There have been numerous adaptations of Jane Austen’s celebrated 1813 novel, ”Pride and Prejudice” over the past decades. Two of these versions happened to be BBC miniseries that aired in 1980 and 1995. It has been a long time since I have viewed the 1980 miniseries. However, I recently saw the 1995 miniseries for the umpteenth time and decided to finally write a review of it. Adapted by screenwriter Andrew Davies, the miniseries was produced by Sue Birtwistle and directed by Simon Langton.

Austen’s story centered around one Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living in Regency England and the efforts of her parents (or should I say of her mother) to find eligible husbands for her and her four other sisters. Two of these men happened to be the wealthy Charles Bingley, who has moved into the Bennets’ Hertfordshire neighborhood; and his wealthier friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy. The cheerful Mr. Bingley has managed to easily win the favor of the Bennets and their neighbors. He has also fallen in love with Elizabeth’s older sister, the even-tempered Jane. On the other hand, the more reticent Mr. Darcy not only managed to alienate Elizabeth, the other Bennets and the entire neighborhood with his aloof manner, but also fall in love with Elizabeth. ”PRIDE AND PREJUDICE”, more than anything, focused upon the volatile love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

Like nearly every other work of art in existence, ”PRIDE AND PREJUDICE” has its share of flaws. Years after I first saw this miniseries, I still find myself wincing at actress Alison Steadman’s portrayal of the boorish Mrs. Bennet. I realize that the character possessed a wince-inducing personality. But there seemed to be a shrill note in Steadman’s performance during the miniseries’ first episode that made her portrayal of Mrs. Bennet seemed over-the-top. Another complaint I have about the miniseries is the lack of complexity in supporting characters like Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle – Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner – and Darcy’s sister, Georgiana. I found all three very likeable, but also slightly boring. They were the only characters that seemed to indulge in banal conversation that complimented everyone and everything.

I have two problems regarding the crisis over Lydia Bennet’s elopement with George Wickham, Darcy’s boyhood companion. One, I never understood why a calculating scoundrel like Wickham would bother to leave Brighton with Lydia in tow, on the promise of elopement. He knew that her family did not have the funds to buy him off. And I have read excuses, which explained that Wickham left Brighton because he had accumulated a good deal of debt during his regiment’s stay. I have also read that he took Lydia with him as an excuse to get out of town. With the promise of elopement? That does not sound right. Wickham was not a fool. It was bad enough that he had accumulated debts and had to get out of Brighton. But to drag Lydia in this mess did not strike me as logical. All he had to do was leave town in the middle of the night. Whether he was with Lydia or by himself, he ended up being absent without leave. I cannot help but wonder if Austen ever thought this through when she wrote her novel. The elopement crisis also forced Elizabeth to end her summer tour of Derbyshire with the Gardiners and return to her family at Longbourn. For the next twenty minutes or so, ”PRIDE AND PREJUDICE” grounded to a halt, while the Bennets received a series of correspondence and visitors. This sequence featured two scenes of a bored Lydia and an anxious, yet frustrated Lydia sharing a rented room in London, and two featuring Darcy’s search for the pair. This sequence also featured a meaningless visit from Mr. Collins in which he smirked over the family’s possible ruination for less than five minutes. These little scenes failed to help the sequence move at a faster pace.

Before one starts to assume that I do not like ”PRIDE AND PREJUDICE”, let me make it clear that I enjoyed it very much. In fact, I absolutely adore it. Not only is it one of my favorite Jane Austen adaptations of all time, it is one of my top ten favorite miniseries of all time. Yes, it has its flaws. Even some of the best movies and television productions have flaws. And as I have pointed out, I do believe that the 1995 miniseries is no exception. But its virtues definitely outweighed the flaws. The miniseries’ five-and-a-half hours running time proved to be more of a virtue than a hindrance. But the miniseries format allowed viewers to enjoy this adaptation at a more leisurely pace than is allowed in a movie adaptation and the rich details of the story. I have seen at least five versions of Austen’s ”Pride and Prejudice”. I have noticed that the plots for two of the movie versions went into great detail of the novel’s first half – from the Bingleys and Darcy’s arrival in Hertfordshire to Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth in Kent. But after that first proposal, the movie versions seemed to zoom ahead to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s visit to Longbourn. I cannot say the same for the two television versions I have seen – especially the 1995 version. Aside from the tedious “search for Lydia” sequence, the story’s second half proved to be quite entertaining – especially Elizabeth’s visit to Derbyshire, Lydia and Wickham’s visit to Longbourn as a married couple, along with Darcy and Bingley’s efforts to renew their pursuits of the two elder Bennet sisters.

It could be understandable that the movie adaptations seemed to focus more on the novel’s first half. After all, many consider it to be the best part. The Bennets’ encounters with Darcy and the Bingleys crackled with energy and great humor. The series of fascinating verbal duels between the two lead characters possessed that same energy, along with a great deal of sexual tension. And when one throws the obsequious and ridiculous Mr. Collins into the mix, one has the feeling of watching a comedy-romantic masterpiece. All of this humor, energy and romance, mixed in with an elegant setting seemed to be at an apex in the Netherfield ball sequence. Personally, I consider the dance shared warily between Elizabeth and Darcy to be one of the best written and filmed scenes in the entire miniseries. Another scene that many consider to be one of the best, featured Darcy’s first marriage proposal to Elizabeth, during her visit to Charlotte and Mr. Collins at Hunsford Lodge, in Kent. That particular scene has to be one of the most wince-inducing moments in the entire story. Why? Because I found it hard to watch Elizabeth receive that extra-ordinary marriage proposal laced with passion . . . and slightly insulting remarks about her family background on her mother’s side. And because I found it difficult to watch Darcy endure Elizabeth’s heart stomping rejection. Both Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth performed the hell out of that scene.

Speaking of performances, one of the miniseries’ greatest assets was its cast. Jane Austen wrote a novel filled with some rich supporting characters. Director Simon Langton and screenwriter Andrew Davies utilized them very well. And so did the cast. Now, I cannot take back my complaints regarding Alison Steadman’s performance as Mrs. Bennet in the first hour. Yet shrill or not, she managed to capture her character’s personality perfectly. And so did Benjamin Whitrow, who portrayed the sardonic and long suffering Mr. Bennet. Some fans of Austen’s novel have complained about David Bamber’s buffoonish take on Mr. Collins, the Bennet’s obsequious cousin fated to inherit Longbourn upon Mr. Bennet’s death. But my memories of the literary Mr. Collins were that of a buffoonish man. However, Bamber gave his Mr. Collins a brief, poignant moment when Elizabeth took pity on his efforts to hide his slightly damaged pride with a tour of Hunsford. Julia Sawalha did a superb job in her portrayal of the youngest Bennet sibling – the thoughtless and self-centered Lydia. In fact, Sawalha managed to give one of the funniest performances in the entire miniseries.

One of the memorable performances in the miniseries came from actress Anna Chancellor, who portrayed one of Charles Bingley’s annoying and snobbish sister, Caroline. Chancellor managed to convey not only Caroline’s pretentious and spiteful sense of humor very well, but also the character’s desperate attempts to woo an uninterested Mr. Darcy. I believe that Crispin Bonham-Carter did a good job in infusing his character, Charles Bingley, with a good deal of bohemian warmth and cheerfulness. Yet, he had a tendency to read his lines in a broad manner that struck me as a bit too theatrical at times. I must admit that he could be very subtle in conveying Bingley’s attempts to suppress negative reactions to certain members of the Bennet family and his two sisters. Superficially, Susannah Harker’s performance as Jane Bennet seemed solid . . . almost dull. But a closer look at the actress’s performance made me realize that her she did a much better job in the role than most people were willing to give her credit for. She was excellent in conveying Jane’s heartbreak over the separation from Mr. Bingley. And she had one truly hilarious moment during the Netherfield Ball, when her character anxiously pointed out Mr. Collins’ intentions to speak to Mr. Darcy. But more importantly, Harker’s Jane seemed more like an older sister than the performances of the other actresses who had portrayed the role.

If I have to cite what I consider to be the three best performances in ”PRIDE AND PREJUDICE”, they would be Adrian Lukis as George Wickham, Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. In my opinion, Lukis’ portrayal of the charming and devious wastrel, George Wickham, is the best I have seen by any actor who has portrayed the role. I would not claim that he was the best looking Wickham. But Lukis conveyed a seamless charm that hinted a heady mixture of warmth, false honesty, and intimacy that could make anyone forget that his Wickham was a man one could not trust. And the actor achieved this with a subtle skill that made the other Wickhams look like amateurs.

Many fans and critics have labeled Colin Firth’s portrayal of Fitzwilliam Darcy as “smoldering” or “sexy” . . . worthy of a sex symbol. I do not know if I would agree with that assessment. What many saw as “smoldering”, I saw a performance in which the actor utilized his eyes to convey his character’s emotional responses. Whether Firth’s Darcy expressed contempt toward others, growing love and desire for Elizabeth Bennet, anxiety, wariness or any other emotion; Firth uses his eyes and facial expressions with great skill. Some fans have complained that his Darcy appeared in too many scenes in the last third of the series. I consider this nothing more than an exaggeration. Personally, I enjoyed those little sequences in which Firth revealed Darcy’s struggles to deal with Elizabeth’s rejection. While several others drooled over Firth in a wet shirt and breeches, I enjoyed the awkwardness in the reunion between his Darcy and Elizabeth. Firth earned an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of the complex and reserved Mr. Darcy. And as far as I am concerned, he certainly deserved it . . . and a lot more.

Jennifer Ehle won a BAFTA award for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, the vivacious leading lady of ”PRIDE AND PREJUDICE”. And it was a well deserved award, as far as I am concerned. Ehle not only formed a sizzling screen chemistry with Colin Firth, but with Adrian Lukis, as well. And like the two actors, she put her own stamp on her role. Ehle perfectly captured the aspects of Elizabeth’s character that many fans have admired – her liveliness, intelligence, warmth and sharp wit. Elizabeth’s habit of forming and maintain first opinions of others have been well-documented, which Ehle managed to capture. She also conveyed another disturbing aspect of Elizabeth’s personality – namely her arrogance. In some ways, Ehle’s Elizabeth could be just as arrogant as Mr. Darcy. She seemed to harbor a lack of tolerance toward those she viewed as flawed individuals. And thanks to Ehle’s skillful performance, this arrogance is conveyed in Elizabeth’s wit, barely suppressed rudeness and unwillingness to listen to good advice about making fast judgment about others from two people she highly admired – her sister Jane and her good friend, Charlotte Lucas.

The most important thing I can say about both Ehle and Firth is that the pair managed to form a sizzling screen chemistry. In other words, their Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy crackled with a great deal of energy, subtle sexuality and sharp wit. Their screen chemistry seemed stronger than any of the other screen couples who have portrayed the two characters. Surprisingly, I do have one problem with the two leads in the miniseries. And I have to place all of the blame on Andrew Davies, when he decided to faithfully adapt one scene in which the newly engaged Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy discussed the development of their relationship. Unfortunately, they came off sounding cold and clinical – like two psychoanalysts examining the genesis of their romance.

There is no doubt that producer Sue Birtwistle, director Simon Langton and the production team did a superb job with the miniseries’ overall production design. Mind you, I feel that the overall credit belonged to production designer Gerry Scott and art designers John Collins and Mark Kebby. They did a top notch job in capturing Austen’s tone from the novel by giving the miniseries a light and natural look to its setting. I could say the same for cinematographer John Kenway’s photography. I am not claiming to be an expert on the fashions of Regency Britain. Yet, from what I have read in other articles, many believed that Dinah Collin’s costumes closely recaptured the fashion and styles of the period when the novel was first published. I could not make final statement about that. But I must admit that the fashions perfectly captured the tone of the story and the production designs. If there is one other aspect of the miniseries that reflected its look and tone, I believe it would have to be Carl Davis’ score. Either he or Birtwistle made the right choice in hiring pianist Melvyn Tan to perform the score for the series’ opening credit.

In the end, ”PRIDE AND PREJUDICE” became one of the most acclaimed miniseries on both sides of the Atlantic. Even after fifteen years, it is still highly regarded. And rightly so. Despite a few flaws, I believe it deserves its accolades. As far as I am concerned, the 1995 miniseries remains to be the best adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel. I also believe it is one of the best adaptations of any Austen novel, period.

“Lover Man” [R] – 3/3



The Bridge’s turbolift doors slid open. Tom Paris emerged from the lift and strode toward the Conn Station to relieve Mariah Henley. 

From the Engineering Station, B’Elanna watched the entire exchange from the corners of her eyes. She noticed that Mariah’s shoulders stiffened under contact from Paris’s hand. And the smirk that appeared on the Chief Helmsman’s lips. A red flush tinged Mariah’s face, as she walked toward the turbolift.

B’Elanna’s console beeped. She glanced down and found a message flashed across her screen. “Keep your eyes on the job, Maquis. Tuvok is watching.” B’Elanna’s eyes widened at Harry’s message. Then she looked up and found a pair of dark eyes that belonged to the Vulcan Tactical Chief. Observing her. The engineer coughed slightly and returned her attention to her work. However, not before she returned Harry’s message. “Thanks Starfleet.”

Since the day Harry had convinced her not to report Tom’s indiscretions to Chakotay, B’Elanna has found herself growing increasingly obsessed with the pilot. She tried to curb this obsession and convince herself that she was wasting her time. After all, she has failed to come across any signs of sexual activity in Cabin Nine-I since that second time. Unfortunately, B’Elanna also continued to be plagued with dreams of her and Paris. Much to her mortification.

