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Class, aplomb, style and panache are hard to find these days. Especially all of them together. But when those words are used in the same sentence, one man comes vividly to mind: Mr. Patrick Macnee, aka, Mr. John Steed.mrsteed

From my childhood, I vaguely recall The Avengers television series. I cannot recall what night of the week it came on, I only know it came on after my bedtime (I would swear it followed the Doris Day show but can find no evidence of that schedule). And, it being the sixties, my mother thought the series was too violent for me to watch at that age.

Compared to the violence currently dispatched on the evening news, The Avengers were no more threatening than Tribbles (from Star Trek notoriety) or a goose-down pillow.

I recently invested in The Avengers DVDs; the ones with Diana Rigg as Mrs. Peel, if you please.

After watching the series I must confess: there is something appealing about the quintessential English gentleman. Not in a sexual sense, at least not from my perspective. But there is something in the way Mr. Steed carries himself; the way his suit, Bowler hat and umbrella all match, as well as fit perfectly; his succinct British enunciation. All of that combined make me want to stand up, straighten my spine and salute something. English or American, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s worthy of the respect.

Mr. Macnee was quite capable of being the quintessential English gentleman. From what I understand he was as dapper and unflappable in his personal life as he was on screen. Or was he as dapper and unflappable on screen as he was in his personal life?

Either way, I’m certain women – English and American alike – swooned over Mr. Macnee. No, he didn’t have the rugged, chiseled handsomeness of Rock Hudson. He couldn’t sing a note, nor was he young and idealistic like any member of The Beatles.

But he had his appeal, all right.

I am also certain that young Englishmen at the time learned a great deal about being a gentleman from the inimitable Mr. Macnee.

The time period of Patrick Mcnee was a simpler time. A man was as good as his word; a handshake could seal a deal; manners, respect, trust and truth: all of these values were valued during that time.

In these times, it seems those values have gone the way of the dodo bird. Yet these are the times those values are most needed.

Most of The Avengers episodes with Diana Rigg began with an announcement from Mr. Steed: “Mrs. Peel – We’re Needed” was found, at times, in the oddest of places.

On June 25, 2015, it was decided by a power of higher convention that Mr. Daniel Patrick Macnee should receive the announcement: “Mr. Macnee – You’re Needed.”

I am certain he was greeted with the same class, aplomb, style and panache that he carried with him.

Sir, you will be remembered.

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and ebook formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, can be found here: http://bit.ly/1rsEQFX Follow her on Twitter @penspen or follow her blog www.mytuppence.weebly.com Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

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Every writer has something which inspires her or him to write: something which provides fresh ideas or stretches the imagination; something which prompts a writer to strive for something which she or he feels is extraordinary.

It could be anything. A story on the six o’clock news. A conversation overheard in a restaurant. A word one sees in passing.

Everything is susceptible to the creative mind and serves as fodder for creative endeavors, whether it be writing, art or other mediums.

I was inspired to write the “Sword of Tilk Trilogy” by a television show.

I don’t watch much television. There isn’t much on that appeals to me these days. Most of the time I prefer to write rather than watch television. So when a series comes along that captures my imagination, I get pretty excited about it.

So it was with “Once Upon A Time.”

Even before the first episode debuted, the previews had me intrigued. What could anyone possibly do with those classic fairy tales? It piqued my interest and I could hardly wait to see it.

I was not disappointed and eagerly awaited the next installment.

The more I watched, the more these ideas began to form in my head. Characters and scenarios I had never envisioned took up residence in my imagination. As all writers know, the only way to deal with those visions is to put them down onto paper and bring them to life.

When I began writing the story, I had no idea it would blossom into three full-length novels over 100,000 words each.

Granted, they are nothing at all like the show. There are no fairy tale characters, except for the ones I created.

But it was the creativity and imagination that goes into the show that sparked my own. It was the strength of the characters (especially the women) and the idea of different worlds co-existing alongside one another that sent my muse into overdrive. It fired my motivation to focus on the story to see what the characters would get into next, both on the series and in my books.

