The Little Grey Lists

I have just finished watching the last season of Agatha Christie’s “Poirot” mysteries starring the brilliant David Suchet.  I wanted this week’s list to be a tribute to this ending, but how to do it?  By the Poirot books?  I went through these many years ago and most have blurred together.  All Christie books?  Some of my favorites were not Poirot, although he was by far my favorite.  By the “Poirot” series?  All Poirot adaptations?  In the end, I couldn’t choose.

Top Agatha Christie Mysteries:

1. Five Little Pigs

-This one was by far my favorite.  With the crime in the past there was nothing to get in the way of the psychological study.

2. And Then There Were None

-This is the first Christie book I read and one of the few books ever that I kindof wish had been withheld from me til I was a few years older…it still plays vividly in my mind, compelling, brilliant, and incredibly creepy.

3. Crooked House

-The tone and ending of this book just stay with you.

4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

-Seeing the crime through the villain’s notebook while still not knowing who it is….thrilling.  The adaptation of this was one of my only true letdowns-no cinema can do it properly.

5. The Man in the Brown Suit

-This is a novel where I actually remember the characters more fondly than the mystery-it’s great fun and my favorite of Christie’s matchmaking moves.

6. Dead Man’s Mirror

-Another Poirot mystery I found particularly clever and memorable.

Top Suchet “Poirot” adaptations:

1. Five Little Pigs

-I was surprised at how faithful they managed to keep it.  Love it!

2. Evil Under the Sun

-They managed to add humor and suspects with more depth without losing the tone of the original.

3. The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor

4. The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge

5. The Chocolate Box

-All of these are just delightful to watch….I’m sure this list will change often, but David Suchet’s Poirot just shines.

Top non-Suchet Cinema Adaptations:

1. Thirteen for Dinner

-This Peter Ustinov one just has more time to flesh out the characters and what I found to be a more believable Lady Edgeware.  Plus, Suchet does appear…as Japp!

2. Witness for the Prosecution

-This Hitchcock film feels like a real Agatha Christie, and is well acted!

3. Death on the Nile

-This one I include because, although I feel the Ustinov version and the Suchet version are both excellent shows, I prefer the Ustinov one simply because it has more time to develop various motives and has a memorable montage showing how practically everyone could have committed the crime…On the other hand, I prefer Suchet’s Poirot here, as usual, and find his portrayal much closer to the books.  Still, whichever way you go, I recommend it.

Poirot would hate these mini-lists for being uneven and a hodgepodge of preferences rather than one, orderly list…I know, shall blame it on my need for gastronomic nurturing and plead that I have not yet eaten.  What about you, mes amis, which novels, episodes, or crimes do your little grey cells prefer?

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Once Upon a Time 4×1 “A Tale of Two Sisters”

Well, I caught up on “Once Upon a Time” just before its new premiere and…I’m still not sure what I think about it. On the one hand…

The Good:
1. Elsa’s character remains intact. After her ominous arrival last season from Rumple’s “I’m-scared-of-this” vault and emergence over the last great evil-Zelena’s-dark magic symbol, I feared for the integrity of her flawed, but good heroine personality.
2. This is one of those episodes where everything looked just as it should. This is very important for a show dabbling in iconic images and moments, but from everything “Frozen” to dancing with Belle, this episode was charming to literally watch.
3. We don’t have to go back to the past again! Yay! Personally, I found that storyline in the last two episodes too much stalling for too little payoff, especially since it’s pushing at Regina in all-too-cliche ways.
4. The mention of Netflix was a funny meta touch.

However, the other hand is weighed down with…

The Bad:
1. Finding ‘The’ author of fairy tales??? That’s just not a good idea and my folklorist heart is already pained. I suppose the most acceptable solution would be to find Disney himself, but…then we’ve got a whole other kettle of meta fish happening that’s just too close to home for magic to keep off the fishy smell.
2. Can everyone just stop messing with Belle already? Just STOP IT. One of the things I liked about last season was how she got to call out her tormentors and remind everyone just how raw a deal this crazy optimist, of all people, got in previous seasons. STOP MESSING WITH HER, I DON’T CARE IF SHE DOESN’T KNOW.
3. Obviously Henry is the best option for Regina-company and deterrent right now and it’s plain stupidity and selfishness that keeps Emma hounding her personally to try and prove that she was right.
4. Look, I’ve been trying to reconcile myself to Hook/Emma for an entire season now and having a hard time of it, having Emma share my hesitation is not helping.
5. If an enchanter comes to claim that hat and dares to call himself Merlin without being the most awesome character ever I will hate this show.

