Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Doctor Foster: The Affair, On the Other Side of the Pond

I just watched Doctor Foster, the five-part British 2015 series, recently brought over here by Netflix, after a showing earlier last year on Lifetime.  Excellent on all accounts.

The story starts off as many extra-marital affairs that shake-up families do: Gemma finds a blonde hair on her husband's scarf.  She's a brunette, and off we go.

But Doctor Foster has unusual depth and attention to character detail, and this puts the series in league with the other fine account of an affair - The Affair - and in some ways Doctor Foster is better. Gemma is a doctor - Doctor Foster - and has a practice that is in itself the stuff of good narrative.  Her husband is on the surface a genial real estate developer, but there's much more beneath the surface. And their son Tom, who looks to be about 11-to-12-years old, has just the right amount of savvy for someone that age.

The series is lifted by Suranne Jones's portrayal of Gemma.   Jones has a very expressive face, and conveys Gemma's quick changes of mood, as she struggles with what to believe and what to do about it, what to show to the public and what not, very effectively.   The story is well parked in our digital age, as when Gemma is called in by her superior after negative comments are posted about her on a web site that rates and gives feedback about doctors.

Unlike The Affair, in which crime and police investigation are an essential part of the narrative, Doctor Foster sticks almost completely with the affair at hand, and its ramifications.  Packed with twists, and highly recommended.

Timeless 1.12: Incandescent West

Timeless keeps getting better every time, and as I've been saying with almost every review of the past few episodes of this series, episode 1.12 was the best episode so far.

Here's why -

1. An excellent Flynn episode, in which he not only interacts with Jesse James - whose life he saves - but with Emma.  Who's Emma?  Well, she's not only played by 24's Annie Wersching - always up for a gritty, attractive performance on screen - but she's the very first time traveler, who has been hiding out in the past for a decade.  This alliance promises some good times ahead.

2. Not only does Jesse James play a big role in this episode, but so does the Lone Ranger and Tonto - and the Lone Ranger is African-American, much to Rufus's delight, and played by Colman Domingo of Fear The Walking Dead.  For that matter, Tonto is played by Zahn McClarnon of Longmire (and I just saw him on Frontier).   Timeless has had some strong guest starring power all along, but episode 1.12 was a special event.

3. Lucy puts in one of her best roles - actually, it all happens in one scene, but this was something new and important for the show.   She shoots Jesse James in the back, for the sake of saving history. Of course, Flynn's actions already changed our history - the Ford Bros no longer did the cowardly deed - but at least Lucy kills Jesse, and in much the same way as in our original history.

4.  Wyatt's philosophy is it's right to kill bad people who kill good people. That has never been Lucy's philosophy, but tonight her values and Wyatt's coincide.  Clearly they won't in the coming attractions for next week's episode, when Wyatt will try to save his wife which in some big way may change history as Lucy and we know it.

And I'll be back here with a review to tell you how all that went down ...

See also Timeless 1.1: Threading the Needle ... Timeless 1.2: Small Change, Big Payoffs ... Timeless 1.3: Judith Campbell ... Timeless 1.4: Skyfall and Weapon of Choice ... Timeless 1.5: and Quantum Leap ... Timeless 1.6: Watergate and Rittenhouse ... Timeless 1.7: Stranded! ... Timeless 1.8: Time and Space ... Timeless 1.9: The Kiss and The Key ... Timeless 1.10: The End in the Middle ... Timeless 1.11: Edison, Ford, Morgan, Houdini, and Holmes (No, Not Sherlock)!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Homeland 6.2: Parallel Program

Homeland 6.2 picked up some steam tonight, at least insofar as what Carrie really is doing with her life in New York City.

We already knew she was an attorney, but now we learn she's also been closely advising the President-elect on foreign policy.   Saul suspects and Carrie denies it to his face.  It's not clear whether he believes her or not.  I certainly would never. Dar has photographs which prove it, but he doesn't show them to Saul.  Homeland has always been about holding your cards close to your chest.

