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Father Dowling Mysteries (1989)
Cheapo Production, Atrocious Writing
If Mr. McInerny were alive, he would be rolling in his grave! (in the words of Fr. Dowling's housekeeper, Marie) How he permitted this farce of a series to use his name and character names is a true wonder.
In the early episodes, the producers basically used one location, the former office of the District Attorney in Denver, NOT Chicago, and then set up different CHEAP wooden establishing signs, such as Courthouse, Hospital, Hotel, and changed the camera angle. Also early on, the mansion that served as the home of various guest villains was the same one, from different angles -- and, by the way, the same mansion used multiple times in the 1991 Perry Mason series.
The inevitable car chases were shot one week in several blocks of the Denver Country Club area, the next week in an adjoining neighborhood, and so forth and so on. No need to move all of the equipment very far. Quick and easy. Cheap, too.
The awful portrayals of Catholic priests and a Catholic nun are the most outrageous parts of this series. The simple language of the Church is so easy to find, even for inept writers as we find here. For example, a priest does not "give" Mass, he offers Mass; and Catholics do not "have" Confession, they go to Confession.
Apparently Father Dowling does not say his Office very often, and the writers call his Office, his "Missal." We hear a lot about his busy schedule, but he seems to be on the trail of losers most of his days, and nights. He does bless himself many times, I must admit... the writers (or the director) got that right.
But Sister Steve -- what a joke! We learn early on that basically she became a nun to get out of the rough, crime-filled life she had been living. She did enjoy being a nun, though -- who wouldn't, when it involves chasing criminals, impersonating royalty, breaking into homes and businesses, and so forth? She also seems to have forgotten the daily prayers required of professed religious. The writers endowed her with the ability to change like a chameleon from her nun's habit (NOT uniform) to the lifestyle of the rich and famous or the poor and outcast to anyone in between. I know of no nun who would have the time to do such things, much less the inclination. Her former life seems not to have been left behind as much as covered up and disguised. She lies like a trooper and she ignores the Church's teaching that we should obey the law -- of God/the Church AND of the State.
Those who praise this show for its good, clean scripts are fooling themselves. Many of the episodes feature near-naked women, in places a nun or a priest probably should not be. Some episodes feature Sister Steve drinking and one episode featured an older nun over-imbibing rum in the kitchen. Just easy writing, sometimes intended to get a laugh -- at the expense of reality. Writers of television series tend to enjoy the shocking, especially regarding Catholics and what they hold sacred. What could be more sacred than the sanctuary of a Catholic Church? Yet in Father Dowling, many of the murders/killings are in the sanctuary of St. Michael's.
One episode of Father Dowling has a human "come back to earth as an Angel." First, humans do not become Angels; if their souls go to Heaven, they are Saints. Angels are a whole other type of created being. Second, as far as we know, Angels come to earth for a specific holy purpose.
Angels are incredibly marvelous creatures, intelligent and powerful, yet humble before God. An Angel sent by God with a message for a human being would never gamble or debauch, as the "angel" in Father Dowling does. This portrayal only serves to lessen the glory both of Angels and of God, who has given us His Angels to help us get to Heaven. There is no need for television writers to include such an episode, even if they are non-believers. It is just low and beneath contempt.
I have found that most series that portray Catholics intend them to be caricatures. If that was the intent of the writers of Father Dowling, they succeeded admirably! It is a great deal like a comic book come to life; but the last laugh is on the writers, producers, and directors.
Hard To Rate
Due to the pandemic, I had practically run the YouTube library dry of classic movies and English tv, so I turned to American tv series of the 1950's. Periodically I had tested The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, but this time I meant to enjoy the entire series, come what may. I don't mess around, boy. It was a revelation!
