Catching A Killer

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When I was growing up, The Bill was huge here in Australia. We watched it as a family and we all loved the show – and thus a fascination with all things British policing was born.

Over the years there have been many great documentary shows on the subject – everything from Traffic Cops to Police Interceptors to Sky Cops to 24 Hours In Police Custody – the more of these shows you watch, the more you see how shows like The Bill got things pretty right. You could easily plop the cast of The Bill down into a real UK police station and you would not be able to tell the difference.

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A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon Catching A Killer on the ABC here in Australia – you can still view it on iView (until September 16) and I highly recommend it. There are only two episodes of the show. For those not in Australia, you can currently catch these docos on youtube here and here.

To me the most fascinating part of the documentary is how the police use the ANPR system to track the movement of vehicles in the UK. In both episodes it is a crucial part of the investigation, especially in the second episode. They were able to take 5300 vehicles on the roads at the time and narrow it down to one vehicle.

Did you know that the UK has over 8500 cameras capturing the movements of vehicles across the country? These records are stored for up to two years in the National ANPR Data Center, which can be accessed, analysed and used as evidence as part of investigations by UK law enforcement agencies.

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The police can type in a numberplate and see every occasion that particular vehicle has been seen on camera, and they can track where a vehicle goes – the screenshot above shows a vehicle which the owner claimed was at home hitting various cameras across the UK where the green circles are..

They have a pretty decent CCTV network over in the UK as well, and watching them piece together the movements of cars and people of interest is a sight to be seen.

All this to say, if you have a spare minute, watch these documentaries. Especially those of you who enjoyed Line of Duty, this is like the real thing but without all the police corruption and major plot twists!

television shows

I Listen To Things

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For many weeks here on Wednesdays I have been doing reviews of movies and television shows. We will return to that yet again in the future, I promise. This week I want to talk about The West Wing Weekly podcast, Google Chromecast, and various images.

For the most part I do not set up technical things up in this house. That task falls to The Other Half. So I mostly just accept the way things are, and when my old tv box which allowed me to watch things on the server began acting up, I inherited a Google Chromecast, or at least I think I did. I truly am clueless about it.

If I watch something on Netflix or on our server, when I am done with it if I do not switch back to Foxtel images begin to appear on my screen via Google Chromecast. Many of the images are quite stunning to look at and I do enjoy seeing them. There are NASA images of the day, images from Google Earth View, and images taken in national parks across America. The image up the top there, Turquoise Swirls in the Black Sea is one of the rotating images, as is the image you see below, which is – Lakes and Rivers Have Ice Too.

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Here are some of the Chromecast Backgrounds collected together beautifully for you to view, if you like. Here you can view some of the Earth View images. Here you can find the NASA image of the day and their archives.

It may not come as a surprise to you to hear this but a big phrase in my world is “I would like to know more about that” and I love that the NASA images can easily be found by typing in their title to your favourite search engine (eg Solar Evaporation Ponds Near Moab, Utah which you are about to see a part of below, click on the link for the whole photo and story) and you get a page with a story about the photo.

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I do not love that the images for Digital Globe have no backstory attached and the images really can’t be found so much online. Most of them just have a location and if you type that location into your search engine of choice, you are going to get all kinds of odd unrelated stuff and I don’t always know what it is I am seeing. I will say though, I did NOT need to look at the location to know when I was looking at Oahu from space partly because I have spent so much time looking at it on Google Maps, and partly because of the natatorium shown.

I was surprised to find that I never listened to any of The West Wing Weekly (TWWW) podcasts. I’m not a big podcast person to be truthful with you. I listened to the Breaking Bad Insider Podcasts and deeply loved every single one of them, I recently enjoyed the Better Call Saul Insider podcasts, and somehow I stumbled onto TWWW. I have been binging like an addict. The good thing is, I know the episodes so well I do not have to watch them, so I can just put my cordless headphones on and enjoy the podcast.

While I am listening, Chromecast is throwing these gorgeous images onto my screen, which I did find distracting to begin with but now I have seen all the images and it is cycling through them, I can just enjoy the beauty of them. The earth is such an amazing and gorgeous place especially when seen from space.

television shows, The West Wing

Line Of Duty

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When I heard that Thandie Newton was guest starring in Season 4 of Line Of Duty, I had a choice to make – watch the previous three seasons, or just watch Season 4 and see if I liked the show. I chose the latter and I think I made the right decision at the time, but my advice to others would likely be, watch the whole series in order.

