Batman (1966) Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Batman
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 34 (half-hour episodes)
  • Discs: 5 
  • Network: ABC (US)
  • Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Alan Napier, Madge Blake, Neil Hamilton
  • Format: Standard, Technicolor, DVD, NTSC

Batman – in Color, and boy is it! The 1966 television series is filmed in Technicolor, and the colors are extremely bright – almost cartoonish. Oddly enough, this wasn’t part of the “camp” nature of the Batman television show – it was a result of the Technicolor process – which produced strong jewel-tone colors, especially in the bright California sun of Hollywood back lots, or under extremely bright studio lights. Everything about Batman is bright: the sets, the costumes, the occasional locations – it’s all very storybook, and the same you would see in other early Technicolor films (such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, or Singin’ in the Rain) and early American color television (everything from I Dream of Jeannie to The Wild Wild West, even Classic Star Trek). Once you realize that at the time that the show was made everything looked like that – the colors are a bit less garish.  However, it’s still jarring and takes awhile to get used to if you’ve been watching any modern television recently.

The first season of Batman actually is very, very formulaic. Most episodes start with a crime committed by a supervillain such as the Riddler, the Joker, the Penguin, or in this season one time villains (some of which would return in subsequent seasons), Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara discuss the villain and the crime (mostly stating that the case is too difficult for the police) and they then use the red hot line phone to call Batman. The phone is answered by Alfred, who alerts Bruce Wayne, who makes an excuse to Aunt Harriet. Bruce, in his Batman voice, answers the phone and he and Dick rush to the Bat Poles, then to the Batmobile and the Commissioner’s office. They get an update, and start to investigate clues (either provided by the villain himself or going to the scene of the crime etc.). There’s almost always a fist fight between Batman and the villain and his goons, but the villain himself gets away. Part 1 ends with the caped crusader and the boy wonder in a elaborate death trap. Sometimes Robin only is taken by the villain and is in a death trap by himself. Part II – opens by resolving the cliffhanger, additional crimes and clues, a huge fist fight with the villain and his lackies, and Batman defeating everyone and having the villain taken to jail by the police. Many episodes had the villain have a female underling used as a distraction – and the coda of the episode would show her getting help to reform from the Wayne Foundation.

In nearly every episode, Batman would also deliver some sort of positive civics lesson, or safety message, or even encouragement in education to Dick Grayson (and the show’s audience). So if Dick were to complain that he couldn’t learn Latin or Italian, Batman (or Bruce Wayne) would answer how important it was to learn other languages to understand different people and other cultures. Other lessons were on rarer occasions taught more practically, such as Batman using geometry to triangulate the position of a radio signal. Or Batman figuring out a clue by his knowledge of French, Spanish, Italian, Spanish, etc.

However, the only time we see a gag that later became famous, a famous person sticking there head out the window as Batman and Robin climb the wall is in a episode towards the end of the season. The celebrity is Jerry Lewis – but that is the only time the gag is used in the entire season.

One story I did find interesting and a bit different (though it followed the format described above) was, “The Joker Goes to School”/”He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul”. Joker buys a vending machine and novelty company, and places the machines in Dick’s high school. But the machines are rigged – put in a dime for milk, get a fistful of silver dollars (like a slot machine paying off). The Joker’s female assistant is the high school head cheerleader, and his plan is to lure the high schoolers into dropping out of school and living the “easy high life” from the machines. Yes, it makes no sense. But we also get to both see Dick at high school, and see him try to go undercover to find out more about the high school gang. Dick in his black leather jacket, calling the girls “babe” and even attempting to smoke a cigarette is both fun and a little outside the norm for this show (we rarely see either Dick or Bruce undercover, though Bruce uses his position as a “famous millionaire” to occasional pick up information or set traps for the villain.

The Batmobile is stolen by a villain four times in this series. You’d think Batman would learn – though he always gets it back, and stealing the Batmobile is a pretty good way to get caught. This series also features as regulars: Commissioner Gordon, Chief O’Hara (played with a very offensive “Leprechaun” Irish accent), Alfred, and Aunt Harriet (apparently she’s Dick’s Aunt – and this being a 60s show, she’s there to cook and clean for Bruce and Dick. Poor Alfred, meanwhile, seems to only be there to answer the Batphone – though he does occasionally get involved in Batman’s work.) Bruce Wayne (Not Batman) is kidnapped once, with the villain demanding Batman deliver the ransom. Bruce cleverly rescues himself. Dick’s kidnapped once, and as mentioned above, Robin is kidnapped often.

