Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Having just published the third book in my Justinia Wright, PI series and two short stories which take us back to a time before the series begins, I’ve had mysteries on my mind. And of late, I’ve been watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

I find the showed delightful. The characters are superbly drawn. They have history. They have issues. They are like real people. The mystery, on the other hand, is usually light and often flawed. On one episode, Miss Fisher gets an important clue by looking at a typewriter ribbon – a carbon typewriter ribbon. Oh, did I mention the era is the 1920s? Now that is what I call I gaping plot hole. But in spite of such faux pas, I thoroughly enjoy the show because the characters are so very lifelike. And the show is really about the characters.

For me the best stories are not plot-driven, but character-driven. I don’t give two hoots for the plot. In my mind, the plot is only there because the characters do something. Where’s the plot in Waiting For Godot? The story seems to get along quite nicely without one. Or how about The Remains Of The Day? The plot, such as it is, is merely the vehicle for us to listen to the ruminations of Stevens. Or what about The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress? Lots of plot there and yet the plot is merely the vehicle for Heinlein to present his picture of a libertarian utopia. In that sense, any plot could have worked. The plot in and of itself is non-essential. It’s the characters acting (giving us a plot) that is the real story.

Another example is Raw Head by Ben Willoughby. Willoughby creates two characters, has them do their thing, and the result is a strongly character driven story. Just as Ray Bradbury said it should be.

Christine by Stephen King, in my opinion, is a case of where the plot actually gets in the way of the story. And I think it was probably due to his having to write his book to a certain length for the publisher. But whatever the reason, two-thirds of the way through the book the story was told and yet King went on having the car create more and more senseless havoc, gore, and mayhem. For me, the extended and senseless plot ruined the book. Plot to my mind is highly overrated. Follow the Bradbury formula and your story will be told. After all, that is the real point of the plot. To tell a story. And your characters will do that for you.

So if the writers of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries leave gaping plot holes, why bother watching? I think there are lots of reasons. Namely, the characters. Miss Fisher, a complex rich socialite with the past. Her companion, doc, who is in some ways miss fishers polar opposite. Inspector Jack Robinson, I somewhat stated police detective who gradually appreciates Mrs. Fisher’s talents. Constable Collins, who provides us with comic relief. And the list goes on.

Of course, this setting also contributes to the charm of the series: Melbourne in the 1920s. It is the perfect stage for larger than life liberated woman to walk apart.

There’s lots to like in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Do give the show a try.

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10 Worst Screen Characters

On this mostly gray Saturday, I was minding my own business struggling through Federal and State tax forms, when I noticed once again I was tagged by that sublime Brit, Crispian Thurlborn, for another game of 10 screen characters. This time the 10 worst. It took me awhile, because when I don’t like the characters I stop watching. Usually. But after much thought and help from my wife, I came up with 10. They are all pretty awful, so in no particular order, here we go:

1. Ronald Merrick, played by Tim Pigott-Smith, in The Jewel in the Crown

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2 and 3. Captain Picard and William Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation

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4. Tilo, played by Aishwarya Rai, in The Mistress of Spices

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5. Willy Wonka in the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Ugh!

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6. Sherlock Holmes in PBS’s Sherlock. Awful, just awful.

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7. The Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey. Great for getting a good night’s sleep.

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8. Katniss in The Hunger Games trilogy. Couldn’t stand her in the books, either.

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9. Edward in Twilight. Double Ugh!

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10. Bella Swan in Twilight. She could actually be in the running for all time worst.

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Oh, the ignominy of it all. Gads!

My tags will be on Twitter.

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10 Favorite Screen Characters

So there I was typing away on my third installment in The Rochport Saga, when Crispian Thurlborn tags me on Twitter to name my 10 favorite screen characters. It took me a while, but I came up with 10.  Here they are in no particular order:

Dracula played by Bela Lugosi

 

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Lara Croft played by Angelina Jolie

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Captain Kirk played by William Shatner

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Indiana Jones played by Harrison Ford

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Agent Carter played by Hayley Atwell

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Sherlock Holmes played by Basil Rathbone

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Stevens played by Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day

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Maria played by Brigitte Helm in Metropolis

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Selene played by Kate Beckinsale in Underworld

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Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet

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Now that my list is complete, I’ll be back on Twitter playing tag.

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