Movie Review: The Hobbit—An Unexpected Journey (Part I)

Martin Freeman Bilbo small sizeSo I went to see The Hobbit the other day. Be honest now, you’re going to see it too (if you haven’t already). I mean who isn’t, if only just to see the glorious, sprawling landscape of Middle Earth on the big screen one more time? And if you’re a homeschooler, or used to be homeschooled… well then.

Okay, so we already knew it would look fantastic. The question is, what about, y’know, the movie? Is it any good?

I was curious, so I went to see for myself. I’m pleased to say that while it definitely has its drawbacks, the answer is… yes. So without further eloquence, here is the scoop in the form of Pros, Cons, and Pro-Cons (a movie’s bigger than a music album, so sometimes you need a category for things you’re ambivalent on). In the spirit of the new movies, it seemed fitting to split what maybe could have been a one-post review into two posts (ahem). The pro-cons and final thoughts in particular ended up a bit long. So here is Part One. Come back tomorrow for Part Two. Today we’ll discuss pros and cons, tomorrow the pro-cons and final thoughts. Enjoy, and please do feel free to chime in with your own thoughts if you’ve got them. Comments are nice, precious.

[Note: On the off-chance that you’re reading this and have NOT read the book… go read it before reading another word of this post.]

Right, so let’s start with…

Pros:

1. Martin Freeman as Bilbo

2. Martin Freeman as Bilbo

3. Martin Freeman as Bilbo

4. But seriously… MARTIN FREEMAN AS BILBO!

All right, I’ll explain. First of all, let me say that I’m glad to see a talent like Freeman’s finally being put to use with some good quality material. Previously, he’s been best-known for his work in British TV shows like The Office and Sherlock, neither of which I recommend. There was also that movie of Hitchhiker’s Guide, but we won’t go there. However, Freeman is one of the few good things about all three, because nobody can play the Everyman type like he can. Whether he’s John Watson, Arthur Dent or Bilbo Baggins, it’s impossible not to start liking and rooting for him the moment he comes on screen. He’s got the face, the mannerisms, the air, the complete package. (For crying out loud, he even plays the decent likable type in clay-mation.)

The funny thing is that in real life, Freeman has a reputation for being blunt, witty and a bit of a smart-aleck. Still he’s a pro, he loves what he does, and on screen, he is Bilbo. There truly is nobody else who could come even close, and it’s obvious why Jackson literally re-arranged his shooting schedule to get Freeman for this part. Bilbo’s stubbornness, honesty, loyalty, and ultimately, nobility, are brought to vivid life in his every expression and movement. He can turn from perfectly-timed comedy to serious drama in the blink of an eye, effortlessly nailing them both. Frankly, I doubt Freeman himself will ever top this performance—it’s that good.

5. The unexpected party

The first act of this movie is, quite simply, a delight. The big opening flashback to the destruction of Dale is fine, but once Bilbo’s story begins in earnest, it will melt any fan’s heart. The introduction of the dwarves, Bilbo’s distress, and Gandalf’s manipulation are all captured beautifully and follow fairly closely to the book.

There are a few changes. Thorin arrives late from a dwarf council instead of stumbling in the door, the dwarves help themselves instead of giving Bilbo their dinner orders, and Bilbo is a tad less dramatic in his reaction to the mention of Smaug (where he lets out a terrified screech in the book, the movie shows him having a comically solemn, stiff-upper-lippish inner struggle before suddenly fainting on the mat). He also steadfastly refuses to help them, whereas in the book he becomes embarrassed and announces importantly that he will do whatever the company wants (though wavering again as bedtime rolls around). I think they wanted to save the “Bilbo pulls himself together and announces he’s up for anything” scene for later, but more on that in the pro-cons. We are also deprived of that wonderful morning-after meeting between Gandalf and Bilbo (“But…” “No time for that either”), as Bilbo makes the final choice to dash off by himself. But all-in-all, this was one of the best parts of the film. Watch a clip here.

6. Bilbo and Gollum

Other reviewers have said it, and I’ll say it too: I could have watched Bilbo and Gollum on screen together forever. Gollum is just as stunning as he was in LOTR. You’ll be spell-bound all over again as Andy Serkis and WETA work their magic with this character. Serkis has talent out the wazoo (seriously, just watch this clip of him voicing Gollum live while reading to a bunch of little kids—literally scary good). He and Freeman together made the riddles in the dark scene the hands-down highlight of the film. Other than cutting out a couple sets of riddles, it was extremely faithful to the book and captured Tolkien’s vision perfectly. And the pivotal scene after the game where Bilbo is wearing the ring and chooses to spare Gollum was done so beautifully you might even choke up a little. The emotion both actors brought into their faces alone in this scene was extraordinary.