Overall, though, even though it’s much different than the more serious Batman adventures we are used to now (even Batman: The Animated Series for the most part takes the character much more seriously than this series). West and Ward actually play their roles pretty straight. And it’s got a 60s vibe that brings to mind other series from the roughly same time period: The Avengers (the British series with Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg – no relation to Marvel Comics), The Prisoner, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Wild Wild West. Overall, I enjoyed it and will probably at some point purchase the next two seasons.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Uncertainty Principle

  • Title: The Uncertainty Principle
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: Simon Guerrier
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Zoë, Jen, Jaime, Second Doctor
  • Cast: Wendy Padbury, Charlie Hayes (as Jen, guest)
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/18/2017

**Spoiler Alert** The Uncertainty Principle is the third story in Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles “Zoë Trilogy”, however it doesn’t end with a satisfactory conclusion. The story picks up where the previous story left off, Zoë is still being held captive by The Company. They want information from her, but because of the uncertain nature of her previous questioning, where they couldn’t determine if she was telling the truth or making up a story based on the information given in questioning, her interrogator won’t tell her what they want to know. Zoë is drugged and again begins to tell her story.

The Doctor (the Second Doctor as played by Patrick Troughton on the BBC television series), Jaime, and Zoë arrive at the funeral of Meg. It’s a rainy day, which Zoë enjoys – having been raised in space stations, such as The Wheel, she’s not used to being outside or real weather. After the funeral, the three go along to the funeral, fitting in with the mourners at the wake. They learn Meg died in an accident at her work and investigate. They also meet Archie, the boy next door who had a crush on Meg, before she left for college and her new job. Zoë is immediately taken with Archie. The TARDIS crew goes to Meg’s work to investigate. On the way there, they are attacked by mysterious electric creatures, which seem to explode upon encountering the Doctor who is wearing heavy rubber wellington boots which break the circuit. At Meg’s work, they discover a quantum computer, that has been turned off because they can’t get it working. Meg was working on the computer but was killed by it.

As Zoë, Jaime, and Archie look in to things (with the Doctor off doing his own investigating), Jaime puts his hand between the two towers of the quantum computer. The electric creatures attack again, and Archie defeats it by throwing water at it, which again breaks the circuit.

They return to Archie’s home, only to find it engulfed in flames. Archie is immediately worried about his mother, whom he can’t raise on his mobile phone. Jaime dashes into the burning house, rescues her, and collapses. He’s taken to the local hospital, comatose, with machines breathing for him as he recovers.

Zoë and the Doctor head to Meg’s work again. She explains that at the nano scale of the nucleus of an atom, things get very weird and particles can be in two states simultaneously. A particle can be both decayed and not decayed. She brings up the famous thought experiment of Schrödinger’s cat. Zoë explains to her interrogator, Jen, that the cat is both alive and dead. As she returns to explaining what happened, the Doctor, after talking to Archie begins to figure out what happened. The creatures are inter-dimensional – and rely on electricity and quantum mechanics. The Doctor is able to help the creatures – which allows Meg to come back. Jaime also recovers in the hospital. It is heavily implied that Zoë’s memory is like the cat – she has perfect recall, but she cannot remember. In fact, being forced to remember with drugs is giving her an increasingly bad headache. However, because of her photographic memory, she can remember that she cannot remember.

Jen is unsure if they have enough to save Zoë from her un-named fate. Jen does say that although Zoë cannot explain how the quantum computer worked, she’s proven it’s possible. She also believes she’s proven that Zoë traveled in time, since the gravestone epitaph she quoted at the beginning of her recitation was something she couldn’t possible know without actually being there. Jen also reveals that Archie and Meg married but divorced six years later.

