Tag Archive: YouTube


DGAG-BonesTemperanceBrennan

Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan, Ph.D. is both a fictional character who features in the best-selling novels created by author Kathy Reichs and the lead female character in a Fox TV series partly based on the novels.

On television, Emily Deschanel portrays Dr. Brennan, and former "Angel" star David Boreanaz is FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth.

Brennan gets shot:

The Premise

"Bones" (a nickname she doesn’t particularly like) is a genius forensic anthropologist, who also holds Ph.D.’s in anthropology and kinesiology. Working out of the Medico-Legal lab at Washington, D.C.’s fictional Jeffersonian Institute, she serves as a consultant to the FBI, where’s she’s partnered with Special Agent Seeley Booth – her partner in a relationship outside the office that’s ultimately led to marriage and two kids.

Using her extremely high IQ, an obsessive adherence to scientific discipline, and mad forensic skills that have gained her a global reputation as an authority in the field, Dr. Brennan reconstructs murders based on the bone fragments and other organic residue discovered at a crime scene.

But her path to success wasn’t easy.

A Troubled Past

Brennan’s parents were notorious bank robbers, who changed their names from Ruth and Max Keenan and disappeared when Temperance (whose birth name was Joy Keenan) was 3 years old. She grew up in foster homes, and was often the victim of violent abuse. In later episodes of the TV series, it’s revealed that Ruth Keenan/Christine Brennan was murdered two years after she and her husband went on the run.

Max Keenan (played on TV by Ryan O’Neal) later came out of the shadows to assist his daughter when she became the target for a killer, and has returned on occasion as a recurring character in the show. So too has Temperance’s Benjamin Franklin-obsessed cousin Margaret Whitesell, who’s played by Emily Deschanel’s real-life sister Zooey.

A Brilliant Mind

Perhaps due to her blunted childhood, Brennan’s academic brilliance manifests as a Spock-like adherence to logic and scientific rigor, an inability to "get" traditional forms of humor or sarcasm, and awkward social skills. But she’s at heart a good and generous person, whose true character somehow always manages to transcend these limits.

Over several seasons of the TV series, "Bones" has mellowed and evolved, becoming a much more personable human being.

Bones not so cold:

Some Great Friends

A great influence on her is Brennan’s partner and FBI liaison, Seeley Booth. It was he who also coined the term "squints" for the forensic team at the Jeffersonian; brilliant scientists who squint at case evidence. "Bones" has a highly skilled set of colleagues, to assist in her investigations.

There’s Angela Montenegro, a talented forensic artist with prodigious 3D visualization skills, made even keener by the latest in holographic technology – who’s also Brennan’s best friend. Forensic pathologist Camille Saroyan is their department head at the Jeffersonian Institute, where entomologist Jack Hodgins performs magical feats of deduction using bugs, worms, maggots, or whatever species of vermin most infests a crime scene or corpse. And the team is assisted by a rotating set of quirky interns.

Some Great Television

"Bones" has been playing on Fox Television for several years, with season 8 culminating in the (finally…) marriage of Brennan and Booth.

Now into its 11th season, the show has an appreciable fan base – and the strength to try out new ideas, such as the recent crossover with the supernatural detective series "Sleepy Hollow":

"Bones"-"Sleepy Hollow crossover

Word and Screen

There are currently 17 Temperance Brennan novels which have been penned by Kathy Reichs. The books share only a loose continuity with the TV show. But notably, the television series features a direct and ongoing link: Emily Deschanel’s "Bones" is an internationally best-selling novelist whose detective fiction features a forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs, whose life and methods mirrors that of Brennan’s own character.

Both the books and the show are well worth a look.

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Cooper-Dale-Agt

Dale Bartholomew Cooper is a fictional character, an eccentric Special Agent of the FBI. Cooper was the central figure of the ABC television series “Twin Peaks”, and was played by actor Kyle MacLachlan.

The series was created by legendary film director David Lynch and Mark Frost, and went on to achieve a cult status of its own.

The Man, and His Methods

David Lynch named Cooper as a reference to D. B. Cooper, the unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft on November 24, 1971. Cooper escaped by parachute, never to be seen, again.

Born on April 19, 1954, the fictional Dale Cooper is a graduate of Haverford College. After joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cooper was based at the Bureau offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was partnered there with the older Special Agent Windom Earle (actor Kenneth Welsh) – a closet psychopath whose various crimes (when they came to light) would return to haunt Cooper, in later years.

Key among these was the case of Earle’s wife, Caroline, who witnessed a federal crime, some time after Cooper joined the Bureau. Earle and Cooper were assigned to protect her; it was around this time that Cooper began an affair with Caroline. One night in Pittsburgh, Cooper let his guard down – and Caroline was murdered by her husband (who had also committed the crime witnessed by Caroline, during a psychotic break). Windom Earle was subsequently sent to a mental institution, from which he would later escape, to wreak havoc in Twin Peaks.

Cooper was devastated by the loss of the woman he would later refer to as the love of his life. He swore to never again become involved with someone who was part of a case to which he was assigned.

An introspective man, Cooper is fueled by a profound interest in the mystical, especially the mythology of Tibetan and Native American cultures. Much of his work is based on intuition and the interpretation of dreams, rather than conventional logic. While working a case, Cooper also dictates regular reports to his (never seen) assistant Diane, using a hand-held tape recorder.

“A hairless mouse with a pitchfork sang a song about caves.”

Okay, this is actually a quote from the “Twin Peaks” parody sketch when Kyle Maclachlan guest hosted Saturday Night Live in 1990. But the fact that it’s not a million miles from the kind of stuff Dale Cooper puts out during his “real” adventures gives an indication of the methods of the man.

At some point in his career, Cooper was placed under the direct authority of FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole (played in the series by David Lynch, himself). Under Cole’s mandate, Cooper was occasionally assigned the mysterious ‘Blue Rose’ cases.

