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Showing posts by: Kerry Hammond click to see Kerry Hammond's profile
Dec 12 2016 12:00pm

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season Finale, 1.08: “Two Sane Guys Doing Normal Things” Episode Review

It’s finally here: the finale. I had high hopes for everything being tied up in a neat little bow—and not just because it’s December. As I began to watch, however, I realized that most of it had already been explained and there were only a few small loose ends left—and many of those were easy to guess. Well, until the ending of the show where everything was blown out of the water... 

It wasn’t the strongest episode of the season, but finales tend to have more rules than other episodes. If the show’s producers strayed from them, there would be complaints, so you can’t really fault them. This week was a mixture of a mobster shootout movie and a cozy episode of your favorite sitcom—but I don’t mean that in a bad way. Again, different rules for the final episode.

[And different final episodes for different shows...]

Dec 5 2016 1:00pm

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency 1.07: “Weaponized Soul” Episode Review

We’re almost to the finish line, and things are wrapping up nicely—but there are still some unanswered questions for the finale to fill in. This week’s review contains a lot of spoilers, but they’re impossible to avoid. So make sure to catch up before reading this … you’ve been warned.   

When we left off last episode, Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) was assuring us he’d solved the case while he and Todd (Elijah Wood) put their hands on the Unlimited Energy Device and pulled the lever before we cut to the credits. At the opening of this episode, we see that the time machine indeed works. It zaps you back in time, but you remain in the same location as when you started. So Dirk and Todd are still in the Animal Transfer Unit at the zoo, but they’ve been transported back to the point when the bad guys stole Lydia, hooked her up to the soul switching machine, and swapped her out for the Corgi.

[Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey stuff...]

Nov 28 2016 1:00pm

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency 1.06: “Fix Everything” Episode Review

The episode starts off with a flashback. We are in the laboratory of Zachariah Webb, and he is testing his electrical device—the one everyone in the present day is after. It’s what Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) is calling the “Unlimited Energy Device.” Webb attaches it to a cage with a bird inside and fires it up. The bird does not fare well and soon lies dead in the bottom of the cage. But old Zach is not to be defeated—and PETA isn’t around—so we see him try the same thing with a cat. Epic fail again; he kills the cat. I’m sure no actual animals were harmed in the filming of this episode.

Just when we are about to see him try it on a dog, the device disappears. In its place is another machine made of what looks like mismatched parts and a handwritten note from Dirk Gently. Cue mysterious music. We’re brought back into present day, where we have already guessed that there is some sort of time travel going on in the show. But we’re not sure how it works or how Dirk’s device works with the one that Gordon Rimmer (Aaron Douglas) is using to swap souls.

[To be honest, we're not too sure how anything works...]

Nov 21 2016 12:00pm

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency 1.05: “Very Erectus” Episode Review

We know that everything is connected—and in this episode, we really start to see it. Nothing is really made clear, though, so let’s not get too excited. But things do start to link back, so that’s a start.

Rimmer (Aaron Douglas) has just killed the groupie/girlfriend of Lux Dujour. Since he’s left Dujour’s body and entered Rimmer’s, he has decided to give up his previous connection to the rock star and everything that went along with him. Well, everything except the white fur coat. He doesn’t seem to be able to part with that, so he throws the guitar in the dumpster and keeps the coat. More on that later.

Our holistic assassin, Bart (Fiona Dourif), is back and looking for Dirk in downtown Seattle. Ken (Mpho Koaho) convinces her to stay at a hotel, and she takes a shower! I’ve been secretly hoping for this moment since Episode 1, but I didn’t want to be too petty. It’s nice to see her clean herself up before she goes out on another murder spree. Apparently, patience isn’t one of the skills required to be an assassin, so she doesn’t last long in the hotel room. She’s just dying to get her hands on Dirk.

[Now that she's all showered, she might have a chance...]

Nov 14 2016 12:00pm

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency 1.04: “Watkin” Episode Review

I was prepared this week; I sat down to watch Episode 4 of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency with a caffeinated drink and absolutely no distractions. I knew I’d have to have my wits about me and be wide awake to follow along—I mean think about it, the episode is called “Watkin,” and it’s anyone’s guess what that might mean. I’m quite invested in this story and am determined to figure out what’s going on and how all the strange pieces fit together. As we know, everything is connected.

This episode reminded me of several different movies and shows … in a good way. I don’t know if they were intentional shout outs or unintentional similarities, but I thought I would point them out as we go along, just for fun.

[Member Indiana Jones? I member!]

Nov 7 2016 12:00pm

Page to Screen: One Shot by Lee Childs and Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher is the star of 21 novels and several short stories written by Lee Child. He is a leading man like no other. He’s not well groomed, well dressed, or popular. He wears the same clothes day after day, at some point decides he needs a refresh, and throws them away after buying new ones. He doesn’t have a cell phone, home, or car.

