Category Archives: History

Thoughts On the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Buchenwald

As the world focuses on the coronavirus and the destruction it leaves in its wake, there are other pieces of news that deserve the spotlight.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald.

The clip above is from the 2001 television miniseries Band of Brothers. Though some may say that the Holocaust is in the past and we no longer need to talk about it, I disagree. The lessons from this time in history are as relevant as they ever were.

If there is one thing the coronavirus has done, it has revealed the fractures and the major societal issues that continue to plague us. My hope is that when this is all said and done, we will live in a better world and finally learn from the past.

May the memories of those who perished within Buchenwald be a blessing.

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Grantchester Character Review: Will Davenport

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series GrantchesterRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

When one beloved character is replaced by a new character, there is often a transition period for both the audience and the existing characters. On Grantchester, when Sidney Chambers (James Norton) left for America, he was replaced by Will Davenport (Tom Brittany). If Sidney rocked the boat only slightly, Will rocks the boat without question.

Will rides a motorcycle, listens to rock and roll and does not have the same demons from the war that Sidney does. He is modern in his sensibilities, which does not sit well with some of his superiors and the more traditional members of his parish.

Though he seems carefree, Will is not without problems of his own. Born into a wealthy family, his father Thomas (Nathaniel Parker) does not agree with his son’s choice of profession. Caught between his opinionated father and loving mother Amelia (Jemma Redgrave), Will must navigate complicated family politics.

To sum it up: It has been said that first impressions are lasting, but they don’t always reveal the truth about the person. Though Will appears to be the typical 1950’s rebel, he is eventually revealed to be much more than that. When his past and his issues are revealed, Will becomes a more complex and human character.

Which is why he is memorable to watch.

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The Windemere Children/World on Fire Review

For some, World War II and the Holocaust may seem like it was ancient history. Those in the know would say that that period was not so long ago and continues to have an affect on us, 80 years later.

Last night, PBS aired two different programs: The Windemere Children and World on Fire.

The Windmere Children, a television movie, takes place just after World War II. Britain has taken in 1000 child survivors of the Holocaust. 300 of these children are taken to an estate in England to recover. They are traumatized, both physically and emotionally. They are also most likely the only survivors from their families. It is up to the adults around them to help them become children again. Played by Romola Garai, Iain Glenn, and Thomas Kretschmann, the therapists and teachers are doing everything they can to help their charges begin to heal.

World on Fire is a miniseries that tells the story of ordinary people whose lives are turned upside down by the war. Starring Helen Hunt, Jonah Hauer-King, and Sean Bean, this miniseries follows a group of individuals from various countries as they face the dangerous realities of war. Hauer-King’s character is a young man from Britain in love with two women. Hunt plays an American journalist trying to do her job in Europe as the shadow of war grows ever closer. Bean’s character is a working-class father doing the best he can to take care of his children.

I loved both. The Windemere Children is both heartbreaking and uplifting. World on Fire stands out because it tells the stories of ordinary people who must do extraordinary things to survive.

I recommend both.

World on Fire airs on PBS Sunday nights at 9.

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Grantchester Character Review: Leonard Finch

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series GrantchesterRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Grantchester to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

No one wants to be different. We all want to fit in and be accepted. In our time, being different has become the new normal. But it was not so long ago that being different was if not illegal, considered to be immoral. On  Grantchester, Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) is gay. In his world, Britain in the 1950’s, he is essentially illegal. He faces two daunting choices, neither of which are ideal. He can either come out and potentially go to jail. Or, he can stay in the closet and pretend to be someone who he is not.

On the surface, Leonard comes off as the enthusiastic man of the cloth who clings ferociously to the ideals of his profession. But underneath all of that is a man who is struggling to accept who he is. On top of accepting who he is, Leonard is unsure about his attraction to Daniel Marlowe (Oliver Dimsdale).

In an effort to appear “normal”, Leonard asks Hilary Franklin (Emily Bevan) to marry him. She accepts his proposal, but the engagement does not last very long. This results in a botched suicide attempt. After surviving the suicide attempt and found out by Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones), he realized that even in the constricting 1950’s, it was better to be himself than hide who he is.

*I would normally include a clip, but there are none to be found.

To sum it up: In the lens of 2020, no one (well hopefully no one) would blink an eye when encountering a gay character. But, in the lens of the 1950’s, the view of this character is different. He lives in a world that at best denies who he is and at worst, criminalizes who he is. But, in spite of what seems to be insurmountable challenges, Leonard is able to find a way to be himself and fall in love.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Throwback Thursday-Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

Love stories come in all shapes and sizes. Though we tend to think of a love story with the typical happy ending, that doesn’t always mean that the couple walks into the sunset together.

The 1957 movie, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison takes place during World War II. Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr) and Corporal Allison (Robert Mitchum) are stranded on an island in the South Pacific. When the Japanese overtake the island, Sister Angela and Corporal Allison take refuge in a cave. Within the small confines of their temporary shelter, they must rely on each other and his military expertise to survive.

What I like about this movie is that it is unconventional for the period. Most films made during this time had the traditional romantic narrative with the traditional Hollywood happy ending. But this film, even with the leads that have electric chemistry, does not end in the traditional manner. Which why I like it.

I recommend it.

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Filed under History, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Antisemitism: The Original Coronavirus

While the world deals with the coronavirus and the toll it takes, the Jewish community is dealing with another disease: antisemitism.

Pastor Rick Wiles blamed the coronavirus not on the virus itself, but on the idea Jews have not accepted the Christian G-d as their holy parent and creator.