There seemed to be one bright light in the horizon. Ever since Paris’s troubles on Banea, his circle of female admirers seem to have shrunken to almost non-existent. Like B’Elanna and other crewmen, they had heard about his affair with the wife of a murdered Banean scientist. And his conviction for murder by the Banean government. Paris ended up reliving the entire killing from the victim’s viewpoint, thanks to some implanted memory engrams. However, his punishment ended up short-lived. Lieutenant Tuvok managed to exonerate Paris after discovering a murder-and-espionage conspiracy that had allegedly framed the pilot.

Many believed that Tuvok had conjured up evidence to exonerate Paris at Captain Janeway’s behest. B’Elanna found that particular theory ludicrous. Tuvok may have been a traitorous spy, but not even he would go that far. She had to admit – most reluctantly – that Paris was innocent.

There still remained another matter regarding the blond helmsman. The identity of his secret lover from Cabin Nine-I. It was a mystery that B’Elanna felt determined to uncover. Who else, besides Paris, had kept her awake with sounds of passion on two separate occasions, during the past several weeks?

While B’Elanna contemplated the question, Paris’s combadge chirped, breaking the silence on the Bridge. “Janeway to Paris,” the Captain’s voice announced. “Have you forgotten about our appointment in my Ready Room?”

This time, B’Elanna openly stared at the pilot. Like everyone else on the Bridge. A crewman in Command Red relieved Paris at the Helm. And the latter made his way to the Captain’s Ready Room. The moment he disappeared inside, B’Elanna sent a second message to Harry’s station. “What was that about?”

Seconds later, Harry’s response flashed across her console. “Have no idea, Maquis. Will ask Tom later.”

B’Elanna eventually found herself forced to contemplate upon the meeting inside the Ready Room, between the pilot and the starship captain. She admitted to herself that the meeting could be innocent. But when Paris failed to reappear on the Bridge after ten minutes, B’Elanna became suspicious. Another five minutes passed and yet, Janeway and Paris remained inside the Ready Room. B’Elanna glanced at Harry, who shrugged. Then her eyes rested upon the First Officer. Who casted uneasy glances at the Ready Room’s door.

After twenty more minutes passed, those doors finally opened. Tom Paris strode onto the Bridge, wearing a satisfied smile. He tugged at his jacket and relieved the pilot at the Helm. The Captain emerged two minutes later, looking quite happy and unusually bright. One look at the pair and B’Elanna immediately rejected any idea of an innocent meeting. Something had just occurred between Paris and Janeway. Something that had nothing to do with the ship’s business or Starfleet protocols.

* * * *

“What?” Harry stared at B’Elanna with disbelief. So did Seska, Henley and Ensign Lang. The five crewman had gathered at a table inside the Mess Hall for dinner, that evening.

The Chief Engineer repeated her speculations about Janeway and Paris. That the two might be involved in an affair. “C’mon Harry! You saw what happened on the Bridge, today! Why would Paris remain in the Captain’s Ready Room together for over a half hour? Thirty-five minutes, Harry! And don’t tell me that it had something to do with what happened on Banea. That was nearly two weeks ago!”

“The real question should be,” Seska added, “why would you care?”

B’Elanna stared at the Bajoran. “What?”

Seska continued, “I can understand why Henley would be upset.” The pilot responded with a glare. “But why are you upset, B’Elanna? You don’t like Paris. You’ve barely given him a thought since we arrived in the Delta Quadrant. Why do you care whether or not he’s having an affair with Janeway?”

All eyes focused on the half-Klingon. B’Elanna squirmed under their scrutiny. What could she say? That the lovemaking in Cabin Nine-I was keeping her awake? Or that she was having erotic dreams about her and the chief pilot? “I don’t like the idea of us suffering, due to some illicit affair between those two,” she finally answered.

A brittle laugh escaped the Bajoran’s mouth. “Oh B’Elanna! You are so naïve!” The Chief Engineer winced under the latter’s derision. “I doubt that 150 crewmen are going to suffer over some tawdry affair Janeway might be having with Paris! Unless she becomes pregnant or something. I may not like the woman very much, but I can’t blame her for wanting a little comfort to ease her loneliness.”

“Seska’s right,” Henley added. “After all, Chakotay’s romance with her didn’t hurt us.” She remained stoic under the Bajoran’s dark glare. “Of course in the Captain’s case, I cannot see why she would even have . . .” Her voice dimmed to a whisper. B’Elanna noticed the slight jealousy in her voice. Obviously, Mariah also became aware of it.

Seska smiled. “What were you about to say, Mariah?”

Fortunately for the ex-Maquis pilot, Harry and Deborah Lang seemed more interested in defending Janeway’s honor than in any jealousy on Henley’s part. Lang stoutly declared that Captain Janeway would never break Starfleet protocols by fraternizing with someone under her command. “It’s against regulations,” she added.

“Actually, it’s not,” Harry corrected. “But it’s not encouraged. An intimate relationship between a starship commander and a subordinate might lead to . . . well, certain problems. Problems that might have a bearing on the conduct of any starship.”

Seska snorted. “And knowing Janeway, she’d rather die with her ideals intact than enjoy a little pleasure. So much for your theory, B’Elanna.”

“Oh yeah?” the Chief Engineer shot back. “Then can someone explain why the Captain and Paris were in the Ready Room for at least a half hour? And why they were smiling, when they left?”

* * * *

“We had tea,” Tom explained to his lover, the following afternoon. They laid stretched on the bed, inside Cabin Nine-I, with their naked bodies pressed against each other’s. “The Captain had invited me for tea.” He leaned toward her and nipped the side of her long neck.

She managed to scoff and moan at the same time, while Tom continued to nuzzle her neck. “You’ve got to be kidding! Why would . . . ah!” He bit into that sensitive junction where the shoulder and neck met.

“I think the Captain considers me her little reclamation project. We were suppose to have tea after the shift, but the Captain had another matter to deal with. So,” Tom’s hot tongue flickered across the hollow of her neck, “she rescheduled it for a little earlier.” He sat up and lavisciously eyed the stunning body beside him. “If you think something is going on between us, you’re mistaken. Captain Janeway is not the type to make out with a subordinate, just several feet away from the Bridge. That’s just plain idiocy.”

Slender hands trailed up Tom’s chest. Her fingers slide through the chest hair. “You seem very defensive about her.”

A malicious smile touched Tom’s lips. “What’s the matter? Jealous?”

Her hands grabbed a handful of chest hair and pulled, causing Tom to wince. “Don’t insult me, Paris. I don’t take kindly to any disrespect.”

Tom jerked her hand away and gave it a hard squeeze. This time, it was her turn to wince. “Let’s get something straight,” he murmured. “Unless I’m on duty, I am not in the habit of jumping through hoops for anyone. At least of all, for you. I’ve had enough of that in my life.”

“Then why are you here?”

“For a good, fuck. What did you think? Because I’m madly in love with you?” Tom retorted.

She threw back her head and laughed. Out loud. Her laugh immediately died as Tom covered the mound between her legs. He inserted two fingers into her hot flesh. She let out a gasp, as her body jerked automatically. “Gods! I hope you’re not in love,” she said breathlessly. “What would be the fun in that?”

Smiling, Tom removed his fingers and gently forced her legs apart. Then he took her by surprise by ramming his member into her. She let out a cry and her body arched upward. Tom’s thrusts became deeper. Harder. He leaned forward and covered one tantalizing breast with his mouth and began to suckle. And her cries grew louder.

* * * *

Unbeknownst to the occupants inside Cabin Nine-I, a certain chief engineer had slowly made her way to her quarters, two hours earlier than usual. She would have remained in Engineering a bit longer, but a shortage in one of the EPS relay circuits led to a slight electrocution and minor burns.

One of B’Elanna’s engineers had beamed her into Sick Bay. There, the Doctor treated her injuries and gave her an anaglesiac for the pain. He also ordered her to return to her quarters for a long rest. B’Elanna’s first instinct was to ignore the EMH’s order. Unfortunately, he threatened to inform both the Captain and Chakotay if she did not obey.

Feeling slightly dazed from the medication in her bloodstream, B’Elanna eventually stumbled into her quarters. She peeled off her uniform and headed for the bedroom. Just as she was about to sink onto her bed, voices drifted from next door.

“Oh! Oh yes! Oh spirits! Don’t . . . don’t stop! Don’t . . . oooh! Oh yes! Aaa . . . aaah! Yes! Don’t . . . oh! Oh To-ooo-omm!” The orgasmic cry snapped B’Elanna out of her fog. She had not heard such a cry in over two weeks. Before Paris’s murder conviction on the Banean homeworld. Her eyes closed and she sighed.

Muted laughter reached B’Elanna’s ears. Apparently, Paris and his . . . “mate” had finished. She had hoped that news of Paris’s affair with that Banean woman would end the illicit trysts in Cabin Nine-I. Harry must have informed Paris about her knowledge of the affair, leading the pilot to use the cabin a few hours earlier. No matter. B’Elanna had finally figured out a way to kill two birds with one stone – learn the identity of Paris’s lover and get even with both for keeping her up at nights. Just before Paris and Harry’s mission to Banea, she had installed a holovideo monitor in Cabin 9-I.

B’Elanna had forgotten about the monitor – until now. She planned to upload a recording of this afternoon’s activity into the ship’s computer. Or better yet, transform it into a holoprogram. And finally allow the crew an intimate look of Lover Boy Paris in action. It should be the talk of the ship for months to come.

* * * *

Like many of her plans in life, the one to expose Tom Paris and his lover did not proceed as B’Elanna had expected. The following morning saw more problems in Engineering. More malfunctions with the EPS conduits led to repairs that lasted nearly an entire day. By the time B’Elanna and her staff finished the repairs, she was too exhausted to even think about the video recording.

The following day, Voyager came across an M-class planet that provided the crew an opportunity to stock up on foodstuffs and other supplies. Also, both Chakotay and Seska had a near-fatal encounter with a group of Kazons. The latter continued to weigh on the crew’s mind, when Voyager responded to a distress signal from one of their ships. B’Elanna made up part of the Away team that discovered not only a ship filled with dead Kazons, but also Federation technology that was not properly integrated into their system. Someone aboard Voyager had given Federation technology to the Kazon without Janeway’s knowledge.

No one had been more surprised than B’Elanna when Tuvok and Chakotay revealed the culprit, the following day. Like many of the other former Maquis, B’Elanna assumed Joe Carey to be guilty. They believed he wanted revenge for being passed over for the position of Chief Engineer. Instead, Seska – one of her closest friends – turned out to be guilty. Even worse, the latter was revealed to be a Cardassian, surgically altered as a Bajoran, in order to infiltrate Chakotay’s Maquis cell.

B’Elanna felt humiliated and betrayed. Chakotay might feel even worse, but that knowledge did not lessen her feelings. She tried to alleviate her mood with an evening trip to Sandrine’s. But the idea of listening to smug ‘Fleeters berate the Maquis for allowing a Cardassian spy in their midst did not appeal to her. She needed something else to relieve her anger.

Then she remembered. Tom and Cabin 9-I. At first, B’Elanna wondered if she wanted to watch a vid of Paris having sex with a crewmember. Witnessing his little bout with Mallory Aiwa had been bad enough. But, dammit! She had to do something! Brooding over Seska’s betrayal did not help her mood. So, B’Elanna switched on her computer console, entered a few codes and uploaded the recorded images from the monitor next door. Satisfied that she had completed her task, she played back the images. What she saw nearly sent her into a state of shock. How could Tom Paris end up in an affair with her?

The plans to reveal the recording to the crew became null and void. B’Elanna did not kill her plans out of any feelings toward the lovers on the screen. She simply did not want to embarrass or hurt a friend. And revealing this to the crew would do just that.

* * * *

Tom bent over the pool table and sunk his last ball into a pocket with ease. His opponent groaned. “Your game is really improving, Tommy,” Gaunt Gary commented with a sigh. “Maybe just a little too much. When did you learn that maneuver?”

“From watching you,” Tom replied. “I only learn from the best.” The hologram grimaced.

With the exception of a handful, only holographic characters like Gaunt Gary and Sandrine filled the Marsaille tavern that evening. Although Tom had left the program opened to the entire crew, three crewmen other than himself, had bothered to show up. Ensigns Lang and Ashmore only hung around for an hour, before leaving. Crewman Henley sat in a corner table with a few of the program’s characters. It seemed the ex-Maquis preferred their company to his.

Henley and the other Maquis must still be in a state of shock over the revelations about Seska. Tom did not blame them. He felt the same. That she would hand over Federation technology behind Janeway’s back did not really surprise him. The shock came from news that Seska had been a Cardassian in disguise. A Cardassian with the Obsidian Order. That meant . . .

The tavern doors opened. B’Elanna Torres strode inside, causing Tom to groan inwardly. She waved at Henley, glanced at Tom and headed toward the pool table. Much to the pilot’s dismay.

“We-ell!” Gary proclaimed. “Look who’s here! Wanna game with me, honey?” He oogled at the Chief Engineer, who fixed him with a deadly stare. If looks could kill, B’Elanna’s glare would have destabilized Gary’s matrix by now. “On second thought,” the pool player added in a shaky voice, “maybe I had enough for this evening. See you, Tommy.” He gave a quick wave and headed for Henley’s table.

Torres stared coolly at Tom. “Up for another game, Paris?”

Tom frowned. “You want to play? Against me?” he asked.

“Why not? It’s not like you’ve been beaten before.”

A tart smile curled Tom’s lips. “Yeah, but I don’t see the Captain around, anywhere. And you’re not exactly in her league.”

“Rack ’em, Flyboy!” Torres snapped back. “And be prepared to have your ass kicked!”

Again, Tom smiled as he set up the balls for another game. Granted, he was not particularly fond of the half-Klingon. However, he had to admit that he found her to be a fascinating personality. And a very beautiful woman. His eyes roamed appreciatively over her slim body. But even better, she was, at best, a mediocre pool player.

