriage.
True American values
Yet the 'best' part of the first episode was when Bobby's wife (don't
remember her name! not Pam) went down to kitchen in the middle of the night and realised there was an intruder in the house!
Did she start screaming? No. Instead, she immediately loaded a rifle (there seemed to be plenty of them in the
house) and went after the intruder.
The instruder got scared and ran away. She didn't shoot him, though. Afterwards,
when the police officers visited them, one of the officers said before they left: If he comes back, shoot him!
the true cowboy spirit..
I suppose it is difficult to rebuild on the old Dallas. Since the old Dallas, we have
learned that the reckless money-makers (a la Jr) have cheated us of our money, work and income, not to mention pensions.
Personal wealth creation is not anymore appreciated as much as it was during the 1980s. Now we need inventors and
entrepreneurs 'to put things right' and create wealth to societies. At least that is what we hope will happen.
Britons seem to be as successful in the Paralympic Games as they were in the Olympic Games!
(Saturday) evening I enjoyed the company of Inspector Montalbano one again. It is great that BBC4 shows these European crime
I enjoy the characters, especially Montalbano himself. This time Mafia was involved but not in the usual
way. Most of the time the crimes are committed by 'ordinary' criminals, not by Mafia.
I suspect one
of the ideas behind the creation of Inspector Montalbano was to show that not all about Sicily is about Mafia.
Fortunately, the camera uses the opportunity to show the beautiful landscapes of Sicily, and does it often...
The Olympic Games in London are over! What a great experience!
But the Paralympic
Games have just started. We are not going to comment upon these Games, but wish good luck and all the best to all
athletes who take part in Paralympic Games!
Myths on men and women are back here in September.
Test yourself and Enjoy!
08.07/2012 Wimbledon: Congratulation
to Roger Federer, the great, great winner of Wimbledon final for the 7th time.
And congratulation to Andy
Murray too, for his great performance. Silver place is not easy to reach.
I saw in the Guardian newspaper a picture of three European finance ministers discussing the Eurozone problems.
They were the finance ministers of Denmark, Finland, and Austria.
THEY WERE ALL WOMEN!
Margrethe Vestager, Jutta Urpilainen, and Maria Fekter.
I don't think I've ever before seen 3 female finance
ministers in the same picture... Somehow finances have not been trusted in female hands before.
true that during hard times, women are given a chance to take over important positions. I suppose this the the silver lining
of these uncertain times..
SPAIN- THE CHAMPIONS OF EURO2012
Spain vs Italy 4-0
You did it once
In the first half goals were made by Cesc Fabregas and Jordi Alba. In the second half of the game
the great Italian defence failed completely. Fernando Torres scored the first goal, and Juan Mata the second goal.
Great performances from all in the Spanish team! Your team work was excellent and you really enjoyed the
game during the second half.
And let's not forget the great Manager of the Spanish team, VINCENTE DEL BOSQUE.
Well done Spain!
The Italian team was in tears after the game. But cheer up; your performance has been good, and
losing the final to the unbeatable Spanish team is not a shame!
Alter Ego has chosen IKER CASILLAS as the FAVOURITE
of the EURO2012.
And finally, finally we could see Iker smiling and laughing (next time, Iker, select a smiling
picture of you, please!)
19/06/2012 How I failed to pick the winners!
It is difficult to pick a winner in Euro2012.
A week ago before the Ukraine vs France match, I was sure Ukraine will win.
Why? Because they had won all the
previous games, and France had mainly lost their games.
I was wrong, it was France who won.
I was sure
that Russia wins against Greece (for similar reasons as above), but I was wrong.
It was Greece who won. It must
have been a great day for everyone in Greece!
Then I doubted the ability of England to beat Sweden. I was wrong.
Yesterday I finally got it right. Spain and Italy won their games!
Today I'm not so
sure who the winners will be..and now I can confirm that I was wrong again!
Once again I failed to pick the winner! I was sure Germany would win, but was wrong. Italy won and goes to final!
01/07/2012 22.30 Finally I got it right!
My thoughts 21/05/2012
suffering of separation anxiety. On Saturday I saw the last two episodes of the Bridge on BBC4.
Danish crime-drama follow-up where the Danish detectives and Swedish detectives are forced to collaborate.
the characters, especially Saga Noren, the Swedish detective. She is a master mind without social skills. She blurts out the
truths without thinking of the consequences.
In the very first episode, the Danish detective, Martin Rohde, asked
Saga if she was related to Lars Noren. She denied it and didn't even know who Lars Noren was.
I think the question
was put in Martin's mouth deliberately. Saga means 'fairytale', and Lars Noren is perhaps the most famous Swedish
playwriter since August Strinberg. There are always odd figures in his playes, and in the background there is always
a real, social world.
The name Bridge comes from the fact that there is a bridge connecting Copenhagen in
Denmark with Malmo in Sweden.
Yes, it was interesting to follow how the culprit's status was downgraded from
Truth Terrorist to a man with a twisted mind on a very personal crusade. Yet, the problems the Truth Terrorist highlighted
But what I will not forgive the writers of the follow-up is the ending...
WHY, WHY did
you let August die?
My thoughts 22/05/2012
people in Britain don't like the way the Prime Minister spends his leisure time. I'll tell you people that how the
PM spends his leisure time is none of your business!
There is this strange expectation among Britons that their
leaders should be nearly perfect beings, to act as role models to people who clearly have no intention to act as role
People who demand others to be 'better than themselves' often do it because in
that way they don't have to improve how they themselves spend their leisure time.
So, go ahead, Dave, do whatever
you like during your leisure time, or rather, what you and your family decide to do...
You have done
Now you are free.
Baking with Alter Ego
can be fun, says Alter Ego, who has no previous experiences of baking.
Since it is soon time
to harvest the apples, we decided to bake an apple pie, or an apple tart, if you like.