“Stay out of those things, there’s a plague in them. God’s dealing with false religions,” he said on Wednesday night on TruNews, which he founded. “God’s dealing with people who oppose his son, Jesus Christ. He’s dealing with the forces of Antichrist. And there’s a plague moving upon the earth right now, and the people that are going into the synagogues are coming out of the synagogues with the virus.”

Given what we are going through at this point in time, the last thing that is wanted or need is division. Especially division that is based on something as surface level as religion. The fact is that the coronavirus does not care about the religious faith (or lack thereof) of the person it makes sick. Everyone is an equal opportunity home for this disease.

This is not the first, or the last time that the Jewish community has been blamed for a natural phenomenon. I just wish that in 2020, we would be using our brains instead of half baked lies.

But I guess some things never change.

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Grantchester Character Review: Geordie Keating

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series GrantchesterRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Grantchester to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the world of TV detectives, there is a certain perception of the character. He or she is hard bitten by life, excels at their jobs, but personal issues sometimes get in the way. Detective Geordie Keating (Robson Green) has seen it all. A veteran of World War II, he has seen the darker side of humanity from his time during the war and his job as a police detective. Married to Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth), they have four children and a very busy life.

The ying to Sidney Chamber’s (James Norton) yang, Geordie understands the criminal mind and is sometimes willing to break the rules to bring them to justice. This naturally creates tension with Sidney who is more intuitive in his methodologies than his partner. But, they balance each out in a way that bring out the best in both men.

On the home front, Geordie has another set of challenges. He had a mistress for a while, which obviously did not make for a happy marriage. After he broke it off and finally returned to the arms of his wife, Geordie had to face up to the fact that his eldest daughter, Esme (Skye Lucia Degruttola) was growing into a young woman. Ask any father and they will tell you that it’s not easy to admit that your little girl is growing up.

To sum it up: The character of the hard boiled police detective is one that has been seen many over the years. It is therefore, the job of the writer(s) to ensure that their version of the character is not only flesh and blood, but stands out from the pack.

Geordie Keating stands out because even though he is a hard boiled TV detective, he is so much more than that. He is thoroughly human, with flaws and mistakes. But he also knows when to make amends and tell those who he loves exactly how he feels.

That is why Geordie Keating is a memorable character.

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Grantchester Character Review: Sidney Chambers

My character review from Roseanne and The Conners has reached its end. Onto the next set of characters.

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series GrantchesterRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Grantchester to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When it comes to clergy people of any religion, we expect them to act and think in a certain way. We expect them to be buttoned down, conservative and living as close to the tenets of their faith as they can. In Grantchester, Sydney Chambers (James Norton) breaks all of those rules and more.

A World War II veteran and a man of the cloth, Sydney Chambers’s life is more than the Church. Drawn into the world of crime fighting, his ability to read and understand the human condition puts a new spin on his extracurricular activities. Paired with veteran policeman Geordie Keating (Robson Green), Sidney is the ying to Geordie’s yang.

When he is not doing his clerical work or fighting crime, Sidney can be found with a drink in his hand and a jazz record playing in the background. He can also be found with his best friend, Amanda Kendall (Morven Christie). Sidney is in love with Amanda. But according to the rules of 1950’s England, a woman of Amanda’s stature does not marry a clergyman, especially one whose parish is in the country.

Throughout his journey, it is Sidney’s heart that both helps him and gets him in trouble. When a pregnant Amanda walks away from her marriage, she goes to Sidney. The “will they or won’t they” questions hovers above their relationship, but ultimately becomes a won’t they as Sidney chooses the Church over Amanda.

In the end, Sidney’s heart chooses his fate. Falling in love with an African-American woman, he leaves England, his chosen profession and his friends for a new life in the States.

To sum it up: Sidney Chambers is one complicated character. Though he is a man of the cloth, he is far from the stereotype of a clergy person. As an audience member, I personally find the contradictions to be interesting. As a writer, we look for ways to break molds in characters and allow them to stand out.

Sidney Chambers stands out, which is why he is a memorable character.

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Throwback Thursday-A Very British Romance (2015)

The ideas we have about love and romance did not come out of thin air. As our culture changed, the perception of love and romance (and marriage by extension) changed.

In 2015, the miniseries A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley aired. Hosted by the aforementioned historian Lucy Worsley, the program explored in the history of romance in the UK and how it shifted over the generations.

I enjoyed this series. Ms. Worsley breaks down the history in such a way that it is digestible and entertaining. Whether one is knowledgeable in this subject or a newbie, this program is a history lesson that does not feel like a history lesson.

I recommend it.

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Filed under History, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

You Should Take Responsibility, Mr. President

In any business, regardless of the particulars of that business, it is known and accepted that when sh*t happens, it will be the boss who takes responsibility. He or she will step up to the plate and do what needs to be done to resolve the problem.

Over the weekend, our illustrious President stated the following:

“I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said defiantly, pointing to an unspecified “set of circumstances” and “rules, regulations and specifications from a different time.”

When the late former President Harry Truman was in office, he had a plaque on his desk with the following statement The buck stops here“. In order words, he took responsibility for what was happening in the country.

It’s true that you know is not directly responsible for the coronavirus to entering the United States. But he is, for better or for worse, President. The buck stops with him whether he likes it or not. The nation looks to him for comfort, guidance and support as we try to get through this challenging time. The fact that he is stepping back from taking responsibility should be the final nail in the coffin that is his Presidency.

Let’s hope that voters remember this statement come November.

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