7. Verbatim reproduction of certain classic lines

I think I literally giggled with nerdish joy over Gandalf’s word-for-word faithful parsing out of the various meanings of the phrase “Good morning” in that first meeting. Ditto for the description (put in Gandalf’s mouth in the movie) of how old Bullroarer Took charged against the orc king Golfimbul on a horse and chopped off his head with a wooden club, which head subsequently rolled away and down a rabbit-hole, thereby winning the battle and inventing the game of golf all at once.

8. Character development

Some of the additions in this movie were heavy-handed and unnecessary (we’ll get to those). But in the character development department, some of them actually worked. For example, Thorin’s character is made both more prominent and more sympathetic. Whereas in the books he mostly comes off as a pompous ass, the movie shows his noble warrior-king side—proud, yes, but still admirable. This is played very well by Richard Armitage. A few other dwarves are enjoyably expanded on as well, to say nothing of their awesome Scots-Irish accents. I particularly loved how they portrayed Balin, Thorin’s best friend (Balin is the dwarf with all-white hair, just to help you remember). Most of Balin’s scenes are added, but they’re actually very good. He’s got a wonderfully reassuring Scottish brogue, and his re-telling of the Battle of Moria is particularly poignant. The love in his voice when describing Thorin’s bravery and leadership is palpable. “And I thought to myself then, there is one who I could follow. There is one I could call king.”

9. Solid closing song

They know how to write good songs for their end credits. LOTR gave us stellar material from the likes of Enya (“May it Be”) and Annie Lennox (“Into the West”), and now a New Zealand pop/folk artist named Neil Finn has contributed the “Song of the Lonely Mountain.” Perhaps not quite as stellar, but still good. There’s a neat sound of an anvil and some well-placed male voices chanting “Ay-ay-ay-ay” in the background (influenced by Jewish singing—I’ll talk a bit more about the dwarves’ broader connection to the Jews in Part II). Also, the added lyrics blend surprisingly well with those elements borrowed from Tolkien’s original dwarf song. The one drawback is that the main tune gets rather dull/repetitive. But that’s Howard Shore’s fault. More on him in the…

Cons:

1. The soundtrack

I’ll just go ahead and say it: Howard Shore’s score for LOTR is the most overrated soundtrack in recent memory. Disagree with me if you will, I say it’s the truth. People compare it to John Williams’ iconic Star Wars soundtrack. What a lot of hooey. We have yet to see anyone step into Williams’ shoes, least of all Shore. He comes up with only a small handful of melodic ideas and then repeats them—over, and over, and over. The attempt to eke it out with choir vocables only emphasizes Shore’s creative paucity. With The Hobbit, we had approximately one new theme, and that’s the dwarves’ “Misty Mountain” theme. It’s a pretty little tune, but Shore milks this cow for all its worth, much like the “Walking Theme” in LOTR. By the eleventy-first cue, I was thoroughly sick of it. But that’s all right, I’m sure he’ll have a new theme for next year’s installment, and then we’ll have two instead of one. Smashing.

2. The addition of Azog as a big villain

Careful fans who’ve read the book may remember the name “Azog” as Gandalf mentions it in passing while running through some dwarf history. After losing Erebor to Smaug, Thorin and all other dwarves fought against and defeated the orcs of Moria, led by a large white orc called Azog. But whereas in Tolkien’s world Azog was slain in said battle, in Jackson’s world he survived and is now chasing Thorin and Co. across Middle-Earth for vengeance (Thorin chopped off his arm, you see—so he’s not a happy camper). Although this wasn’t quite the disaster I had feared it would be, let’s just say it doesn’t work. I realize there’s no active main villain until Smaug wakes up later in the book, but Jackson could have gotten to all that much quicker if he hadn’t been so insistent on stretching the series into three parts (ahem). My guess is since they’re making Thorin such an important character, they felt like he needed his own villain. But okay, since people are calling Thorin Aragorn 2.0… I don’t seem to remember that Aragorn had his own private arch-foe, even in the movies. So why does Thorin need one?

