Nov 14, 2022

"Whistable Pearl": A Cozy British Murder with Obvious Red Herrings and Cute Guys


The British mystery series Whistable Pearl appeared among my Amazon recommendations.  They have a reasonably good algorithm, so presumably there are gay characters.

Scene 1: Establishing shots of a seaside village.  A middle-aged woman, presumably Whistable Pearl, tries to call a guy named Vinnie, who fishes for crabs or oysters or something.  He doesn't answer, so she motors out to his boat -- ulp, he's floating in the water, tangled in the anchor line, drowned!

Scene 2: Hunky inspector Mike (Howard Charles, right) gets into a row with a farmer who won't back up his truck so he can get through, then goes to the police station to interrogate Pearl.  She's annoyed; she has explained this a dozen times before.  "Vinne provides crabs for my restaurant.  He didn't answer his phone, so I motored out to his boat and found him dead.  God, you are dense!"

"Why did you tow the boat to shore instead of calling the coast guard?"

"He was too heavy to pull on board.  The boat was drifting.  He has two small children."  Ok, so he's heterosexual, thus infinitely valuable.  If he were gay, would you have let him drift out to sea?

Scene 3: 
 Outside the police station, Pearl is met by her Mum, Dolly.  She offers to open the restaurant so Pearl can recover from the trauma, but Pearl insists that she can do it.  

As Inspector Mike stares suspiciously, Mum discusses the various times she was arrested during her activist days: protesting nuclear weapons, throwing eggs at Margaret Thatcher, bzz bzz at the Catholic Church (was she in ACT UP?).  

Scene 4: Back home, Pearl's hot teenage son, Charlie (Rohan Nedd),  is looking at college campuses.  "You saw him dead, then?  Must have been rough."  

Plot twist: Pearl is a private detective, who was hired to investigate Vinnie!  She didn't tell the police that, because. "They're idiots!"

Scene 5: 
 Inspector Mike is in his hotel room, unpacking.  Why is he sticking around for an accidental death> He gets a call: the forensics report is in.

Switch immediately to Pearl's restaurant, the Thistledown, right on the docks.  Pearl sees a young man, Max (Oliver Dench, whom Google Images says is one of these guys), yelling at her employee, Ruby, and wants to know what he is doing there.  " was just helping out."  He leaves; Pearl is concerned at the signs of abuse.  "Everything's go wait on those customers!"

Mum and Pearl cook and discuss her son Charlie going away to college.  "You have to face it -- he'll be moving out.  This is your opportunity to live a little.  Have sex. Do you even remember what a penis looks like?"  

Scene 6: After work (they must only be open for lunch), Pearl goes to a trailer court (do they call them council houses in Britain?) to talk to Vinnie's widow, Connie.  Plot dump: Vinnie quit his day job to become an oyster fisherman, and was not making a living at it.  They were deeply in debt.  He borrowed some money from a loan shark named Stroud.  And Stroud came to collect?  This must be a red herring.  

More plot dump: Stroud is the one who hired Pearl to investigate Vinnie.  And now he won't answer his phone.  Still a red herring.

Scene 7:  Back at the restaurant, Pearl waits on Ruby's abusive boyfriend Max and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arzanoff (Georg Nikoloff).  Mum rushes over to take their order so she can push Pearl at the hunky Inspector Mike from Scene 2.  He states that he doesn't like small towns "because you have to talk to people." They'll be kissing by Episode 4.   By the way, forensic investigation reveals that Vinnie's death was an accident.  Then why are you still there?

Pearl tells him about Stroud, the loan shark who hired her and now won't answer his phone.  "Growl, growl, I think you did it."  

Scene 8:  Pearl calls Inspector Mike with a new clue: Vinnie was done for the day.  He was in the midst of sorting and cleaning his oysters, so he must have been anchored.  So how could he have gotten tangled in anything?  And why was the boat drifting?

She sees Abusive Boyfriend Max picking up Ruby, and is concerned.  

Scene 9: Night.  Pearl goes home.  The house is all dark, and the door is ajar.  Psych -- it's Tina, Vinnie's ex-wife..well, current wife, since he died before the divorce papers were signed.  Wait -- he's been with Connie for many years. They have two kids together.  Where does Tina fit in?

Tina reveals that she's is dating Stroud the Loan Shark, and convinced him to lend the money to Vinnie.  Now he's gone.  So everybody has a history with everybody in this small town.  I'm stuck in Peyton Place, and the only potential gay character is Charlie.  Inspector Mike hasn't mentioned any wife or girlfriend, but he's obviously Pearl's Love Interest.  

