Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grijpstra and DeGier - The Amsterdam Cops

Imagine you're on the way to a business meeting at the other end of the USA from your home base. You've been  traveling since 6:00am to make a morning meeting in another time zone five hours away. But along the way bad weather and flight cancellations strand you halfway in an airport and now you're in line trying to book another flight.  You are trying to find a way to get there tonight for an evening dinner meeting, but find the only way to even get there late tonight  is to take two different flights and change planes somewhere closer, but not quite there. All this and you have to now wait at this airport for four hours for your first flight.

By now you've read over the meeting notes so many times you can't stand it anymore, and you've read the book you brought for the down times in between.  You roll your bag and your exhausted self to the airport bookstore, not holding out much hope of finding anything more than the current "bestseller".  Because you're tired and angry and hate the world at this point, you go to your one guaranteed escape, the Mystery section.  There you are attracted to the red and white and black, and rather surrealistic and atmospheric photos on the cover of a series of books from an author with a long name that you've never heard of: Janwillen van de Wetering.  You read the blurb on the back and see it's set in Amsterdam (love European mysteries), set in the 70's (my growing up years), and see it's a series with two cops (love the "Sherlock and Holmes" partnerings). Seems like your kind of book.  So you buy two of the novels, the first and second in the series (having checked this inside the book), and start feeling a bit better.

So there I am, having taken care of the most important business, procuring reading material. With books in hand, I call my office before everyone is gone home to tell them what's happened so they can call the meeting group and tell them what's happened to me (yes, before the days we all had cell phones attached to our ears), and go and get something to eat.  Once seated I open book #1 and instantly I'm plunged into the underground world of Amsterdam, prostitutes, drugs, murder,music, love, hate, Zen, and cats.  So started my love affair with Grijpstra and de Gier, their lives, and their world.

Now by now I've read all the novels and the short stories, and I still read my favorites off and on if I need a mental break.  I always wondered why a TV series was never made from the novels, and searching the Internet off and on finally found one day that indeed there was a TV series made for Dutch TV from 2004-2007.  I keep searching in hope that a US Public Television channel, or MHZ Networks,or cable channel, will pick it up and show it with English subtitles of course.  I have found clips of the series on YouTube,  but it would be wonderful to see the entire series.  OK, I can probably hunt down the DVD's, but I'm sure there's some cable or Public TV channel looking to fill up some time slots and keep those of us who love mysteries and international TV programs happy.

Any one out there listening?

I guess I should say a few things about the novels and the author and detectives, and I'll post a few links here for anyone that wants to know more.  I'll just say that Grijpstra is the older, middle-aged cop, the married one with family, who is burnt out and cynical about his job.  De Gier is the younger and handsome one, a beautiful man as a matter of fact, and rather Zen-like. Though legions of women fall for de Gier and we get a love affair or two or three, he is single, very much a loner, and lives with his cat. Both men are united by a love of music especially jazz. Grijpstra plays drums and de Gier the flute and often after a difficult case they get together and play. Oh, and they have a much older and mysterious boss called the commissaris.

Oh yes, I can't forget the Zen undertones of the stories. You see the author, Janwillem van de Wetering was a student of philosophy and Zen Buddhism.

Here' a clip of the opening from the Dutch TV series:

For more about the TV series click HERE
For more about the novels and the author click HERE.

I've also found there was a 1979 Dutch movie made of the Amsterdam Cops starring Rutger Hauer (playing deGier of course). I must find the film now and see it.

I'm not a fan of remakes or of remaking successful TV series, but reading the novels I often thought about who I would cast as the detectives if a movie or series was made in the UK or the US?  I know I have my choices, and they have changed through the years. Who would you cast for the two cops and their mysterious boss?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Other Side's Version of Middle Earth

Not only have I been immersed in all the coverage about "The Hobbit" movie and the first joint appearance of the main cast, but I've started to listen to an audio-book of the unabridged version of the tale in my car. (Unfortunately not read by Richard Armitage...but maybe in the future?)

So searching for new news I stumbled upon this article in about a different version of the events in "The Lord of The Rings".  What if the other side, the dark side, the evil side, wrote their own version of the story:

That's the philosophy behind "The Last Ringbearer," a novel set during and after the end of the War of the Ring (the climactic battle at the end of "The Lord of the Rings") and told from the point of view of the losers. The novel was written by Kirill Yeskov, a Russian paleontologist, and published to acclaim in his homeland in 1999. Translations of the book have also appeared in other European nations, but fear of the vigilant and litigious Tolkien estate has heretofore prevented its publication in English.

 To read the entire article in click HERE.

