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Archive for June, 2014

Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi

Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi

This new “Britcom” has two key ingredients that could make it must-see Sunday-night viewing: acting royalty Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. They play longtime partners living in central London, who in tonight’s premiere hold a wake and cope with a new neighbor. This should be a hoot. 10:30 p.m. Sunday, June 29, on KCTS.

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'Murder in the First'Nearly 20 years ago, producer Steven Bochco created “Murder One,” a fascinating crime series that followed one case over the course of a season. He has done it again with this smartly written, San Francisco-set series full of intriguing and watchable actors/characters. Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson lead the pack as two homicide detectives who investigate a murder and butt heads with a young Silicon Valley entrepreneur, played by Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the “Harry Potter” films). 10:01 p.m. Monday, June 16, on TNT.

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major-crimes-season-3-promo-art-tnt-thumbMary McDonnell returns as Capt. Sharon Raydor of the LAPD for a third season of this involving, terrifically cast, police drama. Tonight’s premiere follows the case of a missing family and features some great moments from the always reliable ensemble cast (Tony Denison, G.W. Bailey, Raymond Cruz and Michael Paul Chan). 9 p.m. Monday, June 9, on TNT.

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In 2008, in the foggy early-morning hours in an unnamed Midwestern city, something horrific happens to a group of innocent people waiting in line at a job fair. Since this is the opening of “Mr. Mercedes,” the latest novel by Stephen King, you might expect something supernatural to be the cause, but the title character is all too human. It’s someone you might hire to fix your computer or who would drive an ice-cream truck in your neighborhood.

King has written a straight-up detective novel here, a page-turner without a ghoul or ghost in sight, but plenty of well-drawn characters. After the gruesome opening chapter, King gets down to what he does best, the business of introducing us to his key players.

First up, there’s retired detective Bill Hodges, who left the police force months ago without ever solving the now-famous crime. He’s the relatable everyman character that you identify with and root for, who’s becoming bored and complacent (and possibly suicidal) in retirement. Then one day a lengthy and taunting letter arrives with his daily mail from someone claiming to be the “perk.”

Not long thereafter, the reader meets Brady Hartsfield, the self-described “perk” (Hartsfield, who thinks he’s using police jargon, means “perp” for perpetrator). He’s a quiet, intelligent and disturbed young man who works two jobs (at a big electronics store and delivering ice cream), has a basement lair full of technology and a more than disturbing relationship with his alcoholic mother.

No one can create a villain quite like King. Brady is the product of his upbringing and environment. You pity and fear him at the same time.

Then the deadly cat-and-mouse game begins. Hodges gets pulled back into the case and enlists the help of a college-age neighbor kid who helps him negotiate and understand the world of computers, chat rooms and hard drives that have passed him by. While Hartsfield, initially claiming to never want to commit another crime, begins to slowly plot a new and even deadlier one.

And this is where King excels, doling out just a little bit of information on the crime here, filling in a little more background on his characters there, switching points of view between the two main characters and introducing secondary ones that may or may not make it to the final pages.

It’s a rather short read, by King standards (just over 400 pages), but all the elements come together in a very public, potentially explosive finale (with a surprising post script). King fans may find themselves furiously turning pages long into the night.

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