What I'm Not Watching: Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet is no longer a Heavenly Creature, nor a Titanic starlet, but a disappointed middle-aged detective in the rust belt with a broken family and a cold case she can't really cope with. She starts dating a writer passing through, played by Guy Pearce (Shotgun Ed in L.A. Confidential). A local girl with another broken home is murdered, and a much, much younger, fetus-like even, detective played by Evan Peters (a bunch of American Horror Story series) joins her to investigate.

I bother mentioning the actors here because that's often the only entertainment. The plot is glacial, not helped by HoboMax releasing these one a week like some old-timey 20th C TV series. I don't care about "Mare" or her family, she's a sullen, bad-tempered, constantly-vaping wench who supposedly made a basketball shot 25 years ago. Kate's made no attempt to control her ever-expanding hips and ass, which, I'm not judging her much on that, but it makes her role less plausible. She's about in shape for a 60-year-old near retirement, not a 45-year-old active-duty cop.

The family stuff is really dire, ex-husband is remarrying, and Kate shows up to annoy him or accuse him of various crimes. Cousin is a priest, and so he's dirty in some way. Her mother-in-law is just the worst. The victim's ex-boyfriend, father, and friends are all awful, she's better off out of the script.

On ep 3, and I'm not making it thru this. I watch an ep and feel like someone living in the rust belt, like life is pointless and ugly. Is there any payoff possible that'd make it worth going on? This is what happens when someone decides they need an Oscar, so they make some misery porn for a few hours and hope the tired old men of the Academy remember when she wasn't old.

★☆☆☆☆ This just sucks.

What I'm Watching: Invincible

I'd read a couple years of Invincible when it came out, and some of Robert Kirkman's other comics (The Walking Dead, Tech Jacket, etc); he was throwing things at the wall until one stuck. And now Kirkman's adapted this into an animated series (it would be insane to do live-action), and like TWD taken it mostly down the comic's plot, but there are some differences already; I hope it doesn't become a walking dead series like TWD, 'zon's already renewed it for S2 & S3.

Invincible takes a very slightly variant Superman (no laser eyes or X-ray vision or blowing ice breath), gives him a happy family with a teenage son (voiced by Steven Yeun, Glenn from TWD) just getting his powers, a Justice League (including blatant Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, Martian Manhunter ripoffs) he's not exactly part of, a secret agency that monitors superheroes. That all ends abruptly, and very bloodily.

The fight scenes in this are fantastic, very fast-moving, active camera for the most part, and incredibly violent. More violent than you think. You're going to see a lot of internal organs, and often just red everywhere. Superheroes and the things they fight are massive natural disasters that kill thousands or millions of people, up close, and failure is always an option. If that's a problem for you, don't watch this, it only gets more so later.

The character designs are nice and distinctive, the writing and voice acting for everyone… varies from ones they obviously cared about, to wannabes. With some weirdly over-cast, over-written NPCs like the simple tailor (not Garak, but Mark Hamill).

Superman's an equally terrible problem in DC, and the Zak Snyder movies address it, but there's always been at least one villain/hero/President (Lex Luthor) who recognized that and had the tools to fight the alien. There were constraints on his powers. There's no such constraints on Omni-Man, as you soon learn. And there won't be any limits on Invincible, either, when they face him or alternate versions of him.

I know it's a trope, but the inability of anyone to recognize superheroes is incredibly dumb; Invincible, Rexplode, and Eve at least wear trivial little masks, but Omni-Man's face is fully exposed, there's no reason anyone wouldn't instantly recognize him in person or, say, on the dust cover photos in his books. So when characters figure out who Invincible is, it's less "wow they're smart/genre aware/know him really well", and more "how did you not see that 4 episodes ago?!"

There's also a lot of monologue speechifyin', often from trivial NPCs you'll never see again, and I could not care less. The teen romance drama is tedious, but that's sort of plot-related so I can ignore it. Often a good 25% of each episode is fat that could be cut.

The Mars storyline is nonsense, even for superhero space adventures; in the show it's less than 2 weeks there and back. In reality, it takes 9 months to reach Mars, 9 months back, because that's how Hohmann Transfer Orbits work. If Earth was shown having a fancy fusion drive torch, sure, weeks there and back. But they have a long-haul orbit cycler, which you may remember from The Martian (book, not the silly movie).

The college sidequest (that turns out to be more relevant later) has a Justin Roiland cameo. You know, when you see missing posters in a horror or superhero world (same thing), you should pay attention because something bad is happening.