Of course it's understandable that Yeskov's book is apparently also controversial with Tolkien fans. No one wants to see their heroes destroyed.

But thanks to the Internet, these days there's always someone that will make the information available to the curious, and so it was that last year Yisroel Markov posted his English translation of the "The Last Ringbearer". To go to his site and read his version of tales from the Mordor side, click HERE

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lucas North: Our Bobby Ewing? Or Bob Newhart?

As a longtime fan of the UK series Spooks/MI-5  I’m used to twists and turns and surprises.  It’s something I expect and love about the series.  But I can’t understand why the writers decided to detroy the wonderfully conflicted, damaged, yet heroic, character of Lucas North, played by Richard Armitage, in Season 9 of the series.  Now at the end of the series we didn’t actually see the END of Lucas North/John Bateman.  I propose the following scenarios of how to bring Lucas back and erase the injustice of Season 9.

Scenario #1:

I've recently been reading about the planned remake of the popular American series “Dallas” and the saga of the Ewing Dynasty and the return of many of the regulars of the original series, including Patrick Duffy who played younger son Bobby Ewing

Confession time, I was a regular viewer of “Dallas” (1978-1991) and remember how sad I was when Patrick Duffy left the series at one point (1985) and if my memory is correct, he seemed to have died at the end of the last season episode that year. The following year the series pursued a story line of mourning Bobby and going on to introduce new characters.  Duffy was off to pursue other interests (you can read more about it here) but found the grass was indeed not greener on the other side.  Imagine the audience’s surprise when the following season opens and we hear a shower, and see Bobby’s wife, Pam (Victoria Principal), drawing back the shower curtain, and who is standing there! Bobby Ewing ! Alive! Yes, ladies and gents, seems Bobby’s death and the previous season was only a dream, Pam’s dream, and she wakes up a year later to find her man was only taking a shower all that time. 

I know, you’re asking yourselves right now, what does this all haveto do with Lucas North and Spooks (MI-5)?  Well, I have a proposition to put forth to the Spooks writers of how they can erase the error of turning lovely hero Lucas into John Bateman.

 Let’s just imagine this scenario as Spooks Season 10 opens.  We see a woman waking up from a bad dream and pulling off the covers from her bed.  We hear a shower.  The woman looks puzzled and walks toward the bathroom.  She opens the door, and we can clearly see the silhouette of a body through the glass shower door and hear and see the water.  The woman walks toward the shower, and slides back the glass door and a tall man with a busily tattooed back and black hair appears before our eyes. The man turns around, smiles, gives the woman a smoldering blue eyed stare, and says in a deep chocolate velvet voice, “Good Morning”.


So here’s my question and poll for my fellow Lucas North fans. Who would you pick as the woman that slides open the shower door (see poll on the right).   

Feb 14:  The Winner of the poll is Beth.

Read a great post on Phylly's Faves about Lucas North and Bobby Ewing's shower scene:

Scenario #2

Legendary American comedian Bob Newhart has had a long and successful career in U.S. television as the star of several successful situation comedy series.  Shortly after his beloved series “The Bob Newhart Show” (1972-1978) ended he was back on our TV screens in another quirky comedy series, “Newhart” (1982-1990).  (Did I mention I was a tiny toddler when I was watching all these old TV shows?).   To this day the last episode and ending of the “Newhart” show in 1990 is considered to be one of the best endings in series television.
To understand what happened at the end of “Newhart” you have to know that  actress Suzanne Pleshette was greatly loved as Bob’s wife Emily in the “The Bob Newhart Show”,  and that another actress, Mary Frann, played Bob’s wife in “Newhart”.  I think rather than explaining what happens, watch the video below to see the end of the “Newhart” series :

So what is the scenario for Spooks’s Lucas North?   Let’s imagine a beginning rather than an ending.  Series 10 opens and we enter a darkened bedroom and see a couple sleeping.  The camera pans to the woman in bed, clearly in the midst of a nightmare.  The woman is suddenly awake, frightened, and turns to the sleeping man beside her and shakes him awake.  The man is wearing a black, so called “wife beater” shirt, but on his neck we can clearly see a tattoo with the words “Dum Spiro Spero”.  As he turns around to face her, she says “You’ll never believe the dream I just had about you”:

So on to poll #2 and a second chance to make a selection. Who is the woman in bed next to the man in black?  See column on the right side below the newest column post for polls.

Feb 14:   The Winner of the Poll is Beth

Thank you for voting!

A disclaimer: This is just fun speculation about ways to bring back the Lucas North of Season 7 and 8 to Spooks and I hope it’s taken in that spirit. 

Richard Armitage caps thanks to RichardArmitageNet,,, other images and clip thanks to Google Images, YouTube


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