Person of Interest: s03 e04 – Reasonable Doubt


Is she or isn’t she?

I’m a little of two minds about this latest episode of Person of Interest, and not simply for what it did not do. What it did do it did very well, yet in its desire to show us a Number that hovered on the edge of being Victim or Perpetrator until almost the very end (a very skilful performance by Kathleen Rose Perkins), the episode left a few of its convolutions unanswered in the rush to be clever.

What it didn’t do was more than play lip service to only one of this season’s ongoing concerns. Much as I enjoyed the episode, it was still a bubble, with nothing to do with the larger part of season 3. It’s the same scenario as the early part of season 2, post resolution of Finch’s kidnapping: revert to the procedural to begin with.

So, nothing of the menace of Root, who escaped confinement last week, to Finch’s consternation, but who is wholly absent. Nothing of the mysterious organisation fighting back against surveillance, introduced in episode 2. And of Officer Carter, once Detective Carter and still referred to as such by Finch, only the briefest of updates, as we but not she learn that her rookie partner, Laskey, is part of HR.

What we got was Vanessa Watkins, our Number, a tough, aggressive, very effective Prosecutor, married to Jeremy Watkins (Daniel Cosgrove), an equally brilliant Defence Attorney who gets the worst kind of defendants acquitted on technicalities (it’s always technicalities in these stories, and the lawyer is always a sleazebag on some level, that or a crusader on behalf of poor people, usually having dragged themselves up by their bootheels: as a former lawyer, I should be used to how my former profession is depicted by now).

But Jeremy’s dead, fallen from the Watkins’ boat in Long Island Sound, panicked message radioed by Vanessa. Except that she gets arrested for murdering him, by an obsessed Detective Cameron (Paul Ben-Victor, formerly of The Wire), who’s determined to get Vanessa to the point that, when she escapes the Station in typically inventive fashion, that he’s willing to have her shot on sight, despite the fact that the ‘murder’, if it is murder, was purely personal, and she isn’t armed in any way. Cameron wants revenge for a courtroom humiliation, but this?

And Vanessa’s first act of freedom is to procure a brick of cocaine from a drugslord she a) put away and b) helped get released, who gives her the drugs for free and hugs her. What the hell is that all about? Answer, it’s all about puzzling the audience, blurring the decisive question of which one Vanessa is, Victim or Perpetrator. The scene has no logic except in that respect, it’s a surprisingly lazy contrivance unbacked by rationality.

Indeed, that’s the problem. Vanessa, as we might have expected, is not either/or but both. The whole set up is a scam, set up between the Watkins, to escape debt to a mobster (a convenient McGuffin, again without any consideration of how Jeremy has run up such debt), fake Jeremy’s death and run away under new identities to be filthy rich). Except that Jeremy’s screwing Vanessa’s lifelong best friend Nicole and double-crossed Vanessa to run off with Nicole.

It ends up on the yacht. Jeremy has emerged from hiding, expecting his blonde shag, only to be confronted by his lawfully wedded and a gun. He claims the marriage to be a contract, presumably on the basis that it was there to be broken by both parties (Vanessa herself has had an affair, as represented by a text exchange about missing items of intimate wear found under a fridge – it’s always the fridge), but she loves him, genuinely loves him (without the episode once giving us any reason to suspect that’s true: Ms Perkins is just too damned good at slipping away from any conclusion about Vanessa).

Enter Mr Reese. Rather than intervene in this scenario, he leaves another gun within easy grabbing reach of Jeremy, defines his role as stopping bad things happening before stating that he’s not sure this qualifies, and walks off, pausing only to unmoor the yacht, which floats out into the basin, and not react to the sound of two gunshots coming from that direction: fade to black.

