“LOST” RETROSPECT: (1.01-1.02) “The Pilot”

 

“LOST” RETROSPECT: (1.01-1.02) “The Pilot”

The pilot episode of some of my favorite television series have rarely impressed me . . . if not at all. There are a few exceptions to the rule. And one of those exceptions happened to the be pilot episode for ABC-TV’s “LOST”

Created by J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Leiber and Damon Lindelof, “LOST” aired on television for six seasons, between 2004 and 2010. As many fans know, “LOST” told about the survivors of a commercial passenger plane crash on a mysterious South Pacific island, while flying between Sydney and Los Angeles. While television viewers got to know these survivors during their time on the island, but also through flashbacks revealing their past. The series’ first episode aired in two parts on September 22, 2004.

(1.01) “Pilot (Part 1)” introduced the series’ leading character, a spinal surgeon named Dr. Jack Shephard, who wakes up in the middle of the jungle following the crash of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. He stumbles onto the beach and finds the chaos left behind from Oceanic 815’s crash. As everyone knows, the plane broke into three pieces before crashing on the island. Jack and most of the survivors ended upon with the fuselage. The cockpit and the plane’s first-class section ended deep into the jungle with no survivors, save the pilot. And the tail section fell into the ocean on the other side of the island. Jack and some of the survivors like John Locke and Hugo “Hurley” Reyes help other passengers with injuries or dodging burning pieces. After helping some of the passengers, Jack goes to another part of the beach to tend to his own injury, when he meets Kate Austen. She sews up his injury, while the two bond. Many other things occur during the episode. Survivors either form friendships or get on each others’ nerves. During their first night on the beach, everyone becomes unnerved by sounds of a monster deep in the jungle. The following day, Jack heads toward the cockpit to retrieve the plane’s transceiver and is accompanied by Kate and musician Charlie Pace. They retrieve the transceiver and encounter the badly injured pilot, who informs them that the plane had lost radio contact six hours into the flight and veered off course. Before he can share any further information, he is seized by a strange being and killed. Jack, Kate and Charlie make a run for it.

(1.02) “Pilot (Part 2)” continue Jack, Kate and Charlie’s flight from the monster that killed the pilot. During their absence, the dog of 10 year-old survivor Walt Lloyd finds a pair of handcuffs. A Middle Eastern survivor name Sayid Jarrah comes under suspicion from a Southern-born passenger named “Sawyer”. Jack and his two companions make it back to the beach with the transceiver. Sayid, Kate, “Sawyer”, Charlie and a step-brother-sister team named Boone Carlyle and Shannon Rutherford trek to the high ground to use the transceiver. Instead of contacting help, they manage to interpret a message sent earlier by a French woman on the island. One of the badly wounded survivors on the beach turn out to be a U.S. marshal demanding the whereabouts of his prisoner, a woman. Flashbacks reveal that the prisoner is Kate.

I will not deny that “LOST” is one of my favorite television series. It is not on my list of the top ten favorite shows. But it is on my list of top twenty favorites. Despite my favoritism toward “LOST”, I cannot deny that it also possessed some seriously flawed writing. But it was not on display in the two-part pilot. Well . . . somewhat. A few of the occurrences in this episode ended up contradicting the series’ future narrative.

It is ironic that the first villainous character to make his/her appearance in the series turned out to be the main villain – the Smoke Monster aka the Man in Black. The survivors heard its “roar” during their first night on the island. And he killed the Oceanic 815’s pilot while the latter discussed the plane’s location with Jack and Kate. In fact, the Smoke Monster killed another survivor in an early Season Three episode – Mr. Eko. While many fans are still debating the reason behind the MIB’s murder of Mr. Eko, no one has figured out why the pilot was killed. Especially after Season Six revealed the list of candidates for the island’s new caretaker. I suspect that the MIB was simply being portrayed as a supernatural monster before the writers had decided to portray him as a villain with a purpose.

I have two more complaints about the episode. Some of the characterizations struck me as one-dimensional. This was especially the case for Shannon Rutherford, who was portrayed as some bitchy Valley Girl; Jin Kwon, who was written as a cliché of the oppressive Asian husband; Sun Kwon, who was portrayed as the typically oppressed Asian wife; and James “Sawyer” Ford, who was not only unlikable, but also the one-dimensional Southern white male. In Sawyer’s case, not only was his character portrayed in the worst clichéd manner possible, poor Josh Holloway was stuck with some pretty bad dialogue – especially in Part 2. He fared a lot better as the series progressed. Speaking of dialogue – yeech! Yes, I thought it was pretty bad. It was more than bad. I found it somewhat infantile and unmemorable.

Fortunately, the good outweighed the bad. Despite some of the one-dimensional characterization and bad dialogue, there were some pretty good performances. For me, one of the best performances came from Matthew Fox, who dived right into the role as the series’ lead character, Dr. Jack Shephard. Fox gave early hints of the complicated and deeply flawed character later revealed in future episodes. Fox’s early revelation of Jack’s flaws must have been subtle, for the later revelation of his flaws seemed to have taken many by surprise. Dominic Monaghan gave a funny and charming performance as the drug-addicted musician, Charlie Pace. And yet, his performance was skillfully shaded with hints of his character’s drug addiction. Thanks to Naveen Andrews’ subtle, yet intense performance and good writing, the character of Sayid Jarrah rose above the usual clichés featuring Middle Eastern characters. Emilie de Ravin was a delight as the pregnant Australian survivor, Claire Littleton. As for Evangeline Lilly, she did a pretty good job as Kate Austen, the survivor trying to hide her status as a Federal prisoner. However, I had some difficulty accepting her as the take charge type, as the script tried to portray her in Part 2. Terry O’Quinn was perfectly mysterious as John Locke, but viewers had to wait for another two episodes before he began to shine in the role. And Harold Perrineau gave a skillful performance as Michael Dawson, the inexperienced father of 10 year-old survivor, Walt Lloyd.

I felt that the narrative for “The Pilot”, which was written by Abrams and Lindelof, proved to be a well-written adventure. The story covered all of the elements for a story about survivors on a tropical island. The addition of the Smoke Monster injected a little horror and a great deal of mystery that would become the series’ hallmark. One of the aspects of “The Pilot” that I found particularly interesting was that it started with a close-up of Jack Shephard’s eye – post crash. In other words, this story did not start with the crash. Audiences were not treated to scenes aboard Oceanic Flight 815 and the actual crash, except during flashbacks. Very unusual. There were other scenes that I still find fascinating after nearly fourteen years. My God! Has it been fourteen years?Those scenes include Jack, Kate and Charlie’s escape from the cockpit, following the pilot’s death; the discovery of Danielle Rousseau’s message in Part 2; the encounter with the polar bear; and the survivors’ first awareness of the Smoke Monster’s existence. But the one scene that many consider outstanding – including myself – is that opening shot of the fuselage wreckage on the beach and the chaos that surrounded it. I must admit that not only did J.J. Abrams really outdid himself in this particular scene, it is probably one of his best directed sequences in his entire career.

