We Are Marshall

The Winning Thing

The Winning Thing

Couldn’t sleep. Wound up tuning in to this movie. Which I had seen before, but as sometimes happens, it struck me differently this time.

If you don’t know the history, West Virginia’s Marshall University lost its football team in a 1970 plane crash. The movie, with some liberties taken, is about what happened in the next year. A coach from tiny Wooster, Ohio, accepts the job of rebuilding the football team from scratch. He has three surviving varsity players, a traumatized assistant coach, a university president in over his head, and a college town scorched by grief. He succeeds in winning one game. End of movie.

Several things I found riveting this time around, in no particular order.

The traumatized assistant quits after a humiliating first game blowout. He tells the new coach, “We are not honoring the dead players or [coach]. He said ‘winning is everything,’ and all we’re doing is disgracing him and them.”

When the new coach responds, it’s in a chapel, just the two of them. The newbie says, “He was right. Winning is everything. Every coach in every sport forever has always believed that. I’ve said it more times than I can count. I’ve always believed it until I got here.

“But that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about winning or losing or even how we play the game. Right here, right now, it’s about suiting up and getting on the field every week. We may not win tomorrow, next week, or any game this season. But if we keep playing, we make it possible for our teams to win again in the future. If we do our job today, we’ll get back to a day when winning can be everything again.”

Beautifully said. It took more than a dozen years, but Marshall returned not only to winning but to three national championships in their division.

On the other hand, something else I noticed. The big speech occurred, as I said, in a chapel, and there was a camera cut or two to the cross. Without Hollywood’s aversion to religion, a simpler argument might have been to nod at the cross and say, “He lost. He suffered through death. If his brethren had quit, we’d never have heard of him. But they didn’t quit, and he ultimately won two-thirds of the earth.”

Can’t do that in Hollywood scripts, though. Take a look at the critics’ reviews at imdb.com. Cliched, superficial, weak. Really? This is a story that actually happened. The acting wasn’t over the top. The production and editing were up to standard. The script was clever throughout. What’s so bad about the movie? That the critics don’t want to hear about a positive story with Christian overtones that really did happen. Period.

All that aside. What stays with me is the part of the big speech that says we have to keep suiting up and getting on the field. We may not win today or tomorrow.

But if we keep playing, we may one day get our country back. Otherwise, we fall back to being badminton and beach volleyball players, while the big guys romp in the Division I political class.

We are Marshall. As many of us as have the guts.

A box of links for the weekend


It’s been a rough week. Time to give your mind some different nourishment. Dig in. Most are in the form of galleries, but patience is rewarded.

The 25 smartest players in NFl history.

A Murmuration of Starlings (scroll or click on photo for gallery format)

Creepy Abandoned Churches

The Ruins of Detroit (wait for it; loads slowly)

5 Ways Dogs Can Read Your Mind

8 Simple Questions Science Can’t Answer

26 Dogs Having the Best Day Ever (wait for it)

Make that 27…

It's Friday. Mommy will be home soon. For now I have her sweatshirt to nuzzle.

It’s Friday. Mommy will be home soon. For now I have her sweatshirt to nuzzle.

Why he has happy feet.

Why he has happy feet. Trees of life. Or, if you’re watching the new series Sleepy Hollow, the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Eagles Night

Big night in Philadelphia. Predictions. Much maligned Eagles fans will cheer Andy Reid when he takes the field. They will cheer Donovan McNabb at halftime when his number is retired.

They will also launch a tornado of cheers from the Link if the New Eagles regime can win.

What do Eagles do? They fly. Past the hills and valleys of the past.

You’ll see.

The Phony Dilemma

I know I’m supposed to do more current events than I do, but this an excellent example of why I don’t. For weeks the conservative press and new media have been engaged in a circular shooting gallery about defunding ObamaCare and potentially shutting down the government.

Two items pushed me to comment today. Kirsten Powers, one of Fox News’s house liberals wrote a completely idiotic op-Ed at the Daily Beast called The Republican Party is Destroying America.

