Paranoid: Episode 2 – Something’s Not Right (Review)

Screenshot from Paranoid

The team of detectives are still trying to find out who really killed the GP Angela Benton. Nina, Alec and Bobbie are not only investigating the woman’s dead ex husband, who dies in the same week as his former wife, they are working to discover the “Ghost Detective’s” motives for helping them.

Michael, the “PC Plod” inspector who wants to hang Angela’s murder on their number one suspect, the late Jacob Appley. After finding the murder weapon with Appley’s prints on it, Niles is convinced that have their killer.

Unfortunately, as the detectives point out “something is not right” with this case. The German detective who finds the dead body of Angela’s ex, and his current love interest; American girlfriend and party pal, Sheri, also believes that something about the man’s death does not add up.

It is beginning to look like the Ghost Detective may be leading them in the right direction. Later, Alec and Bobbie hunt down the “GD” only for Wayfield to be thrown off the catwalk and Bobbie calling for backup.

(On a sidenote: This has to be the first series to utilize the new holiday (vacation) rental business “Airbnb” as part of its plot. The two cops, after canvassing all the known hotels then decide to focus on the Airbnb listings in the area. They strike paydirt when a landlord reveals that a German gentleman is renting his boathouse.)

Away from the search for Benton’s killer, the cops continue on their personal journeys. Nina and Alec indulge in a bit of slap and tickle at his mother’s birthday party and Bobbie is getting ever more involved with Lucy.

The Quaker follow invites the homicide cop to another meeting and asks if he would like to spend the night. Bobbie replies that he would. It is quite interesting that in each Quaker meeting no one says anything.

It is not clear whether this is a case of keeping the extra’s pay rates down or the fact that Quakers do not indulge in any verbal exchanges at their meetings. Either way, the moments where Bobbie indulges in the peaceful “sit-ins” are odd and a bit disconcerting.

In a way, Lucy is also a bit odd and disconcerting. It appears that she is almost able to read Bobbie’s mind.  The two are fairly perfect fit as both people are a bit esoteric.

Alec and Nina are messily getting involved after Dennis, Suresh’s partner gave her the old heave ho.  The age difference does not bother Wayfield but Nina cannot make up her mind about the younger man being the right fit.

Suresh is still a passive agressive mess who constantly vacillates between eager participant and awkward acceptance.  Alec’s mum, whom he says is a habitual liar, does not like the detective and she may attempt to scupper the budding romance.

Meanwhile the Ghost Detective continues to send clues and information to the team. He also tells the trio that any mention of him will be hazardous to his health. Michael Niles is dead set against any involvement with the outsider.

Alec shows a property he is renovating to Nina and suggests that they set up an incident room there away from the disapproving eyes of Niles. This way, he argues, they can continue collecting information that has been provided by the Ghost Detective.

Paranoid moves at a languid pace which may put some viewers off. There is, however, a lot going on. The personal interactions between the detectives, Bobbie’s attraction to Lucy and the investigation in Germany have, thus far, kept things interesting.

The death of the GP’s ex seems to indicate a conspiracy of sorts, even without the Ghost Detective’s messages. The team have not yet broadened their search to include Europe. Michael Niles has been too focussed upon pinning the crime on Jacob Appley.

This episode ends with Nina still trying to contact Alec who has been thrown into the water and Bobbie in a panicked state, calling for help. The attack by the German suspect may be what leads the team to Germany.

Paranoid is streaming on Netflix at the moment and all episodes are available to watch at once.  Slow and somewhat sporadocally eventful, this series will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Those who enjoy a bit of character work may find this lackadaisical mystery interesting.


The Last Ship: Achilles (recap and review)

Niels being greeted on the Achilles
Last week on Solace the Nathan James rescued the hospital ship, shot up quite a few mercenaries and captured one Spanish sailor from the organization. This week in Achilles on The Last Ship Slattery begins questioning the Special Ops Spaniard who appears to be over emphasizing his injuries. The Nathan James begins a dangerous game of hide and seek hoping to gain the advantage over the Ajax class British submarine, the HMS Achilles. It is revealed that the man who commands the sub is another zealot, like the preacher in the park, “a believer,” as he puts it and despite Niels initially being in over his head he manages to plumb new depths as the villain we love to despise.