The apple pie (or tart;
an open pie) is a Heavenly Apple Pie in a Nordic style.
Alter Ego is doing to baking, and gives instructions to you, too.
|is baking an apple pie
What do we need?
The first thing to do is to see if you have some apples at home.
If not, you have to go and buy some.
Or pick them from the neighbouring garden, adds Alter Ego.
may use green apples or red apples.
Green apples are
usually crispier than red apples. Red apples are usually sweeter than green ones.
You can also mix
green and red apples!
The second thing to do is to see if you have all
the ingredients needed for an apple pie.
If you don’t
have them, you have to go and buy them.
Or you can borrow from your neighbour, adds Alter Ego.Heavenly apple pie
What you need for a large portion is:
eggs (egg yolks and egg whites may be whisked separately)
dl plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 dl (granulated) sugar
dl butter (melted)
2 dl crème fraiche or soured cream
On top: ground cinnamon, sugar, almond flakes
This is a large portion and we usually use only 2/3 of these ingredients.
Alter Ego becomes philosophical about the size of the pie and states that what is large for one hare can be
small for another hare...
Do it now!
Half the apples and cut in thin slices (half moons).
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and leave it to cool.
3. Beat the eggs in a bowl.
Beat them up, beat
them up, cries Alter Ego.
No, it’s enough to beat the eggs. No need
to beat them up.
But you may (if you so wish) whisk the egg whites
together first and then add the yolks.
Beat the sugar in the egg mixture.
Take a small portion of the flour and mix the baking powder in it.
the flour/baking powder mix slowly into the egg-sugar mixture. Add more flour.
6. Add the melted butter.
7. Add the crème fraiche, alternatively soured cream.
more flour if necessary.
Step 8. The mixture is ready when
it is ‘thick’.
Use a spoon or knife to write some letters (Z or
S) on the surface of the mixture. It should be possible to see the letters for a short while.
Write ‘Alter Ego’, suggests Alter Ego.
pouring the mixture into an ovenproof dish, you may need to use a spoon to get all of it out of the bowl.
Tasting is important, says Alter Ego. You have to taste
If it tastes good, DON’T EAT IT ALL! If
you do so, you have to start from scratch again!
9. Spread the mixture evenly in the ovenproof dish.
should cover 2/3 of the dish.
Remember, the baking
powder in the mixture is a raising agent and makes the mixture swell in the oven.
the dish is fully covered with mixture, you will end up having your pie outside the dish.
If only half (or less) of the dish is covered, the pie is at risk of becoming flat!
If you suspect that you don’t have an ovenproof dish of the right size (too small or too big),
use two dishes.
Step 10. Add the apple slices on
the surface of the mixture.
The apple slices look like half moons. Push the
thin side of the half moon-shaped apple slices in the mixture.
the slices closely together, and cover the entire surface.
11. (This is beginning to sound like some psychological self-improvement programme!)
Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top of the apple slices. Then sprinkle sugar over the ground cinnamon. You may
also sprinkle some almond flakes.
Cook in an oven PREHEATED to 200° for 20-30 minutes.
20 minutes, check how your pie is doing.
Insert a knife in
the centre of the pie OR in the highest part of the pie.
the knife is ‘clean’ when you take it out, the pie is done. If not, put it back in the oven for a short while.
Don't eat the
pie immediately when it’s out of the oven.
It is too hot, warns Alter Ego, and can burn your tongue
(and your paws).
you see a picture of our apple pie, before Alter Ego began to enjoy the fruits of toiling; in other words eating the pie!
We used two dishes for a pie using 2/3 of the ingredients mentioned above.
If you don’t consume all of the pie immediately (and that would be hard work
unless you have a large family or plenty of friends sharing the pie), keep the pie in the fridge in a suitable container.
You can even cut slices out of it, and put them in the freezer
Heavenly apple pie is so good that you can eat it
if you wish, you may serve it with custard sauce or with vanilla ice-cream.
you try this recipe, LET US HEAR how great your apple pie became!
Send a message to: email@example.com with Baking in subject line.
Not familiar with BORGEN?
on previous episodes of Boegen below and learn the main characters
Bravo Borgen, Bravo Birgitte, Bravo Danish TV!
In the final two episodes of Borgen we learn how private life of a politician can become the main discussion
topic in the media, and how a touch of psycho-therapy is good for all.
how gender suddenly can become an issue in a country that was supposed to have solved most questions and problems related
to gender equality.
The private life
of the PM’s family
The Prime Minister
Birgitte Nyborg’s daughter, Laura, needs to stay in a mental hospital for a couple of months, while the PM is busy getting
the government’s health reform through in the Parliament.
The problem is that the mental hospital is a private hospital, while the government
suggests higher taxes on private hospitals so that people would prefer public health care, and that there would be more money
to fund public hospitals.
Of course the media finds out that the daughter
of the PM is in a ‘posh’ private hospital.
becomes surrounded by journalists trying to catch a glimpse of the PM’s daughter.
was a good idea to show how the privacy rights of persons who are neither politicians nor famous can be ignored in the name
of ‘public interest’.
Both the patients, including Laura and the staff at the
mental hospital are suffering of this sudden interest attack.
new, female psychiatrist, played by Stina Ekblad (born in Finland, went to Drama school in Denmark, and became famous mainly
in Sweden, and seems to have kept her magical touch over the years) informs the parents of Laura that the hospital simply
cannot tolerate this kind of media attention.
This unacceptable situation
forces Birgitte to make the harsh decision to be on leave from her post as the PM until Laura gets better.
She reasons that in this way, the media cannot attack the private life of her family by using the excuse of
her being the PM. A PM’s life is never private.
absence, Hans-Christian Thorsen, from the Labour Party, becomes the acting Prime Minister.
He makes the most out of this opportunity, in the hope of becoming the new PM. However, he does it openly
in order to increase the popularity of his Party without back-stabbing Birgitte.