The Town, and Its People

On February 24, 1989, Cooper arrives in the fictional Northwestern town of Twin Peaks, to investigate the murder of local teenager Laura Palmer (actress Sheryl Lee). Here’s a YouTube clip, of Dale’s arrival, from the series’ pilot episode:

It’s a complex case, involving the town’s eccentric characters (like The Log Lady), metaphysical entities, and other-dimensional spaces like the mysterious Black Lodge. During his extended stay, Cooper winds up helping the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department to investigate other cases, as well.

Cooper gains an instant rapport with many of the townspeople – including Sheriff Harry S. Truman (yes, like the President; actor Michael Ontkean) and his junior officers, Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill and Deputy Andy Brennan. 18-year-old Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn), the daughter of local businessman Benjamin Horne, develops a serious crush on the eccentric FBI man. Over time, a close and affectionate friendship develops, between the two.

And Cooper falls in love with the “damn fine coffee”, and cherry pie, for which the town would become famous. Check out the YouTube clip below, to get a flavor of the place:

The Laura Palmer mystery is eventually “resolved” on an ambiguous note, with Dale Cooper’s evil doppelganger on the loose in Twin Peaks (a fugitive from the Black Lodge; watch the show on DVD, it’s too complex to go into, now), and the dead girl’s spirit vowing that “I’ll see you again in 25 years.”

His Anticipated Return

Now, 25 years on, that promise is to be fulfilled. In 2016, Showtime will be bringing us a sequel to the cult series. The network says that nine new “Twin Peaks” episodes – set in the present day – are going into production soon. And Kyle MacLachlan is set to return, as Dale Cooper – as are several other characters from the original 1990s run.

Showtime’s president, David Nevins, has even persuaded David Lynch to direct all nine episodes.

Fans will no doubt be hoping that the sequel will answer the questions left hanging at the end of season two in 1991. Nevins is keeping quiet on this.

Only time will tell.

Keep watching this space.

Peace.

Lieutenant Columbo

Lieutenant Columbo is a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, and the central figure in a mystery television film series created by William Link and Richard Levinson.

The show popularized what’s come to be known as the inverted detective story format. There’s no “whodunit”, here; the perpetrator’s identity is already known to the audience. The plot revolves mainly around how he or she will finally be caught and exposed.

The Man

Columbo is a friendly, chatty, disheveled police detective who is consistently underestimated by his suspects. They’re initially reassured and distracted by his rambling speech, then increasingly irritated by his pestering behavior. Right up to the point where he nabs them, for murder.

Though the name “Frank” can often be seen relatively clearly on his police ID (badge number 416, if you’re interested), Columbo’s first name is never explicitly mentioned, during the series. When asked, he always emphatically answers “Lieutenant”.

The character first appeared in a 1960 episode of the television-anthology series “The Chevy Mystery Show”, entitled “Enough Rope”. This was adapted by Levinson and Link from their short story “May I Come In”. This teleplay is available in the archives of the Paley Center for Media, in New York City and Los Angeles.

The first man to portray Columbo, Bert Freed, was a stocky character actor with a thatch of gray hair. Freed’s Columbo wore a rumpled suit and smoked a cigar, but otherwise had few of the other now-familiar Columbo mannerisms.

In 1968, the same play was made into a two-hour television movie on NBC. The writers suggested Lee J. Cobb and Bing Crosby for the role of Columbo. Cobb was unavailable, and Crosby turned it down. Director Richard Irving convinced Levinson and Link that Peter Falk, who wanted the role, would be ideal – even though he was much younger than what the writers had in mind.

Columbo’s wardrobe was provided by the actor himself; they were Falk’s own clothes, including the high-topped shoes and the shabby raincoat which made its first appearance in 1968’s “Prescription: Murder”.

Columbo’s unsettling, uneven-eyed stare was due to Falk’s own visual impairment; he had a glass eye in his right eye socket. It remained a mystery for 25 years whether the character had one as well, until 1997’s “Columbo: A Trace of Murder”, where he jokes: “You know, three eyes are better than one.”

Falk would often ad lib stuff like fumbling through his pockets for a piece of evidence and discovering a grocery list, asking to borrow a pencil, or becoming distracted by something irrelevant in the room at a dramatic point in a conversation. He inserted these into his performance to keep his fellow actors off-balance, and to help make their confused and impatient reactions to Columbo’s antics more genuine.

Here’s a YouTube compilation, to give you a bit of a character study:

His Method

Columbo reversed the format of the standard “whodunit”.

In almost every episode, the audience sees the crime unfold at the beginning, and knows the identity of the culprit. The murder isn’t always premeditated, but in each case the killer attempts to hide their crimes, creating a false scenario of how the death occurred, often trying to implicate a false culprit. The killer will drop numerous pieces of misleading evidence, and have a water-tight alibi for the murder.

The beauty of these tales lies in the way Columbo finds and follows the clues that lead him to the truth, and the tricks he uses to obtain information, or even a confession. The story unfolds in parallel, from the point of view of Columbo and the murderer, as they play cat and mouse.

In the first part of each episode, the soon-to-be murderer is introduced, and their professional or lifestyle setting is explored. Other characters (including the soon-to-be victim) are introduced through their relationship to the murderer.

As the premise and motivation for murder becomes apparent, the killer typically puts into motion a well-arranged plan, involving the death of the victim and the establishment of a viable cover story.

The second part begins with Columbo’s appearance after the discovery of the body, and usually opens at the scene of the crime, some time after the arrival of the police. So in some cases, Columbo doesn’t appear until halfway through an episode.

When he does, the murderer is usually keen to demonstrate a desire to assist Columbo in his investigations, and to be available for questioning. Which is the Lieutenant’s cue to pop up at all hours, with deceptively shrewd observations and follow-up questions.

Columbo generally maintains a friendly relationship with the murderer, apologizing repeatedly for taking up their time, even as his true suspicions become increasingly apparent.

As more and more evidence is revealed, Columbo shares with the killer his thoughts on the case, pointing out contradictions between the new evidence and the killer’s stated version of events in his bumbling, amiable style. Columbo’s formidable eye for detail and relentless approach, though apparent to the viewer, often become clear to the killer late – too late – in the story line.