I’ve made it sound as if this was a bad episode, and that I didn’t like it. On the contrary, I was held by it throughout, especially thanks to Perkins’ performance as Vanessa: an attractive woman, hard-shelled, with a face that was strong rather than beautiful, emphasised by unfussy short hair that left it unconcealed. When Vanessa was finally confirmed as Victim, I saw it coming, not from the performance but from the fact this was Person of Interest, twists a speciality, but I couldn’t get out of my head the lack of foundation for the convenient acquisition of cocaine, and from there the show’s eagerness to skate over improbabilities for the sake of the outcome mant that it unravelled more than somewhat afterwards.

Still, a lot of merit, especially for Kathleen Rose Perkins, and some sidebar humour – Bear pretending to be sick in order to protect a Vet, the look Ms Shaw gives Reese when Bear goes to him instead of her, her seizing of a paperknife when faced with an ultra-slow Bank Manager making mistakes logging into a computer, Fusco’s preventative hand grabbing it off her – was fun. I just wish the writing hadn’t got carried away with itself in confusing the audience, to the point where it did confuse one member of that audience.

Lou Grant: s03 e02 – Expose


A good woman doomed

Due to the nature of the story that introduced Lou Grant season 3 last week, it wasn’t really possible to bring in the new credits and theme music this year, without making an even more awkward segue than usual, but I can lead with that for this episode as the subject played a part in setting up the story.

Between seasons, the LA Trib has undergone an upgrade. Out have gone the typewriters, in have come the first computers, although they’re more likely to be word-processors, and not everyone is taking to them easily. As a consequence, the credit sequence has been completely reshot, with everybody playing the same role but from different angles, and different takes (all except Dennis ‘Animal’ Price, who has been given a more serious introduction, developing films in the dark room instead of goofing around with flashes). And the theme music has been reearranged to closer to the season 1 sound, elimination most but not quite all of that annoying guitar overlay.

I can bring this up because this upgrade helped spur one of the two stories this week that seemed to be of no relevance to each other, and which mde it hard to get an angle on which way the episode was going.

First in appearance was Rossi’s pursuit of Bonita Worth (Louise Troy), a very effective and down-to-earth County Supervisor with a substantial future ahead of her. Mrs Worth was straight-talking, a successful businesswoman, honest and open, in short a public asset. Rossi, constitutionally incapable of believing a public official can be all of those things, is worrying away looking for something that plainly didn’t exist. So Billie was brought in to interview Bonita, and produce a genuinely admiring piece. But in a cleverly unforced irony it was Billie who found Bonia’s achilles heel, her husband Mark (William Schallert).

Mark Worth ended up being the story, costing Bonita Worth her public career. Mark was a lush, a business failure, a racist and a fool. He was an albatross whose exposure in public and a drunk, and as openly unfaithful to his wife, left her te impossible choice of abandoning him and showing wifely disloyalty (a powerful thing, forty years ago) or abandoning her career. No wins either way: Bonita fell on her sword and resigned. A good public servant was lost.

You could look at Mark and find him a complete idiot, even despicable in some lights, and I wouldn’t argue with you. But Schallert took on a difficult role and, with the aid of some inspired scripting, rose to the challenge of making you see him in a different light. A clearly bombed Worth invades the Trib’s budget meeting to insult and carp at the way he has been made a public fool. It’s simultaneously embarrassing and painful, for Worth is a failure at all things, unable to do more than mouth empty threats, but worse, he is aware of this, and his bluster falls apart under his understanding of his own ineffectiveness, rage at the unfairness of being made a laughing stock in the Press and the unfirness of being unable to do anything aboout it. He ends in tears at his own humiliation, asking the question, “Why me? What did I ever do to you to pick on me?”

And the answer is the painful truth that everything written about him is true, but he is only news for how he may, and does, drag down the career of the woman he’s married to, a woman in a position of authority. The sexism inherent in this is alluded to but not rubbed in our faces, and could indeed have done with being a bit more openly expressed.