Once I had finished, I could hardly believe what I had done. But there it was.

I won’t hand over all the credit to the series “Once Upon A Time.” There were other elements involved. The word “Tilk” I saw in block white letters on the side of a train car. The Grifflestump came from a pattern I saw in the stippled painting on my ceiling. A number of elements came together to help me form the images and words which became those novels.

But it isn’t often I see something on television that spurs me into writing mode. At least, not like this. Certainly not enough to write over 400,000 words.

It is kind of funny, though. Each time I am inspired to write something, whether it be a story, poem, an essay or a novel, I am left with the memory of what inspired me to write it in the first place.

I got a lot of memories.

My imagination has moved on to other things, other writing. But I’m still a big fan of the show.

We writers take our inspiration from wherever it comes.

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I didn’t watch NCIS the first two seasons. I was a die-hard CSI fan at the time and feared NCIS would be too much like CSI.

Then one night I caught the last fifteen minutes of the last episode of season two. I saw this woman take, not one, but two bullets for Mark Harmon (Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs).

Sure, what woman wouldn’t take a bullet for Mark Harmon?

Except for this woman, the second bullet was fatal.

I started watching because I had to know why this woman would take a bullet for this guy.

I purchased the first two seasons on DVD to catch up.

And fell in love with the characters.

Woefully, that last episode I caught the last fifteen minutes of was Caitlin Todd’s (Sasha Alexander) Swan Song.

I love the show and have followed it since season three. But through the years I’ve noticed a distinct pattern: this show is not kind to its female characters.

First, there was Caitlin Todd. I’ve always lamented the loss of that character. She had spunk and was portrayed wonderfully by Sasha Alexander. But, to this day, Alexander will not discuss leaving the series. Yes, she was pregnant at the time, but that did not mean it was necessary to kill off her character.

Then there was Paula Cassidy (Jessica Steen). She appeared in six episodes between 2003 and 2007. Her character was killed off in 2007 in “Grace Period.” She was a source of consternation for both DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) and Gibbs (Mark Harmon) for different reasons. Since her character was not as prominent as that of Caitlin Todd no one has thought to ask Steen about her stint on NCIS.

And then there was Director Shepard (Lauren Holly) taking over at the beginning of season three when Director Tom Morrow (Alan Dale) left the show. His character wasn’t killed off – he just transferred to Homeland Security. Shepard was the first female Director of NCIS. At least fictionally. I don’t believe the real thing has ever had a female Director.

Director Jenny Shepard managed to stay with them for three years until her character was killed off at the end of season five in “Judgment Day Part II.”

In season six yet another female character gets zapped. Agent Lee gets herself entangled in espionage for the sake of her daughter. Of course, she gets killed in the process.

I almost stopped watching from the sheer frustration of seeing all those female characters getting bumped off.

Of course, the audience doesn’t know any details about the leaving of any of these actresses and we probably never will. But the decision to kill each of the characters was more than likely up to the writing/production staff.

But there is still Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen), Ducky (David McCallum) and Abby (Pauley Perrette) – the only surviving veteran female character on the show.

Speaking of Ducky, let’s not forget the passing of his mother. In this case, the actress Nina Foch actually did pass away, so that was something the show had little choice about. I take issue, however, with the way it was handled. Or rather, not handled.

Normally, when an actor on a series dies, regardless of how little she or he appeared, that person’s passing is acknowledged at the end of an episode. Usually something like “In memory of Nina Foch, 1924-2008” flashes up on the screen.

There was no such acknowledgement for Nina Foch at the end of the episode which reveals that Ducky’s mother has passed away. And that is where it should have been.

Nina was a Hollywood veteran with a long and illustrious film and television career. She appeared in many “B” films of the forties and fifties and taught at USC School of Cinematic Arts. A little acknowledgement was the least NCIS could have done.