This all ties in with the next complaint…

3. Unnecessary and/or unnecessarily long action sequences

This is the story of all the Jackson movies—where the books offer adventure, suspense and excitement, he inexplicably feels a need to add more. The result always feels, ironically, less exciting and more mundane. This is even more true for The Hobbit than LOTR, it being a lighter story to begin with. Already Jackson is laying it on way too thick. I already mentioned the extra stuff with Azog. There’s also a scene with rock giants that’s about five times as long as it needs to be to capture Tolkien’s description in the book. Also, besides turning the final rescue in the woods  into an epic stand-off with Azog (more on that later), Jackson added the ridiculous element of wargs knocking trees over to leave our heroes dangling over the edge of a cliff. As another reviewer aptly put it, “It’s as if a scene in which our heroes are being attacked by, and then rescued from, orcs and monstrous wolves was deemed somehow lacking in spectacle.” Right on.

4. The trolls scene

This could have been done really well, but I was left quite disappointed. It probably ends up about as long as it is in the book, but different in a much inferior way. Most of Tolkien’s clever dialogue for the trolls has been cut out and replaced by extra action and juvenile humor (see next con). The entire sequence where Gandalf imitates their voices and gets them to fight each other is gone. Instead, Bilbo buys time by telling them the dwarves are full of parasites. Finally, Gandalf shows up and they do turn to stone per the book. If you’re a fan, you’ll be sad to think about what this whole scene could have been, but wasn’t.

5. The juvenile humor

There wasn’t a whole lot of this, but enough to be annoying. Just unnecessary bits of little-boy gross-out stuff that really dragged down the whole tone of the story. It ranged from little things (like a dwarfish burping duel in the unexpected party) to bigger annoyances (like a troll blowing his nose on Bilbo and mistaking him for an alien booger versus just, you know, turning around and picking him up). I mean, seriously? I wasn’t impressed. Very disappointing.

6. CGI fails

It pains me to say it, but there were times in this movie when it felt like I was watching a video game. No doubt many of these scenes were included with 3D in mind, but for the ordinary no-thanks-I-don’t-feel-like-shelling-out-extra-cash-for-a-headache viewer, it felt annoying (Martin Freeman apparently shares my feelings on 3D—I have to admire his refreshing candor in this interview clip). For example, the chase/fight scene in Goblin town is not only greatly lengthened (no duh) but also very unrealistic. It includes many sequences of dwarves careening around, bouncing and falling from great heights without so much as a broken pinkie. The camera spins around wildly and plunges into the abysses with them. Overall, the effect is very cartoonish. Did you see the movie Adventures of Tin Tin (which is very good by the way)? It was like that, only instead of actually being animated, it just felt that way.

7. The inclusion of Radagast

Radagast is of course nowhere to be found in the book. Fortunately, he only made a comparatively small appearance here. They tried to tie it into the Necromancer arc (more on that in the procons) by having him discover his tower in Mirkwood and be the one to alert Gandalf of the threat. I think the shifting of this knowledge forward in time is a definite con. In Tolkien’s chronology, the White Council literally spends centuries deliberating over how best to deal with the Shadow. Gandalf just decides to act around the time of the Quest. But doing it this way seemed like an excuse to stuff in an extra character for the movie. Definitely time wasted.

At the risk of having this turn into a three-part review (ahem), I shall stop there for this post. Although I’m ending with cons, I do have more good things to say about this movie. Stay tuned…

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Movie Review: The Hobbit—An Unexpected Journey (Part I)

  1. Observer

    I concur overall with this review, although I read the book decades ago, so it’s not fresh in my memory and plot/ character changes didn’t bother me. I certainly didn’t find the movie a “slog” as some reviewers have said, as there was certainly lots of action. However, I didn’t feel emotionally involved as I did in LOTR (although naturally one roots for the good guys) and agree that the cartoonish approach to the action sequences required much willing suspension of disbelief. It reminded me of Wile E. Coyote jumping over a cliff unscathed. You hit the nail on the head, that it felt like a video game. I came out of the movie having been entertained, but unmoved.

    • Aw, you should read the book again. :)

      Some of the action felt “sloggish” to me, paradoxically, by virtue of the sensory overload I get when Jackson drags things out. It got a bit numbing at points. I agree that there was less to get emotionally involved in, but that’s the nature of the story. I did get my heart-strings tugged a bit by the extra stuff with Bilbo, Thorin, and the themes of home (which I discuss more in Part II of the review). That was a heart versus head thing for me. Instinctively I wanted to go “Awwww, *sniff, sniff*,” mostly because the acting was so good. But my head was like, “Silly, this isn’t believable, it’s not in the book, etc.”