The early episodes are priceless, funny and homey. I began to skip through the years and that was my big mistake. I have always found that any series, no matter how good it begins, should never be extended past the third season. Writers have run out of the really good stuff and even repeat, directors change and the flavor of the show suffers as a result, and, most importantly, the actors get bored or act out of habit rather than imagination. New faces join the cast to add spice to the scripts, but sometimes that is a huge mistake. What is worst of all, the audience is faced with watching the actors expand in the waistline and the derriere and the men lose their hair, strand by strand, week after week.
Much of the above happened with this series. Although the men in the Nelson family never had the receding hairline problem (one wonders how Ozzie kept the same hairline over all those years) and Ricky's hair actually exploded in size, the rest of the stumbling blocks presented themselves throughout the latter seasons.
Harriet's profile remained terrific, but when she turned her back to the camera, it was just sad. In some shots, Ozzie looked as if he wore a mask -- his skin was so taut and lacked any blemishes. Perhaps the make-up in those days was that heavy (was Botox around then?); but sometimes it made him look like an et.
Ricky's friend Iggy had his family name changed after a few seasons; one wonders the reason. The addition of the character of Clara, the woman with the voice, made many episodes almost impossible to watch unless one fast-forwards through her appearances. As has been pointed out, the addition of the wives of the boys was almost by itself a death knell for the whole series.
Wish I had stuck by my motto and watched only the first three seasons of O&H. After that, the stories dragged and repeated, and one began to look at the actors and pick out flaws, and to mentally edit the scripts and notice errors in writing and reading. After the first few seasons, the series just leaves a bad taste. This family and its reflection of the times were a great idea for television, in any era. The producers just carried it on too long.
Mr. & Mrs. North: Mask of Hate (1954)
This episode is just one more in the series that keeps one wondering why he/she is watching, except that it is free of blasphemy and sex. That much is a relief! I could stand listening to it while playing Solitaire until the ending, when the cop breaks in a door that Pam couldn't even open from the inside and shoots and kills the bad guy without a second's glace at where he stood. For all the cop knew, Pam could have been in his line of fire. This went over (or under) even the low standard this series has on believability.
Maybe this was because they all -- writers, actors, directors, editors -- knew the series was over and they just wanted to get something in the can. That is where it belongs (another type of can).
The Mentalist: Red John (2013)
Typical Hollywood Blasphemy
In typical Hollywood style, The Mentalist, that dropped anti-Christian hints throughout, ends in what has been made to appear an extant Catholic chapel. They have the candles lit -- just a little clue, the candles are lit only during the Mass and services such as funerals and weddings, and the Easter candle (the large one next to the front pew), if legit, is very holy -- and the supposedly worst criminal in California history is fondling the Altar (at least they placed an arrangement of flowers in front of the Tabernacle in this scene, unlike the one with Jane alone).
I have to believe that this is a chapel that is no longer dedicated Catholic and is simply staged. The building itself is beautiful and is probably the epitome of what everyone thinks of as a Catholic chapel, even one that, perhaps has been there since the Franciscans settled the area. The fact that the ptb even thought of doing this scene there indicates an imbedded antipathy toward the Catholic Church, like they were having a little laugh behind what should have been a very dramatic event in this series and what turned out to be a joke itself.
Psych: High Top Fade Out (2009)
Jules Isn't Likeable
The musical parts of this episode are very entertaining, and Shawn gives a great performance throughout; but I can't help but question the decision to have Juliet
be the tough cop instead of Lassiter. In every episode where she is, it doesn't come off. Here, it makes Lassiter look very bored and it seems he could phone in his very small part.
The character of Joon is funny and touching and it makes one wonder how much better the later episode with Blackapella -- er, Quarterblack -- would have been with Joon instead of Drake.
Enjoy Most of the Cast, but ONE!
I just became aware of this series, when I found it on Britbox US. The settings are beautiful and the writing is quite good. The casting of the "Baddies" did not go overboard and make them unwatchable, as in some of the British series I have tried to watch.
However, the personality of Niamh Cusack has always been disconcerting to me and she continues to be in this series. Her character, Dr. Kate, was great in the beginning, but changed almost overnight from the first several episodes. She became overbearing with everyone; and, even though she had apparently been agreeable to make the move with her husband, she became intolerant of everything that did not forward her own agenda.