This trilogy is very uncertain, no pun intended. I have the next CD in the Companion Chronicles series that features the Second Doctor, Jaime, and Zoë – but it doesn’t seem to be part of this series at all. Also, as a technical fault, there’s a scene or two in this story where it’s actually hard to tell if it’s Jen or Zoë who is speaking. I found this entire trilogy to be interesting – I’ve never really liked what happened to Jaime and Zoë at the end of the aired Doctor Who episode, “The War Games”, but this trilogy doesn’t provide a lot of answers to what happened to Zoë. Likewise, The Company, is mysteriously and frustratingly vague. On the other hand, as with all the Companion Chronicles stories for the most part – I really, really like the format of this line from Big Finish. The stories are similar in feel to the Past Doctor Adventures or Missing Adventures with the notable exception of being from the Companion’s point of view rather than the Doctor’s pov – which gives the stories a great hook. I still recommend this story, I just wish it had been a bit more definitive in it’s end.

Go here to read my review of volume 2, The Memory Cheats.

Go here to read my review of volume 1, Echoes of Grey.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

Click here to order The Uncertainty Principle on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Book Review – The Cater Street Hangman

  • Title: The Cater Street Hangman
  • Author: Anne Perry
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/20/2017

**Spoiler Alert** In many ways, The Cater Street Hangman starts off in a similar way to a “romance of manners” rather than a mystery novel. The Ellison family have three girls. The oldest, Sarah, is married to Dominic, but they still live in the family home. The second daughter, Charlotte, is a forthright and honest girl that the parents, Edward and Caroline, fear will never marry. If, like me, you’ve read other books in this series you know that isn’t the case. The youngest, Emily, meets the young Lord Ashworth and immediately sets her sights on him as a future husband. Emily’s parents and both her sisters discourage her – as they are middle class, Lord Ashworth is above Emily’s station, and the family fears he will hurt her in the end to marry for money or family connections.

A maid of an acquaintance is murdered, as is the daughter of another middle class family. The women are garroted in the street – a horrific crime. Then the Ellison’s maid, Lily, is murdered. Inspector Thomas Pitt informs the family and begins to ask everyone questions, so he can learn what he knows to solve the crime. Sarah instantly dislikes Inspector Pitt, and frequently insults him – of course, this means they are fated to fall for each other.

Edward consistently insults Inspector Pitt and tells him their business is none of his. Pitt is a policeman, whether Edward likes it or not, asking questions is his business. Much later in the book it turns out the reason Edward is reluctant to provide an alibi for his maid’s murder is that he was not at his club as he first says, but visiting his long-term mistress. A woman that his wife and daughters know nothing about. When they find out, it causes considerable hurt and pain to the household.

For a time, Sarah and Charlotte secretly suspect Dominic – in part because he is also being cagey about his whereabouts. But Dominic is true – he has no mistress, and although he enjoys a bit of gambling, and staying out with men at his club – he is no murderer. Sarah’s suspicions drive a bit of a rift between the two anyway. It’s also revealed that Charlotte had a bit of a crush on Dominic for years – but she knew that Sarah loved him so she never did anything about it. Over the years the two have developed a sibling relationship rather than a romantic one.

Caroline, Sarah, and Charlotte all try to convince Emily that she is aiming too high in pursuing Lord Ashcroft. By the end of the book – he proposes secretly, though due to events it will be a while before he can work things out with Edward and propose formerly.

Essentially the same thing happens with Thomas Pitt and Charlotte. Their squabbling turns to admiration, especially when Charlotte visits the police station to give Pitt some information and evidence – and is confronted with the realities of Victorian life for the poor, the suffering, and even the “criminal classes”. She’s shocked, but to her credit, she’s sympathetic to those less fortunate than herself. By the end of the book, it’s clear the two are meant to be together, and it’s no surprise when Thomas proposes in secret, then remarks he must work things out with her father. As this is the first book in the “Thomas and Charlotte Pitt” mystery series – and I’ve read later books where the two are married and solve crimes together – this is absolutely no surprise whatsoever.

The book moves along, mostly centered on the Ellison family. Caroline and Sarah are very involved with the local church, working with the vicar and his wife in good works. Throughout the book, especially as she has fears for her marriage, Sarah becomes more and more involved in her charity work, and going on visits in the parish. Pitt strongly advises the girls to never go out alone. None of them really listen.

Sarah is then murdered in the same fashion as the other women. The Ellison family is shocked. Charlotte is attacked and discovers the murderer at the same time. She’s rescued by Pitt and the murderer is arrested.