The journalist and the spin-doctor
Meanwhile Katrine (played by Birgitte Hjort Sorenson) and Kasper are learning to live together without letting
their work roles interfere with their family life.
They have to
finally inform their respective bosses of the fact that they are living together. To their surprise, they don’t receive
condemnations but only congratulations.
But there is a new element
introduced to their life (or forced upon them) by other people; namely the potential of having children.
Katrine’s boss Torben Friis, wanted to know if she was planning to be on maternity leave soon.
For Katrine the potential of having children is not a great problem, whereas
Kasper is definitely against the idea.
The past of Kasper (see previous
episodes) has assured him that he cannot or does not deserve to have children.
when he has to visit the mental hospital where Laura is, simply to reach and discuss with Birgitte, he unintentionally becomes
friends with Laura, the daughter of the PM.
He reveals to Laura that
he too had spent some time in a mental hospital in his youth. This is important for Laura who still doubts if anyone can help
When she asks how Kasper had become well again, Kasper’s simple
answer ‘by talking about it with other people’ encourages Laura to take part in group-therapy (and makes Kasper
reflect upon it too).
In the final episode when Laura has gained back some of
her self-confidence, she even hugs and kisses Kasper.
This opens the eyes of Kasper to the idea that having a
family might not be so scary after all...
Psychotherapy for all
the month Birgitte is on leave, the politicians and the media are beginning to assume that Birgitte will not be returning
back to her post.
The question everyone is asking is whether a woman really
can take on the heavy role of being a Prime Minister (and a mother).
a while we all were invited to consider the option of Birgitte leaving politics and becoming a good housewife.
But the clever idea of the writers of Borgen was to treat the month on leave as a kind of regression to the
past, back to the neglected aspects of life for all involved; for Birgitte, her ex-husband Philip, and for Kasper, as well.
The shit, problems, troubles in our lives make us stronger, was repeatedly
mentioned during this episode.
When Birgitte is very much in doubt about her ability
to be a good mother, Laura’s psychiatrist informs Birgitte that no woman can be perfect both at work and at home. Everyone
makes mistakes but the idea is to learn from them.
The reference to the fact
that the relationship between parents and children was the theme in most Greek drama, is also a great comment (on Borgen as
When Birgitte mentions that sometimes she is happier at work than
at home the psychiatrist ‘diagnoses’ Birgitte as a workaholic and welcomes her to the club.
Finally, she makes it clear to Birgitte that Laura did not become ill because Birgitte was made a Prime Minister.
It is great to hear these words said aloud. It happens too rarely,
both in drama and in real life.
After regression follows progression
Birgitte returns to get the last part of the health reform through in the Parliament
(and it goes through with a small margin).
She then takes the opportunity
to declare new elections and puts stop to all speculations whether a woman can be a Prime Minister.
She mentions the names of the first female members of the Danish Parliament, and states that they put an end
to the debate on whether women could be politicians.
those who doubt today, whether a woman can be a Prime Minister, were expressing concerns that were solved already a hundred
She then encourages people not to decide in the
elections what the gender of a Prime Minister ought to be, but who the best person to be a Prime Minister is. BRAVO!
The producer of Borgen was Camilla Hammerich for the Danish Television and the writes
of the final episodes was Adam Price.
The latest episodes of Borgen had a serious tone in many ways. It began by showing how tired the Prime Minister
Birgitte Nyborg was and how she had lost in popularity.
she is offered the position of peace negotiator between two, conflicting African (fictional) countries, North and South Kharun
on behalf of the European Union. (The real Kharun is in India!!!)
Because the political leaders of other EU countries had refused already.
she is not interested, and all her staff advice against taking on such a position since peace negotiations can only fail.
The outcome would only be bad publicity for her.
Most people around the
PM see her commitment cynically and simply as an attempt to improve her popularity.
is not surprising considering that Denmark ranks as the 21th richest country in the world.
based on the purchasing power of the population of each country; see also Just a Thought in January 2012; It’s a new
year –silly old world ), Politics in such a country is more about scoring popularity points than dealing with extremely
Most African countries, on the other hand, are at the
bottom end of the richest country list consisting of 181 countries. There are wars, civil wars, and famines in many African
countries and peace negotiations are more likely to fail than become great successes.
after a while they understand that she is serious about it, and come to her support.
decided to take the tough task. The rest is an admirable account on how peace negotiations are built up.
The episodes go through how everyone counts in building up circumstances for peace negotiations; from older
party members who are or used to be experienced in foreign policy, to business contacts who already have a foot inside the
two countries and Arabic speaking co-workers (in this case it was Amir, the Green Party leader who resigned from his leader
post and from his post in the government shown in the last episodes).
is also a lecture in how smaller countries negotiate.
As Birgitte expressed it, Denmark is a small country that
cannot threaten China (or other big countries who put the peace negotiations at risk), but can only make a humble appeal to
the big countries.
I must say I was glad the peace negotiations became a
success story (probably only for a short period, but still!).
friends, on the other hand, had to make some tough choices between crediting themselves for a good, sensational story, and
the consequences for the peace negotiations (followed by a war) if they reported the story in the news.
But we still don’t know what or who the ‘Merchant of Death’ was. The man with ‘a past’,
who tried to persuade them to air a documentary that would have stopped the peace negotiations.
No doubt, he tried
to persuade them deliberately. Who IS he?
In the home scene, Birgitte’s daughter refuses to
continue to eat the ‘happy pills’ and suffers, of course, a relapse after suddenly stopping taking the pills.
I must confess that I don’t like the psychiatrist. Or rather what he stands
There are plenty of open questions in here. What kind of treatment
did this psychiatrist have in mind in addition to antidepressants?