Lede paragraphs:

Harsh words, yes. But inescapably true. It’s a bit of a murder-suicide. House Republicans’ willingness to lay waste to the country to satisfy their fringiest faction will ultimately guarantee the GOP irrelevancy as a national party, unless they change their ways. In the meantime, they seem determined to take us all down with them.

There isn’t even a feint toward decency. In what has become a recurring nightmare, House Republicans are using budget negotiations to play chicken with the stability of the American economy. This time, they want President Obama to agree to defund his signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. If he refuses to strangle his own baby in the crib, Republicans are happy to retaliate. They’ll shut down the government. These are not people with whom one can work…

Said Ornstein: “The bizarreness of this monomaniacal focus on Obamacare, given that it is fundamentally a Republican program from the 1990s mixed in with Romneycare,” says it all. “Obamacare relies on the private sector; there is no public option. That you are willing to bring the country to its knees to sabotage it … just shows this is a party that has gone off the rails.”

Are you kidding??!! The ongoing destruction of America is the fault of Republicans??!! Stability of the American economy…? No growth recession is stability?… Bring the country to its knees…? Really? We’ve been our knees since this Narcissist pretender first started pretending to be president. And I really think Kirsten knows this. Why I’m so, uh, perturbed by her essay. What’s going on? The hive mind. Which she’s not in charge of. Which isn’t because she’s not pretty enough to be queen.

I hasten to stipulate that she IS a pretty girl. Very. And far more polite than the killer bees she normally swarms with.

That said, she’s a moron. Or if she isn’t that, she’s something else, which I think she is, because of the other item I heard today, this one courtesy of Jeb Bush, who is pleading for Republicans in Congress to give Obama what he wants and not shut down the government at ANY cost.

Meaning establishment Republicans who have done nothing to defeat or even deter the radical policies of President Obama are the tail obliged to wag the dog because, as Jeb puts it, Republicans in the House are half of one third of the government and no good can come from obstruction.

Karl Rove piled on in his own WSJ op-Ed. The American people are looking for moderates, not Tea Party radicals and all the electoral math is against principle. Because moderation got Romney elected, and Reagan was never regarded as a radical. In other words, Rove and Jeb Bush agree with Kirsten. Bzzzz.

So. The Tea Party folk are the demons. Impractical, suicidal, careless of the great need for constant huge government of the people, without which the masses would be desperate and poisoned against one of the two parties of the status quo.

Got it. Republicans who want to save the nation from the biggest leftward lurch in its history are between a rock and a hard place. Could they lose by winning? Yes. Could they lose by losing? Absolutely. No wonder Krauthammer and the smart guys at NRO are worried.

Seems all dark and horrific, yes? But it isn’t. Not really.

When a system is ossifying, petrifying, dying — pick your own favorite term — look to where there is still ongoing debate. These are the people who are grappling with ideas. The Republican Party has a Tea Party problem. Alternatively, it has an entrenched power structure problem. Geez. The conflict might blow the GOP apart. Oh me. Oh my.

Conversely, the Democrat Party has NO problem. When push comes to shove, they all close ranks on every major policy issue. Abortion. Nonsensical gun control fantasies. Unlimited penalty-free illegal immigration. Obsolete Keynesian economics that have never ever worked. Country-killing allegiance to public sector unions. A foreign policy so careless and feckless that it can’t be held accountable for anything it does. A racialist strategy so determined to rend and rive the American body politic that they don’t care if anything is left afterwards, as long as they still control the federal government. An incredibly simple mindset that encouraging and institutionalizing more dependency on that government is good for everyone who matters, meaning the inside the beltway parasites and media who keep changing jobs with one another and enriching themselves at public expense while they show off at Sally Quinn’s parties.

When one of them gets out of line for a moment or on an issue or two, somebody yanks on their chain, and suddenly here they are, good Democrat soldiers again. What happened with Kirsten Powers today is exactly what we’ve seen with the schizophrenic TV appearances of Juan Williams. Catch him in an off moment and he’s reasonable. When the Talking Points are in neon, he shouts them at Brit Hume. Same with the despicable Bob Beckel, who has never had a principle he wouldn’t trade for party favor in a moment. (The dirtiest little unscrupulous sonofabitch I’ve ever seen. If he ever looked at Twitter, and if I ever looked at Twitter, I would haunt him with his lies, hypocrisy, and disgusting displays of crude lefty propaganda… Sadly, never to be. He lurches from trying to cop a feel of Kimberly Guilfoyle’s tits on The Five to his NA meetings. Must make him feel virtuous.)