Much of this book is devoted to the daily life of the Ellison sisters, and much of that involves their interactions with the vicar and his wife. Charlotte despises the vicar – he’s sanctimoneous, and pompous. But he also blames the poor for being poor, claims that “loose morals” are the fault of women, condemns unfortunate women for their own situations, etc. He even claims that the maids and young women were murdered “because they deserved it” for not being “good Christians” and “moral people”. He’s a piece of work, and for much of the book – I suspected him as the murderer. It turns out to be his wife – who’s both bat-shit crazy and a secret lesbian. Sigh.

That the murderer was the vicar’s wife was quite the surprise. That she’s a lesbian and denying her feelings her entire life drove her to it – was, um, very uncomfortable. The “crazy lesbian” trope is damaging and really deserves to be laid to rest. I had thought this book was from 1990, but checking the copyright page – it’s from 1979. That explains the hurtful explanation for why the vicar’s wife suddenly decides to start killing the women of her parish (she apparently believed all these women were making passes at her, something she felt was “sinful” and deserving of death). But it doesn’t excuse the author’s use of a hurtful “explanation” for the five murders.

Overall, although at times the book is slow reading, and the ending has definite issues, this is a solid start to a well-known mystery series.

Book Review – Doctor Who Ninth Doctor vol. 2: Doctormania

  • Title: Doctormania
  • Author: Cavan Scott
  • Artists: Adriana Melo, Cris Bolson, Matheus Lopes, Marco Lesko, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 9th Doctor
  • Characters: Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Captain Jack Harkness
  • Collection Date: 2016
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/10/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Doctormania is the second volume in Titan Comics Ninth Doctor graphic novel series – it was also a bit confusing and I ended-up reading it three times before reviewing. But then, I also kept not having time to review it. The graphic novel consists of several stories.

In the first story, the Doctor takes Rose and Jack to the Eye of Orion. Jack is surprised by the giant ziggurat on the planet’s surface – and the Doctor knows it and the famous hanging gardens of Slarvia shouldn’t be there. They quickly discover the location has been hacked by the Geohacker Taggani. Geohackers hack planets, rearranging the surface as they see fit, or to make a point. The Doctor, it turns out, was quite a fan of Taggani – until one of his “hacks” killed the entire population of a planet. The Doctor turns Taggani over to the Shadow Proclamation but not before Jack’s face ends up on the planet’s moon.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor, Rose, and Jack receive a message from Jack, dressed in a Time Agent uniform, a message that Jack doesn’t remember sending. The TARDIS crew realises it may be from before Jack’s memories were wiped. The TARDIS follows the signal to Gharusa, only to find the planet strangely welcoming. The minute they step out of the TARDIS, they are greeted by an enthusiastic fan who talks about how much she loves “Doctor Who?” minisode series. The Doctor has even written a book about his experiences. They are attacked by “Chumblies”, though the Doctor insists they aren’t Chumblies. The fan jumps between the Doctor and the Chumblies attack but isn’t seriously hurt.

The “Doctor” arrives in a flying car that resembles the Third Doctor’s Whomobile and destroys the Chumblies with EMP mines. Meanwhile the young female fan squees at being in the middle of everything, and the gathering crowd asks for selfies and autographs. The local police arrest the Doctor for identity theft. However, this actually makes things easier – Rose sneaks in to the holo-vid studios by pretending to be a reporter for the Daily Planet (or maybe the Daily Bugle – she isn’t sure herself) to interview the Doctor’s companion, Penny. She discovers the fake Doctor is in fact a Slitheen. The Doctor easily convinces the police he is who he says he is by letting them do a body scan. The Slitheen, Penny, is accidentally killed by the fan who is trying to protect the real Doctor, which, of course, makes him very angry. Rose is kidnapped by the Doctor and taken to the home planetary system of the Slitheen. Jack and the Doctor follow in the TARDIS. The Doctor (the Slitheen one) accepts an offer to speak at the peace conference for the warring planets (four at least) of the system that is home to the Slitheen for a large fee. Rose exposes her. This causes the other planets to unite against the Slitheen family – whose crimes are even beyond their own standards. However, the weather control station on Clix is basically hacked and a storm of acid rain burns (and eventually kills those without shelter) anyone out in the open. Jack and the Doctor, though, has used Slitheen skin suits to investigate the planet un-noticed. They put Rose’s “friend” the Doctor in one to protect her and to preserve the evidence. They discover the plot, reveal it to the entire system, and back it up with the living evidence. As they are leaving the Doctor receives a phone call from Mickey.

