Jane the Virgin Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Jane the Virgin
  • Season: Season 3
  • Episodes: 20
  • Discs: 5 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll, Justin Baldoni, Brett Dier, Jaime Camil, Yael Grobglas, Anthony Mendez
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

Season 3 of Jane the Virgin opens immediately after the cliffhangers from last season. Jane discovers Michael in the hallway of the Mirabella hotel after he’s shot. He’s taken to the hospital. There’s some drama between Jane and Michael’s disapproving mother, but it’s Jane who makes the decision to go through with a dangerous surgery instead of waiting. Michael survives the surgery and recovers slowly. He spends time in the hospital, then at home. After several weeks when he goes in for his physical prior to rejoining the police force, he finds out he’s failed his physical. Michael has some unusual ideas for a new career, before deciding to become a lawyer. He has Jane help him study for the LSAT, but on the day of the test, as he goes to turn it in – he drops dead of a heart attack. Literally. Jane is now a widow.

Three years later, Jane’s son Mateo is in preschool. She’s still working in publishing, but her “dream job” has become a nightmare, as her boss is a real “Devil Wears Prada” stereotype. However, she finally manages to get a book deal for her novel, “Snow Falling”, the story of her and Michael. Yet because of the way the contract pays – she will need a job for day to day expenses. She tries to get her old job back, but her boss is making her miserable. Rafael meanwhile offers her a management job at the Mirabella. Jane doesn’t want to take it, but she does eventually. Slowly throughout the season, with two steps forward and one step back, Jane becomes a successful published author.

Meanwhile, before Michael passes away, Petra, as you’ll remember was locked in a coma by her twin sister, Anezka. Anezka falls for Scott, the slimy hotel manager. Due to Anezka knowing absolutely nothing about things Petra should know – Jane figures out the switch. Rafael at first agrees with her, but then Anezka-Petra gets him to realize it’s “paranoid”. However, they eventually figure it out. Petra wakes up – and Anezka is urged to leave.

Three years later, the body of Scott is found buried on the property line between the Mirabella (now a family/kids hotel) and the hotel next door (a skeezy adults-only hotel). Much of the season involves figuring out this murder (which for part of the time the police think is an accidental death).

Luisa, Rafael’s sister, leaves with Sin Rostro because they are involved. Luisa is afraid of the crime boss, but they also have a strong physical attraction. When it looks like Sin Rostro killed Scott, Rafael, now working with the police, contacts his sister and tells her his cancer is back to get her to return to Miami. Sin Rostro (now disguised as “Eileen”) and Luisa return. Sin Rostro though did not kill Scott, she says – it was the real Eileen.

Last season Xiomara discovered she was pregnant – she realizes it’s from the one-night stand with Rogelio’s rival and has an abortion. There’s some drama between her and her mother, but eventually, Alba accepts Xiomara’s decision.

Rogelio and Xiomara have broken up because he wants kids and she doesn’t. Rogelio goes to an exclusive dating service to find someone new. Xiomara goes back to her old boyfriend, Bruce, whom she’s always getting together with – and who is always dumping her. Rogelio doesn’t do well on the dating scene. However, when he talks to Darci, the woman in charge of the dating service, we discover he doesn’t really want to date – he just wants a child to raise. Darci also, as a professional woman, wants a child – but no strings. This seems like a perfect match, and the two even see a lawyer to draw up a co-parenting agreement and plan on using artificial insemination. However, the two soon end-up working on a reality series together, which results in tension between Rogelio and Xiomara (who’s portrayed as the evil ex in the show). But the TV show also results in tension between Rogelio and Darci – and after three years with no child, they completely break up and decide not to have a child together.

Meanwhile, Xiomara and Bruce break up again. Having been a grandparent for three years, Rogelio realizes he’s OK with not having his own child. When he tells Xiomara, she proposes. The last few episodes of the season are a run-up to the two getting married (and the audience expects something to happen or go wrong). Even though Darci returns – pregnant, and there’s a hurricane on their wedding day, and the wedding had been put off and quickly put back on without the extremely expensive fairy tale elements – Xiomara and Rogelio are successfully and legally married at the Maribella.

However, Luisa and Anezka end-up sharing a cab during the hurricane. We don’t see their conversation – but it’s clear Luisa is angry at her brother, Rafael, and Petra for getting her lover, Sin Rosa captured and jailed. Anezka is angry for being jailed herself, and the death of her lover Scott – and blames Petra. The cliffhanger at the end of the season is Anezka using Rafael’s phone to lure Petra out of the hotel – where she’s held at gunpoint.

I enjoy Jane the Virgin very much. I binge-watched the show in less than a week because with every episode ending in a cliffhanger, it’s incredibly easy to just go to the next episode immediately. But binge-watching does mean the episodes flow together, and I’ve probably forgotten a few details. This show is a soap opera, and by the end of the season, even the narrator is describing it as a telenovela (Spanish soap opera). There’s a scene of Rogelio trying to take his ideas for an American version of Spanish soap operas to the CW network, which is very nod-nod, wink-wink, but it doesn’t go beyond the one episode. Still, the characters are all likable and one is drawn into their stories quickly and wants to know immediately what happens next. The show also has an exaggerated look to it at times (for example a character falling in love is illustrated with their heart literally glowing) but this adds to the show – it doesn’t distract. It is a soap opera, and it has all the exaggerated storytelling features of a soap opera. I am still really enjoying Jane the Virgin and I hope the next season is released on DVD or Blu-Ray soon.

Read my review of Jane the Virgin Season 1.

Read my review of Jane the Virgin Season 2.

Book Review – Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil

  • Title: Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil
  • Author: James Runcie
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/25/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil is a collection of four short stories. Set in the early 1960s, Sidney and his wife, Hildegard are now expecting their first child. The first story, “The Problem of Evil”, concerns a series of murders of ecclesiastical figures in Grantchester and surrounding areas. Because of the nature of the crimes, Sidney and his professional acquaintances spend more time discussing the dogma and doctrine and even popular “heresies” explaining why evil exists than working on the case or their own work. This is unusual for this series, where Sidney’s job as an Anglican priest is often treated as just that, a job – just as a lawyer, firefighter, teacher, or police officer might bring his work home and discuss it with his wife and friends – so does Sidney. Yet, the first story spends considerable time discussing an unsolvable “problem” with no answers, which was a bit off-putting. The case was also actually too easy to figure out and it made Sidney seem a bit slow on the uptake.

The second story involves an unusual art theft and was more similar to what we usually see in this series. It was also a case of someone committing a crime for reasons other than personal gain.

The third story I found really interesting by pure coincidence. I happened to be re-watching the television series based on Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter series, including The Nine Tailors when I was also reading Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil. The third story features a film production company coming to Grantchester to film a production of “The Nine Tailors”. Sidney’s even talked into playing a small part in the film, and Dickens is cast as his character’s dog. When a horrible accident occurs during filming resulting in the death of one of the actors, Sidney investigates the case. He also gets quite frustrated with his temporary part-time acting job because it’s just not the right job for him. Anyway, Sidney teases out the various relationships, and ultimately, as always solves the case. Sadly, though, Sidney’s Labrador Retriever, Dickens, who is now twelve, caught a bad case of pneumonia jumping into a river in Winter. And sadly, with the dog in pain and not eating, Sidney and Hildegard decide to have Dickens put down.

The last story is a bit of a Christmas story. As mentioned before, Hildegard is pregnant. Sidney’s friend Amanda also gets him a new Labrador puppy, named “Byron”. One of Sidney’s parishioners has her baby, without complications, but then the baby is snatched from the hospital. As Sidney and Geordie rush to find the missing child, Sidney also prepares for Christmas, his own new child, and his new puppy. In other words, he has a lot on his plate. But he also does the rounds interviewing everyone – nurses at the hospital, anyone who may have reason to kidnap a child, etc. This case has the best resolution of the four in the book because it’s based on character and redemption. Sidney has a conversation with one of the nurses and discovers she’s had three miscarriages. He also notices things about the woman’s home – such as it being warmer than it should be. Sidney tells her that if the child is returned, unharmed, even dropped off at the church or police station, all will be well. There are no unfair accusations or punishments against the nurse who kidnapped the child. The baby is dropped off at the mother’s parents house. Mother and child are reunited and checked out at the hospital but both are fine. Although Hildegard has to undergo a Cesarean section to safely deliver her child, everything is fine and she and Sidney have a healthy baby girl. Sidney also brings home his new puppy, Bryon, and all ends happily.

