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May 8

Some new fandoms

Posted on Thursday, May 8, 2014 in Fandom

I thought I’d mention some of my ‘new’ fandoms – not necessarily ones I’ll write fic in, but still fandoms I quite enjoy one way or another. Later I’ll probably review some or most of these.

Here is the list:

Mr Selfridge
Death in Paradise
Bletchley Circle
(VikingsHill)
Sherlock
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

VikingsHill is a Swedish YA serial with an intriguing plot, but annoyingly, it’s only five (1) minutes long, which includes a brief preview of next week’s episode. It’s about a teenaged girl who moves to a new residential area that I find a little creepy. All the houses are exactly the same and the area seems to be more or less dead at all times. You only see the school kids going to and from school. The new girl has a mysterious past and things start getting more mysterious her first day in school. Everyone stares at her and whisper behind her back. Eventually, someone tells her that there was a girl who looked exactly like her who disappeared five months earlier. She gets to know some people and tries to figure out some of the mystery, but no one seems to be exactly who they seem to be and she doesn’t know who to trust. It’s definitely not the people who show up wearing masks and stay around for a while to stare at her. This is a web only series. I like that, but most series are available online now, which is very convenient for me. I just don’t seem to be able to turn on the tv (or rather the computer) at the right time. 😉 Here is an image from the series. You won’t be able to watch the episode but maybe you’ll be able to see the pic.

Since I’m sure everyone knows what Sherlock is I’ll just mention that I really enjoyed the last episode of the third season. I wasn’t sure I would, but I did.

In case you’re not familiar with the series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a quite interesting Australian mystery series about a woman who solves mysteries in 1920’s Melbourne, with the help of her maid Dot, two cops, two taxi drivers, and a female doctor. Phryne Fisher has an interesting background, some of it quite dark, but now she is living it up, partying and chasing men, when she’s not out solving mysteries and making sure victims of crime get justice. She’s also an early feminist.

I imagine most of my readers are familiar with the rest of these series, but in case you’re not, I’ll just say a few words about them.

Mr Selfridge is a historic series about the man who founded the department store Selfridges. In season 2 the producers seem to have given up on trying to follow the real Mr Selfridge’s life, simply because comparatively little is known about him. I think that’s an improvement. This season seems to be even better than the first one.

Death in Paradise is, not surprisingly, a cop series, with a bit of comedy. It’s set in a tropical island. There’s also a really hot cop – Fidel Best (played by Gary Carr, known from Downton Abbey) – but I kind of like the other cops too.

Bletchley Circle is about a group of women who worked at Bletchley Park during the war. They are brilliant at cracking codes. Now they’re having trouble adapting to live in postwar England and the enforced inactivity, so they’ve turned to solving murders.

It’s no coincidence that half of these series are historic. I really love the genre. (I also love science fiction, but there seems to be little of that on Swedish tv. Not that I watch much of our tv. Netflix has come in very handy.)

I’d say Bletchley Circle is my favorite, though I know I’ll never write any fic about it. Actually, I like/have liked all of these series.

Oct 28

Historic cop series

Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 in Humanities, TV series

This week I watched the first episode of Swedish television’s new historic cop series. Yes, you read that right. It’s a historic cop series set in 1790. Hence the name which means 1790 AD. I’d read a bit about the series and to my disappointment, it was mainly negative, but actually I was quite impressed.

The episode started with a scene of carnage from one of the wars (Sweden-Russia). There’s blood everywhere and a medic is doing his best to save lives. He asks one of the officers for help (at least I guess he is one, but he could also be a messenger, in any case not an ordinary foot soldier).

A moment later they’re attacked again and hit by cannon fire. The medic finds the other guy in a pit on top of dead and dying soldiers. The injured man begs the medic to take his dead body to a certain police commissioner in Stockholm. In the end, the guy survives and the medic takes him back to Stockholm. It seems he’s tutoring the children of his employer.

A high ranking police officer is murdered and the medic is enlisted to find out who and what killed him, more or less against his will. The only reason he agrees to stay is that the police commissioner’s wife begs him to.

After an initial setback, he manages to solve the case, is given the late police officer’s old job and his new friend becomes his ‘sergeant’

Maybe I’m a bit influenced by my years of fan fiction writing (and reading), but I could detect definite slash vibes between the two main characters. LOL. On the other hand, there’s supposedly something between the medic and his employer’s wife. Platonic though.

Dec 1

Danish cop series 'The Crime'

Posted on Wednesday, December 1, 2010 in Mystery/Cop, Reviews

Last week I watched the last episode of the Danish cop series ‘The Crime’ (Forbrydelsen 2, 2009). It was season 2 in the series and though I watched season 1 (2007) and liked it to some extent, this one felt like a big improvement on the first. That could be partly because season 1 was made up of 20 episodes (and to put that into perspective, I’ll have to mention that the series only dealt with one case) and season 2 only  had 10 (again, dealing with only one case).