All this would have its parallel, in completely different form in the other half of the episode, which took a very long time to show its hand. It began with an argument between Lou and Mike Norvette (Richard Berstoff) over a line that wasn’t acceptable. Norvette was an asshole, seeing Lou as dictatorial, conservative, an obstacle to reporters like him, rewriting the rules, sticking opinions in unburdened by real facts. Lou was threatened by the every existence of Norvette, overturning every hidebound precept of his life and career.

So, when Mrs Pynchon was forced to trim staff to get the loan needed for all this new technology, Norvette was let go. He took it well. No, he didn’t, actually: the Norvettes of this world do not take anything like this as anything but personal, which it was in a way. Lou didn’t like him, but he fired him for not being a good enough reporter.

Which Norvette proved by immediately joined Pacific Magazine, a trashy, sensationlist magazine. We already knew about Pacific Magazine through the attractive, vivacious Barbara Benedict (Julie Cob), who thought Lou was ‘cute’, and had lunch with him, all attention and big eyes. The set-up led you to believe she was after a job at the Trib: it was a job alright but not the one you thought it was. The lovely Barbara was Rossi’s heavy date, she was having a meal with Donovan, had had a coffee with Charlie.

And everyone had talked, including Billie to Norvette, telling the stories you tell, the funny ones you share with colleagues. Except that the episode finally came into clear focus when everyone joined the dots of Barbara’s attentions and realised that Pacific Magazine was building up an expose on the Trib. When it arrived, everyone was in denial about saying what was quoted of them, and it took Animal too point out that they had said what they said, not as shaped here, in cold print. But the words were the same.

It took Mrs Pynchon to draw the two stories together. The hatchet job Pacific Magazine had done on the Trib was not far enough removed from what theTrib and others had done on Mark Worth. Lou and Charlie disagreed, and this viewer did too, but also saw the side of the coin that Mrs Pynchon was seeing: what was done to Mark Worth, hoever true, was going to bring down Bonita Worth, whose only crime was to have fallen in love with and married a weak man, years ago, and stayed loyal to him.

No, her crime was to be a woman in authority, and the show let you see that for yourself. It’s still not different enough forty years on. It would not take much adaptation to put that side of the episode into production in 2019. A superior episode with very strong guest performances.

Person of Interest: s03 e03 – Lady Killer


Not that I’m saying this was in any way a bad episode, but I found the latest Person of Interest to be disappointing. Or, more to the point, a little perfunctory.

Except for the sub-plot with Root, alert via the Machine to the knowledge that Hersh was closing in on her trail to tidy things up and that she had better advance her plans for leaving the Secure Mental Facility to which Finch had delivered her, which she did with extreme ease, even down to obeying the Machine’s instructions not to finish him off, this was pure Season 1 Number of the Wek. Less even than that, really, for there were not even flashbacks to give us a glimpse of the wider story.

The Number was Ian Murphy, a rags-to-riches of a young man who came from nothing but who, with the aid of a $100,000 inheritance, made himself wealthy by canny investment in successful small businesses. Ian’s a lady-killer in the old-fashioned version of the phrase, constantly dating women, playing the chameleon to suit their wishes, obsessively building files on them: the classic stalker. and as one of his girlfriends is missing and another he’s interested in is dead in a car accident, we are looking at Perpetrator.

But, in a switch we should have expected, Ian is actually a Victim. He’s been baited witth three ladies dressed sexily for a hot Club, Shaw, Joss and a welcome reappearance from Zoe Morgan. He’s picked up Joss. He’s being the slightly-too-perfect boyfriend, Fusco and Reese are covering her back, Shaw’s got a sniper rifle on him and is bored waiting to kill him. And two street punks walk out of the dark with guns trained on him.

The story’s simple. Ian’s ‘inheritance’ was no such thing, it was a pay-off. Ian met heiress Dana Wellington at college, they fell in love, she got pregnant and her Master of the Universe father Bruce, one of these rich bastards who think they can control everybody, gave Ian $100,000 to get out of Boston. And he told Ian Dana had had an abortion.

