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What I’m Watching – April 2022

What I’m Watching – April 2022

Outer Range

A couple weeks ago, I did a post on the marvelous, no longer with us, Terry Pratchett. That included a British miniseries for The Color of Magic, which freely adapted parts from the first three novels. Starring Sean Astin and Tim Curry, I liked it.

Then last week, I did an in-depth look at three USA Network shows which I liked, from the glory years. Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice. So, while I’m in this kind of mood, figured I’d talk about some of the stuff I’m streaming/watching lately as well. I don’t actually watch ANY network television any more. I think Moms was the last show I tuned in to. I did like The Unicorn, with the amazingly talented Wilton Goggins (Justified), but just sort of drifted away from that. I do want to get back on board with Nathan Fillion’s The Rookie.

Oh well – between Prime, current streaming shows, and my DVD collection (it’s always Bogie time!), don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

This is an Amazon Original, dropping episodes weekly. It stars Josh Brolin. I’m a fan of both him and his dad – they do rugged SO well. Being a Robert E. Howard fan, I’m familiar with the Weird Western sub-genre. And this one is also a crime show – sort of. Six of eight episodes have dropped.

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When USA was Kicking the Major Networks’ Collective Butts!

When USA was Kicking the Major Networks’ Collective Butts!

In the early 2000’s, for about a decade and-a-half, USA Network was cranking out quality shows. For some programming, they were a viable competitor to the big four. In those pre-streaming days, I faithfully watched each week. And in the past year, I’ve discovered a couple I didn’t watch the first time around. I decided it’s time to talk about a few of them. So here’s the first of a two-parter, looking at some of those great USA Network shows.

MONK (2002 – 2009)

How have I never written a stand-alone about Monk for Black Gate? That needs to be rectified in 2022! This is the show that put USA on the original programming map. Tony Shaloub’s defective detective just grew in popularity each season. The series finale, when aired, had the highest rating of any hour-long drama series on basic cable.

Shaloub is Adrian Monk – formerly a brilliant detective for the San Francisco Police Department. He was a bit obsessive-compulsive, but it was manageable. Barely. But then his wife, Trudy, is killed by a car bomb, and his OCD goes extreme. He ends up discharged by the police department. He can’t solve the murder, and it eats at him. He can’t do what he’s best at, to fix the biggest issue in his life.

His former partner, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer, is now chief of police, and he occasionally hires Monk to consult on tough cases. Lieutenant Randy Disher is his right hand. Stottlemeyer is competent, and Disher is brave; but they’re not brilliant. That’s where Monk comes in.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 55

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 55

So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through fifty-two. Here is day fifty five (May 15). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

Day Fifty Five – 2020 Stay at Home

I had to step out and help Fred find Evelyn Lanham’s step-son, Jason. Apparently not satisfied with wasting all of his late father’s money, he wanted to break her; thus the bail-jump. He was hiding out in a rented room above a bar down near the docks. Since the bar wasn’t doing much business, it wasn’t a bad spot. Fred got the initial lead but ended up stuck and I got him the rest of the way. The guy got loose from Fred and dashed through the kitchen and then out the back door, which was where I, ever the good operative, happened to be standing. I lent our quarry a hand. Or rather, a foot. He didn’t seem to appreciate the gesture. Parker was happy with us, and since it was a favor, no payment was necessary.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 50 & 52

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 50 & 52

So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty-nine. Here are days fifty (May 10) and fifty-two (May 12). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

Day Fifty – 2020 Stay at Home

No surprise that it’s been quiet here in the brownstone. Getting out to investigate a crime at Lewis Hewitt’s place was a flurry of activity during the lock down. With so many cases of the virus still being discovered daily, I’ve resisted the urge to call Bascom for a new assignment. Though, I may soon.

At lunch, Wolfe talked about the recovery of the American economy from the Pandemic. Supply chains, consumer fears of infection, strained cash reserves of businesses, social distancing and other health guidelines; It will be a slow return towards normal. Fortunately for him, and also for my paycheck, he expects clients to return. He was suitably grumpy at the prospect, of course. Work remains something to only undertake when forced by circumstances.

But crimes continue. And there will be more crimes of the type clients bring to him, as activity ‘out in the world’ increases. Which will keep him in beer, books, food, and flowers. I may have to practice badgering him into taking on jobs. I’ve gotten out of the habit.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 45 & 46

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 45 & 46

So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty-nine. Here are days forty-five (May 5) and forty-six (May 6). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

Day Forty Five – 2020 Stay at Home

“WHAT is this?”

I looked back at Nero Wolfe as I went to my desk. “Your beer. What does it look like?” I had just put the tray on his desk.

“This most certainly is not my beer, Archie. What is this flummery?”

“Well, sir, it is Cinco de Mayo.”

“Archie…”

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 40 & 41

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 40 & 41

So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty-nine. Here are days forty (April 30) and forty-one (May 1). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

Day Forty– 2020 Stay at Home

Saul called today. The governor announced that he was releasing some prisoners due to excessive coronavirus exposure in the prisons. And as Lon had predicted, Arthur Goldstein was one of them. Wolfe had brought Saul in late in the case to try and get him for killing the guard. Saul, who rarely comes up short, and hates doing so even more than I do – if that’s possible – hadn’t been able to get what we wanted.

