Books, Crime & Mystery, Movies/Television

Discovering Agatha Christie.

For months now I have been watching a lot of Agatha Christie – mainly Poirot and Miss Marple. I admit I’ve been pretty late on jumping onto the Agatha Christie bandwagon. The main reason, and perhaps foolishly, is because I was never interested in the time period her novels are set. Since watching Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, my opinions about that time period have changed; so too my interest in Agatha Christie.

Until her death a few years back, my mother-in-law was a great reader. Her bookshelves are filled with crime novels, so I have a ready-made library close at hand. Part of her collection includes the entire set of Agatha Christie novels. It was not until Poirot and Miss Marple appeared on television almost simultaneously some months back that I decided to take a look. As a result, I ended up watching every single one and I’d get quite narky if I missed an episode! I love both these characters with their little idiosyncrasies – something I applaud the actors portraying them doing so vividly. I cannot imagine anyone other than David Suchet as Hercule Poirot (and yes, I did shed a tear at the final Poirot episode, it was very sad 🙁 ).

I have watched all the Miss Marple, but my favourite actress in the role is Geraldine McEwan (may she rest in peace). She played the role of a sweet and ‘innocent’ older woman so well. She would sit and knit and every now and again, when she was excited she would make little squeals of delight. My Agatha Christie binge wasn’t just centred upon these two characters. I also watched And Then There Were None. The plot was very intriguing and I enjoyed the various twists and turns throughout, especially the ending.

After all these years, Agatha Christie is regarded as the best-selling novelist of all time and named the ‘Queen of Crime’. Now that I’ve seen the shows, I definitely think it’s long past time I began reading the books. I believe this could take me a few years!

When did you discover Agatha Christie? Have you read all her books? Who is your favourite actor as Poirot and/or Miss Marple? Have you yet to discover Agatha Christie?

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Movies/Television

Goodbye Penny Dreadful.

PennyDreadfulCastRarely does a television show come along and capture my imagination, but Penny Dreadful has proved to be one of them. Beautifully written and acted, with delightful imagery, the season finale had me both shocked and upset; doubly so when I discovered that Season 3 was the end of the show altogether.

From the very beginning, part of the appeal for me had been the characters drawn from English literature, including Dorian Gray, various characters from Dracula, Frankenstein and in Season 3, the introduction of Dr Jekyll. Other characters, such as Vanessa Ives, Ethan Chandler and Sir Malcolm had their own demons to contend with, making the show an interesting mix. In Season 3, new characters such as Dr Seward and Catriona Hartdegen were introduced and I would have liked to have seen more of them; two strong women whose characters had the potential for further development.

With the various main characters in Season 3 scattered all over the globe, I began to wonder how and when they would all come together for the resulting climax. In the end, however, I felt the ending was a bit rushed and one scene in particular jarred with me. In the final episode, when Sir Malcolm and Dr Frankenstein meet up for the first time in the entire season, Sir Malcom says something along the lines of:- ‘Dr Frankenstein, fancy meeting you here; long time, no see! Vanessa’s in trouble, do you want to help us? Good. Let’s go’.

I felt the highlight of Season 3 was the episode ‘Blade of Grass’. The episode explained a particular time in Vanessa’s past, and it was a brilliant performance by Eva Green. With the two main characters of Vanessa and John Clare (Frankenstein’s creature), as the main performers, it was very emotional. Viewers finally understood the connection between these two; showing their strong bond and eventual love for one another. It was after this episode that I had hoped John Clare would come to Vanessa’s aid. As much as I liked to see Vanessa and Ethan together, her relationship with John Clare was special, which helped make the show’s ending so moving. (And yes, I’ve always had a soft spot for Frankenstein’s creature). It was only natural, that my reaction to the ending went something like this:- ‘What? No! That can’t be right. This isn’t really happening. You’ve got to be kidding me. Arrr!’ *sob*

Penny Dreadful is testament to the high quality of television that has been produced in recent years. Although some questions remained unanswered, there is very little about this show that I can find fault with – it really has been that good, and in case you missed it, I recommend you take a look. As sad as I am to see its final curtain, I can understand why writer/creator John Logan ended the show the way he did (who can forget the ending of Dexter?).

Goodbye Penny Dreadful. It has been a real pleasure knowing you.

Have you been watching Penny Dreadful? What are your thoughts on the end of the show? Did you have a favourite character?

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Movies/Television

Back to the 70s: Life on Mars.

life on marsHave you ever watched something on television that really gets your cogs working; and by those cogs, I mean way back in your memory banks? Although Life on Mars combined elements of science fiction with police procedural, it was set during the 1970s – a decade in which I grew up.

Sam Tyler, a police officer, is hit by a car in 2006, only to find himself waking up in 1973. Back at his station, he learns that he now works under the command of Gene Hunt. It is unclear to both Sam and the audience if he has gone mad, in a comma, died or has travelled back in time.

