Appalling Holmes & Watson

 DATELINE: Elementary, School That is.

elementary school.jpeg 

We were warned, and now you are warned.

The Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly remake of a comic Conan Doyle couple is not exactly a blue-plate special. It is going for .99 cents on Amazon streaming video. You know that price is rock bottom for rock bottom quality. This is a step down for the Step Brothers.

The film is horrific in terms of anachronisms. There are references to killer bees, protein shakes, and headlines that smell of National Enquirer in the 1950s.

Worse yet are the fake British accents on our traditional heroes, showing that they cherish good acting as much as a paycheck. The actors playing them as children speak with American accents (as do all the kids in London).

Mrs. Hudson is a trollop—and not from the British pages of classic literature.

We almost expected Judi Dench was likely offered the role as Queen Victoria—and that would have set us off on a tangent. Instead, we have Ralph Fiennes acting in a separate movie as Moriarty.

He has no flair for comedy.

Perhaps the most surprising couple in the film are the Road Trip movie stars: Rob Brydon as Lestrade and Steve Coogan as the one-armed tattooist.

We almost wish they had played Holmes and Watson. Of course, this may be the only version in which Lestrade is smarter than Holmes.

The movie moribundly moves from one witless encounter and set-up to another. Killer bees are inexplicably in a glass case at 221b Baker Street, allowing for a madcap moment without suspense.

Another stupid setup is Holmes surprise birthday party thrown by the Queen.  Who wrote this drivel? Mindless is the Zeitgeist of the age: and if this is you, you will be in your element.

Yes, it’s elementary.  Elementary school.

Unidentified Episode 5, Going Nuclear!

DATELINE: Guadalupe & Minot

Elizondo Pentagon’s Man of La Mancha?

If you want to descend into a typical UFO show, you simply re-hash the stuff that has been examined by a dozen other shows, and you re-interview the now aging witnesses.

So it goes on Unidentified, for their fifth episode. It looks at the British Roswell, so misnamed because there was no crash and no alien bodies recovered.However, you had a Christmas time incident near an American base in England. Here over the course of several nights, strange lights were seen in the woods next to the base. Of course, the military base had one of the biggest stores of nuclear arms in 1980.

To interview the officer in charge, Col. Holt, and one of his security non-coms, Luis Elizondo covers the same old ground, but tells these men they don’t have to answer if there is some military secret involved. Talk about hamstrings.

We figure by the fifth episode we should spell the guy’s name correctly:  Luis Elizondo. He visits Guadalupe this time to find the homing device of both sharks and UFOs. Brilliant researcher Mauricio Hoyos shows up here to note that the sharks are only one element of the mysterious ocean off Mexico.

The most interesting aspect of the interview is that one military policeman suffered injuries as a result of the incident—and even disappeared for an unknown amount of time, scooped up the extra-terrestrials is the theory.

Of course, years later he tried to win some kind of medical disability—and the military claimed he was not in the service at the time, and his records were lost. Yikes. Sen. John McCain’s top aide went to bat for this unfortunate man and helped him win his medical coverage.

She said she never saw such opposition to recognizing what he sacrificed. It was part of a massive coverup of strange ships around nuclear facilities. It can be traced back to the mid-1940s and the Manhattan Project, years before Roswell.

They also spend time detailing the mystery around the Minot base near the Canadian border where nuclear weapons were armed and disarmed by unknown forces.

Once again, we hear that the government has lied to the public (a crime) and that we are at the mercy of forces that do not subjugate us for unknown reasons.

 

This stuff can be called alarming news. These guys are all wearing placards and sandwich boards that read: “The End is Near.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unidentified Episode 4, Going Nowhere Man!

 DATELINE: Half-way to the Stars?

head mellon Mellon Head?

Luis Elizando wants to uncover what is going on in the skies for a hundred years—and that is why he quit the Pentagon program that resisted investigations into these unknown objects. It isn’t a coverup as much as a denial of truth.

By the fourth episode of Unidentified, looking at the three released videos that raise all kinds of questions, the former Pentagon leader finds that two were East Coast encounters, not far from Washington. In fact, the young pilots (Ryan Grave and Danny Aucoin) risk their reputations to reveal that they were stalked by an armada of craft acting in ways that go beyond all aerodynamic rules.