Currently, the daughter has been turned into an object of treatment,
instead of being an active agent for change in her own health condition.
further, why was the daughter so completely uninterested in politics? Why was she so uninterested in her mother’s great
Had she always been uninterested in politics or was it the Prime Ministerial post of
her mother that scared her of? Or did the parents, Birgitte
and ex-husband Philip, protect the children too much from the harsh realities of life?
they do it so well, that when one of the parents, in this case the mother, became a very powerful person in Denmark, she turned
into a stranger in the eyes of her daughter?
It is, of course, as difficult
to be the daughter of a powerful woman as it is difficult to be the son of a powerful father.
I want this family situation to be sorted out without any return to ‘old-fashioned, patriarchal family-values’...
To be continued...
Tonight’s 2 episodes
of Borgen looked deeper into the murky waters of human psyche than the action packed 2 episodes we saw last week.
Last week’s Borgen was more action-packed than usual. But it was
also a lesson in Machiavellianism in politics.
Younger politicians were making an attempt to topple the leaders of their parties or the Prime Minister herself.
There were power struggles within the Labour Party and within the Prime Minister’s own Conservative Party.
When it started to look as if these younger ‘shooting stars’ were
on top of their game, they were encountered by a reversal of fortune in form of an old adversary or by events out of their
control (or which they had not been expecting). Their own smartness was turned against them.
Every good drama has an episode involving reversal of fortunes, but last week in Borgen they happened in rapid
So rapid, that most other follow-ups would have split them between four episodes instead of squeezing
them into two episodes.
Does this happen
in real life?
On the other hand, it
is not unusual for dramatic events to follow in rapid succession in politics.
week, the topic in British political debate was PM David Cameron’s gamble with the British positioning within (or out
of) the European Union.
The PM was accused of putting British interests at risk.
Cameron was also expected to give his speech on the matter at the end of this week, but he escaped temporarily this risky
business by the event in Algeria, where Muslim militants had taken Algerian and European oil workers as hostage.
Thus, Cameron had a ‘positive reversal of fortunes’ and good reason to postpone his speech!
From action to psychotherapy
last week’s episodes were inspired by action movies, this week’s episodes were inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s
This week the trouble that has been brewing in the unconscious minds
of the characters began to reach the surface in an involuntary manner.
PM Birgitte’s teenage daughter Laura is chosen as the character who is beginning to show symptoms
of the stress the family is going through.
In other words, of everything that happened after Birgitte became
Prime Minister, after the parents divorced, and after Philipp, the father, found another woman to live with. (see
also my last week’s comments on the characters)
I may have
missed some dialogue between Birgitte and Philip concerning Cecilie, the new woman, in Philip’s life. Therefore, I’m
not sure whether Philip met Cecilie before or after the divorce.
it is a fact that women wish to divorce because they are unhappy or dissatisfied with the marriage, whereas men leave (if
dissatisfied or unhappy) only when they have already found another woman to lean on...
was also a clever move to involve the question of drugs or psycho pharmacy into the drama around their daughter.
Philip and his Celine suggest the daughter ought to be given anti-depressants, whereas Birgitte is totally against ‘happy
pills’ for children.
Unfortunately, Birgitte’s trust in expert opinion
makes her give in, when the psychiatrist (chosen by Philip and Cecilie) convinces her that the antidepressants are a vital
part of therapy.
The psychiatrist also manipulates Birgitte’s mindset
by stressing the importance of her (as a reason for the daughter’s symptoms) as a role-model for her daughter.
Birgitte did not realize that psychiatrists are as divided as the general
population is concerning the use of psycho pharmaceutical drugs to treat children. (I sincerely hope that the producer and
writers of Borgen keep this topic alive in the coming episodes!)
Children and criminality
trouble brewing gets aired when an extreme right-wing politician presents a bill to lower the age of criminal
responsibility from 14 to 12 years.
This debate on children’s
responsibility gives the PM’s spin-doctor Kasper Juul (see my last week’s comments on the characters) a nasty
reminder of his past.
The past is reinforced when he visits his family-home
for the last time (his aged father is dead and aged mother is in a care-home) to arrange it to be emptied and sold.
Kasper’s father was a paedophile who himself and together with his paedophile
friends sexually abused Kasper when he was a child.
At the age of 12 Kasper stabbed his father. No-one in his
current political circles know about his past.
He is naturally
against the idea of lowering the criminal responsibility age to 12.
At the same time he is not quite
aware of how much the disturbing memories of his own past influence his judgment when planning the spin
against the suggested bill.
He is so blinded by his own past that he 'sees'
his father in the extreme right-wing politician (a big loud man), and he also puts his job at risk.
His attempts to build relationships with other women than Katrine, fail completely. He admits that he only
loves Katrine, but she demands honesty from him in order the relationship to function. ‘No secrets’ is her motto.
In the last minutes of
the latest episodes he reveals his dark secrets...
To be continued...
As in every Saturday evening lately, I’ve been watching Borgen on BBC4
Borgen is a Danish political drama produced by Camilla Hammerich
at the Danish Television. We are already following Series 2 of the drama.
I missed the very first episodes of the Series1, but since then haven’t been able to resist watching it!
Politics, politics, politics
is a very Nordic drama, but has something universal about it making it popular overseas as well.
Personally I like the way practical politics is portrayed in the drama. The problems to be solved by the politicians
in this Danish drama can never be solved by finding simply a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ solution.
Of course not, since political problems are not mathematical problems that can be solved by finding the single correct answer.
Mostly, the solutions reflect compromises. Sometimes the solutions are very good
and a compromise may even improve the original suggestion to a solution. Sometimes they water the original idea. And
that is exactly what characterizes everyday politics.
Since the government
in Borgen is a coalition government, it is very useful for Britons to watch it.
are not used to coalitions (but have a coalition government right now). They can learn about the realities of coalition
governments by watching Borgen.
Is it a men vs. women drama?
The very Nordic aspect of the series is, of course, the presence of strong female
characters in leading roles.