I’d say the last story was definitely the best of the bunch in this collection. The art theft story was OK but felt a little flat. The Nine Tailors story was interesting but it also has a lot of stereotypes about actors and the behind the scenes workers in the film and television industry that seemed to be a bit unfair. And the first story just didn’t work for me: I’d pretty much figured it out much too early. I actually don’t like that – if, as a reader, one figures out the solution too early in a detective story, it makes the detective seem dumb and unprofessional, plus the story becomes boring since you’re just waiting for the pieces to fall into place for the detective. However, I will say that I like Sidney, Hildegard, Geordie, and the other regular characters in the Grantchester novels. The books have diverged from the television series significantly, and that is OK in my book. Recommended with reservations.

Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries (Complete Collection) Review

  • Series Title: Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries
  • Season: Complete Collection
  • Episodes: 21
  • Discs: 10
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Edward Petherbridge (Lord Peter), Harriet Walter (Harriet Vane), Richard Morant (Bunter)
  • Format: Color, Standard, NTSC, R1

Strong Poison

3 Parts
Cast: Edward Petherbridge (Lord Peter), Harriet Walter (Harriet Vane), Richard Morant (Bunter), David Quilter (Chief Inspector Parker), Clive Francis, Shirley Cain, Norma Streader, Patsy Byrne, Margaretta Scott

Based on the Lord Peter mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers, this series introduces Harriet Vane, a mystery writer who will eventually become Lord Peter’s wife. Strong Poison opens with Harriet on trial for her life – she is accused of poisoning her ex-lover with arsenic. Lord Peter walks into the trial to observe, sees her and immediately declares she is innocent. He seems to have no basis for his conviction. A friend of his is on the jury, and the jury ends-up being deadlocked and unable to come to a verdict. Thus the trial is concluded and the judge declares there will be a new trial in 30 days’ time. This gives Lord Peter 30 days to prove that Harriet is innocent.

The very first time Lord Peter sees Harriet in prison, where she’s being held pending her new trial, the very first thing he does is propose marriage to her. This seems odd as they don’t really know each other. Harriet, to her credit, ignores his proposal. She also seems confused by his belief in her. She initially provides little information in her own defense. She’s happy someone believes she didn’t do it, of course, but she lets the facts of the case stand and doesn’t explain anything (such as why she left her lover after he finally proposed marriage). She does tell Lord Peter that she believes the man who died committed suicide.

Part of the testimony that the jury focused on in their deadlock was a missing ten minutes: the deceased left Harriet, but rather than catching a cab immediately he didn’t catch the cab for another ten minutes, by which time he was ill and subsequently died.

Lord Peter and Chief Inspector Parker find the pub that he went into, and they even find a witness who saw the man dump a mysterious powder in a glass of water and drink it. This seems to suggest he did take the poison himself. He even made a remark, “This finishes it” or something to that effect, according to the woman owning the pub. You’d think this new evidence would be introduced immediately, but Lord Peter and CI Parker wait for the new trial. Also, the paper with the powder was, apparently picked up by the staff in the pub, and hidden beside the cash register. When the woman who works in the pub checks – it missing.

Lord Peter also goes to his friend, Miss Climpson, and gets her to place one of her typists, Miss Murchison, at the law firm handling the affairs of both the deceased and his rich elderly aunt. Miss Climpson uncovers information for Lord Peter and keeps him up to date on the activities in the law office. When Lord Peter goes to interview the solicitor, Norman Urquhart, he gets suspicious – Urquhart offers to show him the elderly aunt’s will, even though it’s a clear breach of client confidentiality. The will, which Lord Peter reads the next day, states that elderly aunt left everything to her lawyer, due to a severe argument with her family. Her estate is considerable, so it’s a very important bequest. This seems to indicate that the deceased couldn’t count on a large inheritance to relieve his financial pressures.

Wimsey takes Miss Murchison to a safecracker turned preacher that’s an old friend of his. This safecracker teaches her how to pick locks, and she breaks into the solicitor’s lockbox. She finds a letter that references a different will, but no will itself. So Lord Peter sends her boss, Miss Climpson, to the small village where the aunt lives. There, she befriends the aunt’s nurse, engages in some phony spiritualism, and finds the original will. In the original will, the old woman had given the solicitor her power of attorney while she lived, but left her property plus £50,000 pounds to her nephew. Unfortunately, the solicitor had lost £50,000 pounds playing the stock market and knew he’d get caught when the old woman died if the will he wrote was contested, or if the original will was discovered. This establishes a motive. It’s a good thing too because the police had helped the pub keeper and his wife search the pub and they had discovered the paper, which fell behind their cash register. The powder the victim took at the pub was only bicarbonate of soda.

Lord Peter then sets up a trap for the solicitor. He ends up getting him to admit that he had poisoned the omelet he served his guest, the deceased, and he wasn’t affected because he had built up a tolerance for arsenic. The police witness this confrontation. Harriet is freed, the crown’s case withdrawn, and a new case is made against the lawyer.

But, although Lord Peter had visited Harriet regularly for the entire month, and she had eventually opened up to him a little bit, explaining why she left her lover in the first place, she continues to refuse his offers of marriage. After she’s released, she doesn’t even talk to him but turns and leaves him in the hallway of the court.

Lord Peter’s fascination with Harriet and immediate attraction to her is, to be frank, rather weird and even hard to believe. I suppose it could be a case of love at first sight – but it seems odd that would occur in the middle of a criminal trial. Peter mentions following the case in the papers, but until the trial and resulting hung jury he doesn’t seem to have been directly involved. And Harriet, a woman who has had some success writing mystery novels, seems like a Mary Sue. And considering that Lord Peter has been described as Sayers’ idea of ‘the perfect man” the Mary Sue theory has some credence. I also was jarred a bit by the new cast, even though this series was made approximately eight to ten years after the original series. At this point, I like the original actors who played Wimsey, Parker, and Bunter better. But we will see – this was the first of three stories, so I will probably become used to the new cast.

Have His Carcass

4 Parts
Cast: Edward Petherbridge (Lord Peter), Harriet Walter (Harriet Vane), Richard Morant (Bunter)

Continuing on from the previous story, Harriet does exactly what she’s promised Lord Peter she’d do – she goes on a walking holiday in the English countryside. Harriet is on a beach at the seaside when she’s awakened. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep after her picnic and checks the time, then she sets off walking, alone, down the beach. She notices a man on a large rock who seems to be asleep, she calls out from a distance, warning the man of the coming tide, but he ignores her. She steps closer, and again she’s ignored. She climbs the rock and when she touches the body it becomes obvious that the man is dead – his throat being cut. Harriet then removes the man’s hat and gloves, picks up the razor nearby, takes off the man’s shoe and tries it against the one row of footprints, where it fits exactly. Finally, she takes pictures with her camera.

All this might seem quite incredible, after all, Harriet just escaped a charge of murder, “don’t touch the body” should be a familiar concept to her. But she’s worried the body will be washed away by the tide. She then spends over two hours trying to find a phone in order to call the police. Along the way, she bumps into a couple of the suspects for the murder – not that she knows it at the time. but at least by demonstrating in great detail life before cell phones, her earlier actions are explained.

The police arrive in due course, but the body is gone. To the credit of the local constabulary, they at least believe Harriet that there was a body. Harriet also calls a London newspaper and gives them the story. Lord Peter hears it from a friend of his on the paper and he heads to the village where Harriet is staying to work the case.

The first thing Lord Peter does when he arrives and sees Harriet is to ask her to marry him. She brushes this off. The two then spend their time trying to solve the case. It turns out the murdered man was a paid dancer at the hotel. He’s basically paid to dance with the older ladies who vacation at the hotel. This isn’t as odd as it first seems – ballroom dance was incredibly popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and as a result of World War I there was a shortage of men. Also, many of the women who did marry in the ’20s were widows by the 1930s. That’s the case here, as a rich elderly widow had actually fallen for her dance partner. She later even says they were engaged to be married.

Much of parts two and three involve tracking down the few witnesses, anyone who can establish a timeline or might have seen something. The body is eventually found, weighed down with gold coins. Despite some contradictory evidence, the Coroner’s Inquest reaches a verdict of suicide. However, Lord Peter, Harriet, and the murdered man’s elderly lover all are convinced it was murder. The point is to prove that it was and who did it. Lord Peter and Harriet suspect the older widow’s son. He’s arrogant, pompous, judgmental – and just so happens to lose a sizable inheritance if his mother re-marries. There’s also a question of just who the man really was.

