GUILTY PLEASURES: THE ONE’S THAT STICK

Many years ago, I hooked into a public television series that brought to life the detective novels of Dorothy

Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey
Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey

L. Sayers. WHOSE BODY? CLOUDS OF WITNESS and UNNATURAL DEATH to name a few brought we, the devotees of Masterpiece Theatre and MYSTERY!, face to face with an immaculately dressed, preternaturally wealthy English nit named Lord Peter Wimsey. Fussy, feckless and a bit grating in his dedication to detail, he was the ideal sleuth, rambling freely against a background of country houses, ornate gardens and immaculately tended lawns. Fans couldn’t get enough of him and neither could his creator Sayers, whom aficionados said was actually in love with her creation.

Lord Peter might not be my type, but I certainly get the notion of a writer getting more out of the character than mere words on the page.

A lot of people have asked me where Jürgen Heuer comes from, and my answers vary, depending on my mood. Yes, he’s a work of fiction, but every fiction, to paraphrase Ian Fleming, “is precedent on some kind of fact.”

Rhett and BelleHeuer, like Sayers’ Wimsey, is incredibly real, although I doubt very much either she or I would make it through a meal with him without an outburst or two. Maybe it’s a condition of what inspires. The bad, the badder, the really, really broken. Good guys—perfect guys—just don’t pack the same punch. Heck, even Rhett Butler hung out at Belle Watling’s house of extraordinary extra circular activities, and NOBODY held that against him.

I did not set out to warp Heuer as much as I did. In fact, he plays rather nicely in the opening chapters of THE HEUER EFFECT which traces his early life. But there was something about the later man, the mature man, that courted the darkness. He’s been through the wars and has been affected by them, such that he screamed “go darker” and so I did.

simcoeThe idea that the bad side of a character is more compelling than the good follows me to this day: The anit-appeal generated by the real life figure of Capt. John Graves Simcoe on AMC’s excellent TURN: Washington’s Spies, is a case in point. Excellently portrayed by actor Samuel Roukin, Simcoe wreaks havoc among Republican forces in Setauket Long Island, hangs innocents without a blink, and composes creepy love sonnets to a winsome lass who’d shoot him herself if she could. And all the while, the lanky red coat finds time to prep for higher office north of the border as the First Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. (True stuff and crikey, we even named a lake and a civic holiday after him.)

It’s not the rich sets, protagonists and dialogue that brings me back. It’s Simcoe, and it pains me to say so.

Likewise, there’s the affable, ne’er do well Saul Goodman from BETTER CALL SAUL, another AMC sauloffering on hiatus after just ten episodes. Unlike Simcoe and Heuer, Saul is sweet, rubber faced and apologetically dishonest. With every bad deed, Saul struggles to do good and we love him for it. But each time he backslides into the old life—that of Slippin’ Jimmy from Cicero, Illinois—we’re on our feet, cheering. Shame we know how it ends: Saul is a prequel to BREAKING BAD. But the end’s not the point. It’s the “how” of the getting there that does it.

Heuer’s story isn’t over yet. The third book in the series “Unapologetic Lives” offers hope. But given this writer’s penchant for her creation, redemption is highly unlikely.

Salut, D.L. Sayers

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Doctor Who and the Aging Thing

Last night I had a choice. I could suffer the Grammy’s or check out AMCs Better Call Saul, which I’ve been looking forward to madly because I binged Breaking Bad twice in eighteen months. But I couldn’t make the choice. Choosing between the Grammy’s and Saul is like putting winter against summer, poutine against guacamole, wardrobe malfunctions against the genesis of a criminally criminal lawyer. Appealing, and yet so incredibly different, going with one over the other would leave a vacancy, the kind of which would leave the decider (thank you, Mr. President) unsatisfied and longing for things missed. So I took a different course.

Doctor Who, the long running, time travelling lord of the cosmos, has undergone twelve regenerations over fifty years and hundreds of episodes, and, man, does he ever look great. Whether sporting a bow tie or Converse high tops in white or plasma red, the Doctor rocks joyously in the face of disaster, never losing his youthful curiosity. After 900+ years, the Doctor makes immortality way more appealing than any sulky vampire I’ve ever seen at the Grammy’s or anywhere else.

I don’t know about the Grammy and Saul viewers, but watching the Doctor left this fan immensely satisfied. Time didn’t stop, it fell away. And with a new spring in these old bones and a renewed purpose to GET MY PROOF READING DONE I give thanks, even if I did miss Gwen Stefani’s FABULOUS Atelier Versace jumpsuit and Yeezy’s renewed decorum (one reporter confessed to liking him again). As for Saul, he’s on again tonight at 10 p.m. EST. I’m told the first show rocked for people who know the character. Others who don’t may have some work to do.

Good Monday. Let’s stay above it.

ABF

#BetterCallSaul #Grammy #DoctorWho #GreatTelevision #ProofReading #Aging