But Saul going to check out the Mossad story about Iran secretly building nuclear weapons in a "parallel program" - that is, a program running parallel and secret to the inspected facilities - is a nice touch.  (My wife aptly commented that she hoped Trump wasn't watching - he'd likely believe the parallel Iranian program was really happening.)   The President-elect in Homeland is sending Saul to the Middle East on Carrie's strong suggestion.  This means that Carrie is bound to follow - sooner or later - good news for this season.

Also good news is Quinn beginning to get back at least some of his mind. The scene at the end of episode, between Carrie and Quinn, was strong and very much needed.  It's unclear whether Quinn can completely recover. But I don't recall anyone saying that he couldn't, so I'm hoping for the best.

Given Trump's problems with the CIA, and his speech there on Saturday, in which he lashed out at the media, this season of Homeland takes on a new significance - enhanced by the President-elect on the show being a woman.  I'm looking forward to more of this season and its parallel presidency.

And see also  Homeland on Showtime ... Homeland 1.8: Surprises ... Homeland Concludes First Season: Exceptional


  more espionage in New York City

The Affair 3.9: A Sliver of Clarity

A strange, provocative episode 3.9 of The Affair tonight, which provided a little clarity into what has been happening to Noah - a very little clarity, actually, but a lot better than almost nothing.

What becomes more clear is why Noah went to prison for what happened to Scott. It was not only to protect Helen and Alison, but to expiate Noah's guilt for mercy-killing his mother.  Ok.

Also clear is that Gunther is not at all a bad guy.  He's a prison guard, yes, but I'd say that scene with him in the present, back in Noah's hometown, was real.  And, if so, then all the scenes we've been seeing this season of Gunther abusing Noah in prison were in Noah's head ... more expiation of his guilt about his mother.   This also explains why Noah didn't want Helen to let the prison officials know that Noah had been beaten - because some part of Noah knew he had done that to himself, smashing his face against the wall, or whatever.

Now we get to the part that's less clear - the most important part.  Noah stabbed himself in his apartment in New Jersey - I was thinking that was one of the likely explanations since the beginning (see my reviews, listed below). But where did Noah get the knife?  Not the knife we saw tonight, which Noah bought in the country store, after he had been stabbed in the neck.  We saw Noah holding that knife in his New Jersey apartment, and using it to stab himself, a little ... but that was a reenactment in the present of what happened earlier, a few weeks ago, right?

So what happened to the original knife that Noah used to seriously cut himself?  Why didn't the police find it?  And, for that matter, can't doctors tell the difference between a self-inflicted wound, and one inflicted by an assailant? Wouldn't the thrust patterns be different?

We did get some real clarity in Helen's story, though.  Her conversation with Alison was great, and satisfying to see.  And Helen finally unburdening herself was right, too.

Next week, in the season finale, I hope we get a few more questions answered about Noah.

See also The Affair 3.1: Sneak Preview Review ... The Affair 3.2: Sneak Preview Review: Right Minds ... The Affair 3.3: Who Attached Noah? ... The Affair 3.4: The Same Endings in Montauk ... The Affair 3.5: Blocked Love ... The Affair 3.6: The Wound ... The Affair 3.7: The White Shirt ... The Affair 3.8: The "Miserable Hero"

And see also The Affair 2.1: Advances ... The Affair 2.2: Loving a Writer ... The Affair 2.3: The Half-Wolf ... The Affair 2.4: Helen at Distraction ... The Affair 2.5: Golden Cole ... The Affair 2.6: The End (of Noah's Novel) ... The Affair 2.7: Stunner ... The Affair 2.8: The Reading, the Review, the Prize ...The Affair 2.9: Nameless Hurricane ... The Affair 2.10: Meets In Treatment ... The Affair 2.11: Alison and Cole in Business ... The Affair Season 2 Finale: No One's Fault

podcast review of every 2nd season episode

podcast review of every 1st season episode

the Sierra Waters time-travel trilogy

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Perversity of Things: review #8 of X: Definitions and Fake News

Continuing with my reviews (#8 of X) of The Perversity of Things: Hugo Gernsback on Media, Tinkering, and Scientifiction, edited by Grant Wythoff (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) - at a more leisurely place now, reporting here on two gems in pages 52-55 of Wythoff's 59-page Introduction to the 359-page volume.