The TARDIS lands in San Francisco, where the Doctor meets Mickey – but Mickey wants him to leave, as he wanted “the other one” – and to avoid a paradox. In San Francisco, people are suddenly gaining super powers, such as flight. But soon gargoyles are attacking and those with super powers are disappearing. As you may suspect, these events are connected. San Francisco is also experiencing the Northern Lights, which is not in any, way, shape, or form, normal. The Doctor and Mickey discover the super-powered people are only the first stage – and they eventually turn in to gargoyles – but not before Rose discovers the power of flight. The Doctor realizes the Northern Lights are actually a wormhole – a punchway, an extremely destructive type of hyperspace travel. He goes to the terminus of the line to stop it. But it’s Rose who ultimately stops the punchway and saves everyone.

Meanwhile the few gargoyles are sent back in time to be dealt with by UNIT including Dr. Harry Sullivan.

Doctormania was a bit too meta for me. The second story with the Doctor Who? fan girl was uncomfortable to read, and felt like the author was biting the hand (eg fans) that feed him. The second part of that story though, was interesting in that the internal politics of the various planets in the “Slitheen” system (the graphic novel does not forget that “Slitheen” is a family name and the people are a different species) are actually pretty interesting. Seeing the Slitheen burned by acid rain is both horrifying and empathy-provoking. The Taggani story is a bit weird. The final story I actually liked. But throughout the book, it was, I don’t know – strange. The book quotes famous bits of Ninth Doctor dialogue either directly or stylistically but that was the problem. It felt artificial. Like someone had watched a couple of episodes of Ninth Doctor Doctor Who or even just read memes and quote pages -without really absorbing the characters. Rose seems, well, not exactly dumb, but rude – and dismissive of things she doesn’t understand. Jack is egotistical and more concerned with looking good than helping others, especially the Doctor and Rose. It all seems rather flat. Most of the art is actually very good, and hopefully the writing style will improve. I’d like to see the Titan Comics Ninth Doctor Series go more in the direction of the other series, especially the Tenth Doctor series which has become it’s own, original thing. I’d give this book 3.5 stars – it’s still Recommended, but with reservations.

Teen Titans Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Teen Titans
  • Season: 2
  • Date:  2004
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Cast: Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Ashley Johnson, Ron Perlman
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers Animation

The second season of Teen Titans consists of two discs that have very different attitudes to the story presentation. Disc 1 has the characters one at a time dealing with typical teenaged stuff: fitting in with others, being themselves, teenaged bodily changes, finding time for friends, etc. Killer Moth even threatens the Teen Titans unless Robin brings his bratty daughter, Kitten, to her Junior Prom (only for everyone to discover the spider-headed villain the Titans were fighting at the beginning of the episode is her boyfriend). The style of these episodes is also very much like traditional cartoons, rather than realistic animation – when characters are surprised their eyes literally bug out, a character in love has hearts in his eyes, confused characters have question marks over their heads, etc. And every episode has a major fight scene.

The second disc is done in a more realistic animation style, and in general the stories are more serious, or not focused on teen issues for the most part. The series introduces Terra, the ill-fated teen hero who can manipulate the Earth. When she arrives Terra is not in control of her powers, however, the Titans aren’t quick enough to offer to help her – and she leaves. Terra falls under the influence of Deathstroke who teaches her to control her powers. When Terra returns she quickly becomes friends with the Titans – especially Beast Boy who falls in love with her. In the season finale, though, she proves to be working with Deathstroke and gets the Titans to separate (they go after various villains who have appeared before and whom she and Deathstroke released) so she can defeat them. The Titans know Deathstroke is controlling Terra but in a bit of a double-standard, only Beast Boy believes they should help her anyway, after all the same thing happened to Robin the previous year. The rest of the Titans feel too betrayed to trust Terra and to try to help her.

In the end, the Titans work together to defeat Deathstroke. They convince Terra to come back to them. But as the fight in Deathstroke’s underground liar has stirred up a volcano – Terra stays behind to stop it. She’s turned into a stone statute. The Titans vow to find a way to release her from her stone prison and lay a stone at her feet calling her a true Titan and a true friend.