Sure enough, the pilot proved to be more than a match for the engineer. The latter managed to sink in a ball or two during the game. But in the end, Tom emerged victorious. “Another game,” Torres imperiously demanded.

“Look Torres, why don’t we end this evening on a good note? If we play another game, it will only end embarrassingly for you. Trust me.”

Dark eyes challenged Tom. “Don’t count on it, Paris. I plan to make this next game unpleasant for you. C’mon, rack ’em up!”

Tom gave the engineer a long, cool look. “What’s going on, Torres? You usually try to avoid my company. And now you want to shoot pool with me?” He paused, as an idea came to him. An unpleasant one, at that. “Has this something to do with Cabin 9-I?” he asked.

Anger replaced the challenging look in Torres’s eyes. “Cabin 9-I?”

“Come off it, Torres! You know what I’m talking about!” Tom retorted. “Harry told me everything. Look, I had no idea that your cabin was next door. Nor did I realize you would hear everything . . .” Neither Tom nor Torres heard the tavern doors creak open. Or see the tall figure that entered, since they were facing the opposite direction.

“Believe me, Paris,” Torres shot back, “I heard everything. Just tell me this. When you fucked Seska, did you ever realize that she was a Cardassian?”

A gust of breath left Tom’s mouth. He stared at the half-Klingon in total shock. “Gods! How did . . .?” Tom finally recovered his voice. “How did you find out about Seska and me?” He tried his best to sound calm. “What did I do? Scream her name out loud?”

“No, she screamed your name,” Torres responded. Tom almost blushed. “However, I didn’t find out about Seska until I saw this.” She removed a data chip from her pocket. “I had placed a video monitor in the cabin, nearly two weeks ago. And captured both of you in action.”

Tom stared at the data chip. He wondered if the Chief Engineer planned to use it for some blackmail scheme. “By the way, I’m not in the business of blackmail,” she added, as if reading his mind. “I don’t stoop that low.”

“Really? And what do you call placing that monitor in the cabin?” Tom shot back. “Why did you do it?”

Torres’s stare became accusing. “Why did you sleep with Seska? Why her, Paris? It’s bad enough she turned out to be a Cardassian. But you fucked her, even though she was suppose . . .”

“Suppose to what? Be Chakotay’s lady love? As I recall, they broke up not long after he became First Officer. Something tells me that Seska didn’t take the change in their relationship very well.”

Disgust tinged Torres’s voice. “And you just decided to screw her, so you could add one more notch on your belt. Is that it? Or was this your way of getting back at Chakotay?”

Tom smiled. He might as tell her everything. It would be interesting to see how she would react. “Actually, Seska caught me off guard, one night. When I was on Deck Nine. After that, she wanted to meet there, because it was convenient and she didn’t have to worry about someone spotting me enter her quarters. Can’t have a former Maquis be seen with Tom Paris. Granted, both of us could barely stand each other, but . . . I must say, she was great in bed. Something I had recalled from our time together in the Maquis.”

A gasp left Torres’s mouth, much to Tom’s amusement. Bullseye. Her dark eyes grew wide with disbelief. “You mean to say that you and Seska were . . .?”

“That’s right, Lieutenant. Lovers. Only, I wasn’t the only one. Both here on Voyager and back in the Maquis,” Tom added softly. “Seska had her little circle of lovers available, whenever she and Chakotay . . .” Suddenly aware of a third figure standing nearby, Tom glanced to his left and the words died on his lips. Trembling in rage, stood Voyager’s First Officer. Torres’s eyes followed Tom’s and she gasped for the second time.

Chakotay stepped forward, rage reflecting his his black eyes. For a few seconds, Tom experienced genuine fear. Would he find himself in Sick Bay, covered in bruises and blood? He hoped not. Then again, he had endured beatings before.

“What others?” the older man demanded softly. “Who were the others, Paris?”

Torres stepped forward. “Chakotay . . .”

Tom took a deep breath. Squelched the fear within him. “I don’t know,” he curtly replied. “Why do you care anyway, Chakotay? You were never in love with Seska. Hell, you proved that when you dumped . . .” A bronze fist cut him off and sank into his gut. Another clipped him on the jaw and Tom fell back onto the floor.

Blood trickled from the corner of the pilot’s mouth, as he remained sprawled on the floor. He could see the other figures, including Henley, drifting toward the pool table. Tom struggled to his feet and wiped the blood from his mouth.

“Thomas, are you hurt?” a concerned Sandrine asked.

Laughter, soft and bitter, rose from Tom’s throat. “I’m fine, Sandrine. Just caught off guard, that’s all.” He faced the First Officer. “Good punch, Chakotay. I see that you haven’t lost your touch.”

“That was nothing, Paris,” Chakotay growled. “I’m not through with you, yet.”

Tom smirked, despite the pain from his bruised jaw. “If I were you, Commander, I’d drop the whole matter. Or else the Captain is going to start wondering why I have extra duty assignments. Or why I have to show up at Sick Bay for unexplained bruises. I am curious as to how you’re going to explain this.”

Chakotay retorted, “Explain all you want, Paris. It will be your word against mine. And I don’t think B’Elanna or Mariah will be willing to testify on your behalf.”

“Oh, I don’t I’ll need them. Don’t forget the video monitors inside the holodeck. I’m sure they’ve recorded the whole thing. Unless you plan to tamper with them. Then again,” another painful smirk touched Tom’s lips, “knowing your penchant for truth and justice, you just might march up to the Captain’s quarters and tell her everything.” Tom paused. “Do you really want to do that?”

A long silence followed. Tom met Chakotay’s stare with his own cool one. Finally, the First Officer let out something like a cross between a grunt and a snort. “You’re not worth the effort,” he said with disgust. Then he turned on his heels and stalked out of the holodeck.

* * * *

B’Elanna cried after the older man. “Chakotay!” But he did not hear. She whirled upon Paris and found him staring at her, coldly. “What? What is it?”

“Congratulations, Torres,” he said softly. “Looks like you got what you wanted, after all. My humiliation. Only you got a friend humiliated as well. Tell me, why did you put that monitor in that cabin? Because we interrupted your sleep for a few nights? Why in the hell didn’t you just let it go?” He walked out of Sandrine’s, rubbing his jaw.

Henley walked up to B’Elanna. Her gray-blue eyes expressed concern. Curiosity. B’Elanna, are you okay?”

“Yeah,” the other woman murmured.

“What was that about?”

Revenge gone wrong, B’Elanna silently replied. She kept the response to herself. Along with the memory of Chakotay’s humiliation . . . and Paris’s contempt. Then she took a deep breath. “Nothing. Nothing at all.”


“MANSFIELD PARK” (1983) Review


“MANSFIELD PARK” (1983) Review

Long before Patricia Rozema wrote and directed her 1999 adaptation of “Mansfield Park”, Jane Austen’s 1814 novel, the BBC aired its own adaptation some sixteen years earlier. This one came in the form of a six-part miniseries and is regarded by many Austen fans as the definitive screen version of the novel. 

“MANSFIELD PARK” told the story of Fanny Price, the oldest daughter of a former Royal Navy officer, who is sent by her parents to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle-in-law, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, at their estate called Mansfield Park, during the early 19th century. Viewed as socially inferior by her new family, Fanny is treated as half-relative/half-servant by the Bertrams. Only Edmund, the family’s second son, treats her with great kindness and love. Because of Edmund’s behavior, Fanny finds herself in love with him by the age of eighteen. But her life and the Bertrams’ lives soon encounter a force of nature in the arrival of Henry and Mary Crawford, a pair of vivacious siblings that are related to the local vicar’s wife. Henry ends up stirring excitement and romantic interest within the breasts of the two Bertram sisters – Maria and Julia. And much to Fanny’s dismay, Edmund forms a romantic attachment to the alluring Mary.

In compare to the 1999 Patricia Rozema version and the ITV 2007 movies, this 1983 miniseries is a more faithful adaptation of Austen’s novel. Considering its six episodes, I do not find this surprising. Literary fans tend to be more impressed by cinematic adaptations that are very faithful to its source. However, “MANSFIELD PARK” is not a completely faithful adaptation. Screenwriter Ken Taylor completely ignored Fanny’s questions regarding Sir Thomas’ role as a slaveowner with an estate in Antigua. Whereas Austen’s novel and the 2007 movie briefly touched upon the subject, writer/director Patricia Rozema literally confronted it. Only the miniseries ignored the topic, altogether. Judging from the fans’ reaction to this deviation from Austen’s novel, I suspect that many of them are willing to pretend that the subject of slavery was never broached in the miniseries.

Did I enjoy “MANSFIELD PARK”? Well . . . the miniseries had its moments. It allowed me to become more aware of the plot details in Austen’s 1814 novel than the other adaptations did. I enjoyed the scene featuring the Bertrams’ introduction to the Crawford siblings. I enjoyed the ball held in Fanny’s honor in Episode Four. It struck me as very elegant and entertaining. I also enjoyed the constant flirtation and verbal duels between Edmund and Mary, despite my dislike of the former character. And much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the sequence featuring Fanny’s visit to her family in Portsmouth. For once, the miniseries’ pacing seemed well paced and I enjoyed the details and production designs in the setting for this sequence. One of the actors portraying Fanny’s younger brothers turned out to be a young Jonny Lee Miller, who later portrayed Edmund in the 1999 production.

But the best aspect of “MANSFIELD PARK” turned out to be a handful of first-rate performances and Ian Adley’s costume designs. I usually do not harbor much of a high opinion of the costumes designs seen in other Jane Austen’s adaptations from the 1970s and 80s. But I cannot deny that I found Adley’s costumes not only colorful, but very elegant. I am not surprised that he earned a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Costume Design.

As I had stated earlier, I was also impressed by a handful of performances featured in the miniseries. One came from veteran actress Anna Massey, who superbly portrayed one of Fanny Price’s aunts, the noxious Mrs. Norris. Depended upon her sister and brother-in-law for their support, Massey’s Mrs. Norris walked a fine line between toadying behavior toward Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram and her malicious tyranny over Fanny. Samantha Bond gave a subtle and complex portrayal of the oldest Bertram daughter, Maria. Bond conveyed not only the shallow and selfish aspects of Maria’s personality, but also the dilemma that her willingness to become the wife of the disappointing Mr. Rushworth put her in. I also found myself impressed by Bernard Hepton’s performance as Sir Thomas Bertarm, owner of Mansfield Park and patriarch of the Bertram family. Hepton’s Sir Thomas came off as superficially generous, intelligent and morally absolute. He seemed every inch of the ideal English landowner and gentleman. Yet, Hepton also conveyed the corruption that lurked underneath Sir Thomas’ façade – namely the man who seemed more concern with the financial suitability of his children’s spouses than any emotional regard. Hepton also revealed with great subtlety, the baronet’s egomania and tyranny in scenes that featured the character’s efforts to coerce Fanny into accepting Henry Crawford’s marriage proposal.

I will be brutally honest. I have never been a fan of the Edmund Bertram character. Despite his kindness to Fanny and occasional wit, he strikes me as a self-righteous and very hypocritical man. Whenever I think of that scene in which Edmund rejected Mary Crawford, it still makes my blood boil. But his characterization still worked, due to Nicholas Farrell’s performance. He really did an excellent job in conveying all aspects of Edmund’s personality, both the good and the bad. Despite my negative feelings regarding Edmund’s personality, Farrell made him seem very interesting. But “MANSFIELD PARK” would have never been bearable to me without Jackie Smith-Wood’s sparkling portrayal of one of Jane Austen’s most memorable characters, Mary Crawford. Like Fanny Price, many fans have either loved or disliked this character. Count me as among the former. I absolutely adored Mary – especially in the hands of the talented Ms. Smith-Wood. With great skill, the actress conveyed all aspects of Mary’s personality – her barbed sense of humor, dislike of the clergy, her talent for manipulation, her moral ambiguity, her charm, her wit, her great warmth and generosity. I suspect that the main reason I like Mary so much is that as an early 21st century woman, I find it easy to relate to her way of thinking. Smith-Wood managed to convey the modern sensibilities of Mary’s personality, while still portraying the character as a woman of the early 19th century.

Unfortunately, the bad tends to go hand-in-hand with the good in many movie and television productions. And there are aspects of“MANSFIELD PARK” that left a bad taste in my mouth – including a few performances. One performance I did not particularly care for was Angela Pleasence’s portrayal of Fanny’s other aunt, the languid Lady Bertram. I am aware that Ms. Pleasence possesses a rather high voice. But I noticed that she had exaggerated it for her portrayal of the childish and self-involved Lady Bertram. I wish she had not done this, for I found this exaggeration very annoying. And now that I think about it, I realized that Pleasence’s Lady Bertram hardly did a thing in the miniseries that allowed the plot to move forward, except use her selfishness to protect Fanny from Mrs. Norris’ spite . . . sometimes. But I cannot blame the actress. Lady Bertram is a role that has never impressed me. I have yet to find an actress who has ever done anything with the role. I truly believe that producer Betty Billingale and director David Giles selected the wrong actor to portray the charming Lothario, Henry Crawford. Robert Burbage seemed like an affable presence and he wore the costumes designed by Ian Adley very well. But his portrayal of Henry seemed wanting. I will go further and state that I found his performance by-the numbers and his acting skills rather mechanical. Burbage’s Henry did not strike me as the attractive and sexy man who managed to flutter the hearts of the Bertram sisters. Instead, I felt as if I had been watching an earnest schoolboy trying . . . and failing to behave like a rakish seducer.