Straightaway you knew that was a lie. Dana was dead, Iaan had attended the funeral, Vruce had kicked off at him right royally: why else would he want Ian dead if not to stop him legally claiming his grandson and heir, Alex, the ‘son’ of Dana’s elder sister and her husband.

So our crew turned themselves temporarily into a Scooby Gang to thwart the scumbag millionaire, but somehow the plot fizzled out, unexpectedly. Alex’s Birth Certificate was obtained by blackmailing a doctor way offscreen and somehow that was enough to frustrate Mr Wellington’s plans to place young Alex in a London Boarding School the next day.

There were a lot of good elements to this story. It began with Reese and Shaw on  ‘date’ in a boat on a rowing lake, with Shaw determined to have the oars. Our dark-haired beauty is establishing a very warm relationship with our doggy friend, Bear. And the immediate warmth and humour of our trio of ladies, out to enjoy themselves and let everyone know it, was worth the episode alone.

But, except in Root’s small corner, which did not interact with anything else until Finch arrived in the last minute, aghast that she’d gotten away, there was nothing to do with the series. We’re into the third season now, the rock is rolling, we are four episodes away from the midpoint of the series as a whole and you could have cut this episode out of the run completely and no-one would notice any gap because there is no hole that this story fills.

I’m hypercritical this morning because I’m suffering from an eye infection, so I may have been harsher on this episode than it deserves, but I want the show to be nothing but ongoing from here, for every part of it to point in some way towards the events that build upon each other, not to stand off to one side and smell the roses, especially if it can’t adequately end its sidebar tle when it does so.

The Persistence of Memory


Back in 2018, I blogged about the resurgence of a long-forgotten memory, of my childhood in the Sixties, retrieved by that inexplicable random process that brings things back out of the deep gloom. That was a comic serial adaptation of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court, recalled by association with an Ursula Le Guin essay in which her reasons for disliking the book were identical to mine.

The memory was faint, as well it might be. I blogged the phenomenon and was rewarded by David Simpson immediately producing details of the serial’s creator, it’s provenance in Hurricane and it’s availability on DVD. That has been the spark for a lot of alternate Friday afternoon posts since.

But there are other such memory sparks, some that return every now and then, for no apparent reason. One fluttered back this morning, and I decided to pursue it.

‘All day they dance to tunes by Handel/Along the coast of Coromandel’. That couplet returns at odd, extended intervals, attached to an image of someone reading a long poem of which those lines formed a recurring motif, a man in Regency clothing and long wig, stood with his back to the camera, ostentatiously reading, and three ladies in long gowns, dncing graciously around. Remembering the name of the programme took an effort to cudgel out of my brain, but it came back to me: Tickertape, a kind of magazine programme for kids, full of odd, off-angled things like this.

I remember bits of other things. Another item with dancers, a cartoon set to the old song ‘Oh How We Danced’ which was a dark, intense experience, a presenter singing a song that introduced the programme, tick-tickertape, tick-tickertape.

Along the coast of Coromandel: what was that poem anyway? How did the rest of it go? Ok, let’s find out, open a Google search.

It took some time to identify, because over fifty years my memory was incorrect. The line, the title, is ‘On the Coast of Coromandel’, the poem is by Osbert Sitwell and you can read the whole thing here. Thus a memory is made concrete, albeit in partial respect.

What of the rest of the scene? What of Tickertape itself? The facts are that it was a Southern Television (ITV) production, running one, disrupted series in 1968, co-presented by Jake Thackeray and Bernard Bresslaw. I remember it popping up, here and there, which I now understand to be because of an ITV cameraman strike, preventing it getting a clean run. That won’t have helped it be renewed, but from what I remember of it, I think it was an ambitious attempt to do an anti-Blue Peter, the same magazine format but with a more artistic bent. I remember it as a curate’s egg of a programme, but one that, when it clicked, had an underlying dark edge. I think it appeared on Sunday afternoons.