During the final act, Columbo drops any remaining pretence of uncertainty, and shares with the killer details of his findings and his arrival at the conclusion of the killer’s guilt.

The killer’s reaction varies, with some conceding in a friendly manner the error that closed the case, and others becoming aggressive or despondent. After this, the episode generally ends, with no following or concluding scenes.

His Caseload

Originally a one-off TV-Movie-of-the-Week, 1968’s “Prescription: Murder” had Falk’s Columbo pitted against a psychiatrist (Gene Barry). Due to its success, NBC requested a pilot for a potential series be made, to see if the character could be sustained on a regular basis.

The 1971 film, “Ransom For a Dead Man” had Lee Grant playing the killer. The popularity of this second movie prompted a regular series on NBC. “Columbo” premiered in the fall of 1971 as part of the wheel series, NBC Mystery Movie rotations: McCloud, McMillan & Wife, and other whodunits.

The network arranged for the “Columbo” segments to air once a month on Wednesday nights, to allow for Peter Falk’s other commitments as a motion picture star.

“Columbo” aired regularly from 1971–78 on NBC. The series was revived on ABC between 1989 and 2003 for several new seasons, and a few made-for-TV movie “specials”.

His Legacy

Despite solving numerous murders over several decades, in Falk’s last appearance as Columbo in the 2003 cable-TV movie “Columbo Likes the Nightlife”, the detective is still a lieutenant.

To his senior brass, Columbo is the preferred investigator for high-profile crimes – a dedicated case officer who’s something of a legend, and thus has a powerful position within the police force.

Obviously doing something right.

Peter Falk died on June 23, 2011, aged 83.

That’s it, for this one.

Hope you’ll join me, for our next installment.

Till then.

Peace.

Clouseau-Inspector

Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the Surete Nationale (a main arm of the French police forces) is a fictional character in Blake Edwards’ series of farcical “The Pink Panther…” films. In most of the movies actor Peter Sellers portrayed the character, who was to become one of Sellers’ pivotal roles.

He’s NOT The Pink Panther!

Which was actually a piece of jewelry; a diamond, targeted for stealing by the aristocratic British thief Sir Charles Lytton, a.k.a. “the Phantom”, in the 1963 comedy thriller “The Pink Panther”. The main focus of the film was on the plotting of actor David Niven, as Sir Charles, with Sellers’ Clouseau providing slapstick comic relief.

Sellers’ antics lent to the popular reception of the film, and established Clouseau’s method of operations; that of a complete buffoon who somehow manages to solve major crimes by a combination of blind luck, inept villains, and fortunate accidents. And the lingering suspicion that, somewhere in his head lurks the identity of a true detective.

The Pink Panther went on to give its name to a suave cartoon feline (who was to feature in the movie credits), and a series of sequels.

He’s had Many Faces:

* The 1964 sequel “A Shot in the Dark” was based on a stage play that didn’t originally include the Clouseau character. It was in this film that Sellers first developed the exaggerated French accent that became Clouseau’s trademark.

The movie introduced two of the series regular characters: Clouseau’s superior officer, Commissioner Dreyfus (actor Herbert Lom), who’s eventually driven mad by Clouseau’s bungling, and his long-suffering Chinese steward, Cato (Burt Kwouk), employed to improve Clouseau’s martial arts skills by attacking him at random.

* For 1968’s “Inspector Clouseau”, the detective was portrayed by American actor Alan Arkin. Blake Edwards was not involved in this production.

* “The Return of the Pink Panther” (1975) saw the return of Peter Sellers to the role of Clouseau – and a rematch with the villainous Sir Charles Lytton (now portrayed by Christopher Plummer). The opening credits were animated by Richard Williams, and feature Clouseau seeking to retrieve the Pink Panther diamond after it is stolen by the Phantom.

* “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” (1976) continued the story from the end of “The Return of the Pink Panther”.The now insane Dreyfus creates a crime syndicate and constructs a doomsday device, with the intention of using it to blackmail the world into killing Clouseau.

Here’s a scene, courtesy of YouTube, depicting Clouseau’s unique style of interrogation:

* Sellers and Edwards originally planned the events of “Revenge of the Pink Panther” (1978) as the basis for a British television series. The movie ignores Dreyfus’ apparent “death” in the previous film, and has Clouseau investigating a plot to kill him after a transvestite criminal is murdered in his place. The movie was a box office success, and led to several more films after Sellers died in 1980.

* 1982’s “Trail of The Pink Panther” was Blake Edwards’ attempt to continue telling Clouseau’s story, despite losing his lead actor. Using outtakes and alternative footage of Sellers as Clouseau, the film introduced a new storyline in which a reporter (played by Joanna Lumley) investigates Clouseau’s disappearance. Along the way, she interviews characters from past Clouseau films, and meets Clouseau’s equally inept father (played by Richard Mulligan).

Seems like a bad idea? Well…

* “Curse of the Pink Panther” (1983) continued the conceit, with the revelation that Clouseau underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance. The character appears briefly, in a joke cameo by Roger Moore, billed as “Turk Thrust II”. Neither “Curse” nor “Trail” was a box office success, and the series was retired.

* Edwards attempted to revive the series a decade later with “Son of the Pink Panther” (1993). Here, it is revealed that Clouseau had illegitimate children by Maria Gambrelli (played by Elke Sommer in A “Shot in the Dark”; recast in this film as Claudia Cardinale, who played the Princess in “The Pink Panther”).

Clouseau’s son, Jacques Jr., was portrayed by Roberto Benigni, and his twin sister, Jacqueline, played by Nicoletta Braschi. Jacques Jr. attempts to follow in his father’s police footsteps, but is soon revealed to have inherited the congenital Clouseau ineptitude.

* Steve Martin starred as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the 2006 reboot of “The Pink Panther”. The story casts Clouseau as an inept Gendarme hired by Chief Inspector Dreyfus to serve as the figurehead investigator in a high-publicity murder, so that Dreyfus can carry out his own investigation, without risking the repercussions of failure.