Despite a few hiccups regarding dialogue and some one-dimensional characterizations, “LOST” provided one of the best series openings I have ever viewed on television, thanks to some superb direction by J.J. Abrams, a damn fine cast and a well written teleplay. It is a pity that the series has never been able to maintain such excellent consistency during the rest of its six seasons on the air.

 

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“HIDDEN FIGURES” (2016) Review

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“HIDDEN FIGURES” (2016) Review

In all my years of reading about the men and women who worked at NASA, whether in the air or on the ground, I have only come across two people who people of color. And both were astronauts. Not once did those articles ever reveal the numerous African-Americans who worked at NASA – including those women who worked as mathematicians (Human Computers) for NASA during the Space Race between the 1950s and 1970s. 

Imagine my surprise when I learned that 20th Century Fox Studios planned to distribute a movie based upon the 2016 non-fiction book, “Hidden Figures”. Written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the book focused on three NASA mathematicians – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. Even before the movie was finally released, a NBC series called “TIMELESS” aired an episode set during the Apollo 11 mission that featured one of the movie’s main characters – Katherine Johnson. In the midst of all of this, I found myself anticipating the movie.

As I had stated earlier, “HIDDEN FIGURES” began in early 1961 in which mathematicians Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn, along with aspiring engineer Mary Jackson; are working at NASA’s West Area Computers division of Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia with minimum satisfaction. Dorothy, who works as an unofficial supervisor of the black women who served as Human Computers, requests to be officially promoted to supervisor. Her request is rejected by her supervisor, Vivian Mitchell. Mary identifies a flaw in the experimental space capsule’s heat shields. Space engineer Karl Zielinski encourages her to aggressively pursue a degree in engineering for a more substantial position at NASA. In order to attain a graduate degree in engineering, Mary would have to take the required courses in math and physics from a University of Virginia night program being taught at the all-white Hampton High School. After the Soviet Union manages to send a successful Russian satellite launch, pressure to send American astronauts into space increases. Vivian Mitchell assigns Katherine to assist Director Al Harrison’s Space Task Group, due to her skills in analytic geometry. Katherine becomes the first African-American woman to work with the team and in the building. But her new colleagues are initially dismissive of her presence on the team, especially Paul Stafford, the Group’s head engineer. The movie focuses on the three women’s efforts to overcome bigoted attitudes and institutional racism to achieve their goals at NASA.

“HIDDEN FIGURES”, like any other historical drama I have ever seen or read, is mixture of fact and fiction. Some of the movie’s characters are fictional. And Allison Schroeder and director Theodore Melfi may have mixed up the dates on some of the film’s events. But as far as I am concerned, this did not harm the movie. More importantly, Schroeder and Melfi created a screenplay that maintained my interest in a way that some films with a similar topic have failed to do. In other words, “HIDDEN FIGURES”proved to be a subtle, yet captivating movie.

The movie’s subtle tone manifested in the racism encountered by the three women. Katherine Johnson dealt with the Space Task Group’s quiet refusal to take her seriously via minor pranks and dismissive attitudes. She also has to deal with Paul Stafford’s constant stream of complaints, skeptical comments and attempts to take credit for her work. Worst of all, Katherine is forced to walk (or run) several miles back to her old building in order to use the restroom, due to the Space Task Group’s restrooms being off-limits to non-whites. Dorothy Vaughn is determined to become the official supervisor for the segregated West Area human computers. But due to her race, her supervisor – Vivian Mitchell – refuses to consider giving Dorothy a genuine promotion. The most subtle example of racism found in the movie manifested in Mary Jackson’s desire to return to school and attain a graduate degree in engineering. The racism she faced seemed to be internal. Despite urgings from both her husband and Mr. Zielinski, Mary seemed reluctant to request permission from the Virginia courts to attend a segregated school in order to obtain a graduate Engineering degree. Subconsciously, she seemed to believe that her efforts would be wasted.

The fascinating thing about the racism that the three women faced is that violence of any kind was not involved. The racism that they faced was subtle, insidious and nearly soul-crushing. But no violence was involved. The closest they came to encountering violence occurred when a law officer stopped to question them, while Dorothy’s car was stranded at the side of the road in the movie’s opening scene. The cop eventually escorted them to the Langley Research Center after learning they worked for NASA. Yet, I could not help but feel that the entire scene seemed to crackle with both humor, intimidation and a little terror, thanks to Theodore Melfi’s direction.

Despite my admiration of Melfi’s direction of the above-mentioned scene, I have to admit that I would not regard it as one of the best things about “HIDDEN FIGURES”. I am not stating that I found his direction lousy or mediocre. If I must be honest, I thought it was pretty solid, aside from that opening scene, which I found exceptional. “HIDDEN FIGURES” was his third feature-length film as a director . . . and it showed. I suspect that the movie benefited more from its subject matter, screenplay and its cast.

I certainly had no problems with the movie’s production values. Despite the movie being set in Northern Virginia, it was shot in Georgia. And Mandy Walker’s sharp and colorful photography certainly took advantage of the location. And thanks to Wynn Thomas’ production designs, Missy Parker’s set decorations, and Jeremy Woolsey’s art direction, I felt as if I had been transported back to Hampton, Virginia, circa 1961. I can also say the same about Renee Ehrlich Kalfus’ costumes, which I felt had accurately reflected the characters’ personalities and social class, as shown in the images below:

Only one cast member from “HIDDEN FIGURES” had received any acting nominations. Octavia Spencer received both an Academy Award nomination and Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Personally, she deserved it. I thought Spencer gave a very subtle, yet commanding performance as the group’s aspiring supervisor, Dorothy Vaughn. I was also impressed by Janelle Monáe, who not only gave a very entertaining performance as the extroverted and witty Mary Jackson, but also did an impressive job in conveying her character’s self-doubts about pursuing an Engineering graduate’s degree. I am surprised that Taraji P. Henson did not received any major acting nominations for her performance as NASA mathematician Katherine Goble (later Johnson). Personally, I find that baffling. I was very impressed by her quiet and subtle performance as the widowed mathematician, who not only struggled to endure the dismissive attitude of her Space Group Task Force colleagues, but also found love again after spending a few years as a widow. Personally, I thought Henson’s performance deserved at least an award nomination or two.