      I predict that the next two installments will be richer in emotional heft. I mean half the dwarves die in the last battle. If I’m not mistaken, that includes the really cute one, Kili, and obviously Thorin. I can see the theater full of bawling teen girls even now. :D

  2. Darn – posted a comment but it deleted it. I actually read this three or four days ago and didn’t have time to write until now…But to summarize –

    I was homeschooled. You’re very right.

    I LIKED LotR’s music. :) But it probably is a bit over-rated. (In its defense, FotR had more than a few themes: The Fellowship, The Shire, Concerning Hobbits, Arwen, Gondor, Rivendell, Saruman, Sauron, etc.)

    Aragorn did sort of have a bad guy in Lurtz, the orc who kills Boromir. But Azog was a little flat as a villain. I loved Thorin. Frankly, when it comes to real-life, I like Richard Armitage much more than Martin Freeman, who, while idiosyncratic, seems to fall into the mold of the common Hollywood liberal. Armitage seems to have thought about things a bit more, I guess. I’d respect Freeman much more if his honest comments were about more controversial things, like John Rhys-Davies, who can’t be a popular man in Hollywood. (On second thought, I just googled him, and he looks a lot more interesting than I thought. Never mind.) He IS a terrific actor. Interestingly, Andy Serkis had the guts to say that he thought C.S. Lewis was right about a lot. Anyway.

    Overall, editing is the main problem, so let’s hope that the increased time limit and greater amount of source material will make the next two films better.

    –Eowyn (Hi from the Rabbit Room!)

    • Hey Eowyn, sorry about that! Glad you were able to put it back together. :)

      Totally agreed, Armitage seems like an absolute sweetheart in real life. Much more shy and gentlemanly than Freeman. ;) But I doubt Armitage is very conservative, simply because the prior is so low. I did see a link you put up where he mentioned that he saw Tolkien’s Christianity coming out in _The Hobbit_, which I found interesting. But I can’t find anywhere else where it says he himself is Christian.

      Anyway, I do think Freeman’s an interesting guy even though you’re right that he’s a typical liberal in many ways (socially, etc), besides his language, morals, etc. I liked his answer about “organized religion” in this interview, for example:

      http://www.cpo.org.uk/magazines/news?newsaction=view&newsid=3934

      There was another interview where he dared to say that he thought multiculturalism was divisive, and these days you’re not supposed to notice even if someone is Muslim, and has a bomb, and wants to kill your family. That and his statement that he found rap music offensive because it’s just ugly and throwing around the “n—” word all the time got liberals VERY mad. So I found that amusing. I like his music taste too. In fact I found a really good BBC documentary where he went to Motown and did interviews with the artists there—great introduction to that music. He says he can’t stand it when he asks a young person if they’ve heard of someone and they go “Oh, so-and-so was before my time.” Freeman’s like “MOZART was before my time, does that make him irrelevant?”

      As for John Rhys-Davies, I’m quite sure that he’s actually a Christian. I’m also a huge fan, LOVE hearing what he has to say, he’s got some fascinating insights! The last thing I know of that he did was narrating a documentary on the King James Bible a couple years ago.

      I was surprised that Serkis did the Screwtape Letters for Focus on the Family. It made me wonder for a second if he was actually a Christian. But I googled it and he’s very outspoken about his atheism, so there goes that theory. But I too found it interesting that he found himself needing to acknowledge Lewis’s vast wisdom when he worked through the book.

      I agree, like you I’m hoping that because they left SO much ground still to be covered, there won’t be time for more padding. I was so bored with Azog, I hope he doesn’t show up again until the Battle of the Five Armies. Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug will be so much more fun to watch, and listen to. :D I bet they’ll have Azog and Thorin kill each other in the end. Speaking of that battle, I can’t WAIT to see Beorn “pull down Bolg and crush him.” The whole trilogy will be worth it if they get that moment right.

      • “What the flip was Jesus if he wasn’t an underdog, born in a bleedin’ manger, you know what I mean?”
        I wonder if it’s EVER been put that way before. :D But that line was so odd that it made me think – you know, he’s right. Kind of like how Chesterton says we ought to look at things from the eyes of an outsider.

        But yeah, that IS neat. Freeman’s got more of a brain than I gave him credit for. (I’m a bit cynical when it comes to actors – see Sean Astin). And what’s more, he said things that are very divergent from mainstream thought. THAT I can respect. I wouldn’t have thought Armitage was a conservative or a Christian; he just seemed to have actually thought about things a little more than Martin. And the gentlemanly behavior doesn’t hurt. Or the deep voice. He just sounds smart. Additionally, most of the interviews with Martin that I’d seen were pretty shallow – seeing some real questions put to him was interesting.