The comic relief is generally good. The Beta Ray Bill stand-in (Seth Rogen) who checks up on Earth, and the Hellboy detective rip-off (Clancy "The Kurgan" Brown!) are amusing. They got Kevin Michael Richardson to play the Mauler clones and Monster Girl's monster voice, and he's funny, but they really should've got Armie Hammer, who played the Winklevii in The Social Network.

It's not the most creative show ever, just Kirkman shitposting on 50 years of DC plot holes, but it's fun enough, if you're into kinda grimdark fun at the expense of people who wear spandex to fly around and punch each other. Vastly, vastly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, vastly better than the live-action misadaptation of The Boys (the comic is still my favorite superhero thing ever, read it all!).

★★★★☆

What I'm Watching: Tenet

A bit of Robert Heinlein's All You Zombies, a bit of Doctor Who, a lot of every buddy caper flick. Not nearly as clever as it thinks it is. Or I've just read too many competent time travel stories to tolerate most of what ends up on film.

The first half does its best to never tell you what's going on, and at the point where you'd get an infodump, the scene just switches away. Obnoxious writing trick to avoid having to think some of it out.

I don't much like the brown-on-brown film coloring for much of the footage, but it's not constantly cyan-and-orange, so I guess I'll let it pass.

Denzel's kid John David Washington is OK, he's slightly snarky or unserious when he should be serious, but competent enough. Robert Pattinson is a mess, his fake accent is weird, and he has zero affect, either a robot or a sociopath, as has previously been noted: He was perfect as the vapid lead in Cosmopolis but anything else is asking too much of him. My Cocaine Michael Caine has a somewhat pointless but fun little cameo. Kenneth Brannagh's beard looks super weird and artificial, I'm distracted from his generally superb scenery chewing by that weird growth on his face. Elizabeth Debicki is leggy and sleek, but totally extraneous.

SPOILER

















So, the trick is you can reverse time flow on an object or person, by just walking through a big iron turnstile; zero special effects budget, literally all they ever use is running some film backwards.

If you reverse bullets, a forward-time observer sees them pulled out of the target. All the Protagonist can think to do with that is a few parlor tricks, go "whoa" like Keanu, and does occasionally avoid standing in front of bullet holes. There's a lot of interesting things you could do with this, the film never does. Shoot a bullet now, pull it out "later" (by one perspective or another), it's the best sniper kill. Nobody else pays attention to bullet holes, damaged cars, etc. until it's too late, which is probably supposed to be suspenseful but it leaves me in contempt of these idiots.

There's a point where they clearly just brain-farted: A reversed driver car chases the Protagonist… driving backwards, in front of them. No. The car isn't reversed, the driver just sees the world going the wrong way around. The entire bomb caper is weird, often confused, but that was the weirdest.

And while it's not a major plot point, suppressed pistols are not silent. It's not "thwip", dead, it's more like a gunshot down the block instead of in your ears. The locked doors all over are weirdly inadequate, they have both keypad and tumbler lock; most such are very low-grade security, where you want fast access but a key in case you lose power. The good keypad locks are keyless, or a high-security tumbler that can't be bumped like Protagonist is shown doing. This is kind of a major plot point, and I don't believe the villain would use such shitty locks to protect his doomsday machine.

Very quickly they jump to spending long periods of time reversed, mostly hiding in cargo containers or ships with sealed air, so they can go back and fix their previous screwups. Their "temporal pincer attacks" don't make any sense, the people in reverse just end up fighting people in reverse because they're moving back before go-time. Protagonist does eventually figure out how to do things right: See the aftermath of something, wait for the event, follow it back to the cause. But he does it very badly, continuously gets beaten up and rescued.

The entire plot of the arms dealer's wife is extraneous to the 2.5 hour film, and adds about half an hour to it; it should've been the first thing cut. The only thing I liked in that entire bit was the diving woman.

And turning the entire thing into "oh, there's nine Horcruxes and we have to stop Voldemort from assembling them" is just silly.

The finale is just a big messy gunfight in a California gravel quarry, no better than classic Doctor Who but wasting millions of times more money. I'd rather watch Jon Pertwee spinning out his jalopy than this.

And of course the All You Zombies twist: There's never been any other mastermind. But where do all you zombies come from?

This movie makes me greatly miss the Netflix series Travelers[sic], which made intelligent use of knowledge from the future.

★★★½☆ — there's a better movie buried somewhere under the flab and stupid characters, but this ain't it.