Although foolish, Martin’s Clouseau is nonetheless able to locate the Pink Panther diamond and solve the case through his own knowledge, and observation of obscure data.

Martin’s Clouseau is considerably older than Sellers’ was, and although the 2006 film was placed prior to the events of the first Pink Panther film (Clouseau is still in uniform), the time frame is advanced to the present day.

Here’s a YouTube trailer, for you:

* “The Pink Panther 2” (2009): When a series of rare and historical artifacts are stolen by the mysterious Il Tornado, Clouseau is assigned to a “dream team” of international investigators to recover the relics – and the Pink Panther. Despite appearing bumbling and clumsy as usual, Clouseau once again displays surprising cleverness through his unorthodox methods.

Mad Skills

Clouseau is promoted to Chief Inspector over the course of the film series, and is regarded by background characters as France’s greatest detective – until they encounter him directly.

The Inspector (sorry; Chief Inspector) has an exaggerated view of his own intelligence, and attempts to appear dignified, regardless of any calamity he’s just caused.

He has a passion for elaborate costumes and aliases, ranging from the mundane (a worker for the phone company) to the ridiculous (a bucktoothed hunchback with an oversized nose). All of them are usually masked by his characteristic mannerisms – and accent.

Clouseau’s immense ego, eccentricity, exaggerated French accent, and prominent mustache were derived from Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s fictional Belgian detective. A frequent running gag in the movies was that even French characters had difficulty understanding what he was saying!

Ironically, much of that humor was lost in dubbing the films into French, where Clouseau wound up with an odd-sounding, nasal voice.

Okay; that’s it, for this one.

See you, for the next – I hope.

Till then.

Peace.

Nick-n-Nora-Charles

Nick and Nora Charles are fictional characters – a married couple who solve murder mysteries while exchanging sharp and witty repartee – in Dashiell Hammett’s novel “The Thin Man”.

The characters later appeared in a highly successful series of movies between 1934 and 1947, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Radio adaptations were heard from 1941 to 1950, and television from 1957 through 1959. They also featured in a Broadway musical in 1991, and as a stage play in 2009.

Nick and Nora have become a model for the bantering, romantically involved detective duo, as seen in other literature and broadcast media.

“The Thin Man”

“The Thin Man” (1934) is a detective novel by Dashiell Hammett, originally published in Redbook.

The story is set in Prohibition-era New York City. The main characters are a former private detective, Nick Charles, and his clever young wife, Nora.

Charles is drawn (mostly against his will) into investigating a murder. The case brings Nick and Nora into contact with the Wynants, an eccentric and rather grotesque family, and with an assortment of policemen and lowlifes.

The “Thin Man” title actually refers to Clyde Wynant, the mysterious and eccentric patriarch who is the pivotal figure of the plot.

A skeletonized body, found during the investigation, had been assumed to be that of a “fat man”, having been found in clothing from a much heavier individual. This clothing is discovered to be a diversion, and the identity of the body is finally revealed as that of a particular “thin man” instead – the missing Wynant.

The murder has been disguised as a means to frame Wynant, by people who have stolen a great deal of his money, then killed him, on the night he was last seen.

The novel is considered one of the seminal books of the “hard-boiled” sub-genre of mystery novels. Think Sam Spade (a Hammett creation), Phillip Marlowe, or Mike Hammer. But Hammett imbued this work with a touch of lightness and humor.

The story tumbles along to the sarcastic banter of the Charleses, as a reluctant and jaded Nick is dragged into solving the sensational murder, cheered on by the fascinated and thrill-seeking Nora.

The Not-so-Thin Man

Described in the novel as overweight and out of shape, Nick Charles (born Nick Charalambides, the son of a Greek immigrant) is an alcoholic former private detective and Pinkerton agent.

Nick is something of a celebrity among the criminal classes and those who associate with them (such as police, athletes, nightclub owners, etc.).

In the book, Nick retired when he married Nora, a wealthy Nob Hill heiress.

In the cinematic version, Charles is portrayed by the slim actor William Powell. This inevitably led the movie-going public to equate the Thin Man of the title with the film’s leading man. This association persisted through five sequels.

Here’s a trailer for the 1934 production, courtesy of YouTube:

The movies also rebadged Nick’s immigrant roots, making him the black sheep of a respectable WASP dynasty, from the fictional small town of Sycamore Springs in upstate New York. He turned his back on the family profession of medicine because of his passion for detective work.

The couple’s dog Asta – a female schnauzer, in the book – became a male wire fox terrier, for the movies.

Later, a child, Nick Jr., was added.

The Sparkling Lady

In the movies, Nora was portrayed by Myrna Loy. The films fleshed out her life story from the book version, considerably.

Nora is revealed to be the sole child of a deceased mining magnate from San Francisco. Now diversified into lumber, railroads, and such, Nora’s fortune is apparently vast, and is managed for the couple by her father’s former partner who lives in an estate on Long Island’s North Shore “Gold Coast”.

Nora is also seen to have a network of blue-blood relatives and friends in San Francisco society.

A lady with money to burn, and a nose for intrigue and adventure.

Good thing she married a detective.

The Chemistry

Those who knew the author maintain that the relationship between Nick and Nora closely mirrors that shared by Dashiell Hammett (himself a former Pinkerton detective, like Nick Charles) and his long-time partner, the playwright Lillian Hellman.

Sharp and witty, on the printed page, the Charleses went even further, on the screen.

The on-screen chemistry between Powell and Loy, who often improvised on the set, became a defining feature of the characters. And a key to the wild success of the series.

The films revolutionized the screen portrayal of marriage, which had previously been earnest, virtuous, and staid. They enlivened the institution with youth, irreverence, and sex appeal.

So strongly were Powell and Loy identified with the characters of Nick and Nora in the public mind, that many mistakenly assumed the actors were a couple in real life as well.

Much of that onscreen chemistry derived from fluids – alcohol, in particular.

Prohibition notwithstanding. Or Nick’s rehab, for that matter.