The series, at least in the first season, seemed to focus on the supposed benefits of "the pill." Cusack's character promotes it, and, even when not totally supportive of prescribing birth control, makes it possible for a young unmarried woman to get it in a larger town. The village doctor has good and reasonable arguments against prescribing such a drug, but he is made to look like an antiquarian and a misfit. In the end, he succumbs to Dr. Kate, whose self-confidence from that time onward goes over the top.
It is difficult to watch the scenes in which Cusack has a large role. I find that eyes are a huge part of every character; and her eyes are obscured by her contact lenses and her maladjustment thereto. I guess I won't be watching this series through the entire run, because, even though from the comments here, I see that she will be replaced, when that happens, the show is more or less on the way out anyway. So it was fun seeing this village and I love Nick Berry as PC Nick Rowan, but that Cusack woman and her character spoil it all.
Columbo: The Greenhouse Jungle (1972)
Peter Falk Good; Rest of Cast Awful
It has already been said that the four principle guest stars are horrendous, but I have to say that Ray Milland was overrated as an actor throughout his career. His timing is off and the cadence he gives to his lines is almost unwatchable. It is like he is reading his part -- in whatever medium in which he appears. In The Greenhouse Jungle, this, and the writing for the other parts, sadly make this episode a mistake. As has also been said already, watch it to say you have, and then forget it!
Yep! Being a Professional Cook Does That to You
I haven't watched any television for a couple of years and tuned in to watch this episode on Amazon when I was running out of movies I wanted to see. I was used to seeing the women nicely slimmed down in their jeans and Western shirts, and so I was completely shocked to see both of them having exploded in girth. Perhaps I misjudge and attribute this growth to them enjoying their work too much and that both of them are actually pregnant. Hope so, because if not, it will be a long, long while until either of them will be able to bend over comfortably.
Psych: The Old and the Restless (2008)
Fun, with an Unusual Twist
A few of the episodes have Shawn and Gus taking shots at each other; this one makes those shots on the part of Gus more personal and far more bitter, for no reason at all.
It is a big deal when Shawn and Gus have to stay behind to fill out the papers so that their "grandfather" can be admitted to the retirement community. One of the items in every such bundle of documents would have been dietary requirements. Yet later the dietitian makes a special visit with Spencer the elder to ask him about his special needs. One wonders how the administrator expected the boys to know all of the information that must have been included in that very high pile of papers.
If the client was the best friend of the missing Oswald, he would have known that he was training for the marathon and would have told Shawn and Gus. They could have searched for him without even entering Glorious Pines.
All in all, a fun episode if you don't look too closely -- especially the dance sequence. But one of the more poorly written. Shows off Bernsen's athletic prowess and pretty good body, and gives him more screen time than usual, which is fine! Silliness prevails for too much re-viewing, such as the hospital scene and the reveal. Good once or twice.
The Five (2011)
Sometimes It Makes You Smile, Sometimes It Makes You Angry, Sometimes You Just Have To Hold Your Nose
I have watched The Five from the beginning, through all of the interior changes in hosts and through the outside changes in politics. I have suffered through the Geraldo episodes and yelled at the tv (now the laptop) during the Juan segments and, recently, the Katie Pavlich segments (she loves the hunting of beautiful animals for profit and fun) and the Donna Brazille segments (she, like Juan, simply spouts the Party line -- and she blasphemed worse than anyone who has ever been on the show).
I guess my principal draw to this show, the only one I watch on tv these days, is Greg Gutfeld. He exasperates, at times; but when he is on, it is great entertainment. He has a great mind and is able to communicate what many of us feel but are unable to put into words. His quirky sense of humor is uplifting; and, even when his own laughter seems forced, he puts a smile on my face.