As most (or even all) Danish series I’ve seen, this was of very high quality. The acting, the plot, the scenery. For instance, one of the last episodes was (ostensibly) set in Afghanistan and though I’ve never been there, I thought, judging by the news footage I’ve seen, that it was made very realistic. I’m guessing it was shot in the Balkans somewhere. (Slovenia?)

One of the ‘problems’ I had with season 1 (one that I have with many otherwise great cop series) is that there were too few main characters. In this case, there’s only one, detective Sara Lund though there are recurring minor characters, for instance Sara Lund’s mother and son, as well as her boss, Lennart Brix.

She’s considered a brilliant cop, but not very socially competent. The first season ends with her in disgrace. Season 2 opens with her ‘exiled’ to the border police, where she lives alone, in a bare rented home.

A series of brutal murders puzzling her former homicide detective colleagues leads to her being called back to Copenhagen. Many people dislike the decision and fight to keep her out of the case. Her boss reluctantly tries to balance his position between her and his own bosses, one of which seems to be his lover (Ruth Hedeby).

Soon there are leads pointing to the army and a suspected war crime committed in Afghanistan. Even from the start it’s clear that there’s also a tie-in with the government.

I won’t go into the twists and turns of the case, I’ll just say that though some of the politics (a parallel plotline is set in national politics) were a bit boring, the plot was nowhere near as complex (as in too complex) as in the first season. All in all it was exciting and fascinating to follow the police work and the lives of the politicians too.

In fact, I will say something about the politicians. Unexpectedly, there were some very sweet slash vibes between two unlikely people, as well as some male/female bonding.

Another plotline dealt with the Danish army and there too, was some pretty cool (platonic) bonding between two rather unexpected people.

The ending was excellent, with the suspense building then declining temporarily, to climax in a brilliant finale. This time, I approved far more of the ending, I might add. No disappointment lingering after the last scene.

Fortunately, there’s already a season 3 on the way and I can’t wait to see it.

I also just found out that Swedish and Danish tv are working on a joint project, another cop series, ‘The Bridge’ (Broen/Bron, estimated release 2011) that promises to be just as good as ‘The Crime’. (The bridge mentioned in the title is the bridge crossing the sea between southern Sweden and Denmark.)

I know I’ve been complaining about the tv series from the second half of the 00’s until now, but I guess I’ll need to revise my opinions a little, thanks to the Danes (and to some extent Swedish tv).

If you get a chance to see Forbrydelsen 2 I think you should. Maybe even buy the DVD box. Since I’ve already seen it and know the ending, I probably won’t, but I don’t think it will disappoint anyone.

May 9

Wallander

Posted on Saturday, May 9, 2009 in Books, Movies, Mystery/Cop, Reviews

Since the (originally) Swedish Wallander mysteries have been successfully exported to the UK, I thought I’d put in my two cents’ on this topic. In an earlier post, I’ve already mentioned that they’re not quite my thing. What I would like to discuss is something else. In the UK reviewers are raving about Kenneth Branagh in Wallander. After seeing what seems to be season 1 of that, I must say I enjoyed it more than the Swedish version.

What I’m reacting to is just one thing that keeps being repeated over and over again, in the reviews, in the UK and even in the US. Sweden is gloomy. What? Ok, I’ll admit that the north, far away from Wallander’s Scania, could be described as gloomy, especially during the dark season, which, frankly, lasts almost all the year around. That’s the north, not Scania. If you went to Scania presumably you’d notice that much of Sweden is pretty ordinary. The scenery is beautiful. (I just had to mention that. After all, I live here. I like the scenery.) But let’s get this straight once and for all, Scanians are not gloomy. Not generally. Sure, anyone can get gloomy, especially if you work hard all day tracing killers and dealing with gruesome murders. Are the British sleuths any more cheerful?

This is how the rest of us Swedes (or Goths, as I am – and no, I’m not dressed in black, we’re called goths anyway and there’s a fascinating linguistic or semantic explanation to why there are so many goths worldwide, especially throughout history) view Scania and the Scanians:

They’re jolly, positive people. They love to eat and drink. Kind of, if you allow the metaphor or simile, like hobbits, though not as short and fat, well some might be, but then so can anyone. Scania is usually green and smiling, rather than gloomy, though personally I tend to agree that the area around Ystad might be described as gloomy, especially during the winter.

Oct 23

Veronica Mars

Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2008 in Mystery/Cop, Reviews

You must have heard of the tv series Veronica Mars. Maybe you’ve followed it right from the start, like me. If not, and you’re curious about the series, read on.