Finally, I come to Sylvestra Le Touzel’s performance as the miniseries’ leading character, Fanny Price. I am not a fan of the Fanny Price character. Yes, I admire her willingness to stick to her conviction in rejecting Henry Crawford’s marriage proposal in the face of Sir Thomas’ attempts to coerce her. But Fanny also strikes me as being priggish, passive-aggressive, illusional (to a certain extent) and worst of all, hypocritical. I also dislike Edmund Bertram, but at least I was impressed by Nicholas Farrell’s portrayal of the character. On the other hand, I WAS NOT impressed by Le Touzel’s performance. I realize that she had portrayed a socially awkward and introverted character. But I have seen other actors and actresses portray similar characters with a lot more skill. Le Touzel’s performance struck me as wooden, mannered and at times, slightly hammy. Hell, she made Burbage’s performance seem positively fluid. Le Touzel eventually became a first-rate actress. I saw her very funny performance in 2007’s “NORTHANGER ABBEY”. But I wish that Billingale and Giles had cast someone with a lot more skill to portray Fanny, twenty-eight years ago.

I find it odd that screenwriter Kenneth Taylor took it upon himself to be as faithful as possible to Austen’s novel, with his deletion of Sir Thomas’ role as a slaveowner being the only exception. However, he had failed to change some aspects of the novel that I consider to be very flawed. Taylor never allowed Fanny and Edmund to become self-aware of their personal failings. Edmund managed to self-flagellate himself for becoming emotionally involved with Mary. But I do not consider that much of a failing. Because of the pair’s failure to become self-aware of their failings, I believe they lacked any real character development. Taylor’s script could have assumed a third voice and criticized or mocked Fanny and Edmund’s lack of development. But it did not. The sequence featuring the “Lover’s Vows” play dragged most of Episode Three. By the time Sir Thomas had returned to Mansfield Park, I nearly fell asleep, thanks to the episode’s slow pacing. In fact, Giles and Taylor’s efforts to make “MANSFIELD PARK”faithful to the novel nearly grounded the miniseries to a halt on several occasions, almost making the entire miniseries rather dull.

More than anything, I had a problem with the miniseries’ finale. One, I never understood Edmund’s decision to reject Mary Crawford as his fiancée. Although Mary had condemned her brother and Maria Bertram Rushworth’s affair and elopement as folly, she had a plan to save the honors of both the Bertram and Crawford families. She suggested that they convince Henry and Maria to marry following the latter’s divorce from Mr. Rushworth; and have both families stand behind the couple to save face. This plan struck me as very similar to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s plan regarding Lydia Bennet and George Wickham in “Pride and Prejudice”. Why did Austen condone Mr. Darcy’s actions regarding Lydia and Wickham in one novel and condemn Mary Crawford for harboring similar plans in this story? Did Taylor, Giles or Willingale even notice the similarities between Mr. Darcy’s actions and Mary’s plans and see the hypocrisy? Apparently not. My last problem centered on Fanny and Edmund’s wedding in the final episode. How on earth did this happen? The miniseries made Fanny’s romantic feelings for Edmund perfectly clear. Yet, Edmund never displayed any romantic regard for Fanny, merely familial love. Even when revealing the end of his relationship with Mary to Fanny, he still expressed love for his former fiancée. But the next scene jumped to Fanny and Edmund’s wedding, without any explanation or revelation of their courtship. At least Patricia Rozema’s 1999 movie conveyed Edmund’s burgeoning romantic feelings for Fanny, before his final rejection of Mary. Giles and Taylor failed to the same in this miniseries.

I might as well say it. I will never harbor a high regard for “MANSFIELD PARK” . . . at least this version. Although its faithfulness to Jane Austen’s 1814 novel revealed the story in greater detail than the 1999 and 2007 movies, I believe there were scenes in which it should have been less faithful in order to overcome some of the novel’s shortcomings. The miniseries can boast a few outstanding performances from the likes of Anna Massey, Nicholas Farrell and Jackie Smith-Wood. But it was hampered by other performances, especially the wooden acting by lead actress, Sylvestra Le Touzel. In the end, “MANSFIELD PARK” proved to be a mixed bag for me.

Notes on “STAR WARS: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”

The following is a list of minor notes and observations that came to me, during my recent viewing of “Episode II: Attack of the Clones”. I hope that you enjoy them: 

Notes on “STAR WARS: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”

*It is interesting that the story starts out with Coruscant – the seat of the Republic’s power – covered in a shroud of fog. Was this an allegory of the Republic’s impending doom? Or a sign of hidden secrets within the seats of power?

*Why did the Jedi believe they would have to protect the Republic in a military action, if the Separatists broke away? It seems as if the Republic and the Jedi were prepared to consider using military force to draw the Separatists back into the Republic, against their will.

*I noticed that both Mace and Ki-Adi had the same condescending attitude that the entire Council had in TPM, when explaining to Padme that Dooku could never be behind her assassination attempt.

*Why was it so important to Obi-Wan that he and Anakin follow the Council’s instructions regarding Padme, to the letter?

*I wonder if Jango would have killed Zam if she had succeeded in killing Padme.

*Are dreams usually dismissed by the Jedi in such a cavalier fashion?

*No wonder the Jedi and senators like Bail Organa had never formed a strong bond by ROTS, if Obi-Wan’s general attitude toward all politicians (which the Order shares, I suspect) is anything to go by.

*The more I look at Anakin and Obi-Wan’s interactions in AOTC, the more I realize how unsuited they were for a master/padawan relationship. Anakin would have been better off being trained by someone more suited to deal with his emotional and non-conformist personality. However, I see nothing wrong with Anakin and Obi-Wan forming a strong friendship, once Anakin becomes a Jedi Knight.

*I wonder if Anakin’s feelings about Palpatine would have remained the same if Obi-Wan had been less strident in his teaching.

*How interesting. Obi-Wan ended up following Anakin’s suggested mandate regarding Padme’s would-be assassin, after all.

*The Coruscant chase sequence is another major favorite with me. Note the slightly chubby woman with Ahmed Best and a silver-blond woman with too much eye make-up, both giving Anakin lust-filled glances in the nightclub scene. Come to think of it, I believe I had spotted two other women doing the same.

*”Until caught this killer is, our judgement she must respect.” – Why did Yoda believe that Padme MUST accept the Jedi’s decision that she return to Naboo? I realize that he is concerned for her safety. But why would he assume that she had no choice but to accept the Council’s decision on where she should be? At least Mace seemed to realize that Padme would obey if Palpatine, as the Supreme Chancellor, had given the order.

*When discussing his abilities with Palpatine, Anakin is polite and practically modest. Yet, whenever he is around Obi-Wan or discussing the latter, he becomes arrogant about his abilities and bitter at what he perceives as Obi-Wan’s inability to recognize them.

*”Anakin . . . don’t try to grow up too fast.” – It is ironic that Padme would say this to Anakin, considering that she has been trying to do this very thing for most of her life.

*Although Captain Typho’s assumption on the safety of Padme’s arrival on Coruscant proved to be false, his fear that she might do something foolish or rash proved to be very accurate.

*”If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.” – ah, another prime example of the Jedi’s arrogant belief in themselves. Who would have thought it would come from the Archives’ librarian?

*Anakin might be pretty close to the truth in the definition of love he had given to Padme.

*Despite the sweet and charming overtones of the younglings scene, it still has a sinister sense of the foreboding.

*It is interesting how ALL of the Separatists are tainted with the same brush as the Trade Federation and the Banking Union, because they had sought the latter for help. Guilt by association.

*When Sio Biddle had asked Anakin a question about Padme’s safety, Padme rudely interrupts and brushes off Anakin. Now, why did she do that? And in such a rude manner?

*It’s interesting how the imagery and symbolism on Kamino seemed to be of the fertile kind.

*I just realized that if Palpatine had eventually accused the Jedi of creating the Clone Army, he would have been correct. Especially since Master Sifo-Dyas really did order the creation of the clones for the Republic.

*For someone with hardly any experience in romance, Anakin managed to do a good job in winning over Padme without resorting to smooth lines and a cocky manner.

*Of course . . . Padme seemed to be a bit of a flirt, herself. She certainly knows how to use her voice effectively.

*In an article on Anakin and Padme’s relationship, I read a segment from a poem or story written hundreds of years ago that was compared to Anakin’s fireside speech. What amazed me was how similar Anakin’s speech was to what is considered courtly love.

*I noticed that once Padme had rejected Anakin’s offer of love, he turned away from her. And she, in turn, began to pursue him in a very subtle manner.

*It is ironic that Anakin believes that he did not have a choice in leaving Naboo to help his mother. In reality, he did have a choice . . . and he exercised it. Like the other characters around him, Anakin has become adept at deluding himself.

*I see that Obi-Wan had made the first move in his fight with Jango Fett on Kamino. Not only did it result in him nearly falling over a ledge, it was the movie’s first sign of the “good guys” acting as the aggressors.

*”Those Tusken Raiders. They may walk like men, but they’re nothing more than vicious, mindless monsters.” – Judging from Cliegg Lars’ words, I cannot help but wonder if Anakin’s murder of the Tusken Raiders was something rare on Tatooine. Would Anakin’s actions have been condoned by Tatooine’s moisture farmers? Cliegg’s words seemed to have a xenophobic ring to them.

*When Padme told Anakin that it was okay to be angry, she was right. It was okay. It would have been a lot unhealthier for Anakin to pretend otherwise. But where Anakin went wrong was that he had allowed his anger to overwhelm him . . . which led to his murder of the Tuskens.

*Anakin’s claim that he would even learn to stop people from dying seemed to foreshadow his opera conversation with Palpatine in ROTS.

*If Jar-Jar had not proposed that Palpatine should be given emergency powers, I wonder who would have made the proposition? Bail Organa had been certain that the Senate would never grant such powers to the Chancellor or authorize a clone army. Boy, was he wrong!

*Did Obi-Wan’s own prejudices and beliefs in the Jedi’s infallibility led him to easily dismiss Dooku’s claim that a Sith Lord had control over the Senate?

*I think that Padme’s arrogant belief in her diplomatic skills were in overdrive, when she and Anakin learned about Obi-Wan’s predicament. I can see why Typho had been worried that she would do something rash.

*It seems interesting that Anakin was the only one who had managed to control the attacking him in the Geonosis area, without resorting to brute force. Was this a metaphor of his potential to control (but not suppress) the animus within himself? A potential that he had failed to attain until the end of his life?

*Obi-Wan, on the other hand, succeeded in dealing with his animal attacker with brute force . . . just as he had succeeded with Maul and Anakin. Was this a foreshadow of his advocacy of Luke using violence to deal with Vader/Anakin in the Original Trilogy?

*I suspect that Jango’s success in killing Jedi Master Coleman Trebor had gone to his head, when he had decided to attack Mace. Just as many of the Jedi have discovered in this movie and will discover in ROTS, Jango will learn that it does not pay to be the aggressor.

*I did not realize that the Republic and the Jedi had acquired both troops and weapons from the Kaminoans.

*It is interesting that Obi-Wan’s threat of expulsion from the Jedi Order did not faze Anakin one bit, in his concern for the fallen Padme. Either the Jedi Order was never that important enough to Anakin . . . or it was too important to Obi-Wan. Or perhaps it was both.

*Both Anakin and Obi-Wan made the mistake of aggressively moving against Dooku, first. And both had failed. Again, this seemed to be another example of the Jedi’s acceptance of using aggression in this movie.

*Anakin vs. Dooku – it’s ironic that this was the first duel between Palpatine’s present and future apprentices.

*Dooku, who had wisely allowed both Obi-Wan and Anakin to be the aggressors, became the aggressor, himself, in his duel against Yoda. He had barely managed to escape with his life.

*The failure of aggression committed by our heroes and by villains like Dooku and Jango seemed to be the theme for this movie . . . and perhaps the Prequel Trilogy overall. This theme seems especially true for the Jedi, who had agreed to use the clone troopers against the Separatists. The same clone troopers that will become the tools of their destruction. Irony at its most tragic.

*Looking back on AOTC, it strikes me as being a very nourish story, despite the some of the usual STAR WARS elements. Perhaps that is why so many people have difficulty in accepting it. Film noir can be highly regarded – or not. But people rarely understand it, or bother to watch it in the movie theaters.

“THE BLUE DAHLIA” (1946) Review

“THE BLUE DAHLIA” (1946) Review

Sometime during World War II, novelist Raymond Chandler was hired by Paramount Pictures to co-write the 1944 film classic,“DOUBLE INDEMNITY”, with writer-director Billy Wilder. Another two years passed before the studio assigned him to write a post-war film noir movie, 1946’s “THE BLUE DAHLIA”

Directed by George Marshall, ”THE BLUE DAHLIA” was about a U.S. Navy pilot, Lieutenant-Commander Johnny Morrison, who returns home to Los Angeles with his buddies and medically discharged crewmates, Buzz Wanchek and George Copeland. Buzz is prone to memory lapses and headaches, and is often short tempered, all likely due to his head wound. Johnny finds his wife Helen living and partying in a hotel bungalow. He also spots her kissing her boyfriend, owner of the Blue Dahlia nightclub, Eddie Harwood. After punching Eddie, Johnny lets Helen know that he is willing to try to salvage their marriage. However, Helen is not willing and she informs him that their son did not die of dipththeria as she had written, but from a car accident caused by her when she was drunk. Johnny momentarily threatens her with a gun, but decides she is not worth the trouble. He leaves her, taking a framed photograph of their son. Helen meets both Buzz (who has been searching for Johnny) and Eddie before she is mysteriously shot to death in the stomach.

”THE BLUE DAHLIA” is a pretty solid murder mystery that featured the second of three movies with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. Chandler created some very interesting characters, including the smarmy Eddie Harwood, who seemed very adept at seducing married wives like Helen Morrison and hiring others to do his dirty work; Helen Morrison, who seemed like a curious mixture of a bitchy wife and a grieving mother; the solid Johnny Morrison, who manages to radiate an aura of menace when crossed; and the nosy and sharp-tongued hotel detective, “Dad” Newell. But Chandler’s best creation turned out to be Buzz Wanchek, a loyal, Navy veteran with a short temper, dislike of jazz music and a metal plate in his head.