“Instead of him getting the chair, he’s going home.”

“Yeah. That’s an itch I’d like to scratch.”

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll do something stupid, now that he’s out,” Saul mused.

“That would be an early birthday present.”

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 39

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 39

So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty-eight. Here is day thirty nine (April 29). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

Day Thirty Nine– 2020 Stay at Home

Fritz doesn’t like to freeze meat, which is understandable for a master chef – certainly one who is cooking for Nero Wolfe. But with pork-processing plants shutting down all over the country, he took delivery this morning of enough pork to last us awhile.

I offered to help him organize and store it all, but he declined. Fritz keeps complete control of his well-ordered kitchen. I sat down at my breakfast table with a small pitcher of milk and amused myself by watching him. Fritz sometimes does a one-man running commentary on his kitchen operations, in a mix of Swiss and English. It’s better than television.

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What I’ve Been Watching: (A BritBox) December 2021

What I’ve Been Watching: (A BritBox) December 2021

One of these five doesn’t make it out of the pilot. Cast changes began early!

During my hiatus from Black Gate, I watched a lot of shows, and some movies. And I grabbed a BritBox subscription, so today, we’re going across the pond. I might drop a minor item here and there, but these reviews are mostly spoiler-free.

DEATH IN PARADISE

I had just finished season four of this enjoyable British police show on Netflix, back when the newly-created BritBox snatched this – and many other shows – away. I recently got a ‘two months for $2’ deal through Prime, and lo and behold, I had access to this show again. Season 10 wrapped up in February of 2021, and it just started season eleven last week, over on the BBC. I was pleased when a Christmas episode dropped just a few weeks ago. With a BIG surprise!

The basic premise is that Scotland Yard assigns a DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) to duty on the island of Saint Marie (pronounced ‘San Marie’), located in the Lesser Antilles. Saint Marie was turned over to the British by the French roughly forty years before the show starts. So, it still has a French-Caribbean culture.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Another Radio Poirot

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Another Radio Poirot

A few weeks ago, I wrote about John Moffatt’s outstanding radio show, in which he played Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. I think it is, and will remain, unsurpassed. Today, we’re going to go back and look at the first radio series starring the fussy little Belgian detective.

By 1944, there had been a few radio appearances featuring Poirot. Including a production by Orson Welles, starring Orson Welles, for Orson Welles’ radio show. (It’s all about Orson). I’ll write about that one later. Sam Spade, Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan, Ellery Queen, Philip Marlowe, The Falcon: detectives were popular radio fare. And an American actor and entertainment entrepreneur by the name of Harold Huber, set out to add Agatha Christie’s famous creation as a regular attraction of the airwaves.

Huber obtained the rights to Poirot for an American radio show. Agatha Christie’s Poirot debuted on February 2, 1945, featuring a live introduction from Christie, across the sea. Except, after about thirty seconds of silence, the announcer for the Mutual Broadcasting System explained that atmospheric conditions prevented the connection. MBS did have the foresight to record a short-wave transmission from Christie earlier that day, and played that in place of her live appearance. Having Christie explain that Poirot was busy, so she would introduce the series, was a pretty neat move in those times LONG before cell phones and podcasts.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Days 24 and 25

Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: 2020 Stay at Home – Days 24 and 25

So, last year, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Hortsmann. I have already re-posted days one through twenty-one. Here are days twenty-four (April 14) and twenty-five (April 15). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.

DAY TWENTY FOUR – 2020 Stay at Home

The doorbell rang. I’ve certainly typed that many times in my accounts of Nero Wolfe’s cases. But it was something that wasn’t happening much lately. Other than food deliveries for Fritz, visitors were few and far between. Wolfe didn’t even bother acknowledging it, knowing it wouldn’t be a potential, and certainly uninvited client. I moved out into the hall and heard Fritz in the kitchen, still cleaning up from lunch.

Looking through the one-way glass, I was surprised to see the not-quite-as familiar lately profile of the head of Homicide West, Inspector Cramer. He was calling something out to his driver and turned when he heard me open the door two inches, the chain still on.

“I’m sorry, sir. Wolfe & Goodwin Investigations is temporarily closed. Our esteemed governor does not feel that private detectives provide an essential service in these troubled times. May I suggest you visit your local precinct station? Of course, it is a step down in quality of service, but those dedicated public servants are open 24/7.”

“You’ll clown at your own funeral, Goodwin. The only good thing about this lockdown is I haven’t had to listen to you for three weeks. Open up. I want to talk to Wolfe.”

“Now hold on. We’ve kept this place virus free. Who knows where you’ve been? Let me see if I can let you in.”

“Cut the crap-” I’m sure the next word was ‘Goodwin,’ but it was muffled by the door, which I had closed on him.

I stopped at the doorway to the office. “It’s the man about the chair.” That was my favorite code name for the inspector.

He looked up from his book. “What?”

“Yes sir. It seems that the New York police force cannot function without your assistance. Since we’re not on a case, he can’t be coming here to yell at us, a pastime which he greatly enjoys, as you well know. I’d guess he’s really stuck on something, and wants you to bail him out.”

“That man can still be a nuisance.”

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