“HIDDEN FIGURES” also featured top notch performances from the supporting cast. Kevin Costner gave a very colorful performances as the Space Group Task Force director Al Harrison. The movie’s other colorful performance came from Glen Powell, who portrayed astronaut and future U.S. senator John Glenn. Jim Parsons was just as subtle as Henson in his portrayal of the racist, yet insecure head engineer Paul Stafford. Mahershala Ali gave a nice and charming performance as Katherine’s second husband, Jim Johnson. But his performance did not strike as particularly memorable. Aldis Hodge, on the other hand, gave an intense and interesting performance as Mary’s politically-inclined husband, Levi Jackson; who urges his wife to overcome her reluctance to pursue a graduate degree in Engineering. This movie seemed to be filled with subtle performance for Kirsten Dunst also gave one as the slightly racist Vivian Mitchell, supervisor of all the Human Computers.

The movie turned out to be quite a surprise for me. Watching the trailer, I came away with the impression that it would be one of those nice, but mediocre live-action Disney films. And to be honest, there were moments when Theodore Melfi’s direction gave that impression. He does not strike me as a particularly memorable director. But that opening sequence featuring the three protagonists and a cop seemed to hint Melfi’s potential to become a first-rate director. In the end, the movie’s superb Oscar-nominated screenplay and the excellent performances of a cast led by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe made “HIDDEN FIGURES” one of my favorite movies of 2016.

 

“The Engagement News” [PG-13] – 5/5

 

“THE ENGAGEMENT NEWS”

Part Five

Several minutes before the dinner party had ended, Cole and Olivia had bid her family and their guests, good-bye. Seconds later, the couple teleported in front of an elegant, Georgian manor situated in the middle of a country estate. A frowning Olivia glanced around. “Where are we?” she asked.

“My mother’s estate in the Pelennor dimension,” Cole replied. “Which is not part of the Source’s Realm, by the way.”

One reddish brow formed an arch. “Considering that there is no Source, that’s not really a surprise.”

Cole smiled. “There might not be a Source, but the Realm still exists. Just consider it a minor situation that will not last forever.” He reached for the door’s knocker and banged it several times.

Nearly three minutes passed, before a man with a tall, thin frame opened the door. His pale skin contrasted starkly against his dark hair and eyes. “In Ursiel’s name!” he cried, as he looked upon the visitors. “Belthazor?”

A thin smile stretched Cole’s lips. “Good evening, Ascaroth. Is my mother at home?”

“I . . . uh, . . .” The daemon’s gaze shifted toward Olivia. “Yes,” he slowly replied. “Who is this?”

“A friend,” Cole answered in a curt voice. “Now, will you please take me to my mother?”

Ascaroth hummed and hemmed a bit. Cole recalled the other daemon’s gesture very well. His mother’s private secretary for over a century, Ascaroth happened to be considered among the best in his position. Even Raynor, the Thorn Brotherhood’s former leader, had once tried to lure the other daemon from Nimue’s service. However, Ascaroth proved to be very loyal and steadfast to Cole’s mother.

Cole heaved an irritated sigh and added, “Is there a problem?”

The daemon replied, “Your mother has a . . . visitor. A very important one. And I’m not sure if they would like the idea of your . . . friend appearing before them. Unexpected.”

Cole pointedly retorted, “Then why don’t you announce us, first?”

“Of course.” Ascaroth ushered the couple inside the manor’s elegant foyer. He disappeared for a few minutes, while Cole and Olivia admired the decor which seemed similar to the kind that originated in late 18th and early 19th centuries on Earth. Finally, Ascaroth returned with a slightly stunned expression on his face. “Nimue will now see you both,” he breathlessly announced. “This way.”

The couple followed Ascaroth through a wide corridor that led them to what appeared to be a spacious library. The latter held rows of books on a wide shelf, a rosewood liquor cabinet and more Georgian-style furnishings. The pale-faced daemon gravely announced, “Belthazor is here to see you, Nimue. Along with his . . . friend.”

Cole struggled to suppress the array of emotions that battered him, as his mother approached him. She looked elegant and beautiful, as always. “Belthazor,” she greeted warmly. “This is a surprise. I did not think we would see each other so soon, after our last meeting.”

“Neither did I, Mother.” Cole felt a brief flash of . . . something, as Nimue planted a light, maternal kiss on his cheek.

Nimue focused upon Olivia. “And Miss McNeill . . . once again we meet.” She held out her hand to the redhead. Who graciously shook it.

“Mrs. Tur . . . I mean, Nimue, it’s nice to meet you, again,” Olivia replied.

The demoness suggested they all sit down. When Cole finally eased into an empty chair, he continued, “Ascaroth had said something about a visitor.” He glanced around. “What happened to him? Or her?”

“He left,” Nimue simply stated.

“He?”

A sigh left Nimue’s mouth. “If you must know, Belthazor, Lohdon had paid me a visit.”

Cole frowned. “From the Fornost Order? What business did you have with him?”

Nimue lifted one elegant brow. “Really, Belthazor. Is this visit about you and Miss McNeill, or about matters that are supposedly no longer your concern? Or do you still consider yourself part of the Thorn Order?”

Incensed by his mother’s caustic evasiveness, Cole stood up. “We’re leaving.”

Olivia shot him a warning glance. “Cole.”

He sighed. “You’re right, Mother.” He sat back down in the chair. “Your business is none of my concern. Although, I am surprised that you have changed the name of the brotherhood. The ‘Thorn Order’?”

“Why not?” Nimue softly protested. “The Thorn Brotherhood sounds so . . . sexist. After all, this is a new era, and I don’t see how I – a female – could be head of something called a brotherhood?” A tart smile briefly stretched her lips. “Now, what brings you here?”

A sigh left Cole’s mouth. He glanced at Olivia. “Actually . . . we have some important news. Olivia and I . . . are engaged. To be married.” He stared at his mother in an attempt to gauge her reaction.

The demoness’ blue eyes widened in shock. She stared at her son in silence. And finally, his fiancée. A gust of breath escaped her mouth, as she finally recovered from the surprise. “Well!” Nimue declared breathlessly. “This is certainly a surprise. When did this . . .?”

“Sunday,” Cole said. He eyed his mother, carefully. “I had proposed to Olivia, Sunday night.”

Nodding, the demoness replied, “I see.” Then she stood up and held her arms wide open, smiling. “Well then, give us a hug. It’s not everyday that a mother’s son becomes engaged.”

Reluctantly, Cole stood up and allowed his mother to envelope him into her arms. Overwhelmed by her response, he returned the hug. Then Nimue planted a light kiss on his cheek. “Congratulations, darling. I’m so happy for you.”