I have mixed feelings about Jesse Watters. He knows his politics and is tremendously loyal to President Trump. I would trust his view of the campaigns today more than just about anyone else's. His light repartee with the other panelists is fun; but at times, he goes overboard into the "sounds like that could be hurtful" category (same goes for Gutfeld and Dana).
Which brings me to Dana herself. What in the world has gotten into her these days?!? In about a week's time, she has gone from someone who was harmless and smart and who probably was given her own show too early in her tv career to someone who obviously believes that she has knowledge superior to President Trump and all of his advisors. Give me a break! Having been Press Secretary and having held a few other prestigious positions, and interviewing really smart people, does not give one leave to speak on forever at a very annoying noise level with an already very annoying voice, especially when it sounds like a lecture more than a comment. And how come she gets to opine on multiple topics each segment, with a little-girl cadence that cuts the listener to the bone?!? Then there is Jasper.... Nothing else need be said.
I had just grown very fond of Dana's part on The Five, and had even tuned in a few times to her own show. She has good opinions when kept to a minimum; but somehow she has become a star in her own mind, a genius whose words everyone should hear and take careful note of. Once she gets the floor, she is very reluctant to surrender it. And she keeps interrupting the other panelists, as if her opinion must be heard immediately.
Maybe it is the isolation that is showing on Dana. Or maybe her husband's presence and influence. Or maybe not having all of the regulars on every show. Or maybe not having the show actually be aired in the studio with everyone around a real table instead of a virtual one. In any event, a few more episodes with Dana's hysterics and with guest panelists such as Brazille and Pavlich and it will be very difficult to remain loyal to The Five. I find it helps to watch the first block and see how everyone looks for the day and then mute it until One More Thing; and then listen to the podcast for the middle blocks. That way, I can skip the weak parts and listen to Greg and Jesse and the really intelligent guest panelists.
Time of Death (2013)
Thought I could get over the female star's crossed eyes; but the plot was so horrendous that her weirdness didn't really matter, because I looked for another movie to watch less than half way through.
Father Brown: The Wrong Shape (2013)
Got It Wrong
One of the characters says to Father Brown that his Bible teaches that Jesus walked on water and fed many with one loaf of bread. Father Brown's reply
implies that one should not interpret those passages literally. The Catholic Church teaches that those particular passages must be read literally: they were miracles. It is wrong of the writers to give the wrong impression of such fundamental beliefs and teachings.
Bad All Around!
Kris Marshall's arrival in the last season was fun and chaotic and the team spent many comedic moments adjusting to his manner, especially as it was quite different from that of Ben. This season, and especially this episode, has none of the feeling of comradeship among the team and the new constable is just plain dreadful!
All aspects of this episode are awful: the writing, the direction, and, especially, the acting. It felt like an entirely different production had been dropped into "Saint Marie" and the cast just seemed to be going through the motions. The plot was superficial, the suspects were just terrible actors, and the new constable came across as though this was her first acting experience. It appeared that she might be saying the words phonetically.
I can understand why Sara Martins wanted out of this mess. Apparently she had had some influence in enlarging her role, but even that would not be sufficient for her to consider continuing to be involved in such an ungelled team. In any event, the tension between her character and that of Kris Marshall could only have led to her leaving the cast. It was written with that in mind, but she had also outlived her character's attraction for a large part of the audience.
Fun Episode, with One Very Annoying Exception
The episodes with Rhoda's mother, Ida, are some of the best; but here, the writers, in order to insert some drama, have Mary call home to reach Ida to bring Ted a new insignia. A new insignia was not necessary. The old one (loose threads) could easily have been sewn down.
Mary Tyler Moore: The Last Show (1977)
Only One Thing Was Off
Mary's "final" boyfriend was totally unacceptable. Too bad she didn't stay with Murray's Dad.
Goof in Series Continuity
This episode is about Mary and Rhoda traveling to NYC for the wedding of Rhoda's only and younger sister. The writers obviously forgot that in Season
one, Rhoda tells Mary that her sister had married.
