It looks at the curious relationship between killing and mass entertainment, charting the rise of the whodunit and the development of the classic British murder-mystery.
Colonel Mustard, in the Library, with the cut-and-paste:
In the first programme, Lucy Worsley begins with real-life crime from the first half of the 19th century: the Ratcliffe Highway Murders; Mariah Marten and the Red Barn; and the Bermondsey Horror. She investigates how our modern pre-occupation with murder began here, during the period when writer Thomas De Quincey wrote his celebrated essays on the subject that teasingly identified the guilty pleasure we get from it. A nation of ‘Murder Fanciers’ De Quincey called us.
As each gripping story of murder is told, Lucy explains how each of these crimes was transformed and mythologised into a variety of popular entertainments. And to recreate these moments, Lucy sings the ballads, acts out the melodramas and holds the strings during the puppet shows.
A Very British Murder is on tonight at 9pm, on the aforementioned BBC4.
Come with me now, if you will, to the other end of the televisual spectrum, where we keep locked away all the programmes labelled Guilty Pleasures. I’d bet my house that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will fit that tag nicely. It’s a spin-off from all the Marvel movies – I mean, like, duh! – with Clark Gregg reprising his Agent Coulson role from the movies. That’s him, in the middle, trying to look as hip as those young people by wearing his sunnies indoors.
Wait, you cry, how can that be so? Coulson expired after getting torn a new one by Loki in The Avengers. Considering Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is about superpersons and hi-tech gizmos and such, I’d humbly suggest that you’re probably over-thinking this stuff. Expect many scenes where everyone stands around looking at holographic schematics that rotate far too quickly.
S.H.I.E.L.D. by the way stands for Strategic Homeland, Enforcement and Logistics Division. I remember reading a Nick Fury comic when I was a kid and this guy escaped by using jet thrusters in his shoes. Even then I remember thinking you’d have to have legs as strong as girders to fly on those suckers.
Funnily enough, the detective in the movie Prisoners is called Loki. It’s not even mildly amusing, actually, but is a good way to segue to this week’s movie release, Prisoners.
The reviews in the States have been pretty good and the box-office healthy for this drama about a father who takes the law into his own hands when his daughter goes missing. It stars Hugh Jackman, rocking a beard, and Jake Gyllenhaal, and is apparently haunting and suspenseful.
If the title is a good indication of quality, then it certainly seems to have the edge over Runner Runner.
Runner Runner stars Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck – we like Ben – and is about a guy who goes to confront an online poker mogul on his flash island and ends up as his protégé – until the FBI come calling.
Incidentially, here’s no truth in the rumour the sequel will be called Runner Runnier.