Everyone wants to say these could be enemy on Earth vehicles. No one wants to believe that because it would mean sure subjugation by political enemies.

That leaves the unpleasant notion that no one in the government wants to face the inevitability of a smarter, more advanced civilization. Or, conversely, they know that these ships that stalk our nuclear-powered ships and their jets, even into war zones, are benign creatures or light energy from another dimension.

As weird as strikes everyone who witnesses these, there seems to be a reluctance to identify and to confront what they are. It could be someone knows what they are—and hands are off any confrontation.

As the show’s military-based investigators note, to cover this info up is a federal crime. But, the black budgets of top secrecy for decades may render that idea moot. These are not merely ancient alien believers, but men who want to move policy toward open discussion and revelation. Good luck with that.

Chris Mellon may want to shake his congressional associates and wake them like the Rip Van Winkles they are. That thunder in the sky is not elves bowling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stonewall Uprising, 50 Years Later!

DATELINE: American Experience’s Documentary

stonewall Pioneer Gay Fighters!

Was it ten years ago that American Experience produced its historical film, Stonewall Uprising, on the fortieth anniversary of the so-called gay riots in that gay mecca of the 60s, Greenwich Village?

This year some said five or six million marched in those streets for twelve hours of parading. Forty years ago, three drag queens walking down the street would constitute a riot.

Ten years ago some witnesses were aging, both as cops and gay patrons of one of those blue-collar, sleazy, unpleasant gay bars of the times. Yes, folks, those places were dubious if you had more professionalism and dignity.

Yet, it was those people who first stood up to undue harassment. The first 45 minutes of the PBS documentary recounts the hideous conditions of the 1960s when homosexuals were considered one step short of psychopathia.

Perhaps the interviews with “experts” trying to terrorize children that gay predators lurked on every street corner were the worst dregs of the era, yet these were the cornerstones of civilization. It is infuriating to see these people treat gay men and women with such cruelty. On the plus side, most of those creeps are now dead.

They were about to be shocked by the three days of rioting against a half-dozen belligerent cops who started a movement. They were barricaded in the bar in abject terror when thousands attacked in return.

The gay bars were the purview of the Mafia who ran them to rake profits off the benighted gay men and women on the outskirts of society. They gave gays a place to congregate but would soon lose their upper-hand to political awareness.

This documentary shows how the anti-war and civil rights movement simply transferred to gay rights overnight. Fifty years later, it is intriguing to see the roots of this powerhouse of politics. Millions of young marchers were not even born when the uprising started.

Those who still decry it may be better advised to watch out and watch this little film.

 

Brooklyn Bridge Revisited

 DATELINE: Ken Burns Classic

great art Amazing!

In 1982 Ken Burns made a name for himself with this small, unassuming and brilliant documentary about the fifteen-year process to build the iconic, magical Brooklyn Bridge.

The film made his reputation and sent him on a career as a ground-breaking documentarian. What’s left nearly forty years later is the masterpiece of film on the masterpiece of engineering.

To take it in again after so many decades and find it as fresh and charming as when first seen is like the chance to walk across the East River like one of those who saw it like the first man to walk on the Moon.

John Roebling came from Germany as Hegel’s favorite student and a brilliant bridge maker. He designed the way to cross the river between New York and Brooklyn in three months. Then, fate intervened, giving him tetanus and killing him. It left the job then to his 30-year old son and Civil War hero Col. Washington Roebling.

David McCollough lends his narrative presence, but familiar voices dot the film: Julie Harris, Kurt Vonnegut, and others.

The dangerous caissons gave Roebling the bends, and he recovered but never fully. He managed to oversee the bridge construction from his third-floor bedroom with binoculars. His wife supervised and learned engineering to carry out on-site work.

Great Lewis Mumford lends his presence here to the cultural viewpoint with a poetic expression of his walk across the bridge as a young man. There are clips of Frank Sinatra in a movie in love with the Bridge, and even Bugs Bunny puts in an appearance.

The Bridge is monumental, inspirational, beautiful, and a cathedral of the national pride.