“Thank you, Mother,” Cole replied in a voice, heavy with emotion.

Then Nimue turned to Olivia. “Congratulations, my dear. Welcome to the family.” She hugged the witch, who thanked her. “So, when will the happy event occur?”

Olivia said, “In another three or four weeks.”

“It will be a Wiccan ceremony,” Cole added.

Nimue smiled. “Of course, my dear. But you should have a daemonic ceremony, as well.”

“Mother . . .”

“Not with a dark priest, silly,” the demoness lightly reproached her son. “With a priest from the Gimle Order. I’m sure that your uncle can make arrangements.”

Rolling his eyes, Cole firmly added, “I don’t think that Olivia or her family would be comfortable with a daemonic . . .”

“I wouldn’t mind,” Olivia said, interrupting. “As long as we don’t end up being married by a dark priest.”

Cole stared at his fiancée in shock. “Olivia!”

“For heaven’s sake, Cole – we’re going to have a mixed marriage, anyway. And considering my family background, I don’t really see the problem.”

Curiosity illuminated in Nimue’s eyes. “Family background?”

“My family has just learned from a cousin of ours about a few surprising members in the family line. A pair of daemons, as a matter of fact. Well . . . actually three.”

Nimue looked thunderstruck. “In Caspiel’s name!” She paused in an attempt to catch her breath. “Well! In that case, I do need to speak to Marbus about a priest or priestess.”

“Wait a minute!” Cole protested. “What if I don’t want one?”

Olivia stared at her fiancé. “Why not? If you can be married in a Wiccan ceremony, surely I can be married by a Gimle priest.”

“But . . .”

Nimue added, “It’s settled. I’ll talk with Marbus. And I would also like to hold a little engagement party, as well.”

“Don’t you think that some of your . . . acquaintances will be reluctant to attend a party in honor of me and my ‘witch’ fiancée?”

The demoness did not seem concerned by her son’s words. “Perhaps,” she said with a shrug of her shoulders. “Considering whom your previous wife was. However, dear Olivia strikes me as a different kettle of fish. And as long as she doesn’t turn her back on you, kill you or try to kill your uncle, I’m sure that . . . ‘my’ acquaintances will get along just fine with her.” She punctuated her words with a bright smile.

A slight guffaw escaped from Olivia’s mouth. The snipe at Phoebe could not have been more obvious. Cole heaved a silent sigh and thanked every deity in existence that his mother and Phoebe had never met before his first wedding. “By the way,” he added, “when do you plan to hold this little soiree?”

Nimue shrugged her elegant shoulders. “I have not set a date, yet. Perhaps a week before the wedding? I will let you know.”

“Well . . . good evening, Mother.” Cole kissed his mother’s cheek. “It’s been a long day for both Olivia and myself and we both need to get home.”

Olivia offered her hand to the demoness. “It was nice meeting you again . . . Nimue.”

Cole’s mother shook the offered hand. “Same here, my dear. And once again, welcome to the family.”

The engaged couple then teleported back to Olivia’s apartment in San Francisco. The redhead sighed with relief. “Well, that didn’t seem too bad. Quite pleasant, I thought.”

“Why did you agree to Mother’s idea of a daemonic wedding ceremony?” Cole immediately demanded.

Olivia shot back, “Why not? Since we’ll be having a Wiccan ceremony, why not a daemonic one, as well?”

Cole stared at his fiancée, wondering if she had lost her mind. “You know what happened the last time I ended up married by a daemonic priest.”

“A ‘dark’ priest, as I recall. And I believe that you were possessed at the time.” Olivia strode toward the kitchen. “Besides, your mother did say that she would leave it all up to Marbus and his wife to find a priest from the Gimle Order. Right?” Cole opened his mouth to protest, but Olivia continued. “Look Cole, since you’re not Wiccan, I see no reason why we can’t be married in both a Wiccan and a daemonic ceremony. After all, we’ll be having a mixed marriage. I see no reason not to have double ceremonies.”

A sigh left Cole’s mouth. “All right. If you insist.”

“Then why do you still look troubled?” Olivia asked. She slid her arms around Cole’s neck.

He replied, “I’m not troubled, just curious.” Cole drew Olivia into his arms. “About Mother’s other visitor. I’m wondering about the reason behind Lohdon’s visit. He’s the head of the Fornost Order.”

Olivia shrugged. “Daemonic business, perhaps?”

“Perhaps. But something tells me that this ‘business’ might turn out to be a bigger deal than any of us can imagine.”

———–

The Elders Council – at least three-quarters of its members – stared at their colleague in shock. “My God!” one of Leo’s fellow Elders declared. “Belthazor and the witch are getting married? When?”

Leo sighed. “I’m sorry Gideon, but neither Olivia or Cole had bother to give me a wedding date. In fact, Piper was the one who told me.”

“Should we even allow this to happen?” demanded another Elder. She was a tall, blond woman named Sandra.

Natalia Stopanova, the Council’s official “rebel”, rolled her eyes in contempt. “My dear Sandra, what makes you think we have the right to prevent this marriage from happening? Ms. McNeill does not acknowledge the Council’s authority. Mr. Turner is a half-demon. That would mean . . . we do not have the right to interfere.”

Gideon commented, “But a union between those two could mean a great deal of danger for the magical world in the future. Can you imagine the power possessed by the child of the Aingeal Staff Bearer and a powerful demon like Belthazor?”

“There is already a child of great power who exists,” Natalia pointed out. “Leo’s son. And I do not see us rushing forward to destroy him.”

The Council continued to squabble over the issue of Olivia and Cole’s upcoming marriage. Meanwhile, Natalia’s words reminded Leo of a previous attack upon his son and former wife. He had originally assumed that a Voudon sorceress named Daley Bakker had been responsible for the attack. However, Cole and his friend, Andre Morrell had proven that someone else had hired a demonic assassin named Nairn to attack Piper and Wyatt. Someone who was an immortal, but not a demon. Leo wondered if this mysterious someone would continue his or her attacks upon his son. Another question filled his mind. If Olivia and Cole do get married, will the attacks shift toward them?

————–

“Say that again?” Jason’s voice rang with disbelief.

Phoebe sighed and repeated her statement. “I’ve decided to join you in Hong Kong. Just for a while. You know.”

Jason’s next question took Phoebe by surprise. “Why?”

“Huh?”

“I . . .” Jason paused momentarily. “I mean . . . I don’t get it. You’ve been resisting my suggestion for the last few days. Now, all of a sudden, you want to join me. Why?”

Surprised by her boyfriend’s lack of enthusiasm, Phoebe asked, “Jason, what’s the problem? I want to go with you to Hong Kong.”

