The BBC's mystery list for 2013 has me tickled pink. First up, more episodes of my favorite detective show: Foyle's War, starring Michael Kitchen.
Following the end of WWII, Foyle plunges into the Cold War as an MI5 agent, taking on Soviet spies and corruption in high places. I worry a bit that the shift in tone will alter the feel of the show. After all, in the last three episodes, Foyle took on racism with African Americans, and it was hinted that James Devereaux (played by Andrew Scott, a.k.a. Moriarty) might be Foyle's illegitimate son. Still, despite the shaky territory (and a slight swing in a politically correct direction), as far as I remember, Foyle was the same old modest upright fellow as in earlier series. He's one of the few characters on TV with (mostly) Christian morals who is not caricatured, or changed. Hopefully that is how he will remain. Anthony Horowitz also says that this series will be the last he writes.
Here's the first trailer, featuring very un-Foylish music:
Whether I will
re-read a book depends on the middle. Having a good beginning and a good end
are just half the battle if the journey between is mediocre. I read and re-read
my favorite trilogy: The Lord of the Rings
because it is about a quest, a battle against evil, and every bit of it is
essential to the ending.
Upon finishing Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, something unique
happened. I mean, other than the fact that I bawled my eyes out, which rare
enough in itself. But as I turned the last pages, I wanted to sit down and read
the whole thing again. Right there. Right then. Several times. I’ve actually had to force myself not to do so, in the month since,
because I have other things to do.
What about it
appealed so deeply to me? That’s not exactly the best question. The best question is: what about it appeals to hundreds of millions of people worldwide? According to Wikipedia, it’s the number one bestselling fiction book of all time, with
approximately 200 million sales. (Fun fact: Lord
of the Rings takes second places with 150 million – The Hobbit fourth with 100 million.) This book obviously appeals to
more than just one blogger in Appalachia. It caters to more than just Americans.
There is something about this book, and Rings,
that speak to the depths of human desire. It touches on themes that transcend
culture and time.
Those of you who
read my post last week will know that I have high expectations for Jesus. Of
course, it’s not fair to give The Bible’s
producers a break because of the intense levels of scrutiny—they knew they had
to get Jesus just right, if they got anything right. So most of my criticism is
focused on Diogo Morgado’s portrayal of the Son of Man. To be fair, nobody will
ever be able to play Jesus correctly (whether they should even try is another subject), but regardless, there are
some things one should remember if you want to do things by the Book:
Jesus was fully man – this means that, even
if there were times that he was otherworldly, there were other moments
that he was just an ordinary guy. Ordinary does not mean “sinner”,
ordinary means “has a sense of humor” or rather: “doesn’t treat
himself—and everything—with deadly seriousness.”
Jesus was fully God – this means that,
despite his ordinariness, he had a few
raging-holy-God-of-wrath-and-judgment moments. Usually he used this rage
against the self-righteous, and his deep, reckless love, for the poor.
Jesus was not, in fact, an enlightened hippie
– he was from a Podunk country town (almost certainly with
We have no reliable information that Jesus
was drop-dead gorgeous or had cute hair or a perfect nose. It’s rather possible he looked,
y’know, like someone from Fiddler on the Roof, and ordinary, albeit Jewish-looking ordinary guy.
Josh Garrels is a
tough guy to categorize. Mixing folk, electronica, rap, and pop, his music is
anything but ordinary, as is his incredibly unusual voice. In 2011, he released
his sixth CD, Love & War & The
Sea In Between, as a free download on www.noisetrade.com. Accruing over 125,000
downloads, it became Christianity
Today’s album of the year. When I heard that Garrels was releasing it (and
four other albums) again for two weeks’ free download, I jumped at the chance.
It’s always hard
to find an effective motif for a CD, but Love
& War succeeds several times. Throughout the record, as hinted by the
title, flows the image of the ocean, the metaphor of marriage, and frequent
references to battle—yet the album is held together by the hopeful
promise of God: our pilot in the storms; our husband, longing for the wedding
day; our king in the chaos of war. Garrels uses these core ideas to form a very
strong internal story. There is the additional theme of a journey, while each
song remains a separate destination.
It’s a study in personality
to see how the respective members of my family react to History Channel’s The Bible. Granny’s commentary about the
show was interspersed with news about the neighbors and thoughts concerning the
latest season of Downton Abbey. Baby,
Granny’s red dog, sat and glared at us with You’re
On My Couch writ large on his face. My mom and brother are the nitpickers,
though Mom’s complaints make a lot more sense than Sam’s usual, “Hannah. Hannah. Herod wasn’t that fat, was he?”
Mom’s question – “I can’t believe they didn’t show Nebuchadnezzar’s redemption”
– made a lot more sense.
Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Mark Gatiss
I've never been a fan of the Sherlock Holmes books, but I admit, since I started watching the BBC show Sherlock, I read several of the books, just for the sake of getting the references. Despite its many faults, I've become a dedicated Sherlock fan. Note - this does not mean I'm obsessed, like most of the fandom. The show is witty, dramatic, and well-written.
At the end of both seasons, there was a major cliffhanger, but the second season was more complicated, as all who've seen it will know. So, the SPOILERS, and the self-indulgent nerdism, start here.
It’s hard to decide whether I’m biased or not. The thing is, Hollywood is so hard to trust. “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” as one of the CIA dudes from the Bourne movies said, and that’s pretty much my attitude concerning The Bible series. And of course, there are the unconscious mental images of and personal speculations concerning Biblical characters that everyone carries.
But to banish that cynical note, while The Bible did not conform completely to my “best” scenario, it’s much closer to “best” and a long, long shot from “worst.” Admittedly, though, it did get a slow start, and build up to a great end. It started off with Joshua, who had about five minutes of enthusiastic The City is OURS moments, but little else. Like the first episode, this was one of the weaker aspects – over-excited characters who just think God can do no wrong. Which, of course, He can’t. But nobody feels that way all the time. Humans doubt. Humans ask God why. There wasn’t enough human weakness. All the same, the producers shot the violence and divine justice without flinching. There was no heavy-handed commentary about the Israelites taking over Canaan—it was just portrayed for the viewer to decide. (By the way, MSNBC, that’s how journalism should be done).
So why did my
mom, my brother, and I venture into the 20-degree weather after dark, rush down
to my granny’s house and put up with her yapping smelly dog, Baby, who insists
on sitting on our laps for two hours? We’d heard the news that the History
Channel had a new theologically-orthodox Bible series. And it was scored by the awesome Hans Zimmer. We don’t have cable, so
it was time for a pilgrimage. Was it worthwhile?
Let’s face it,
the Bible’s been done so many times that there’s not much you can do to make
sand look different. Everybody expects bearded men, rough robes, camels, and
miracles. The History Channel’s 5-part, 10-hour The Bible series is no exception. When it comes to design, though
the special effects are better than most Bible movies, there several moments
where I was thinking, I’ve Seen This
But let’s be fair
– part of the problem is that everyone has
seen this before. It’s an enormous challenge to cover a book that’s 1000+ pages
which is as familiar as the night sky. It’s made even harder by the fact that
you have no main characters; everyone gets their bit and moves on. The only
thing connecting the narrative is God and the surroundings. That said, each
part was made memorable. The story of creation and the ark are intercut, with
Noah narrating the tale of the Fall in a strong Scottish brogue (this, I love).