The scenes of Deathstroke controlling Terra are actually truly terrible though: he offers her something she truly wants – to learn to control her powers. But he also continuously tells her she has no friends, that no one cares about her, that she’s alone – and only Deathstroke would even dare to work with her. His manipulation is very abusive. He also constantly tells her the Titans aren’t her friends and don’t care about her. Deathstroke isolates Terra – then tells her no one wants her. He’s the classic abusive “boyfriend”. And he uses her power for his own gains. Deathstroke even electronically controls her “Slade suit” and has her wear an earpiece to be in her ear and her head all the time. The manipulation and abuse is terrifying.

Overall, even with the inconsistencies, Teen Titans Season 2 is pretty good. There are some interesting concepts and episodes (I loved the green, alien, talking dog). Recommended.

Please read my Teen Titans Season 1 Review.

iZombie Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: iZombie
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

Below are many spoilers for the third season of iZombie.

The third season of iZombie is very short, thus there is no time for simple placeholder murder mysteries that remind the viewer of the general plot. However, unlike the previous two seasons, there also is no A leads to B, B leads to C plot of uncovering a larger mystery either – so even though the season is short, it also feels a bit unfocused.

Picking up from where Season 2 left off, Fillmore-Graves is shown to be a zombie company – everyone who works there, from upper management to soldiers, even children at the company school are zombies. The female CEO explains to Liv and Major that not only does Fillmore-Graves employ only zombies, they own an island, and they are working on the infrastructure – she hopes to move all zombies to this island before D-Day or “Discovery Day”. Major is soon employed as a Fillmore-Graves soldier.

Meanwhile Don E has started a zombie-only underground club called, “The Scratching Post”. He and Blaine’s father steal all of Blaine’s customers that were getting brains from Blaine at the funeral home. We also discover that Blaine’s father is an abusive son-of-a-bitch – and he was responsible for Blaine’s mother’s death and his grandfather being put away in a nursing home. Blaine’s father truly cares for no one – especially his son, and takes every opportunity he can to hurt others, especially Blaine.

Blaine, meanwhile, turns out to be faking his amnesia – the cure works, and the memory loss is only for a few days. Major takes the cure before they find this out though. He heads home to Walla Walla, Washington, then returns to Seattle. When his colleagues at Fillmore-Graves find out he’s human, he’s fired. Major begins a relationship with a woman who claims to believe he’s not the Chaos Killer, but unbeknownst to him – she’s a reporter for a tabloid. He also gives a dose of the cure to Natalie, the zombie call girl from season 2 that he rescued from suicide.

Don E gets sick of being abused and pushed around by Blaine’s father. Blaine is nearly killed (more than once) but turned back in to a zombie. Blaine and Don E team up again. Blaine dumps his father in a well, and feeds him brains to survive.

Meanwhile – the first case of the season is the death of a young boy and his entire family. It turns out Clive had known the boy and his mother (they lived nearby in his apartment building) but hadn’t seen them in awhile. Clive is devastated at the loss, especially after being reunited with the boy, Willie, at Fillmore-Graves. Because he’s close to the case, he isn’t allowed to investigate and it’s assigned to another homicide detective. Clive and Liv investigate anyway, throughout the season.

Liv and Clive discover Willie and his family were killed because they were zombies. The find a neighbor who’s part of a hate group, posts to message board filled with theories about how zombies are real – and even outs the family as zombies (or “brain eaters” as they put it) and publishes their address. This doxing led to the family’s death. The hate group is supported by a local radio personality – who uses the idea of “zombies being real” to stoke hate, to encourage physical violence, and, of course, to stir-up anti-government feeling – blaming “Big Government” for zombies, when it was the Corporation Max Rager who created and released the zombie virus in the first place. In the last episode, however, Liv learns that it wasn’t the zombie-hater who lived next to Willie and his family who killed them. They planned to, but were outside the residence when they were killed. Although Liv and Clive don’t know who did it – it’s implied to be someone from the Fillmore-Graves Corporation.

Three episodes in to the season, the female CEO at Fillmore-Graves is killed. She’s replaced by a more militant leader. He’s also the one who fires Major for being human – and rehires him when Major tells him he wants to be a zombie again.

