Flashpoint (Canadian TV 2008-2012)

4 Kernels

Television 2008-2012

 Stars:  Enrico Colantoni, David Paetkau, Hugh Dillon, Sergio Di Zio, Michael Cram, Mark Taylor and Ruth Marshall. Amy Jo Johnson

I’ve been through quite a few series on Netflix, which I watch more than current television.  Probably it’s because I’m not bombarded with commercials and can get through an hour-long show in 40 minutes.   I had seen reruns of Flashpoint a few times, but never got into the series.  Once again, after the fact, I’m tuning in and enjoying the show.

Let me preface this article by saying that personally, I am not a stranger to law enforcement.  My first marriage happened to be with a Detroit Police Officer, and my last boyfriend happened to be a County Coroner in California who wore full uniform and carried a gun. I’m acquainted with weapons, uniforms, badges, and the difficulty of loving someone on the force and how that can effect a man who risks his life everyday to keep you safe. I’ve even spent hours ironing those damn police shirts, too!

Flashpoint, for me, resurrects some of those memories, but frankly I think I’m just drawn to men in uniforms, bald or not.  Enrico Colantoni, who plays Sgt. Parker looks very much like my Coroner friend, who broke my heart I might add, as well as my first husband.  Quite strange.  :slaps self back to reality:

Anyway, on with the show.  I’m giving this tune-in a four-star rating, because I find it enjoyable, enjoy the characters, and am enthralled with the suspense. Canadians do a good job, as well, with television drama. I’ll add to those four stars that I have skipped over some episodes because of the content, such as an abduction of a child, the rough and tough drug lords, and the mean and lean boys on the streets. I gravitate more to the stories, which frankly are so true to heart, of men and women who come to that “flashpoint,” if you will, where they lose it due to their own stress and heartaches in life.  The breaking point comes when injustice has occurred, their lives have been tragically altered by another crime, or their love for a family member drives them to desperation.  They all tug at your heart.  Of course, the stories we don’t like to hear, are the psychopaths, who like recently, have gone over the edge and selfishly killed the innocent young.  The reality of those situations is heartache enough, and I don’t need to watch it played out on screen.

The team, is a mixture of personalities.  They all have private sub-plots of their lives integrated into the show, whether it’s their family, love life, or past heartaches.  However, they are a team when it comes to work.  In spite of their existence off the job,  they are a cohesive force to be dealt with when entering into a situation that calls for police intervention.  They are trained to talk-down rationally the individual who has gone over the edge, rather than saying “Scorpio” and killing them because there is no alternative to the situation or another life is in immediate danger.  However, there are times the word is uttered and one of the team takes them down.  It’s not a moment they enjoy, which I think adds to the heartfelt theme of the show.

The show is set in Toronto and all of the actors are Canadian, except for Amy Jo Johnson.  They play their parts well, their skills on the set are pretty awesome, and the guys look great in uniforms. What can I say?  I’m a sucker.

All of the seasons are great, however, the last one was probably the most moving of all.  Frankly, I cried at the last episode.  It was hard saying goodbye to Team One.  I felt “neutralized” after it ended, if you get my drift.

If you’re looking for a police show, this is pretty good one that you might enjoy.  Now that it’s ended, I’ll be back to surfing Netflix for another program to get sucked into.  That’s my life on my green recliner with my Sony television and Comcast cable when I should be working on my next novel!

Olympus Has Fallen (2013 Movie)

3 Kernels

Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Finley Jacobsen, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman

My usual reviews, as you know, focus on older movies and television shows.  However, I just came back from eating half a bag of theater popcorn, without butter I might add, and thought I’d give you my two patriotic cents about Olympus Has Fallen.

Frankly, I avoid violent movies like the plague.  After seeing darling Gerard Butler in some not so great flicks these past few years, I thought I would see if he finally had a hit.  Though Gerard was one kick-ass American that literally saves the entire United States of America, I’m cautious to call this movie a blockbuster that will go down in history.

