Narrative lapses and shortcuts

We’ll see how long this lasts. I finally received a car magnet supporting my candidates of choice. As some of you may know, this is the first time I’ve been able to vote in a presidential election. I’ve even contributed to the campaign. Let’s just say that my choice isn’t the most popular one down here in Texas. I’m fully prepared to go out to my car one day soon and find the magnet gone. The biggest surprise, though, was the discovery that there’s enough metal in my car for the magnet to stick.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the debate. Instead, I picked up a good book and checked out my Twitter feed every now and then. That was more entertaining.

This month’s Storyteller’s Unplugged essay is online: Once upon a time, but not happily ever after. I also posted my review of the forthcoming Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough.

Bitten By Books is sponsoring a book launch and author/editor chat for Danse Macabre starting at noon tomorrow (October 18). If you RSVP in advance, your chances of winning a $50 Amazon gift certificate are vastly improved! Read more about the book and the event.

A cute episode of Castle this week: Murder He Wrote. Rick and Kate escape to his house mansion in the Hamptons for a romantic weekend, but are interrupted when a man staggers into the swimming pool and dies. The police seem to have things under control, but Rick can’t stop thinking about the case, to the detriment of their getaway. Then, the roles reverse and it’s Kate who can’t let sleeping corpses lie. Finally they solve the murder and bust up a huge meth ring in the process. Ryan learns that they are in the Hamptons together, but he keeps the secret to himself…for the time being at least.

For the first time in ages, my DVR cut off the end of a show, to wit, the last few minutes of Sons of Anarchy. Juice drops Clay off and asks him if everything’s all right. What happened after that? Even though his doctor told him he’s improving, Clay seems determined to milk sympathy by hanging onto the nasal cannula and downplaying his progress. Do we have any idea who’s responsible for the home invasions yet? Any fleeting shots of scratched up people that I might have missed? I often watch the show while exercising so I sometimes miss little details. And what’s Tara up to, lying about not seeing Otto in prison? Does she plan to take matters into her own hands on her next visit? The snow globe music provided an eerie soundtrack to Jax’s retribution. So now he and Tara are back to keeping secrets from each other. That can’t be good.

The inaugural season of Major Crimes is over and I have to say that I’m not completely on board yet. They spent a lot of energy on the Rusty plot, which is the weakest part of the show. And the last two episodes ended with the team being unable to uncover the true identity of someone important to their cases: the university prof/identity thief last week and the assassin this week. I hope they spend their hiatus retweaking the show before it returns next summer.

I finished the BBC series Luther, which I highly recommend. It stars Idris Elba, who was in Prometheus and played Stringer Bell on The Wire. There are only ten episodes at present, but they are intense. The second season could have used a little more Alice Morgan, too. Also, there were some narrative lapses and shortcuts that annoyed me. In the first episode, Luther somehow ends up with a card key, but it’s never shown or even hinted how he got it. The intern who used one went through the door, so it couldn’t have been from him. There was a nurse in the room, so presumably that’s where he got it, but how? Worse, at the end of the episode, two detectives are driving a witness home. The witness is in the back seat. One detective takes her into her Byzantine accommodations—an apartment that you have to go through a shop, down some narrow corridors and up some windy stairs. This is a nice bit of sleight-of-hand. The creepy situation, with suitably creepy music, and a few shocks and scares, make it seem like the killer is in the apartment. But, nope: he’s in the back seat of the car. What? How did he get there? He couldn’t have been there when the witness was in the car, and the other detective never left the vehicle. It was a nice scare, but it defied logic.

There was another instance of shaky logic later in the season. They’re listening to all 999 (British 911) calls looking for one that seems like it is connected to their serial killer. The tech picks out the one that just happens to be right, but the evidence for choosing that one was way too flimsy. Then, they decided on no information whatsoever, that the killer would go to a dead courier’s next delivery. How did they figure that out? For such an otherwise good show, these weak plotting choices stood out like jester’s noses.

I think I’ll try Homeland next. It’s been getting rave reviews and the first season is now available.

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