Also, I’m not sure which category this goes in, but according to that timeline, the powers of True Love and pixie dust thought that Regina and Robin should get together before she became the full-fledged Evil Queen who messed with Marian, which has to mean that it thought they’d make a better match than Robin and Marian IN THE FIRST PLACE, EVEN! I’m not sure what to do with that. One voice is crying out-don’t mess with Robin and Marian, it has to at least be history!, while the other is saying hah-see, Marian never really should have gotten him to begin with, go Regina! It’s confusing. What do you think of that?

Of course, we still have those nitty-gritty questions to get into about predictions for this season…

The U(gly U)nknown:
1. Will Anna’s journey in the Enchanted Forest run her into more wolves in the form of Red? That is my greatest hope right now.
2. Will Belle get pregnant with a boy they’ll name Chip as a tribute to their love?
3. Perhaps instead of the author we can get Scheherazade who’s been telling these stories to her sultan? That would be cool. Correction, that could be cool. Could also be a big mess, but at least better than finding any kind of author.
4. Can we count Mickey Mouse as an author? o.O
5. It’s probably all going to have to do with Roland and him getting attached to a savior-Regina with her this time, isn’t it?
6. So are Hans and his brothers “waiting to pounce” ruling the roost back in Arendelle? Or did they follow Anna and trap her to try and get her to marry Hans/one of them a la Penelope in the Odyssey? I do like the image of Sven helping to break that up eventually. Or, could be both!
7. This also makes me think that Ariel and Eric and their island is reminiscent of Calypso, the sea’s daughter, and her lovers’ island, no?
8. Which brings me to Hercules and how on first hearing Regina had a second soulmate, I thought of him. He likes dark women, doesn’t he? (Plus, he could have wanted a tattoo of the lion he defeated.) It would be fun if they could have at least a fling.
9. Who wants to bet that “the truth” about Elsa and her powers is that she really has a different father than Anna does, or was adopted from her sister or something, which will make her actually related to Enchanted Forest folk? After all, this show is nothing if not incestuous! See: Hook, chasing after his stepson’s babymama, etc.

Well, those are my thoughts. What are yours? Any predictions-without spoilers!-or speculations to share?

Nikita 4×2 “Dead or Alive”

Okay, I just have some quick thoughts I need to jot down. They do include SPOILERS:

1. One, I totally cringed when Nikita and Michael started talking about their relationship issues during an operation, just like everyone else. However, the reason it’s okay and not just shoehorned in like so many other shows, is that it is totally in-character for Nikita to choose that time. Knowing she’s about to shoot Michael, even metaphorically, would bring all her guilt to the fore. When she’s not physically next to Michael and feels in control is totally when Nikita would be most willing to share her feelings. And knowing that physical separation, together with the fact that there was no real hurry or danger, made it not the utterly stupid thing that airing up those issues during missions usually is. (I’m looking at you, Ichabod Crane.)

2. I do not believe Birkhoff is cloned. Of all the characters on this show, Birkhoff has shown himself the most adept at hiding from the Division head honchos when hiding is what he wants, and as the tech guy instead of a field guy, he’s been constantly surrounded by people since back in last season. Reeallly don’t think that Nikita’s framing would lend itself to him so much as stepping outside for coffee, so no chance for him to be nabbed.

3. I love Amanda’s face when she believes Nikita is Finally actually turning into her.

4. Framing Alex seems more satisfying for Amanda than actually a good move for The Shop. She’s got a Cinderella Story and lots of documented charity behind her, that’s not a personage the public will be swayed against so easily.

In any case, I can’t wait for the end where Ryan will be set to run the new government, Owen will die having chosen who he wants to be, and shows she can actually be a partner, not a leader. These are my predictions-my main hope is that Birkhoff will get a happy ending, but I’m not holding my breath.