Due to my deep love for Thandie thanks to her previous works and especially recently, her work in WestWorld, I was on her characters side from the beginning. If I had watched the previous seasons I would probably have been suspicious of her character instead.

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I watched season 4 in two sittings because it is the kind of show that you need to watch the next episode right away – better to stop mid-episode than wait till the end if you have things to do because most of the time they have cliffhangers at the end of the episode. There were only a couple of times where I missed some connection due to not seeing previous seasons.

After watching season 4, I discovered seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix here in Australia (check Hulu and Amazon in the USA), and it was a fast gallop through those seasons. Season one I watched in one sitting, it was just 5 episodes long.

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So what is this show all about? We begin with the following – DS Steve Arnott is in charge of an operation that goes wrong. His fellow police officers try to cover up their mistakes but he refuses to lie about what happened.

He then is a bit of an outcast among his colleagues and ends up being transferred to an Anti Corruption unit, led by Superintendent Ted Hastings. Meanwhile DC Kate Fleming is already working undercover on the case he is about to be assigned – checking into DCI Tony Gates who has a suspiciously high arrest rate.

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This show is sometimes like being strapped into a rollercoaster and launched repeatedly from a standing start to travel instantly at enormous speeds as a surprise to yourself, in the dark, with no idea of what is coming next.

You think you know where things are going, and the rollercoaster lurches in a totally different direction. You think you know who the good guys are, you are probably going to be wrong, and even the good guys have flaws and can bend like the branches of a tree when required.

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Seasons 2-4 of the show were filmed in Northern Ireland and for fans of The Fall you might occasionally spot a familiar location. Each season has a different main guest star character, and you never know who might show up in a supporting role.

Seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix here in Australia, season 4 just finished playing on 13th Street on Foxtel, and sometimes this show can be seen on the ABC as well. If you enjoy police drama, this is a great show to watch. If you enjoy complex plots and twists and turns, this is definitely a show you should seek out. I’d go so far to say, I have never seen a show twist and turn as much as this one, and even the interview scenes with the actors sat round a table disputing “facts” can be incredibly gripping and occasionally shocking.

I am now a huge fan of the main cast which includes Martin Compton as Steve Arnott, Vicky McClure as Kate Fleming, and Adrian Dunbar as Ted Hastings. I loved this show! :)

television shows

Animal Kingdom – The TV Series

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There is no question about it – we are living in the days of peak television. How else could I have let this fantastic show sit on my “to watch” list for nearly 2 years?

I have been a huge fan of Scott Speedman since the Felicity days. So when I heard they were making a TV series based on the Animal Kingdom movie and Scott Speedman was set to be one of the main cast, I added that to my list of shows to watch. And just recently – having finished Line of Duty which is another show I will be writing a post about soon – I spotted it on Netflix and dove in head first. Wow, what a ride!

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Having completed all the episodes presently available, I went to watch the movie again. I had seen it a while ago but the main thing I remembered was Ben Mendelsohn and his dark, malevolent presence in that film.

If you have seen the movie do not think of it as a spoiler for the TV series – almost none of the events of the movie appear in the TV show as yet and I have seen season 2 episode 7.

The main thing the movie has given the TV show is the cast of characters and their backstory. The show begins in a very similar way to the movie, but then the TV show moves off onto a different path and what a delight it is to travel with it.

If I had to describe this show, it would be a longer version of Point Break. The surfing is there, the jumping out of planes, the robberies, the crime planning, the California setting, virtually everything that was great about Point Break is present here. However they have added to it a fantastic cast and some highly talented and experienced crew.

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I love what they have done with Smurf – played by Ellen Barkin – in particular her costumes are great but they have taken her character from the movie and stepped it up like 300 notches – not only is she the matriarch of this crime family but she is a huge part of it, basically the ringleader of it, choosing the jobs, allocating the work, laundering the money, making big decisions. I loved the scene where she is ironing male underwear, too. This role in the movie gained Jacki Weaver an Oscar nomination. Due to so much excellent television Ellen Barkin has not received any nominations for her portrayal of Smurf and that is a great shame.