Part Four involves trying to break the son’s alibi, and locating any information they can about the case. They discover the man was lead to the rock near the ocean by a coded letter – which promises him that he is the lost heir of the Romanov’s (a claim Harriet says is ridiculous). They also discover the traveling barber, a Mr. Bright, who gave the victim the razor – he says, was in fact not Mr. Bright at all, but a “city man” and the husband of the woman who gave a partial alibi to the widow’s son. And finally, Harriet discovers the final clue – the reason this man would believe a story that he’s the Romanov heir – he’s a hemophiliac. This also explains why his blood was still wet and not sticky when Harriet found the body. It also means that the time of death is no longer certain. The local constabulary, Lord Peter, and Harriet Vane capture the son, and he’s charged with the murder. It’s Harriet who gently breaks the news to his mother.

Again, this story is slow – very slow, but I liked seeing Lord Peter and Harriet working together. They make a good team.

Gaudy Night

3 Parts
Cast: Edward Petherbridge (Lord Peter), Harriet Walter (Harriet Vane), Richard Morant (Bunter), Caroline John

Gaudy Night opens with Lord Peter Wimsey getting ready for a date. He meets Harriet Vane and immediately proposes to her over dinner. She, yet again, rejects him – and then the two continue their dinner. Harriet mentions she’s been invited to the “Gaudy” a formal event at her women’s college at Oxford University. It seems to be a type of college reunion. Harriet isn’t sure she should go, but Lord Peter tells her she should. As soon as she arrives at Oxford for the Gaudy she receives a message to meet the warden of the college. Harriet meets the warden and the dean who tell her that someone is playing particularly nasty, vicious, practical jokes – sending nasty messages, etc. The warden calls this behavior – a poison pen. But it seems worse than a “normal” prank, the messages are vulgar and obscene and seem to blame someone at the college for some dark catastrophe – referring to members of the college as murderers and damning them to hell, etc.

At first, Harriet is reluctant to investigate. She explains that she writes murder mysteries, she’s not a criminologist. But she’s convinced to investigate. That night someone slips into her room and leaves a note for her.

The next day, Harriet tells Lord Peter about it and he makes a few uncharacteristic remarks about women’s hysteria. Harriet calls him out on it and he apologizes, stating that he meant that in any small, closed society – such as a public school, or monastery, someone can be driven to act out. Harriet accepts this. Lord Peter then tells her that he has to travel to Europe, on foreign office business, but he will be reachable through the embassies. Harriet accepts this as well and returns to the college to investigate.

Most of episode one and two have Harriet investigating. There are additional attacks, and they seem to be escalating, but Harriet really isn’t finding any specific clues that would lead her to suspect a specific person. She then gets permission to study in the library at night and obtains a key. Once in the library that night, though, she removes a painting (of the previous dean) from its frame and hides it. She’s just sitting down to read, or study, or wait for an attack when she hears a noise from outside the library. Investigating, she’s knocked out by a stuffed figure of a person in a cap and gown. The next day, Lord Peter arrives. The warden invites him to a special dinner.

Lord Peter is the only man at the dinner for the college fellows (it being a women’s college). Everyone is telling stories, chiefly about academic integrity when one of the women speaks about someone in one of the other colleges who was caught lying on his thesis. He was thrown out, stripped of his MA, and disappeared. No one at the dinner knows what happened after that. This is, of course, significant.

Lord Peter does some investigating of his own, and Harriet keeps up with asking questions. After another attack, Lord Peter returns. We then get the classic – let’s gather all the suspects, review the evidence, and make a somewhat wild accusation, which gets the guilty party to reveal themselves – scene. Lord Peter then fills in the remaining history of George Armstrong, the man stricken of his degree. It’s not a happy one, especially as he had a wife and two children. It becomes obvious that his wife or one of his children is incognito at the college and raising trouble. It turns out to be the wife, who posed as a maid, and who blames a new fellow at the woman’s college, who apparently had some sort of connection to the accusations that she feels ruined her husband. Though, honestly, her husband’s alcoholism and bitterness at losing his degree due to his own cheating were much more responsible than the woman who happened to discover the cheating in the first place. After the maid is found and she makes a speech blaming all the college’s women because they aren’t married and raising children; Lord Peter again proposes to Harriet. This time she finally accepts him.

Gaudy Night is also quite slow moving, like all the stories in this series. I liked seeing Harriet as the sleuth for two-thirds of the story, but, in the end, it’s Lord Peter who arrives and solves the case. To Dorothy L. Sayers credit, though, Lord Peter isn’t presented as a dashing white knight, saving her damsel-in-distress detective, rather he uses his money and influence as a Lord and with the police to quickly find out who was expelled from Oxford, why, and what happened to him. It’s more finding a newspaper picture of the man and his family than anything else that solves the crime. And we do, finally, see Harriet agree to marry Lord Peter – after it was teased for so long. I really wish the series had continued on with one more story and had done Busman’s Honeymoon, but oh well. Throughout the series, Lord Peter and Harriet Vane do have a good relationship – both a working relationship and as partners solving crimes. Even with its slow pacing, this is a recommended traditional British mystery series from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction based on the novels of Dorothy L. Sayers.

The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Complete Collection Review

  • Series Title: The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries
  • Season: Complete Collection
  • Episodes: 21
  • Discs: 6
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Ian Carmichael, Glyn Houston, Mark Eden
  • Format: Color, Standard, NTSC, R1

This review includes spoilers. Although considering the novels were written in the 1920s and 1930s, come on – is a spoiler warning necessary? The format for The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries is of one-hour parts with cliffhangers forming a complete, serialized story. Each story is reviewed below.

Clouds of Witness

5 parts
Cast: Ian Carmichael, Glyn Houston, Mark Eden, Rachel Herbert, David Langton, Anthony Ainley, Charles Hodgson, Kate O’Mara

Clouds of Witness opens with the Duke of Denver, Gerald Wimsey, hosting a shooting party at a lodge in Yorkshire. His sister, Lady Mary, is in attendance with her fiancé, Dennis Cathcart, but the Duke’s brother, Lord Peter is traveling and not at the party. During the evening gathering, Cathcart is in good spirits and even tells one of the other men that he plans on asking Lady Mary to set a date for their wedding. One by one everyone leaves to go to bed, and Cathcart takes the time to read a letter he received in the evening post or mail.

Early the next morning, Cathcart is found dead, with the Duke kneeling over the body. Denver steadfastly refuses to provide a believable alibi for himself. Lady Mary initially lies at the inquest as to why she was awake. Lord Peter arrives after the inquest and with the help of his valet, Bunter, and his friend, Inspector Parker, begins to investigate. Realizing that his sister lied about at the Inquest – Peter investigates and even speaks to her former boyfriend. Since the boyfriend was considered unsuitable by the family (he was a communist radical and speaker) both Mary’s mother and her older brother the Duke had stepped in. When Jerry tells Mary he will cut off her allowance if she marries such an unsuitable person, Lady Mary breaks it off – and shortly thereafter meets and becomes engaged to Cathcart. But Peter finds evidence that someone had hidden a heavy case near the conservatory door (where the body was later found). He interviews some of Lady Mary’s friends in London and even talks to the old boyfriend. Meanwhile, Lady Mary feels guilty about her perjury, especially as things look bad for the Duke, her brother. So Mary goes to Parker, puts on quite a dramatic show, and confesses. She states she confronted her fiancé, but he had a gun, they struggled and the gun went off. Since there was someone in the bushes she panicked and ran off – making up a story. Parker realises this story doesn’t make sense either. Lord Peter confronts Mary, telling her he’s spoken to her old boyfriend. Lady Mary admits it – she had contacted her old boyfriend and asked him to come to the Lodge in Yorkshire. The two conspired to run away together and elope. She had sneaked through the house in the early hours, with her suitcase to meet him. When she saw her brother kneeling over a body she thought it was the old boyfriend, thus her exclamation, “Oh no, Gerald, you’ve killed him!”

Lord Peter also establishes through a great deal of evidence that someone else was there that night. Once they get the truth from Lady Mary, they realize it was her old boyfriend. Interviewing the boyfriend, they learn he was there but he didn’t see anything and he wasn’t responsible for the death of Cathcart. Lord Peter and Inspector Parker also find a valuable gold cat charm encrusted with diamonds. They trace it to a jewelry shop in Paris and find that Cathcart bought it for a lady. And he did so when Lady Mary was in Paris. But during the trial when the clerk who sold the pin is interviewed she swears the woman with Cathcart wasn’t Lady Mary. Lord Peter then discovers Cathcart kept a mistress in Paris. But the mistress had recently left to live with a wealthy man in New York. Peter travels to New York and obtains evidence from her that she had sent a letter to Cathcart breaking off their relationship. He sent a letter back to her but she never read the entire thing.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Denver is being tried in the House of Lords. It is like a normal criminal trial, however. Lady Mary is interviewed and admits to her earlier perjury, saying she had gotten up and left the house with a suitcase to meet a friend. She tries to decline to say who but is apparently forced to admit who her boyfriend was – because he is also interviewed. Likewise, the French clerk is interviewed and says the cat pin was sold to Cathcart but the lady with him wasn’t Lady Mary.