Wythoff describes Gernsback's keen concern with the definition of science fiction - or scientifiction, as Gernsback usually had it - which in turn led to a thoughtful, even profound, analysis of how much science and truth needs to be in the science fiction.   There are several bells that this discussion rung for me.

First, I'm reminded about both Karl Popper's and Marshall McLuhan's dislike for definitions.  Popper held that they were a distraction, and McLuhan was fond of quoting French poet Stéphane Mallarmé that “To define is to kill. To suggest is to create.”  I generally agree with that, but Gernsback's quest to define science fiction was valuable.

As Wythoff points out, it led Gernsback to probe the evolution of technology, with the realization that the science in science fiction was a progressing target.   A century later, anyone familiar with science fiction knows that it predicted and even provided a template for everything from space travel to gene-splicing (H. G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau).   In Gernsback's day, this was not as obvious, and he deserves credit for holding science fiction to the test of not only plausibility but physical possibility - which remains an important point of demarcation between science fiction and fantasy.(See this for my very brief definition of the two.)

Gernsback's focus on scientific possibility and truth led to what today is an astonishing example. Wythoff, writing before our current crisis regarding fake news, tells us about Gernsback's 1926 "The Moon Hoax," in an early issue of his Amazing Stories, which reprinted a series of articles in The New York Sun from 1835 which reported an intelligent civilization of the Moon.   Gernsback was confident, in 1926, that such a "hoax" would quickly be exposed by radio.   He of course missed not only Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" (thanks to my wife Tina for this example), but the way that our social media today not only unmask fake news but disseminate it.

I thought this example was so telling, that I just added it to my Fake News in Real Context.  That's what I mean about The Perversity of Things being a treasure trove to anyone who's interested in the evolution and impact of media.  And I'll be back here, sooner or later, with more.

See alsoThe Perversity of Things: review #1 of X: Gernsback as Philosopher of Technology ... #2 of X: Learning by Doing ... #3 of X: The Evolution of Media ... #4 of X: Gernsback and the The First Amendment ... #5 of X: Amateurs vs. Corporations ... #6 of X: Thought Experiments and Toys ... #7 of X: The Invention of Invention and the Advent of Science Fiction

Ending the Electoral College

Yesterday as an extraordinary day, the likes I which I haven't seen since I rallied against the Vietnam War at the Pentagon in 1969, and my wife (then girlfriend) and I marched against that same immoral, unconstitutional war that same year in New York City.   Yesterday, my son and daughter and nephew marched in New York City against Trump and everything he espouses.  My daughter-in-law and mother-in-law marched against the new President and his polices in Washington, DC.  Another nephew was at a similar rally for decency in Barcelona.   My wife was taking care of our grandson, and I helped out a little with that, too.

The marches against Trump were also rallies against immorality.  But not against a violation of the Constitution.  Because, unlike the Vietnam War, which occurred without the Declaration of War mandated by our Constitution, Donald Trump was elected President in accordance with our Constitution.  He received more than the required majority of votes in the Electoral College.

We'll never be able to precisely identify all the factors that led to this miscarriage of democracy - miscarriage not only figuratively, but literally, since Trump lost the popular vote.   If I had to identify the single most important factor, I would certainly put James Comey's public statements about possible Hillary Clinton email on her assistant's computer, so close to the election, in stark violation of FBI precedent and policy, right up there as a grievously significant factor.  But it's obviously not the single most important factor.  Because that would have to be the Electoral College.

Because, look, even with Comey's statements, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million.  Which means that the only absolutely knowable reason Trump not Hillary is now President is  Electoral College.

Yeah, I know that Trump's campaign would have been deployed differently if winning depended on the popular vote.   But Trump only won because he won very narrowly in a lot of states.  How could those narrow margins possibly have added up to a victory for Trump in popular vote, however differently he might have campaigned?