The billionaire replied, “There’s no problem. Except . . . does this have anything to do with Olivia’s engagement to your ex-husband?”

Caught off guard by Jason’s question, Phoebe could only grunt another, “Huh?”

“What? You didn’t know about Olivia and Turner’s engagement? Cecile Dubois told me about it, this morning.”

For the sake of peace in her relationship, Phoebe decided to lie. “No. No, I didn’t.” She paused dramatically. “Cole and Olivia are engaged? No one told me!”

His voice slightly tinged with disbelief, Jason exclaimed, “You didn’t know?”

“Of course not!” Phoebe hoped that she sounded suitably outraged. “Jason, what are you insinuating?”

Jason hastily replied, “Nothing! Nothing, I . . .” He chuckled. “It’s just my insecurity getting the best of me. Baby, I’m sorry. I’m just glad that you’ve decided to join me. You won’t regret it. I swear.”

“I know I won’t,” Phoebe said. “Bye sweetie.” After Jason had bid her good-bye, the Charmed One disconnected the line. She stared at the cordless phone in her hand and added under her breath, “I hope I won’t.”

Her emotions in turmoil, Phoebe left her bedroom and made her way, downstairs. She found Paige inside the kitchen, rummaging through the refrigerator. “Hey,” she greeted her younger sister. “How was the party?”

Slowly, Paige stood up and closed the refrigerator’s door. She sighed. Long and hard. “Oh . . . revealing. And very interesting.” Another sigh left her mouth, as she sat down in a chair. “How was your evening?”

Phoebe hesitated, before she answered. “I just got off the phone with Jason. I, um . . . I’ve decided to accompany him to Hong Kong.” She paused and waited for Paige’s reaction.

“Oh,” the younger woman finally said. “Congratulations.” She scrutinized Phoebe through narrowed eyes. “I guess that Cole’s engagement must have changed your mind.”

The middle Charmed One immediately protested. “What makes you think that Cole’s engagement had anything . . .?”

Rolling her eyes, Paige interrupted. “Phoebe? Please! Don’t insult my intelligence. I saw the expression on your face, earlier this evening,” she said in a sarcastic tone. “Harry told me what happened.”

This time, Phoebe sighed. “Okay. Maybe Cole’s engagement did come as a shock. And maybe . . . some time with Jason in Hong Kong will help me . . .”

“. . .get over your ‘shock’,” Paige finished.

“Yeah.” Phoebe paused, as her mind recalled her two-year relationship with Cole. “You know, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Cole had never been possessed by the Source. Do you think we would still be together? Happy?”

Paige shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. Would you two still be together if whatshername – Emily – had not used that power-stripping potion on him?”

Recalling that particular incident, Phoebe winced. She had inadvertently left a power-stripping potion that she and her sisters created, in her dresser drawer. Over two years ago, the girlfriend of a witch that Cole had killed several years earlier, had found it. And used it on the half-demon. The incident had eventually led to Cole becoming possessed by the Source. And yet . . . deep inside of her, Phoebe realized that she would have never accepted Cole’s marriage proposal if he had remained part-demon. “It wouldn’t have worked out between us,” she finally admitted. “Not if he had remained part demon.”

“So, you could sleep with a half-demon, but not marry him.”

“Paige!” The younger woman’s sarcastic words touched a raw nerve in Phoebe. “Boy, someone must have slipped a burr up your ass! What’s wrong with you?”

Paige replied quietly, “Nothing.”

Phoebe detected a hint of anxiety in her sister’s voice. “C’mon Paige! What’s wrong? I can feel . . .” She broke off at the sight of Paige’s annoyed expression. “I mean, you had said something about tonight’s party being revealing. What did you mean?”

With a sigh, Paige told Phoebe about the dinner party at the McNeills’ home. And about meeting the family’s Australian cousin, Sean McNeill. Paige also told the older woman about the cousin’s revelation about the McNeill family line. Shocked, Phoebe stared at her sister, open-mouthed. “Are you serious? The McNeills are descended from three demons? And one of them is still alive?”

“Yep.”

“My God! That means . . .” Phoebe contemplated the consequences of a union between her sister and Harry McNeill. “My God! If you ever decide to marry Harry . . .”

Paige shot Phoebe a resentful look. “What makes you think I’ll ever be interested in becoming Harry’s wife?”

Phoebe closed her eyes and sighed. And to think that the family considered her ‘self-delusional’. “Paige, I’m empathic. I know how you feel about Harry.”

The younger woman rolled her eyes. “Well, it doesn’t matter how I feel, Phoebe. Not anymore. If Harry and I ever . . .” She broke off, obviously unable to finish.

“I understand, honey.” Phoebe’s voice oozed with pity and compassion. “That would mean your kids will end up descended from three demons. I guess you understand why I was willing to marry Cole – only after he became human.”

Another sigh left Paige’s mouth. “Yeah. I understand.”

THE END

Favorite Moments in MARVEL Movies and Television

Below is a list of my favorite moments featured in Marvel movies and television: 

FAVORITE MOMENTS IN MARVEL MOVIES AND TELEVISION

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1. “Spider-Man 2” (2004) – After a brutal fight with Doc Ock on top of a Manhattan El Train and saving the train’s passengers, an exhausted Spider-Man aka Peter Parker is unmasked by the latter in what I regard as the most poignant moment in any Marvel production.
 
 
 

 

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2. “The Avengers” (2012) – During its fight against invading Chitauri troops, director Joss Whedon gave audiences an iconic shot of the newly formed Avengers, before they continued the battle.
 
 
 

 

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3. “Iron-Man 3” (2013) – Iron Man aka Tony Stark saves the surviving passengers and crew of Air Force One in this breathtaking sequence, using aerodynamics, one of his Iron Man bots and his brains.
 
 
 

 

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4. “The Wolverine” (2013) – In this exciting sequence, the Wolverine aka Logan battles members of the Yakuza on top of a Tokyo bullet train, as he tries to prevent them from kidnapping the granddaughter of a recently deceased businessman that he had briefly met at the end of World War II.
 
 
 
 

 

 

5. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” (1.20) “Nothing Personal” – Agent Phil Coulson rescues his kidnapped subordinate Skye aka Daisy Johnson from HYDRA agents, who had hijacked the fallen agency’s C-17 plane, known as “the Bus”, with his sports car called “L.O.L.A.”.
 
 
 

 

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6. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) – While staving off rogue HYDRA agents in Washington D.C., Captain America aka Steve Rogers has a brutal hand-to-hand fight with the assassin known as “the Winter Soldier”. Best fight scene in any Marvel production … at least for me.
 