Meanwhile, everyone knows Lord Peter left New York by plane, but his plane is overdue. And the trial continues, with everything pointing to the Duke. Finally, the Duke’s barrister decides to call the woman the Duke was going to meet, secretly. It seems Gerald had discovered a woman and her daughter living near the lodge. The woman’s husband was cruel, vicious, abusive, and continuously threatening her and their daughter. Gerald had made plans that night to sneak out, cross the moor, meet the woman and help her escape her situation. This was the honorable secret he’d kept and was refusing to admit to. Lord Peter and Parker had also figured this out and were trying to find a way to get her to testify without endangering her life. With the Duke’s case in desperate straits, his barrister tries to get the courtroom cleared so the woman can testify in relative safety.

Just before she comes to testify, Lord Peter walks into the courtroom. He gets permission to enter new evidence. He reads the letter Cathcart sent his mistress after she dumped him. In the letter, Cathcart says that he will commit suicide. Apparently, he also was thinking of leaving Mary, despite his words, since he cared more for his mistress. Anyway, the Duke is cleared of all charges. But the woman from the home on the moors had been in called to the House of Lords, her husband waits outside. He tries to shoot his wife – but is prevented by Bunter.

In the end, Lord Peter “hires” her as his housekeeper for a new villa he’s purchased in Spain, provides her with a passport and documents for herself and her daughter, and even gives her an “advance” on her wages to help her with needed expenses. Essentially, her husband will be locked up for several months and by the time he gets out, the woman’s identity will be changed and her location hidden away.

Clouds of Witness is one of the best Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries because it hits Lord Peter so close to home. This is his brother who has been accused of murder and his sister who is acting very suspiciously. He happened to be abroad when the murder occurred even though he’d been invited to the shooting party – so although it’s not stated directly, Peter has a certain sense of guilt about the whole mess. Peter goes to see his brother in jail in York at one point, and when Gerald still refuses to talk gets angry at him, breaking his reserved cool because he doesn’t want to see his brother hanged. Though there is a lot of very reserved, cool, proper behavior on the surface, not only does everyone have secrets – because this crime hits so close, everyone at some point bursts out with emotion. It’s a five-part story, so it starts slowly but bit by bit the plot draws you in as Lord Peter, Bunter, and Inspector Parker run down clues and information, slowing building up a picture of what happened. But despite everything that occurred, it eventually turns out that Mary had decided to run off with her old lover anyway (though she changes her mind again) and Cathcart had decided he preferred to be with his mistress.  Also, it should be noted that Lord Peter is suffering from PTSD from his service in World War I (referred to as “shellshock”) and at one point in the story he takes a phone call and starts rubbing his head as if he has a headache. That night he has horrible nightmares, and Bunter cares for him. The next day, Lord Peter is just fine. Overall, despite its length, Clouds of Witness is a classic detective story, based on the novel by Dorothy L. Sayers, and this adaptation is highly recommended.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

4 parts
Cast: Ian Carmichael, Mark Eden, Derek Newark (as Bunter)

On Armistice Day 1922 Lord Peter is at the Bellona Club with his friend, George, to attend the annual Armistice Day dinner given by the General. George, however, is a bit drunk and in quite a temper. He’s angry because he hasn’t much money, unlike everyone else in the club, including Wimsey. George has been unable to keep a job due to his anger issues, fits, and his unrelenting PTSD (termed “shellshock” because: 1920s) Wimsey, who has his own issues from his war service, sympathizes with George and tries to get him to calm down. George then goes over to his grandfather, the General, to say something to him, but he discovers the old gentleman is dead, presumably of natural causes. A doctor is called in to check, who confirms the old man died of heart failure and that it was natural causes. Wimsey notices some strange details about both the body and the death but doesn’t kick up a fuss.

Soon after, it turns out that it is vitally important to find out exactly when the old man died. His older sister, whom he wasn’t close too, died on November 10th. It’s presumed the old man died on November 11th. But the sister’s will states that if she died before him, her entire fortune of half a million pounds would go to her brother – despite them not being close. But if he died first, her niece would inherit.

So the case involves trying to pin down the exact time of death for both – and while the sister’s death was witnessed, the brother’s death is a bit more mysterious. For example, though there are accounts of the old man leaving the club the previous night, and arriving that day – there are also suspicious events: even though it was Armistice Day, the general wasn’t wearing a poppy in his lapel (which is traditional), the man’s knee swung free, despite him being found in rigor – and the onslaught of rigor seems oddly timed, and even though he was found before a roaring fire – it doesn’t quite gel. Wimsey interviews everyone involved, uncovering the niece’s affair with the doctor – the same one to declare the old man dead by natural causes.

Since the time of death still hasn’t been pinned down, Wimsey and the family’s lawyers petition and get permission for an exhumation of the body. The autopsy reveals the general was poisoned. This results in more investigation.

As it turns out, the niece is more important in all this than it first seems. She had been duped by her boyfriend, the doctor, who convinced her that once her aunt died they would inherit, and he could use the money to start a research clinic – and eventually make a lot of money. The niece was innocent in that she didn’t think anyone would harm anyone. But it turns out that the Doctor, in trying to make sure that George and his brother didn’t inherit from their grandfather’s inheritance of the sister’s money, and it instead went to the niece, whom he could then exploit to get it for his “clinic” had administered an overdose of digitalis in his office, giving instructions to take the prescription later that evening.

Wimsey and Parker put all this together, then convince the doctor to write out his confession, and leave him with a gun to take “the gentleman’s way out” rather than drag the niece through a trial in which she’d be implicated even though Wimsey and Parker believe her to be innocent. It’s a rather grim end that fits the just post-war feeling of the story.

Murder Must Advertise

4 parts
Cast: Ian Carmichael, Mark Eden, Paul Darrow, Christopher Timothy, Fiona Walker, Peter Bowles, Peter Pratt, Shirley Cain, Caroline Dowdeswell

Lord Peter Wimsey is hired by the owner of a London publicity firm to investigate the mysterious death of one of the firm’s copywriters. Lord Peter also works with Inspector Parker to uncover the details of a drug smuggling ring, that seems to be linked to the advertising agency.

Lord Peter quickly realizes that the copywriter who died by falling down a staircase at the agency did not die purely accidentally. Rather, someone hit him with his scarab shot by a slingshot through the roof skylight. The scarab was his good luck charm, and usually with him or in his desk – so no one would think it odd if it was found, which it was by the cleaning lady. But even knowing it was murder, Lord Peter stays undercover, not only to discover who was responsible but to help Inspector Parker who is looking into a drug smuggling ring.

Lord Peter ends up attending a masquerade party given by some “Bright Young Things” and realizes he’s discovered where the drugs are going. The de Momerie crowd give lavish parties, drink too much, do drugs for fun, and probably sleep around a lot too. Appearing at the party as a masked Harlequin, he attracts the attention of Dian de Momerie. The two encounter each other a few more times, with Wimsey always keeping his mask on when meeting her to avoid blowing his cover. When Lord Peter attends a party given by his own friends and his mother the Dowager Duchess, he’s unmasked as the “mysterious Harlequin”. Lord Peter then says the Harlequin must be his cousin “Death Bredon” – the name he’s using undercover at the advertising agency. This re-enforces his undercover persona. It also gives Bredon the chance to figure out how the drug smuggling works.

A reporter is at a pub, celebrating getting his first real story, and talking with the other people in the pub. Later he shows up at Inspector Parker’s office, where he turns over a packet of drugs he found in his pocket after the night at the pub. Parker tells Wimsey, and they try to discover going on, with Parker sending many men undercover at the pub. Meanwhile, Wimsey suspects something is going on at the advertising agency – there is an account which demands a new slogan every week that is causing headaches. When one slogan is deemed “obscene” and unprintable by the local paper, it’s changed at the last minute. There’s a huge argument about the change. That week the de Momerie have no drugs at the party. Lord Peter suspects a connection. He also finds a list of dates and initials. Parker orders a search of a suspect’s apartment and finds a mysterious telephone directory with pubs checked off.