I’m sorry about Kirsten. Not for anybody else. They’re all part of the hive mind of the dumbest, most destructive political philosophy in my lifetime. None of what they advocate works. Never did. I’m past understanding how they rationalize it to themselves. They clearly don’t. The hive sings and they buzz their wings in the prescribed way.

But the Republicans are fighting tooth and claw with one another. Maybe it doesn’t bode well for immediate electoral victory. Still. They’re struggling and fighting like the 300 at Thermopylae. They still remember the mission, which is, uh, serving the American people, restoring the economy, and preventing absolute presidential tyranny by edict. Right or wrong, it’s enough that they’re fighting.

For the time being, I’ll settle for that, even acknowledging that there really IS no good answer about “Obama’s signature achievement,” meaning the sharpest dagger ever aimed at the heart of America.

Grow up, Kirsten. Dunce doll.

Raebert would like to watch her take a shower. But, truthfully, that doesn't make her smart.

Raebert would like to watch her take a shower. But, truthfully, that doesn’t make her smart. Makes him naughty. But he doesn’t care. Me, I’d give Maddow a towel. Because I’m a gentleman. Raebert will learn. Or not.

Syria? Never heard of it.

She was hot. Anyone have a problem with that? She has really nice points.

Best Horror Movie Ever

Newly available on Netflix.

Newly available on Netflix.

I refuse to give any spoilers. Don’t read about it, don’t look at reviews online, don’t watch the trailers, just watch the movie.

A gallery of superlatives: best, goriest, most creative, funniest, most suspenseful, most involving, most surprising, most Freudian, most pessimistic, most anti-human in the age of the Gaia left, and ultimately most self-satirizing. Each act raises the stakes. We are invited to laugh at the formulaic conventions of the horror genre, watch ourselves as ritualistic voyeurs watching horror movies, and to consider from where this fascination comes. While basking in the delights of one of the all-time blood and guts examples of the genre. Brilliantly done.

All I’ll tell you. Watch it. Then we’ll talk.

And mind — you who already have seen it — don’t be giving things away to demonstrate your cinematic acuity. Give everyone else time to see it and catch up. You’re welcome to comment on this post, of course, just STAY AWAY from spoilers. Fair enough?

Of course, if you have a weak stomach, watch some milder formula of dramatic entertainment. Though, I have to say, this one winds up being more thought provoking than most of the alternatives.

Too soon oldt und too late schmardt…

Propeller Head. That's me.

Propeller Head. That’s me.

Two superior-sounding comments on the Luther post.

New commenter Bert said:

Who was that guy in the Navy Yard? You can watch all the drama you want but make sure you catch the news. Thats where the real deal is taking place.

And ErisGuy said:

Unexpectedly having plenty of time to watch TV, I watched “Luther,” “Ripper Street,” “Whitechapel,” and “Copper.” None were worth a second episode. Thanks, though.

I guess I’m just a Inspector Lewis and Adam Dalgliesh kinda guy.

Sorry. I’m calling shenanigans on both of you. Bert acts like a hit and run guy who has never noticed that I talk about the direst things in current events on a regular basis. But his comment is useful as a reminder that people need diversion from the unrelievedly bad news we’ve been experiencing since “The Wonderful O” became president.

ErisGuy is in more trouble. Thing is, I’ve always thought ErisGuy was younger than I am. Either he isn’t, which is unfortunate for his expected lifespan, or he’s a fuddy duddy of the first order. He’s also not paying attention.

I have never recommended Copper. Which sucks because it’s Brits trying to dramatize American experience, which they never do well, and also because the new Brit production craze for filming everything in the dark is a snore.

As for dismissing Whitechapel, Ripper Street, and Luther, I’m pretty sure I pointed out that patience is required, what with the Brits taking time to develop character in series not intended to last endless years of 22 episodes a season but just a few episodes that have a distinct beginning to end arc. Giving up in the first episode is actually kinda sad. Hell, I already had to fall on the sword about giving up too quickly on Orphan Black.