They are not copies of American-style ‘ruthless women in power’, nor
of the British ideal based on Margaret Thatcher.
In the Nordic countries the struggle is not anymore about seeing women in working life, nor is it really about
seeing women in high positions (except in the private sector).
of Birgitte Nyborg, the Prime Minister, is not that of a woman struggling to earn the respect of her male political collaborators
and rivals (within and outside her own party), but of a woman who is ambitious and has strong convictions.
She is shown as the strong leader she is, but also her moments of weakness are revealed.
her strengths and weaknesses are human rather than ‘female’. Sidse Babett Knudsen plays the role as Birgitte in
an excellent manner.
Her struggles lie closer to home, namely in the
changes that her new PM role brings to her family.
husband, Philip, is very supportive and he even leaves his full-time employment at the University to be the one who is in
charge for their home and children.
But after a while, all the
cooking, shopping, picking up the children from school and taking them to dentist, is becoming tiresome for him. After all,
he was used to a much more rewarding role at the University.
Birgitte is becoming more and more attached to (or is drown by) her new role as Prime Minister, which is a role that demands
developing a strong political Persona to survive the ever present media attention and attacks from other politicians.
In the end, Birgitte doesn’t have time for a private personality, and her
political persona takes over her relationships with family members as well. She is not even aware of this change in her attitude
and role towards family happening.
This, rather than any reason related to her gender, is
the reason why the marriage is not any more working. The outcome is divorce, which Birgitte has difficulties in accepting.
The characterization of the young Katrine Fonsmark, making career in the media,
is not that of a woman struggling to survive in a male dominated media world.
the problem for her as for many young journalist is the struggle between high ideals and the demands made by her superiors.
These demands often go against her high ideals.
Her love-life too is troublesome
since she appreciates debating and analysing public affairs and intellectual companionship. These qualities can only be found
in persons who are equally ambitious and busy with their own careers.
is attracted to Kasper Juul, who is the Press Advisor and spin doctor of the Prime Minister Birgitte.
Kasper too is attracted to Katrine, but their working-relationship interferes with their private relationship.
Are the men in politics
better off? No, not really. The fact that the marriage of many politicians ends in divorce is repeatedly mentioned.
We might reflect upon the life in public scene, the organizational
culture of politics and media as they appear today, and ask if they are managed in the best possible manner.
More comments later...
To the top of page
WEEKLY ADVENT CALENDAR
2. Name Day Calendar
|Alter Ego celebrates
is the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, at least in Roman Catholic, Anglican, It is related to the waiting and preparations for the
celebration of the Nativity of Jesus.
Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian, and
In Christian religion Advent is represented
by the colours of purple and blue.
is also related to Advent.
Originally the idea was to light a single candle
during the first Sunday of Advent, two
candles during the second Sunday of Advent, and so on.
However, today most people are not following any faith-based tradition but light candles
as they please!
In Scandinavia, people nowadays have electric candles which
they put on window sills.
This is very practical since December tends to be
very dark in Scandinavia.
An electric star appear also often in windows.
The stars usually are of the colours
of red or gold.
Alter Ego had difficulties in deciding how to celebrate the Advent
and decided to try ‘everything’.
Alter Ego even put on a blue coat and a candle crown on the head (which really belongs to St Lucia celebrations).
There is also a sight of the comet Ison in the purple background
(see the picture).
2. NAME DAY CALENDAR
We decided to celebrate Advent and December by having a 'name day advent calendar'.
It will be presented once every week.
In these countries each day of the year in a calendar
has a name (or several names).
In many countries there is a tradition to celebrate a day based on the given name
of an individual.
Name day celebrations
do not replace birthday celebrations.
In Catholic and Orthodox
countries the custom originated in the calendar of saints.
Children were given names after saints.
today in many catholic and non-catholic countries name day is celebrated
also without religious meaning, although in
some countries the saints and their
names remain in the calendar.
In some countries the same name may appear several times in the
The following 'name day calendar' presents the most frequently appearing names,
if they appear in the calendars of different European countries.
Even if your country doesn't have a name
day tradition, you may find
your name in the calendar!
Name Day Calendar 08-14/12/2013
Today we celebrate:
In Hungary, Austria,
Germany, Poland, Latvia
Kylli, Kyllikki, Guntilda, Lorenza
Estonia, Finland, Italy, Lithuania
Patapios in Greece
Potap in Ukraine
Today we celebrate:
Ann, Anne, Anni, Annika, Anu, Anneli, Anushka
Greece, Finland, Sweden, Bulgaria
10/12/2013 Today we celebrate:
Julia, Julija, Julie, Judit, Jutta,
In Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia
Loretta, Loreto, Loredana, Eulaire
In Italy, Germany,
11/12/2013 Today we celebrate:
David, Daniel, Tanel, Taneli,
Tatu, Tassila, Damasus, Damaso, Dovydas
France, Germany, Finland, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden
12/12/2013 Today we celebrate:
Johanna, Otilia, Iveta
In Germany, Austria, Latvia
in Italy, Croatia
Chantal in France
Spiridon in Greece
13/12/2013 today we celebrate:
Lucia, Lucija, Lucie, Lucy, Ottilia, Seija
Lucia and its variations are celebrated in most European countries.
14/12/2013 Today we celebrate:
Francisca in Austria, Fortunat in Croatia, Lydie in Czech Republic, Hengo in Estonia, Odile in France, Berthold
in Germany, Arrianos in Greece, Jouko in Finland, Auseklis in Latvia, Tarvainas in Lithuania, Spirydion in Poland, Branislava
in Slovak Republic, Sten in Sweden, Apollonia in Ukraine.
This was one of the rare days when no two countries
shared a name!Lucia celebrations
This week our special celebrity name is
Lucia, a name meaning ‘light’.
St Lucia is the patron Saint of Syracuse.
There are several legends about St Lucia.