Eventually, Parker and Wimsey realise that Mr. Tallboy, one of the copywriters would design a new slogan based on the suggestion of the client. He’d send a note in advance to the drugs supplier with the initial. The note itself would be returned to the post office as “undeliverable” once the initial was noted, and a pub starting with that initial would be used to pass the drugs. Parker gets quite the arrest.

Meanwhile, Lord Peter had Mr. Tallboy meet him. Tallboy admits to everything, even the murder (which he did because the other copywriter was on to the drug smuggling and had threatened blackmail). He says he needed money to support first his wife, and later his wife and child. Wimsey is sympathetic. Tallboy pleads to not have his name dragged through the mud because of the embarrassment it would cause his wife and child. Wimsey, knowing that the head of the drug smuggling ring is after Tallboy says he will not say anything if Tallboy lets the drug smugglers catch him. Tallboy reluctantly agrees. He’s killed in a “road accident”, and the case is wrapped up.

It should be noted that even though all the copywriters at the advertising firm are men, there are three women working as typists and secretaries in the firm, even though this story is set in the 1930s. One of the subplots involves Mr. Willis being attracted to one of the secretaries and acting in an extremely jealous manner toward anyone else who shows her any attention. He’s initially very jealous and rude to Wimsey, leading Wimsey to suspect him. He’s cleared of suspicion, and the secretary agrees to date Willis. However, he does come off as being a bit of a jerk instead of “romantic”. This is also one of the best stories for seeing the friendship and partnership between Lord Peter and Inspector Parker. Parker is also now married to Lord Peter’s sister, Mary. Lord Peter and Parker really do get along well. Bunter for some reason, is mostly absent in this particular story, probably because Lord Peter as part of his undercover identity is staying at an apartment in Parker’s building.

Five Red Herrings

4 parts
Cast: Ian Carmichael, Glyn Houston, Michael Sheard

Lord Peter Wimsey and his valet, Bunter, go on a fishing holiday in Scotland. It’s Lord Peter so of course things do not go smoothly and there’s a murder the night after they arrive. The police at first think the victim, an artist named Campbell, died by misadventure – having stepped backward while painting and fallen down a hill and into a river. Lord Peter quickly proves it was murder.

It then turns out that Campbell was greatly disliked by the majority of the village, especially his fellow artists. He was loud, rude, mean-spirited and tended to cause trouble, so many people in the village had at one point or another threatened him, even to his life. Lord Peter and Bunter have to discover, which, of the six suspects actually went through and committed the crime – and which are merely “red herrings”.

As always, Lord Peter and Bunter uncover a number of different clues and establish and break down alibis. The people of the village are reluctant to talk, but the two detectives manage anyway – establishing a timeline of the murder and, eventually establishing the timeline that breaks the alibi of one of the suspects.

As it turns out, Campbell was killed more or less accidentally by his neighbor. He had returned home in the middle of the night, drunk and annoying. Instead of entering his own home, he burst into his neighbor’s home and started a fight. When the fight turned physical, he fell and hit his head. Discovering his neighbor was dead, Ferguson went to great lengths to conceal his part by taking the body and painting supplies to where it was found, painting a painting in Campbell’s style so it would look like he painted it, leaving Campbell’s car at the scene, and escaping by bicycle to the train station so he could meet his friends for an exhibition in another city and establishing an alibi. Wimsey is able to prove Ferguson wasn’t on the train he said he was on – which was the type that stops at every town and thus is slow, but on a later express – which, going straight through arrived in the city faster. It’s a complicated plot involving railway timetables.

This is probably my least favorite of the five stories in this set. The location filming is rather dull and muted, instead of colorful. There are some beautiful shots, but for the most part – the story doesn’t take advantage of the location. Most of the characters introduced for the story are annoying, and it’s clear the victim almost deserved to be murdered – almost. When Wimsey does put it together and Ferguson admits everything, clearing up the few points needed, it seems clear that the crime was more manslaughter than murder – though I don’t know if British law in the 1920s or 1930s recognized the difference. One thing this story does having going for it is that it shows the friendship between Bunter and Lord Peter clearly.

The Nine Tailors

4 Parts
Cast: Ian Carmichael, Glyn Houston, Mark Eden, Desmond Llewelyn, David Jackson

The Nine Tailors takes place over several decades and involves the theft of an extremely valuable emerald necklace. Lord Peter Wimsey attends a wedding on behalf of his older brother, the Duke of Denver, because his brother is ill and cannot attend. Lord Peter doesn’t really know anyone, but he’s happy to go to a big party and stay overnight before joining his regiment in the morning to serve in the war (World War I). During the evening, there’s a jewel robbery. The thief and his accomplice are caught, but the emeralds are never found. The aristocratic guests for the wedding are as appalled that the accomplice was the family’s long-trusted butler, Deacon, as they are appalled at the actual theft. Both men are sentenced to hard labor. Meanwhile, because the necklace was never found, the man who hosted the group at his stately manor pays out £60.000 to the owner of the necklace.

The war comes and Lord Peter, now a major in the army, meets and becomes friends with Bunter. When their trench is bombed, it’s Bunter who rescues Major Wimsey from the shelter where he is trapped. Seriously injured, Wimsey is sent to England to recover. When the war ends, Bunter arrives at Lord Peter’s apartment and asks him for a job. Lord Peter employs him as his valet and butler. Bunter also acts as Wimsey’s cook.

On the last day of the year, Bunter and Lord Peter are traveling by car, for a New Year’s celebration. Lord Peter’s car slides on some ice and hits a stone bridge. He and Bunter are unhurt, but the car is damaged (not to mention stuck). They walk to the nearby village of Fenchurch St. Paul, and obtain shelter for the night from the local vicar, and make plans to have their car hauled out of the ditch the next day and have it repaired so they can continue on their way.

The vicar is a nice old man, but the village is in the midst of a flu epidemic. the vicar casually mentions he is disappointed because so many of his bell-ringers have fallen ill that he won’t be able to accomplish a special bell-ringing for New Year’s. Lord Peter says he has experience with bell-ringing and offers his services. The vicar is delighted and arranges a practice session with handbells.

Meanwhile when Bunter asks, out of curiosity more than anything else, if Lord Peter had ever been to Fenchurch St. Paul before, Peter realises he has, this is where the jewel heist was all those years ago. It seems almost to be a different world. It’s established the emerald necklace was never discovered, one of the two men did escape from prison while on a work crew, but his dead body was found in a ditch on the road. Meanwhile, his widow had remarried and tried to make a respectable life for herself in the village.

A few days later, when there’s a death in the village, the vicar and the villagers are shocked to find a man’s body buried in the grave of the wife of the man who died. The man had wanted to be buried with his wife, and the discovery of a mutilated body causes quite the stir. With no hands, and a face bashed in after death, the identity of the corpse is uncertain.

Lord Peter, Bunter, the vicar, and the local police end-up investigating a number of things in the village – uncovering a number of clues, as Peter tries to find out what happened to the necklace. They eventually discover that it wasn’t Deacon the butler who died after his escape – he killed a random British soldier, changed clothes with him and took his papers. He is, however, noticed in a pub by the army and sent back to the front because his leave is up. In France, he’s wounded and wanders off. He’s found by a French woman who nurses him back to health. They fall in love and are married, but poor. When Deacon finds an old newspaper that features a story about himself being declared dead, he contacts his old partner in crime, Cranton, who’s been released from prison and returned to the same village. Cranton arranges for a false passport and other papers so Deacon can sneak back into the country under a false name.

Lord Peter investigates the criminal from the jewel heist and two brothers (Will and Jim) who seem to have something to hide. Although the criminal had arranged for Deacon to return to the village so they could get the emeralds – he never showed up. Meanwhile, Deacon’s wife’s new husband (Will) had encountered a man who had broken into the church. Not quite sure what to do with him, for some reason he ties the man up in the church bell tower. Later, his brother (Jim) finds the man dead in the tower and carries him to the churchyard – burying him in the grave where he’s later found. Jim, thinking Will was responsible, had deposed of Deacon’s hat and outer garments, as well as the ropes in a well – and chopped off his hands to hide the man’s identity. He’d also bashed in the face with a shovel. As Peter uncovers the idea that the two brothers are hiding something, and he and Parker get the truth from the convicted and released thief, Cranton, the two brothers are brought in to the police station. The brothers talk in an empty interview room – and Parker discovers that both brothers were covering up for the other, but neither committed murder. The one had only tied up Deacon and the other had buried the dead body and tried to hide his identity. These are crimes – but not murder.