The good news is that I have multiple recommendations for ErisGuy. The reboot of Ironside is fantastic. We know everything and more than we’d ever want to know in the first ten minutes of the pilot. Hawaii Five-Oh is back too. And new seasons of The Mentalist, Bones, Castle, and please let’s not forget Law & Order SVU, which give us the unique opportunity to watch a good looking woman age into menopause without ever cracking a smile.

As for preferring Inspector Lewis and Adam Dalgleish…. Huh? Inspector Lewis is a weak sequel to Inspector Morse, and (if Lake would be so kind to dig it up) I did a number on Inspector Dogleash that should be the last word on the subject. (Yeah, I actually read some of the books… I’m in a recovery group for it.)

Signing off now.


P.S. my wife dug up the version of Dalgleish I wrote for Shuteye Town 1999. Here it is:

Bounden Duty

By P.J. Dames

Chapter One

The little girl named Sally walked the three miles from school every day, across the bleak yellow wasteland which had once been fields but were now little more than the wide, unhealed scar of a strip mine. A mile-and-a-half into her journey stood the one tree which had struggled futilely out of the raped soil to put forth a handful of leaves that turned yellow and fell off almost immediately, as if sickened by the land itself. The tree was the one milestone Sally looked forward to, and she had acquired the habit of counting the number of footsteps to the tree, and then from the tree to the featureless granite cottage where her mother listlessly waited to give her a joyless greeting. The number of steps to the tree was usually between three thousand-one-hundred-nine and three thousand-one-hundred-thirteen. If anyone had counted as Sally had in her doomed young life, they would have found her body at step number three thousand-one-hundred-seventeen. As it was, the Constable wrote down that he had found the body of the strangled schoolgirl at a distance of about ten feet from a dying aspen tree. Her mother didn’t weep when they told her, but she made a dry, hacking, empty sound in her throat that could have been a sob.

Inspector Alan Dogleash of Scotland Yard stared gloomily out the window of his office. The view was drably anonymous, as if the slate-colored modern building to the north had no name or sponsor but had merely appeared one day, like some appropriate fungus of technology. Pedestrians and cars passed in front of its facade without looking, as if they knew it had no identity and could not look to it for affirmation of their own. The inspector thought of the first line of a new poem, so cheerless and grey that it needed to be written down at once, and he was in the act of looking for a pencil when his secretary told him about the request for assistance from Minetown, the barren industrial city where he normally took his holidays.

“What did they say?” he asked, trying to remember the fugitive line of verse before it escaped into the mildewed dungeon of his unconscious.

“They requested assistance,” said Mrs. Awful with some asperity. She regarded all questioning as interrogation and beneath her. “They said they could probably solve it themselves but they’re all too tired and they’re still getting used to their new anti-depressant medication.”

Dogleash sighed. Minetown would be the perfect break in his routine. He had never known any place more destitute of beauty and hope. Perhaps he could extract another book of poetry from the experience.

Constable Down greeted Dogleash with polite uninterest and told him the details, such as they were, over a cup of black, astonishingly bitter tea. There was a fireplace in Down’s office, and its small flame crackled mirthlessly in the grate, warming neither the room nor the toneless voice of the constable.

“She had been strangled with her own knee sock,” Down reported. “No sign of a struggle. And there should have been. The ground there is always muddy, and it’s a clay mixture that retains its shape for quite a time. I’ve tried to think what that might mean, but I don’t have the energy. Do you want a scone?”

“No,” Dogleash replied, absently.

“Good,” said Down. “I’m out of scones. Haven’t had any scones for months.”

“What about the mother?” Dogleash asked. “Did she have any ideas?”

“I haven’t seen her yet,” Down said. “I was waiting for you brainy blokes from Scotland Yard.”

Dogleash sighed, and then, just to do something different, he yawned.

The granite cottage where Sally’s mother lived had been built twelve thousand years before, and the only improvements that had been made since then were the addition of a cheap single-pane window, a wireless in the sitting room, and a trio of small ugly appliances in the kitchen.

“Do you want a scone?” asked Mrs. Crap.