And, this is not the first time in recent history the Electoral College has defeated democracy.  The Supreme Court wouldn't have been called on to make a decision in Bush v. Gore over the Florida vote in 2000 - and awarded the election to Bush - if there had been no Electoral College - because in that year, Gore won the national vote, and no one objected to the national vote count.

The rallies yesterday are aptly focused on winning elections in two years, and after.  That's the only way to stop Trump and Republicans who support him.   But that impressive power - correctly identified in the media as the most powerful demonstrations since the Vietnam War - needs to go further.   We need to once and for all retire the Electoral College.  We need to insist that a vote in California or New York counts exactly the same as a vote cast in Michigan or Wisconsin.

This doesn't guarantee that someone like Trump would not be elected again.  But it will mean that an occupant of the White House will never again be a product of an antiquated system designed to protect the nation from democracy, rather than directly express the will of the people, which is democracy itself.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Colony 2.2: 1969

A suitably chilling Colony 2.2 last night, with an especially good intro, which tells us the aliens have had us on their radar since 1969.

Though, who knows, maybe the aliens in this 1969 clip are good, and will save us from the Hosts who are colonizing the Earth.  Not likely, though - and impossible to say at this point, since we still know so little of the attack aka The Arrival or the attackers.   We did see a bristling alien vehicle in the air, breaking the sound barrier and potentially ear drums as it lifted, but that's still about it, and still not enough.

Meanwhile, some interesting developments on the ground.  Will and his former FBI partner make a good reunited team.  Katie's tempted to turn against the resistance because she's desperate to get back Bram, who has in effect been traded for Charlie as being sought by his parents.  And it will be fun to see Snyder in charge of the work facility, with his poster being torn down as Proxy.

On the other hand, it's beginning to look as if the hosts are practicing some kind of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Puppet Masters, mental takeover of human minds, and that's been done so many times it will need to be wrapped in something really unexpected to make it work in Colony.  Come to think of it, it was even done in Falling Skies, to be the point of being worn to shreds.

So Colony remains, as its second season gets underway, full of promise, but still in need of some delivery of crucial plot pieces that go beyond the all-too familiar neo-fascist America.

See also Colony 2.1: Prelude

And see also Colony 1.1: Aliens with Potential ... 1.2: Compelling ... 1.5: Questions ... 1.6: The Provost ... Colony 1.7: Broussard ... Colony 1.8: Moon Base and Transit Zones ... Colony 1.9: Robot Arm ... Colony Season 1 Finale: Not Quite Enough

not exactly aliens, but strange enough ...  The Silk Code

Vikings 4.18: The Beginning of Revenge

A brutal Vikings 4.18 this week, as Ragnar's sons with Lagertha and associates prepare for and begin to exact revenge for the killing of their father.

Lagertha's sacrificing of a Viking man as Bjorn made love to Lagertha's lover was a powerful scene, which put in high relief the savagery and sexual permissiveness which both characterized these Vikings.  This second point was repeated when two of Ragnar's other sons agree to bed the same woman, after she has married one of them.   That was actually my favorite scene of this dark episode.

And the darkest part, of course, was the protracted killing of the northern English king Aelle who so mercilessly and viciously killed Ragnar.  What Ragnat's sons did to him, in retribution, shows us the audience that these Vikings were not to be outdone when it came to meeting out revenge and death.

And though I'm naturally inclined to support our heroes, it's important to keep in mind that, after all, it was Ragnar who first attacked and invaded England, not vice versa.   So, on some moral plane, the English were entitled to kill Ragnar, if not in such an inhumane way.

And waiting on the deck of history is Ecbert, to get his just dues, too.  In the most horrendous scene of the evening, Ivar looks with rapt satisfaction right in the face of King Aelle, as the last of his life drains from him.  That's the face - Ivar's face - which will soon be looking at Ecbert, whose plan to pin the killing of Ragnar on Aelle has already failed, just as Ragnar intended it to fail, and as we already know.