Lost Girl 4×1 and 4×2

Okay, it took me a bit to figure out my thoughts on the beginning of this season, but I do have them:

SPOILERS

On Kenzi:
-I don’t mind the storyline with her sparkle cream, but at the end of last season she was discovering she had potential to become a Real Fae, not this fake thing. Was that just totally switched out for the sparkle cream? Did I miss something where that was taken care of, cause last season she had to cover up her arm I think and now she’s definitely not. Cause that lack of consistency is something I am NOT alright with. What’s up with that?
-I maintain that Kenzi makes everything awesome, always, but….these first episodes keep putting her in situations designed to make female leads likable and entertaining (suddenly having to take care of a child, becoming a dirty dancer…) and Kenzi doesn’t need to be made likable or entertaining-she’s already the best thing about the show! So-why??? It seems like she could be rocking things so much harder if they just stopped throwing things at her and let Kenzi be Kenzi. In “In Memoriam” she was even acting like a faux-Bo half the time! No more mixing-even when Kenzi was Dyson they knew she needed to be Kenzi! That is what works.

On Bo:
-I understand that her pregnancy needed working around, but right from the beginning of “In Memoriam” I was begging them to not do the cliche cliff-hanger of only seeing one last shot of the protagonist’s face….and that’s what happened. Other than that there hasn’t been enough of her to have thoughts, so she had better be allowed to bring it next time, is all I can say.

On Selene and Endymion:
-I’ve been waiting for more Greek myth references on this show, but this seemed like the tamest possible way to do it. What’s with this playing safe thing, Lost Girl? That’s not what I think of with you.
-Eddie was fun but I wanted to know why he needed to know so much about emotions in order to try and do his job. Was it just a cover for his obsolescence or does he know of some sort of theory about love that can help locate people that could maybe be learned by others? What? It just seemed like it was all there for Dyson’s big speech and I like to see characters all having their own motivations.

On Aife:
-So, Trick’s whole thing about Aife going crazy again because she remembered losing her daughter is clearly crap since she did remember Bo even when no one else did. Is this a show inconsistency or is Trick just lying about stuff? Also, why has no one gone to ask her more things about Bo’s dad yet?

On Tamsin:
-Little Tamtam pleases me, but she needs to stop hogging the Kenzi.

Others I am simply having to wait and see, as I haven’t seen enough to judge current Lauren, Cleo, or Vex lines. What do you guys think?

White Queen 1×7 “Poison and Malmsey Wine”

FINALLY, this show has joined the ranks of a proper history soap opera! The costumes are looking up, they took a moment for simply a beautiful nature shot, they left room for some mystery…it has arrived. This is definitely my favorite episode so far.

SPOILERS:

-Margaret Beaufort, turns out you just needed things to Do other than mope around about your son and Lancaster in order to enliven the screen. The baby thing in itself and as your way in was dumb, but you went for it and by golly, anything that makes you stop bellyaching and start spying and speaking with dignity is excellent. However, it would have been that much better if you’d been seen subtly scaring off the other maid before she asked the queen to leave court, so it would be clear you’re still backstabbing and scheming away.

-David Oakes, your Juan pt. 2, the English One ends as outrageously as I had hoped. From the moment I saw you stroking your dog while watching brother-sex I was worried about the relationship. I was relieved to see it ended in a superstitious death. Also, I shall go ahead and give you credit for brainwashing Isabel for that year we didn’t see-getting her so afraid of Lizzie she could have died of voodoo-inspired fear was quite the accomplishment. Still a big fan of your hissyfits, but seeing one start with you in a bull mask was a special treat. Also, choosing a colorful way to go literally gains my approval.

-Edward…I love your lion outfit. Why do you keep whoring around and pretending to go to war so much when you’re obviously way too tired to make any kind of decent decisions ever and merely bend to wife, brothers, or the letter of the law without much foresight or zest? The year has not been kind to you, has it? Perhaps you’ve already got STDs and that accounts for it.

-Anne, why does everyone else get new clothes but you remain stuck in the one plain silhouette ALWAYS? I feel like this episode had you wanting to jump ship to Revenge, wanting to destroy someone for your fallen family member, clearly not knowing everything, needing Victoria’s advice about controlling powers that be instead of just having to choose a side…yeah, you’d fit RIGHT in. And they’d liven up your wardrobe, too.