“No,” Dogleash replied, absently.

“I’d love a scone,” Down offered, with unusual vigor.

“Don’t have any,” Mrs. Crap told him, as if she, too, had been sconeless for months.

“Did Sally say anything unusual the week before?” asked Dogleash.

“The week before what?” Mrs. Crap looked dully bewildered.

“The week before the murder,” Dogleash said, gently.

“Oh. She said she didn’t know what it was all about.”



“Oh that,” said Constable Down. “That’s nothing.”

Dogleash wondered if it was really nothing. It was true that all the people he knew and all the people he ran into on and off duty were always thinking about life, and how miserable and pointless and tedious and unbearable it was, but he couldn’t quite remember if little girls spent their time engaged in such thoughts. Weren’t they somehow involved with dolls, and dress-up, and little-girl pursuits like that? He put the question to Mrs. Crap.

“Not Sally,” said her mother. “The only thing she ever talked about was life. She said she supposed life might be worthwhile to some people, but she knew she was English, and so the only thing she could do with her life was try to figure out exactly how bleak it was, in the most excruciating possible detail, for sixty or seventy years, unless some merciful stranger would do her the favour of strangling her with one of her own knee socks.”

“You’re right,” Dogleash conceded. “It was nothing.” Sally had been, after all, a typical, ordinary girl, and there would be no sudden break in this case. It would unfold like all other cases, for hundreds of pages of cheerless fires, soporific conversations over tepid cups of tea, and thousands of incredibly depressing British innuendoes about the pure suffocating meaninglessness of it all—in short, the whole long drawn-out routine that had made his crime-solving exploits so popular throughout the English-speaking world. Well, he supposed it was time to get on with it. He thanked Mrs. Crap and Arma virumque cano Troiae qui primus ab oris Laviniamque venit. Multa ille terris iactatis et alto. Dux femina facta. Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.

Arma virumque cano Troiae qui primus ab oris Laviniamque venit. Multa ille terris iactatis et alto. Dux femina facta. Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.

Arma virumque cano Troiae qui primus ab oris Laviniamque venit. Multa ille terris iactatis et alto. Dux femina facta. Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.

[The Greeking is just a stand-in for what everyone knows comes next.]

Married Talk

My Boudica

My Boudica

What husbands and wives say to each other. Talking about the ones who are really married, not just cohabiting for a while. They’re not like other people. Apart, they’re only half a person. Why they need someone else to complete their sentences, their thoughts, their lives. Why they fall silent at times. The other half already knows, has heard all the stories, is thinking the exact same thing, and only one word is necessary to retune the symphonic instrument they both are playing.

It’s not always friendly sounding. Like, I know a woman who could be my wife’s twin, except my wife doesn’t have a twin. Her real sister is nice. But this other woman is eerily similar — Irish, redheaded, diminutive, shockingly smart, etc — except that she’s also controlling, interfering in other people’s business, and mean as a snake. You should hear her trash her husband of 40 years. You’d know in a second that she hates him, every detail and moment of their life together. Except that she loves him absolutely, as protectively as any mother, with the sole exception that he’s never to know just how much she loves and needs him. But of course he does know. Which is why he puts up with a stream of verbal abuse that would put me in a penitentiary for life. Married talk. It takes different people differently. As it should. The rest of us are always on the outside looking in. Or trying to.

And, no, I’m not talking code about my wife. Almost everybody is afraid of MY wife. She’ll spear your heart in a second. She’s fair, though, and far from psychotic. They fear her because she’s the smartest and most honest person they know. How did I get so lucky? Beats me. But I like to think we really are the two halves who found one another. That’s not a Hallmark Channel ad. It’s just the most plausible probability.

For example, from earliest childhood, she always wanted to live in this Godforsaken corner of New Jersey wilderness with its horses and marshes. I spent half a lifetime trying to leave it. I came home because you CAN go home again, Thomas Wolfe notwithstanding, and so here we are. It’s not a fight, not a compromise. It’s an arrival at the same place by different paths.