There are ciphers sent through the post and Deacon’s French wife is consulted to get her side of things. Deacon’s first wife, now married to Will is also interviewed. Eventually, Wimsey discovers the emeralds, hidden in the church. But his success is short-lived. The recent heavy rains threaten to cause a local dike to break – which will flood the valley. Lord Peter and Bunter help with the emergency preparations. The church, being on high ground, will be the gathering spot and refuge. Peter’s out gathering a last bit of evidence and helping Parker when he crosses the bridge at the dike – he sees the dike collapse and the two brothers drown. He rushes to the church to tell Mary, the one brother’s wife. She is extremely distraught. Lord Peter then disappears. Later Bunter also disappears, while in search of his lordship.

Heading Lord Peter’s warning of imminent flooding – the church bells are rung in warning. It’s the vicar’s wife who discovers Lord Peter had gone to the bell tower to investigate it again and Bunter had gone after him. Both men suffer burst eardrums and considerable pain from being so close to the cacophony of the bells. Lord Peter explains later to Chief Inspector Parker that Deacon had essentially died by bell. The noise had been so loud and gone on for nine hours, causing unconsciousness and then death. Will had no idea the bells were going to be rung for New Year’s because the vicar had already canceled the bell ringing ceremony since he didn’t have enough ringers. It was pure chance that Lord Peter was able to make up the difference. Also, Will did not know that the noise of the bells was actually lethal. Meanwhile, his brother had found the dead corpse and somehow recognized it as his sister-in-law’s first husband, who was presumed dead. As he wasn’t dead, the marriage would be considered illegal and the children illegitimate. (The couple, in fact, do re-marry by special license, thanks to some help from Lord Peter and his friend, the Archbishop of Canterbury).  Peter and Bunter recover from their near-death experience.

Another story that’s pretty long, but that has a great cast, The Nine Tailors is interesting in that it covers such a long period of time. It also does a good job of showing just how World War I messed up people’s lives and set them off track. The war had interrupted Deacon and his wife’s lives almost as much as the jewel theft and his subsequent imprisonment. The story also is somewhat interesting in that it is sympathetic to the other thief. Whereas Deacon is condemned by everyone as a servant who abused his position of trust and double-crossed his partner – his partner is forgiven for his criminal behavior once he serves his time.

This set meticulously films five of Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey books in great detail. I quite like Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter, Mark Eden as Parker, and Glyn Houston as Bunter (though he’s largely absent from “Murder Must Advertise” and replaced by Derek Newark in “The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club”). These are very precise adaptations, and enjoyable to watch. Even though the pacing is at times slow, it drags you in. the puzzles are complex, and it’s fun to watch Lord Peter, Bunter, and Parker uncover clues one by one before they do put together the solution. Yes, there are the nearly stereotypical scenes of a guilty party being confronted, confessing everything, and being arrested or otherwise punished. But at the time, this was both a convention of detective fiction and not quite a stereotype. Sayers was a contemporary of Christie. In my mind, her books, however, had better characterization – both of her detective and his friends and relations, and of the guest cast of each book. This series has excellent guest casts as well. Although the format of multi-hour-long part stories might be a bit difficult to get used to, it’s worth it in this series. Recommended.

Superman The Complete Animated Series Review

  • Series Title: Superman: The Animated Series
  • Season: Complete Series
  • Episodes: 54
  • Discs: 7
  • Network: WB Animation
  • Cast: Tim Daly, Dana Delany, David Kaufman, Clancy Brown
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1, Animation

Superman: The Animated Series along with Batman: The Animated Series started off what became known as the Timm-verse, a series of related series by WB Animation based on DC Comics. Although I am quite a fan of Batman: TAS and later series Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and Young Justice – I had never watched Superman: TAS before, also the first series I saw chronologically was Justice League even though it was a later series in terms of when it was made. (I basically caught some of Justice League on Boomerang a sister channel to Cartoon Network and loved it so much I bought everything on DVD a set at a time. I did not see the Timm-verse in the chronological order of when it originally aired.) Superman has never been one of my favorite DC characters, though, I’m much more of a Batman fan, so I delayed ordering and watching this.

Superman: The Animated Series does well what other series in this set of shows do well – the stories emphasize the character from the comics as he was in the early modern age of comics. This isn’t an angsty Superman or a conflicted Superman who is unsure about his role. Also, other than showing the destruction of Krypton (a sequence repeated in the title sequence) and an almost montage of Clark being found and raised by the Kents and first using his powers as a teenager in Smallville, this series doesn’t dwell on Superman’s origin story. After the 3-part pilot, “The Last Son of Krypton”, the series settles down into its usual format: Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet, is secretly Superman and must battle bad guys and rescue people.

I’ve always found the character of Superman to be too perfect. He has the perfect parents, perfect job, perfect girlfriend, and he’s basically invulnerable to everything except for Kryptonite. That Superman is only vulnerable to Kryptonite is something so well known in modern culture, “What’s your Kryptonite? or, “he’s my Kryptonite” – has become slang for “What’s your vulnerability?” or “He/she’s my vulnerability?” In Superman: The Animated Series – Kryptonite is something that seems extremely easy for any villain to get. Also, because Superman is so over-powered, his villains are extremely over-powered. Many of the Superman: TAS episodes have an extremely strong villain (like Darkseid) show up and try to physically beat up Superman, which tends to not work. We also see a lot of Brainiac, who in this series comes from Krypton and was responsible for no one else being saved from the planet.

Superman: TAS also doesn’t build up a relationship between Lois and Clark. They are shown to be more colleagues than romantic partners. Clark’s relationship with Jimmy Olsen doesn’t get really explored until nearly the end of the series – when Jimmy gets a signal watch (something that Lois doesn’t have as far as I can tell). Even Clark’s relationship with his parents, Jonathon and Martha Kent, is not really explored. We see them a few times, but they are definitely background characters.

However, there are some episodes I really liked. One episode I enjoyed very much was “The Late Mr. Kent”. First, it had a monologue for Clark – this made him more relatable. If the entire series had used a monologue I probably would have liked it better. The episode tells the story of Clark investigating the case of a man found guilty of murder during a robbery and sentenced to be executed. Clark talks to the man and examines the evidence and believes that the man was, in fact, innocent – and framed. As Clark investigates further, he discovers proof. But then his car is blown up by a car bomb and crashes into the ocean. Because there’s a witness to the “accident” Clark fears he can’t just show up again, unhurt. Clark as Superman continues his investigation, while Lois, Jimmy and other characters mourn the death of Clark Kent. Eventually, Superman is able to prove that a dirty cop was behind everything – the frame up, planting evidence, the actual murder, etc. Superman also finds out the witness was unreliable, so with some help from Lana Lang, he returns as Clark, claiming he swam ashore and was under Lana’s care. The convicted man is released and the cop is executed instead.

There are also episodes of Superman: The Animated Series that introduce other characters from the DC universe, including Lobo, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, The Legion of Superheroes, and Batman. I, for the most part, enjoyed these team-ups. The Lobo two-parter felt a little flat to me, but the others range from good to excellent. There are three Batman-Superman team-up stories in this collection and I liked all three. Batman is voiced by Kevin Conroy of Batman: The Animated Series and the guest characters are voiced by their Batman: TAS counterparts. I enjoyed seeing Batman and Superman work together, and their mutual relationship was well done. We also get to see Lois fall for Bruce Wayne, whom she discovers is Batman. I thought that was a bold choice, and something different.

Superman: The Animated Series also featured several impressive guest stars including: Mike Farrell (as Jonathon Kent), Michael Ironside (as Darkseid), Malcolm McDowell (as Metallo), Edward Asner (as Granny Goodness), Charles Napier (as General Hardcastle), Robert Hays, Robert Ito, Carl Lumley, Roddy McDowell, William H. Macy, Robert Morse, Michael York, John Rubinstein, Charlie Schlatter, Jason Priestley, Sarah Douglas, Richard Moll, Paul Williams, David Warner, Ernie Hudson, Carolyn Seymour, Ron Glass, and Marion Ross, and as mentioned from the Batman crossover episodes: Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin, and Bob Hastings. As with other Timm-verse shows – the casting is extremely impressive on Superman: The Animated Series.

Overall, though I have some issues with the perfect nature of the character of Superman, I find that this series brings the comics to life so to speak. Because it’s animation, the budget is less limited than in a live-action series, and we see Superman in space, huge fight scenes, and impressive story-telling. Superman: The Animated Series is recommended. This particular set consists of discs that have not been labeled consecutively. Also, every other disc is a two-sided disc. And the final disc has one special feature on it and that’s it – no episodes. I would have preferred it if they had remastered everything, putting eight episodes per disc and not doing any two-sided discs, even if that had increased the number of discs and making the set more expensive. I did like the single case with flip pages to hold the discs and slipcase packaging though. Even with the mastering issue, the episodes themselves look good and I recommend this series, especially to Superman fans.