Having found the poem, I went looking for more about the show. Nothing remains, the tapes were wiped, just like Freddie Garrity’s Little Big Time and the extraordinarily inventive ‘Oliver in the Overworld’ serial.

The closest I came to finding anything of substance about Tickertape was a brief thread, five years go, on the Jake Thackeray Website. They know nothing either, though there is a reference to Thackeray being embarrassed about the series (and a suggestion that he tended to be embarrassed about most things he did, implying we should take that opinion with a pinch of salt).

Since I had actual, if hazy, memories of the show, I tried to created an account to log in and share them with his fans, but something went wrong, I couldn’t get in. indeed, I managed to get blocked before I could post a word, so I decided to blog it myself.

There was a lot of imagination going round in the Sixties, and that extended to children’s TV. Too much of that was wiped. Southern were responsible for Freewheelers, one of the most exciting thrillers and an absolute phenomenon and only fragments of that remain. I think Tickertape probably ended up a failed experiment, but it remains in my head fifty years later, so its mission to stimulate the imagination worked in one case. And I’ve traced the poem that has stuck, erroneously, in my memory for all that time.

All day they dance to tunes by Handel/long the Coast of Coromandel.’

It’s not ‘Tickertape’, but this is Jake Thackeray:

 

 

Lou Grant: s03 e01 – Cop


New credits

Despite my doubts, in the back half of season 2, I’ve decided to press on into season 3 with Lou Grant, thanks to some strong late season stories that countered the effect of the more didactic, bleeding heart liberal episodes that turned me off. Naturally, my reward was an opening episode that bordered strongly on the didactic.

The episode title was both misleading and inevitable. Yes, it was about a Cop, patrol car officer Dave Tynan (a very good guest appearance from Joe Penny, matched by an equally important role by Edward Winter as his partner, Robert Dennehy). But Tynan, good cop as he was, was only important in regard to what else he was, which was gay.

The episode started and finished with drama: a man is beaten to death in a house across the street from Lou, who becomes personally invested in the case, especially when one of the Homicide detectives calls in a beat cop to consult. This unfolds into a story that illustrates the plight of the gay person in 1969 Los Angeles. The victim was gay, though his wife had no idea (a brief cameo by Mariclare Costello, full of confusion and ignorance and a touching, loving concern for why her husband had been so unhppy but had never opened up to her about it). His killer was his male lover. A bar that was firebombed was a gay bar.

Lou liked Tynan, got on with him, put the pieces together to work out Tynan himself was gay. The episode didn’t telegraph it, giving no obvious clues, but the logic of the drama demanded this situation as anyone could tell.

Tynan was in the closet with a vengence. Sexually inert, alert at any moment to the risk of exposing himself, unable to trust any cop to be decent over the knowledge, his was no life to envy. The show mainly left the description of what it was like to Tynan without depicting prejudice against him in action, which weakened the case but would have fundamentally destroyed the ending.

Instead, and here was where Winter came in, that his partner Dennehy worked it out for himself and promptly requested a transfer, because gays shouldn’t be cops because they’re all emotionlly unstable, and how can you trust one if you have to have one of them watching your back.

Which set up the expected violent ending. Tynan and Dennehy corner the killer who gets Dennehy’s gun and the drop on him, Tynan saves his life by shooting the killer, at the cost of a bullet to the upper chest, thus causing a complete volte-face on the part of Dennehy. Dennehy admits he was wrong and is ready to back Dave coming out of the closet

But Dave’s not ready. It’s got to still be a secret. He kows better than Dennehywhat the reaction will be, or maybe he’s just too untrusting, even after Dennehy’s conversion. Today, Tynan would just come out and everyone would be understanding, but this is not today, this is forty years ago. I work alongside people who are openly gay and nobody gives a damn but this is not how it was in 1979, and despite leaning a bit too heavily on its liberal agenda, Lou Grant gives us a very apposite reminder of what it was like wihin my own lifetime.