In the last two episodes of season 3 of iZombie, as has become traditional for this show – everything changes. With the moderate head of Fillmore-Graves dead, the militant side of Fillmore-Graves takes over. They do not believe they can simply separate themselves from humans and live quietly. So they hatch a plot – the Aluesian Flu is released on a flight from Paris to Seattle. As more and more people get sick and even die from the deadly flu – a vaccination program is ordered. The Fillmore Graves zombies then infiltrate the storage sites for the vaccine and inject zombie blood into the vials of vaccine. Soon, the vaccinated Seattle natives turn in to Zombies. Liv is manipulated to breaking in to news anchor Johnny Frost’s broadcast to give the truth about zombies. And the head of the Fillmore-Graves military, Chase Graves, plays a video. He explains that a large portion of Seattle’s inhabitants are now zombies – but that they are normal other than their unusual dietary requirements. He says that Fillmore-Graves will provide brain mush tubes to Seattle’s zombies (they had already developed the technology for a side-effect free brain mush compound – and it was fed to all personnel and soldiers at the corporation). Stating that “a fed zombie is a happy zombie” he vows that no zombie will feed on the living, that all the zombies in Seattle can be properly fed if just 1 in 10 brains from natural deaths in other areas of the country are sent to Seattle. Chase Graves also remarks that Fillmore-Graves Corporation will establish zombie police and courts to deal with zombie-on-zombie crime. Some humans flee, but no doubt others will stay. The ending montage shows Fillmore-Graves soldiers, including Major, handing out brain tubes, and turning humans who are mortally sick with the flu into zombies.

Ravi also claims to discover a vaccine to prevent zombie-ism, which he puts on a sugar cube (like the polio vaccine) and eats. He then has Liv scratch him to test it.

So the season is a bit weird. In the first episode, there are two victims, a father and his teenaged daughter – so Liv has the brains of the father and Major the brains of the daughter. Watching Major on “teenaged girl brains” is hilarious! It made me appreciate the actor a lot more and added to his character – it was a shame this only happens once, as the rest of the time, Major eats the Fillmore-Graves Corporation-provided brain tubes and has no personality changes or visions. And as horrible as the military-arm of Fillmore-Graves’ plot is – the first CEO’s plan of “Zombie Island” probably wouldn’t have worked – no doubt radical, prejudiced people would have destroyed the entire island. But, on the other hand, turning most of the population of Seattle into zombies, many without their knowledge or consent, has just created a “larger island” – and it will be interesting to see if that plot point is picked up in season four or not. And Fillmore-Grave is implied to have been behind the deaths of the CEO and her secretary and helicopter pilot, Willie and his family, and several Fillmore-Graves soldiers both throughout the season and at Major’s “going away” party. So, they aren’t exactly to be trusted when they are willing to kill their own people to get what they want.

Meanwhile, Blaine has become one of the most complicated and interesting characters on the show. Lounge singer “cuddly Blaine” who has an affair with Payton, I actually quite liked. I felt bad for him when Payton rejected him, especially as by then we know about his past and the physical, mental, verbal, and other abuse inflicted on him by his father and the world’s worst nanny.

Don E also has grown up a bit – running The Scratching Post is clearly all he wants. He has no desire to franchise out, or expand (like both Blaine’s father and Blaine himself would like to do). Don E is happy being a big fish in a small pond, which is an admirable trait. He also shows a strange sense of loyalty – to Blaine, to Liv and Major (covering for Major when he enters the zombie-only club as a human).

Overall, I found iZombie Season 3 to be a quick watch (I finished it last Saturday, 12/9/2017, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to type up a review). Although there were parts of season 3 that were very uncomfortible (the racist anti-zombie humans, the portrayal of Fillmore-Graves as “zombie saviors” even though they had killed several zombies to get in to power, including Willie and his family, etc.), overall the show is still very, very good, and I will certainly purchase season 4 next year.

Read my Review of Season 1 of iZombie.

Read my Review of Season 2 of iZombie.

Book Review – Death of a Gossip

  • Title: Death of a Gossip
  • Author: M.C. Beaton
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/06/2017

I picked up this paperback, which turns out to be the first Hamish Macbeth mystery, quite some time ago, and finally got around to reading it. I liked the Hamish Macbeth mystery television series, which aired on BBC America quite some time ago, and which I have on DVD, so I thought I would like the mystery series, but really… well, there are a lot of issues with this book.