This is definitely American pie.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Tooth for Murder on Endeavour

DATELINE: PBS Masterpiece Mystery

evans Shaun Endeavours

With only a handful of episodes this season, Endeavour is making the most of its short-sighted insights. This year it returns to its four episode arc of murderous delight.

There is a great focus on the personal lives of the characters for this showing: Bright (Anton Lesser) has a marriage falling apart because his wife is sick; Thursday (Roger Allam) has a wife sick of him. And, as for Morse (Shaun Evans), he continues to look for love in all the wrong places. For a great detective, he seems to miss the obvious.

James Bradshaw’s coroner is busier than ever—and has more personal connections to Endeavour and Bright, with an easy integration of personal and professional conversations.

Morse is looking for a rental detached home in a charming Oxford village that is rife with murder, hate letters, and the big business—a candy factory with rich and powerful victims.

The episode also starts off with a fox hunt that seems almost a throwback to the 1960s British movie, Tom Jones. There’s the rub.

Red herrings are always thrown about, but the show remains clever beyond everything else that is contemporary TV detective series. American shows are childish, and this one is cerebral.

We see dark times ahead for Endeavour as the season wraps: even his trusted Thursday mentor is not to be trusted. Jim Strange (Sean Rigby), another long-time colleague/friend, warns him off.

This magnificent series will be off too for a year with all too few brilliant cases.

 

Penultimate Gold from Civil War Curse

DATELINE: No Greed Too Low?

teenage captain Capt. Luke

Gold fever means unreasonable behavior. You can certainly see it in the more frantic activities as Curse of Civil War Gold comes roaring into the close of the second season.

Kevin Dykstra has never been one to respect weather, however bad Lake Michigan can get. They reluctantly find Mike Nelson, a young hotshot who is not bothered by freezing water or crashing waves.

We were more amazed that he went down 40 feet in 35-degree water without any gloves in his dry suit. He found it nippy. With the crew out in a small boat being assaulted by waves, Dykstra tells their teenage captain Luke Springstead to hold the boat steady. Easy for him to say. When Dykstra calls him “Captain Luke,” it almost sounds like an insult.

A second lonely dive for Nelson brings them the news that two seasons of shows has insisted will pay off. He has video of gold bars—which is sent to Alex and Marty Lagina, warm and comfortable back at their estate and too smart to go out diving.

Lagina has never been shy about his greed, and he mirrors Dykstra’s attitude that safety and human concern be damned. What’s more they show an uncanny lack of loyalty. The first reaction is to bring in more professional divers—like the notorious point killer, John Chatterton.

On two separate occasions he nearly wiped out the Curse of Oak Island with his negativity. So, Marty Lagina orders them to bring him aboard. Nelson is sent packing out of the room to spare him the humiliation of being fired on camera.

We almost can hear him say in the finale: nope, nope, nope, you dope.

Tune in next time for the second season point killer.

 

X-Files History & Piltdown-Man Fraud

DATELINE:  German View of England’s Finest!

dupes & dopes

Dupes & Dopes with Piltdown Man

You know this miniseries will be confused with the old crypto-investigators series with David Duchovny, but this German import felt no compunction about using the title and adding the word “X-Files History”. This is a German documentary that has only four episodes, and the one we sampled was juicy enough to stand alone.

One of the longest frauds perpetrated was by a gang of British scientists from 1912. Back then, methods were loose and discipline was nearly negligible. You could salt a dig site and no one would be the wiser.

A decade before Howard Carter in Egypt, there was Charles Dawson in England. He was no academic, no researcher, not a scholar, and only made his money through dubious means. He was born middle-class in Hastings.

Like many Brits of the era, he was offended that everyone rival to England was finding archaeolological gold. The United Kingdom was offended by being left in the dust of antiquity.

A couple of patriotic Englishmen may have started a cottage industry to find relics of the past. They, in fact, faked them brilliantly. The most brilliant and dubious was the Missing Link, corroborating Darwin’s theory of Ape Man descendants.

Dawson was a reprobate who lived in a fake castle, artificially aged and with a fantasy dungeon. He climbed the social ladder and married well, but his real hobby was aging bones to look like they were thousands of years old.