The Charleses would quip their way through murder investigations, swigging huge amounts of illegal hooch at home or various speakeasies.

Engaging in warm and witty banter, the whole time.

Some of that Banter…

Courtesy of YouTube. Some witty lines from the “Thin Man” series of movies:

Their Legacy

Nick and Nora set the standard, for romantically involved detective couples, to come.

Remember “Hart to Hart”?

Millionaires, Jonathan and Jennifer (Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers)?

Detective show, back in the early ’80s. A literal attempt to recreate the magic of Nick and Nora in a contemporary (well; then) setting.
Even down to the froofy little dog.

Successful enough, in its way. But nowhere near the originals.

Following the success of the movie version of “The Thin Man” in 1934, Dashiell Hammett was commissioned to work on screenplays for “After the Thin Man” and “Another Thin Man”.

There were five sequels, in all:

After the Thin Man (1936)
Another Thin Man (1939)
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
Song of the Thin Man (1947)

With radio and TV adaptations, stage plays, and a musical, in later years.

Rumors have been flying for a while about a reboot of the franchise, with Johnny Depp as Nick Charles. So far, no sign of it.

If they do go ahead, let’s hope they steer clear of anyone involved in the production of “The Lone Ranger”…

Hmm.

Time for me to ride off, into the sunset.

And get a drink.

Till next time.

Peace.

Carnacki-the-Ghost-Finder

Thomas Carnacki, a.k.a. the Ghost-Finder, is the central figure in a collection of supernatural detective short stories by author William Hope Hodgson. The anthology was first published in 1913 by the UK publisher Eveleigh Nash.

Some History, First

In the years preceding World War I (1914-1918), Spiritualism in Europe was on a high. Seances and mediumship were acceptable, in polite society.

During The Great War itself, attempts by families to communicate with loved ones recently departed from the field of battle were not uncommon.

And tales of spirit contacts, ghosts, and hauntings became increasingly popular.

A Man, for Those Times

Carnacki’s first name is revealed as Thomas, in a conversational aside with his mother, from “The Searcher of the End House”.

This early adventure has Thomas and the old lady personally embroiled in a suspected haunting at the house they’ve just rented. Subsequent tales use the character’s surname, throughout.

Having solved the “Searcher” mystery, Carnacki puts himself about as a supernatural investigator – called in by third parties, to deal with supposed threats from The Other Side.

His investigations begin with techniques straight out of the Sherlock Holmes Handbook: a methodical and detailed survey of every inch of the haunted premises.

In particular, Carnacki looks for things like trap doors, mirrors, smoke generators, and suspension wires. Stuff from the bag of tricks used by fake Spiritualist mediums of the time.

The Electric Pentacle

Of course, there’s always the possibility that the supernatural threat is genuine.

Carnacki’s investigative armory therefore includes mystically protective substances like garlic and silver, along with spells and rites like the Ritual of Saaamaaa.

Most intriguing of these is the Electric Pentacle, a device of Carnacki’s own design. It’s basically a mystic pentagram, constructed out of powered glass tubes that give off a trademark eerie blue glow. Magical Protective Circle 2.0.

The Storyteller’s Ritual

Each of Carnacki’s stories begins in the same way.

An invitation to dinner is issued by card to his compatriots, Anderson, Arkright, Jessop, and Taylor.

The group gathers in Carnacki’s digs at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, for a quality dinner – during which their host says very little, if anything. It’s left for Anderson to narrate this early part of the evening.

Only when the serious business of eating is done, and the gentlemen retire to the lounge for wine and cigars does Carnacki stoke up his tobacco pipe, and break his silence. He then takes up a first-person narrative of his latest case.

Gripping Yarns

The original collection of stories was published by Eveleigh Nash, in 1913.

A later edition by Mycroft & Moran in 1947 included 3 additional tales.

There’s a fair mix.

Some are revealed as elaborate hoaxes, cooked up for mischievous or malevolent reasons, by the living.

Others are genuine encounters with supernatural aggressors. Often, these require Carnacki to spend one or more nights in a haunted room – with just a ring of salt and the Electric Pentacle between him and certain death. The ghosts described in some of these cases are quite horrifically inventive.

Project Gutenberg has a free eBook of Carnacki’s adventures – which are now copyright-free, and available here:

Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder, at Project Gutenberg

Before you download that, here’s a video trailer for the works (available from Ghostwriter Publications), courtesy of YouTube:

Elsewhere…

A new Carnacki story, “Carnacki: Heaven and Hell” by William Meikle was published by Dark Regions Press, in 2011.

Carnacki featured as a character in Alan Moore’s graphic novel series, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.

That’s the one where various (mostly evil, or ambivalent) literary figures like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, and Captain Nemo are brought together under the leadership of African adventurer Allan Quartermain, as a sort of “X-Men” of the British Empire.

Carnacki didn’t appear in the abysmal movie that was made from this franchise, in 2003. Which is probably just as well.

“Out, You Go!”

This is Carnacki’s trademark ending to each tale, as he ushers his friends out into the London night.

And it’s our cue, to end this one.

Till next time.

Peace.

Albert-Campion

Albert Campion is a fictional character in a series of some 19 detective novels and over 20 short stories by Margery Allingham. Supposedly created as a parody of Dorothy L. Sayers’ aristocratic ‘tec, Lord Peter Wimsey, Campion established his own identity, and a considerable following, as the series progressed.

After Allingham’s death her husband Philip Youngman Carter completed his wife’s last Campion book, and wrote two more before his own death.

Meet Mister Campion…

Here he is, courtesy of YouTube, as portrayed by actor Peter Davison, from the BBC Television series of 1989 and 1990:

According to the literature, Albert Campion is the pseudonym used by a man born in 1900 into a prominent British aristocratic lineage. Early novels suggest that he was part of the royal family, but this reference is dropped in later works. In “Mystery Mile”, his true first name is said to be Rudolph, while his surname begins with a K.

Educated at Rugby School and the (fictitious) St. Ignatius’ College, Cambridge, he assumed the name Campion in his 20s and began life as an adventurer and detective.