A well-known legend tells that Lucia was a brave woman
in the 4th century Syracuse, who was persecuted and tortured while defending her Christian faith.
Because her eyes were removed by the torturers, she became also the patron saint of the blind.
The celebrations of Lucia in Italy, Scandinavia and elsewhere seem to have only one thing in common; light.
St Lucia, a small island in the
Caribbean celebrates its National Day on 13/12 with a festival of light.
In Italy Lucia brings gifts to children. Thus, the children need to be ‘good’.
the USA, the Lutheran migrants continued the tradition of celebrating Lucia.
Sweden and some other Nordic countries Lucia is elected (plenty of contests at schools across the country) to portray Lucia.
She wears a white gown and a candle crown on her head (Alter
Ego has a candle crown in the picture you can see on top of this column).
She walks around followed by a procession of other girls, each holding a candle.
They all sing
‘Santa Lucia’ and other songs. (It means that both the elected Lucia and the other girls must be able to sing!)
Name Day Calendar 01-07/12/2013
01/12/2013 Today we celebrate:
Natalie, Natalia, Natalija
In Austria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, and Poland
In Estonia, Finland, and Sweden
In Poland, Slovak Republic, and Croatia
Theoklitos in Greece
Florence in France
Today we celebrate:
Viviana, Vivian, Vivi, Beata, Pauline
Italy, Hungary, France, Sweden, Poland, Austria,
Croatia, Slovak Republic
There are several Saint Bibianas.
One of them is the patron saint of hangovers.
In Greece, Ukraine3/12/2013 Today we celebrate:
In Austria, Italy, Croatia, Germany
Today we celebrate:
Barbora, Varvara, Barbo, Parpa, Varju, Barbro
France, Italy, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Lithuania, Slovak Republic,
Ukraine, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Greece.
5/12/2013 Today we celebrate:
In Austria, France, Germany, Poland
Silva, Silviya, Selam, Sabine
Bulgaria, Finland, Estonia, Latvia
Sven, Savvas, Stanislav
In Bulgaria, Sweden, Greece
6/12/2013 Today we celebrate:
Nikolaus, Nikolai, Nicholas, Niklas, Niilo, Nikos, Klaus,
Nikolaus and its variants appear in most European
Nicoleta, Nicola, Nina, Nikola
In Italy, Greece, Finland, Croatia, Bulgaria
Independence Day to Finland on 06/12/2013!
today we celebrate:
Ambros, Amrvosios, Ambrozy, Ambrose, Ambrogio
Ukraine, Slovak Republic, Poland, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Germany,
France, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Croatia, Austria
This week our special celebrity is Saint Nicholas.
It is assumed
that Saint Nicholas, who originally was Bishop of Myra in Lycia,
inspired the myth of Santa Claus.
happened remains a mystery to us...
In Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican Churches Saint
celebrated on the 6th of December.
Saint Nicholas is the Patron Saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves,
children, pawn-brokers, and students.
Perhaps the explanation why the myth of Santa Claus was inspired by him
is found in what Saint Nicholas protects?
Read old comments on SPIRAL, the French crime drama
16/03/2013 TV Nights
– The End – or is it?
Today we finally
reached the end of Spiral. I wonder if there will be any new episodes of Spiral?
going to miss it. This evening we saw two and a half happy endings and one tragedy.
After loving them,
doubting them, deserting them, we can once again love them.
Josephine and Philippe
these last episodes we see Josephine making a poor performance in the court room in her confusing attempt to defend illegal
workers against their employer.
She fails in her defence but later on manages to pull
herself together, and finds evidence that the employer was keeping his business illegally.
So she ‘blackmails’ the employer and his lawyer to pay the salaries, and other payments to the
illegal employees he had previously sacked.
Well done. Last week I
told you she would be making a come-back!
Philippe is getting tired
of the lies of his ‘retired gangster’ client.
He is trying to mediate between this client and his
enemies, but then the client is killed.
Philippe believes that the
enemies were behind the killing but later on learns that it probably was the wife of the client who got him killed.
Now that he has learned how difficult it is to defend criminals, he has a greater
understanding for Josephine, and for the mistakes she has made.
is a kissing scene involving Josephine and Philippe in the last episode. A happy ending...
Judge Roban’s victory
Roban wins his appeal and can provide the court with evidence against judge Garnier.
evidence shows that Garnier had received and accepted bribes from accused persons in criminal cases against reduced sentences.
Roban is happy and returns to his office and receives the congratulations from
persons who did not wish to know him only a week ago.
that he had acted alone, but a friend of his puts him right.
several (powerful) persons acting behind the scenes on behalf of him!
is a good reminder to us all.
If we are up against powerful people, we need the active support of other, equally
This week Laure’s team is after a group of PKK (the
Turkish Kurdish militant gang) members, and another group classified as terrorists, led by Riffaut.
They know that a huge amount of weapons and explosives have been sold but who is in the receiving end of the
purchase remains unclear, and therefore also for what purposes the explosives had been bought.
It appears that the younger brother of a Kurdish family is establishing his own criminal business.
He has difficulties in understanding all the family talk about Kurds in Turkey,
because his life experiences are from France.
He grew up in France and
feels that he is part of a French youth subculture rather than part of any Kurdish movement.
Meanwhile Laure needs to decide between her new boyfriend and her old boyfriend, Samy, who is also part of
There is a kissing scene (or love making to be exact)
here too between Laure and the new boyfriend. Is this another happy ending?
is evidence that somebody is planning a bomb attack, and they suspect that Riffaut, the terrorist, is behind it.
I still don’t quite understand what Riffaut in his fight against capitalism
When Laure’s team once again tries to catch him,
he manages to escape but the bomb-maker of this team is shot.
to his follower and girlfriend Sophie that they should postpone the bomb attack, since the police has been alerted and are
looking for them.
