The forward from Tennant was perfect, and even if it hadn't been there, the fact that the first chapter opens with describing a scene from "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith" was the absolutely perfect hook to get me in. I was worried I might be bored by her early life -- nope. It moved along at a right clip, with a light tone I had no trouble hearing in her voice the whole way through (this is rare for me, which made me that much happier). Her theater and other pre-Who work was surprisingly interesting to hear about it, or maybe that's just because I will always be tickled by how she got married so young and stayed that way.
Even though I've only seen a few clips of Classic Who, I wasn't bored for a minute reading about her work on the original series. It actually made me almost interested in watching some, or at least feeling slightly less resentful of Four. I know just enough about it, basically, so that getting more insight made it fascinating. It probably helped that there were thorough enough descriptions of episodes to orient me - it felt like they were put there for people like me, while being subtle and organic enough not to patronize the lifelong fans. And meanwhile, I learned SO MUCH.
Even with Kristen Chenoweth's memoir, my attention wavered at times -- not here. I assumed that the final chapters covering 2005-present would be the most exciting part, and it was certainly fun to sink my teeth into that dessert course, but there were so many quick references to the present day sprinkled throughout that the leadup was every bit as exciting.
One review mentioned that this was very much a career biography, and prior to reading it I wondered if that meant I was going to come away from it feeling disappointed that I hadn't learned enough about her. Not at all. It's like I recognized that aspect of it, but at the same time, it felt so much like I was re-living her life through her eyes that I didn't notice anything was missing. There was enough charm and humor to make it feel deeply personal even if an objective analysis would reveal that she kept quite a bit private after all. Which only makes me respect the book that much more.
And now I am even sadder that she's gone, because she just seems like the nicest person to ever exist. Reading about her decision to retire from acting and focus on her family may have left me hugging the book with pride. Even the way she described her reason for wanting to leave Doctor Who when she did left me respecting her decision, as opposed to that narrow eyed, tail-lashy annoyance I usually feel when British actors quit after 2 or 3 years on a project. (of course, it helps that she kept being periodically coaxed back to that world now and again for the rest of her life)
In conclusion, an absolutely wonderful memoir, one that I will definitely need to own at some point after all. *happy sigh*
And now, off to go spend my free audiobook trial credit on one of the Sarah Jane Adventures tie-ins, because I would very much like to hear her voice again on something new in the most familiar way possible. The only question is, which one?
In other news, during my down time I have been steadily chewing through the next session of Law & Order: UK, which was last seen around these parts a solid year ago. Meanwhile, apparently the episodes I'm watching aired in July-August 2011. WHOOPS. I am totally not behind on this at all!
But it's been really nice, the past few days where I've been feeling crummy and just wanting to lie down and watch a good movie, to realize I can pull up this show. It's been kind of a long time since I watched TV to relax, and not because I had a specific set of episodes I needed to watch and/or was feverishly anticipating. Not that this isn't also an assignment, but there's so much less self-pressure.
So. Series 5: The big question is how I feel about the cast changes. For the Director of CPS: Peter Davison-whose-character-name-I-see-no-ac
For the prosecutor: I came in expecting to say that Jake Thorne was a pompous jackass, but honestly, I have been pleasantly neutral about him. They seem to be trying very hard to go for a rakish/rogue personality, and my response is basically "eh." He has mean little eyes and really seems like he should be the kind of person who gets on my nerves, but in practice he's less aggravating than Steele. He's far less condescending and pretentious, for starters. Arrogant, but at least there's a sharp focus to it rather than the sleepytime pontificating of his predecessor. And bullheaded, mostly, rather than smug. He's still mildly trying, and it seems to be a hallmark of this show to make you root for the defense as often as possible, but he's perfectly tolerable and mostly inoffensive, so kudos to the writing department there.
Also, I feel like plucky sidekick Angela has gotten a bigger spotlight than normal so far. I love it! Now let's talk individual episode reactions. Most of which are useless because I thoroughly enjoyed watching everything, then forgot every detail and had to rely on allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com just to put these paragraphs together. (I love that site. It's a godsend for this franchise.)
5x01, "The Wrong Man": An interesting look into what I'm pretty sure was a medical malpractice lawsuit more than it was a police investigation, but sure, okay. I just like seeing them talking to doctors. Also, glimpses at the NHS fascinate me.
Safe: Aw, child case + super sympathetic mum of a suspect with clearly diminished mental capacity. Tell me that "he's with the angels" moment didn't leave a lump in your throat. And while they were super awkward to watch the first time, in retrospect I rather loved her latching onto Brooks as a surrogate father in the blink of an eye.
Crush: Now that was just a wonderfully twisty and complex murder plot (though I would have thought they'd have considered her a suspect sooner, seeing as all their evidence was not only circumstantial, it plainly indicated either the husband or the wife as a possible murderer). That just kept hitting you with waves of heartbreak. tl;dr, "You cheated on me and it gave our son cerebral palsy." Shame, I quite liked our flummoxed professor chap. And I liked Alesha leading the remainder of the trial once it was clear that the wife was more evil than just sweet and confused.
Tick Tock: No. I refuse to believe that you can send people to jail for murder unless they actively murdered someone. Standing around and not stopping the murderer is not going to cut it for me. A lesser charge, but not actual murder. I vote not guilty on this verdict! Hell, I vote letting her walk entirely. History of violence or not, I don't think it's fair to say you can know, or even reasonably assume, that telling your partner you slept with a guy before him and said guy was an asshole to you is going to make your current guy go grab a gun and kill the ex. Lowlight of this batch for sure.
Intent: I really liked the beginning of this one, but I might have just been attached to the daughter and all the scenes going over the house where she told them about her parents fixing it up, and who the former owner was. It was after that scene that I fell asleep and had to finish the next night. At which time I was happily ensconced in a sugar coma from the cupcakes-that-were-finally-on-sale-YEY state of bliss. It seemed like an extra cozy way to spend a Saturday night before bed, so...I'm afraid my memory of the context may overshadow anything about the content. Or, my summary of the plot: "Don't you hate it when you drink so much that you crash your car, hit your head, break into your old house by mistake and then accidentally kill some random people because you think they're your ex-wife and her lover? Mm, frosting."
Pausing there because I see the final episode here is a 2-parter, and I have just been jarringly reminded it may also be my last episode with Jamie Bamber. Nope, not ready for that.