See also Vikings 4.1: I'll Still Take Paris ... Vikings 4.2: Sacred Texts ...Vikings 4.4: Speaking the Language ... Vikings 4.5: Knives ... Vikings 4.8: Ships Up Cliff ... Vikings 4.10: "God Bless Paris" ... Vikings 4.11: Ragnar's Sons ... Vikings 4.12: Two Expeditions ... Vikings 4.13: Family ... Vikings 4.14: Penultimate Ragnar? ... Vikings 4.15: Close of an Era ... Vikings 1.16: Musselman ... Vikings 1.17: Ivar's Wheels

And see also Vikings 3.1. Fighting and Farming ... Vikings 3.2: Leonard Nimoy ...Vikings 3.3: We'll Always Have Paris ... Vikings 3.4: They Call Me the Wanderer ... Vikings 3.5: Massacre ... Vikings 3.6: Athelstan and Floki ...Vikings 3.7: At the Gates ... Vikings 3.8: Battle for Paris ... Vikings 3.9: The Conquered ... Vikings Season 3 Finale: Normandy

And see also Vikings 2.1-2: Upping the Ante of Conquest ... Vikings 2.4: Wise King ... Vikings 2.5: Caught in the Middle ... Vikings 2.6: The Guardians ...Vikings 2.7: Volatile Mix ... Vikings 2.8: Great Post-Apocalyptic Narrative ... Vikings Season 2 Finale: Satisfying, Surprising, Superb

And see also Vikings ... Vikings 1.2: Lindisfarne ... Vikings 1.3: The Priest ... Vikings 1.4:  Twist and Testudo ... Vikings 1.5: Freud and Family ... Vikings 1.7: Religion and Battle ... Vikings 1.8: Sacrifice
... Vikings Season 1 Finale: Below the Ash

historical science fiction - a little further back in time

Frequency 1.12: Good Inter-temporal Police Work, But...

Good inter-temporal police work between Raimy and Frank in last night's Frequency 1.12, but ...

Somewhat predictably - because it's the next-to-last, not last, show of the season - Julie is still in mortal danger.  Because the Nightingale, having been eliminated as Julie's killer, thanks to being put behind bars in Frank's time, is replaced by his son as Julie's (likely) killer).,

This is a good touch - the stubbornness of the Julie-gets-killed timeline defeats, at least for now, Raimy and Frank's relentless efforts to change it.  Except - well, it's even more complicated than that, which is also more intriguing and different than just Julie still being killed.

This is an interesting decision on the part of the writers.  Why not have Julie still dead, even after the Nightingale can't kill her, and make that the mystery to be solved (or not) next week?  The answer, I'd say, is because giving Raimy - and we, the audience - a taste of what it's like if Julie had survived is even better.  It tells us, reminds in case we needed reminding, just how much Raimy now has to loose.

Also of interest is where Frank is in the 2016 in which Julie is alive?  And, come to think of it, when will the son of the Nightingale try to satisfy his inherited obsession and try to kill Julie?

These questions are moving Frequency into a first-rate time-travel story, which makes me hope more than ever that it lives beyond next week.

See also Frequency 1.1: Closely Spun Gem ... Frequency 1.2: All About the Changes  ... Frequency 1.3: Chess Game Across Time ...  Frequency 1.4: Glimpsing the Serial Killer ... Frequency 1.5: Two Sets of Memories ... Frequency 1.6: Another Time Traveler? ... Frequency 1.7: Snags ... Frequency 1.8: Interferences ... Frequency 1.9: The Wife and the Fiancee ... Frequency 1.10: The Clarinet of Time ... Frequency 1.11: The Unkilling

                       more time travel

Thursday, January 19, 2017

No Second Chance: First Place Whodunnit

I'm continuing to feast on the international television and movies Netflix has been bringing us, ranging from Nordic Noir (Dicte and many more) to Cuban cop (Four Seasons in Havana) to Israeli undercover (Fauda).   France is well represented in this, too, with the superb Spiral, which I'll review after I've seen the 5th season on Netflix for free (cheapskate that I am), and Marseilles, which was quite good.