The story concerns a couple in the tiny village of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands who run a “fishing school”. That is, every week during the Summer a small group of tourists stays at the local one and only hotel, and the couple teach them fly fishing. This year’s group, though, includes Lady Jane Winters – a horrible woman who insults everyone, is outright mean, and goes out of her way to hurt people. She even threatens to expose everyone’s secrets and “dirty laundry”. It should come to no surprise when she’s murdered.

However, it literally takes nearly 100 pages before she is murdered. So for the first 100 pages of the book, rather than following a typical cozy mystery format, we are “treated” to a treatise on more than I ever wanted to know about fly fishing, plus some characterization of the tourists in the fishing school, and a few characters who I would suppose are regulars in the series, including Constable Hamish Macbeth. You’d think this would be “background” and technically it is – but it’s also annoying. I wanted the book to get to the point, and I found the frankly sexist portrayals of the women in the group to be pretty awful. Lady Jane, the one person who’s background should be filled in, is a blank slate – other than manipulating the reader to really hate her. Then there’s a young girl, a secretary from a big accounting firm in London, who has a crush on her boss, falls in love with a young aristocratic man, lets him talk her in to sleeping with him – and believes all along that he will marry her. Of course, she’s dead wrong – and he runs off with Daphne – the brainless airhead bottle blonde that he accompanied to the hotel. The reader knows the whole affair is doomed, and the secretary comes off as incredible naive and even dumb. Not to mention that the secret in her closet is: she had been through the exact same thing before. Everyone else’s secrets are similarly silly, especially once Hamish gets to pull the “gather everyone in one room to solve the case” scene.

Once Lady Jane is murdered, the DI from the nearby city shows up, takes over the case, and throws his weight around. This DI is a brute – he bullies everyone, suspects, tourists, locals, and Macbeth. He’s also apparently dumb as a post because he can’t find a single real clue.

Hamish does some investigating as well, on the sly, as the DI has forbidden him to get involved. In the end he gathers everyone in the hotel parlor, reveals all the secrets everyone has kept (turns out Lady Jane was a gossip columnist for a London tabloid), and tries to needle someone – anyone – into admitting they killed Lady Jane. The killer turns out to be a sociopath who essentially kills Lady Jane for looking at her wrong.

Yep.

Needless to say – this makes no sense. It’s like the author gave up and pulled a name out of a hat to reveal as the killer. It’s almost like a parody of the “fair shot” mysteries of the 1930s, where the author included all the clues so the reader had a fair shot of discovering who the murderer was before or at the same time as the detective. Macbeth also later admits he was “guessing” about the identity of the murderer (though he may have been lying at the time) and refuses to take credit, allowing the world’s dumbest DI to take the credit for solving the case. Besides the horrible portrayal of women in the book – the native Scottish Highlanders, especially Macbeth, are portrayed as lazy and not too swift. Macbeth, however, and this was true in the television series at least, is like a blonde woman doing a “fluffy bunny” act – he’s pretending to be slow, so that people will under-estimate him. He also, again, definitely in the television series – but never mentioned in the book, has no desire to be promoted. He loves Lochdudh, his dog, the Highlands, and his life, and promotion would mean relocating to a big city. In this book, he does seem to be pretending to be slow, but his motivations for doing so are completely ignored. No mention is ever made of way he tends to act like a total idiot.

The point-of-view of the book is omniscient, with considerable time spent getting in to the heads of the various characters staying at the hotel, especially the secretary. It would have been better if the story was actually told from Macbeth’s point of view. At least that would have made the story more like a traditional mystery (in either third person or first person).

Finally, the book itself is only 205 pages. The rest is made up of advertisements and sample chapters. One sample chapter is barely acceptable in a paperback book, but three (roughly 80 pages)? That is highway robbery – another reason this book gets a low rating. Although I can honestly recommend the television series, Hamish Macbeth starring Robert Carlyle (The Full MontyOnce Upon a Time) as the titular character, I cannot recommend this book. It’s the first in a long series, so the series itself may improve later, but overall – Death of a Gossip was full of holes and annoying stereotypes.