 
 

 

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7. “Iron Man 3” (2013) – In this hilarious scene, Tony Stark finally comes face-to-face with the “terrorist” known as “the Mandarin”, who proves not to be what many had assumed.
 
 
 

 

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8. “The Hulk” (2003) – The opening credits of the 2003 movie featured the chilling efforts of Dr. David Banner to create super soldiers by introducing modified DNA sequences extracted from various animals to strengthen the human cellular response. This sequence gives me the chills whenever I watch the movie.
 
 
 

 

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9. “X2: X-Men United” (2003) – The second movie in the “X-MEN” franchise featured an exciting attack by a brainwashed Nightcrawler aka Kurt Wagner on the White House, in an attempt to assassinate the U.S. President.
 
 
 

 

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10. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) – S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury is attacked by HYDRA agents and the assassin known as “the Winter Soldier” on the streets of Washington D.C.
 
 
 

 

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11. “Iron Man 2” (2010) – S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff aka the Black Widow fights off security guards at Justin Hammer’s factory in order to prevent Ivan Venko from using James Rhodes in the War Machine suit from killing Tony Stark aka Iron Man.
 
 
 

 

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12. “Ant-Man” (2015) – Scott Laing aka Ant-Man attempts to infiltrate the new Avengers headquarters for a particular device, and has an unexpected encounter with Avenger Sam Wilson aka the Falcon.
 
 
 

 

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13. “Iron Man 3” (2015) – An Extremis enhanced Pepper Potts saves Tony Stark from villain Aldrich Killian by killing the latter.
 
 
 

 

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14. “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) – The recently enhanced Steve Rogers is recruited by a U.S. senator for a war bonds tour in this colorful montage, after the former is rejected by Colonel Chester Phillips when the super soldier formula is lost.
 
 
 

 

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15. “Thor” (2011) – Recently cast out from Asgaard by his father Odin, a now mortal Thor struggles to free himself from a hospital’s personnel before he is eventually drugged in this very funny scene.
 
 
 

 

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16. “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) – A group of extraterrestrial misfits uses one of the Infinity stones to defeat Kree supervillain Ronan the Accuser, who is bent upon destroying the Nova Empire’s capital city, Xandar.
 
 
 

 

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17. “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) – In this emotionally sad scene, S.S.R. Agent Peggy Carter gives in to tears, when communication with Captain America aka Steve Rogers is cut short, after he forces a HYDRA plane with deadly weapons into the Atlantic Ocean.
 
 
 

 

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18. “Spider-Man 3” (2007) – Another sad scene features Spider-Man aka Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson grieving over the dead body of their friend, Harry Osborn aka New Goblin, after the latter is skewered by villain Venom aka Eddie Brock.
 
 
 

 

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19. “Agent Carter” (1.07) “Snafu” – S.S.R. Chief Roger Dooley jumps to his death in order to save the lives of his subordinates from the bomb device that had been strapped to his body.
 
 
 

 

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20. “The Hulk” (2003) – Ang Lee directed this bizarre scene featuring the death of former military officer Glenn Talbot, after the Hulk aka Bruce Banner escapes from a military base.
 
 
 

 

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Honorable Mention: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014) – Director Marc Webb directed this heartbreaking sequence in which Gwen Stacy falls to her death, after Spider-Man aka Peter Parker fails to save her from Harry Osborn aka the Green Goblin.

“SYLVIA” (2003) Review

“SYLVIA” (2003) Review

I finally watched “SYLVIA”, the 2003 biography on poet Sylvia Plath, on DVD. After all I have heard about the movie, I had expected to be disappointed by it. To be truthful, I found it quite interesting biopic that was especially enhanced by the leads’ performances. But . . . “SYLVIA” was not a perfect film. 

Set between the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, “SYLVIA” told the story of Plath’s marriage to fellow poet, British-born Ted Hughes, their tumultuous relationship and her struggles to maintain a career. The movie’s revelation of the Plath/Hughes courtship, followed by their marriage turned out to be very interesting and rather intense. “SYLVIA” also did an excellent job in re-capturing the literary and academic world in both the United States and Great Britain that Plath and Hughes interacted with during the 1950s and early 1960s.

I suspect that many had expected John Brownlow’s screenplay to take sides in its portrayal of the couple’s problems and eventual breakup. To Brownlow and director Christine Jeffs’ credit, the movie avoided this route. There were no heroes/heroines and villains/villainesses in their story . . . just two people who had failed to create a successful marriage. “SYLVIA” revealed that Hughes’ infidelity with married writer and poet, Assia Wevill, the critical indifference of the male-dominated literary world and her own bouts with depression made life difficult for Plath during her last years. At the same time, the movie made it clear that Hughes struggled to deal with a depressed and suicidal wife. In the end, the movie presented the possibility that both Plath and Hughes had contributed their breakup.

To be honest, I think that Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig’s performances as Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes had more to do with the movie’s main virtue than Jeffs’ direction or Brownlow’s script. director, Christine Jeffs or the screenwriter, John Brownlow. Also, the movie featured some first-rate performances from the supporting cast. All of them – Jared Harris as poet/literary critic Al Alvarez; Blythe Danner as Aurelia Plath, Sylvia’s mother; Amira Casar as Wevill; and Michael Gambon as Teacher Thomas, a neighbor of Sylvia’s; gave able support. But it is obvious that this movie belonged to Paltrow and Craig, who conveyed the intensity of the Plath/Hughes marriage with an honesty and rawness that I sometimes found hard to bear.

But even those two were not able to save the movie’s last half hour from almost sinking into an abyss of unrelenting boredom. I suspect that Jeffs and Brownlow wanted to give moviegoers an in-depth look at Plath’s emotional descent into suicide, following the break-up of her marriage to Hughes. But I wish they could have paced the movie’s ending a little better than what had been shown in the finale. The movie’s last half hour nearly dragged the story to a standstill.

Despite the last half hour, I would still recommend “SYLVIA”. In the end, it turned out to be a pretty interesting look into the marriage of the two famous poets, thanks to director Christine Jeffs, John Brownlow’s screenplay and a first-rate cast. But I believe that performances of both Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig proved to be the best aspects of the film.