Campion is a thin, blond, bespectacled fellow, often described as affable, inoffensive and bland. His deceptively blank and unintelligent expression hides a man of authority and action. In some stories, he lives in a flat above a police station at Number 17A, Bottle Street in Piccadilly, London.

… a.k.a. Mornington Dove…

Campion uses many other names, in the course of his career.

“Mornington Dove” (or “Mornington Dodd” in the 1988 Avon edition (page 72) of “The Black Dudley Murder”) and “the Honourable Tootles Ash” are mentioned in “The Crime at Black Dudley”.

“Christopher Twelvetrees” and “Orlando” are mentioned in “Look to the Lady”.

…and His Friends

A study of the Allingham books suggests that Campion’s father was a Viscount, already dead at the start of the series.

In “Sweet Danger” it’s mentioned that his brother was “still unmarried”, and Campion is therefore likely to “come into the title some day” – although there’s no suggestion in the books that this actually occurs.

His sister Valentine Ferris plays a central part in “The Fashion in Shrouds”. In that book, it’s revealed that both are estranged from most of their family.

In the short story “The Meaning of the Act”, Campion explains that the secret of his success is to “take a drink with anyone, and pick your pals where you find ’em”. This includes having acquaintances on both sides of the law.

From “Mystery Mile” onwards, Campion is usually aided by his manservant, Magersfontein Lugg – an uncouth street tough who used to be a burglar.

Campion is also good friends with Inspector (later Superintendent) Stanislaus Oates of Scotland Yard (who is as by-the-book as Campion is unorthodox), and later with Oates’ protégé Inspector Charles Luke.

After Campion’s intelligence work during World War II, he continues to have a connection with the secret services. He also has many friends and allies, seemingly scattered across London and the English countryside – and often including professional criminals.

After a doomed passion for a married woman in “Dancers in Mourning”, Campion eventually meets Amanda Fitton, who first appears in “Sweet Danger” as a seventeen-year old, and later becomes an aircraft engineer. In that story, her brother Hal recovers the family title of Earl of Pontisbright, and Amanda becomes Lady Amanda, as the sister of an Earl. She and Campion eventually marry, and have a son called Rupert.

The Adventures

The Campion stories are generally adventures, rather than true mysteries. They rarely feature puzzles that the reader has a chance of solving; it’s the characters and situations which move the story along.

The Adaptations

Two stories were adapted by the BBC in 1959 and 1960, with Bernard Horsfall as Campion and Wally Patch as Lugg. Each story was shown in six, 30-minute episodes.

In 1968, “The Case of the Late Pig” was adapted for television, with Brian Smith as Campion, and George Sewell as Lugg. It was part of the BBC Detective series (1964–1969), which was an anthology featuring adaptations of popular detective stories.

In 1989 and 1990, the first eight of the novels (excluding “The Crime at Black Dudley”) were adapted over two seasons, with each story shown in two hour-long episodes. Peter Davison played Campion. Professional wrestler turned actor Brian Glover was Magersfontein Lugg, and Andrew Burt played Stanislaus Oates.

In the show’s second season, actress Lysette Anthony featured as Campion’s lady love, Amanda Fitton.

Peter Davison sang the title music for the first series himself. In the second series, the song was replaced by an instrumental version.

I’d best be whistling off, myself.

Till next time, then.

Peace.

Bulman-detective

Detective Sergeant George Kitchener Bulman is a fictional policeman created by novelist Kenneth Royce. The character appears in a series of books about The XYY Man (semi-reformed cat burglar Spider Scott).

Bulman was brought to life on the small screen by actor Don Henderson. With his scruffy look and eccentric demeanor, the character resembled a villain of the Victorian era, rather than a modern-day police detective, or latter-day private eye.

Origins

In the novels, the character’s name is initially given as Alfred “Alf” Bulman.

Bulman is presented as a corrupt officer – though the only example given is the method he uses to achieve promotion to sergeant. Bulman earns his stripes by persuading down-and-outs to confess to unsolved robberies, in return for a prison sentence which would put them indoors during the coldest months of winter!

First Transition to Television

The books were turned into a Granada TV series in the mid-1970s, with actor Don Henderson playing the police detective – now dubbed George Bulman.

In the series, Bulman lives for the day when he can put his nemesis Spider Scott (played by Stephen Yardley) back behind bars. Both Bulman and his sidekick Detective Constable Derek Willis (actor Dennis Blanche) are thwarted at every turn.

Over time, the officers develop some grudging sympathy and respect for Scott, as they discover how he and they have been used by the Secret Service.

Bulman was originally portrayed as mildly eccentric, wearing fingerless woolen gloves, using a nasal inhaler, and trying to ‘better’ himself by engaging in further education. The detective was prone to showing off his learning with a pretentious attitude that made him look foolish.

An Ongoing Concern: “Strangers”

The Bulman character proved popular with viewers, and, together with Willis, was given a spin-off series called “Strangers”, which saw the detectives transferred from London to the north-west of England.

During its five-year run, Bulman’s eccentricities were increased. He was given a propensity for keeping his belongings in plastic shopping bags, and a pet hamster named Flash Gordon.

It was in “Strangers” that Bulman’s middle name was revealed to be Kitchener.

Increasingly his advanced learning was used less to make him look pretentious and laughable. Instead, it underlined a Zen-like wisdom and otherworldliness.

Bulman also leapt in rank, moving from Detective Sergeant to Detective Chief Inspector in a single bound.

Here’s a YouTube promo, for the show’s first season:

Private Citizen, Private Eye

More from YouTube:

During the mid-1980s the character returned to television, in “Bulman”.

In this revamp, a disillusioned Bulman leaves the police, to work as a private investigator.

Ever the eccentric, the character used detection as a sideline, actually making his living by repairing clocks. He kept a model railway set-up in his office, and wore a T-Shirt bearing an illustration of William Shakespeare, with the inscription ‘Will Power’.