These traits would, on the surface, make him appear to be an outcast or a freak. But instead, he’s the person every man wants to be and every woman wants to be with. Child has created a character who stands up for the good guy, rights all wrongs, and never backs down from a confrontation. He’s 6’ 5” tall, 250 pounds—and he’s our hero.

Reacher was introduced in 1997, and eight books later, a novel finally made its way to the big screen. The novel One Shot opens with a crime. An unidentified man in a minivan drives to a parking garage, clearly on a mission. He is counting down the minutes. He parks his car, puts a quarter in the parking meter and takes a rifle from the back of the van. He lies on his stomach on the second floor of the parking garage and waits. He then fires six shots in a crowded plaza, hitting and killing five people. He calmly picks up his shell casings—losing one down a crack—and drives away.

[You only get One Shot, do not miss your chance to blow...]

Nov 7 2016 11:00am

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency 1.03: “Rogue Wall Enthusiasts” Episode Review

I remember a time when TV shows were all standalone episodes. Each one was an independent story that revolved around a new topic. When, by chance, there was a two-part episode, the second would start off with “previously on….” Now that shows are more like soap-opera continuations of a longer story arc, that little intro has become obsolete. Until now. I am so thankful that Dirk Gently has brought back the “previously on” because oh boy do I need a refresher each week.

So, previously on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) and Todd (Elijah Wood) were working together to find the missing Lydia Spring (Alison Thornton), daughter of the dead billionaire Patrick Spring. They broke into her captor’s home, hid in the shower, and then stole his dog as they escaped. They traded the dog for Farah Black (Jade Eshete), who we found out was the bodyguard to the missing Lydia—albeit not a very good one. Oh yeah, and the holistic assassin can’t be killed, the universe won’t allow it.

[This week on...]

Oct 31 2016 12:30pm

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency 1.02: “Lost & Found” Episode Review

We learned in Episode 1 that everything is connected: Todd (Elijah Wood) getting fired from a hotel job because his keycard was used to enter the room where they found a murdered billionaire; Todd meeting Dirk Gently Holistic Detective (Samuel Barnett); Todd finding a winning lottery ticket; a women in the room above Todd’s getting saved by a stray bullet aimed at him; and Todd finding a lost dog and returning it to a man’s house where he sees the kidnapped and missing daughter of previously murdered billionaire.

This might be called Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, but Todd is clearly the catalyst—what Dirk refers to as his assistant—in the whole affair. The events seem to surround him as much, if not more, than anyone else.

Confused? Good, then you’re in the same boat as the rest of us and just need to keep watching. I am hoping that the whole “everything is connected” theme magically pulls all these random scenarios into a semblance of order and that, by the end, we are all walking around saying to ourselves, “Ahhhhh,  now it all makes sense!” Whether or not that actually happens is still up in the air.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “Lost & Found”...]

Oct 24 2016 11:00am

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency 1.01, Series Premiere: “Horizons” Episode Review

In a word: Wow. Don’t talk, don’t blink, and don’t get up to get a drink of water. If you miss even one second of the first episode of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, you will be completely lost.

Ok, so I feel that I must be honest—even if you see every single second of it, you will still be lost. But keep watching, because everything is supposedly interconnected, and I am sure—or at least hopeful—that things will start to make sense.

Viewer discretion is advised, and we find out why in the very beginning: The opening sequence is quite a gruesome crime scene. Blood spatter everywhere, a severed arm on the floor, and the complete destruction of what looks to be a hotel room. The only thing living is a cute black kitten. This may seem innocuous, but trust me, it will come up again later.

[They always do...]

Sep 26 2016 12:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.08: “The Murderous Marriage” Episode Review

Our season is at an end, and it couldn’t have been a more exciting finale. The entire season seemed to be leading up to this event. Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is getting ready for her upcoming nuptials—to James Lacey (Jamie Glover). 

Drunk at her hen party, Agatha tells Gemma (Katy Wix) that her only wish is for Gemma to get together with Bill Wong (Matt McCooey). Meanwhile, a homeless man is looking at a newspaper announcement of PR guru Agatha Raisin’s upcoming marriage, and he seems quite disturbed by it. We know this will not bode well for Agatha.

Church bells ring and James and Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells) are in the church waiting for the bride. Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) walks Aggie down the aisle. However, the blissful event is interrupted when Bill Wong runs in yelling “Stop!” Is Bill trying to stop the wedding because he has a crush on Agatha? Nope. He’s putting an end to the wedding because Agatha’s husband—and the homeless man we see at the beginning—Jimmy Raisin (Jason Thorpe), is still alive. So she’s kinda still married; great timing on Bill’s part.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Murderous Marriage”...]