His greatest hoax was the find the Missing Link in England, not Africa, or China. As improbable as it seems, he had allies like Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote the Lost World the same year Dawson found the Missing Link.

The Dyle fans went bonkers when it was suggested that Sherlock’s creator might have a part in the fraud.

Even if he didn’t conspire with John Bull and the bull crap, Doyle was a prime dupe. He was into everything, including the paranormal. So, it was not a far jump for him to buy into the Piltdown Man and give him credibility.

The ultimate payment for the fraud (which took 40 years to expose) was the chemicals Dawson used to provide an old patina to the bones. The heavy metal fumes killed him and his wife in mid-experiment, like a grotesque Sherlock Holmes story.

Let’s B Sirius! Ancient Aliens Tries!

DATELINE: Another Gemstone from Outer Space

B serious Starry Starry Night!

Doggone it. You guessed it. Ancient Aliens gave us an etymology lesson in word derivation. They brought us through a half-dozen variations on the word “dragon” and then showed its connections to various African tribes that have artifacts that extend back 17,000 years.

Even Japanese royalty has a dragon connection.

The point is that some amphibious creature, half-human and half-aquatic was the traveler from another star system. Linda Moulton Howe throws out that these creatures were here farming for genetic materials:  good grief, does that mean what we think it means?

Sirius is the dog star, and dog is a word that has no historical precedent. The sound of dogon, or drogon, is present as the name of a race of supernatural beings in primitive tribes.

Though you may want to say they all used the word because some creature called himself something that sounded like it, that is not definitive and cannot be called absolute.

Going back 17,000 years ago, the number of voice-related sounds of a group of humans may have traveled to dozens of locations, a cultural memory that is only vaguely related to star systems. However, two African geographic areas seem to have started the trend that went right up to Gaelic or Irish cultural fairy-like creatures.

Ancient Aliens throws in the constant image of reptilians without going into the theory of an entire race of underground space creatures that have intrigued them in past seasons.

Nope, you didn’t hear that connection this go-round. Doggone it. See you later, Alligator People.

We must admit and give credit that there is something decidedly strange that a tribe knew about Sirius B, a small and undiscovered companion star to the larger and brighter Sirius A. The detail known thousands of years ago is stunning and a precursor to what modern science only recently learned.

We have to give Ancient Aliens credit again for raising some truly weird coincidences. They may have created big news that man bites dog, outer space style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Conspire to Kill Ortiz!

DATELINE: Bounty Hunters Come Cheap in DR

ortiz-unleashed Bargain Basement Killers!

The price on David Ortiz’s head was reportedly only $6000 to be divided up by a dozen conspirator killers. Then, the number went up: no, not the bounty, but the number of plotters splitting the ante. The latest count from the Dominican Republic is there are ten co-conspirators. It’s almost like a county fair of killers. A few are still at large.

We are on our way to a baker’s dozen.

Maybe your money goes a lot farther in the Dominican Republic economy. If that cheap lifestyle is driving Americans to move to that crime-ridden country, they are living a cheapskate rich lifestyle.

We thought that assassination of Julius Caesar was a shoddy affair, but 2000 years later the attack on Ortiz is even more carnival-like. Instead of a forum, or even Fenway Park, Ortiz was shot in the back, a la Jesse James, in an outdoor bistro atmosphere.

No motive has been given for the crime. We cringe at the speculation. And none of it enhances Ortiz’s reputation as a moral paragon.

Friends now say that Ortiz counted on the general public to protect him from dangerous gang members or gangsters.

The best laid plans belong to mice, not men. No one could stop the bullet with Big Papi’s name on it.

If you think witness identification is a deterrent to crime, you have only to see killers blithely walk up to the large Ortiz and put the gun at gall bladder height. They did not care who saw them, or if they would be known.

What we have here is the polar opposite of the Aaron Hernandez case.

The motorcycle get-away driver was inept too. He skidded into the crowd, giving a mob the courage to beat him up. He professes to be a Big Papi fan.

Heavens, imagine what might have happened if the motorcycle driver had been a Yankee fan.

