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Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus

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Mystery Guide Part IV

See Mystery Guide Part III

Martha's Guide to TV Mysteries Part IV

Happy Valley this is a new one now available on Netflix. It's an older woman police sergeant in a rural town in the UK, raising her grandson with the help of her sister, a recovering addict, and dealing with a lot of family issues. It's gritty and grim and deals with a lot of dark subjects, including sexual violence etc. None of that made me want to turn it off, though. There's something about the pacing or the emphasis or the viewpoint that kept it away from a woman-in-jep feel, at least for me. It's six episodes telling one complete story, and I meant to watch one episode on Sunday and ended up inhaling the whole thing in one go. (And at one point there was a fight scene that was so tense I may have yelled "NOW FINISH HIM" at the TV.)

Blue Murder I've seen the first episode of this on Acorn.tv and will watch more this week. It's a woman DCI with three kids, pregnant, and a cheating husband she has divorced. It had a somewhat lighter tone in that while the crime they were dealing with was horrible, the detectives were generally good people that I liked.

Trial and Retribution this is also on Acorn.tv. The first few episodes were really good, and do have a lot of the feel of the original Law and Order, and you can tell it's by the same writer who did Prime Suspect. Later episodes got away from that and more into character relationships and there was lots of stalking and I started to really dislike the male main character. (Not as much as the first season of Murder Investigation Team, where I was actively rooting for them all to die. The second season of MIT was better, first season right out.)

Okay, Murder Investigation Team: There is a scene in one of the first season episodes where one of the detectives perves on the bare breasts of a murder victim whose face has been smashed to keep anyone from identifying her and who has been in the Thames for a few days. You know who thinks that look is attractive? Serial killers. Serial killers think that. And this character is supposed to be a protagonist. I mean, I thought all the characters in Waking the Dead were way too shouty, but they were all basically good people and I didn't want any of them to die in a woodchipper.

Above Suspicion I haven't seen the first episode, but saw the other two, and enjoyed them. It veers off into unrealistic in a couple of noticeable ways. I mean, they're all unrealistic; TV mysteries require suspension of disbelief just like SF/F, but this was unrealistic enough it knocked me a bit out of the stories.

I watched the final season of Poirot and was a bit disappointed. I think it must have been different writers from the previous twelve seasons, because the plots were not as complex, there were not as many characters, not as many subplots. Just disappointing all around, even with the return of Japp and Hastings, and Ariadne Oliver. I did think Hastings was great in the last episode, though. Its worth it for the longterm fans, I think, but would be a very bad place for a new viewer to start. If I was a new viewer, I think I'd start with season 9, Death on the Nile, and work my way backwards and forwards, leaving season 13 for last.

I'll try to do some more when I get a chance. I want to talk about Touching Evil but I wanted to rewatch it first, and now I can't find it anywhere. And I'm waiting for Sleepy Hollow and Elementary to start back up again.

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I recently got back into Poirot (the older ones), having realized that the series is now complete. I'm holding off on the last season, though, as I thought I'd re-watch from the start. I love it mostly for the ensemble of the earlier seasons, especially Hastings. I generally felt that the mysteries, the production values and "guest" acting got better later in the series with the feature length films, but I enjoyed it less because of the absence of the ensemble.

I wonder if you've seen any of "A Touch of Frost?" It's set in Oxfordshire (although in a fictional town of "Denton," near Swindon or Reading), and features David Jason as the principal actor. It's modern day, closest to Morse/Lewis, I think. I enjoyed watching the first season, which I'd found while in Addis Ababa, but I haven't got caught up with the full series (42 episodes over 15 series).

Yes, I saw several of the episodes when they aired in the US, and I've read the books. I liked them, but when I tried to rewatch the series on Netflix, it was a bit too depressing for the mood I was in at the time. I'll have to take another crack at a rewatch at some point.

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