No Second Chance is another French winner, which arrived in France via New Jersey, where Harlan Corben, the American renowned mystery writer, lives and works.   Corben not only wrote No Second Chance, but has a nice cameo at the end, along with Dana Delaney, the only actor American audiences will recognize in this series.

The rest are French, and all excellent.  So is the narrative, which unlike a lot of high-octane kidnap stories, comes packaged with a first-class, whodunnit puzzler.  A father is shot to death, a mother shot and left for dead, and their six-month baby is kidnapped.   The mother, a medical doctor, recovers and sets out to find her baby.

But that won't happen until she or someone else solves the puzzle of what happened in the first place. Suffice to say it's not what it seems to be, as the main detective is just on edge of realizing.   There's a gap of time in the narrative - which was somewhat necessary for one of the crucial developments in the ending - but I think the story would have been even stronger and tighter without it.

But that's a small quibble about a compelling six-episode series,  crème de la crème for international and indeed all television.

silk noir

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On Leaving Power

I read an article years ago about the pain of leaving power.   Possibly the fact that I can't recall the author's name is indicative of the author losing power, but the ideas seem especially relevant this week, as Barack Obama concludes his eight years as President.

The gist of the article was how starkly different, to the point of seeming unresponsive and even barren, the world around you can seem when you leave a position of power.  Obviously, the more powerful you are, the more you feel this literal draining and recession of the world.

The President of the United States is probably the most prominent example.   In addition to having a channel and megaphone for any and every idea you have, if you want to communicate it, you also have ways of getting these ideas implemented, that you never had before and never will again.

You also have people waiting on your every need.   Although Presidents including Obama frequently say how much they value their downtime and privacy, and that's true, the flip side is that when all you have is privacy, you miss being in the public light.

Possibly our world has changed to the point where a former President like Obama can continue to have some residual power, at least as far as people paying special attention to his ideas, if that's what he wants.

But my guess is Barack Obama will sorely miss even the onerous responsibilities of the Presidency, in ways the rest of us who have never been President or anything close to it can barely imagine.  For that reason, in addition to all the extraordinary good he has done and tried to do for the country, I wish Barack Obama all the luck in the world.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Young Pope 1.2: The Supreme Cool

A superb second episode of The Young Pope on HBO tonight, with a cardinal McLuhanesque lesson in media presentation: the more unseen, the more powerful, or, the supremely cool.

The episode doesn't tell us if Pius XIII read McLuhan, and his notion that the less presented, the more the viewer is attracted and involved, but Pius understands it, as well as if he had read the relevant chapter in Understanding Media, or sat in any of McLuhan's classes in the Coach House at the University of Toronto when McLuhan held forth there through the 1970s.  (I was there several times in the late 1970s, and again just this past year.)

McLuhan was a devout Catholic, and likely would have been offended by a lot of what the young Pope says and does.  But McLuhan couldn't deny that Pius knows his McLuhan, whether he explicitly acknowledges it or not.

The other important theme in tonight's episode is the power of Sister Mary.  She is the closest to the Pope, and some even think that she thinks she and the Pope are co-Pontiffs.  At this point, it's difficult to say what she's really thinking, but she may have in mind that's she's in effect the first female Pope, working through Lenny aka Pius.

The young Pope of course wouldn't want that.  He loves his power, at least as and maybe more than God.  And I await to see how the story unfolds next Sunday.

See also: The Young Pope 1.1: Beyond Iconclast

Monday, January 16, 2017

Timeless 1.11: Edison, Ford, Morgan, Houdini, and Holmes (No, Not Sherlock)!

A crackerjack return of Timeless with episode 1.11 tonight, featuring our team at work at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and running into (in one way or another) Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, J. P. Morgan, Harry Houdini, and serial killer (though as is made clear several times, not known by that label then) H. H. Holmes.  And just for good measure there's a famous women from MIT, but I didn't catch her name.

Houdini has the most screen time, and it's put to good use, as he uses his budding talents to unlock a door to a room where two of our heroes are in peril, and lift a gun from the pocket of Flynn, now thoroughly a bad guy again, but at least consistent in his reasons.