Book Review – Titans vol. 3: A Judas Among Us

  • Title: Titans vol. 3: A Judas Among Us
  • Author: Dan Abnett
  • Artists: Brett Booth, Kenneth Rocafort, V Ken Marion, Minkyu Jung, Norm Rapmund, Mick Gray, Andrew Dalhouse, Dan Brown, Blond, Josh Reed, Travis Lanham
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Titans, Wally West, Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), Tempest (Garth), Omen (Lilith), Arsenal (Roy Harper), Bumblebee (Karen Duncan)
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/04/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Titans vol. 3: A Judas Among Us picks up where volume 2 left off. Omen is at a prison, interviewing Psimon. Psimon “reads” Omen and insists the Titans are falling apart thanks to jealousies and other “teen” problems. Psimon also tells Omen that something dark is coming and she’s the one responsible for it, she’ll bring total destruction. But Omen turns the tables and pulls out the information she needs – the location of Bumblebee’s stolen engram (memories). Psimon is shocked that Omen is a stronger psychic than himself and that she was able to project what she wanted to him.

The Titans organize an attack on an H.I.V.E. stronghold in Delaware, but the engrams have been moved and they are attacked by Endgame – an H.I.V.E. scientist and soldier who has the power to add superpowers at will, the powers stolen by Meta Solutions. After a big fight, the Titans defeat Endgame, but they are unable to find Bumblebee’s engram.

After their failure to help Bumblebee get her memories back, the Titans realize there is a traitor in their midst. Nightwing, however, has some tech that will scan each of them for subconscious or conscious spying that he got from Spyral. The catch is it will take two days to scan everyone and get the results. There’s a certain amount of mistrust – but everyone agrees. Mal Duncan, Bumblebee’s husband, meanwhile looks up an old friend to try and find his wife’s engram. And while everyone is waiting, Omen sees Psimon a second time. Yet again he insists she’s an omen of destruction.

When the results come back – they are shocking, the traitor is … Dick Grayson. But it turns out that Gizmo put some spyware on Nightwing’s uniform suit, which he tracked back to Titan’s Tower, which is how H.I.V.E. knew they were coming. Dick is able to ping back the signal to track it. But this doesn’t stop the Titans from revealing a lot of secrets about just who is falling in love with who.

The Titans set off again. Nightwing is “killed” but Wally rewinds time to save his friend. Wally, who has been having heart trouble since the Lazarus Contract affair, then is killed in the fight, or so everyone thinks. Mal and his friend, Gnarrk have been taken over by Psimon, the Key, and Twister – the stress, and the Flash’s death result in an alternate dimensional doorway being opened. The deadly being that steps through isn’t Omen, though – it’s “Troia” a future, evil version of Donna Troy. The Titans try to fight her off. Donna goes through a crisis of faith, so to speak. She keeps arguing with herself (literally) but doesn’t want to accept that this evil Amazon-killer is herself. Fortunately, the other Wally West, Kid Flash, shows up. Wally had felt a disturbance in the force, Speed Force, that is, when Wally (Flash) died. But Kid Flash can tell Wally isn’t completely dead, just stuck in the Speed Force. Kid Flash zaps him and Wally recovers. This boosts the team spirit of the Titans. When Psimon tries to overcome Bumblebee by returning her memories, it has the opposite effect. Bumblebee remembers who she is, she remembers Mal, and she remembers her child – so she’s able to break the psychic hold over Mal and he tries to fight on the Titans side, despite having no powers. Donna Troy fights Troia and sends her back through the dimensional gateway, and the Titans are all OK. The Titans also re-capture Psimon, the Key, and Twister.

Although I liked that this volume of Titans focuses on team dynamics, the “one of us is a traitor” trope is one of my least favorite because of course, it’s going to turn out the “traitor” isn’t really a traitor. This volume also includes the “teammate is dead, nope he’s alive, nevermind” trope which drives me nuts. If you’re going to have someone die in comics – have it mean something. Everyone does react to Wally’s “death” – it’s what causes Donna to actually listen to Troia, but it’s also painfully obvious it isn’t a real “death”. There have been real deaths in comics or at least deaths that lasted a long time before a new generation of writers brought the character back (Jason Todd and Hal Jordan come to mind) so it can be done, but when someone is dead for five minutes and then quickly “gets better” it’s meaningless.

Most of this book is fight scenes. They are well-choreographed, and Donna’s verbal arguments with herself are well done. But I prefer a bit more characterization and character interaction.

Still, with all that, Titans offers up a solid story, interesting characters, and good character interaction. I recommend this series and this volume in particular.

Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Legends of Tomorrow
  • Season: Season 3
  • Episodes: 18
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Caity Lotz, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Franz Drameh, Victor Garber, Maise Richardson-Sellers, Dominic Purcell, Nick Zano, Tala Ashe, Neal McDonough, Matt Ryan, Wentworth Miller, John Noble
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review will contain spoilers for Season 3 of Legends of Tomorrow.

Season 3 of Legends of Tomorrow picks up where Season 2 left off, with the Legends discovering they “broke time”. However, no sooner do they realize this than the team runs in to Rip Hunter. Hunter explains he’s spent the last five years building the Time Bureau specifically to deal with anachronisms caused by breaks to Time. The Legends borrow the Waverider again and set off to fix Time and remove the anachronisms.

The early episodes of Legends for Season 3 are pretty self-contained and stand-alone until “Crisis on Earth X” the massive four-show crossover event. After the crossover, the episodes flow into each other, but there is still a tendency for the stories to be somewhat self-contained, more so than other CW DC series.

Besides fixing anachronisms – and managing to make things worse, as usual for the Legends, they also learn that by breaking Time there is a danger that a demon by the name of Mallus will be released from its prison. The only way to stop Mallus is by gathering the six stones of the Zambesi tribe. Much of the season has the Legends accidentally or intentionally gathering the stones, which represent: Spirit, Death, Water, Air, Earth, and Fire. Amalya has the Spirit totem, though at one point in the season it is stolen from her and the Legends have to get it back. In the third episode of the season, the Legend crew travels to a dystopian 2042 where Zari joins the crew. She possesses the Air Totem. Kuasa is a woman who possesses the Water Totem and is working with Damien Darhk. At first, Darhk seems to be up to his old tricks – causing anachronisms to help break the prison holding Mallus because he can. But when Mallus possesses his daughter, Nora, Darhk comes to realize that if the demon is released his daughter will die and he will lose her forever. The redemption of Damien Darhk is a fascinating story, especially considering he was the main villain for a year on Arrow and part of a threesome of villains on last year’s season of Legends of Tomorrow. Neal McDonough is brilliant in the part of Damien Darhk though so it is great to see him finally redeemed.

Season 3 brings in John Constantine played perfectly by Matt Ryan. Constantine is an accomplished magic user, though he also tends to have bad luck. Still, with a Time Demon as the “big bad” of the season, it makes perfect sense for Constantine to make an appearance. Constantine explains that the six stones can be used to defeat the demon, but he warns Sara about using the death totem herself. Sara ignores this advice, not because she’s stubborn, but she’s essentially fooled into using the Totem and then trapped. However, she manages to master it eventually, enough to use it against the demon when the time comes.

The Totems and Mallus are also tied in with Amalya’s history, including the destruction of her village, and the future history of her Totem (her village must be destroyed for the Totem to find its way to her granddaughter, Mari, who becomes the Detroit superheroine, Vixen.) Amalya, Nate, and the Legends, including Rip Hunter, despite their best efforts end-up breaking time in Zambesi, and Rip sacrifices himself so the Waverider can escape.

Sara takes the Waverider to Salvation in the Old West. The Legends meet up with Jonah Hex, but the town which is supposed to be a time travel blind spot – isn’t. Julius Ceasar and his Roman Legion, Leif Erickson’s sister and an attack phalanx of Vikings, and Blackbeard and his pirates, and of course – Mallus attack the town. But Amalya has figured out why simply attacking Mallus with the Totems didn’t work. The Totems must be used together. “Oh, like Voltron,” remarks Nate. The first attempt fails but in the second attempt the six Totem Bearers call forth beams of pure light which form a construct of good. Yes, these different colored beams of light that represent the elemental forces of the Totems do bring to mind Voltron – and the “being of pure good”? It’s Beebo! Beebo is a talking, fuzzy toy that a younger Martin Stein had bought for his daughter’s Hannukah present before he was accidentally sent through time to Vinland – the Viking colony in North America. The anachronism has the Vikings conquering North America instead of returning to Greenland, and worshiping the talking Beebo toy instead of becoming Christians. Anyway, the Beebo construct created by the Legends is a giant size version of Beebo – and it does manage to defeat Mallus and even kills the demon.