And what it is still like in too many parts of the world, and too many parts of America, yes, and Britain, even now. Dave Tynan stayed in the closet, his sexuality closely guarded, and both Lou and Rossi, the only ones who know, agree that it’s not relevant to the story. Yeah. Journalism 1979. Unreal today.

Person of Interest: s03 e02 – Nothing to Hide


One of the many things I love about Person of Interest is the flexibility of its format. It’s basic underpinning is that Finch has invented an early warning system, forty-eight hours notice of murder, giving our heroic band the opportunity to save a life, whoever the person, whatever the circumstances. The possibilities are limited only by the various gradaions of humanity.

Take this week’s episode. The Number is Wayne Kruger (a splendidly rancid performance by David Alan Basche), CEO of a corporate titan who has made it by creating a Facebook-like empire called Lifetrace, which publishes complete details of people’s lives. Actually, it’s more like Friends Reunited, which the aged among us will remember, permitting re-contact, except that instead of letting the users choose what details to publish, Lifetrace sucks up and spews out everything. And Kruger sells on the data to make millions.

There’s an obvious issue here involving Privacy. Not that Kruger cares. He’s one of those bombastic bastards, master of his Universe, who is never wrong, always cleverer than everyone around him, unaware that his imagination is limited to only the next step in getting very richer and deliberately obtuse as to the effects of his orgamisation.

Frankly, he’s a twat, and a hypocrital one as well (aren’t they always?) Total exposure is good, it feeds the apocalyptical vision of a world in which everybody’s ‘wants’ will be anticipated, to the no doubt detriment of their thinking for themselves, and anyway, the only people who want privacy are those with something to hide.

Yes, that tired old line, promptly reversed when it appears Kruger has things he wants to hide and someone’s putting these out publicly. The sex with not-his-wife, the arrest record, the bank details used to strip him of every penny, being kicked out of his own company, privacy is such an outmoded concept, isn’t it?

Kruger’s life goes to pot, a helter-skelter leading only downwards. Finch, Reese and Shawwatch over him, rescue him from an overt attempt at murder but still the arrogant bastard pursues only the dollar signs in his eyes. He CAN resurrect the big deal, he can haul the guy who’s done this in front of Mr Peter Collier (Leslie Odem Jr.), nobody messes with him.

And at the last he may be capble of learning a lesson. The man behind all this is a father, or was a father. Lifetrace put his daughter’s entire life onto the internet. Three times, an abusive ex-boyfriend traced her. Three times, the family asked for her details to be removed. Three times, the company did nothing. The fourth time, the boyfriend murdered her. Not all people require privacy because they have something disreputable to hide.

Kruger may have finally caught the edge of something bigger than himself, that old saw that we all must understand to be truly human, that actions have consequences. Within minutes, however, he was dead, and John Reese also shot, in the bullet-proof vest. By the wholly unforeshadowed Peter Collier. Not a corporate functionary but a crusader. Whose Crusade is foursquare for Privacy, and whose Crusade is out to take it back, in a very forceful way. A dominant theme for season 3 has just been introduced.

This was the major story of the episode. Therewas no room for Root this week, but Carter’s story was advanced, slowly. At Cal Beecher’s grave she bumps into Alonzo Quinn, his godfather (as Carter knows him), a man alive to potential threats to HR and not prepared to allow them to develop beyond potential. And, lo and behold, Carter gets an eager rookie to train, Officer Mike Laskey (Brian Wiles). Whilst Fusco discovers Beecher’s file has been frozen, access denied.

Enough to keep us going. And we will be going there

Lou Grant: s02 e24 – Romance


Babies

Nowadays, season finales are big things, conclusive affairs or cliffhangers, ending on unfinished business meant to occupy the mind of the audience and draw them back for next season. In 1979, this was a long way from not so. Seasons were whole and entire, in the same way that episodes were whole and entire, self-contained, with minimal or no effect on what happened next week, or last week, or next year.

