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Much too cleaver (Ripper Street, 2012-2014; Sept détectives, 2012; Mr. Jack, 2006)

Already missing Game of Thrones characters and still not getting any proper news about Telltale’s next episode?

Assistant to Spooks/MI5 Matthew Macfadyen enacting Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (yeah, historical character, head of CID of the Met Police at the time of Whitechapel Murders of Jack the Ripper), here is Jerome Flynn, that you also know as Bronn, playing Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake.

Sergeant Bronn Drake

In episode S01 E05, you may also see Ser Jorah Mormont, aka Iain Glen. Solid cast. Solid setup, nice costumes and good stories, as you can expect when someone dares to use XIXe century London as environment.

One of the latest Sept comic-series episode is also cast in Victorian period. That’s a good example of the best this series can provide -some episodes were unfortunately not overly good-, a series with no set genre, authors, characters, but just focused on this number : 7 (sept/seven). Selected authors are to come up with a story focused on seven important characters from a specific genre. And this one is named Sept détectives.

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Not a surprise, the seven detectives are inspired by the classics of the genre. Inspired but consistent, all of them. Graphics are good. Finally, and that’s probably what matters most in this genre, the story is well written, twisty I might add. I was not familiar with Herick Hanna’s work, the scenarist. Pretty pretty pretty good. Looks promising.

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To stay in context, you’d be wise to give a try to Mr. Jack. That’s a two players board game: one is trying to get the ripper on the large, the other behind bars. I found it well-balanced and properly designed. It does not takes hours to grab the rules neither does it gives too much room to luck. There are extensions to add cards or change scenery (New York version) that I have not tried but would be willing too.

After all, the streets of London can never be safe!

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Sure I was young, cheap and chav (Grimm, 2011-2014; How to Get Away with Murder, 2014-2015)

It’s the summer, there are less series than usual. I’m still watching Grimm (as mentioned before) and am astonished that it still take to the main characters, cops, at least half but more like two third of each episode to understand they are dealing with these “wesen” surnatural beast. As they always do. And the clues are not so hard to catch (body slashed by gigantic claws, etc).

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Unrelated, decent but not always very consistent is How to Get Away with Murder. It’s about students in a law school that get internship at their teacher’s law firm. I won’t describe it in details not to spoil it. Least I can say that they’ll learn for their own benefit how to legally get away with murder.

It’s properly paced, interesting despite not being always overly consistent. For instance, they make it look hard to know where was a phone location at a given time, as if it was necessary to access the phone itself or else, while this data can so easily obtained by the telecom provider. Some potential key witness also fails to come forward as soon as possible, such a cop that saw some guys he dont know moving some strange rugs, at the place where he knows someone else live, even though this person involved in a major case suddenly disappeared.

I also  wonder how likely is it to see on a current tv show a main character, supposedly good, that would be white, shouting : “you were screwing some black whore”.

Apparently a second season is planned. It can be good, it can also be improved.

Aside from that steam summer sales started. The Witcher series in on sale right now.

But lately I’ve had dreams of blood You had me where you want me so you thought.

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Où est-il mon moulin de la Place Blanche ? Mon tabac et mon bistrot du coin ? (Fifth Gear, 2002-2015; Ulysse, les chants du retour, 2014; La Revue Dessinée #07, 2015)

I was getting used to it in TV show. For instance, in Fifth Gear, many times you just see the presenters talking, listening to themselves and any a laugh, instead of showing something actually on topic. When they are actually testing a car, you’ll see most of the time their faces instead of the car or the road. Why not, since it’s about how they feel with these cars, it could make sense.

But now it looks it goes also in comics. In Jean Harambat‘s Ulysse, les chants du retour, you’re often faced drawing not of Ulysses but of (somewhat) famous french people that studied him, as historian, scenarist or whatever. As if you were meeting them, or were watching a TV interview. Drawings are good. Thought about the whole Odyssey are smart. Nonetheless, I find these graphic interview somewhat disturbing. It add an extra layer. It’s not longer just about Homer’s epic poem, then I get in front of me someone posing.