1750-1799 Costumes in Movies and Television

Below are images of fashion between 1750 and 1799, found in movies and television productions over the years:

 

1750-1799 COSTUMES IN MOVIES AND TELEVISION

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“Drums Along the Mohawk” (1939)

 

 

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“The Devil’s Disciple” (1959)

 

 

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“Barry Lyndon” (1975)

 

 

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“Poldark” (1975-1977)

 

 

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“Dangerous Liaisons” (1988)

 

 

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“The Aristocrats” (1999)

 

 

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“Marie Antoinette” (2006)

 

 

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“Amazing Grace” (2006)

 

 

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“The Duchess” (2008)

 

 

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“The Book of Negroes” (2015)

 

 

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“Poldark” (2015-Present)

 

“POLDARK” Series One (1975): Episodes Nine to Twelve

 

“POLDARK” SERIES ONE (1975): EPISODES NINE TO TWELVE

It has been a while since I had last viewed “POLDARK”, the BBC’s 1975-77 adaptation of Winston Graham’s literary series about the post-war life of a British Army officer American Revolutionary War veteran named Ross Poldark. Real life and several movies releases distracted my attention from the series. Eventually, I found the time to watch Series One’s adaptation of Graham’s 1950 novel, “Jeremy Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1790-1791”

Episode Eight had ended on a grim note. Ross’ new smelting company ended in failure after his cousin Francis Poldark revealed the shareholders’ names to the former’s rival, George Warleggan. Ross now finds himself in financial straights. Francis was stricken with Putrid’s Throat and Ross’ wife, Demelza Carne Poldark, helped Francis’ wife, Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark, nurse the stricken man back to health. Unfortunately, both Demelza and young daughter Julia were stricken with the same illness. Demelza recovered. Julia did not. Following Julia’s death, one of the Warleggans’ ships were wrecked off the coast of Poldark land. Despite Ross’ efforts to conduct a rescue of the survivors (in this version, at least), many of the locals salvaged the goods from the ship and caused a riot on the ship. The episode ended with Ross being arrested for instigating the riot.

Episode Nine began with Ross’ return to his estate, Nampara, after spending a short period in jail. While he prepares to find a barrister (attorney) to represent him in court, Demelza tries to recruit help from the local gentry to have the charges dropped against Ross or ensure a not guilty verdict. Much against Ross’ wishes, who stubbornly wants to guarantee his freedom on his own. Ross’ friend, Dr. Dwight Enrys, meets the spoiled heiress Caroline Peneven, when she mistakes him for a veterinarian for her pug. Francis, who continues to feels guilty over his betrayal of the Carnmore Copper Company, sinks to a new low before sets out to make amends with Ross. And George and Nicholas Warleggan, who had arranged Ross’ arrest in the first place, tries to guarantee a guilty verdict for Ross by bribing the latter’s former servant, Jud Paynter, to testify against him.

Following the trial in which Ross is exonerated, the Poldarks at both Nampara and Trenwith are forced to deal with their low financial straits. Ross and Francis reconcile and make plans to re-open Wheal Grace and dig for copper. To finance re-opening the mine, Ross allows local smugglers led by a man named Mr. Trencom to use the cove on Nampara land for a smuggling operation. Demelza is against the idea, but Ross refuses to listen to her. Meanwhile, Demelza discovers that she is pregnant with their second child. Due to their financial straits and the trauma of baby Julia’s death, she fears that Ross will be unhappy by the news of her pregnancy. Demelza also resorts to solo fishing trips behind her husband’s back to provide food for Nampara’s inhabitants, while Ross’ finances suffer. In fact, Episode Twelve ends with a very pregnant Demelza struggling to row back to the shore, while she goes into labor.

What can I say about the 1975 adaptation of “Jeremy Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1790-1791”? I have mixed feelings about it. Perhaps my feelings for this adaptation is due to the source material. “Jeremy Poldark” is probably the shortest novel in Graham’s twelve-book series. A novel’s lenghth should not determine one’s opinion of it. But if I must be brutally honest, I do not have a high regard for “Jeremy Poldark”. It seemed more like a filler episode of a television series with a long-term narrative structure. The most interesting aspects of the novel were the emotional estrangement between Ross and Demelza, following their daughter’s death and his deal with smugglers; Francis’ attempt to reconcile with Ross; and of course, Ross’ trial for the riot that had occurred near the end of “Demelza – A Novel of Cornwall, 1788-1790”.

Episode Nine mainly focused on Ross’ preparations for the trial, Demelza’s attempts to seek help for him, and the Warleggans’ preparations to ensure that Ross will be convicted. That included recruiting Jud Paynter to testify against Ross. It was a pretty interesting episode. Somewhat. I thought the episode featured a colorful quality once the setting shifted to Bodmin for both the trial and upcoming local elections. It also featured a colorful assembly ball where Demelza, wearing the same gown she had worn at the Warleggans’ ball in Episode Six, tries to recruit support and help for Ross. The episode ended with a cliffhanger, as Francis Poldark, who was also at the ball and in Bodmin to support Ross, contemplates committing suicide with a pistol in his hand.

Episode Eleven mainly focused on Ross and Demelza’s separate efforts to maintain their survival and rejuvenate their fortunes. And for the first time, the series delved into the strains that their their problems and Julia’s death had placed upon their marriage. For Ross and Demelza, the honeymoon is finally over and I could not be any more happier. There is nothing that will bore me quicker than an idealized romance. Finally, the saga settles down to forcing the couple to work at making their marriage work. And I have to give credit to both Robin Ellis and Angharad Rees for their skillful portrayal of Ross and Demelza’s struggles to make their marriage work. This was especially apparent in one scene that featured a quarrel between the couple following a supper party they had attended at Trenwith. Sometime during the evening, Ross and his former love, Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark, had the opportunity for a private conversation that ended with Ross complimenting her appearance. Unfortunately, Demelza appeared and was able to overhear his compliment. Which would explained the Ross and Demelza’s quarrel.

Ever since the current adaptation of “POLDARK” had first aired, I have encountered complaints about how actor Kyle Soller had portrayed Francis Poldark as an ill-tempered loser during the show’s first season. To be honest, Clive Francis had did the same in the 1975 adaptations of “Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787” and “Demelza”. I noticed that once Francis had put his friendship with the manipulative George Warleggan behind him and reconciled with Ross, he finally became that wry and witty man that so many had commented about. And the actor gave a very charming and subtle performance.

I also enjoyed the portrayal of the burgeoning romance between Dr. Dwight Enys and heiress Caroline Penvenen, thanks to Richard Morant and Judy Geeson’s sparkling performances. The beginning of their relationship reminded me of the numerous Hollywood comedies between the late 1950s and mid 1960s. This was especially highlighted by Caroline’s mistaken assumption that Dwight was more of a veterinarian and the latter’s subtle contempt toward her privileged behavior. In a way, I find their relationship a bit more realistic than the one between Ross and Demelza. Dwight and Caroline’s relationship strike me as good example of how class differences can effect a potential romance between two people of such disparate backgrounds.