The private detective also gained a female sidekick, in the shape of feisty young Scotswoman Lucy McGinty (played by Siobhan Redmond). The actress would later achieve fame in the acclaimed BBC Television series “Between The Lines”, as detective Maureen “Mo” Connell of the Complaints Investigation Bureau (equivalent to Internal Affairs Division, in the USA) of London’s Metropolitan Police.

Ironically mirroring the post-prison career of Spider Scott, Bulman and his assistant Lucy were often coerced or tricked into doing clandestine and dangerous work for the Secret Service.

Spin-Off Literary Success

At the height of the show’s success, Kenneth Royce returned to his Bulman character by writing two more XYY Man novels (“The Crypto Man” (1984) and “The Mosley Receipt” (1985)) and a Bulman novel, “No Way Back” (a.k.a. “Hashimi’s Revenge”) in 1986.

In the 1990s, Royce followed with “The Judas Trail” (1996) and “Shadows” (1996).

Royce’s latter-day Bulman differs greatly from the television version.

Alfred George Bulman (as opposed to George Kitchener Bulman) has, by “The Crypto Man” in 1985, risen to Detective Superintendent in the Security Services section of the Metropolitan Police. His television alternative never made it above Detective Chief Inspector, before becoming a private investigator.

And That Was All…

The “Bulman” series ended in 1987. Henderson obtained the rights for TV use of the character, but got caught up with other projects. The actor died in 1997 before he was able to interest producers in a new series.

Our series is ongoing.

Hope you’ll join me, for the next installment.

Till then.

Peace.

BAU-SoTL-CriMinds

BAU is an abbreviation for Behavioral Analysis Unit, a department of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC).

The BAU and NCAVC provide behavioral based investigative and/or operational support to the investigation of complex and time-sensitive crimes, typically involving acts or threats of violence.

These are the people most famously known for profiling and catching serial killers, arsonists, kidnappers, and certain brands of terrorist.

BAU Operations

The BAU receives requests for “criminal investigative analysis” from federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies.

Criminal investigative analysis involves reviewing and assessing the facts of a criminal act, interpreting offender behavior, and interacting with the victims, as exhibited during the commission of a crime, or as displayed in a crime scene.

BAU staff conduct detailed analyses of crimes for the purpose of providing one or more of the following services:

* crime analysis,
* investigative suggestions,
* profiles of unknown offenders,
* threat analysis,
* critical incident analysis,
* interview strategies,
* major case management,
* search warrant assistance,
* prosecutive and trial strategies, and
* expert testimony

Recently, the BAU released “The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective” report to guide school administrators, teachers, parents, and law enforcement in identifying and evaluating threats in schools.

The BAU also keeps a reference file for experts in various forensic disciplines such as odontology, anthropology, entomology, or pathology.

Real Life…

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such position in the FBI as a “profiler”.

…and Reel Life

The BAU (known in those days as the Behavioral Science Unit) plays a prominent role in the novels of Thomas Harris, notably “Red Dragon”, and “The Silence of the Lambs”. Both books became movies.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for “The Silence of the Lambs”, setting the scene for BAU Section Chief Jack Crawford (played by Scott Glenn) to give FBI trainee agent Clarice Starling (actress Jodie Foster) her mandate to interview the notorious serial killer Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter (the Oscar-winning Sir Anthony Hopkins):

Criminal Minds

The BAU is at the center of the CBS weekly drama series “Criminal Minds” and its spin-off, “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”

Unlike many police procedurals, rather than focus on the crime itself, “Criminal Minds” concentrates on profiling the criminal – called the “unsub” or “unknown subject”.

The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia.

Principal characters in the show include:

Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner (played by Thomas Gibson):
Unit Chief of the BAU team. A former prosecutor, and one of the most experienced agents in the BAU. In season five, his estranged wife Haley Brooks (Meredith Monroe) is murdered by fugitive serial killer George Foyet (C. Thomas Howell), also known as “The Reaper”, and Hotch is given sole custody of his son Jack.

Derek Morgan (actor Shemar Moore):
Supervisory Special Agent (SSA), and a confident, assertive, often hot-tempered character. Derek was a troubled Chicago youth headed for juvenile delinquency, until he was rescued and mentored by Carl Buford (actor Julius Tennon). Buford turned out to be a sexual predator who molested Derek and other young boys – an experience that colors Morgan’s dealings within the BAU. He has a special relationship with Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia, and the two have a unique banter and mutual understanding.

Dr. Spencer Reid (played by Matthew Gray Gubler):
Supervisory Special Agent and boy genius who graduated from Las Vegas High School at age 12, and holds PhDs in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Engineering, as well as BAs in Psychology and Sociology. As of season four, he is also working on a BA in Philosophy. Dr. Reid (his preferred title; it deflects judgments about his age) has an IQ of 187, can read 20,000 words per minute, and has an eidetic memory.

Here’s a YouTube clip of the good doctor, in full flow:

Understandably, most of the members on the team are intimidated by his profound knowledge.

Jason Gideon (played by Mandy Patinkin):
A Senior Supervisory Special Agent widely known as the BAU’s best profiler. Gideon was the team’s acting sage, in the initial seasons of the show. After a series of emotionally troubling cases, and the murder of his friend Sarah by fugitive serial killer Frank Breitkopf (Keith Carradine), he heads off into the Nevada sunset, destination unknown.

David Rossi (actor Joe Mantegna):
Senior Supervisory Special Agent, who worked in the BAU at its origins, then took early retirement to write books and lecture on criminal analysis. Rossi volunteered to return shortly after Senior SSA Jason Gideon’s departure, and fill the perceived “experience gap”.

Jennifer “JJ” Jareau (played by A. J. Cook):
Supervisory Special Agent. In seasons one through five, she served as the team’s Communications Liaison to local police agencies. Forced to accept a promotion at the Pentagon in season six, “JJ” later returned to the unit, becoming a legitimate profiler (whatever that is; see above) in season seven. Jennifer is also the only human being on the planet who calls Dr. Reid, “Spence”.