It adds extra characters. I gave a lot of consideration to it and my conclusion stands: it’s distracting. Would Plato be fun on prime TV? Not so sure.

In some cases, like in Benoit Collombat et Etienne Davodeau Les barbouzes de la République, as published in La Revue Dessinée #07, since the story is really made as some sort of investigation, it’s actually ok. You see the characters interacting will people they meet and that have a direct influence on their understanding of what they investigate.

I guess in this case, it really add something. Instead of pretending to reconstruct the past, it just show a process to get familiar with it.

But then, in the same La Revue Dessinée, you get a whole investigation about illegal immigrants. Most of it (every drawing almost), you see a supposedly pretty white girl face expressing her view on the topic. There is really no reason to see her face at all. She’s on the side, not illegally immigrating and not affected in any way by illegal immigrants. But still, we see her face and listen to mushy mushy about how cool would be western europe if the whole planet was there.

So, really, I think something is wrong in general in this trend. And it’s obvious when the point being made is crap. Then you are just supposed to identify yourself to the faces you are submerged with, instead of actually thinking about what is being said.

Où ferez-vous alors vos culbutes, Vous, les pauvres gosses à Poulbot?

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Każdy kraj miał swoje mody (For the Love of Cars, 2014; Car SOS: 2013-2014; Wheeler Dealers, 2003-2014)

Interested in old cars? Or just in mechanics? Years ago, I watched on I-can’t-remember-which cable channel some shows dedicated to car being restored. Notably about old american cars made into hotrods (the show was quite disturbing since it had some boring reality-tv ingredients) or land rover restoration.

Although one season was made, For the Love of Cars is a good quality show. You have two guys teaming up, an actor (Philip Glenister) and a car restoration expert (Ant Anstead) and they take cars that are of a specific matter to british automotive history: Ford Escort Mark 1 Mexico; Land Rover Series 1; Triumph Stag (I was not familiar at all with this one); Mini Cooper Mk 1; MG TC; DeLorean DMC12.

They manage to include interviews of unexecpted enthusiasts of interest. For the Mexico, and old copper and an old car thief are interviewed and meet so they can discuss good old time. For the Land Rover, the show present us a guy that travelled through the world with a similar model, etc. Ant Anstead shows a lot of the restoration process, it’s a must watch.

Car SOS does not even get his own en.wikipedia page. That is to say that’s a bit of cheap version of For the Love of Cars. Here, you have Tim Shaw, tv host, as Philip Glenister, and Fuzz Townshend, bus mechanic and drummer as Ant Anstead. The idea of the shows is to meet people that have a car dying in some garage and to repair it. Usually, it’s the car of the father and there is a sob story about why it has not been fixed but abandoned over years. Not a bad idea – but when you see a guy playing golf and driving very expensive car, it looks funny, to say the least, to think he really need a free restoration of one of his cars. In some others cases, you can see that some guy get totally moved by seing his car even better than when he bought it decades ago. And that’s nice. A drawback of this show is that it often miss to describe and show the restoration process. And often too, they just buy parts or almost complete cars instead of fixing what they have; but that’s probably tied to the concept of the show: they start sometimes with cars beyond salvation so major parts just need to be completely replaced.

I’ll mention last the show that is actually the oldest but that I’ve just started to watch. It’s Wheeler Dealers. Here you have the buyer (since it started in 2003, I cannot keep considering For the Love of Cars as the reference), Mike Brewer, real car trader, and the mechanic, Edd China, Edd China is as impressive as Ant Anstead, in his own way. No matter what car Mike Brewer brings, whether it’s a BWM 840ci with a 4000 cm3 engine and lot of electronics or a BMW Isetta, microcar with 247 cm3 engine, whether the fix is about engine or the car shell, he get the job done. Plus he shows lot of tricks and tips. That’s great. This guy famous for fatest moving toilet/furniture world records knows his business.  And, you got it, Mike Brewer is providing him with a large range of cars. He’s always very happy with what he bought. But why would he not, since he went for it? Depending on the seasons, the initial buy got a price limit (first £1000, later £2000, then £3000, etc). It’s kind of obvious that if you buy the same car as Mike Brewer but don’t have an Edd China, with the knowledge and the tools, around, you’ll probably wont make any profit. Still, it does not make the show less interesting.

