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Good Beginning; Disappointin Denouement
Fascinating beginning: rich father-in-law refuses to help his darling daughter's husband save his business. He is willing to give them only enough to keep their home. The gift reminds the daughter of a family heirloom which would solve all their financial problems.
Middle: an ingenious plot to get the needed money. The couple and her childhood friend conspire to "force" her father to provide the money. He thinks he is saving his daughter's life.
Ending: pitiful! A sudden reversal of motives that is not adequately provided during the earlier narrative. You be the judge of whether the "solution" seems rather out of character for the killer.
Comedic element: the title is related to the Inspector's buying a bloodhound named Cyrano (for the big nose, of course). The dog-seller gouges him money-wise, both in the selling price and in the buyback, that is until the final scene.
Peter Capaldi Steals the Show
If this is the only episode of the series you watch, you may think it's about the accused (played by Capaldi).
Actually, the focus is the devastating defense presented by Sir Edward Marshall Hall. He was known for his ability to use sarcasm, to challenge judges (respectfully, of course), and most of all, to secure the desired outcome for his client. After this trial, he was often called "The Great Defender." Even the judge seemed convinced of Wood's innocence and the jury concurred after 15 minutes of deliberation!
Personally, I thought Capaldi played the role of this dilettante to perfection. His dreamy expression as he sketches people in the courtroom belies the "shadow of the noose."
Cold Case: Ravaged (2005)
Mysterious, but not a "mystery"
There were parts of this episode which I enjoyed, but the ending reminded me of Hercule Poirot's comment at the end of a stage play in one of Agatha Christie's books. He protested that it was not fair to bring on a culprit that there had been no clues about.
Mysteries have that convention. It's often the person you least suspect that "dunnit," but if you read(watch) it again, there were clues pointing to their guilt. Not here. The culprit was presented as a good guy right up to the last scene where Lilly accuses him.
That is actually my only complaint about this series. They are great drama, show flashbacks accurately to earlier times (music, clothes, cars, etc), usually have many suspects and motives to consider, and have a unique "shtick": interspersing the characters now with themselves at the time of the crime. No wonder they won so many awards.
Cold Case: Red Glare (2004)
A dilemma of conscience
I remember 1953 very clearly, so my reaction to the episode is rather visceral. The headlines were full of the broken treaties/agreements with the USSR. The fear of Communism was widespread. Unfortunately the McCarthy excesses have made it seem it was a harmless bogeyman.
The association of the Red scare with the struggle for civil rights was NOT as widespread, especially outside the Old South. The persecution of this teacher seems unlikely given the locale.
I rated it highly because it was a well-presented dilemma for any man of conscience: stand for one's principles or protect one's family. We saw martyrs like Medgar Evers make the hard choice. I see this being repeated today in some countries where religious freedom is denied, where changing your religion or sharing your faith is inviting prison or a death sentence.
The actual motive in this case, however, was not one of racism or conscience, but a combination of love and fear for the object of that love.
Cold Case: The Plan (2004)
A lesson to be learned
Although I deplore violence, the fate of this sadistic pedophile certainly fits his crimes. His victims were able to figure out his strategy of "seduction" and use the same steps (The Plan) to punish him.
A "boot camp" was a perfect hunting ground for this sexual predator. With even the commandant referring to them as "slop," it was open season on cadets. Who would believe a behavior-disordered kid against a long-time, respected swim coach? Kids being abused by authority figures often feel helpless to resist, especially if they have tried to report it and it was discounted or ignored. As I watched this horrific story unfold, I couldn't help wondering how many kids are being abused right now by relatives, teachers, babysitters,...Everyone needs to learn the signs of abuse and be a protector against predators.
A gripping story told as a well-crafted mystery, including a surprise ending.
Cold Case: The Boy in the Box (2004)
Good intentions; horrible results
Beware of explanations that begin, "Well, he (or she) had good intentions, but..." This episode is very disturbing. It reminds us of a time when caretakers were free to discipline however they saw fit, when authority figures were so overly respected that their word and actions were sacrosanct, when experimenting on humans was done "with good intentions."
The beginning of the unraveling of this cold case began with a suitcase sent to the PD with the boy's picture and first name. Among the clues Rush's squad pursued: 3 men in the picture who are sterile, DNA proving the boy (Arnold) was NOT related to the girl who thought he was her brother, a mysterious woman visitor to the site where the body in the box was found, and a hospital where the "Science Club" was subject to experimentation.
An adult therapy for behavior disorders applied to a child brought about a death that was totally unintended. Today we hope it could not happen. We have tried to put in safeguards that would prevent it. Will our "good intentions" have unintended consequences?
Cold Case: The Letter (2004)
A Time We Regret
An intriguing idea: solve a case from 1939 that has been written off as a "colored" prostitute being killed by a john. Liitle had been done to find the perpetrator. When the granddaughter asks Detective Lilly Rush to help her discover the facts (and perhaps clear the stigma she and her deceased mother have felt), the search is on.
Old employment records, pictures, news stories, diaries, and letters and notes treasured for all those years provide Rush and her team with intriguing clues, but the final conclusive evidence must come from the victim herself: fingernail scrapings from her exhumed body provide DNA which leads to the culprit, still haunted by the event after all those years.
I despise ignorance! Racism, of course, is ignorance personified, but how could anyone writing this script approve the hate group's being called "The Fifth Day" and say it was the day Genesis tells of man's creation?! That was the SIXTH day!!! Animals AND man.
Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, the poignant look back at a time when people were not able to look past the color of a person's skin to the content of their character. I especially was touched by the two love stories that unfolded as the story progressed: one tragic and one enduring.
Living Water (2006)
Good purpose; amateur acting
My rating is based on content, not on the quality of acting (which is definitely amateurish). The film touches on many current issues: prescription drug abuse, bullying, dads who provide "things" as a substitute for spending time with the family, single parenting, women who will put up with anything from a man rather than be alone, alcoholism...too many actually to cover adequately.
The young African-Americans who portrayed the majority of the film's characters should be encouraged, in my opinion, for their attempt to be part of a solution rather than attacked for their lack of experience and expertise (which I feel the overall low rating does). I felt they were more effective than most of the adult actors. The only character whose clothing seemed out-of-place was the pastor. No black church I've ever attended would have had a pastor preaching who dressed that casually in the pulpit.
In literary circles, a sudden change of heart or action which results in a happy ending is sometimes called a "come-to-Jesus moment." As expected in what must have been conceived as an evangelistic film, that is EXACTLY what happens here-literally. I do admire the sincerity of the Christian message given, one which is often ridiculed today in many movies and TV shows. It ties up a few loose ends and leaves a lot dangling, but I still enjoyed the story.