Same with everything else pretty much. Ever since Michael Vick, she roots for the Ravens of Baltimore. Because there’s no way she could ever care again for her once beloved Eagles. I admire that consistency of spirit, which is exactly as consistent as mine. We’re in tune, you know. Did I mention that? You should have heard her yesterday yelling the Eagles on when DeSean Jackson got loose in the secondary and was streaking toward the end zone while I was having a pit stop in the bathroom. “Go! Go! Go! Run! Run! Run!” Or words to that effect. The wall rattled. Made my heart sing, it did.

And this is really embarrassing. There was an interval of real human grownup time on Saturday when we were watching three college football games at once, one on the TV, one on the iPad, and one on her deftly programmed iPhone propped before her on its tiny stand.

Before me, she didn’t know college football existed. Before her, I didn’t know bleak Russian and Scandinavian dramas existed. Just you wait till I learn how to watch three of them at once. I know. The world trembles.

That makes it sound like a simple trade. It isn’t. It’s an expansion, a doubling. I’ve learned to love the Irish, she the Scottish. I’ve learned about greyhounds, she’s learned about cars and motorcycles. And Scottish deerhounds, which just couldn’t be any more complicated than the Christ-like simplicity of greyhounds (though I’m betting Jesus didn’t snack constantly on cat poop).

Yesterday, we learned the lowdown about Horatio at the bridge. Which I misremembered as a father son story. It’s much closer to being a marriage story. A thing about being the one who’s willing to make a stand when everyone else is just screwing around.

Would your wife care about Horatio at the bridge? Not trying to compare, because most men I know wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about Horatio either. It’s just that life’s biggest kick is feeling your own energy infusing another’s. My wife has actually become a Buckeye fan. Nobody can fake that. And, no, she’s still not what I would call a Sinatra fan, and I’m still lagging in the passion for birthday cards for everyone, but it’s swum into my ken. She’s enlarged me, and we do have an uncanny talent for finishing each other’s sentences.

Something else. She keeps showing me that she’s natively better at things I’m supposed to be good at. One example and then I’ll stop, I promise. I chafed at the fact that Brit TV dramas make it look as if the UK is demographically similar to the U.S., because when I looked it up the actual statistics are ridiculous. Blacks and Indians are both under two percent of the population there. You’d never guess it from their TV fare. Police, judiciary, all diversity personified. And, well, criminals too. Understandable, though. The Brits are two, three, or eight times more violent than we are… I announced the population facts somewhat indignantly a while ago, during one of the shows we both enjoy watching.

Yesterday, my wife proposed — while we were watching Luther — that she had figured it out: all the black people in the U.K. are employed as actors. Contradiction solved. Perfect.

See? Life is so much more fun than the cynics tell us it should be. Laughter really does cut through all the crap.

Not a sermon. Just an appreciation.

P.S. My wife just said something about a cow. It think it was about Mara Liasson from NPR. Now she wants to say something else. Geez. But here goes:

What a great picture. Wish I looked like that. A great post too.

Why Life Isn’t as Simple as New Yorkers Think, or Even Insist, It Must Somehow Be

The most famous New Yorker cover. Ever seen it? Thought not.

The most famous New Yorker cover. Ever seen it? Thought not. By a guy named Steig. Go ahead. Blow it up with your fingers. Be my happy guest.

You get to do your own searches here. Far be it from me to tell you how. The pic ain’t just about New York. It’s about the power elite in the northeast. The country is just a huge geographical joke to them. And a class joke too. There’s a club you’d better belong to. If you don’t, you’re, well, a casualty, incipient or historical, but either way irrelevant. If you don’t believe me, ask the second most interesting man in the world, Harold Parmington. (He doesn’t always drink beer, because if he did there wouldn’t be any left.) He’s my wife’s second cousin and he can rebuild your Airstream from scratch in a week. How I know I can survive Obama; Harvard or not, I can do arc-welding. But enough about me…

Key point. The elect don’t like to be criticized by the vermin at large. You know. It’s much much better to be from Providence, Rhode Island, than Omaha, Nebraska.

Good news? Raebert doesn’t care who went to Exeter, Taft, or Choate. He would like some ketchup, tomato sauce or gravy instead.

Gravy's good with the damn kibble. But not as good as mint chocolate chip.