So I wasn’t expecting that much from LouGrant‘s second season finale, and in the sense I’m talking about, I was not disappointed, but it was nice to see the season end on a very strong episode that felt as if it contained a lot more than it’s actual 46 minute length.

The title was ‘Romance’ and it was all about love, or rather relationships, but not from any romantic angle we’d distinguish with the name. In fact, we had a triple header, two stories for the paper, carved up for Rossi and Billie, and one for Lou himself.

Rossi was on the palimony story, not that the P-word was mentioned. Rockstar Aaron Bly, worth an estimated $8,000,000 had broken up with his girlfriend of four years, Cheryl, who was claiming 50% of his fortune on the basis she had given up her ice-skater career for him, and had supported him in every way. This led to a discussion amongst male members of the Trib in which a few neanderthal attitudes were on parade. Apparently, if a woman lives with a man without a marriage certificate, the only thing she contributes is sex, and has anyone had sex worth $4,000,000? The only thing you can do is remind yourself that this is 1979, which doesn’t make it palatable, but makes it understandable.

Cheryl was played by Devon Ericson, who must have had ice-skating training as she was seen at the rink, performing very creditably and chirpily confident. And in an unprecedented move, she was showing her legs. This stood out against the dress code of the series in which every female is covered from neck to toe to fingertip. There is no skin showing, not even a forearm: if Linda Kelsey isn’t in lacks, she’s in a near ankle-length skirt, over boots. It gets increasingly noticeable as the weeks go by.

Anyway, Cheryl and Aaron are merely the overt cynicism. Cheryl’s case gets settled out of Court, by an agreement to marry. There’s no suggestion that there’s any real love involved.

This was the lightweight strand. In the middle was Lou himself, perfectly happy in his relationship with Policewoman Susan Sherman (Frances Lee McCain). Until, that is, she suggested living together. From the very moment she brought that up, things were on a downhill slope. Lou solicits minimal advice, starts a fight over Susan answering his phone and inadvertently betraying her existence to one of his daughters (which she and we immediately understood was only so violent because of her suggestion, an early and inevitable indication that things were not going to work out hunky-dory) and ultimately turns her offer down, on the somewhat confusing grounds that living together makes it too easy to split up if things get rough. He tentatively brings up marriage, but Susan says too soon. It’s all light, and cheerful, and everyone agreeing in an adult manner, but I saw a relationship killed in an instant. It’ll walk around for a bit, but it’s dead already.

The meat of the story, kick-started by the opening scene of a baby left unattended in a car whilst her 16 year old mother went to her birthday party, went to Billie, delving into the weird and wonderful world of teenage pregnncy. This was seen through Wendy (Terri Nunn), a 15 year old schoolgirl determined to get pregnant.

Wendy was, in her quiet way, a horror story. Neglected emotionally at home, at odds with her mother who, in a fleeting scene that established that she was a  teenage mother who didn’t know what to do, Wendy planned to get a baby because a baby let her quit school, get her own place, break away from her mother and, most of all, gave her something that would love her, because lord knows she hadn’t had that at home. That the baby would be a life that she would be responsible for when she seemingly didn’t have an ounce of responsibilty in her, wasn’t part of Wendy’s plan (it would not be wrong to call it a scheme), and any attempt by the concerned Billie to get this over to her was met with angry resistance. A cycle was self-perpetuating.

The episodeand the seeason ended on that melancholy note. Wendy was preganant. She’d got everything she wanted. She was carefree. She was a 15 year old girl with a room, a bed, a table and cute babythings to accessorise her dream of whn the baby came. When Billie left, the camera stayed with Wendy, straightening things,already with nothing to do. Like a kid, she squatted on the floor to play with baby-bootees. You had to hope, and you feared there was none. A powerful moment.

A few weeks ago, after a run of particularly polemic episodes, I considered taking a break at this point, but a strong end to the season has restored my faith. I’ve started so I’ll finish, as we used to say. Be here next week when I start on season 3.