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Shawn Hatosy is playing the character of Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody – played by Ben Mendelsohn in the movie – and Shawn is really amazing in this role, SO CREEPY. Before I saw this my one question was who could possibly do justice to that role and now that question has been answered. It is very interesting that in the first season I felt quite scared by his character but in the second season somehow they turn the tables a bit and I found myself cheering him on and hoping he might find what he is looking for.

There is a lot of shirtlessness and nudity which you will either love or dislike. I’m totally fine with it myself. There are some other aspects to this show which people might not enjoy – definitely some violence but it is not pointless, it fits in with what is happening on the show and it is not done just for kicks, there is always a reason for it.

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Me personally the one storyline I did not enjoy was the detective trying to get info on this crime family by whatever means necessary. I think that went a little too far and by the end of the first season I wanted to slap that detective for about an hour. I was truly grateful when she did not show up in Season 2, at least she has not yet, though there are still a few episodes left to watch.

Some interesting names popped up in the directors chair – in particular Regina King, Laura Innes and Emmy Rossum have all directed episodes of this show.

Where can you see this in Australia? Netflix only at this stage, I am afraid. :/

television shows

TV Catch Up – The Handmaid’s Tale

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Based on the 1985 novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, you will hear a lot of big words used to describe this show. The IMDB description says “Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.” which is more 50 cent words than your average sentence involves. I prefer the version that Elisabeth Moss gave on the Seth Myers show.

“Try to stay with me it is a little far fetched. It is about a right wing fundamentalist group who takes over the government, and takes away all of women’s rights.” The story really is not quite that simple and it is not just the womens rights that vanish – plenty of men get punished and killed on this show as well. Though there is one scene where you might be right on board with that as a concept.

I read the book a few months ago knowing this series was on the way and knowing I would want to see it because Elisabeth Moss is one of my long time favourites. She is the true star of this series, she is the center of this story and she is absolutely magnificent. She will greatly deserve every award she wins and I have no doubt it will be all of them available. However she might face some competition from Evan Rachel Wood for her incredible performance in WestWorld.
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When I heard that Joseph Fiennes would play the Commander and Yvonne Strahovski would be Serena Joy, I really could not picture that having read the book. I had seen much older people in those roles. However it has worked out for the best, because somehow Yvonne made me feel empathy for Serena Joy – certainly not something I expected and not something I experienced when I read the book.

Samira Wiley – who Orange Is The New Black fans will know as Poussey – is another stand out cast member in a show full of amazing performances. O-T Fagbenle is incredible as Luke and Max Minghella is great as Nick the driver. The costumes are beautifully done.

Taken by itself this show is terrifying enough. When you combine it with some of the other shows of recent times – WestWorld in particular has some similar themes along these same lines and I typed some thoughts about that here – we might be in the middle of peak television right now, but it is also the middle of scary as heck television, in my opinion.

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Starting tomorrow the full series is available on SBS on Demand – for free. But here are my suggestions re watching it –

This is NOT a show to binge watch. You need to take some time between episodes. You need to let it sink in. The first 3 episodes are especially heavy to watch. This is not a show for right before bedtime because it will make you think and you won’t get to sleep. I’ll be honest and say even when I watched the episodes early in the day I found myself thinking about them at bedtime. They resonate pretty strongly.

Having said all of that, I do think this is a very important show to watch especially right now, with all the recent talk of internment camps for certain groups of people etc. Are we at the top of the slippery slope that could lead us to a world like this? I sincerely hope not. :(

television shows

Lethal Weapon TV Series

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Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans star in Lethal Weapon

Starting Sunday 8pm on Nine is this wonderful new series which The Other Half and I have watched 10 episodes of, together.

Before I say anything about the show, I want you to understand how rare it is that we both LIKE a tv show because our tastes in television are so wildly different.

Out of all the shows we have watched together, there are maybe two that we both genuinely liked and enjoyed – Seinfeld because we watched all the episodes together and in order – and it must be noted, when you do that, Seinfeld becomes an entirely different show from Channel 10 just airing the same 20 episodes over and over – and The X Files.

Sure, he watched Breaking Bad with me because I asked him to, he liked it but he probably did not enjoy it the same way as I did. He does not love “real life drama” which is why The X Files kinda worked for us – that and the fact that we both loved Mulder and Scully.