What I'm Watching: Infinity Train

Short Youtube/Adult Swim pieces are now on HoboMax, so I've binged the entire run in the last week.

In Season 1, a teen girl Tulip wants to go to game dev camp; briefly we see the screen and game, a PyGame starter project, on the blandest fake-Windows XP screen possible, but that's probably how the Kids Today™ start in games, instead of typing in Super Star Trek. Disappointed by divorced parents, she runs away, hops on a train… and is in a magic train, hurtling through a wasteland pocket universe. Her entire purpose is to get back home, get to game dev camp, and she's as rational and proactive as a teen can be; a little robotic sometimes.

Every "car" of the Infinity Train is a separate puzzle or weird environment. You find the door, do something to get it open, cross a catwalk to the next car. Sometimes there's ways to go up and around, sometimes not. Passengers get a glowing number on their hand, like Logan's Run in reverse, roughly according to how fucked up they are, and it goes down as they "learn lessons". They pick up native "denizen" friends and enemies along the way. When the number hits 0, they get to leave. Sometimes.

S1's companions are hilarious without being annoying, One-One is a ball robot very very similar to Wheatley from Portal 2, with two personalities. Atticus is king of the talking corgis (and is Ernie Hudson!). A high note is The Cat (Kate Mulgrew), your treacherous fixer frenemy type; a white Persian cat. Aside from eyerolling at teen angst sometimes (I went thru worse parental problems, and I'm… a giant mess. Hm. Where's my Infinity Train?!), this is a great story.


S2 has continuity! A denizen MT follows in Tulip's footsteps, with a new passenger and denizen friend. Since MT is punk and actually does things, I like this the most; there's real moral choices, chances of failure, recurring antagonists, and there's actual horrible or good consequences. You could quite happily stop here.

S3 unfortunately follows a racist cult dirtbag, the enabler leader of said cult, a small child, and a denizen tuba gorilla. I loathe both of these protagonists, and children crying annoy me. The tuba gorilla is OK, but we don't really get any detail on her sad backstory. Even a racist's comeuppance doesn't make it better. They never show back up, so we don't know what progress is being made.

S4 brings in two asian kids from BC trying to start a chiptune/rock band, namedropping YMO as an influence, tho later performances are more like Anamanaguchi. One is the good obedient kid, the other's a rocker with no discipline, they get pulled in and scored together (mostly). The problem is the denizen is a magic flying desk bell who waffles between flirty and almost interesting, and the most annoying fake personality like a Melissa McCarthy (but it's Minty Lewis, from The Regular Show), and antagonists are very weird and whiny for no reason, no real lessons are learned. There's a couple fun short songs, I like little chip synths.

The first two seasons deal a lot with the infrastructure of the train, who's running things, and what it's for. This is awesome, right up my wheelhouse. S3 & S4 mostly annoyed me, and do almost nothing with the management of the train; we get some of it to the middle-end of S3.

★★★★★ S1
★★★★☆ S2
★★☆☆☆ S3 — only gets that high because of Amelia
★★★☆☆ S4

They're still trying to get more seasons made, and maybe movies and comics (which I think would fit the story better? And allow them to go more adult, which this is clearly trying to do but being kiddified a bit), so go give HBO Max some viewership.

What I'm Watching: Yuru Camp △ S2, Kuma3 Bear

  • Yuru Camp △ S2: Following up on S1, S2 goes more into Shimarin's backstory, Nadeshiko does some solo camping, the original club try a cold winter camp and endanger themselves, and then there's a very long arc of a road trip, not entirely "camping". The first parts held my interest and were the kind of relaxing with a few "Ooh, is there danger? There is not!" climaxes that I liked in S1.

The road trip got tedious very quickly, nothing happened except shopping, sightseeing. The background art is lovely, but there's nothing developed or done in any of it. Edit that trip down to 2 eps and wrap some more casual camping at the end, and it'd be a much better season.

★★★★☆

  • Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear: Was recommended as another light, low-conflict show. Isekai but that's almost totally irrelevant to the story. A 15-year-old girl financial wizard Yuna gets sucked into VR MMORPG, with the most ridiculously banal name possible: "World Fantasy Online". That is some grade-A horseshit naming. The claim that this is the "first VR MMORPG" is arrogant, it should be accepted that this is like #25 and they all kill or suck in some players, standard disclaimer in TOS.

