Monday, August 19, 2013

Murdering the Second Dimension

Finally a new Monogatari episode's been subtitled--apparently the reason all the fansub groups ignored the week before's episode was that it's a recap episode. I was surprised to hear of one in a Monogatari series but now I see on Wikipedia this season will have a rather incredible twenty six episodes. In this day and age in the U.S., U.K., and Japan, it seems almost every show has seasons or "series" of twelve episodes tops. 26 episodes in a season harkens back to a different era in television at this point.

Unfortunately, having watched the Suruga Monkey arc so recently highlighted too many dull signs of the new episodes' more conventional bent. How am I supposed to go from a show about demons manifesting from sexual abuse and the "Rainy Devil" swinging Araragi around a room by his intestines to a show about Araragi travelling back in time to turn in his homework on time or about Hanekawa overcoming her shyness? How the fuck did this happen? Oh, of course I know--the original series was massively popular because of the character designs and somewhere a bigwig thought, "Maybe it'll be doubly popular if it doesn't challenge the viewer in any way!" Oh, well.

Last night I also watched the first episode of Britain's long running detective series Midsomer Murders. It was recommended to me by my friend Celia, co-owner of my chess club. Celia is a lab assistant of some kind and is the best chess player I know--the impression I have is she has a real brain and mine feels like a lump of stale pudding in comparison. I had trouble relating to her in conversation because I relate to everyone through art and she'd never even heard of Harrison Ford when I was telling her about Comic-Con. She doesn't seem to be familiar with much in literature, television, or cinema and it was some time before I learned she loves British detective shows, none of which I'd seen--shows like A Touch of Frost and Midsomer Murders.

The episode wasn't bad although a lot of it pretty blatantly panders to elderly women. Maybe this is the Orthopaedic Gaze. The detective protagonist is John Barnaby, a solid gentleman played by John Nettles without the slightest hint of the psychological eccentricities or personal demons I'm familiar with in the only detective shows I've ever watched (The X-Files, Twin Peaks, and versions of Sherlock Holmes). The episode opens with a woman named Simpson in her 70s or 80s being murdered and we then meet the people she socialises with, women also in her age group including a woman Simpson was in a friendly orchid hunting competition with, who Barnaby and his partner share information with throughout the episode for no reason within the story's logic I could discern, and the mother of an undertaker who spies on the neighbourhood with high-powered binoculars to blackmail people she's witnessed committing a variety of transgressions.

Her son is an undertaker and an unpleasant caricature of a homosexual. But maybe that goes with the territory now and then when watching television from over a decade ago, possibly I'm making too much of it. Though Wikipedia has this paragraph about the conservatism of people behind the show;

In March 2011 the producer of the series, Brian True-May, was suspended by All3Media after telling the TV listings magazine the Radio Times that racial diversity in the programme was non-existent because the series was a "bastion of Englishness". When challenged about the term "Englishness" and whether that would exclude different ethnic minorities, True-May said "Well, it should do, and maybe I'm not politically correct." He later went on to say that he wanted to make a programme "that appeals to a certain audience, which seems to succeed". True-May's comments were investigated by the production company. He was reinstated, having apologised "if his remarks gave unintended offence to any viewers", but he has since stepped down as producer. The following season saw the series' first Asian characters appear, in the episode "Written in the stars".

But there was nothing too overt I saw. Barnaby's partner, one of the show's biggest weak points, is a sergeant so unbelievably stupid it's difficult to find it plausible he made it through grade school let alone advanced so far in law enforcement. He's young, though, and I think the idea was to provide a foil for Barnaby that continually validates people older than fifty five. He's the only one who makes an actually homophobic comment and it's vague, remarking on how he's creeped out by a guy who's both gay and an undertaker.

He also almost hits a bicyclist while driving and consistently says the wrong thing when Barnaby's questioning witnesses.

I'm starting to feel a little cocky now that I predicted both the killer's identity in Presumed Innocent and I figured out the solution to the mystery in this episode of Midsomer Murders rather early on. There's one character introduced who, in the first second she says hello to the police, I knew she was going to confess to a murder truly believing she'd committed it but it was going to turn out she actually hadn't. I knew this not from any evidence presented in the episode but judging from her performance, her degree of physical attractiveness, the size of her eyes, and the amount of time that had passed in the episode before she was introduced.

If murders in real life occurred based on formulaic filmmaking, I'd be the greatest detective who ever lived.

One of the highlights of the episode, though, was a young and very beautiful Emily Mortimer and her fiance, played by Julian Glover, who you might recognise from Game of Thrones,

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,

The Empire Strikes Back or Doctor Who.

As usual, he plays an aristocratic asshole and, as usual, he does it very well.

I found myself liking Nettles enough by the end, too, to feel pleased with him when he solved the murders.

Twitter Sonnet #538

Fruit stripe treadmills spike the ether wire.
Garage noses stab the passing garbage.
Crying Pandoras close Discount Tire.
Anemone bulbs squeeze a sponge wattage.
Sagacious rockets report spider rain.
Wells cannot foretell ministers to-day.
More men than Othello walk lands in Spain.
Primary grass targets produce prime hay.
Cobwebbed diamonds guide the lone mariner.
Billions of cut apples swarm to Newton.
Backbone milk leaks from Hera's colander.
Pirate ghosts denounce the buried button.
Colds gods hover around a distant flame.
Alien songs broke out a splintered name.

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