Like Detective Inspector Jack Frost of the A Touch of Frost series, Chief Inspector Morse is grumpy. He’s what I would call a curmudgeon. But, somehow, we love him. He loves classical music…especially opera, drives his classic Jag, loves the ladies but is a confirmed bachelor, and most of all loves his beer. Along with his trusty and more passive sidekick, Detective Sgt. Lewis, Morse travels about the Oxford area solving crime and frequenting pubs. The crimes and cases are all top-notch…almost perfectly constructed. Each episode is filled with so much information and so many details that if you blink, you miss something. The chemistry between Morse and Lewis is strong…Lewis is less cultured and more agreeable and Morse is extremely set-in-his-ways. But, the two of them make a great crime-solving team. And, like some shows, Morse does not “instantly” solve the crime…like some shows that have the detective be almost psychic or superhuman with their investigating skills. Here, the cases are all solved methodically and with great effort. Sometimes, it’s nice to know that even a great detective gets stumped.

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These are pretty conventional mysteries — you have the brooding, troubled inspector and the quick-witted side-kick, who this time happens to be a woman. It’s like Sherlock and Watson for the 20th Century. And, like most of the Holmes’ mysteries, these are intelligent without being too convoluted. The pacing is not more than the audience can handle…which for me is very important in murder mysteries where there are sometimes are too many characters to keep straight. Here, all of the stories begin with the murder/crime and then the police come in…it works to set a certain standard. Also, the thing that sets this one apart from other detective shows is the chemistry between Lynley and Havers. There are obvious times of attraction but they never seem to be at the right moments. The “do they/don’t they” question adds even more “mystery” to these already strong stories.

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A crusty police detective who is close to retirement age relocates to a small North England town from London, where he still continues to work as a police inspector and gets a new partner instead of retiring. One of the reasons he cannot retire is that he is continually haunted by the brutal murder of his wife…back when he was living in London. Set in the 1960s, the George Gently character seems, at first, like all of the other grumpy, old British police detectives and this will be like all of the other British police series…ala Frost, Morse, etc. But, Gently has an edge that carries through all of the episodes and makes this one stand out among the crowd.

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Dexter is one of those GREAT stories that you just cannot seem to stop watching. Even when it gets a little too gory for my taste, I find myself unable to turn the TV off. Most of this, I would say, could be attributed to the writing. All of the characters are VERY well-structured. Not that this show is realistic…which is really is not…but at least the characters (for the most part) are. Dexter himself, played by Michael C. Hall, is a loveable loser kind of guy…at first. And even when he shows us his darker (MUCH darker) side, we still see him as the perfect underdog. I mean, the guy kills people…yes, only BAD people…but still. He’s a killer. He’s serial murderer. And I still find myself drawn to him. Go figure. Season two seemed even sharper (no “knife” pun intended) than the first…so I have high hopes the remaining seasons of this show will continue to be top-notch.

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It took me a little while to get into my first season of Cracker Mysteries but once I did, I couldn’t stop. Robbie Coltrane is simply perfect as the highly-flawed psychologist, Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald. I mean, he’s smart and good at “seeing” into people’s minds and souls to help solve cases, but this guy really has a messed up life. He drinks too much, he gambles uncontrollably and his marriage is usually on the rocks (because of the gambling and drinking). But, somehow, someone that is that messed up can really pull it together when it comes to solving crimes. And he not only is able to help the police find the right man or woman, but he also helps the criminals themselves by being able to help them work out their demons. After all, Fitz knows a lot about inner demons…he has more than his fair share himself.

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For a British police show with a female main character, comparisons will always be made to Prime Suspect, the Helen Mirren series that has won over audiences all over the world, in addition to accolade after accolade for Ms. Mirren. In Blue Murder, DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) Janine Lewis is tough (like Mirren), has problems with her supervisors because she’s a woman (like Mirren), and also has issues controlling and getting respect from her staff because she’s a woman (like Mirren). What makes Lewis stand out above the other detective shows, including Mirren, is that this female detective is a single mother, which gives her even more complications and more of an edge than Mirren’s character. A great series that is for anyone who likes cop shows…with either male or female leads.

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An excellent movie about the methodicalness and determination of the police in a small town in the Soviet Union in the 1980s in trying to track and catch a serial killer. Based on a true life case, this film shows the brutality of the USSR at the time and how, because of limited resources, detectives often found themselves undermanned and overworked. An excellent cast rounds out this fabulous film about hunting down a killer and how slow and frustrating a process it could be.

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One of the best endings in film…not the best movie, per se…or even the best thriller. But, the ending makes the movie payoff. You really do not see it coming…at least I didn’t. Doris Day shines as the tortured wife of an overly hardworking businessman. She begins hearing voices and then starts getting crank calls. Is she making this up to get more attention from her husband? Is she really in danger? And if so, by whom? Being a huge Hitchcock fan, I?m always skeptical of thrillers that try to copy the image and style of the Master of Suspense. Thankfully, I feel this one is not something Alfred Hitchcock would have disappointed with.

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Clint Eastwood directs and stars as a former violent cowboy who turns over a new leaf. Now a father and a widower, he finds out whether he still has that violent streak. Eastwood and a friend (Morgan Freeman) decide to collect a bounty in a corrupt town, run by a detestable sheriff (Gene Hackman). Called a “psychological” Western, this film won Eastwood his first Oscar for Best Director, in addition to snagging Best Picture and a Supporting Actor Oscar for Hackman.

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A poignant drama about a wife who cheats and a husband who finds out. This simple premise turns very dark and deadly, when the movie really takes off and sets the audience on an emotional roller coaster. Unfaithful shows what the pain of an affair can do to a couple…how both the betrayed and the betrayer feel toward each other and toward themselves. The performances of Richard Gere and Diane Lane as the seemingly happy husband and wife are stunning…nothing they say or do seems overly forced or too overdone. The scene on the train after Lane first has her extramarital encounter showcases what a brilliant and underrated actress she really is. The ending leaves everything up in the air, which I did not like at first but after more thought, I came to see that leaving things open is best. Emotions do not always have easy answers, so then why should a movie with so many emotions end neatly?

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