Doesn't matter, she gets picked (doesn't even die, or get "hacked" or anything) by Kami-Sama to go to a real fantasy world… with some uber-powerful "bear set" gear, bear pajamas like Lain's but she can shoot fireballs, summon giant bear mounts/combat pets, and gets more and more powers by just grinding low-level "wolf" & "goblin" enemies. In most real MMOs that won't get you past Level 10.

FWO has the totally generic "adventurer's guild" setup, we rarely see what adventurers are capable of but none are on her power level, so it's like Overlord without the goth, pathos, and complex plots. The aristocrats are all vaguely honest; Yuna at first thinks they're going to be tyrants (like anyone who inherits power is IRL), but no. Most monsters are dispatched with a single blast, the few big bad monsters do require a little problem-solving and fight, but there's only a few minutes of that. The few adversaries who show up are never given any backstory, you never see them do any evil work before (there's like one dream-like sequence about one villain… it doesn't matter), you're just told "this is the bad guy!" and it's usually a short fat dude with a moustache. They're then rounded up without any effort.

All Yuna cares about is finding ways to recreate Earth's food, instead of enjoying what they make; making silly bear-shaped houses; and picking up younger girls to mack on. The younger girls squeal at a pitch designed to make me and dogs howl, do not like.

The art's often nice, background music & characters when it's not a small squealing girl. They could have made a good show, instead it's the blandest formula possible.

★★☆☆☆

What I'm Watching: Godzilla vs Kong

Focuses much more on King Kong than King of the Monsters. I don't, I guess, object to that, but I'm a Gojira fan, not a "giant monkey whose story gets rebooted every 30 years like Spider-Man" fan.

I'll try to keep this general, but I can't talk about a few things without SPOILERS.

Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry) the Titan Truth podcaster is great, one of nature's true kooks like Dan Aykroyd, but in a world full of monsters he should be a multi-billionaire star, not sneaking around alone. "Tap or no tap?" is my new introductory question. Just adorable. For once, the best character in a kaiju movie is a person.

The woman scientist, the child, the asshole & daughter from the last movie, are all annoying and should go. New scientist (Alexander Skarsgård) is fine, but so dull I forget who he is most scenes. Creepy Hans Gruber looking Apex exec and yet another damned Dr Serizawa, they can stay. And the Apex woman (Eiza González Reyna) is pretty, snarky, but suspicious, she'll make a fine sequel villainess.

They've outdone themselves with the child this time. She's "native", deaf, and carries around a shitty handmade Kong doll. "Aww", says any moron with no brain, only a limbic system. But she's snide in sign language, always underfoot and distracting people with work to do. There's no way she should be on an adult mission. Everything you hate about children in kaiju movies wrapped up in one. And you know they won't kill her as she deserved from scene one. Ugh. Every time I see the brat I mutter "GET THE CHILD OFF THE SCREEN".

Kong's soft and cuddly and domesticated, very much a giant gorilla suit with a slightly pudgy wrestler inside. Ludicrously they transport him at one point with choppers. Kong doesn't like choppers much, but here he's placid as a sleepy puppy, instead of screaming and throwing things at them. He does eventually toughen up.

Gojira looks great in this. The Legendary CGI will never be as alive as the Toho suits, but his face is super expressive and yet alien, non-mammalian. He swims well, and looks most natural there. He looks like a dinosaur's god. The sparklers on his spine and his fire breath have been made too white and clean, they're more nasty nuclear fire in older ones where it's just painted onto the film cels.

The hollow world is gorgeous. Maybe too small? It's a cavern layer around the core of the Earth, or something, it's not entirely clear how it relates to reality. They could easily have spent another 30 minutes here and made something great of it. Maybe next movie.

With the Ancient/Titan artifacts and place… are the Titans descendants of the Ancients? Everything's on their scale, he acts like he's come home. But Kong picking up a tool is a long way from him being descended from giant people.

The main fight is good, bouncing around a neon-lit Hong Kong, a cheaty weapon gives Kong an even chance he shouldn't have. It's much more physical of a fight than some others in the series.

The final act is really unnecessary, should've been saved as a teaser for the next film. Or maybe they'll just make a much better one next time.

★★★★½ — lost half a point for the child.

What I'm Watching: Super-Duper-Man 1: Man of Steel

So my plan is to watch the Snyder Trilogy. Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), then Justice League (Snyder Cut, 2021). I am totally catching up on my film backlog.

Hobomax has redesigned their site, the stupid profile select now takes 10 seconds to be clickable, and I only have one profile so it's utterly pointless. And now the video player "full screen" maxes out at 1900x800, which is 2/3 of my monitor. WTF. I can't watch it on my TV, because Hobomax doesn't have a PS3 app, and I'm not buying another console for a while. Anyway, personal watching woes aside.

