Watched Fearless Felix take his amazing leap into the history books yesterday. I can’t help but think there were moments when he had to ask himself what on earth he was thinking.
Finished The Wire this weekend. The “serial killer” plot of the final season was amazing. Something like that picking up speed until it has a life of its own. Cool idea. The newspaper storyline was a little murkier. The showrunner was apparently intending to show how the newspaper was missing or minimalizing all the really important stories (the ones important to viewers of the show), but it got so wrapped up in the fraudulent journalist that that point grew too subtle. I found it interesting that, for every character who evolved into something new, there was always someone ready to step up and fill that position, even when the position wasn’t necessarily something a person would aspire to. There was a new Omar, and a new “old” Bubbles. A new McNulty maybe, and a new Daniels. In the end, after all that went on over the course of five seasons, Baltimore was still Baltimore.
My buddy Michael Slade has been recommending a BBC series called Luther, about which I knew absolutely nothing, but I decided to give it a go. It’s only ten episodes in total, thus far, broken up into a season of six and one of four, though a third series has apparently been commissioned. In one of the best cold openings ever, DCI John Luther faces off against a pedophile in some sort of factory while the clock runs out for a young girl. What ensues puts him on “gardening leave,” the British term for paid leave while he recuperates, and the repercussions of that opening event lurk over much of the first season.
Luther is separated from his wife, has anger management issues, and a general neglect for the rules. Not necessarily all that different from the run-of-the-mill tormented cop, but the part is played by Idris Elba, who was Stringer Bell on The Wire, with intensity. And then there’s Alice Morgan, a sultry sociopath (or psychopath?) played by Ruth Wilson, who reminds me of Gretchen Lowell from Chelsea Cain’s novels. The dynamics between Alice and Luther fuel the first series, but what happens late in episode 5 changes the game and leads to one of the tensest hours of television I’ve watched recently: the season 1 finale. Can’t wait to watch the second series.
A funny observation. In the final season of The Wire, there’s a brief scene in which SVU detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) is seen holding court in a bar. “I used to run a bar,” he’s heard saying, which was true of the character in Homicide: Life on the Streets. In one episode of Luther, when American suspects come into play, Luther tells an aid to call Detective Munch in New York. Apparently the character has appeared on episodes of at least ten different TV shows, including The X-Files and 30 Rock.
When we watched 56 Up a couple of months ago, we heard mention of “the knowledge,” which I subsequently discovered is the test that people have to pass to drive a black cab in London. They have to memorize 320 routes, complete with 20,000 sites of interest along the way, and the names of 25,000 cross street en route. They aren’t allowed to consult maps. I think that was mentioned in the first episode of Sherlock, and it comes up again in Luther.
We watched Being Flynn on the weekend, a film starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore based on Nick Flynn’s memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. It’s the story of the younger Flynn meeting up with his homeless father and the hilarity (not!) that ensues. It’s not an easy film to watch, because of all the conflict, but it has its moments. Both Flynn’s are aspiring writers, though the elder Flynn claims to be one of the three greatest writers in America, though no one knows it yet. Encountering his father is not good for younger Flynn, who is working in a homeless shelter. He goes on a personal spiral and rebounds, no thanks to his father. As an odd little easter egg, the real Nick Flynn’s real wife has a bit part in the movie.