True, she did appear in very few episodes but she was a very important part of Ducky’s life. Even when she wasn’t there, she was mentioned. Those of us who recall those episodes in which Nina Foch appeared may remember fondly her portrayal of Ducky’s dimentia-suffering elderly mother. She added humor to the drama.

Which is another thing which has slowly diminished in the series throughout the years: a touch of humor amidst the human tragedy. DiNozzo’s movie references have been drastically cut back, something I found funny as well as endearing.

I suppose it may have gotten old for them and it is supposed to be a sign of Tony’s growth. But I, for one, miss it.

In all fairness, there was one male agent who was killed in a most hideous manner. Special Agent Christopher Pacci (Tim Kelleher) in a season one episode “Dead Man Talking” was disemboweled by a transvestite searching for a camera chip Pacci had swallowed. Pacci was in very few episodes (only three that first season) and later appeared in a two flashbacks in 2011 and 2012. He was a very very minor character.

In comparison, it is a very poor comparison.

Then, of course, there was Mike Franks, Gibbs’s mentor who was killed just last season. He still makes appearances on occasion when Gibbs “talks” to him.

But now, Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) is leaving NCIS. CBS executives have offered her more money to stay but de Pablo is determined to leave. I’m sure she has her reasons but, much like her predecessors, she’s keeping them to herself.

But it leads one to wonder: how are they getting rid of Ziva David? Will she transfer? Return to Israel? Get married? Turn up pregnant?

Will everything be left open so she can reprise her role on occasion?

Or will the ties be completely severed as NCIS, yet again, kills off another of its female comrades-in-arms?

I will watch to see what happens. I will wait to see who steps in to try and fill the intrepid shoes of Caitlin Todd, Paula Cassidy and Ziva David.

I doubt I will watch much longer.

This blatant display of misogyny is killing me.

 

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I caught an old movie on the moviestvnetwork the other day (www.moviestvnetwork.com). It was the 1967 flick “Who’s Minding the Mint?” It’s a delightful comedy starring Jim Hutton with Milton Berle, Bob Denver (Gilligan) and Jamie Farr (Klinger from M*A*S*H). It’s about a man who accidentally takes home a stack of 100 dollar bills totaling $50,000 from the Federal mint where he works (that was a lot of money in 1967). He wants to return it. Of course, complications ensue.

I was crazy about Jim Hutton when I was a kid. I never missed the “Ellery Queen Mysteries.” It wasn’t well-received and only lasted one season, but I loved it. Especially when he reviewed the clues and asked the audience if they had solved the mystery.

But Jim Hutton had a long and illustrious film and television career, appearing in a number of television series such as “One Day at a Time,” “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” and “The Twilight Zone.”

It’s little wonder that his son followed in his footsteps.

I got hooked on “Leverage” not from watching it on TNT (can’t afford cable) but because I splurged for my birthday last year and got Season 1 on DVD.

The family resemblance between Timothy Hutton and his father, Jim, is strong. I regret to say I have not seen any of Timothy Hutton’s movies. I can’t really tell you why although it is something I hope to rectify at some point. But I’ve always liked him. Maybe it was because of who his father was, I’m not sure.

I always knew I would like the show. After viewing Season 1, I was hooked.

I recall a television series from 2006 called “Smith” starring Ray Liotta. It had a similar premise to “Leverage.” I watched episode 1 of that show but that was it. In the very first episode a crew member is killed while they are on a job.

Not only was that a big turn-off but the reaction of the remaining crew didn’t sit very well, either. Nor did the fact that Liotta’s character had a wife at home who had no idea what he was doing. For some reason, that didn’t work for me.

I love Ray Liotta, too, but the series didn’t hit it off.

“Leverage” however is right up my alley.

Yes, there were editing and logistic errors in the shows. But it is the idea behind the show that makes it so appealing. Taking down big corporations and individuals whose greed hurts others: the sense of righting a wrong, so to speak, is an idea that appeals to me.