Within moments of being on board the submarine and meeting the commander, Niels causes dissent between the brothers running the show and his reveal that Chandler defeated the legendary Russian Admiral Ruskov is met with a combination of disbelief and cheers. Slattery learns a bit more about the mercenary crew and their commander from the captured member of their crew. The XO accuses the captive of lying about the extent of his injuries.

The crew of the Nathan James learns that the submarine is the Achilles; a nuclear vessel that is being helmed by a madman, according to the Spaniard, and Chandler begins a protracted battle of wits against the sub’s commander. Both go silent while trying to pinpoint their opposition’s location. The mercenary prisoner, Juan Carlos, begs to be brought topside as he does not want to die below decks, chained to a bunk. Slattery takes him up and continues to question him.

Mason proves that he is pretty good on sonar as he finds the Achilles. Sean Ramsey and his brother Ned continue to argue and disagree at every turn and the crew on the sub veer between enthusiastic certainty and bickering. After the two vessels go silent Slattery, who is topside with Juan Carlos, decides that the captive has a beacon inside him. The Spaniard, who starts coughing up lots of blood, tells the XO that everyone on board the Achilles is like him.

Slattery then orders that the beacon be removed from their prisoner. Dr. Scott reluctantly agrees to the surgery and the British sub uncloaks and fires a salvo of torpedoes at the Nathan James. The ship returns fire and takes evasive action. Despite several “fish” being deployed both the Achilles and the Nathan James miss and no damage is taken by either vessel.

The “beacon” turns out to be a USB flash drive with all the locations of the labs on it. This was what Sean was going back for not just fellow believer and member of “The Selected” Juan Carlos. Just as Lt. Granderson deciphers the drive, the British nuclear sub deploys 26 ballistic missiles, all aimed at the lab locations. Chandler orders intercept missiles fired from the the Nathan James and only two of the Achilles rockets are taken down.

Niels discovered the lab locations via a communication from Dr. Hunter that was retrieved from the Solace. After the missiles are launched from the sub, Patient Zero gloatingly inflates his importance to the British led group of mercenaries and Ned wants to sink the Nathan James. Sean informs the crew and his brother that they will take over the US instead.

This week’s episode had something for everyone. A standoff, chess-like maneuvers on the open seas and a brief, white knuckle, battle between the nuclear sub (“That never runs out of fuel,” says Chandler.) and the Nathan James, a suspenseful medical surgery, Niels being even more despicable, and further insight into the more than slightly mad mercenaries on the Achilles.

The writing this week was exceptional, as were the performances from the two actors portraying the Ramsey brothers; Nick Court as Ned and Irish actor Brían F. O’Byrne as Sean do a brilliant job as the two British troops who took over the nuclear sub and run the group of “selected” mercenaries. The dialogue from the Brit members of the crew was spot on and include many military, and prison officer, slang terms. Real kudos to the writers of this episode for getting it right.

The cast continue to crack on with some brilliant performances but this show belonged to O’Byrne, Eric Dane and Adam Baldwin. Dane has the knack of conveying great authority with an eye crinkle and O’Byrne manages to exude mad confidence in his characterization of the mercenary leader. Special kudos to Adam Baldwin who projected his thought process with little more than a minimal facial tic or glare. Masterful and pure Baldwin. Sadly, there was not much for Rhona Mitra to do in this episode but she did manage to handle that surgical microscope with authority as well as showing Dr. Scott’s dismay at having to perform the procedure.

In the show, things have been cranked right up in terms of suspense and Juan Carlos was correct in his summation of leader Sean, he is mad as a hatter. This idiot savant running the sub has already taken over Europe and now has his sights set on the USA and presumably world domination. This was a brilliant episode that left the viewer limp with relief and ready for next week’s episode. The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT and is one of the best shows on television at the moment.

Real Life in the Desert: The Lizards are Getting Bigger

deserted house in the desert

When I first moved down here in the real desert, the lizards were these teeny little dark shadows that flitted over and around small rocks and pebbles. Now the little fellers are getting bigger and longer, and scrambling over stones and the odd smallish boulder. They must also be that bit slower as I can see them easily.

The tiny shadow lizards moved so quickly that they seemed to be an optical illusion. A lighting fast streak of shade that disappeared before your eyes could focus on the small creature. Now they stay in view long enough that even without glasses they can be seen.

These are not the only desert denizens that are making regular appearances. Something that looks like a rat, but prettier, darts across the roads and can be seen very easily. These bold creatures will stay in the shade of a small bush and watch you pass. Monsieur Rat, or mouse, is around six to eight inches long, not counting his tail, and while not as cute as the chipmunks that scramble over the boulders that line the road, they are not ugly by any means.