Pearl suggests contacting Inspector Mike, and shows her the door.

"And, by the way, Connie stands to gain a fortune from Vinnie's life insurance policy.  Bye!"  No, if they aren't married, the money will go to the ex-wife.

Scene 10: Pearl tracks down Stroud at a local inn, and sneaks into his room by pretending to be a food delivery service (or maybe her restaurant really does deliver).  He's hanging from his tie in the bathroom, dead.  

Inspector Mike and some cops arrive, suspicious about Pearl's involvement.  She blames Connie, the widow: "Maybe Stroud threatened her about the money.  Maybe he threatened her kids.  She's desperate, she's unbalanced.  She hires someone."

 Scene 11:  Night.  Inspector Mike lies awake in bed (no beefcake), thinking about a laughing woman.  They kiss; he plays with her hair.  Ugh...dead wife, the hoariest cliche in the book.  If they mentioned that in the plot synopsis, I never would have started this. As it is, I'm going to fast-forward to the conclusion.

Beefcake: Mike goes swimming (still no beefcake).

Heterosexism:  Pearl asks Mike "Are you married?", assuming that he is heterosexual.

Gay Characters:  None identified here.  This is based on a novel series, one of which has Pearl's gay neighbor as a murder suspect.

Whodunit:  I was right, Stroud was a red herring.  It wasn't the widow or the ex-wife, either.  Or Vinnie's ex-boss, who hated him for quitting his job, and was having an affair with the widow. Wait -- do you hate people for quitting?   Or Pearl, or anyone in her family.  

Nov 13, 2022

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans: Muscular Orphans Fight Giant Corporations with Robots


I've heard of an anime or manga series entitled Mobile Suit Gundam, but I have no idea what it is about.  However, what is apparently a spin-off series called Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron  Blooded Orphans has dropped on Hulu, eye-catching. for beefcake icons in Episodes 2 and 4.

Plus one of the voice actors is Jonny Yong Bosch.  I've heard of him, too, but I don't recall actually seeing him in anything -- apparently he was one of the Power Rangers, and Google Images thinks that he's one of these guys.

Beefcake inside and out; I'll give it a try.  Episode 2 is incomprehensible, so I'll have to start with Episode 1. 

Holy plot dump, Batman, dozens of named characters in intricate situations.  I had to go through twice, and take notes.

Scene 1:
  On a city street, the chubby Biscuit is apparently practicing combat moves with the muscular, white-haired Orga.  Suddenly we're in a temple, beneath a gigantic statue, and Orga is straining, when the young, blue-haired Mika, a boy wearing a skirt, interrupts him.  A third guy interrupts them to point out that they're not allowed in the temple -- actually a control room.  They counter that it's warm outside. So what? Plus Marumba has summoned them. 

Scene 2: We're in the Chryse Autonomous Region, Arbrau Territory, Mars, Suburbs.   Marumba, a cigar-chomping corporate CEO, tells Orga and Biscuit that the Third Group is responsible for escorting Kurdelia, the representative's daughter, to Earth.  She is involved in the Martian Independence Movement, so it's an important assignment.  "But why us?  We're just the Third Group, despised, worthless nobodies."  

The CEO's assistant agrees that they are worthless scum, but Kurdelia hand-picked them, so just shut up and do what you're told, so you don't get punished.

Scene 3: 
  Young blond Takaki and some other kids in muscle shirts are burying land mines in the desert.   The CEO's Assistant drops by to whip them, punch Takaki, and yell at their overseer for not being punitive enough.  

Meanwhile and watching Mika from Scene 1 and a muscular blond guy practice battle maneuvers, shirtless, inside giant robots with ray-gun arms.

Scene 4: Dinner in a gigantic hanger, with Takaki and the other kid-slaves as waiters.  Most guys are wearing uniforms with the logo CGS, but it is not explained except in the episode synopsis: a private security corporation . They are all excited about the girl-escorting assignment, which is bound to get them promoted to the elite First Group.  Then they won't be worthless scum anymore!

One guy asks Mika if he thinks the girl will "smell good," but is told: "Forget it!  Mika isn't interested in girls."  Mika asks waiter Takaki about his injury.  So he's interested in boys?

Blond-haired Eugene is angry because the Third Group leader, Orgo, allows them to be treated like scum.  Why doesn't he resist?  They almost fight.  Someone named Akihiro leaves in a huff.  