One of the episodes without a new gent for Mary, who mostly are spooky, and that is a relief. Her speech at the Teddy's is so out-of-place, it is embarrassing. But it defies belief that she didn't have a dress to wear -- she wore dozens on the show -- and she could have borrowed a hair dryer. Funny scenario, but one of the sitcom's episodes where the writers were out of ideas and just plugged in some humor that could not be justified.
Poirot: The Incredible Theft (1989)
An Incredibly Unusual Event
Most mysteries within each episode of Poirot are solved by the end. In this episode, however, one item is left dangling: the source of the scream in the garden just before the "theft" is uncovered. Poirot makes mention of it later on, so it had some significance, if only to mislead the investigation. Who was the shadow who yelled out?
Poirot: The Yellow Iris (1993)
One of the Best
I find myself drawn to this episode more often than any of the others. It has the perfect acting of Suchet, as usual, plus interesting characters, actors, and most of all, music.
It is that music that, after all these years of watching, suddenly hit me as incongruous. The restaurant scenes take place in what is described as French establishments, which, despite their physical locations, would have had French, not Latin, music. That faux pas was more acceptable in the Argentine; but the connection with the Argentine probably would not have traveled to London.
Mary Tyler Moore (1970)
Didn't Enjoy It Then, Don't Enjoy It Now, but I'll Watch It
Just as it is difficult for me to watch the Dick Van Dyke Show because Dick hardly ever got a line right the first time and mangled the jokes by trying the lines a second time, it is difficult for me to watch MTM because MTM is so uneasy about her long hair that she must touch it/push it off her face every five to ten seconds, at least in the first season. The long hair was a mistake in the first place, but it was understandable in that she was trying to look as different from Laura Petrie as she could. (She achieved that; and, in the process, lost true glamor and beauty.) After the locks were cut, Mary's hair never saw two episodes in the same style. I really believe that many men tuned in in the long-hair seasons to see her hair and that women tuned in after that to see what style she would come up with that particular week. She finally got it right when she went back to the cut she wore as Laura Petrie.
I never got the comedy of Ted Baxter. He would never be in a real newsroom and it is just goofy to see any news company tolerate such an idiot, even in a sitcom. Mr. Grant has the best lines, but after a (very) few episodes in succession, he gets on the nerves. Rhoda is tolerable; Phyllis grates excessively on the nerves without any redeeming qualities.
Besides Mary and her hair, MTM was obviously self-conscious about her clothes and her body. She was one of the first "clothes-horses." It was embarrassing how she showed her body, while being way too thin for viewing enjoyment.
Just as with most tv series, MTM began to search for story ideas after the first three seasons. Most of them revolved around Ted, and that just about says it all. The writers completely forgot about continuity, as when Mary is made producer of Sunday talk show. She had been a producer much earlier and had won a Teddy for it.
The story lines don't fulfill the need of the viewer to follow the lives of the characters. Rhoda's flower shop is forgotten after one and she is back in the store windows; Rhoda was supposed to have lost everything in her apartment fire, but then came up with things she had had in the past; the writers change not only the name but the actor who played Mary's ex-fiance. Jolting to the audience. But then, if one has watched that far into the series, we know that he/she is just watching because there is nothing better on -- and that speaks volumes for both tv of the era and for the intelligence of the viewer (I am stuck home in a blizzard, so don't try to measure my intelligence by the fact that I am streaming this show).
MTM used several episodes to push population control. I believe that sitcoms shouldn't be used for personal messages, especially when her position was so controversial. Furthermore, episodes in the later seasons began to have more and more double entendres, which always indicates a grasping for ratings.
So -- Classic? NOT! Okay on a snowy night when you have watched really good British tv for a few days? Sure. Gotta have a break from excellence once in a while!
One Special Night (1999)
An Annual Tradition
I have watched this movie every Christmas Season for years. The chemistry between Julie and Jim is amazing, and they have given them a nice, gentle love story to show off their respective talents. I usually fast-forward through the parts with family and staff, which, of course, are necessary for the plot. I just want to try to feel the emotions the main characters are portraying.