But the one episode that I truly enjoyed was Episode Ten. It featured the assizes in Bodmin and especially Ross’ trial. If I must be brutally honest, Episode Ten did not feature one of Robin Ellis’ best performances as Ross Poldark. He spent most of the episode looking rather stoic and occasionally, disapproving. It seemed as if the world of 18th century Cornwall had merely revolved around him. And a colorful world it turned out to be. The excitement actually began in the second half of Episode Nine, which featured the local elections, a local ball and the preparations for Ross’ trial. But it was the assizes itself, which included Ross’ trial that made Episode Ten fascinated for me. Not only did it feature Ross’ trial, filled with attempts by the corrupt prosecutor to circumvent the law; but also another in which a woman was convicted for a minor crime and punished with a public whipping.

At least three performances made Episode Ten very interesting. One of those performances came from Paul Curran, who portrayed Ross’ former servant (at the time), Jud Paynter. Curran’s Jud spent most of the episode getting drunk in order to shore up his courage to testify against Ross. It almost seemed as if Curran had to sustain the image of a drunken Jud throughout the entire episode. He also had to constantly irritate George Warleggan, portrayed by Ralph Bates. And the latter is the second performance that really caught my interest. I really enjoyed Bates in this episode. His George Warleggan was a man irritated not only by Jud’s drunkeness, but also by the tight-fisted Nicholas Warleggan. Bates did an excellent job in basically portraying a straight man to a pair of comic performances. That second comic performance belonged to Nicholas Selby, who gave a rather subtle, yet funny performance as the venal, yet penny-pinching Nicholas. Poor George. His father is vindictive enough to demand that Ross suffers for the looting of his shipwrecked ship, but cheap enough to demand that George pay a small amount to arrange for Ross’ conviction. Talk about a man between a rock and a hard place.

Despite these narrative and character virtues, I still remained somewhat unimpressed by Episodes Nine to Twelve. I was not impressed by how screenwriters Peter Draper and Paul Wheeler, along with director Kenneth Ives; structured the narrative for these episodes. One, their use of cliffhangers seemed a bit off kilter to me. In two episodes – Episodes Nine and Ten – the screenwriters and the director used cliffhangers to tell the audience what happened and not show. Episode Nine ended with a despondent Francis Poldark pressing a pistol to his head, as he prepared to commit suicide. Yet, there was no gunshot or anything to hint what happened. Audiences did not learn that the suicide attempt had failed due to the pistol’s misfire in a conversation between Francis and Dwight Enys. I found this handling of Francis’ suicide attempt extremely annoying. Apparently, it was easier for Draper and Ives to tell the audience what happened via Francis’ revelation than show it.

As for Episode Ten, it ended with the judge about to announce the verdict at the end of Ross’ trial. But audiences did not learn about the verdict, until George Warleggan had informed his father . . . at the beginning of Episode Eleven. It seemed ridiculously unnecessary to end Episode Ten in this manner. Worse, it was another example of the writer and director telling what happened, instead of showing. Speaking of “episodic interruptus”, Episode Twelve, which is the last one that served as an adaptation of “Jeremy Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1790-1791”, ended with a pregnant Demelza rowing back to shore as she goes into labor. One, this is not how the novel ended. It ended with a conciliation between Ross and Francis during the newborn Jeremy Poldark’s christening; along with Ross and Demelza at home, as they contemplated on keeping their family and household. I see now that the screenwriter had allowed Ross and Francis to reconcile before Jeremy’s birth, so that they could end the episode on this cliffhanger with Demelza struggling to reach the shore. I found this a waste of time. This was simply another example of telling the audience what happened, instead of showing. Episode Thirteen, which began the adaptation of “Warleggan: A Novel of Cornwall, 1792-1793”, began with Demelza reaching the shore and later, Ross announcing the presence of his newborn son. Frustrating! And unnecessary.

Although I had earlier complimented Paul Curran’s comic performance of the drunken Jud Paynter, I must admit there is so much of Jud that I can take. He almost became something of a fly on the ointment to me during my favorite episode, Episode Ten. But Episode Twelve truly became something of a chore for me, due to the whole “Jud is dead” story arc. After double-crossing the Warleggans by failing to testify against Ross and keeping the fifteen shillings they had given him, Jud is assaulted by some of George Warleggan’s men at the end of Episode Eleven. A great deal of Episode Twelve focused on Jud’s funeral and wake, while Ross and Demelza attended another supper party at Trenwith. A great deal. To make matters worse, it turned out that Jud was never dead . . . just unconscious. No one had bothered to verify whether he was dead or not. Instead, they had mistaken his unconscious body as a corpse. Not only was I irritated that Jud was not dead, I believe that Winston Graham had committed something of a cheat with this story line. Worse, I had to endure thirty to forty minutes of Jud’s wake, which seemed more than I was able to bear. I really wish he had remained dead.

I have one last quibble and it involved at least four missing characters. What happened to Jinny Carter? You know . . . Jinny? Ross and Demelza’s kitchen maid? The widow of one Jim Carter? What happened to her? Actress Gillian Bailey, who had portrayed Ginny in the adaptation of “Ross Poldark” and “Demelza”, seemed to be missing during these four episodes. Worse, no mention was made about her lack of presence. I find this ironic, considering that Jinny’s father, Zacky Martin, was not missing. Forbes Collins, who had portrayed Zacky, had a strong presence in these four episodes – including the sequence involving Jud’s funeral. So why was Jinny missing? And I also noticed that after twelve episodes and adaptations of three novels, Aunt Agatha Poldark also remained missing. I realize that she plays an important role in “Warleggan: A Novel of Cornwall, 1792-1793” and “The Black Moon: A Novel of Cornwall, 1794-1795”. But why has she been missing for so long in this adaptation of Winston Graham’s saga? How did producers Morris Barry and Anthony Coburn explain her appearance in future episodes, beginning with the adaptation of “Warleggan”? And what happened to Verity’s stepchildren? They were first introduced in “Jeremy Poldark” and I had assumed (for which I should have known better) they would make their appearances by at least Episode Eleven or Episode Twelve. Perhaps they will appear in the production’s adaptation of “Warleggan”. Who knows?

There were some highlights from Barry and Coburn’s adaptation of “Jeremy Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1790-1791”. These highlights include Ross Poldark’s trial in Episode Ten; the burgeoning romance between Dr. Dwight Enys and Caroline Penvenen; and the performances of three cast members – Paul Curran, Nicholas Selby and especially Ralph Bates. But overall, I was not that impressed by Episodes Nine to Twelve. I found the narrative structure of these episodes rather troubling, especially with how cliffhangers were used. And the handling of the Jud Paynter character struck me as well, somewhat overbearing. Oh well. Onward to Episode Thirteen.