Sophie decides to act alone. I’m not sure if she
is doing it to show Riffaut how reliable partner she really is.
is young and madly in love with Riffaut and somehow wishes to prove herself.
she enters with all the equipment needed for a bomb to the police station with a backpack.
She finds a toilet
in which she hides the suitcase (?) which is loaded with explosives and a mobile phone.
she needs to do now is to activate the phone and to make a call from another phone to this phone number to create an explosion.
However, since Sophie is inexperienced as a terrorist, she doesn’t
realise that Laure’s team is keeping an eye on the activities of that phone number.
They trace the signal of the phone to their own police station and begin to evacuate the building, both staff
Finally they find Sophie who threatens to blow up everyone
if they try to catch her. Laure, Josephine, Laure’s team members, and boss are in the same room with her.
Sophie is desperate and tries to call Riffaut for help.
She doesn’t understand that the call will be traced, whereas Riffaut, an experienced terrorist, is well
aware of that, and throws away his mobile phone.
Meanwhile Tintin (who
is just starting to cope with his panic attacks) and Samy have located the bomb.
tries to unload the bomb, while Tintin checks that everyone has left that part of the building.
Somebody rushes in the room where Sophie is, and shouts to (inform) Laure that they have found the bomb.
Sophie panics and explodes the bomb. Samy is trying to unload the bomb when it
Tintin is not as close to the bomb as Samy is, and survives.
Poor Laure, this was not the way she wanted her and Samy’s
relationship to end.
reader, this is the way producers and writers always deal with love triangles.
One of them must be killed, one
way or another!
Next week there will be something new here.
09/03/2013 TV Nights
Spiral- Will they sort things out?
In the recent episodes we have witnessed the main persons in Spiral acting out of character or getting involved
in doubtful dealings.
Will they ever sort things out?
A Judge on Trial
Saturday’s episodes see judge Roban on trial, for forgetting his duties of loyalty towards other judges, or rather towards
another judge, Garnier.
No matter how much supporting evidence Roban was
bringing to the trial concerning the incompetence (and dishonesty) of Garnier, it is Roban and his reputation that suffer.
However, with the help of his previous secretary Marianne,
Roban collects more and more evidence against Garnier, and he receives ‘silent’ support from other judges.
I suspect there will be some interesting revelations about
Garnier and his methods in the coming episodes.
Laure’s team has got a new addition to the
team, namely Laure’s ex-lover.
was clearly an unfinished business. The ex-lover claims he is still in love with Laure.
Laure feels confused, since she too has feelings for him. She is heading for emotional trouble.
It is difficult for her to work with the ex-lover, and she
is risking her relationship with the new boyfriend.
who was shot a couple of episodes ago, has developed psychological problems.
He gets panic attacks as soon as
he has to work outside the office.
He gets paralysed
in simple arrest situations, and in stressful situations is too willing to use his gun.
Gilou is the only one
really noticing this.
Now that Gilou has sorted out his own problems with
informants and petty gangsters, he seems to be the only member of the team who can think and act clearly!
Poor Philippe and poor Josephine
Josephine is in deep trouble due to her previous actions based on poor judgment.
There are compromising pictures of her and she is accused of preventing the course of justice.
Philippe has to help her mainly to save his own reputation, but he is getting tired of the unpredictable and
unpleasant surprises Josephine’s professional life seems to be full of.
Philippe tells Josephine that her professional career is over and that their relationship too is over, Josephine tries to
Slowly, she begins to realise that while trying
to please her less than honest clients (and some of them quite dangerous) by doing them favours, she has created enemies in
the police and justice system.
Honestly, she has behaved
like a little girl trying to test the tolerance of her parents, and then expecting them to come and save her when she is in
But I’m sure she will make some form of a
Philippe is learning that being the lawyer of a
‘retired gangster’ is financially rewarding but has unpleasant side effects as well.
Some customers of his client (the retired gangster), try to collect money owed to them by this retired gangster
by attacking and beating up Philippe.
Poor Philippe, this
is not how he had imagined his future!
To be continued...
Scott & Bailey
I would like to add a couple of comments on another crime drama,
namely the British Scott & Bailey.
It is shown on ITV
and is about the work of a Major Incidence Team in (the fictional) Manchester Metropolitan Police.
It is a mixed team consisting of both men and women, but the focus is on two women, DC Rachel Bailey (played
by Suranne Jones) and DC Jane Scott (played by Lesley Sharp).
crimes themselves are not different from any other crime dramas, but the storyline is build around the relationships between
the two DCs, between them and other team members, and between them and persons in their private life.
Their boss is a woman too, Gill Murray (played by Amelia Bullmore), and there seems to be more informal chats
and conflicts between the female members of the team than between men and women.
I think is the novelty of the drama. Usually when the focus is on male characters, the male bosses now and then have informal
and personal chats with their male subordinates.
drama, the same happens with the female boss and the female members of the team.
and Bailey, produced by Nicola Shindler, is clearly a middle-class version of detective work, and I suspect it appeals
particularly to woman.
I would say that it definitely is worth seeing.
Spiral- Have they
all gone mad?
This Saturday the French
crime drama Spiral gave me even more angst than last week!
How are we supposed to continue to love them?
suspect the writers of Spiral have decided to create a couple of episodes in which all the characters become truly unlovable.
We, spectators, have to distance (or alienate) ourselves from
the main characters, and reflect upon our own values.
to decide if we can continue to understand or respect the actions of the main characters, and to love our favourites.
What did they do?
is perhaps the least confusing character this week. We see her trying to cope with ‘ordinary middle class life events’.
example, she attends the birthday celebration of her boyfriend’s daughter (Laure bought her shooting lessons!).
Gilou’s informant is shot with the gun Gilou gave
to his gangster friends.