The premise begins with Banning, played by Gerard.  He’s the cool secret service man that talks into his wrist ordering those under him to protect the President of the United States.  He comes across as a serious dude, with a personality that blends well with the first family.  During Christmas at Camp David, a horrific car accident occurs and the President loses his wife.  Banning never forgives himself for not being able to save her, though the President holds no grudges.  However, as a result, he’s relegated to paper pushing with the Treasury as he broods over the past.

The story is somewhat one of redemption.  However, it takes a hostile take over by the Koreans to give Banning the opportunity to turn things around for himself personally.  He eventually becomes the hero of the day, through much kick-ass action, spot on shooting, and merciless killing of the enemy.  If that wasn’t bad enough, one of his comrades is a traitor, and he is faced with the awful realization he must kill him or be killed.

The movie is violent.  Terribly violent.  It could have been bloodier, but it tone down the gore factor overall.  However, as far as the number of rounds shot, picture the movie the Matrix.  Remember the scene in the lobby when the three heroes shoot the walls, pillars, and bad guys?  Multiple that about a thousand times, and I think you’ll have the number of shots fired.  There are also disturbing scenes of civilians and military killed, and also of torture and senseless hostage execution.  One beating scene of a woman is disturbing, but so is the psycho who beats her.

As far as the story goes, it’s action.  What can I say?  Could it really happen?  I thought a few things were quite impossible, such as the initial attack on the White House via air.  At least I hope it’s impossible, because if that’s all we got folks, we’re in trouble. Secret codes were given by the captives after the President ordered them to do so.  He didn’t have the stomach to watch his aides tortured or killed. Whatever happened to dying for your country? Why would the President encourage others to commit treason upon his orders?

:inserts spine chilling shudder over the thought: 

However, those scenes are necessary to set up the future catastrophe that lurks around the corner.

I also felt the timing of this movie was probably not the best, since North Korea has threatened us recently to nuke us off the face of the earth.  I sure hope they don’t rent the DVD and watch it, or it could tick them off, start a war, or give them ideas.  (Just kidding, of course.)

All in all, it was okay.  I found it exhausting, troubling, and patriotic.  Thank goodness we kicked ass and Banning saved us from annihilation.  Even though Gerry looks a bit bruised, cut, bloody, sweaty, and needs a shave, he’s still the man – toned and buffed. Where would we be, ladies, without Gerard Butler to save us?

Doomed.

And dearest Gerard, I would really like to see you in a romantic movie shaved, clean, in a suit, and dashingly handsome.  Pretty please? 

Gosford Park (2001 Movie)

4 Kernels

An Appetizer for Downton Abbey
 by Julian Fellowes

Stars:  Maggie Smith, Jeremy Northam, Michael Gambon,
Kristin Scott Thomas, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen, and Plenty of Others

All right, listen up all you Downton Abbey fans.  If you’re going through withdrawals, you need to head over to Netflix or Amazon and stream Gosford Park.  This is another goodie written by the author of Downton, none other than Julian Fellowes, who won an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for this tale of upstairs, downstairs, with a who-done-it murder.

I haven’t watched this movie probably in 10 years.  Recently, I clicked play and was amazed at the similarities to Downton Abbey.  Julian has really recycled quite of bit of wit and charm from his former work.  If you watched it ten years ago, you may wish to dust it off once more.  Otherwise, if you haven’t seen it, you’ll enjoy the story.

The drama is set in 1932 and centers around a party in a country house in England. In scene one all the aristocratic guests arrive, accompanied by their various valets and ladies maids.  The rich head upstairs; the servants head downstairs.  In the lower level you’ll be surprised at the similarities of running a grand house with the head housekeeper and butler keeping everyone in line hiding their own dirty secrets. The usual bantering, jealousies, complaining, and sneaks are just as interesting as Downton, only shoved into a two-hour movie.

The upstairs are the usual aristocrats, and wonderful Maggie Smith is among them playing almost the same characteristics as she does in Downton Abbey.  I’m not surprise that Julian Fellowes continued her character almost identically.  One of her lines, which sounds just like the Dowager on Downton, is, “Me?  I haven’t a snobbish bone in my body.” Her character of Countess Trentham is quite enjoyable and filled with the same witty banter.