Why is Krypton all black and medieval? It's a gleaming forest of crystal spires in ALL the comic art and the Bottle City of Kandor. They're effete but civilized. Why is Jor-El riding a World of Warcraft Windrider™? Why are babies in pods? The "Codex" is a magic skull? I hate this design. It's like they watched Kenneth Brannagh's Thor (2011) and said "We don't want to be sleek and Kirby-esque like Asgard! Make it all shitty and ugly!" Really that's the theme for all the DCU movies.

Why is General Zod chasing Jor-El instead of securing their rebellion? Why are they frozen into little flying penises, instead of sent to the Phantom Zone? Much later they call the prison ship the PZ but it's very poor setting exposition.

Ridiculously bad cyan/orange tinting.

"People are afraid of what they don't understand", says Pa Kent to whiny baby Clark. People are afraid of a guy who can punch you into a fine red mist, laser-fry your brain, give you cancer with X-ray vision, demolish your truck with his bare hands. One second of drunkenness or anger or lust, and everyone dies. Clark's a damned nuclear weapon with a dick, and we all know it. And occasionally Snyder manages to show that.

Jor-El's program/ghost takes over a random abandoned scoutship, and gives Kal-El the suit. Which looks nothing like Earth or Kryptonian fashion. The comics made sense: Kryptonians wore skin-tight spandex and capes in bright colors. That's why Supergirl looks like she does, cheerleader outfit with giant boob window is demure Krypton fashion.

At least in flight the film quality gets better, but as soon as it's on the ground again it's back to even darker cyan/orange. I'm having a hard time looking at this. I want to pluck out the eyes of every film editor who does this.

The "Clark bums around like The Incredible Hulk TV show" parts would be a good movie by themselves, or a long TV series with the saddest ending music ever.

Lois (Amy Adams) is adequate. We don't see her do anything except Superman, so there's no great love story, no hyper-competent reporter thing. She does her own photos instead of having a Jimmy Olsen, which is weird; and her camera gets busted, but she doesn't retrieve the flash card which would give her actual evidence. She's certainly no Margot Kidder.

So, main plot finally starts.

Kal-El gets weak when he breathes Kryptonian air, not Kryptonite. Apparently he can fly in space without Earth air. The Kryptonians who haven't adapted are the reverse? It makes no sense. Yellow sunlight is what makes Superman and Supergirl so powerful, and people of Kandor when they come out of the bottle.

Fight scenes finally start at 90 minutes or so. And it's exactly like the Batman Arkham games, lotta fast swooshing between targets, hit them in ways that should break anything material, and it just flops a ragdoll around and they stand back up.

Forget all the little SimCity people running from the terraforming of Earth, think of the financial losses from bombing New York! If there's one thing I've learned from The Avengers and this movie, it's that aliens love giant robot tentacles coming from nowhere. Those are the greatest weapons ever. Fuck missiles, nukes, lasers, get some robot tentacles.

Also the message of these films is always that Humans can't solve their own problems, even disaster recovery, without a local demigod to save us. Perry White (Laurence Fishburne!) & intern Jenny have a moment, just waiting to die is all they can do.

Zod has a speech near the end which is actually kind of poignant, and if any of that was portrayed in the previous 2 hours, he'd be a good villain, instead of a mook. He's no Terence Stamp, of "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!" fame. The cute alien chick (Antje Traue, last seen in Dark) claims they have no morality, which contradicts Zod.

Every fight they find more tissue-paper buildings to go thru, even ludicrously going up into space to smash thru a satellite. Just silly.

The ending's so weird. Kal-El's sent all his fellow Kryptonians to a fate worse than death, but killing one is just traumatic.

★★★☆☆ — lost a star for the fucking awful color, half a star for how dull and fighty the end is, after the first half was OK. Nothing fun, just a slugfest.

What I'm Watching: The Head

An English-language (mostly), Spanish-made mini-series on hobomax. Remarkably good actors, cinematography, for the most part… though indoors scenes are heavily tinted cyan/orange. The disease of monochromism is spreading. I assume everything outdoors was shot in Norway, because it only shows Antarctic panoramas from stock footage, anything with characters is in a generic white void.

Science team goes to Antarctica. We see them goofing off, last day before winter. They watch John Carpenter's "The Thing", firmly lampshading what kind of show this is: Creepy drama, but with a few laughs. Team leader Johan (Alexandre Willaume) gets to go home for a break, his wife Aniika (Laura Bach) stays behind to work with pompous scientist Arthur Wilde (John Lynch, the poor man's John Lithgow).