 If you can’t watch the show, you can always buy a Maluch. I na niego mocno chuchał, Mały, tani, na urlopy, Zjeździł z nami pół Europy.

Update: It turns out Edd China worked on Father Ted!

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All is safe and all is good but lately I’ve had dreams of blood (The Detail, 2014)

Presented as “The Detail combines the emotional impact of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead with the themes of a realistic crime drama like HBO’s The Wire, delivered with our own unique visual style inspired heavily by graphic novels.”, I was afraid it would be too-much.

As the next prick, I both love The Wire (not that much season 2) and dislike pricks that love The Wire – I watched it first when it was on air though. So anything pretending to be related in any way to The Wire has to be treated with suspicion. But the game was on sale so I went for it.

And I’m actually glad I did. So far (the game is delivered by episodes) The Detail is good. Not surprinsingly, it depict a sick sad world, it was not expected to be original in this regard.

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The characters are likely, the graphics are nice and the gameplay is really well thought of, you navigate a bit in a comic. I dare say Telltale people should take a look at it, there are some good ideas. From time to times, the interface is inconvenient but it’s very rare (I was also forced to play with the gamepad, but that’s the same with Telltale games and their keyboard setup stuck to QWERTY keyboard). Ambiance wise, in my opinion it does not relates that much to The Wire or The Walking Dead but more obviously to NYPD Blue (already mentioned there): the main cop in the game is totally a Sipowicz in any aspects.

I’m looking forward the following episode or any other game from Rival Games. You had me where you want me so you thought.

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Piszę do Ciebie mały gryps, wiedz że broniłem poczty w Gdańsku… (Westerplatte Broni Sie Nadal, 1967; Tajemnica Westerplatte, 2013)

A Battle of Thermopylae during early-WWII? It did not happen during la Bataille de France, when we managed to loose against an enemy not that much stronger (except aircraft-wise – long time I’ve talked about armored vehicules on this blog). 8 month earlier, during Fall Weiß, in Westerplatte, you had your 209 guys defending against circa 3500. They were tasked to hold this little piece of land around Gdańsk/Danzig, obviously overly symbolic for Germany in the same fashion as Eupen-Malmedy or Elsaß-Lothringen (up for grabs). And that’s exactly where WWII started for Poland.

 With a decent amount of machine gun and not much else, they were supposed to stand for 12 hours until reinforcements. They were never reinforced but stood nonetheless 6 days.

 Good movie material, wouldn’t you say? There are actually two movies made about it.

Westerplatte Broni Sie Nadal was made in 1967 by Stanisław Różewicz. Kind of conventional in fight scenes, some dialogs made me wonder. For instance, there is a scene where polish officiers discuss reddition, afraid they might actually get shot on the spot: one of them mention he was himself in Prussian army during WWI and witness that germans are not per se criminals. Could be a simple fact: any random man born in these contested territories might have been involved on one or another side depending on the timeline. Could also be seen as a communist point of view to which no national allegiance matters, honoring the fighters but sligthly disregarding their cause nonetheless. Thinking about this, I’m curious to know how many movies were made about WWII in Poland during the communist era. The year is 1939. August 24th, Nazi Germany sign a non-aggression pact with Soviet Russia – even if the secret provisions are not yet known. September the 1st, Nazi Germany invade. September 17th, Soviet Russia invade Poland. Short acceptable timeline. Kind of hard for Soviets to looks like they’re part of the good guys in this story, and I’m not going as far as talking mass-murders and deportation. Soviet Russia actually started what is called there the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany war by attacking on their rear people defending against Nazi Germany. If that was a joke, it would be funny. It’s not.