As I had stated earlier, Chandler’s story proved to be pretty solid. His skillful setup of Helen Morrison’s murder made it easy for many of the characters to become suspects. Johnny’s discovery of her affair with Eddie Harwood and their subsequent violent quarrel made him an easy suspect. The script eventually revealed that Helen had discovered that Eddie Harwood was a wanted fugitive sought by the New Jersey cops for the death of a man during a robbery, fifteen years earlier. Johnny also met one Joyce Harwood, Eddie’s estranged wife, who had become weary of her husband’s infidelity. And finally there was Buzz, who had been seen meeting Helen at her hotel’s bar and following her to her bungalow. All of this had been witnessed by “Dad” Newell. I understand that Chandler had intended the mystery to evolve into a message about the difficulties – medical and otherwise – faced by veterans returning home from the war. This message would have been utilized with the revelation of Buzz as Helen’s killer. The movie also featured some brutal fight scenes between Ladd and the actors portraying Eddie Harwood’s thugs. In fact, I have noticed that a good number of brutal fights always seemed to pop up in many of Ladd’s movies. Director George Marshall certainly did justice to the fight scene in ”THE BLUE DAHLIA” that rivaled those found in other Ladd crime dramas.

Unfortunately, ”THE BLUE DAHLIA” had some flaws that prevented it from being better than it could. One, I found Sam Comer and James M. Walters Senior’s set decorations to be pedestrian . . . almost cheap looking. And Lionel Lindon’s uninspiring cinematography did not help. And the movie could have benefitted with a better score than the one provided by Victor Young, the same composer who won a posthumous Oscar for 1956’s ”AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS”. And thanks to the U.S. military and the Production Code Administration under Joseph Breen, Chandler was forced to neuter his script by tossing aside the resolution that made Buzz the murderer. Both Chandler and Marshall were forced to dump the crime on another character, in what seemed like a contrived plot twist.

If there is one thing that ”THE BLUE DAHLIA” benefitted was from its cast. Chandler had compared Alan Ladd to Warners star, Humphrey Bogart, to the former’s detriment. One, I have no idea why Chandler even bothered to compare the two actors. Both had their own styles as leading men in a crime drama. Ladd certainly gave a top-notch performance as returning veteran Johnny Morrison. His best scenes included one he shared with Doris Dowling that featured the bitter argument and marital breakup of the Morrisons; another with Howard Da Silva, in which Morrison revealed his knowledge of Harwood’s past as a wanted fugitive; and finally the fight scene between Johnny and Harwood’s thugs. Not only did he handle the fight scenes very well, he also proved that he could be a first-rate dramatic performer, who knew how to act in front of a camera.

Ladd received solid support from Veronica Lake, who gave a charming performance as the compassionate and perhaps, slightly manipulative Joyce Harwood, the nightclub owner’s estranged wife. I was very impressed by Doris Dowling’s portrayal of the morally conflicted Helen Morrison. Not only did she convey the woman’s bitchy personality with great effect, but also her lingering grief over her son’s death. Howard Da Silva was superb as nightclub owner Eddie Harwood. The actor did justice to Chandler’s portrayal of a man ruthless enough to deal with any threat to his livelihood, yet compassionate enough to feel remorse over his killing of an innocent man during a bank robbery. And character actor Will Wright gave a humorous and complex portrayal of the nosy and slimy house detective, “Dad” Newell. Hugh Beaumont gave a solid performance as one of Johnny’s friends, the level-headed and dependable George Copeland; but his portrayal did not exactly set me on fire. William Bendix’s portrayal of a slightly disturbed Buzz Wanchek. His performance struck me as funny, caustic and a bit frightening at times. He was very effective in conveying the aftereffects of a man who had not only been trained to kill, but whose war wound (which resulted in a metal plate in the head) led him to suffer from a great deal of mental stress.

Do not get me wrong. I enjoyed ”THE BLUE DAHLIA”. Chandler’s mystery struck me as solid and well written. And the movie benefitted from a strong cast led by Alan Ladd. But it lacked any production values – set decorations, photography and score – that struck me as impressive. And in the end, the movie’s finale was undermined by censorship from the U.S. military and the local censor board. But I can honestly say that it is worth viewing.

“BAND OF BROTHERS” (2001) – Episode Six “Bastogne” Commentary

“BAND OF BROTHERS” (2001) – Episode Six “Bastogne” Commentary

This sixth episode of ”BAND OF BROTHERS” featured the experiences of Easy Company during the Battle of the Bulge and their participation in the Allies’ efforts to hold the ground near Bastogne, Belgium; while low on ammunition and supplies. The episode focused on Easy Company medic, Eugene “Doc” Roe, as he tended his fellow soldiers where he can, while also scrounging for medical supplies. 

”Bastogne” turned out to be the first of two episodes centered on Easy Company’s experiences in Belgium. Shown from Eugene Roe’s point-of-view; the audience saw Easy Company deal with many difficulties and traumas during this campaign. Aside from ammunition and supplies, Roe and the company had to deal with freezing temperatures, low morale, the encircling German Army and worst of all, an ineffectual company commander by the name of Norman Dike. The episode featured a good deal of combat sequences. But since they were shown through “Doc” Roe’s eyes, the audience’s views of these sequences were at best minimal.

One sequence had First Platoon on a reconnaissance patrol in order to probe for the German line. The patrol led to several wounded troopers and the death of a replacement trooper named Private Julian. Supporting characters like Lieutenant Harry Welsh and Wayne “Skinny” Sisk suffered serious leg wounds from occasional German artillery shelling. And Walter “Smokey” Gordon was wounded and paralyzed during a German tank assault. During this time, Roe struck up a fictionalized friendship and potential romance with a Belgian nurse named Renée LeMaire. Their relationship ended in tragedy, when Renée was killed during the German bombing of Bastogne on Christmas Eve. Replacement trooper Edward “Babe” Heffron also figured heavily in”Bastogne”. Although the episode was mainly told from Roe’s point-of-view, it allowed one sequence told from Babe’s point-of-view. In it, Babe and another medic named Ralph Spina had a humorous encounter with German troops in a foxhole, while searching for medical supplies for Easy Company.

There are three episodes of ”BAND OF BROTHERS” that I consider to be personal favorites of mine. And one of them is”Bastogne”. In my reviews of episodes like “Day of Days” and “Replacements”, I had complained of the lack of epic scope in episodes that featured important and historic battles. In ”Bastogne”, director David Leland and screenwriter Bruce C. McKenna gave the episode that epic scope needed for an episode about the famous siege of Bastogne. And the fact that they told the episode through the eyes of medic Eugene Roe made their efforts all the more amazing. Was this particular episode filmed inside a soundstage? It is possible. If it was, I am impressed. I wish I knew the name of the production designer for this particular episode, because he or she did a magnificent job in re-creating the Ardennes Forest during the winter. I also found the photography very impressive, especially in the scene that featured the Army Air Corps’ attempt to re-supply the division by air and the German bombing of Bastogne near the end of the episode. Once again, ”BAND OF BROTHERS” allowed viewers to get a peek into the personal interactions between the troopers of Easy Company. Most of these interactions occurred during Christmas Eve . . . right before Harry Welsh was wounded by German artillery. However, I also enjoyed the two major interactions between Roe and Heffron – especially one scene in which both Roe and Spina tried to comfort Heffron, who was distraught over Private Julian’s death.

”Bastogne” featured some excellent performances from certain members of the cast. Neal McDonough gave a subtle and convincing performance as platoon leader Lieutenant Lynn “Buck” Compton , whose emotional stability seemed to be in danger of spiraling out of control after getting shot in Holland. Another memorable performance came from actress Lucie Jeanne, who portrayed Renée Lemaire, the Belgian nurse in Bastogne that Roe befriended. Robin Laing got a chance to shine as Edward “Babe” Heffron, the replacement trooper that hailed from Bill Guarnere’s Philadelphia neighborhood. He was especially effectively poignant in a scene in which Heffron grieved over Private Julian’s death. But the star of this particular episode was Irish-born actor Shane Taylor. Recalling my complaint about the questionable American accents of some of the British cast members, I can happily say that Taylor was not one of them. He did an excellent job in recapturing the Louisiana-born Roe’s native accent. More importantly, he gave a subtle, yet superb performance as the quiet and efficient medic, struggling to perform his duty and prevent himself from getting affected by the suffering around him. In the end, Taylor not only gave one of the miniseries’ best performances, but also managed to carry a very important episode on his shoulders.

”Bastogne” is not completely perfect. Despite the strong chemistry between Taylor and Jeanne, there were moments when I found the nuance of their relationship – especially the silent exchange of glances – a bit heavy-handed. And I am somewhat confused about the fate of the wounded men that Roe escorted to one of the hospitals in Bastogne. Earlier in the episode, he had escorted Sisk and Gordon to the hospital where Renée worked. He was about to deliver Welsh to the same hospital, when he witnessed its destruction from German bombers. The episode made it clear that Bastogne had remained encircled by German forces, until the arrival of elements from General George C. Patton’s Third Army on December 26, 1944. So . . . what happened to Sisk and Gordon? They did not meet Renée’s fate. Both men survived the war. How did they get out of that hospital and Bastogne before the December 24 bombing?

Perfect or not, ”Bastogne” is one of my personal favorite episodes in ”BAND OF BROTHERS”. And thanks to director David Leland, screenwriter Bruce C. McKenna and actor Shane Taylor, the episode conveyed an epic point-of-view of the siege of Bastogne that made it one of the best (at least in my opinion) episodes in the entire miniseries.



The year 2008 marked the fourth adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1811 novel, “Sense and Sensibility”. First aired on the BBC, this three-part miniseries had been adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by John Alexander. 

“SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” told the story of the two older of three sisters and their financial and romantic travails in early 19th century England. Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, along with their mother and young sister, Margaret; found themselves homeless and in financial straits following the death of their father. Their elder half-brother, John Dashwood, had promised their father he would financially compensate them, since the Norland Park estate was entailed to the male heir. Unfortunately, John possessed the backbone of jelly and allowed his venal wife Fanny to convince him into withholding any financial assistance from the Dashwood women. Fanny received a shock when her younger brother, Edward Ferrars, paid a visit and ended up becoming romantically involved with Elinor. Before their romance could flourish; Elinor, her sisters and her mother were forced to leave Norland Park. They settled at a cottage in Devon, owned by Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin, Sir John Middleton.

Upon settling in Devon, the Dashwoods became acquainted with the gregarious Sir John, his chilly wife and his equally extroverted mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings. Marianne attracted the attention of two potential suitors – Sir John’s neighbor and former Army comrade, Colonel Christopher Brandon; and a handsome young blade named John Willoughby. Being seventeen and emotionally volatile, Marianne preferred the handsome Willoughby over the more stoic Colonel Brandon. And Elinor began to wonder if she would ever lay eyes upon Edward Ferrars again.

Unlike Ang Lee and Emma Thompson’s 1995 adaptation of Austen’s novel, John Alexander and Andrew Davies had decided to be a little more faithful to Austen’s novel. They included Lady Middleton, the autocratic Mrs. Ferrars and both Steele sisters – Lucy and Anne – to the story. They also included Edward Ferrars’ brief visit to the Dashwoods’ cottage, the dinner party at Mrs. Ferrars’ London house and a contrite Willoughby’s conversation with Elinor. But for me, being faithful to a literary source does not guarantee a superior production. If Alexander and Davies called themselves creating a production more faithful and superior to the 1995 movie, I do not believe they had succeeded. I am not saying that this ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” was a terrible production. On the contrary, I believe it was first-rate. I simply believe that the 1995 movie was a better adaptation.

This three-part miniseries had a lot going for it. Both Davies and Alexander beautifully captured most of the heart of soul of Austen’s tale. And aside from a few scenes, it was wonderfully paced. ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” captured the financial and social dilemma faced by the Dashwood females, upon the family patriarch’s death. The miniseries’ style permeated with warmth, solidity and color. The production designs created by James Merifield did an excellent job in sending viewers back to early 19th century England. But I must give kudos to cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, who received a well deserved Emmy nomination for his beautiful photography. The Devon, Hertfordshire and Surrey countryside looked rich and lush in color. I also enjoyed Michele Clapton’s colorful costumes, which earned a BAFTA nomination. Were they historically accurate? I do not know. I am not an expert in early 19th century fashion. However, I do have a question. Was ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” set during the decade of 1800-1809? Or was it set between 1810 and 1819? According to the family tree briefly shown in the following photo, the movie was set around 1800-1801:

There were some aspects of ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” that did not appeal to me. As much as I had enjoyed Merifield’s production designs, I found it disappointing that the majority of the London sequences featured interior shots. Which meant that viewers failed to get a truly rich view of early 19th century London. But most of my quibbles were about a few scenes that struck me as unnecessary. The miniseries opened with a young couple making love in the candlelight. Viewers easily surmised the identities of the pair – John Willoughby and Colonel Brandon’s young ward, Eliza. Perhaps this was Davies’ way of foreshadowing Willoughby’s character and his near seduction of Marianne. This was the first scene I found unnecessary and heavy-handed. There are some stories in which the use of foreshadowing as a literary device work very well. This particular scene failed to work for me. Another scene that struck me as unnecessary was Edward Ferrars’ brief visit to Barton Cottage. This scene was lifted from the novel and was used to foreshadow Elinor’s discovery of his engagement to Lucy Steele. Again, the use of foreshadow failed to work for me. I would have preferred that the audience’s knowledge of the Edward-Lucy engagement had been revealed as a complete surprise to them, as well as to Elinor.