Of course, the house is filled with multiple guests, servants, and a murder of the stuffy and grumpy old Sir William McCordle, who is married to the much younger and annoying Lady Syliva McCordle. Their children and their guests make up an eclectic group of snobby aristocrats, an actor, and a film maker from California. The servants gossip about their employers, and Countess Trentham asks her ladies maid to tell her what the scoop is downstairs.  Sir William has been enjoying sexual encounters with his multiple maids in the dark corners of downstairs, bearing all sorts of illegitimate children. After dinner one evening, someone stabs Sir William, and the movie turns into the usual who-done-it search for the killer with a less than capable investigator.

I have a few favorite scenes, one of which is Jeremy Northam, who plays Ivor Novello, the movie star.  He sits at the piano and sings a variety of songs to swoon by with his dreamy velvet voice, while the guests play a game of bridge, drink, and relax after dinner uninterested. The servants enjoy the entertainment more than the stuffy guests and linger closely by to hear him sing as if they are starved to hear beautiful music.

The film itself won quite a few awards and was nominated for best picture at the Oscars, but did not win, but won plenty of accolades worldwide.  I think it really is a noteworthy two hours to watch now that we’re so caught up in Downton Abbey as written by Julian Fellowes. You’ll no doubt enjoy the world downstairs and upstairs, including the estranged aristocratic family and eclectic mixture of servants.  Many of them had reason to do Sir William in with a knife in his chest, but you’ll probably not realize who did it until the end with the surprising little twist.

Call The Midwife (2012 to Present)

call-the-midwife-season-five5 Kernels

January 2012 – Present  

Stars: Miranda Hart, Jenny Agutter,Pam Ferris, Judy Parfitt,
Helen George, Bryony Hannah, Laura Main

Once again, British television triumphs. Why the executives and producers of Hollywood television don’t take points on story-telling, is beyond me. There is a reason we flock to Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife, plus many other wonderful shows on PBS.  It’s drama at its best, stories with heart, and actors who take us into the reality of other worlds.

Okay, I’ll confess.  I didn’t watch the first season until this past week when I discovered it on Netflix.  There was only one episode I picked up on my local PBS station.  Why, I didn’t sit down and watch each one is beyond me, but I’m glad to know Season 2 starts late March.  Thank goodness.
Call the Midwife is a moving series set in post-war early 1950’s about a group of nurses and nuns who deliver babies on the impoverished east side of London. (I was born in 1950, so I fit right in.) The series instantly reminds you of the scriptures that declare the poor will always live among us. It is what we do for the poor that matters the most.
The series is, of course, geared toward women. After all, babies are delivered every episode.  The old ways of enema, shaving, and odd delivery positions is quite amusing, but so are the variety of women who bear the children and their midwives.  If you are prone to PMS, bursts of crying, or are pregnant make sure you bring a box of tissues with you as you watch.  The stories will move you to tears as you are faced with the stark reality of birth, life, death, suffering, love, and survival.
Each episode focuses upon a main pregnancy ranging from the woman who is married and on her 24th pregnancy (yes, they birthed that many children), to the young 15 year old prostitute who sells her body to survive and becomes pregnant.  One breach birth will keep you on the edge of your seat, as you watch the new awkward nurse deliver the child successfully.  You see the devastation of women losing their babies, and women who lose their lives giving birth.  You’ll cry over the poor and the squalor in which they live.  At the end of each episode, you’ll be a better human being for watching the miracle of birth and no doubt be thankful for what you have.
Call the Midwife is once again why I love the Brits.  It’s drama, humor, life, and love all rolled into one.  It’s reality, not fantasy. Frankly, I think watching this series births within you a new appreciation of life and love through all of its struggles.  You’ll find empathy for the poor among us, and be thankful for what you have.  We shouldn’t abort the difficulties of life in television shows just because we don’t want to deal with the unpleasantness.  Frankly, I think viewers continually need excellent television such as Call the Midwife to deliver us out of our complacency.
UPDATE:  Bicycling into its 5th Season, it continues in excellence.

 

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