Elle Greenaway (actress Lola Glaudini):
A Supervisory Special Agent, assigned to the BAU as an expert in sexual offense cases. Elle suffers severe emotional trauma after being shot by an unsub in season one. In season two, while alone on a stakeout for a suspected serial rapist, she shoots the man in cold blood. Despite her colleagues’ doubts, the local police deem it self-defense. Elle later resigns from the BAU, with the declaration that this is “not an admission of guilt.”

Emily Prentiss (played by Paget Brewster):
Supervisory Special Agent, and daughter of Ambassador Elizabeth Prentiss (Kate Jackson). After SSA Elle Greenaway leaves the BAU, Emily shows up with papers assigning her to the BAU, as a replacement. Emily is fluent in several languages – a legacy of her upbringing, and her professional past as an agent of Interpol.

Penelope Garcia (actress Kirsten Vangsness):
The team’s Technical Analyst. She joined the BAU after bringing attention to herself by hacking the FBI database; she was offered a job in lieu of a jail sentence. She usually supports the team from her computer lab at Quantico, but occasionally joins them on location when her skills can be used in the field. She enjoys a flirtatious relationship with SSA Derek Morgan, often engaging in comical banter of a sexually suggestive nature (usually over open channels), when he calls in for information. When SSA Jennifer Jareau leaves the BAU, Penelope takes over her job as Communications Liaison. She maintains this role after “JJ” qualifies as a profiler, and joins the rest of the team in the field.

Dr. Alex Blake (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn):
An FBI Linguistics Expert and professor at Georgetown University who joins the BAU after SSA Emily Prentiss transfers to the Interpol office in London.

“Criminal Minds” premiered September 22, 2005, on CBS. On May 9, 2013, CBS renewed Criminal Minds for a ninth season.
The show is produced by The Mark Gordon Company in association with CBS Television Studios, and ABC Studios.

And it’s well worth a look.

Speaking of which here’s the BAU team at work, courtesy of YouTube:

That’s it, for this one.

Hope you’ll join me, for the next.

Till then.

Peace.

Batman-Detective

Batman is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics.

He was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939).

The Premise

Batman is the costumed alter-ego of billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne.

Orphaned as a child when he witnessed the death of his parents at the hands of an armed mugger, the young Wayne spent his formative years developing the skills needed to exorcise the demons of his traumatic childhood experience.

“Exorcise”, in this case meaning “Become a costumed vigilante”.

As the Batman, Wayne prowls the night, striking fear in the hearts of evildoers with his nightmarish outfit, incredible hi-tech gadgets, and fearsome combat skills.

From the archives of YouTube and ClevverU, here’s a crash course on the Dark Knight, for you:

The Tech

Wayne’s Batsuit incorporates the imagery of a bat, in order to frighten criminals.

Though the specifics of the Batman costume have changed repeatedly across various stories and media, the most distinctive elements remain consistent: a billowing cape, a cowl covering most of the face and featuring a pair of batlike ears, a stylized bat emblem on the chest, and the ever-present utility belt.

Possessing the properties of both Kevlar and Nomex, the suit protects him from gunfire and other significant impacts.

The costume’s colors are traditionally blue and gray – a scheme which arose due to the way comic book art is colored.
More recently (and specifically since the Tim Burton “Batman” film of 1989), an all gray / black scheme with gold coloring on the emblem has been the norm.

Batman keeps most of his field equipment in a utility belt.

Over the years, it has been shown to contain a virtually limitless variety of crime-fighting tools. Different versions of the belt have these items stored in pouches, or hard cylinders attached evenly around it.

The ‘Tec

What isn’t widely acknowledged is that Batman is also hailed as the number one detective, in the world of costumed heroes. With deductive skills to rival the legendary Sherlock Holmes.

They don’t call him The Darknight Detective, for nothing.

From YouTube, here’s a collection of clips from “Batman TAS” and “Justice League”, highlighting those mad skills:

Those Mad Skills

Batman has no inherent super-powers. To compensate, he must rely on his scientific knowledge, detective skills, and fighting prowess.

In the stories, Bruce Wayne / Batman spent a significant portion of his life and fortune traveling the world and acquiring the skills necessary to wage his war on crime. As such, his knowledge and expertise in just about every discipline known to man is almost unparalleled by any other character in the DC Comics’ Universe.

He is a master of disguise, often gathering information under the identity of Matches Malone, a notorious gangster.

Batman is also skilled in espionage, and his ninjutsu training has made him a master of stealth, who can appear and disappear, seemingly at will. He is also well versed in escapology, allowing him to break free of near inescapable deathtraps with little or no harm.

Batman is an expert in forensic investigation, interrogation and counter-interrogation techniques. He has the ability to function while tolerating massive amounts of physical pain, and even to withstand telepathy and mind control.

A formidable array of talents. And with his enemies in Gotham City and beyond, he needs them.

Those Mad Killers

Batman faces a variety of foes, ranging from common criminals to outlandish supervillains. Many of them mirror aspects of the Batman’s character and development, and often have tragic origin stories that lead them to a life of crime.

Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker – a green-haired, chalk white-skinned, clown-like criminal psychopath – is essentially the Batman’s polar opposite.

Other recurring enemies include Catwoman, Bane, the Scarecrow, the Penguin, Two-Face, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Ra’s al Ghul.

Memorable characters, all. And ripe, for mass media.

The Show Goes On

And on.

Since his first appearance in the late 1930s, the Batman has been featured in comic books, novels, stage plays, TV series, and movies (in both animated and live-action formats).

His eagerly anticipated next appearance at the cinema will be in the next installment of the new Superman franchise, which will star Henry Cavill, as the Man of Steel, and a contentiously cast Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman.

It’s your standard comic book adaptation casting fiasco.

Remember the hubbub that erupted back in the day, when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman?

“He’s too short!”

“He’s too weedy!”

“He’s a comedian!”

He was good.

One of the better ones, actually.

So. We’ll await developments.

And I hope you’ll await my next story, in this series.

Till then.

Peace.