        John Rhys-Davies is, at the very least, a conservative of the Mark Steyn variety. But, googling…in this interview, he has some really interesting things to say: http://www.examiner.com/article/a-conversation-with-john-rhys-davies

        Have you heard of David Suchet? He’s a very fine British actor who’s a Christian – he’s played Hercule Poirot for the last 23 years. He’s a real charmer. Oh, wait, he has a deep voice. I think I’m noticing a trend.

        Maybe I should get back on subject. YES. Ben Cumberbatch as Smaug will be epic. I think he’ll be a great bad guy. And Beorn. And Mirkwood. I really can’t wait. :)

      • I don’t mind ramblers. Join the club. :)

        THAT particular thought, I will confess, struck me as being a little more “Bono-ish,” you know what I mean? More of the kind of thing a typical liberal would say. “Jesus as the little guy, for the little guys (implied, just like Democrats).” However, I loved it when he said that he thinks the people who criticize organized religion are just being lazy and shallow. It’s not like they came to that conclusion after tons of research. He’s absolutely right. Anyway, if you ask him the right questions he can come out with some interesting thoughts—clearly an extremely bright guy even if I don’t always agree with his ideas (or his morals, obviously). When he says he believes in “our answerableness to something else,” I’d like to know just what he means, because I’m not even sure that’s a coherent idea outside the framework of Christianity.

        Speaking of Christianity, AWESOME interview with Rhys-Davies. Love this bit:

        “The Pauline ‘leap of faith’ – that Christ is risen – really did happen. You cannot exclude that possibility. If quantum physicists can accept the fact that from quantum vacuum an entire Volkswagen bus can appear, or an entire conscious brain in its entirety can materialize from quantum flux, the theoretical physicists don’t have any problem with that, and yet Dawkins has a problem with the idea of God. It’s a failure of imagination on his part.”

        Of course I’ve heard all the Focus on the Family Narnia dramas, so I’ve course I’ve heard of David Suchet. :) I hear that his Hercule Poirot is very famous but haven’t seen it. He does a great Aslan in the radio dramas of Narnia! It’s the deep voice… :lol:

        “Epic” is right for Smaug. Another actor with a deep voice (hmmmmmmm…)

      • Hmmmm, what’s odd is that I found another interview where Rhys-Davies says he would NOT describe himself as a Christian, and yet here he is saying all these really sensible-sounding things about faith. I hope one day there won’t be anymore ambiguity for him.

  3. Yeah, definitely on the Bono side of things, but it was such an unChurchish way of putting it that it struck me as funny. The organized religion comment was unexpected. Most liberals *are* ready to attack any sort of organized religion, so it was refreshing. I can’t quite tell, though, whether he was criticizing religion’s lazy critics, or lazy adherents. When he says “have a go at” – does he mean attack or attempt to accomplish? Little hard to tell. :/ But as Socrates put it, “The unexamined life is not worth living”, and Martin seems to have done more examining than most (like, say, that hopeless philosopher Dawkins).

    As a longtime Poirot fan, I’d recommend the old episodes first. The new ones are trying too hard to be relevant – that is to say, secondary homosexual characters, dark settings, and little to no humor (though Suchet’s character is still clean), while back in the good ol’ days, excepting the occasional cussing American millionaire (really, again, BBC?) the show was light-hearted, brilliant, and clean. The old series started with The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and nearly all the episodes are on YouTube…but I’ll stop. I can’t help it – I’m a die-hard mystery fan. David Suchet seems like a terrific guy.

    • No, no, no, he’s obviously mocking the people who attack it. I think “have a go at” means approximately “take a whack at” — a British vs. American thing probably. He’s saying “Look, organized ANYTHING takes time, diligence, and commitment, and it’s all very well to spout off about it, but what have YOU done lately?” I think that was his point. “Okay, fine, then you go out and found a religion. But don’t act like you’ve thought this all through when you really haven’t.” (Speaking of organized religion, I’m reminded of Dana Carvey’s stand-up routine on disorganized religion. “Hi, we’re a little disorganized. We’re gonna meet on Tuesday… or maybe Thursday. We haven’t figured it out. We’re gonna meet at P.F. Chang’s, maybe. We don’t really have a hymn. You can kinda hum to yourself, if you want…”)

      You could call me a humanist, because I love to find out what makes people tick. Martin is one of those people that interests me. The fact that he was “raised Catholic” but that no real doctrine seems to have stuck is a sad commentary on nominal religion. I get the feeling that he’d like to believe in more than he does, but he just doesn’t have the answers he needs. That’s true for many people.