-Elizabeth, I feel for you. One snarky comment about your womb being able to beat up everyone else’s womb and suddenly court is exploding in your face. What I’d like to know is how everyone somehow realized you were responsible for the storm that killed Izzy’s firstborn-don’t think that’s ever been comprehended before and it had no realization moment. However, storming after George in front of everyone served no useful purpose except to show off your sparkly gold dress. This is a schemey political show and you’ve got witchcraft-why bother to go after him yourself? It’s the least interesting choice. Your problem here seems, in fact, to be that you are too direct and honest. You let everyone know how you feel, you’re consistent, and you try to come at problems head-on. These are not the most useful problems from a TV perspective, but you’re doing them with flair.

-Richard, I am glad they let you speak up for George. On the other hand, your dealings with Anne are becoming too focused on dark looks. Your best moment really was when you got to blow up at your mom over her favoritism. Also, you at least have been paying attention to the foreshadowing. Please, let that not be played out as a self-fulfilling prophecy instead of actually your decision.

-Dear show, see how that works out for everyone when there’s not absolute clarity about a suspicious death? That’s what we’re looking for. That and more present complexities instead of filling in with repetitive foreshadowing. And more masquerades/intriguing scenery. Take note!

The White Queen 1×6 “Love and Death”

This is the episode where we find out how peace makes every woman’s life suck (as opposed to war).  Nevertheless, we persevere.

 

SPOILERS:

– Dear George, how marvelous you are in your blatant disregard of absolutely everything not you.

 

It really interested me to see how they drew parallels between Elizabeth and Anne as women who are both out  of the loop, even though one’s guardian is a bastard and the other’s does actually care for her.  Elizabeth’s problem seems simple to me-the difference with Jane the Mistress is that she flaunts it in front of everyone, including Elizabeth.  If she at least pretended that no one else knew she was the king’s mistress, Lizzie would get over it.  Alternatively, if she could’ve gotten a really good setup to put her in her place/insult her, things could have been fine.  Also, while yes, it is funny that Edward bursts out with this is what’s been bothering you? when talking about totally transparent adultery, compared to saying goodbye to her son, losing her mother, her newborn, and nearly her life, Jane should not perhaps be the highest priority.

 

Speaking of which, I shall miss Jacquetta.  And it was sweet to see her and the baby together, at least.  Although, even with their vague quick-shots at the birth, I have to say that I do not blame husbands back in the day for generally avoiding labor.

 

As for Anne…what is with this show?  Why not show the whole rumored story of George forcing her to live like a servant to prevent her getting in touch with anyone before she could be sen to the abbey, eh?  This is a schemey TV show here, folks, we want to see these things.  I’m very glad George called out Richard on the money angle, but…I’ve gotta say, that’s not how he’s been playing it.  Speaking of Richard, whether it’s for love or money, he was not being proactive enough this episode.  The boy needs to get cracking pretty soon here.  As for Isabel, I really wish they’d given her some more time to grow into her conniving role, controlling Anne with kindness for a little longer before they actually come to blows and she freezes.  As it was, I feel the actress did the best job she could to play her two faces without losing all possible plausibility.

 

Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, this is the deathbed conversation I wish had happened between Jane Eyre and her aunt.  Jane Eyre was too nice, it made me like Margaret.  As did her cool moving-on reaction to romantic rejection.  I like to see a woman of means using them.  And as for New Husband, I like his strategic mindset.  And his lack of actually wanting her affection, which was the previous guy’s downfall, in my opinion.  Lancaster Business Partners, Kingmakers Inc. has arrived!  On top of which, it’s an excellent time.  Elizabeth is vulnerable and in need of a new confidante, and Margaret will hate George and whoever else at court Elizabeth hates with true venom.  All she needs to do is humiliate Jane the Mistress for being a whore, and voila-Margaret is in.

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Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/the-white-queen-1×4-the-bad-queen/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/the-borgia-bulletin-3×10-the-prince/

The White Queen 1×5 “War at First Hand”

SPOILERS:

Well, Finally we have gotten through Warwick’s story.  Surprisingly enough, this episode that reaches the climax of everyone-knows-no-matter-what-something-is-going-to-suck managed to show all the characters at their best.  Warwick shows protectiveness towards his daughter, Isabel.  Isabel bears up bravely in her loneliness and supreme something’s-about-to-suckage.  Seriously, Isabel has become far and away my favorite character.  Anne grows up in leaps and bounds, although sometimes not very plausibly.  The “Bad Queen” Margaret flaunts her strengths for battle and commonsense.  Remarkably, her respect for commonsense is so great she gives up any extra jibing at Anne.  Unfortunately, her practicality put Anne at a disadvantage in my eyes for awhile.  (Yelling you’re the Kingmaker’s daughter is not going to help you against the folks who killed him, Anne!)  Even Anne’s husband comes across as just an arrogant prick instead of a horror.

