With the end of the Christmas season comes the time to watch new episodes again! A month-long break was not too bad, but eight months is quite another matter. I love the short seasons of Canadian shows because it makes for a tighter storyline, but I do not like the long waits in-between.
On to Winter Premiere Week…
ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 2, Episode 10 (The Cricket Game)
It is very hard to change, point blank. Ask anyone who has tried to keep a New Year’s resolution. Change has to come from within. But it also has to come from outside. You need to have support. It is all well and good to want to be a better person, but others have to a) accept that you want to be a better person and b) give, or at least allow, you opportunities to become a better person.
In this episode, hardly anyone in Storybrooke has even reached point A with regards to Regina. Understandably, she did horrible things in the past, so no one really wants to be cozy and friendly with her. But no one, aside from Henry, Archie, and Emma, wants to accept her or help her. I wanted to smack most of the characters upside the head, but then, I have not lived in a world with black magic and I haven’t been the nicest person either.
Cora is back! Unluckily for her, her little girl is trying to change. Luckily, only three people are willing to help her! Three people can be easily eradicated: Archie is disposed, Emma is persuaded that Regina is responsible for his disposal, and Henry is persuaded by Emma. (It certainly does not help Regina’s case that she throws a tantrum and attacks Emma, but her behaviour is entirely sympathetic from an audience perspective.) Job well done for Cora!
Aside from a very dark plot, the episode had many fun and lighthearted moments. It was enjoyable and I love the themes that the writers are presenting. However, I found myself almost as angry as Regina throughout much of the hour instead, first at the networks for screwing up the shows (I had to watch the last three minutes online the next day because they got cut off) and then at the characters themselves. Thankfully, up next was…
REPUBLIC OF DOYLE – Season Premiere!
Season 4, Episode 1 (From Dublin with Love)
FINALLY!!! The Season Premiere that was only eight months and a week after last year’s finale. I had been waiting that long to find out what happened – after all, the last scene of the finale had a character get shot.
This is a Canadian series set in St. John’s, Newfoundland, but is otherwise an adventure-crime dramedy with our stars being private investigators. It is hilarious, action-packed, and both relatable and ridiculous at the same time.
Our heroes are Jake Doyle, a thirty-something private investigator, his dad (and partner-in-crime-solving) Malachy, and the assorted members of the Doyle clan who round out the detective agency. They solve crimes, get into trouble, get out of trouble, and laugh about it over a pint afterwards. Romance, heists, and car chases ensue. Family drama also follows.
I was not convinced that they would kill a main character on this show, simply because it was not that type of show. Killing a major character would be too dramatic, particularly when that character is meant for comic relief. Thus, I was not surprised at the outcome of last season’s cliffhanger – but I was pleasantly surprised to see that they actually tried to portray a character who had been seriously injured and spent the entire of the show’s hiatus in hospital. As I said, the show is both relatable and ridiculous.
MURDOCH MYSTERIES – Season Premiere!
Season 6, Episode 1 (Murdoch Air)
Compared with Republic of Doyle, this show just ended three weeks ago, although the first run of the fifth season technically finished at the end of August. Season 6 picks up a few months afterwards (presumably so as to avoid filming in winter, since the last episode was New Year’s) in the middle of 1900 in Toronto. Otherwise, everything is much the same: Det. Murdoch is solving crimes, the Boer War is raging in South Africa, and Dr. Ogden has just returned from several months studying in Vienna with Dr. Freud. Inspector Brackenreid is considering joining up for military duty, while Constable Crabtree and Dr. Grace are newly dating.
The charm of Murdoch Mysteries is the way it captures the spirit of the Victorian and Edwardian eras (if they make it another season, Queen Victoria will be officially dead) while still feeling like a modern show. There are tongue-in-cheek references to our future, partly to demonstrate how much has changed, but mostly simply as jokes. The Victorian era was one of invention and optimism, but darker clouds loomed. Inspector Brackenreid’s speech to his sons (approximately twelve and eight years old) about duty to Queen and Country seems a lot more tragic when one considers how the boys will be the perfect age to fight in the First World War – and they probably will.
In fact, the contrast between invention for the benefit of mankind and invention for the killing of mankind is keenly presented in this episode. The story is centred on the early days of controlled flight. An airplane prototype (similar to that of the Wright Brothers) is stolen and a dead body discovered – it is soon apparent that international espionage is involved. Canadian and American agents are vying for the prototype and for its inventor’s secrets. The inventor does not want his invention to be used for warfare. Frankly, I don’t blame him. He knows that it is only a matter of time before aircraft is used for war, but he does not want his name attached to it. Nationalism is not as important as honour.
Season 5, Episode 10 (Significant Others)
Finally, we come to this week’s episode of Castle, which was fun and not particularly unusual. The main plot is not so much the weekly murder but the fact that Richard Castle’s first wife came to stay at his home. Long story short: Castle had his mother, daughter, girlfriend (Beckett), and ex-wife all in the same apartment. Neither his mother nor Beckett were happy about the situation. A couple days went by before the ex-wife left, leaving some time for her to bond with Beckett and in the end it was Castle who was the most uncomfortable.
However, I do want to object to the portrayal of divorce in the media. This episode seemed to reinforce the idea that no one can be amicably divorced, despite the fact that until now, the show had portrayed the main character as having two ex-wives that he actually got along with when necessary.
Really, Hollywood, “amicably divorced” is not an oxymoron. Many people are, particularly if they have children, and especially in today’s age of 50% divorce rate among couples. One of the plus sides of people getting divorced at the drop of a hat is that they often do so for more mundane reasons than adultery or abuse or finances. These don’t make for good television, however. Ex-wives and ex-husbands getting along and still keeping in touch without any flying sparks aren’t entertaining.
Being amicably divorced is hard. No matter how mundane the reason you got divorced, your relationship for the rest of your life will always be awkward at the least. Marriage is for life, and divorce follows you to the grave. Even if there are no children involved, ex-spouses are always in the picture. Having more than one spouse, even after divorce, is awkward. But it can be perfectly manageable.
That said, Castle really should not have let his ex-wife stay when his relationship with Beckett was still new. He is quite wealthy – he should have put her up in a hotel, or suggested that he and Beckett take a romantic getaway, since the reason that the ex-wife wanted to come was because her daughter was sick. His suggestion of such a romantic getaway was at least a nice gesture – I’d have at least acknowledged that. How else does one deal with awkwardness?