      Thank you for the tip on Poirot. Sigh. The newer episodes sound like a lot of television these days.

      • My father is an engineer, and my mother loves psychology, so I’m semi-obsessed with figuring out why people think the way they do (I actually think about why I do things, then think about why I think about them – it’s that bad). Martin is interesting because he is willing to step outside of the accepted mantras and think for himself – much like Rhys-Davies, though not really to that level. It’s a sad thing that England is so secular – but on the other hand, its lack of any church for so long has allowed (I gather) Christianity to lose some of its negative stereotypes. And…if there was an opportunity for ministry in, say, I don’t know, OXFORD, I might be available. ;D

        On the same note, I love Poirot’s study of “ze Psychology – ze criminal mind.” To be fair, the later episodes tackle some pretty tough moral problems – capital punishment in Murder on the Orient Express was really thought-provoking. I loved it. Also, Poirot’s Catholicism is made much more prominent, which has interesting effects on the character. All in all, I’d say it stands head and shoulders above the *shudder* new Marple series, though several steps below the lovely Foyle’s War series. Like I said – mystery addict.

      • I don’t know, I think the absence of religion in England has led to bad things. Christianity is held in derision by most of the English. Also, creepy bio-ethics are even more widespread than they are in America, plus they’re further along as far as normalization of gay “marriage” and such. It’s just a spiritual vacuum. Perhaps things don’t seem quite as bad here because America is simply bigger. I have friends who live and minister in the UK, and it’s almost like another world.

        How faithful are the TV episodes to Christie’s books? See I’m a mystery buff too, but I tend to stick to the books. :) How did they handle the capital punishment topic? It sounds like they might have put a politically correct spin on that one.

        If you want a modern but pretty good mystery/thriller series, Person of Interest isn’t bad at all. It’s got Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson in it, playing a retired special ops guy and a computer genius, respectively. They have a machine that tells them about violent crimes ahead of time, so they have to figure out how to stop it. If you can accept the (morally dubious) premise (after all, it’s technically not right to spy on people, even benignly), and look past some persistent political correctness, it’s a lot of fun. I mean it’s Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson. Hard to lose.

  4. I had read an article that said Christian kids were going to English schools to try and escape the negativity about religion in American schools, but thinking about it, that doesn’t make much sense. After all, nearly every Christian character in BBC shows is *always* portrayed in a negative light (and don’t get me started on American men – they can’t speak five words without cussing.) RZIM ministers in Oxford, and they really have their work cut out for them. I think America goes between extremes. I live deep in the Bible Belt, but it’s obvious that most cities and universities have long since expelled Christianity. All the same, here in the south, what Christianity we have is often lazy and hypocritical.

    If you liked Agatha Christie’s books, you’ll love the show. I think that the earlier episodes are much closer to the books (I actually haven’t read too many of them – I like Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter books) – but I will say that David Suchet absolutely INHABITS Poirot. He is religiously faithful to the books, even to the point that he knows how many cubes of sugar Poirot puts in his tea. Seldom has a character been done more justice. When it comes to Christie’s other major detective, Joan Hickson is the definitive Miss Marple.

    I actually thought they did capital punishment pretty well. In the book, it isn’t even touched on, and Poirot has no problem letting off the culprits, but in the show, it’s a BIG DEAL. The whole theme of the episode is justice – it left me really thinking. While the old show is much more fun, there was no way they could’ve managed to ask those questions in the lighter setting. I must say, I’m really interested in seeing how they deal with Curtain, the last episode.

    If you’re interested, here’s a link to the first episode of both Poirot and the 1980s Miss Marple: http://www.longish95.blogspot.com/p/the-detectives.html (Scroll, respectively to the P and M sections)

    I haven’t heard of Person of Interest…I’ll have to look it up. That’s a pretty great premise.

    Oh, and by the way, it looks like sockshare is slipping some adware in with the program, just as a warning. :)

    • Thanks! And yeah, I knew there could be ads even if you watch as a free user—that’s why I always use Adblock Plus (wonderful stuff).

      Person of Interest is awesome. Start with the first episode of Season 1 and work your way through. Season 2 unfortunately has had some filler in it, but the mid-season cliff-hanger was pretty good, and the latest one was fantastic.

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