Two things in particular stand out for me about this show. The first is the job that went into making the time period as realistic as possible. Although I didn’t grow up in the UK and there have been known to be some discrepancies, there were still many things that got my memory working. Seeing the image of the girl with the clown appear on Sam’s television screen made me wince. We used to see that same image here on Australian television (and yes, as I have a dislike for clowns, this could be where that all started). Hearing songs from the era probably stood out the most – some songs that I had completely forgotten and had probably hoped never to hear again (although the more I hear the theme song from David Bowie, the more I like it). The same could be said for the clothes and décor – after having lived it, I can honestly say that I think the 70s were the worst decade when it comes to fashion.

The second thing about the show is the characters and that’s where the writing comes in. Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt may have differences in opinion when it comes to policing due to the eras in which they are used to working, however, they do eventually earn each other’s respect. They play the old ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine, but they get results. They each have flaws and are able to make light of them, which introduces the humour into the show. Above all, it is the characters that stand out and help make the show so memorable; a combination of good writing and acting. Once you’ve watched the show, you can’t forget the ‘Gene Genie’. 😉

I think this video is really well done and sums the show up nicely.

Have you ever watched a television show that reminded you of a time in your life? Have you watched Life on Mars and which version – UK or US? Which era do you think was the worst when it comes to fashion?

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Books, Crime & Mystery, Movies/Television

A Visit to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Exhibition.

Miss-Phryne-Fisher-miss-fishers-murder-mysteriesDuring a recent visit to Parramatta, a suburb of inner western Sydney, I visited Old Government House; Australia’s oldest surviving public building. It was here that the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Costume Exhibition was being held. This series, based on Kerry Greenwood’s novels and produced by the ABC, have run for two seasons, and there is currently debate on whether there will be a third season*. Fans, like myself, are hoping it will be given a green light, as it has proved popular both here and overseas. This particular period in history had never really held much interest for me, but since watching this show, it has changed my mind.

Set in Melbourne during the 1920s, the creators of the show have done a terrific job of displaying the time period. The costumes on the show, as demonstrated in the exhibition were amazing and I was captivated by the level of detail that went into each piece. Unfortunately, given the delicacy of the walls within Old Government House, flash photography could not be used. I tried to take a photo, but my camera insisted using the flash. It was around the time I also noticed that the battery in my camera was also out of charge, so I guess taking any photos were not meant to be. However, that didn’t stop me from inwardly doing my best Homer Simpson impersonation and cursing myself – ‘Not happy Jan!’Phryne Fisher

The exhibition mainly displayed the costumes worn by Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher, but also on display were some costumes worn by Jack, Dot and Aunt Prudence. As well as clothing, the exhibition featured accessories, including hats, shoes and handbags. There were some costumes that I fell in love with just by seeing them up so close.

If you enjoy the show or are interested in the 1920s or vintage fashion, I highly recommend seeing this exhibition. It has certainly made me appreciate the dedication that goes into making high quality television.

Are you a fan of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and would like to see a third season? Have you visited the exhibition – what are your thoughts? Have you watched or read something that changed your mind regarding a certain period in history? Do you have an appreciation for vintage fashion?

* A month after writing this post, it was announced that a third season of Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries will go into production. Filming is due to begin mid October, 2014. 🙂

Images via the ABC and Fanpop

Horror, Movies/Television

The Twilight Zone & ‘The Dummy’.

The Twilight Zone & The DummyWhen I was growing up, television and old movies were a big influence in my life. One of the television shows I always watched was The Twilight Zone. These stories always caught my imagination, for just when you thought you had it all worked out, there was always that element of surprise. I have enjoyed reading stories with a twist in the end ever since.

One story in particular I have never forgotten was ‘The Dummy’. Believing that his dummy, Willie, is alive and talks to him, Gerry begins drinking. His agent does not believe Gerry and tells him he should see a psychiatrist. The story is psychological horror; is Willie alive or not, and if so how can Gerry escape? The plot resonates with our anxieties regarding mental illness; in this case schizophrenia. Horror does not always need to be physical, yet this episode reveals horror in both its physical and psychological forms.

There have been many stories of objects that are possessed, including dolls. Robert the Doll, believed to be cursed and possessed by evil spirits, is said to be the influence of Chucky in Child’s Play. More recently, in the film The Conjuring, is the story of Annabelle, The Haunted Doll. Although Willie is not possessed, as such, he does come to life only for Gerry, which causes much mental suffering.

My mother has a wooden puppet that I cannot stand looking at; I find it ugly and creepy.  When I mentioned that to her, she could not understand why I felt that way. Such is the influence of this particular episode from The Twilight Zone.

If you have never seen this episode, or would like a trip down memory lane, here’s a short clip:-

Is there an episode of The Twilight Zone that you have never forgotten? Do you find ventriloquist dummies give you the creeps? Do you prefer psychological horror rather than in its physical form? Do you believe inanimate objects can be possessed?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.