I wish Julie and Jim -- or anyone -- had made a dozen more movies like this one. It is a comforting and cozy few minutes away from the rush and commercialization of Christmas.
The Kitchen (2014)
Feel So Much Better Since I Stopped Watching
I used to be obsessed with watching The Kitchen -- followed it through multiple time changes, every weekend and even repeats on Monday. It was fun for the first few seasons, but really lost a lot of its entertainment value when Marcela left. She was kind of a sensible, laid-back personality that balanced the stuffiness and goofiness of the others.
Then Sunny's personality took over the show, drowning out her co-hosts and the food they prepare. I don't know if she does it on purpose or if she cannot help herself. The people behind the scenes must see what the audience sees, but obviously they haven't done enough to make the show bearable. When I last watched, they did have Sunny sitting a lot, which makes it more difficult for her to do her well-documented grab-and-stuff-your-mouth act.
I guess I quit watching after the last break the cast had before Thanksgiving and Sunny looked like she had eaten the whole time. I bet she gained twenty pounds. She is not the only host on FNC to have eaten herself into obesity. Making food for a living must be a frightful life. That is one reason I admire Jeff, who realized he was packing on the pounds and did something positive about it.
Anyway, I quit watching The Kitchen, and that resulted in my turning off my tv entirely. Haven't even missed it. Thanks, Sunny. Ironically I owe you for improving my life -- and I didn't even need a recipe to do it!
Don Matteo (2000)
Good, Clean Fun
Fr. Matteo is fine family fare and always has a moral or two to make one think. I do enjoy all of the characters, but I would not recommend binge watching more than one season at a time. It is more enjoyable to come to it fresh.
One huge distraction -- or, rather, attraction, perhaps -- is watching Mr. Hill's hairline recede. It would not even have entered my mind, except in the first episode, the Bishop tells him that he is too good-looking and implies that if, among other things, he were bald, he would be less of a temptation to women.
Each episode, it becomes more and more obvious that his hair is "thinning"; and each episode, the makeup folks try other ways to conceal that fact. A fun pastime in itself! Plus, the camera folks zoom in and take off the top of heads, so that we see less and less of Fr. Matteo's less-and-less. Perhaps related to this issue, Mr. Hill's character has less of a role to play and the feuding officers become more prominent. That is a bit of a shock, and sad, because the show is supposed to be about Don Matteo.
Poirot: Three Act Tragedy (2010)
The Scenery Is the Star
If the director had eased the actors out of the production and just let the audience see the background, it would have made for a better hour and a half.
In this story, we see Poirot not at his best, in every way. He is in awe of Martin Shaw's character, Sir Charles, and misses until way too late what the audience surely saw early on. Martin Shaw himself seems to be taking great pleasure in what should have made him uneasy, to say the least. Deranged, as Poirot would finally detect? Obviously. But even human? Not. Smiling his way through the episode until the end. It got to be unnerving to the audience. No acting involved; just showing up and smiling.
As mentioned by others, the direction in this episode was grating on true Poirot enthusiasts. Newspapers gliding through the air and other untypical devices. Then there is the "sobbing" by poor Kimberly Nixon that went on without tears and just body spasms for what seemed like hours. It is that that makes me skip "Three Act Tragedy" when I am deciding which episode of Poirot to watch before bedtime. It is enough to give one nightmares!
The Whole Truth (2016)
Bad Writing, Bad Directing, Bad Acting
Just wasted more than an hour of my life watching trash. Kept hoping there would be something to redeem what began with a scene that never would occur in a trial; but it just got worse. I can't say that the plot was not interesting, because the writing and the acting were so bad, I really didn't notice that there was no plot, just an ending that the writer attached a beginning and middle to in order to have a screenplay.
The one credible actor was the assistant to the defense attorney, and she disappeared at a time when she could have saved the ending.
Worse than bad, this movie never should have seen the light of day.