Gravy’s good with the damn kibble. What’s the Boss barking about? Oh that. Easy. If you can’t get a Tafty, get a Choatie. Every hound knows that. Love the whole gay thing. Borzois are relieved as a group, believe me. Hah. I eat Borzois for breakfast. All hair, no brains. But I like tomato sauce with breakfast. Mommy?…

Thankfully, he’s right. Irony. They’re the ones dying day by day. We’re the ones living, thankful for each and every day. Raebert just burped. Oh. Right. He was making his usual contribution. Something called Screw’em. And the Yorkies they rode in on.

Luther Season 3

A combination of Dirty Harry and William Peterson's Manhunter.

A combination of Dirty Harry and William Peterson’s Manhunter.

Listen up. The best three hours of television you can watch. Ever.

It helps to have watched the first season (six episodes) and the second (four episodes), but it’s not absolutely necessary. All you need to know is that Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector John Luther is a tormented man, a brilliantly intuitive if frequently fatal cop, and a man who works very very close to the edge of the law in whatever he does. He also has a failed case in his past — a genius female serial killer who was as charming as she was sinister and just plain got away with everything because she was even smarter than Luther. Her escape haunts Luther’s career and reputation.

The caption above tells you a lot about Luther’s character but not everything. Season 3 opens with that as the central question: is he a good cop or a vigilante wearing a badge?

Sound familiar, generic, formulaic? It isn’t.

Trying to avoid spoilers, but there’s something epic about it. Idris Elba, who plays Luther, is listed as executive producer. It’s tempting to think he’s just cashing a ready made check based on the popularity of Seasons 1 and 2. He isn’t. It’s as if this set of four episodes is the completion of a trilogy. And a beautiful one it is. A battle of good versus evil in the starkest and ugliest of real world terms, with all the muddled shades of gray in between any literary purist could ask for.

How is it different? Unlike most dark Brit police shows, it isn’t written by a woman. The characters are well drawn, not stereotypical, and male, with the lone exception of Luther’s present love interest. The acting is superb, notably Idris Elba, Idris Elba, and, well, Idris Elba. And then everybody else.

The plot moves, as my wife pointed out, which she’s noticed doesn’t always happen in Prime Suspect, for example, or, ahem, Broadchurch. (Women do write. Why sales of Melatonin aren’t higher.) The over-arching villain, an internal affairs cop intent on taking Luther down, is as malevolent and immediately hate-inspiring as any I’ve ever seen on film, regardless of budget. (Finished watching the series tonight. And I still want to kill him myself.) But 98 percent of the time, he doesn’t even raise his voice. Did I mention the acting?

Guess I did. but I haven’t mentioned the writing. The best reason you need to watch. Good and evil matter, but the relationship between them is not, as so many dramas insist, a blur. It’s far more interesting than that. It’s more like…

No. Won’t say. You have to watch. On BBC America, Comcast on Demand, or Xfinity. No, I’m not being compensated by anyone. I’m finding you the best television series you’ve ever seen.

My wife told me I’m not allowed to mention theology. Why I haven’t.

Raebert Update

Gravy's good with the damn kibble. But not as good as mint chocolate chip.

Gravy’s good with the damn kibble. But not as good as mint chocolate chip.

I know you’re all thinking he’s spoiled. He isn’t. I don’t give him the remains of my meals. My wife does the handoff.

What’s happening is more serious than spoiled. He’s decided the missus and me are his pack. He thinks the other dogs are just dogs and the cats are just noisemakers. Since he seems to understand most of what we say it’s hard to tell him he’s wrong. We’ve been unguarded in our discussions of other animals.

Why he now eats under the brocade parson’s chair and plays footsy with my wife when he isn’t trying to rest his huge head in my lap.

The other day I did give him a portion of Chex Mix to convince him to finish his damn kibble. Carelessly sprinkled it over the top. Response? He fished out every one of the pretzel sticks, spread them all over the floor, then ate his damn dinner, including all the Chex Mix. As it turned out, the pretzel sticks were dessert. Eaten last and lovingly.

Now tell me how much smarter you would be with him than we are.

P.S. I don’t eat mint chocolate chip. That’s something between Raebert and my wife. I think it’s a step too far in the world of ice cream.