Two more scenes also failed to impress me. Austen’s novel had hinted a duel between Willoughby and Brandon over the former’s seduction of young Eliza. Davies’ screenplay included the duel, after Willoughby’s rejection of Marianne and the birth of his and Eliza’s child. This duel would have served better following Willoughby’s seduction. In fact, I wish that Davies had not included it at all. For a brief moment, I found myself confused on whether the duel was fought over Eliza or Marianne. The scene also seemed to be an indication of Davies and Alexander’s attempt to inject some overt masculinity into Austen’s tale. The last scene that Davies carried over from the novel featured Willoughby’s expression of remorse to Elinor, over his treatment of Marianne. I must admit that I found that scene a little contrived and unnecessary. Willoughby’s reasons behind his abandonment of Marianne and his embarrassment at the assembly ball seemed pretty obvious to me. And in the 1995 version, the expression on Greg Wise’s face fully expressed Willoughby’s remorse more effectively than any of Austen’s (or Davies’) words.

Despite my misgivings, I must admit that ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” possessed a first-rate cast. Both Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield gave solid performances as the story’s two heroines – Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Morahan nicely portrayed the sober and level-headed aspects of Elinor’s personality. Yet at the same time, she conveyed subtle hints of the character’s emotions behind the mask. I found it difficult to believe that Morahan’s Elinor was 19 to 20 years-old in this story. She looked and behaved like a person who was at least 5 to 10 years older. Morahan had a tendency to utilize this ”deer-in-the-headlights” expression, whenever Elinor was surprised. Wakefield gave a decent performance as the volatile Marianne. She portrayed the character as written by Austen – an emotional and thoughtless adolescent with a kind heart. Were young females in their late teens really expected to behave in a mature manner, consistently? My only problem with Wakefield was there were a few moments when her performance seemed mechanical with hardly any style or true skill.

The miniseries received fine support from the likes of Janet Teer as the emotional Mrs. Dashwood, Mark Williams as the jovial Sir John Middleton, Jean Marsh as Mrs. Ferrars, Mark Gatiss as the vacuous John Dashwood and young Lucy Boynton as Margaret Dashwood. In his first scene, Dan Stevens seemed to hint that his interpretation of Edward Ferrars might prove to be a little livelier than past interpretations. It was a hint that failed to flourish. His Edward proved to be just as mild. At least his performance was adequate. When the miniseries first aired in Britain nearly three years ago, the media had declared Dominic Cooper as the new sex symbol of British costume drama. After seeing his performance as John Willoughby, I find this hard to swallow. But he did give a decent performance. There were performances that failed to impress me. One, I had a problem with the Steele sisters. Anna Madeley’s performance as the subtle, yet catty Lucy Steele seemed perfectly fine with me. But I found Daisy Haggard’s broadly comic take on Anne Steele ridiculously overdone. And I never could understand why one Steele sister spoke with a well-bred accent (Lucy) and the other with a regional accent that strongly hinted of the lower classes. Very inconsistent. I also had a problem with Rosanna Lavelle as Sir John’s cold wife, Lady Middleton. She barely seemed to exist. In fact, I never understood why Davies did not follow Emma Thompson’s example by deleting the character altogether. Linda Bassett gave a friendly performance as Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton’s mother. But her portrayal lacked that deliciously meddlesome trait that prevailed in Austen’s novel and the 1995 movie. And I also found Bassett’s accent questionable. I could not tell whether her character was from amongst the upper or middle class.

At least two performances in ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” managed to impress me. One of those performances belonged to Claire Skinner, who portrayed the Dashwood sisters’ bitchy sister-in-law, Fanny Ferrars Dashwood. Skinner was truly superb as the venal and manipulative Fanny, who seemed more than determined to not only rule her husband, but also make her sisters-in-law miserable for the sake of her ego. My favorite Fanny scene featured that delicious montage in which she wore down John’s determination to help his sisters and stepmother financially. The other outstanding performance came from David Morrissey’s portrayal of the stoic Colonel Brandon. As much as I admire Morrissey’s skills as an actor, I have found some of his performances a little too theatrical at times. I certainly cannot say the same about his performance in ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY”. He perfectly captured the quiet nuance of his character; and at the same time, expressed Brandon’s passion for Marianne through facial expressions and body language.

”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” may have been marred by scenes that I found unnecessary, and lacked a witty sense of humor and something of an edge; but it still turned out to be an intelligent and solid adaptation of Austen’s novel. And fans of Austen’s novel can thank Andrew Davies’ script, John Alexander’s direction, Sean Bobbitt’s photography and a solid cast lead by Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield.

“Lover Man” [R] – 2/3




B’Elanna and Harry strode along the corridor of Deck Six, on their way to Jeffries Tube 69. There, they planned to work on a set of ESP conduits for repair.

“Poor Neelix,” Harry bemoaned. “It must have been hell getting his lungs ripped away like that.” He referred to a recent incident, in which the Talaxian had his lungs stolen by a pair of aliens, during an Away mission.

B’Elanna grunted. “If you ask me, I think Janeway let those monsters off too easily. Stealing other people’s organs, for Kahless’s sakes!”

Harry added, “I guess that what happens when a species has been crippled by a deadly disease. It takes away their compassion. Their morality. And it makes them dangerously desperate.”

“That’s no excuse!” B’Elanna angrily shot back.

“No, it isn’t. But understandable.”

B’Elanna bit back an exasperated sigh, as she tried not to feel irritated by Harry’s compassion. She had great affection for the young ensign, but sometimes his Federation ideals really got on her nerves. For once, she wished he could be a little more . . . ruthless.

The two friends finally reached Jeffries Tube 69. B’Elanna grabbed hold of the handle for the tube’s door, when Harry glanced down at his hand and let out an oath. “Dammit!” he cried.

“What’s wrong?” B’Elanna demanded.

“My PADD. It has the schematics we need on it. I must have dropped it on my way here. I’ll be right back.” Harry turned on his heels and quickly retraced their path from the turbolift.

Meanwhile, B’Elanna attempted to open the tube’s door. Only, it refused to budge. Someone had either jammed or locked the door. Muttering an oath, B’Elanna punched a few codes into the console nearby. The door finally opened on her second attempt. She grabbed her toolkit and proceeded to crawl inside the tube. The sight that greeted her inside, stopped her in her tracks.

Low moans filled the interior. Discarded uniforms were scattered about the floor. And just several yards ahead laid a completely nude Tom Paris, on his back. Straddling his waist was a female crewman – also nude – whom B’Elanna noticed was not Ensign Telac. Her breasts swung tantalizingly over Paris’s face. Her body bucked up and down above the pilot’s, like a rider on an unbroken horse. B’Elanna immediately recognized her. Crewman Mallory Aiwa from Security.

“Ooohh! Oh yes! Harder! Harder!” Aiwa cried. Both hers and Paris’s bodies continued to move in rhythm, as they made love. Aiwa leaned closer to Paris, situating the tips of her breasts above his face. He took the bait, leaned upward and covered one breast with his mouth. His hands maintained a firm grip on her hips.

Feeling hot and embarrassed at the same time, B’Elanna immediately crawled out of the tube. She shut the door and took a deep breath. “Something wrong, Maquis?” Harry had returned with his PADD.

Breathing heavily, B’Elanna shook her head. “No! I, uh . . . It’s nothing, Harry. Look, why don’t we do this later? Someone else is inside, right now.”

“Well, I’m sure he or she won’t mind if it gets a little crowded inside.” Harry knelt down on the deck and opened the door.

“Starfleet, no!”

Too late. Harry did not hear. He crawled inside the tube. B’Elanna heard a gasp. Along with Aiwa, screaming Paris’s name. Seconds later, the Ops officer re-emerged from the tube and closed the door. “Oh God!” he murmured. “I didn’t need to see that.”

Anger toward the pilot overwhelmed B’Elanna. She wondered aloud if they should report Paris and Aiwa to Chakotay. “Why?” Harry demanded. “I doubt that sex inside a Jeffries tube would constitute as an offense. Or a danger to the ship.”

“Isn’t fraternalization between Starfleet personnel, prohibited?” B’Elanna demanded.

Harry quickly replied, “No, it isn’t. Not as long as they are discreet.”

“I wouldn’t call sex in a Jeffries tube, discreet.”

A sigh left her friend’s mouth. “B’Elanna, let it go. They’re in a Jeffries tube, not in the corridor or anywhere else for the entire crew to see. Just let it go.”

B’Elanna remained silent. She and Harry could barely meet each other’s gaze. Sounds of giggling and someone opening the tube’s door filled their ears. Embarrassment immediately became anxiety. B’Elanna said to Harry, “I think we better get out of here.” The younger man quickly agreed and the two friends quickly scrambled away.

* * * *

Once again, Tom found himself strolling along Deck Nine. He had just left Telac Mara’s quarters, following a slightly difficult conversation. After two weeks of fun and great sex, the Bajoran woman had decided to end their romance.

Tom had foreseen the breakup. In fact, he helped set it in motion. Mara began expressing more than a passing interest in him. She wanted to know everything about Tom – his fears, his desires and most inner thoughts. Tom immediately realized that she wanted to move their relationship to a serious level. Only, he had no desire for such a relationship.

Rejection from a girlfriend at the Academy, a distant father and plenty of insincere friends had taught Tom to be wary of love and romance. He did not want or trust it any longer. Aside from Harry Kim as a close friend, he preferred mere acquaintances, brief sexual partners and nothing more.

To stave off the danger of Mara’s increasing interest, Tom began to hold her at arms’ length. Treat her in a cool manner when they were not engaged in sex. After a week of such treatment, it worked. Not only did Mara backed off, she began showing interest in other men. Just this morning, Tom had found her in the Mess Hall, sitting with Crewman Jarvin. Both seemed intensely interested in each other. Tom got the hint. Not that he really minded. He no longer had Mara in his hair. And compensation awaited him in a Jeffries tube on Deck Six. With Mallory Aiwa. Tom allowed himself a smile. A pleasant way to spend a few minutes. Now that Mara has officially ended their relationship, he was on his way to Aiwa’s quar . . .

The door to one of the cabins slid open. Tom gasped at the figure standing in the doorway – completely nude. “What the hell are you doing?” he growled, shoving her back inside the cabin. “Someone could have seen you!” The doors slid shut.

A satisfied smile curled her lips. “That was the point,” she said. “For you to see me. After I found out you were on this deck, I came here and ordered the computer to track you all the way from Telac’s quarters.”

“If you’re expecting a repeat performance of two weeks ago, don’t waste your time,” Tom retorted. “I have other plans.”

Her smile grew wider. “Certainly not with Ensign Telac, I assume. You were only in her quarters for ten minutes or less. Break up?”

Tom’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “How did you find out? I haven’t told anyone, yet.”

“I saw the good ensign with Jarvin during breakfast, this morning. It wasn’t hard to guess what was going on.” She reached out and stroked Tom’s cheek. “I thought you needed a little consolation.”

“I already have my own ideas about that. And it involves someone else.”

Slowly, she wrapped her arms around Tom’s neck. “I bet she can’t console you the way I can.” Her mouth hovered inches away from his.

Tom inhaled deeply. He could already feel his body reacting to her nearness. And the last thing he wanted was a repeat of their last time together. Seconds later, his hopes dissipated. As she leaned forward to plant a light kiss on the side of his mouth, the tips of her breasts brushed against Tom’s chest. His member automatically began to twitch. Much to his embarrassment.

“Okay, that’s it!” he roared and pushed her away. Laughter greeted his ears. “If you want to get laid so badly, find someone else.” Tom marched to the door, opened it and heard voices in the corridor. He immediately slid the door shut.

Her voice, smooth and taunting, said, “I thought you were leaving.”

“I will,” Tom coolly replied. “Just as soon as the hallway is cleared.”

A soft body pressed against his back. Tom struggled to ignore it. “In that case, why don’t you stay here, a little longer? Pass the time, until the corridor is cleared.”

“I doubt that mere seconds is enough time to do what you really want.”

Slender hands gently forced Tom to turn around. He found himself staring into a pair of eyes that brimmed with desire. “Maybe you want what I want. Can’t you stay longer than mere seconds?”

Tom blinked. He felt no love for this woman. Hell, he hardly felt any kind of affection toward her, whatsoever. Desire, however, was another matter. He had to admit that she was one of the most sexually satisfying women he had ever met. And unlike other partners, she demanded nothing more than sex. At least from him. Tom did not mind. Aside from his friendship with Harry, love and affection rarely played a part in Thomas Eugene Paris’s life.

She planted a kiss on his mouth. And another. And another. “Just stay a little longer,” she whispered between kisses. “Just a little . . .” Unable to ignore his desire any longer, Tom drew her into his arms and crushed his mouth against hers.

* * * *

The couple was inside the Jeffries tube, just as she had remembered. He lay stretched out on the floor. She straddled his waist. Neither wore a stitch of clothing.

She allowed her fingers to run through the red-gold hair on his chest. A pleasure-filled sigh escaped her mouth. So thick and luxuriant. She could do this all day. Then his member twitched against the crack of her backside. Then again, why bother? There were other parts of his anatomy she could also enjoy.

Sliding down his body, she raised her slightly and sat down, once more. His member impaled the wet folds of her flesh. A deep moan rose from her throat. His hands gripped her hips, forcing her to match the rhythm of his body.

Up and down, they moved. Faster and faster. She could feel him stab deeper and deeper inside her. One of his hands traveled up past her waist, until it cupped one tender breast. His thumb pressed against a taunt nipple and again, she moaned. Then it moved to another breast. Her moans grew louder.

Their bodies moved faster. His thrusts became harder. Deeper. Until his entire length filled her walls. Unable to hold back any longer, she climaxed and the muscles within her folds ruthlessly constricted his member. He called out her name and exploded inside her. As she finally fell over the edge, she threw back her head and called out his name. “Tom!”