They claim that the bullets (?) used to shoot the man have Gilou’s fingerprints
Suddenly Gilou seems to have the moral code of a
But fortunately he understands he must let some
of his team members know about his mistakes.
the help of ‘the new girl’ in the team (sorry, can’t find her name), he gets access to the bullets.
They would have incriminated him, although he was not the one who shot the informant.
I still don’t understand what the saintly Pierre Clement is up to.
He has become
to defence lawyer of a ‘retired’ criminal, and is now defending his petty criminal relatives. He gets well paid.
Is Pierre trying to show his love to Josephine by convincing
her that he can see the law from both sides of it, from the prosecutor’s side and from the side of the defence?
He was warned earlier that by taking on the case of a retired
criminal, his reputation was at risk.
Could it be that he is acting instinctively in case his position at the
Prosecutor’s Office is in danger?
Yet, I’m not
quite happy with those explanations. There will soon be a new development which will reveal something new...
Judge Roban is now in deep trouble. His open attack on his predecessor, Garnier, has repercussions.
Garnier is on war path, and suddenly Judge Roban has difficulties
in finding allies.
It is a good reminder of the reality (in real life
too) that faces those who follow their principles and reveal dishonest behaviour amongst their own (or higher-up) ranks.
It is a good point, but it makes me uneasy. After all, Judge
Roban is my favourite!
The last episodes of the Spiral gave me some doubts
about the French justice system.
They reminded me
of the satirical images of the justice system illustrated in Claire Bretecher’s
Do you remember Claire Bretecher and her cartoons
(Les Frustres and other cartoons)?
They mainly illustrated
in a satirical manner the life of French middle classes.
of the French readers explain to me how well Spiral reflects the French ‘law and order’? Send me a message, please.
position of women in these episodes was shown as inferior and weak in numerous ways.
Most criminals are men in this drama, but now there appears to be a female matriarch behind the gang of Turkish
To be continued...
23/24/02/2013 TV nights
This time the French crime drama Spiral gave me angst! Did they all have to take so great
risks in the same two episodes?
Before I continue
with Spiral I have to say how great it is that BBC, or to be exact BBC4 shows these European crime dramas.
Most crime and other dramas in British TV (and I fear in most European TVs) are British or American.
By showing Italian, French, Swedish, and Danish crime dramas, we learn also about the cultures of these countries.
I’m not saying they reflect reality in these countries, since, after all,
they are fictional stories.
However, the dramas reflect the myths about police, justice, interpersonal relationships
in each particular country.
The crime dramas produced by all countries have some universal
themes which make them understandable for most spectators. Yet, they reveal something specific about each country.
And sometimes they reflect the myths of two countries. Remember the Danish-Swedish
There were clearly conflicting ways of dealing with both routine tasks and major operations by the Danish
and Swedish police.
Those who live outside Scandinavia, often think that the
Nordic countries are ‘all the same’. Bridge showed them some of the differences between the countries.
The dramas produced in different countries give us a hint of many cultural differences.
What characterises the relationship between superiors and subordinates in a police/law
and order drama?
What characterises the relationships between male and female workmates?
How is the
balance between work and home life, and is that really so important?
are the underlying values behind the actions?
Is the main storyline about finding the killer and how to find evidence
against the killer ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (that can be a problem in real court room cases too, as we seen here
in Britain last week!)?
Or is the main storyline build around an existential-phenomenological
approach, in which right and wrong exist somewhere in the middle of complex relationships between actors in different sides
of the law and between actors on the same side of the law but with different agendas?
can add other questions to the list of differences between dramas produced in different countries. If you do so, you will
notice how much you can learn by reflecting upon such cultural differences.
As said, all the main character is Spiral took big risks
in the two episodes. Now I’m not quite sure if career related risks (or
rather putting the focus on career related risks) belong to a universal or national theme...
Laure and her team took risks by careless planning while tracking the weapons belonging to a terrorist group.
‘Gilou’ is getting deeper and deeper in trouble because
he trusted an informant who has now double-crossed both him and a gang of little (?) criminals.
Meanwhile the defence lawyer Josephine Karlsson (played by Audrey Fleurot) made earlier some mistakes and
is now being blackmailed by the Secret Service to gather information for them.
saintly Deputy Prosecutor Pierre Clement (played by Gregory Fitoussi) is suddenly ‘acting out of character’ (what
is he up to?). Is he doing so because he is in love with Josephine?
Meanwhile Judge Roban fearlessly puts his career at risk by revealing the incompetent and dishonest actions
of his predecessor.
Honestly, I felt very tired and out of breath after these two episodes!
17/02/1013 TV nights
The French crime drama
Spiral on Saturday evening was again interesting.
Laure and her team have a new boss who for some reason doesn’t
like Laure (have I missed something?).
He tries to make her look
bad in the eyes of her team, and uses particularly one of the team members to do so.
Judge Roban (played by Philippe Duclos; I love him!) has to deal with the incompetent handling of cases by his predecessor.
Defend lawyers, especially Josephine, are deep in trouble with their less than honest clients.
The great thing with Spiral is the way the clients, criminals,
who this time also are activists are shown in a very human light.
They may be dishonest but they also follow their
own strong principles.
There is one activist leader who prefers to
follow the legal path but gets involuntarily involved in the criminal actions of another leader, who clearly prefers violent
Patsy and Edina as role models
Last week I reflected upon the way the image of women in (crime) drama has changed. The Mother-myth is not
anymore seen as superior to other myths of women.
Could it be, that Patsy
and Edina in Absolutely Fabulous were the first ones to challenge the Mother myth?
(played by Jennifer Saunders) is a PR woman and an incompetent mother who tries to live up to the myth of an Amazon woman,
but really is a confused Medium-woman.
Patsy (played by Joanna Lumley)
is a fashion editor and an ex-model, who lives up to the myth of Puella Aeterna! Sex and drugs..
Perhaps it is their absolutely fabulous, crazy, and Anti-Mother-Myth-Behaviour that make them so popular among
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