We come back to the low-ball price on Ortiz’s head. This was not the work of a head-hunter, but of a world where life is not only cheap, but it is on sale to anyone with a credit card limit under $8000. The killers planned to share the amount at a payoff of $1000 each, but as the number goes up, the slice of the pie drops to crumbs for a murder.

 

 

 

 

Ancient Aliens: an Elemental Approach

DATELINE:  Return of Bob Lazar

out there

“Element 115” was once a fantasy of UFO metal worker Bob Lazar, but now it has come true like a Cinderella story.

Giorgio sort of falls by the wayside for this show, and more attention is given to Nick Pope and David Childress as commentators. However, the latest addition to the expert gang is some producer of a Bob Lazar documentary. They clean this guy up, but he is still creepy.

So, Ancient Aliens recycles footage from Bob Lazar’s recent new documentary interview, which featured a raid by FBI/NSA/CIA and other alphabet acronyms. It appears he suggested he had kept a sample of this highly unstable element.

According to Ancient Alien theorists who have been taking the road to the stars for over a decade, this stuff was deliberately given to mankind to help join the member community of space patrols across the galaxy.

The notion is posed that two UFO crashes in 1947 were staged in Russia and the US in order to magnanimously bestow each with another reason to compete.

This allegedly will lead to peaceful exploration of outer space by providing humans with a fuel that alters the time/space continuum.

Ancient Aliens gives the show over to author Mike Bara and Travis Taylor to visit a Hollywood special effects lab and analyze some recent UFO footage released (suspiciously) by the Pentagon. They contend the government is giving us the drip by drip information that we are not alone.

The upshot is that, if the new Element 115 can be made to remain in a shot glass for more than a gulp or two, we can conquer the solar system and beyond.

We’ll drink to that.

Those about to Die: Remain Calm

 DATELINE: What a Life!

emily watson Fictional Emily Watson?

 

The sheer horror of Chernobyl grows as the coverups are uncovered. Minor bureaucrats dispute the severity of nuclear destruction, out of sheer willful self-protection.

By the time this crisis is tossed into Gorbachev’s lap, as the head of the Soviet Union, he is faced with horrible options. As the second episode shows him dealing with giving a death sentence to three workers who must sacrifice their lives to go into a radioactive cavern on fire.

Jared Harris is the physicist who is indignant and ultimately convincing. Emily Watson first appears in this episode as the woman nuclear physicist who best understands what annihilation the world is facing.

Alas, she is a complete fiction as a character, being a composite of a half-dozen female scientists. It is another means of demeaning women while pretending to elevate one to heroic levels. There could never be a half-dozen heroic women.

The evacuation of the city around the burning radioactive power plant is quite impressive, after the authorities learn that the equivalent of millions of X-rays is hitting everyone with a few miles to start.

By seventy-two hours, they could be facing the deaths of 60 million people in the Kiev area.

The grim atmosphere of Russian society is enhanced by its poor living conditions and helpless population. As the opening show indicated, enough lies told will inoculate people to feelings about truth.

There are not enough iodine pills—and there is nowhere to go: the silent and invisible radiation is shooting skyward to come down with the rains.

This is dramatic and horrifying to say the least, and a lesson in how close to self-destruction the human race came in 1986.

Watching this five-part series is not uplifting, or educational. It is simply numbing.

 
 

 

David Suchet’s Evil Under the Sun!

DATELINE:  Poirot Dandy!

Poirot cast Great Cast!

We took in an old TV chestnut from almost twenty years ago, Evil Under the Sun, from the eighth season of the off and on series of David Suchet as it attempted to film every Agatha Christie episode.

This one had the delight of Poirot being sent off to a health spa in Devon to recover from his obese condition.

Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran) insisted that Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) accompany him. The classic regulars of the show are here in their element, perhaps beyond their element. Miss Lemon is sent by Poirot all around the countryside to do legwork for the case. Usually, Miss Lemon claims to have filing to do—and must decline any other assignments.

The other stand-up regular is Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) more respectful of Poirot in later seasons. Though he and Hastings are now semi-regular dinner companions, they are always murder investigators.

