A nasty wet afternoon yesterday, so no walk and far too much TV.
The Shawshank Redemption. One of the greats and something I’ve been determined Best Beloved should see for a long time. One of those movies that is excellent the first time you see it and improves with repeated viewing, because every time we are drip-fed one of the threads that come so gloriously together at the end there is a nice warm fuzzy glow as you realise what is happening. Tiny flashes of humanity show up through the sea of dehumanising misery like poppies on Flanders field – tiny, but all you really need to keep going one more day.
Then the ‘Making of’ feature on the DVD. Not something I usually watch, but interesting to see. Not least for the group of Christian film critics who like to shoehorn as much meaning as they can into – well, just about anything, really. You can take it too far. The Shawshank Redemption is undoubtedly a film about redemption – there’s a clue in the title – but drawing parallels between Andy and Christ starts to get silly. Andy’s redemption comes through his own hard work – which many would say is the only kind of redemption available, but I wouldn’t and they shouldn’t either.
Also amused to see actor Clancy Brown, who plays the utterly bastardly Captain Hadley, explain that he politely declined the offer to mix with some real prison guards, since if they saw the movie then they would really really really really rather he didn’t say he based his performance on any of them.
The West Wing. The Prime Minister of the UK is a glorified MP who gets to meet the Queen a bit more than usual. It's a position worthy of respect, but this fact should always be at the back of his or her mind. On t'other hand, the Office of President of the United States of America should be worth so much more honour and dignity. It should belong to someone like Bartlet; not a sabre rattling pea brain, not a Southern slimeball, not a ... fill in your own unworthy candidate here. Always priceless.
And finally Lewis. I like this show. Lewis has moved on since Morse. He’s older, more cynical and also slightly better at his job than his old boss. I really get the feeling Oxford is his manor. Of course, it’s still a dream Oxford linked by a mysterious network of wormholes enabling characters to move seamlessly between locations miles apart while still having the same conversation. It’s more fine tuned than in the old days, when Morse couldn’t drive between any two locations in Oxfordshire without heading the wrong way down the High. Lewis doesn’t drive so much – his car isn’t so photogenic – so the wormhole network now mostly covers tourist attractions and college quads.
I’m still not quite sure where Lewis works. Morse, in the books and on TV, was undoubtedly based in Kidlington, HQ of Thames Valley Police. Lewis's office is obviously somewhere more central but we’re never quite sure where. I suppose it could be St Aldates. I’ve never been beyond the front desk there but even so, it looks a bit too modern. Anyway.
And please can we not wait another twenty years for Hathaway to get his own series.
So, far too much TV, and a headache and a couple of hours insomnia as a result. But every now and then, just once in a while, that’s what Sundays are for.