Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart? The brilliant professor from Bethel University? Or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.




Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Downton Abbey - Great Show

After having watched so many shows well after they had come and gone, I got a chance to do the same for Downton Abbey when one of the PBS stations broadcasted season one and season two. I am almost finished with season two, and I must say I am impressed.

Talk about a great show. It's a great show. What makes a great show? I had inferred in yesterday's post that the most important thing is great writing. Downton Abbey has that. But you need great characters: Check. You need great directing. Check. You need great acting. Check. And you need great villains and conflict that drives a storyline. Check.

Today's movie producers seem to believe that an action-packed story line is necessary. Action as in fighting, killing, car chases, explosions, and mad villains bent on destroying the world. And as I mentioned yesterday, the latest Star Trek movie sure did fall into that category. I mean most of the running time in that horrible Star Trek Beyond movie consisted of pyrotechnics of some sort or another. Explosions, explosions, and more explosions..

It also had the maniacal villain played by Idris Elba, an actor I like, but his character was so clich├ęd it was ridiculous. You know, he's the former Federation captain who was caught in some inescapable and horrible place, and the Federation couldn't save him, but sure enough he blames them, and then finds some alien contraption to keep himself alive, which then warps his mind, and now he wants to destroy the Federation and everything he once held dear.

Come on. That was so stupid, even my fourteen year old son couldn't stand it. He's just a kid and he told me how stupid that movie was. And he was right. He was so right.

If someone were to tell me that a show can be great, so riveting even, enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, and keep you hooked for the duration of several seasons--and all with no explosions, no killing, no fighting, and no wanton destruction, I would have been hard-pressed to believe it. But Downton Abbey is just that. It's a great show with no fighting, no killing, no explosions, and no wanton destruction. It's simply a great show.

Again, why? Because it's written so magnificently. And the characters are magnificent. No they are not great fighters. No they don't go around beating people up, and/or killing people left and right. They are just great characters who you care for, and you want to see what happens to them, hoping for the best. Yeah, there are villains, but these villains are not bent on world desctruction. Sure they're devious, and cause trouble, and you hate them, but you need them at the same time, otherwise there's no conflict, and no reason to watch the show.

But even theses "villains" are allowed to have a good side. They do have feelings, and they do regret the bad things they did. They are turning out to be human. And they should be, because, well, they are human. With a conscience. How refreshing. How many times have I watched shows or movies, and the writing makes the audience hate a character, so much so that you want to see that character get killed somewhere along the way, and when they do, you find yourself cheering the death of what was supposed to be a human being? Almost every time.

But not in Downton Abbey. When bad things happen to the "bad" people, you see the good in them and you don't want bad things to happen to them any more than you'd want to see something bad happen you your own brother or sister. Or friend. That, people, is excellent writing.

Yes, there's a lot to learn from watching a show like Downton Abbey. And I am.

No comments:

Post a Comment