On a superficial level, VM is just like other American series for teens – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Roswell and many others. The difference is that VM is also a series about a PI. Veronica is not only a high school student (in the first two seasons), but also a private investigator.

At the beginning of the series. the school where Veronica is a student, and the little town where she lives, is  stunned by the brutal murder of Veronica’s friend, Lilly Kane. She was the daughter of an IT millionaire and was found dead on the family’s patio. One of the suspects in the case was Lilly’s own dad.

Veronica’s dad, who was the sheriff of their little town – Neptune, California (imaginary town) – was the one who dared to accuse one of the most prominent citizens of the town. He lost his job over that. At almost the same time his wife leaves him.

What’s left of Veronica’s family is now poor and impopular and Veronica can’t hang out with her old, rich friends.

She makes a new friend – a guy who has just moved into town – but she’s still obsessed with finding out who killed her best friend and to regain the good reputation she and her dad used to have.

Throughout season 1 she keeps getting closer to the solution of the crime, but she also solves other crimes, for instance for people from her school. She also gets to know a computer expert, called Mac (her real name is Cindy, but she hates that.)

In the last episode of season 1 Veronica finds out who killed her friend, but at the same time, she and her dad end up in mortal danger. She also falls out with her boyfriend, who is also her best friend’s ex. Unfortunately, she and her dad’s has him figured as the prime suspect for the murder.

At the beginning of season 2, Neptune High, Veronica’s school, is the victim of a major tragedy.. A bus full of students from poor families, end up in a traffic accident. Before long, it’s apparent that the accident is suspicious and Veronica decides to investigate. For instance, her ex’s new girlfriend is in the bus when it goes over the cliff. She is also the sole survivor of the crash, but ends up in a coma.

For various reasons, she hated Veronica, but ironically, it’s thanks to her that Veronica isn’t on the bus when the accident happens.

Just like in season 1, Veronica solves other cases too, but the main theme is the bus crash. After following a number of false leads, Veronica finds out who was behind the crash. This time too, she ends up in serious danger. She also finds out that she was raped, even though at first it looked as if she wasn’t – she’d had voluntary sex with her ex-boyfriend, who she thought was her half-brother.

Confusing? If you’d followed the series, you wouldn’t think so. In any case, her ex wasn’t her brother, but someone really had raped her while she was out cold. That’s where season 2 ends.

Now I’ve watched season 3 as well. Sadly, that’s the last one ever. I’m sorry about that, but on the other hand, no series can last forever. Also, I have to say that season 3 wasn’t nearly as good as the other two.

The reason I can really recommend this series is that it maintains a high quality throughout the two first seasons. The dialogue is great, the main characters are well defined, and the series writers don’t hesitate to deal with serious problems. Unlike many series I’ve seen in the past four or five years, this feels a lot more genuine.

Oct 23

Silent Witness

Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2008 in Mystery/Cop, Reviews

Silent Witness has been going on for several seasons already. I think I’ve been around for three of them, but that was late in the series. It started some time in the 1990’s. In any case, if you’ve seen Crossing Jordan you’ll have some idea about the genre.

Personally, I like Silent Witness better. I do have one, only one, which is unfortunate, favorite character, in each series, but usually I prefer the British series.

It’s set in London at a university (probably University of London, but what do I know? They might have more than one.), at the department of pathology of whatever they call it. Two pathologists work under a professor (well, there might be more pathologists, but the viewers get to follow these two). They perform autopsies and help the police solve criminal cases or eliminate the natural deaths from their lists.

Unlike in the American equivalent, there are no particular ‘effects’. There’s no cop returning in each episode (like Woody, played by Jerry O Connell). Instead there are new cops in each episode.

Sometimes, but not often, you get to take a look at the personal lives of the pathologists. That’s not always pleasant. For instance at the beginning of one of the latest seasons, Professor Dalton loses his wife and daughter in a very tragic accident. A car hits a cafe, killing everyone or almost everyone in there.

In Crossing Jordan, almost all the main characters irritate me. The ones in Silent Witness don’t.

It’s an interesting series and sometimes also exciting. I don’t think I can mention anything negative about it. Except for one thing, maybe. My constantly stressed out sister says she’s having trouble focusing on the episodes. They’re quite long. Movie length. Possibly they were meant to be shown in two parts. That would make it a longer series with shorter episodes. Like Crossing Jordan. Personally I prefer finished storylines. The only thing making movie length episodes a little tiresome is the commercial breaks.

In any case, I can really recommend this series if you like the cop series genre (or the pathologist, forensic subgenre). This one is just a little different. One detail: there’s a very beautiful song playing at the beginning and the end of the show. It sounds like gregorian chant or at least some type of religious music. I’m no expert, but I do know I find it really beautiful. One more thing. I think Harry, the youngest male pathologist, is kind of cute, if not really hot, if that means anything to anyone. :)

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