I watched Rectify – a show I have talked about here on the blog before – and among all the fantastic performances by the cast, there was a standout performance by Clayne Crawford as Teddy, a very flawed man indeed. I hated Teddy at first. HATED him. Like I wanted to murder him myself. But somehow Clayne took this flawed character and forced me to love him. By the end of the series Teddy had become my second favourite character on the show.

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So when I heard that Clayne Crawford was playing Martin Riggs – one of the two lead characters on Lethal Weapon – I knew this was a show I had to watch purely because I had become such a fan of the work of Clayne on Rectify. I knew nothing about Lethal Weapon. I do not recall ever seeing the movies, and I still have not seen them. So I went into this show knowing nothing and expecting nothing.

The show did meet with rather mixed reviews in the USA. One reviewer wrote a love letter to the hair of Clayne Crawford. I completely agree, the hair is a sight to behold. Another reviewer spoke of how unlikely and unlike real life the situations were.

My feeling is, most of this show is meant to be fun. It is NOT meant to reflect real life in any way. Absolutely some of the situations are incredibly unrealistic but this is a tv show, not a documentary. The actors are clearly having a great time which is something I enjoy watching.

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So, if you can put your expectations aside and just sit back and watch and see if you enjoy it, this show might be one of your favourites this year. The show has been renewed for season two, so you can feel free to get a little attached to the characters. They will be around for a while.

My apologies for any delays 9 will create – NOBODY knows what time 8pm actually is in their world. It is a great mystery.

Men I Love To Watch, television shows

I Want To Believe

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I gave up watching The Walking Dead about halfway through season 5. While I loved some of the characters, I could not continue to stomach the constant overtone of “99% of people in this world are bad people” that seemed to run through nearly every storyline.

I think it was the cannibals that sent me over the edge. Though it was lovely seeing Carol be all kick ass against the cannibals in the season five premiere, the concept that people would be terrible enough to eat other people – especially when it was not an emergency situation like a plane crash but a situation where so many people have died and there should be more than enough food at Costcos across America to keep these people eating for many, many years..

Now we are watching Westworld, a show where there are robots in a theme park specifically for the humans to go on holiday and do.. whatever they like.. to the robots. The themes in both these shows are somewhat similar – that given the opportunity, humans will be evil. That deep in the heart of all of us is a desire to rape, pillage, maim and murder. To watch the world burn, and actively participate in the burning. Whether it be people, or robots.

I want to believe that these TV examples are not how things would actually go. I want to believe that deep in the heart of all of us there is actually a desire to be good. To help each other, build things, build a community, celebrate each others successes and push each other to do better.

After recent events, I am fearing that the TV examples are the closest to reality and truth, and the things that I want to believe about my fellow humans are simply silly naive daydreams.

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I feel like there will be an awful lot of award nominations for Westworld. The cast includes some all time greats including Sir Anthony Hopkins and Thandie Newton is just blowing my mind every single week with her huge talent. The acting is incredible. The show is utterly gorgeous to look at – Utah helps, but it is filmed beautifully. I cannot stop looking at the costumes – in particular the jewellery on the house of ill repute girls.

I can watch shows where I do not like or agree with the underlying themes, especially when everything is so beautifully done, as it is on this show. If you feel the same, you probably should be watching Westworld.

television shows

Survivor Season 31 Tonight on Go

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The 90 minute premiere episode of Survivor Cambodia – Second Chance – starts tonight at 8:30pm on Go here in Australia. I’m watching it right now via other means and it is oddly emotional because all of the players are returning from previous seasons and many of the players I have a deep love for. Spencer, Tasha, Woo, Joe, Shirin, Ciara, Keith.. there are so many great people.

I have been looking forward to this season ever since the end of the last season because they had a vote where the public could pick the people getting a second chance on the show and they revealed the results and then sent the cast off to Cambodia right then and there.

Here are my top 5 reasons I love to watch this show.

1. The Scenery –

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It is really pretty! I am always amazed at how beautiful the locations are. Of course they are great to look at on the screen but having to *live* there would be another story. Especially for me, I do not camp. :)

2. The Time Lapse Shots –

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I love the night time ones but there is always a new time lapse to be seen on this show. They can be quite epical.