Sep 19 2016 1:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.07: “Witch of Wyckhadden” Episode Review

This episode has a mysterious start, and—spoiler alert—it’s the best episode of the season so far. We start with Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) in the back of a cab. She’s on the phone with Gemma, explaining that she’s not running away—she just has a family crisis. The taxi drives past a woman in a caravan who notices the car and proceeds to flip over a tarot card. 

When Agatha gets out of the cab at her destination, it’s a beautiful castle. Things get even more mysterious when we see she’s wearing a red wig. Lest you think she’s just changed her hair color, she adjusts the wig on her head, showing us she’s clearly in disguise.

There is a haunted house-type atmosphere as Agatha checks in with the creepy hotel manager Claude Martin (Peter De Jersey). She explains she’s there for a four-day visit and has booked a spa retreat. Creepy hotel manager explains that she has actually booked the S.P.A. retreat, which is the Special Paranormal Activity package. Agatha is not pleased. 

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Witch of Wyckhaddon”...]

Sep 12 2016 12:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.06: “The Day the Floods Came” Episode Review

This episode is all about a bride, but don’t get too excited, the bride is not Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen). Agatha is, however, in attendance at the wedding. Not because she knows the bride or groom, but because she’s handling the PR for the wedding. So much for retirement. We see that Sir Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells) has decided to make his home, Barfield House, an event venue. Seems that our wealthy landowner might not be so wealthy after all and is looking to find a revenue stream.

The wedding is going great, if you don’t count the fact that the bride is in tears and in need of some comforting from our Aggie. She pulls it off, playing fast and loose with the truth of what was her own marriage. We see a little bit of regret for her youthful indiscretion and marriage at such a young age, but just a touch. Once Agatha calms the bride and the nuptials are complete, it’s the groom that looks uncomfortable. He looks more like he’s at a funeral than at his own wedding. 

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Day the Floods Came”...]

Sep 5 2016 1:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.05: “The Vicious Vet” Episode Review

Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is still having no luck on the relationship front. Things aren’t going anywhere with James Lacey (Jamie Glover), even though she had high hopes. We see her strut through the village in her signature high heels and impeccable wardrobe, with a huge smile on her face. She’s clearly on the prowl. But why, pray tell, is she dressed to the nines and carrying her cat, Hodge, in a cat carrier? 

Cut to James Lacey coming out of the pub to see that the village looks like a ghost town. When he inquires where everyone has gone, he’s told that there’s a new vet in town—and the pieces all fall into place.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Vicious Vet”...]

Aug 29 2016 2:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.04: “The Potted Gardener” Episode Review

This week, the village of Carsley is plagued by joy riders. The episode opens with a yellow car tearing up the green late at night, blasting loud thumping music, red and orange flames painted down the side of the car. As if that’s not enough trouble in this quiet little Cotswolds village, the residents all wake up the next morning to find that their gardens have been vandalized. Some have uprooted trees, while others find dead fish in the koi pond or smashed pots in the greenhouse. Why is this significant? The Open Gardens Competition is coming up and everyone has been pruning and primping their entries.

Agatha Raisin's (Ashley Jensen) garden is the only one not vandalized, although it looks as if it has been. Apparently, she is going with a Zen theme. She reports that she is attempting to detox her life and be at one with nature—trying to get the qi flowing. Her aim is harmony and peace, but her blended veggie drinks appear to be nasty, and Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) is not having any.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Potted Gardener”...]

Aug 22 2016 2:30pm

Agatha Raisin 1.03: “The Wellspring of Death” Episode Review

“The Wellspring of Death” opens in the village of Ancombe, as we toggle back and forth between a young mother taking her child for a walk in a baby carriage and an Ancombe Water Company tanker truck careening through the village. Thankfully, the truck narrowly misses flattening both villager and her child, but we are immediately aware that the villagers have a slight problem with the new water company that is in town to tap their spring water and sell it on the open market.

By the way, and this might just be me, but who else thought that having a skull as the logo on the water bottle might be a bit of bad luck? Even if it is a cartoon version of the one on the spring, which has water flowing out of its mouth.

The big controversy is that the spring owner has already sold her water rights to Ancombe, but the Parish council is split on whether or not to grant access to allow the tanker trucks passage through the village. Robert Struthers (Tom Chadbon), the Chairman of the Parish Council, has the deciding vote on the issue. He says he will think about his decision overnight and let them know in the morning, which we all know is tantamount to signing his own death warrant.

[Sign on the dotted line...]

