BBC1 ‘Strike’ and the Canon Question

In my conversation last week with Oxford’s Beatrice Groves at the Potter Pundits Summer School live webinar, we were able to answer all the questions the global audience in attendance asked as well as many of the ones I was sent beforehand by those who couldn’t be present in the virtual classroom. You can watch the replay here on YouTube.
Only one Cormoran Strike point came up in a conversation focused on the Hogwarts Saga, one about canon. The question was about whether the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films should be considered Harry Potter canon. Prof Groves said, no, only the books are canon (she restricts it to literary canon and the books are fixed no matter what the author says or writes later about it). She allowed, however, that ‘fandom canon’ included everything an author writes so, as Rowling wrote the screenplay for ‘Beasts,’ it might be considered canon in a way.
Enter ‘Strike,’ the BBC1 adaptation of the Peg-legged Private Eye’s mysteries.

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JKR’s New Swan Twitter Feed ‘Header’

For those of you who follow J. K. Rowling’s twitter feed (12 million folks worldwide), you may have noticed that the ‘header’ picture has changed again. Rowling has said these changes reflect her current thinking and previous pictures have fostered significant conversation.

The picture today is of a swan. I think this can be taken in two ways, both reflecting on Lethal White.

The first I thought of was the alchemical symbolism of it. [Read more…]

BBC1 ‘Strike’ Trailer and Clips

First thoughts: Grainger is a great match for Robin in appearance, inflection, and seriousness.

Burke as Strike? No doubt he is an excellent actor who is going to give this his all, but thespian skills and earnestness cannot make short, handsome, and svelte seem huge, ugly, and fat. For book readers, that’s always going to grate.

But he commands attention, that’s for sure. I listened ten times to the trailer’s closing exchange with Robin as he leaves the office and I never understood what he said. “I’m a boozer”? Must be the biscuit (cookie) he’s eating.

Guy Some seemingly tall, conventional, even straight, and definitely in a business suit? At least he’s black.

John Bristow in these snips doesn’t appear pathetic or buck-toothed but the actors playing Cyprian May, Lady Bristow, Ciarra Porter, Eric Wordle, and Rochelle Onifade look promising.

Your thoughts?

Seven Questions for ‘Strike’ TV Talent

I was asked by my friends at MuggleNet for questions to ask “the talent” of the BBC teevee show Strike which premieres tomorrow. Here are the seven questions I sent in after polling the HogwartsProfessor talent. What would you have asked?

(1) Cormoran Strike is an imposing physical presence who is not handsome; he’s described as a hulk (not hunk!) who has “pube hair” and looks like a heavyweight boxer resembling Beethoven. Why in the world did you choose Tom Burke, a beautiful man who is relatively short and decidedly svelte, to play this part? You’ve cast a brilliant actor and leopard to play the part of a rhino, no?

(2) The Strike fandom, small as it is relative to the Kingdom of Potter, reads these mysteries as wonderfully satisfying mysteries in themselves and as Rowling commentaries on the parallel Potter books and her experiences as a writer and celebrity. Have you in your study of these books to prepare for the making of these series discussed the latter amongst yourselves?

(3) Rowling is definitely writing the series as she did Harry Potter with respect to writing books that also serve as chapters in the larger, over-arching mystery. Instead of the back story about the Dark Lord, of course, here we are learning book by book, more about the death of Strike’s mother Leda, the involvement of his father Jonny Rokeby the rock star, Robin’s past and her relationship with Matt, Cormoran’s history with Mad Charlotte, and information about the explosion in Afghanistan that took his leg. Rowling famously shared Snape’s back story with Alan Rickman so he knew where his character was headed and what his motivations were; has she tipped her hand to any of you?

(4) Why teevee? No knock on the quality of small screen production values, which now are as good or better than cinema, but there’s so much more of an audience globally for films and it’s not as if Rowling’s works have not been successfully adapted into blockbusters. Any idea why the Rowling team elected to go small when going blockbuster large would have meant exciting millions more potential readers about the series? [Read more…]

Rune Magic in Fantastic Beasts? I Wish

A long time reader and frequent correspondent sent me a note this morning encouraging me to watch a YouTube video about the likelihood of Runic Magic becoming a major plot element in J. K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts movie series. It’s called Runes, Nordic mythology and Durmstrang in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movies The video is a relatively short view at twelve minutes but I think, alas, it was about ten minutes too long in terms of reward-per-viewing-minute.

Color me ‘skeptical,’ even shades of ‘dismissive’ on this speculative leap about runes, which, truth be told, I wish were true and think would be consistent with the base-line idea of Rowling’s Wizarding World and it’s “magical parameters.”

Here’s the thing.

With the exception of the Pentagram Room and background visual-noise created by MinaLima, what evidence is there of any runic magic in Beasts or for the speculations in this video? And the MinaLima artistry, engaging as it is, seems to have been created independently of script mentions or direction. Which is to say, not from any instruction we have in the published ‘Original Screenplay.’ Not that I’m embracing that version of the screenplay as authoritative, original, or final!

I love ‘out there’ speculation, as you know, about where, figuratively speaking, the series writing of J. K. Rowling – Potter, Strike, or Beastie — may be headed. I’d be much more comfortable, however, even enthusiastic with this leap into the abyss about Runes and Durmstrang if it was based on something, anything more textual and Rowling-related than two Icelandic actors and MinaLima magically resonant wallpaper flourishes. [Read more…]