The health spa is filled with suspicious and dubious figures who claim the place is the opposite of health. Its torturous steam boxes and daft clientele are perfect candidates for murder and murder victim.

It becomes increasingly obvious to Poirot that the place is ripe for crime, even as he is served various vegetable drink concoctions.

Sometimes murder flows trippingly on Christie’s contrived plots, though this one clunks to a finish, it is still fun to behold. We can see the roots of disgust in Poirot at the human condition, though this low-budget, low-star power TV version is a delight compared to the overblown movie with Peter Ustinov as Poirot.

Most of this is the result of a delicious ensemble cast and a deep dedication to the color scheme of Art Deco.

Gathering all the suspects in the hotel dining room for a big Reveal loses none of its luster for mystery fans. It’s a gem.

 

 

 

American Experience Fails H.G. & Orson Too

 DATELINE: War of the Worlds

orson  Orson, not H.G.

We can usually count on American Experience documentaries to give us intelligent and insightful looks at history.

Nobody is perfect, and an attempt to look at the 1938 radio broadcast that made young hotshot Orson Welles a household name is disappointing. War of the Worlds probably owed more to the idiocy of audiences and their unsophisticated and non-critical thinking skills.

In some ways, not much has changed when it comes to the public and its media habits. However, radio as the first big democratic source of info learned that it’s not nice to fool people, even on Halloween.

Half-way through the broadcast, executives wanted to stop Welles, but Orson had a head a steam up—and he ignored his producer John Houseman and his writer Howard Koch. He did it his way: and it won him a contract in Hollywood. Houseman thought it was a terrible idea and that Welles never read Wells.

In his own rash dash style, Welles came up with a mimic newsreel approach to the topic, eschewing the real H.G. Wells for his own personality. After all, this was the man who put on Macbeth in Harlem with an all-black cast and set it in 19th century Haiti. He dared convention.

Welles provided a contrite and unbelievable apology next morning. It must rank as the worst performance he ever gave. He hardly could hide his smirk.

As for the documentary of the event, the film uses bad actors, emoting and faking, pretending to be people in 1938 (wearing period clothes in black and white film) who talk unconvincingly about their experience listening to the program. These imbecilic comments were based on real letters.

The technique fails miserably and demeans the entire hour-long episode of American Experience. Five weeks after the broadcast of 1938, the FCC fully exonerated Orson for his folly.

 

Civil War Gold: Southern Discomfort

DATELINE:  Another Tangential Search

Alex & Gary Hostile Take-over?

When Kevin Dykstra notes how glad he is to be returning to Georgia for this fifth episode of Curse of Civil War Gold, there is a strong sense that his nose grew about five inches.

We didn’t believe him. Again.

Dykstra now comes up with a third brother (Darren) also a diver and leaves him to clean up the lake-bottom while the other brothers go south. It’s beginning to look like the weak link in the show is Dykstra himself—and Alex Lagina cannot save the day.

Gary Drayton once again, in a throwaway role, steals the show, finding horseshoes, silver rings, and pieces of metal off a Confederate uniform. His sharp wit and insights blow the hosts out of the creek in which they are digging.

The show has two angles that now splits the message by suggesting gold is in multiple locations—and the Lake Michigan search may be only one minor aspect.

So, in this episode they shoot the horse that was leading the charge.

This time he has information from a descendant of a plantation owner. He insists she is “legit” in her information, which is paltry. We also wondered why she is telling him anything at all. These gold seeping out of creeks after rainstorms according to her great aunt.

It also appears that another expert is a former mayor and novelist (that’s a fiction writer) who insists he has insider info too. It seems everyone was an ex-Reb robber—and there was gold being taken by wagons out of the Confederate treasury in buckets.

If you want to have a less respectful opinion of these gold hunters, they drive from Michigan to Georgia. There they meet up with Alex Lagina (now described as the “investor’s son”—something for his resume) and Gary Drayton.

At least, the best part of the show has returned for this episode. They have permission to dig on 300 acres where gold may be hidden, though the other 700 acres are off-limits.

We are not sure how they can remove Dykstra without a revamping and re-imagining of the entire show concept. The man who brought the idea to Marty Lagina may be all wrong to bring the idea to fruition.