 

Where they lost me was Warwick himself.  First, the man is not Boromir!  He doesn’t need this music and kneeling-in-the-leaves thing!  Second, call me something if you want, but I would’ve been much happier if the York boys had actually at least tried to kill him.  I know there’s this thing going about where the “good guys” no longer actually dispatch their enemies, but for God’s sake, we KNOW Edward gets his hands dirty, has no time for anything but, AND we’ve already gone over how he doesn’t want to, so at least let him act like he’s willing to do what he has to do for his realm.  Jeesh.  Just made him look like a wimp to me.

 

As for the royalty, Jacquetta managed to come up with a way for them to help the battle, magically of course.  Elizabeth showed great aplomb and practicality in attempting to defend her brood against Edward-in-disguise, and other times, which makes me like her.  “Most men would prefer to die in their sleep” indeed, Elizabeth!  You rock on!  (Until she gave Isabel that death look anyhow.  You keep your machinations off of Isabel!  Remember how sorry you felt for her and her newborn, will you?)  Edward continued to act very nobly, as always (So nobly and courageous in fact that it tired me out just watching him run about even more after all these episodes), and this time added sensitivity.  His demeanor about his son and about Warwick set him markedly apart.  They finally let Richard in on the action there, too, talking down to George.  Speaking of which, even GEORGE at least acknowledged how he should be feeling about his wife being Warwick’s daughter.  When you can get George to admit something honorable, you’re really on a roll!  (Isn’t he the most magnificent bastard?)

 

And on the Lancastrian side, even Margaret of Anjou and her husband made out well, character-wise.  Husband Henry showed determination, integrity, and as always, commonsense.  Margaret meanwhile proved that she can actually put aside her quest to think of others when things are dire, and that she can bear up well under more trials so long as she’s sure she did all she could.  It makes me think how frustrating it must be to not be able to really influence or ACT to effect the outcomes you want as a woman in those times, and how hard it would be for me also to shut up about anything without that power, how hard not to play manipulative emotion games when that’s all you have.  This episode showed that, so long as Margaret could do things and felt she had done all she could do, she can actually show some grace.

 

Plotwise of course, everything was supposed to be all war! Battle!  Blood!  However, that first blood-soaked face they close-upped on reminded me so much of the time I made a Vlad-the-Impaler cake (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/vlad-the-impalers-just-desserts/) and sprayed red food coloring and strawberry syrup everywhere for blood that the taste of that scrumptious creation came to my mouth.  Naturally, after that whenever I was supposed to think about blood and death and the misery of it all, I just tasted and thought-CAKE!  So, that kindof fell apart for me, but ya know, a very enjoyable experience for my own reasons.

 

Also, I am disappointed that the show has taken no stand on the death of Edward Lancaster.  Died in battle, indeed.  What about the more controversial stories and rumors, eh?  This is a Starz freaking TV history version, if you take out the controversies, what on earth are we doing here???  Which brings us to:

-Suffocating King Henry in bed.  Well, I know what they’re going for with that, but…I have no strong feelings.  Sorry.  Have you?

 

Other thoughts:

-Anne’s a freaking princess now, she can’t get at least a fancier hairdo like her mom has??

-Having Queen Margaret offer to make Richard king instead of having him figure it out all on its own just seems to weaken his character for no good reason.  Foreshadowing?  I don’t know.  It throws me off.

-Having Richard dramatically rescue Anne like that is a bit over the top, yes?

-I actually really like seeing little Elizabeth join her mom and grandma in magic.  It at least gives her a glimmer of her own power, which I’ve never felt she had before.  It’s nice.

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Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/the-white-queen-1×1-in-love-with-the-king/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/the-white-queen-1×4-the-bad-queen/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/bones-belonged-to-richard-iii/

 

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