Tajemnica Westerplatte was directed in 2013 by Paweł Chochlew. However slow at times, it’s decently done, good dialogs, comedians (Michał Żebrowski: Jan Skrzetuski in Ogniem i mieczem; Geralt of Rivia in Wiedźmin – the Witcher movie which I’ll watch any time soon but I’ve been told is astonishingly cheap; surprisingly Polish hetman Kybowsky in Kremlin-sponsored movie 1612released on November 1, 2007  to coincide with the celebrations of National Unity Day on November 4 that marks the expulsion of Polish troops from Moscow”, that he does not find more anti-polish that Ogniem i mieczem would be anti-ukrainian), special effects. In Tajemnica Westerplatte too there are debates among officiers -and troops- about whether they should surrender or not.

not a polish flag

In 1967 movie, Major Henryk Sucharski was outright portrayed a charismatic, down-to-earth, caring, commander of Westerplatte. Each time he thought about surrender, he did it with regards of saving lives of his troops. Each time, except when he actually surrendered, he consulted with his fellow officers. It was stressed several times that, unlike his second, Captain Franciszek Dąbrowski -much more warmongering-, he was a son of peasants like the rest of the soldiers. In this new movie, Sucharski would be shell-shocked and Dąbrowski in command.

It apparently leds to arguments summarized on wikipedia as “(the dispute) centres on the question of who commanded the defence of Westerplatte […]. Interestingly, this dispute does not involve historians since it is not taking place as an academic debate. It is the domain of disputes of people passionate about history on the internet and in the press, in an atmosphere of gradual and consistent repetition of various unconfirmed sources […] This dispute has gone so far beyond its narrow circle of fans of the internet, moving into the mass media as a dispute over a film script and the spending of public money on a film which aims to show the new ‘truth’ about the defence of Westerplatte […] Regardless of the disputes, Sucharski and the two hundred other defenders of the WST will remain in the circle of good memory, regardless of whether they wanted to defend it to their last bullet, or whether they contemplated putting down arms already after 12 hours of the first shot of the Schleswig-Holstein on 1 September 1939”.

As a matter of fact, even in most hardcore german units where fanatism was a priority matter, giving up when there was no longer any ammunition and mean to continue the fight was not considered undignified. No matter how much true they historically are, none of this couple of movies is depicting a shaming way the defence of Westerplatte, on the contrary.

the end
Tych parę słów na koniec już, wspominajcie mnie i pożegnajcie, Gdy odnajdziecie gdzieś mój grób, dopiszcie “bronił Poczty Polskiej”

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What prey for us today? (The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013; The Wolf Among Us, 2013-2014; Grimm, 2011-2014)

I was in no hurry to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, even though critics are apologetic about it, even though I generally enjoy Martin Scorcese stuff. I don’t think traders of Wall Street are contributing to worldwide economy is a useful way for mankind and I’m not readily able to devote 179 minutes to hear about them and their life concerns, no matter how it’s done.

But I had to watch it -it’s still Scorcese- and I did. Well, it’s unsurprisingly a good movie. Well played, well produced, blah blah. But in the end, I really don’t care about the characters, my mind is set to side with the FBI (the yacht scene in which the main character tries to bribe an agent is a delight)… and I did not really pay attention to the last 20/30 minutes of the movie.

You even have to wonder about this wolf-naming scheme: in what manner this main trader character even slightly relate to a wolf? Wolf-wise, I’d more enclined to think about the main character of The Wolf Among Us, the big bad wolf doing some bad and some good as any proper sheriff of Fabletown should.

Not creating but dealing withDirty to keep you safe Still the bad guy

You haven’t played it yet? As every other recent point-and-click Telltale adventure, that’s a must play, a must watch. Tremendous graphics, captivating story, I would have said the best Tellgame game ever but Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones, after one episode each, both felt as good.

That's the job
Not as perfectly executed but interesting nonetheless is Grimm, also taking fairy tales/folklore characters and planting them in our current world. That’s some sort of new Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The main character is actually not of much interest (I’ve seen only season 1 so far, though) but people around him are. For instance, Monroe the Blutbad played by Silas Weir Mitchell.

 Fulfill the given promise, grim legacy to come?