Aug 15 2016 12:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.02: “Hell’s Bells” Episode Review

Our normal, serene helicopter view of the village of Carsely in the Cotswolds, usually accompanied by pleasant background music, is not the opening for “Hell's Bells.” Instead, we arrive at the village to the soundtrack of really bad church bells and see everyone in the outdoor seating area of the pub wincing. One man even stuffs a twisted napkin into his ears to block out the noise.

Cut to the bell pullers, who are practicing their…let’s still call it a song, even though it resembles nothing remotely musical. All of our favorite villagers are there, including Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) and Bill Wong (Matt McCooey). We find out they are preparing for the bishop’s visit and being coached by Amanda Barton (Sally Bretton). Amanda is new to the village, and the show, which as we know in the mystery game, does not bode well for the longevity of the character. When we also see that the vicar’s wife, Sarah Bloxby (Lucy Liemann), doesn’t like Amanda—and is clearly jealous of the time she spends with her husband—we really suspect that Amanda’s days in Carsely are numbered. After all, someone has to be sacrificed in order that Agatha has a murder to solve.

[Seems like a cruel equation...]

Aug 10 2016 11:00am

Agatha Raisin Pilot: “The Quiche of Death” Episode Review

“The Quiche of Death” aired on British television in 2014. Season 1, filmed in 2015, is just airing now on Acorn TV. The pilot functions as both a character introduction and background explanation for the series. We learn a lot about Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) in this episode and get introduced to the recurring cast of characters.

Our first introduction to Aggie is when she has already packed up her home and her life, ready to turn over her business and retire. She’s moving to the Cotswolds, the idyllic village she remembers from her childhood. First things first, she has one more public relations nightmare to deal with, as one of the company’s clients, a pop star in a boy band, has been caught in an indiscretion. She takes charge and handles the situation, and it's clear to see how Agatha got to be so successful.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Quiche of Death”]

Aug 8 2016 12:00pm

Agatha Raisin 1.01: “The Walkers of Dembley” Episode Review

Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen), former Public Relations Executive turned retiree at a very young age, has taken to her new home in the village of Carsley in the Cotswolds. It took the villagers a bit longer to take to her, which can happen when one is accused of poisoning one of the village’s most prominent citizens (Pilot episode: “The Quiche of Death”). Cleared of all charges and suspicion, Agatha even managed to come out on top—a skill at which she seems to excel. 

As a bit of background, Raisin is the long-running character in a series of novels by M.C. Beaton. The books, which would best be classified as amateur sleuth or cozy mysteries, contain quite an element of comedy and a large supporting cast of quirky Cotswold characters. 

All is forgiven, and Agatha walks through town with a purpose, saying hello to all the villagers she passes. They seem happy to see her and return her greeting. We quickly realize that she is still seeking approval when she informs her housekeeper Mrs. Simpson (Katy Wix) that she is going rambling, admitting it’s because she just wants to blend in. Considering that she is always dressed like she’s going to a London party, we know this is highly unlikely.

[Read Kerry Hammond's review of “The Walkers of Dembley”]

Jun 29 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander

A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander is the second book in the Bakeshop Mystery series featuring baker Jules Capshaw in her hometown of Ashland, Oregon (available June 30, 2015).

Reality TV meets cozy mystery, with a little bit of murder thrown in. The town of Ashland is known for its Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but the last of the plays are being performed and the theater company is about to go into hiatus for the fall. The town is experiencing cooler weather and a slowdown in tourist traffic. What better time for a television crew to set up shop to film a reality show for the Pastry Channel? Juliet Montague Capshaw aka Jules, has recently moved back to her hometown to help her mother run Torte, a family owned bakery and coffee shop. She is roped into being a contestant on the show and soon finds out that there is as much drama behind the scenes as there is on camera. Specifically, Chef Marco is causing a lot of problems on set as he finds it hard to remain sober for filming.

[There's no such thing as “cooking” wine...]

Feb 7 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody

A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody is the 4th book in the Post-WWI British mystery series featuring sleuth Kate Shackleton (available February 10, 2015).

It’s 1923 and Kate Shackleton is running her own private investigations firm with the help of ex-policeman Jim Sykes. It is a profession she kind of fell into while searching for information regarding her husband Gerald, missing in action from the war. One evening she is visited by a man named Cyril Fitzpatrick, who is worried about his wife, Deirdre. He wants to hire Kate to find out what Deirdre is doing behind his back and where she is going when she disappears for lengths of time, saying she is visiting her ailing mother. Kate doesn’t take on matrimonial cases, but Mr. Fitzpatrick assures her that his marriage is not the issue and that he just wants to make sure Deirdre is not in any trouble. Mr. Sykes convinces Kate to take the case. He knows Deirdre because he helped her out of a shoplifting charge the year before, and is worried that if she is up to her old tricks she will not get off as easily this time.

[Better safe than sorry...]