* * * *

B’Elanna gasped out loud, as her eyes opened. Her body snapped into a sitting position. Had she just . . .? Once the fog cleared her brain, she realized that she was inside her quarters and not in a Jeffries tube. With Tom Paris. B’Elanna also realized that she had thrust her hand inside her pajama bottoms and they now rested on the damp mound between her legs. Embarrassed, she immediately withdrew it.

Then it came back to her. Every detail of her dream. It had been a replay of what she had witnessed inside Jeffries tube 69, this afternoon. Only, the woman having sex with Tom Paris had not been Mallory Aiwa, but her – B’Elanna Torres.

B’Elana’s cheeks grew hot. Erotic dreams were not new to her. She had them before. Only, they had usually consisted of her with a young man she once worshipped from afar, back on Kessik. And later, of her and a certain Maquis captain, turned first officer. B’Elanna never thought she would have dreams about a womanizing pig like Paris.

Slowly, she crawled out of bed and headed for the wash basin. B’Elanna washed her hands and splashed water on her face. The chronometer in her cabin read 01:37 hours. Duty awaited her in less than seven hours. B’Elanna groaned. She hoped it would not be difficult for her to return to sleep.

A heavy thump dashed any hopes of continued sleep. The thump came from next door. A loud moan followed. B’Elanna sighed. The phantom couple had returned.

“Oh yes! Oh . . . oh . . . ah! Faster! Faster . . . oh gods! Fas . . . aaaah!” The cries and moans, accompanied by more thumps followed.

B’Elanna took a deep breath. She tried to ignore the sounds from next door. Yet, it seemed very difficult, especially with them becoming increasingly loud. And her growing more aroused.

At last the noise subsided, but not before the female next door shouted a name that took B’Elanna aback. “Oh yes! Oh . . . oh yes! Oh . . . aaah! Oh Gods! To-ooo-omm!”

Tom? B’Elanna sat on her bed in deep shock. Did she just hear some woman cry out Tom Paris’s name?

* * * *

Harry stared at B’Elanna in disbelief. “Are you sure that was Tom’s name you heard?” he demanded.

“Of course I’m sure!” B’Elanna snapped back. The two friends shared a small breakfast table, in the Mess Hall, the following morning. “How many Toms do you think are on this ship?”

“Tom happens to be a common name,” Harry explained. “It could be someone else.”

B’Elanna rolled her eyes. “Starfleet, I checked the list of personnel on this ship. There is only one Tom aboard Voyager. And his name is Thomas Eugene Paris.” She scoffed with derision. “Eugene. What were his parents thinking with a name like that?”

Eventually, Harry conceded that B’Elanna was right. “Okay, so it was Tom in that cabin, next door to yours. So what? Maybe whomever he’s dating, lives there. What’s her name? Crewman Aiwa.”

“Crewman Aiwa’s quarters are located on Deck Seven,” B’Elanna coolly retorted. “I checked. And no one occupies the cabin next door to mine.”

Harry paused. “Oh. Well, even so . . .”

Exasperated, B’Elanna cried out, “Dammit, Starfleet! Don’t you get it? Paris and Aiwa weren’t supposed to be there. I’m going to report this to Chakotay.”

“Oh come on, Maquis! You’ve got to be kidding!”

B’Elanna gave her friend a pointed stare. “Do I look like I’m kidding? Paris has overstepped the line, this time.”

“Overstepped the . . .” Harry heaved an exasperated sigh. “C’mon B’Elanna! Listen to yourself! You sound like some by-the-book Starfleet officer! Not even the Captain or myself are that bad!”

“Paris is using an empty . . .” B’Elanna lowered her voice, after she noticed several pairs of eyes, staring at her. “Paris is fraternizing in an unauthorized area. No one is supposed to be in that cabin. And both he and Aiwa are keeping me awake with all that noise. I intend to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Harry’s face became hard. B’Elanna had never seen such an expression on his face, before. “I’m telling you, Maquis. You’re making a big mistake. Granted, Tom might find himself in trouble. But sooner or later, word will circulate that you were the one who snitched on him.”

“So what! Aside from you, Janeway and Kes, there isn’t a soul on this ship who wouldn’t like to see Paris get his comeuppance!”

“Perhaps,” Harry replied. “But they’ll also remember that you snitched on someone. Sooner or later, they’ll become wary of you and eventually, you’ll become ostracized on this ship. Like Tom.”

B’Elanna opened her mouth to protest, but Harry seemed to be on a roll. “Tom may not be popular right now. But if word gets around that your reported him for having sex in some empty cabin, he’ll be a hero in compare to you. No one likes a snitch, B’Elanna. Isn’t that why the Maquis dislike him in the first place? Because you all believe he had ratted on you to the Captain?”

In one of those rare moments in her life, B’Elanna found herself speechless. She could not believe the words coming out of Harry’s mouth. After several long seconds, her voice finally returned. “Tell me Harry, are you saying that you would tell Paris that I snitched on him?” B’Elanna tried to sound menacing, quiet. Unfortunately, wavering insecurity came out, instead.

“C’mon B’Elanna! I’m not a snitch!” Harry expressed outrage. “Besides, I wouldn’t have to. Tom is a pretty smart guy. He would have found out, eventually. And knowing him, he would have found some way to get even.” He leaned forward, his face radiating intensity. “Please, Maquis. Don’t do it!”

B’Elanna, most reluctantly, realized that it would be wise to heed Harry’s warning. She did not fear reprisal from Tom Paris. Yet, she had no desire to become an even bigger pariah on the ship. Her anger toward the pilot’s sexual escapades, however, remained. A new obsession sprung within her. An obsession to discover the identity of Paris’s paramour. Whom she suspected was Mallory Aiwa. And when she finally confirms Aiwa as Paris’s partner-in-crime, B’Elanna promised herself that she would get even with both.

* * * *

Dark eyes seemed to follow Tom Paris nearly everywhere. They scrutinized him whenever “she”was on the Bridge, at her station. Those same eyes observed him in the Mess Hall, during breakfast, lunch and dinner. And whenever he appeared in Engineering to deliver a report or work on the navigational array, the dark eyes observed him . . . closely. Tom could also recall seeing those same eyes along Voyager’s corridors, on occasion. After nearly two weeks of such scrutiny, Tom came to the conclusion that he was being stalked.

He had heard about Klingon women who stalked potential mates. Yet, the deep suspicion and dislike in B’Elanna Torres’ eyes led Tom to believe that she did not view him as a potential mate. Which led him to speculate on her sudden interest in him.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know what the hell is her problem,” Tom complained to his best friend. The two officers sat inside the shuttlecraft, Cochrane, as it sped toward the Banean homeworld.

Voyager had came across the M-class planet two days ago. After learning that its inhabitants possessed warp technology and promised to help Voyager with its damaged collimator. Captain Janeway ordered Harry to work with one of the Banean scientists. And ordered Tom to fly Harry to the planet’s surface. It seemed that Banea was at war with another race who occupied the planet, called the Numeri. Who had established a blockade around Banea.

Tom spared the younger man a quick glance. “Torres is your friend, Harry. Do you know why she’s suddenly so interested in me?”

Harry sighed. Which told Tom that he knew something. And was reluctant to reveal. “What? C’mon Harry. Spill it.”

“Okay.” Another gust of breath followed. Then, “Tom, have you been seeing anyone on Deck Nine, lately? Other than Telac Mara?”

It took all of Tom’s skills in dissembling to maintain his usual mask. How did Harry know about his trips to Deck Nine? Better yet, what did it have to do with Torres? “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tom mumbled.

“Cabin Nine-I?” Harry continued. “It seems you’ve been using it for a little private down time with a certain someone, this past month. Only you haven’t been that private.”

Tom sighed in defeat. “Okay. I surrender. How did you find out?”

“I didn’t. B’Elanna did. She could hear you two.”

A hot flush crept up Tom’s neck. “How did she . . .?”

Harry added, “B’Elanna’s quarters are next door – Cabin Nine-H. She heard everything.”

“Great!” Tom pursed his lips in irritation.

The younger man continued, “She knows it’s you in there, but she doesn’t know who your friend is.”

“She isn’t exactly a friend,” Tom retorted.

Confusion filled Harry’s dark eyes. “Huh? What are you talking . . .?”

“So B’Elanna knows,” Tom said, interrupting the other man. “I suppose she plans to go running to Chakotay.”

According to Harry, the Chief Engineer almost did. Until he talked her out of it. “And it wasn’t the first time, Tom. We caught you and Mallory Aiwa inside Jeffries tube 69, around the same time B’Elanna found out about Cabin Nine-I.”

Tom sighed. “You two seem very familiar with my love life, lately. Anything else?”

“Well, you haven’t exactly been discreet,” Harry retorted.

“Who has? Do you think Mallory and I were the only ones using the Jeffries tubes? Hell, I’ll bet that half the crew are doing the same. I’ve caught at least four couples inside the Jeffries Tubes, since we blew up the Caretaker’s array.”

The disturbed expression on Harry’s face told Tom the extent of his friend’s innocence. Poor Harry.His mind jumped to the half-Klingon. Poor me. Tom realized that he had a hostile senior officer on his hands, just itching to get him into trouble. He would have to be more careful in the future.

“What I don’t understand,” Harry continued, “is why you and Aiwa would even bother using an empty cabin on Deck Nine in the first place?”

Might as well be truthful. Somewhat. “I’ve never been with Mallory on Deck Nine,” Tom explained. “I was with someone else.”

“Does Aiwa know?”

A curt laugh escaped Tom’s mouth. “Of course not, Harry. I doubt that she would really care, these days.” He paused. “We broke up just four days ago. Mallory began having delusions that she alone, could finally get to know the real Tom Paris. Naturally, I had to disappoint her.”

Harry shot Tom a sharp glance. The latter ignored it as he continued to guide the shuttle toward the Banean homeworld.

* * * *


Tom’s cry startled the woman, bent over one of the consoles inside a junction that connected two of the Jeffries tubes on Deck Five. She glared at him. “Dammit Paris! What the hell is your problem?”

“I’ve been looking for you.” Tom jumped off the ladder and landed next to her.

She gave him a sniff and returned to her work. “You’ve found me. Now what do you want?”

Tom grabbed hold of her shoulder and forced her in an upward position. “I want to talk to you, not your ass.”

“That’s funny. You seemed to be in backsides, lately. Including one that belong to a certain Banean woman.”

Laughter bubbled up inside Tom at the absurdity of her jealousy. “What is this? Don’t tell me you’re jealous?”

“Of course not! Now what do you want?” she shot back in an acid voice.

Tom became sober. “Just to let you know. The next time you get any ideas about a quick roll in the hay, find someone else. It seems that a certain friend of yours has found out about our little activities in Cabin 9-I. And considering her volatile nature, I have no desire to find myself facing the Captain. Or Chakotay.”

“Are you saying that Torres is a snitch? B’Elanna?” Disbelief shone in her eyes.

Tom shrugged. “Normally, I’d say no. But this is me, we’re talking about. Just about ninety-eight percent of the crew would love to see me in trouble with the Captain. And guess what? I won’t be alone, this time.”

She sniffed. “Fine. If it makes you feel any better. Of course . . .”

Oh God, Tom thought. Trouble. “I’m getting out of here. See you around.”

“Wait!” She grabbed Tom’s arm. “Does B’Elanna know about me, as well?”

Tom stared at her uneasily. “No, just me. Why?”

A seductive smile appeared on her lips. “Well, since I don’t want to get into trouble, any more than you do, I promise I won’t ambush you on Deck Nine anymore. That is . . . if you don’t mind meeting me at my favorite cabin, later this evening. Say around 1630 hours? Torres usually likes to hang around Engineering a little longer than the usual eight-hour shift.”

Tom wandered if she had lost her mind. Why was she so interested in him? Was she that desperate for sex? “Are you crazy?” he exclaimed. “No! Didn’t you hear what I said?”

“Yes. But you obviously didn’t hear me. What’s wrong with a little afternoon sex? Trust me, B’Elanna won’t be there. Meet me at Cabin 9-I at 1630 hours. Unless,” a sneer crossed her face, “you’ve developed a taste for Delta Quadrant women.”

Coolly, Tom responded, “Maybe I have.”

“Oh.” She paused. “Well.” She reached up and brushed a finger across his lower lip. “Too bad. I had hoped to work up an appetite before dinner.”

Tom’s body immediately stiffened. He grabbed her hand and drew her against him. Damn that woman! She always had a talent for breaking his defenses. Or perhaps a year in prison had rekindled his sex drive. “I’ll see you in Cabin 9-I. Sixteen thirty hours.”

“I’ll be there.” She forced her mouth upon his for a brief, passionate kiss, ending it with a bite on his lip. “Just a reminder of our appointment. I’ll see you later.” Then she turned her back on him and resumed her work. Tom took a deep breath and started up the ladder toward Deck Four.




Back in 1982, the BBC turned to 19th century author Anthony Trollope for a seven-part miniseries called “THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES”. The miniseries was based upon the author’s first two Barchester novels about the Church of England. 

Directed by David Giles and written by Alan Plater, ”THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES” is an adaptation of ”The Warden” (1855)and ”Barchester Towers” (1857). The novels focused upon the the dealings and social maneuverings of the clergy and gentry literature concern the dealings of the clergy and the gentry that go on between the citizens and members of the Church of England in the fictitious cathedral town of Barchester. Episodes One and Two, which are adaptations of ”The Warden”, center on the impact upon the Reverend Septimus Harding and his circle when a zealous young reformer named John Bold launches a campaign to expose the disparity in the apportionment of Hiram House, an almshouse for bedesmen, and its income between the latter and its officer, Reverend Harding. Mr. Bold embarks on this campaign out of a spirit of public duty, despite his previously cordial relationship with Mr. Harding and his romantic involvement with the latter’s younger daughter, Eleanor. Mr. Bold attempts to enlist the support and interest of Tom Towers, the editor of The Jupiter, who writs editorials supporting reform of the charity, and a portrait of Mr. Harding as being selfish and derelict in his conduct of his office. Despite the efforts of his bombastic, but well-meaning son-in-law, the Archdeacon Grantly, to ignore Mr. Bold’s reform campaign, and continue his position as warden of Hiram House. But Reverend Harding concludes that he cannot in good conscience continue to accept such a generous salary and resigns the position. John Bold, who had tried in vain to reverse the injury done to Mr. Harding, returns to Barchester and marries Eleanor.