Too Robin Hoodish? Maybe. But we could use a few good Robin Hoods in this world today.

But it wasn’t just the premise behind the show. It was the characters who helped make it endearing.

Parker (Beth Reisgraf) is a high-rise jumping lunatic. Hardison (Aldis Hodge) is a born-in-the-wool computer geek. Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) is a first-class grifter. Elliot Spencer (Christian Kane) is the hitter and, I have to say it, Christian Kane is absolutely adorable. Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton) is the man with the plan. All of them generated an empathy that few actors these days can generate from an audience. Their characters were developed slowly and very well: little tidbits here and there revealed things about them. It was something of a lark but it was realistic as well. The characters, with their shortcomings and human foibles, made the show real.

I am sorry it no longer airs. I have Seasons 1-4 but hesitate about getting Season 5 because it is the last one (Season 4 had a few episodes that had me in tears). It was cancelled at the end of Season 5 on Christmas Day in 2012. What a lovely Christmas gift, huh?

Anyway, in watching the “Leverage” episodes, Timothy Hutton displayed an easiness to acting. His father, though he was good, always had a little stiffness about him. He was enjoyable to watch despite his awkwardness. But Timothy definitely inherited his father’s talent and rugged handsome good looks. It is a joy to watch him, even when his character is a falling down drunk and still managing the team.

Which is why he won an Academy Award for his performance in “Ordinary People.” And dedicated it to his father when he won it. That’s first class in my opinion.

I look forward to seeing what else Timothy Hutton may do with his career now that “Leverage” is no longer a series.

Whatever he does from this point forward, he’s already done his father proud.

 

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I was watching a couple of episodes of “Leverage” on DVD the other day, a couple of my favorites “The First David Job” and “The Second David Job.” Both episodes starred Kevin Tighe from the old 1972 “Emergency!” television series.

Kevin has aged. Of course, none of us is getting any younger. He’s still a dignified-looking man when he isn’t pointing a gun at someone, that is.

As I was watching the show I thought about how neat it would be to pull up an old pic of Kevin Tighe from his Emergency! days to compare to how he looks now. Of course, I would have had to go to my computer which is another room, boot it up and pull up the pic from there. Too bad I couldn’t pull it right up on my television screen.

Then it occurred to me: someone somewhere has probably already thought about that. It just isn’t on the market yet.

I have thought of this before, but I don’t have the know-how or capability to make something like that happen. But I’m certain someone out there does.

Those big ol’ flat screens (I wish I had one!) will serve as computer monitors. And the remote control will be a little keyboard. You’ll be able to access the Internet from your television set.

Isn’t that the perfect solution for a nation of couch potatoes?

Seriously, though, it would be convenient. I like to do a lot of writing with the television as background noise. I use a very old Gateway laptop that a friend of mine gave me. It isn’t hooked up to Internet but it serves its purpose. Many is the time I come across something in my writing – a word, a phrase or other information – that needs a little research to ensure I’m using the words in proper perspective. All I can do at the moment is make a note in the writing and do the research later. I have a dictionary and a thesaurus but, like many things I have, they are outdated. Every once in awhile I need a little slang and want to look it up to make sure I’m using it correctly. (Lord, it’s tough gettin’ old!)

How easy it would be to have all that stuff already hooked up to a flat screen tv. All I would have to do is call up the ol’ Internet and get the answers right there. The whole time, I’ve still got “Petticoat Junction” on in the background. How simple!

And I could have called up an old picture of Kevin Tighe, paused the DVD and looked at how he was then and how he is now. Had everything been hooked up to the television.

But it’s coming. Heck, I wouldn’t doubt if they made television sets so they could whip up Margaritas at the same time.

I’m sure the technology is there. It’s probably hung up in a bunch of red tape.

And you know what? It may be convenient and easy and maybe even exciting.

But it’s a little scary, too.

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