Contact with the base is cut off. When they get back, almost everyone is dead. A survivor starts telling a story, and then more and more facts don't match up, and contrary stories are told.

So, the science in this: Arthur claims he's invented a bacteria that's 153x better than photosynthesis at scrubbing CO2 from the air, so he's solved global warming. If they'd said "10%", or even "100%", OK, maybe; 153x is so far past what's physically possible it's pure fantasy. Plants use sunlight to get energy to crack CO2 for carbon and oxygen; what's this bacteria using, nuclear fission? And even if you had it, you couldn't release it, it'd run away and convert the entire atmosphere to oxygen, deadly to most current life.

Each episode, Maggie remembers more of her story, tells Johan, he runs around looking for evidence, mostly doesn't find any.

★★★½☆ - watch, don't expect miracles

SPOILER












The problem is, the "mystery" doesn't hold up, it's out of character for at least 2 people directly involved, and 2 covering it up. The original crime is petty, and doesn't need a giant base-destroying coverup. The murders in the new base are just deranged and over the top, completely out of anyone's league who's accused of them.

I'd been wondering since the survivor story started if they'd do a Keyser Soze flip at the end, and sure enough the girl is who I thought she was, and even does a "this physical disorder is all an act" scene. But I don't find her "true" story plausible either, especially Nils' death is just impossible, and there's no way for her collaborator to not realize what's happening.

What I'm Watching: Last Suspicions, The Investigation

  • Suspicions of Mr Whicher: Ties That Bind: (zon) A divorce case (in Victorian England, nasty business) turns into a missing person case, then murder. Paddy really seems to have grown into the role here (tho again by now the historical Mr Whicher is utterly different from this character), but this is the last one. Unlike #3, the video quality is back to normal, even fairly good views of pastoral English countryside, horses galloping around. Everyone in this crappy little village and the nearby manor house has secrets, nobody is innocent of anything. The mystery almost works; but they have to cheat by telling Whicher something the audience doesn't get to hear, which resolves everything. Still, a good enough episode to go out on. ★★★½☆

  • The Investigation: (hobomax) Danish 5-episode miniseries about the death of a Swedish journalist in a submarine ("ripped from the headlines!"). Stoic, brooding cop (Søren Malling) largely ignores his family while slowly moving between scenes. Very heavily tell-don't-show. We don't even get to see the first interviews with the submarine guy, just told about them. Ep 2 mostly follows officer Maibritt (Laura Christensen) investigating the journalist's private life. Somewhat less brooding, but still closed-off, moody. Ep 3 they finally get some physical evidence, but again spends very long stretches waiting, in silence. That's where I am so far. Another case of maybe 45-90 minutes of content stretched out to 225 minutes of show. I'll probably finish this tomorrow, I'm interested in the case, but I'm bored out of my skull by the pacing. ★★★☆☆

What I'm Watching: More Suspicions of Mr Whicher

  • Murder In Angel Lane: Mr Whicher is now a "private inquiry agent", dicks not yet having been invented, and searches for a missing girl in a story about uncertain paternity and jerks with knives. Obvious villain is obvious, but the multiple visits to the insane asylum are nice; for a Victorian bedlam it's pretty cushy.

★★★☆☆

Note that the historical Mr Whicher was still a police officer at this time, and moving up in authority in London.

  • Beyond the Pale: The English are, it should be noted, monsters. The conquest, rape, and robbery of India over centuries is one of the greatest war crimes of history, every English is blood-stained clear through. The Sepoy Mutiny was the first try of the Indians to seize back their country, which took nearly a century. And that's what this oh-so-happy episode is about.

"Out there in the hills, we lived like kings. No one to censure us, no one to disapprove."

The fantastical element of this episode is that any English cares. That Mr Whicher will stand up even a little bit for the Indians seeking vengeance for a truly heinous crime. And the resolution requires even more empathy and compassion that I don't buy from them. The premise could've gone really dark and given something like closure, but instead it whimpers out.

Also, the lighting/color grading in this one is terrible, it's just black and yellow, sometimes black and cyan for variety. Everyone looks jaundiced, and you can't see any of the action. Even the outdoors scenes are so fake-overcast (but not actually overcast) they look like day-for-night shots. Impossible to guess at the hour.

★★☆☆☆

Just one more of the series to go, hopefully it goes out on a higher note.