In the remaining five episodes, based upon ”Barchester Towers”, the beloved Bishop of Barchester dies and many assume that his son, Archdeacon Grantly, will gain the position in his place. However thanks to a new Prime Minister, a newcomer, the Reverend Proudie, becomes the new bishop. His overbearing wife, Mrs Proudie, exercises an undue influence over the new bishop and becomes unpopular with right-thinking members of the clergy and their families. Her interference in the reappointment of the universally popular Mr Septimus Harding as warden of Hiram House is not well received, even though she gives the position to a needy clergyman with a large family to support. Even less popular than Mrs Proudie is the bishop’s newly appointed chaplain, the hypocritical Mr. Obadiah Slope, who takes a fancy to Harding’s wealthy widowed daughter, Eleanor Bold. He hopes to win her hand in marriage by interfering in the controversy over the wardenship of Hiram House. Due to Mrs. Proudie’s influence, the Bishop and Mr. Slope order the return of Dr. Vesey Stanhope from Italy. Dr Stanhope has been there, recovering from a sore throat for 12 years and has spent his time catching butterflies. His wife and three children accompany him back to Barchester. Dr. Stanhope’s only son also has eyes on Eleanor and her fortune. And the younger of his two daughters, the serial flirt Signora Madelina Vesey Neroni, causes consternation and hostility within Mrs. Proudie and threatens the plans of Mr. Slope.

Over the years, ”THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES” has become a highly acclaimed television production amongst costume drama fans and the critics. It also received several BAFTA nominations and won an award for Best Design (Chris Pemsel). Many fans and critics have also viewed it as the production responsible for one of Donald Pleasence’s best roles and the start of Alan Rickman’s fame as a skilled actor. When the miniseries first aired in the United States nearly two years later in October 1984, I tried very hard to enjoy it. I really did. Looking back, I realized that I was too young to really appreciate it and ended up getting bored. I never had any intention of ever watching again. But when I purchased a DVD set featuring ”THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES” and two other miniseries productions based upon Anthony Trollope’s works, I figured that I might as well give it another shot. And I am glad that I did.

“THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES” turned out to be a sharp and funny look at the Church of England during the 1850s. The miniseries was filled with characters that have become so memorable to me that I find it difficult to erase them from my mind. In fact, I can honestly say that the characters really made the miniseries for me – especially characters such as Mrs. Proudie, the Reverend Obadiah Slope, Signora Neroni and the wonderfully charming and sweet, Reverend Harding. But the characters alone did not impress me. I was also impressed by screenwriter Alan Plater’s adaptation of the two novels. In my review of the 2007 miniseries, “CRANFORD”, I had complained that it seemed disjointed to me and was more suited as an episodic television series, due to the fact that it was based upon three of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novellas. Although ”THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES”was based upon the first two of Trollope’s Barchester novels, it did not seem disjointed to me. Perhaps I felt this way, because the subject of the first two episode – namely Reverend Harding’s position as warden of Hiram House – also had a major impact on the plotlines of the last five episodes. I must admit that my knowledge of the hierarchy of the Church of England barely existed before I saw ”THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES” for the second time. After viewing the miniseries, it is still rather vague. But the controversy over Hiram House and the backstabbing, the romances and the manipulations that occurred between the characters really made watching the miniseries rather fun. There were moments when the miniseries’ pacing threatened to drag. And I could have done without a full sermon from Reverend Slope in Episode Three. But these flaws did not hamper the miniseries in the end.

I found most of the performances in ”THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES” top-notch. Mind you, there were some excursions into hammy acting – notably from Nigel Hawthorne as Archdeacon Grantly, Peter Blythe as the feckless Nigel Stanhope and yes, from Geraldine McEwan as Mrs. Proudie. Even Alan Rickman had a moment of hammy acting in his very last scene. But, the cast was generally first-rate. Despite their moments of hamminess, I must admit that I was very impressed by Hawthorne, McEwan and Rickman. Especially the latter, who gave a star turn as the slippery and obsequious Obadiah Slope. And Clive Swift gave a deliciously subtle performance as the weak-willed Bishop Proudie, who allowed himself to be bullied by his wife and manipulated by Mr. Slope. I was also impressed by Susan Hampshire’s performance as the manipulative and sexy Signora Neroni. The series did not go much into her character’s problems with her Italian husband, despite her negative comments on marriage. But watching her manipulate Rickman’s Reverend Slope really impressed and entertained me. And I also enjoyed Angela Pleasence’s portrayal of Archdeacon Grantly’s wife, Susan Harding Grantly. In many ways, she seemed like a more respectable version of the Signora Neroni – feminine, soft-spoken, a little manipulative and strong-willed. But the one performance that shone above the others for me was Donald Pleasence’s portrayal of the Reverend Septimus Harding. Characters like Reverend Harding usually tend to bore me. But Pleasence’s Reverend Harding was not only interesting, but also entertaining. I enjoyed how he managed to maintain his mild-mannered personality, while displaying a great deal of backbone against the aggressive maneuverings of Archdeacon Grantly and Mrs. Proudie, and his hostility over the slippery manipulations of Reverend Slope. My only quibble about Pleasence’s performance is that his scenes with Janet Maw, who portrayed Eleanor Harding Bold, left me feeling a bit uneasy. I realize that Reverend Harding and Eleanor had a close relationship, but there were moments – thanks to Pleasence and Maw’s performances – when their interactions seemed to hint a touch of incest. Very creepy.

Does ”THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES” still hold up after twenty-eight years? Perhaps. The miniseries was obviously filmed on video tape. And the pictures are not as sharp as they could be. But I must admit that the photography was rich with color. And I just adored Juanita Waterson’s costume designs, which were shown with great effect in scenes that featured the Proudies’ soirée at the Bishop’s residence and the Thornes’ garden party. She effectively captured the styles of mid-Victorian England. Perhaps some of the performances were a little hammy at times. And there were moments when the miniseries’ pacing threatened to drag. But overall, ”THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES” was a first-rate production that featured a well-written script by Alan Plater, an excellent cast led by Donald Pleasence and solid direction by David Giles. After twenty-eight years, it remains a sharp and entertaining miniseries for me.

“THE GREEN HORNET” (2011) Review

“THE GREEN HORNET” (2011) Review

My memories of the costumed hero, the Green Hornet, are pretty sketchy. I can only recall actor Van Williams portraying the character in the short-lived television series from the mid-1960s, with future martial arts icon, Bruce Lee, portraying his manservant and partner-in-crime fighting, Kato. But if I must be honest, I never saw any of the episodes from the series. My memories of Williams and Lee as the Green Hornet and Kato were limited to their guest appearances on the ABC series,”BATMAN”.

When I had first heard about plans to release a movie about the Green Hornet featuring comic actor, Seth Rogen in the title role, I met the news with less than enthusiasm. One, I have never been a fan of the Green Hornet character. Two, I have never been a fan of Rogen’s. And three, the fact that this new version of ”THE GREEN HORNET” was filmed as a comedy-adventure put it completely out of my mind, after I received the news. It was not until the movie was released in theaters and I found myself with nothing else to do for a weekend, when I went ahead and saw the movie.

In a nutshell, ”THE GREEN HORNET” is an origins tale about Britt Reid, the playboy heir to a Los Angeles newspaper owner. Following the death of his autocratic father, Britt befriends the latter’s mechanic and assistant – a technical genius and martial arts fighter named Kato. The pair manages to save a couple from being robbed and assaulted one night, while vandalizing a statue of the late James Reid. Inspired by their act of good deed and some close calls with the criminals and the police, Britt and Kato decide to make something of their lives by becoming a masked crime fighting team called the Green Hornet and his unnamed partner. Due to their close call with the police, Britt and Kato pretend to be criminals in order to in order to infiltrate real criminals, and also to prevent enemies from using innocents against them. Their first target turns out to be a Russian mobster named Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), who is uniting the criminal families of Los Angeles under his command, and whom James Reed was trying to expose. To get Chudnofsky’s attention, Britt uses his newspaper, the Daily Sentinel as a vehicle to publish articles about the “high-profile criminal” the Green Hornet. Britt hires an assistant and researcher named Lenore Case, who has a degree in criminology, and uses her unwitting advice to raise the Green Hornet’s profile.

What was my opinion of ”THE GREEN HORNET”? Honestly? I enjoyed it very much. I found it funny, entertaining, and exciting. First and foremost, the movie possessed plenty of laughs, thanks to Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s script. I usually do not find Rogen all that funny. But I must admit that his attempts at being the big crime fighter, while Kato saved his ass time-and-again, left me in stitches. Realizing that Britt lacked any self-defense skills, Kato created a gun filled with stun gas for the former to use against their enemies. And I found Rogen’s portrayal of Britt’s egotistical reaction to the gun rather hilarious. Not only did ”THE GREEN HORNET” provide plenty of laughs, but it also had some first-rate action sequences. My favorites include the Green Hornet and Kato’s encounter with a group of street thugs that led them to a meth lad controlled by Chudnofsky, their attempt to extract themselves from a trap set by the gangster at a construction site and the fight between Britt and Kato at the Reid mansion, over the many issues developed between the two. But the major sequence that started at the Japanese restaurant and ended at the Daily Sentinel really impressed me and I have to give kudos to Michel Gondry for his direction.

I suppose that Seth Rogen could have portrayed Britt Reid/the Green Hornet in a straight manner, but I do not know if I would have bought it. A more conventional leading man could have been hired for the role, but if I must be honest, I was too impressed by Rogen to really care. Many critics complained that Rogen portrayed Reid/the Green Hornet as a man-child. And he did . . . at first. But the script and Rogen’s performance allowed (or forced) Reid to face the consequences of his massive ego and his decision to become a crime fighter and grow up in a very painful way. I have never heard of Jay Chou, who is a well-known musician and actor from Taiwan. But I must admit that I was very impressed by his performance as Kato, Britt’s talented and exasperated partner in crime fighting. His acting style seemed to strongly remind me of Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen’s – very subtle and very quiet. Yet, Chou also displayed a wry sense of humor that I found entertaining. And I was surprised to discover that he managed to convey not only Kato’s resentment and fear that the latter might be regulated to becoming the Green Hornet’s “sidekick”, but also his own egotistical nature. More importantly, his subtle acting style contrasted perfectly with Rogen’s more bombastic style and the two formed a first-rate screen team.

I had been appalled by the news that Christoph Waltz was cast as the main villain in ”THE GREEN HORNET”, especially on the heels of his success in 2009’s ”INGLORIOUS BASTERDS”. The idea of an acclaimed actor in a costumed hero action movie with comic overtones seemed so beneath him. But after seeing the movie, I am soooo glad that he was cast as the Russian gangster, Benjamin Chudnofsky. He was both hilarious and scary at the same time. Most villains featured in comedy action films tend to be either bland or simply ruthless and scary. Thankfully, Waltz’s Chudnofsky was not bland. But he was scary, ruthless . . . and funny as a middle-aged gangster, suffering from a mid-life crisis. Now, how often does one come across a villain like that in action movies? I had assumed Cameron Diaz’s role as Britt’s assistant, Lenore Case, would be a rehash of the Pepper Potts character from the ”IRON MAN” franchise. Thankfully, Rogen and Goldberg wrote the Lenore role as an intelligent woman, whose brains provided plenty of information for the Green Hornet and Kato; and as a no-nonsense woman who refused to replay the Tony Stark/Pepper Potts scenario or be in the middle of a love triangle between Britt and Kato, despite their attraction to her. And Diaz perfectly captured all aspects of the Lenore character with her usual charm and skill. I was also impressed by David Harbour’s performance as the charming, yet morally questionable District Attorney, Frank Scanlon. Edward James Olmos was on board to provide solidity as Britt’s personal moral guide and editor of the the Daily Sentinel.

There were a few flies in the ointment in ”THE GREEN HORNET”. One came from Tom Wilkinson’s portrayal of Britt’s father, James Reid. I realize that he was portraying a negative authority figure – the cold and demanding father. But his performance came off as bombastic and somewhat flat. I also found the pacing in the movie’s first fifteen minutes rather uneven. Britt’s relationship with his father and the latter’s death seemed to move along at a pace that I found a bit too fast. But at the same time, Chudnofsky’s meeting with a local gangster portrayed by James Franco was conveyed with more depth and at a slower pace. Fortunately, Gondry seemed to have found his pacing after this uneven beginning and movie rolled along with a balanced mixture of action, angst, and laughs.

For Green Hornet purists like actor Van Williams that were upset over Rogen’s comedic interpretation of the crime fighter, there is nothing I can say. I do not particularly agree with them that the movie should have been a straight action-drama.”THE GREEN HORNET” could have been another ”BATMAN BEGINS” or even ”DAREDEVIL”. Perhaps I would have liked it. But I did like Rogen’s interpretation very much. Hell, I more than liked it. I enjoyed it so much that I saw it in the theaters for a second time. This is probably the first movie that I have ever enjoyed Rogen as an actor. My enjoyment increased tenfold, thanks to his screen chemistry with musician/actor Jay Chou. And this is the first time I have ever enjoyed the story of the Green Hornet.