Sunday, 8 April 2018

Ordeal by Trivia

Strange, isn't it, that a Sunday evening's TV viewing has to be marred by trivia?
The trivia to which I refer are passwords and the rewriting of classic yarns, whereby the outcome, the whodunnit, is the whodintdoit. 

After several weeks of back pain, please do refer to my earlier posts for the tiresome details, I needed, today, to go for a walk, have a coffee and a read of the Sunday newspapers, ahead of the luncheon crowds, by the river. Richard said I was walking well and later, in our garden, I even managed to bend to do two minutes weeding. 

This afternoon I watched a film without the aftereffects of the weeding playing havoc with my back. After a truly soothing bath I settled down to Sunday night TV. I was feeling better.

As I write my back feels easier than it has for some time and the only irritation I felt tonight was my attempted viewing of an Agatha Christie adaptation at 9pm. I never did rate 'The Night Manager' nor did I like another Christie adaptation 'And Then There Were None' but I know the Denis Lawson and Jane Seymour version of 'Ordeal by Innocence' and wanted to see part two of the new production tonight. If only to compare. However, lurking in the back of my mind was a feature I'd read which stated that the ending (the whodunnit) has been rewritten for this latest BBC offering. And I agreed with the article which suggested rewriting the ending such that the murderer's identity changes isn't the done thing. I do know the sad, hunted 'Jacko' in the Lawson/Seymour adaptation of 'Ordeal by Innocence' ... SPOILER ALERT ... isn't the perpetrator, but the housekeeper ( played gloriously by Alison Steadman) is the murderer. Why alter that?

After enjoying the sunshine of Corfu in 'The Durrells' and the fiestas, intrigue and medical dilemmas in 'The Good Karma Hospital' I decided to lie in bed with my ipad to watch 'Ordeal by Innocence' on the iplayer. Great, I thought, if I'm late for the beginning I can click 'restart'. Easy. 

But no, just because my back is less troublesome, all the irritations of the world don't simply disappear. The iplayer announced my device ( i pad) didn't support the transmission and to retry. I retried and got the same message. I turned to my iPhone 6 plus. It has eaten up my data allowance as I've used it more when lying in bed at the top of the house - for back therapy - where the signal is too poor for my ipad. But today my new monthly allowance starts and I can watch the beeb on it without any problem.

Or so I thought. I tuned into 'Ordeal by Innocence' on my iphone, now ten minutes into transmission, and I got the same 'this device won't...'message. I pulled out my Mac, which was purchased for writing my novel, and nothing else! and tried to open up Google Chrome to find BBC iplayer as I don't use Apps on my Mac.

Google Chrome had to download. Then it had to download on my iphone and ipad too - why? I already have it on those devices. Then I had to find 'Ordeal by Innocence' and begin watching it - 20 minutes into the programme. Ah. Not so fast. 

Not quite yet.

I had to sign into the BBC. I can't remember if I've done this before; the site knew my email address but after three attempts rejected my password. I clicked to change my password, went on to MAIL to receive the link to change it but couldn't understand why no new mail was coming through my inbox. Meanwhile the programme, 'Ordeal', was half-way through.
I clicked a few things on the inbox page of MAIL on my Mac and I was asked to sign into Google - with another password. Fingers crossed I hoped the password was correct. It was. Over 1000 emails swooped into my inbox and low and behold there was the one I wanted.( I told you I use the Mac for writing my novel - hence other installations are redundant or underused. ) I found the email for the BBC link. I clicked it, changed my password, signed on, crossed my fingers again, and found I was on the iplayer page and - yes - my Mac was a device able to show 'Ordeal by Innocence.'

I pressed restart and play and began to enjoy the Agatha Christie retelling. As I said I know the story and find this adaptation slow but whilst I adore Matthew Goode here he is an embittered wheelchair-bound Phillip Durrant and is anything but 'good'. Ten years ago he was an excellent Charles Ryder in 'Brideshead' but I don't recall that the nasty, foul-mouthed, bitter cripple whom he plays in 'Ordeal' was so surly in the Lawson/Seymour version. Yes, he adds drama, and is a brilliant actor but is he just a red herring? Is he there to make us think he was the murderer? He must be, mustn't he, as he's so foul. Except he's suicidal. Maybe it's Calgary, that lonely 'witness' who knows Jack was an innocent, played fretfully by Luke Treadaway. He is sidelined by the living protagonists, the family whose mother is the murder victim, is almost run over by the detective who convicted Jack and, as a scientist, cf Einstein, has unwittingly released an annihilating bomb on the world. Calgary has a world-death fixation. A sad character. And, because I had a thousand emails wanting to show themselves, ancient messages from 'Sky' or 'Majestic Wines' distracted me from following the drama by appearing in the top right-hand corner of my handheld screen.

After thirty minutes watching I tired of the pop-ups and the nastiness and, despite the effort I'd gone to to log on and watch the programme, I switched my Mac off, only to find the programme was now available on 'all platforms'. Pity was, I didn't want to watch it whether it was available on my ipad or not.

My husband won't watch 'The Durrells' because he says it's nothing like Lawrence Durrell's work. I don't like this 'Ordeal by Innocence' because it's nothing like the original Christie and last week a friend of mine watched 'Fahrenheit 451' with me (the Oskar Werner and Julie Christie version) but she didn't like that because it wasn't like the book. I like both the book and the film. Will I like the new 451F film when it's out in May?

The trivia of passwords is always a pain but the details of novels which we know well are more than trivia. In 451F one of the leads in the book dies before the ending but miraculously lives on in the film. Ray Bradbury liked the film's new ending, however, and rewrote her story for his stage version of the book. However 'Ordeal by Innocence' can only have one murderer can't it? To change the whodunnit is surely taking dramatic licence too far? I don't think altering the ending is trivial. But next week, if I decide to tune in, I'll watch it on the box, not on a lap top nor tablet, to fiddle with passwords. 

Oh hang on. We'll be away. And my aunts won't want 'that sort of thing' on their TV on a Sunday evening. Better record it in advance and hope no-one tells me who the murderer is before I've seen the ending. But ... SPOILER ALERT ... it wasn't Jacko ( or Jack as he's known in this production) - perhaps in this version it's the Matthew Goode character - Durrant - who murders the wealthy householder. He's not in love with his wife, and surely only married her for her money. Hence the murder. Or it's Calgary, lonely, unwanted by the family, is a former mental institute patient and is unstable. There. Case closed. I know whodunnit.  I don't need to tune in and endure the trivia of passwords, do I?

And Fahrenheit 451 predicts we'll all be governed by screens rather than by books. Since it was written in 1953 that's strangely, frighteningly prescient. 

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