After being here for a couple of months, where there has been no previous sign of them,  buzzards are now regularly  circling the hard pan on either side of the road. One persistent chap kept dropping down to the scrub brush along the washes. Presumably the “dead” animal he was going after was not quite ready to be put on the menu. There are, however, a great many new items alongside, and on, the roads  from rats to lizards and the occasional rabbit.

As it is spring, baby bunnies are hopping around the area. The cute creatures are not as numerous as the ones back in Suffolk. In the English countryside, there were always plenty of the tiny things clumsily jumping here and there, wide eyed and (sorry) bushy tailed learning about their world. The desert bunnies are obviously the offspring of the huge jack rabbits that call the hard pan their home as even though they are “babies” they dwarf their British relatives.

The appearance of the buzzards, or vultures, I can never remember which of these huge carrion loving creatures live in this part of the world, is a reminder that death is never too far away for denizens of the real desert.

The little house on the hill..
The mysterious house on the hill…


On the way home from town yesterday, as the sun dipped slowly behind the surrounding hills of Quartzsite, I found the police had closed off the only road open to a bicycle. The cars could take the alternate route via the Interstate, but my two-wheel self-propelled vehicle could only take the route in front of me.

One of the on-scene officers explained that the road would be closed for at least another two hours. Looking ahead I could see two motorcycles on the right hand side of the road. One looked as though it had been damaged, the other did not. Pointing to the left side of the pavement, I asked if walking my bike through on that part of the road’s narrow shoulder was acceptable.

It was.

As I pushed my bike up the small grade, the two motorcycles came and went whilst I tried not to be too morbidly curious. Glancing over, once or twice, I could see that one bike had hit the boulders on that side of the road with enough force that it buckled the front wheel and twisted it to the left; until it was almost completely back under the petrol tank.

A lone helmet lay on the small shoulder of the two lane road just in front of the large rocks. On one big boulder in front of the abandoned safety item a blue arrow had been spray painted. It pointed up. At a wild, and most likely over-imaginative, guess? It looked like the rider went airborne at the point of impact.

Later, as I neared my destination, a couple who had been driving pulled up beside me and asked about the blocked road. I explained about the bikes and added that I would not be surprised if the accident had ended in a fatality.

They were not impressed with the thought of a dead biker but then, they were both of an age where impending death is not so much a concern. To this older couple, death looked to be just another all too close step in their own personal journey. Being a sprightly young thing in my late 50s, I still struggle with the inevitable advent of my rapidly approaching mortality.

It may well be that along with the lizards getting bigger in the real desert, that living in this hot and harsh climate is not just about surviving, but also about dying. The manner of death for the creatures that are native to this environment is often a quick visitation under the blazing sun. Cause of death: A speeding car, an ATV, or a hikers boot. After all, living is also about dying. As the late Katherine Hepburn once said, “Of course life is hard, it kills you.”

15 March 2015

Constantine: Rage of Caliban (Recap and Review)

Constantine: Rage of Caliban (Recap and Review)

Constantine: Rage of Caliban continues to improve with each viewing and the main protagonist’s Englishness, in an American setting is refreshing, although the reactions to his British phrasing does not go much past the art of ignoring what they do not understand or looking blankly at Matt Ryan’s Constantine when he uses words like “shirty,” at the schoolyard scene. This iteration of the comic book character is much more like his literary origins. John is more a “Jack the Lad” type (An English phrase that means the individual likes his drink, chasing women and partying.) who plays as hard as he works. Early in this episode, Constantine wakes up in a woman’s bed, a bit worse for his alcohol intake the night before and when she says he must leave as her boyfriend is coming, John says she did not mention a boyfriend “last night.” Her response is that yes, she did.

Gracepoint AKA Broadchurch American Style Continues

Gracepoint AKA Broadchurch American Style Continues

Gracepoint, aka Broadchurch American style continues its frame by frame replication of the original ITV drama with David Tennant as the lead detective with issues in both. Some things are different, despite the fact that overall the show is the same. Tennant’s “problem” in the British version is handled by pills, in the U.S. show he has a hypodermic needle which he shakily stabs into his thigh. While this may look more dramatic, or more realistic from an American point of view, it also makes it seem that Emmett Carver could suffer from diabetes rather than a mental issue, which the other show hints at with a bit more finesse.

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