Scene 5: In a posh mansion, Kurdelia and her mother discuss the problems of the Martian people, and her role as an emissary to Earth to promote Martian independence.  Father disapproves of her actions, but she's going anyway.  Hey, neither are showing any boobs.  A welcome change of pace!

Scene 6:  In the hallway, Kurdelia's maid wants to know why she choose the Third Group, "irregular child soldiers," as her escort.  She explains: "They were born out of Earth Sphere's long rule.  They embody the problems that plague the Martian people. By interacting with them, I will share their pain."  In other words, it's necessary for the plot to work.  

Scene 7: Gjallarhorn Space Station, orbiting Mars. Gjallarhorn is not explained except in the plot synopsis: it's an evil corporation that is exploiting the Martian people.  Sir Coral, an evil Darth Vader type, is making fun of Kurdelia.  She thinks she's going to Earth to promote Martian independence!  What an idiot!  Her father, Mr. Bernstein, agrees that she's stupid, but implores Sir Coral to not hurt her.

Scene 8: Two guys in an elevator criticizing Kurdelia's father for selling her out.  "What a coward!  But this changes the inspection from Earth into an opportunity.  To get the support of Noblisse, she must do well."  Second time through, and I still don't know what they are talking about.  It sounds like Kurdelia is going to a space station, not to Earth. And who the heck is Noblisse?  And don't they work for the evil corporation that wants Kurdelia to fail?

They tell  blond, nasty-looking Orliss that he's in charge of the mission; the older Crank, formerly his mentor,will be his assistant; and Ein, "it's your first mission.  Do your best."  8 scenes, 13 named characters, some with multiple names.  It's like reading Dostoevsky.

Scene 9: 
 A spaceship prepares to dock at the Gjallarhorn Space Station for an official inspection from Ariadne.  The subtitles say "Transmission from Ariadne," but no one receives a transmission, so I assume that Ariadne is a base or a commanding officer of the Evil Corporation.

The pilot, Major McGillis, asks blue-haired femme Gaelio if he's bored by inspecting frontier colonies.  "No, it's ok.  I'll do my best."  He points out that although Mars is a worthless, used-up colony, it is essential to Earth's economy.  Huh? -- that's a contradiction.  Therefore they must become members of Gjallarhorn, "keepers of the world order."  We must squash the independence movement.

Scene 10: Night. While the kid-slaves sleep in their bunks, Mika and another guy work out, and Orga (leader of the Third Group) discusses the itinerary with another guy:  Kurdelia arrives tomorrow, and they leave the next day.  It will take five months to get to Earth and back.  Darn, I thought they had warp drive, so the trip would only take a few minutes.   He complains: CEO Maruba thinks of us as rats, worthless scum, useful only because we have the "whiskers."  

The whiskers are implants on your back that allow you to connect directly to a giant robot and control its movements.  If you cry or yell during the implant, you are punished.  But Orga didn't yell, and was still punished for being worthless scum,  "I can't show weakness to Mika."  Why not?  

Scene 11: Kurdelia arrives, and meets the four boys who will escort her to Earth.  She chooses Mikazuki -- the boy who doesn't like girls -- to show her around.  She offers to shake hands, but he refuses, which she finds upsetting.

Scene 12: Amid the "Mars for the Martians" independence protests in a quaint city, a little girl in a shop makes a friendship bracelet for a boy she likes, presumably Mika.

Scene 13:  Night.  The Evil Gjallarthorn Corporation spaceship attacks the  compound!  The CEO quickly grabs his loot and evacuates; Biscuit evacuats the girl; the boys take off their shirts and suit-up.   They realize that only the Third Group, the kids, are fighting.  The other groups have orders to hold back.  The CEO is trying to get the kids killed!

Scenes 1-12 took only 12 minutes.  The rest of the episode is devoted to a lengthy battle, using tanks and robot fighters.  

Beefcake: constant.

Gay Characters:
 Mika, unless Kurdelia wears him down and they begin dating.  There may be a canonical gay character named Yamagi Gilberton.

Convolution:  Even after two viewings, I'm not sure what's going on.  The main powers seem to be corporations rather than political nation-states, so there's a lot of snore-inducing business talk.  Each corporation has its own agenda, with members who are secretly working for another corporation or trying to take it down from the inside....and so many named characters! 

It reminds me of the Peanuts comic strip where Snoopy writes a story:"It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.”

Sometimes beefcake is not enough.

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