3. The Challenges –

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The challenges are always pretty incredible on Survivor. Yes, this is when you would hear me screaming at the TeeVee. In fact after tonights episode I have been asked to make sure I watch it *before* The Other Half arrives home because it is very noisy, he says. :)

4. The Tribal Council Set –

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Every year these get more amazing. This year they haz an elephant!

5. Jeff Probst –

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Jeff is truly one of the best show hosts of all time. He has these great little phrases he says regularly, and when it comes time for Tribal Council, he is a truth seeking missile which can explode all over the best laid plans of the contestants.

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I love how he narrates the challenges and I love how enthusiastic he is when they are won. :)

Do You Like Survivor?

Will you be tuning in this season? :)

Survivor, television shows

Sunday Selections Week 37

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When my Aunt and Uncle were visiting at the start of August, one morning we got a phone call while I was in the shower – the parents felt like visiting a museum. Where should we go? Obviously HARS was my first thought. I knew I wanted to make friends with VH-OJA soonest.

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I threw out that suggestion and the parents agreed, and the other half left the bathroom, and a few minutes later I was yelling his name because I just remembered.. call them back and tell them to wear covered shoes. You need to wear covered shoes to visit HARS. My mother has this habit of wearing high heeled clogs which mean her toes and her ankles are exposed to the world. Luckily they had not left home yet, and sneakers were the order of the day for all.

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I personally chose to wear some sneakers that Sephyroth had sent me in this package. It felt right that I should wear something he chose to a place I would love to take him. It also felt right that as we went to view VH-OJA, there were Breaking Bad style clouds floating about.

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A moment happened which I have dreamed about since I was a child.. There I am, standing on tippy toes, touching the underside of a 747. I will not lie to you, there was salt water forming in my eyes from happiness.

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There was also this moment which I had dreamed of for many years – touching the tyres of a 747. They are smaller than I expected them to be. HARS had to come up with a way to tie the tyres down because there can be a lot of wind at Albion Park and in high wind conditions, 747s *want* to fly. Here is some video of that happening to a plane in storage.

If you think about it, that “want to fly while on the ground” characteristic speaks to an amazingly designed plane. No wonder the 747 has been an incredible aircraft for such a long time.

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HARS was a fantastic museum to visit. There was a lot to see. It is a small world – we ended up on a tour with the guy who services our vehicles and quite a lot of kids, which could have been deeply annoying but they were very well behaved considering the tour went for two hours and I think maybe twice there was screaming. If we’d been 20 minutes earlier there would have been no kids on our tour, and the tour that went just after ours was just two people.

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We will go back again – each tour guide has different personal areas of interest so each tour will be different and they will each have different stories to tell. If you like or love planes you will love this place. Even if you do not love planes, you will probably still enjoy visiting HARS..

Would you like to join in with Sunday Selections?? The rules are very simple:-
1. post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. link back to River at Drifting Through Life, somewhere in your post
3. leave River a comment so that she knows you’ve joined in and can come over and see what you’ve posted.

Weekly Wrap Up –

This week we’ve recycled the former chook triangle into a cage to sit on top of the garden bed. It was first chook proofed with hardware wire during the week, and then today it was covered in fly wire to protect the plants inside from moths and caterpillars.

We’ve also recycled the hardware wire covered cat door we created when our new little kitty arrived home a couple of years ago and made that into a cover for the nasturtiums. The chooks have been out and about quite a bit since Thursday after a few days locked in, free ranging and eating spiders. Pics next week as this post is already picture heavy. :)

We’re watching 2 episodes of 24 a day at dinner time – this was a show neither of us had ever seen. We’re enjoying it. It is nice to watch a show together and it rarely happens that we both like something. Mr Robot has inspired us to try some new shows and find things we like.

I am watching The Pacific by myself – another show we have never seen. There are three reasons I wanted to see this show –

– on our last trip to Hawaii I became interested in WW2 history. I brought home 4 books on Pearl Harbor and I got a couple more for my Kindle.

– Anything Tom Hanks has been involved with you can be 100% sure it is going to be pretty incredible has been my experience. I’ve seen 5 episodes and this is no exception to the Tom Hanks rule.

– Rami Malek, again. Though the character he plays is deeply creepy.. and I do mean creepy.

Oddly enough, I discovered that I have the companion book to the series on my e-reader, so I am reading that as well..

Sunday Selections, television shows, weekly wrap up