There are lots of good scenes and glances, including the slight look from Lucy when Wyatt says goodbye to the MIT woman, with whom there is definitely a touch a chemistry.   The famous characters all look as they should, including Henry Ford, who looks much younger than we think of him, because he was indeed much younger back then, when he was working for Edison, and hadn't yet invented his first Ford.   (I'd show you some photos, but I have more television to watch tonight, and don't have the time to find and insert them.)

So our team, rent asunder back in ancient 2016, is now back together in 2017, though the ever-resourceful Flynn is tempting Wyatt to leave the fold.  And as we're just days away from Inauguration Day here in the United States, I can't help thinking, where is a time-travel team from the future when we need them?  Or who knows, maybe they were already here, and we're seeing the result...

See you here next week!

See also Timeless 1.1: Threading the Needle ... Timeless 1.2: Small Change, Big Payoffs ... Timeless 1.3: Judith Campbell ... Timeless 1.4: Skyfall and Weapon of Choice ... Timeless 1.5: and Quantum Leap ... Timeless 1.6: Watergate and Rittenhouse ... Timeless 1.7: Stranded! ... Timeless 1.8: Time and Space ... Timeless 1.9: The Kiss and The Key ... Timeless 1.10: The End in the Middle

Edison, Ford, and J. P Morgan play big roles in Chronica,
third novel in this time-travel trilogy

The Young Pope 1.1: Beyond Iconoclast

Quite a show on The Young Pope, which debuted on HBO last night, and stars Jude Law as Pope Pius XIII.  He's Jude Law's age and looks like Jude Law - of course - and just for good measure is an American, and a New Yorker, at that.

The episode begins with Pius addressing the adoring masses in Rome, and saying he wants the Church to be a spearhead of freedom, for everything from abortions to priests openly marrying.  This extraordinary scene turns out to be a dream - which we should have guessed when the heavens cleared of rain right before Pius began to talk.  But the scene at the end, when Pius tells a priest that he doesn't believe in God, was no dream at all.

So the young Pope is not only young and a New Yorker, but an iconoclast that goes eons beyond anything we've seen or heard even from the real current Pope Francis.   But part of the power of The Young Pope is that he's an extension of what Francis has wisely started.

Where The Young Pope will go from here is anyone's guess.   We don't know how and why Lenny Belardo was selected.  We don't how much support he'll get for his reforms - which seem far too light a word for what he's thinking - and how long that will last.   Most of all, we don't yet know exactly what Pius XIII ultimately wants, if he knows that himself.

But we can expect a searing, provocative examination of the current basis of a religion of 1.27 billion adherents, which daily has profound influence on many more in the world.

The Investigator: Running an Investigator

Caught The Investigator on Netflix yesterday, a 4-hour true-crime documentary (with actor reenactment of some scenes) that details the investigation that Mark Williams-Thomas (an investigative reporter and former police officer) made last year into the disappearance of Carole Packman in England in 1985.

Her body was never discovered, but her his husband, Russell Causley was convicted of her murder and is now serving a life prison sentence for it in England. Their daughter Samantha, 16 years old at the time of her mother's vanishing, and now in her forties and a mother herself, got Williams-Thomas involved, in the hope that he would provide some answers or closure to questions that understandably haunt and torment to her to this very day.  Causley has maintained his innocence, but Sam is not so sure.

Dealing as it does with the likely murder of a woman, and the protestation of innocence by the man convicted of it, The Investigator has some resemblances to Making a Murderer, but the two are very different.   The body was found in Making a Murderer, so there's no doubt at all that a murder was committed.   And while Steven Avery, in Making a Murderer, may be brighter than he looks, he's clearly not some criminal mastermind.

Russell Causley is - or at very least, masterful in how to run Mark Williams-Thomas rather than vice versa in this investigation.   Williams-Thomas knows to be wary of everything Causley says, but he can't help responding to them, anyway.

In the end ... well, I don't want to give anything more away, except to say that someone who may also have had a role in the murder may still be at large - if indeed there was a murder.