Legends of Tomorrow is a fun show. Whereas the other CW DC shows have gotten darker over the years (but are still good), Legends remains light. The show is also focused on character. This season Martin Stein dies during “Crisis on Earth X”, and Jax loses his firestorm powers and leaves the crew. Rip Hunter sacrifices himself to simply give the Legends time to escape – though I’m hoping he will return, or that Arthur Darvill will play another character on the series (Booster Gold, anyone? I’d love to see that.) The finale of Season 3 is wild: pirates, Roman soldiers, and Vikings attacking a Wild West town. Ava, the director of the Time Bureau, also introduces characters from the future – descendants of our characters or characters from episodes of this season (such as Helen of Troy, whom Zari drops on Themyscira rather than returning her to the Trojan War). But it’s the Voltron-style Beebo that just makes that final episode hilarious and perfect. I am still really enjoying this show and I highly recommend it.

Read my Review of Season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow.

Read my Review of Season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow.

UPDATE: I recently purchased and re-watched Season 3 of Legends of Tomorrow, and I really enjoyed it. The Blu-Ray version is three Blu-Ray discs and includes the entire “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover, with the special “Crisis on Earth-X” titles.

Read my Review of Crisis on Earth-X.

Supergirl Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 3
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Chris Wood, David Harewood, Odette Annable, Carl Lumbly
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review contains spoilers for the third season of Supergirl.

The third season of Supergirl is focused on family, including the families the characters have built for themselves. Cat Grant is now gone (she’s the press secretary to the president, played by Linda Carter). Lina and Kara are friends, and when conservative jerk Morgan Edge threatens to purchase Catco in a hostile takeover to stop them from publishing the truth, Lina steps in and buys Catco instead. Lina initially tries to be hands-on with running Catco, but James Olsen the managing editor and Lina’s boyfriend convinces her to step back a bit. Edge at one point tries to get back at Lina by accusing her of poisoning the children of National City with lead. Supergirl proves that the children are sick because of chemicals in the city’s swimming pools – chemicals produced by Morgan’s company. There are mutual accusations of attempted murder as well, but Lina isn’t guilty and it’s implied neither is Morgan.

J’onn J’onzz receives a message from M’Gann to come to Mars. He goes with Supergirl and they find a White Martian resistance who have discovered J’onn’s father being held, prisoner. They release him and J’onn brings M’yrnn J’onzz back to Earth. M’yrnn initially stays at the DEO, and then in J’onn’s apartment. However, sadly, M’yrnn is suffering from a Martian form of Alzheimer’s Disease. There are a lot of ups and downs in J’onn and his father’s relationship. In the end, J’onn accepts his father is dying and prepares for “The Reach” a Martian mental passage where all of M’yrnn’s memories and experiences will be passed to his son.

Alex and Maggie Sawyer prepare for their wedding. Alex even finds Maggie’s family who abandoned her when they learned she was a lesbian. Maggie’s reunion with her father seems to go OK, but in the end, he rejects her again. Alex comes to realize that she really wants to be a mom, whereas Maggie doesn’t want children. The two reach an impasse and break up – and Maggie is never seen again. Alex is understandably hurt by this throughout the rest of the season. In the last few episodes of the season, she’s starting to research adopting a child.

Morgan Edge orders an attack at the unveiling of National City’s waterfront Supergirl statue and a young mother, who had bumped into Alex earlier, uses incredible strength to move a fallen metal pipe from her daughter. Alex, Lina, and eventually Kara become friends with Samantha and her daughter, Ruby. Sam works with Lina at L-Corp and is promoted to Chief Financial Officer after Lina buys Catco and steps back from the day to day running of L-Corp. Some weird things happen to Sam and Ruby. Slowly through the season, it becomes obvious that Sam’s blackouts and losses of time are related to the appearance of a new supervillain, Reign – the Kryptonian Worldkiller. Sam/Reign is an oddly sympathetic villain. Sam has no idea what her other half is doing. Sam’s a struggling single mother, trying to balance a demanding new job with raising her 12-year-old daughter. Sam and Ruby have a good relationship, but Ruby is a bit put out that her Mom doesn’t spend as much time with her as she used to. And Sam doesn’t know she is Reign – a supervillain capable of beating Supergirl badly and putting her in a coma.

I had a couple issues with the episode where Reign beats up Supergirl and puts her in a coma. First, I’m a little tired of the pattern – new villain beats up Supergirl, but by the end of the season, Supergirl will defeat the villain. Second, since Kara is in an honest-to-goodness coma and severely injured, Alex should have contacted Clark (Superman). Clark is her cousin, he has a right to know she’s been so seriously hurt. Alex also should have contacted Eliza, she also has a right to know what happened.

Kara is in a funk during the first half of the season because she had to send Mon-El away. Mon-El comes back from the future with a spaceship and his team-mates in the Legion of Superheroes, Brainiac 5 and his wife, Imra. Mon-El’s ship went through a wormhole and he had lived for seven years in the future. The Legion was sent back in time with multiple missions, some of which Mon-El doesn’t know about.

Once Mon-El, Brainiac 5, and Imra arrive, Supergirl and her team are able to learn more about Reign and the two other Worldkillers: Purity and Pestilence. The Legion really wants to destroy Pestilence because in their time she evolves into a being called Blight which is responsible for the destruction of whole planets and everything on them: people, animals, and plants. Lina also, as a friend of Sam’s, wants to help. Lina realizes that Sam is Reign, but that she has no knowledge of her other half. Lina even explains that Reign is over-writing Sam’s DNA, a process that if it continues will cause Sam to be Reign all the time, eventually killing her own personality. (We see this process happen quickly with Pestilence.) Lina keeps Sam in a secret lab at L-Corp and at first tries to figure out what is wrong with her and later tries to fix it. Lina also arranges for protective custody for Ruby while her mother is sick.

Despite Lina’s best efforts – she doesn’t tell Kara, Alex, or Supergirl what she is doing. When the DEO tracks Reign and finds out that Lina’s been trying to stop her – Supergirl especially is very upset, though Alex is also angry. Lina is invited to continue working at the DEO and Reign escapes. There is now considerable tension between Supergirl and Lina – though Lina is still friends with Kara. Yes, this seems to be setting up future conflict.

The story with Reign gets more and more complicated. At one point, Sam is locked in a dream state of a dark, dead valley on Krypton. Kara recognizes this valley. Reign decides to kill Ruby to assure her success – but a threat to her daughter is the one thing Sam can’t handle and it makes her own internal struggle stronger. Kara and company think they have killed Pestilence and Purity at one point, but the audience sees their spirits being absorbed by Reign. Lina realizes they need a special element to stop Reign, but there is no more of it on Earth. Supergirl and Mon-El travel to an “asteroid” to get some but it turns out to be Argo City. Kara meets her mother (now played by a different actress). After an argument with the council, Kara succeeds in getting some of this element. The DEO uses it to “defeat” Reign and Kara and Mon-El return to Argo City so Kara can spend time with her mother. However, Serena, a council member turns out to be the leader of a cult of three Kryptonian witches. They steal Mon-El’s ship and head to Earth to raise the Worldkillers and terraform Earth into New Krypton.

It takes all of the DEOs resources, including help from Lina, Alura (Kara’s mother), Mon-El, Brainiac 5, the other Legionnaires, M’yrnn, and everyone else including Sam to stop Reign. They succeed, but M’yrnn gives his life. Sam lives and is reunited with Ruby.

After Reign’s final defeat and M’yrnn’s death – J’onn decides he needs to spend more time around normal human beings and not stay cooped up at the DEO – he promotes Alex to director of the DEO. Alex, who was wondering how’d she balance her active and dangerous agent lifestyle with adopting a child is happy to take a more desk-bound position. Lina expresses friendship with Kara but anger at Supergirl for betraying her and not trusting her. Mon-El has to return to the future – and takes Winn with him, though it looks like Brainiac 5 will remain behind at the DEO.

Season 3 of Supergirl was a bit dark, but the show is still very good. I liked the female friendships in this season, though the end of season rivalry between Lina and Supergirl was a bit annoying (I hope they do not become enemies next season). Recommended.

Read my review of Season 1 of Supergirl.

Read my review of Season 2 of Supergirl.