Wednesday, August 3, 2011

S is for Sad by guest blogger Steven Head

There are elements of Blog followers who know I am a big mystery fan. One of my favorite mystery TV programs is Masterpiece Mystery, which just finished the Zen three show series at the end of July. It was great to see fresh faces, other than the guy from the BBC's Couples, in a detective series based in Rome. I especially like how the writers answer the question, "What kind of name is Zen?" with the explanation, he is from Venice. Okay ...

The hard-boiled detective in Zen, a police detective with a reputation for integrity. Finding himself squeezed by politicos, prosecutors, and his own department, Zen needs to be nimble and quick. And like his hard-boiled brethren, he has a working relationship with the career criminal class. Through a combination of luck, following the leads, and analysis, he consistently solves the crime, restoring balance between good and evil, and lands on his feet with reputation firmly in place. If you missed it, look for it in re-runs.

Based upon the PBS website, it appears we'll have to wait until 2012 for any first-run mystery episodes. I wish it were not so, which is why S is for ... In late August and September the Inspector Lewis re-runs will begin. Lewis was the understudy of the long running Inspector Morse series that ended production when John Thaw passed away. I prefer the cerebral and cultured Morse to the working class Lewis, although the new upper class sidekick is an acceptable substitute. Give it a watch if you have not indulged.

October through December programming has not been identified but it is likely one of the Classic or Contemporary series, or even fund raiser fodder, will fill that time slot. But as long as we're talking mysteries, let me share thoughts on others members in the Masterpiece Mystery series stable. The new Poirot episode were satisfying as David Suchet continues to portray the lead role very convincingly. I am not as pleased with the new Sherlock Holmes, finding the portrayal by Jeremy Brett as my favorite not only on PBS but of all time, including Basil Rathbone.

I always watch the Miss Marple episodes but must confess the swirl of characters and false leads takes my attention away from the who-dun-it, finding pleasure in the delightful period clothing, country manners and mores, and selected guest actor performances.

I had hoped fresh episodes of Tony Hillerman's Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn adventures would return this year, but was disappointed. Robert Redford did three episodes at least a year ago with excellent casting and brisk storytelling. I can only hope my waiting will be rewarded in 2012.

Lastly, I have not received any fresh information on Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire and cable TV. The pilot was shot and edited, and my understanding is everyone is waiting for A&E, or one of those channels, to give the thumbs up or thumbs down on doing a season of episodes. The casting is promising and the production crew has a good reputation. Perhaps in the next few weeks all will be revealed.

Keep turning the pages and supporting your independent bookstore.