Clues and Couples: 1980s Detective Shows as Strike Sources

We often plumb the literary depths of influence here as we consider the ways in which Rowling/Galbraith draws upon a vast array of texts to weave together the adventures of our Denmark Street detectives. However, some of her influences are delightfully less cerebral, and, in The Ink Black Heart, a wonderful thread emerges, the influence of 1980s romantic detective shows. The 1980s, particularly the latter half of the decade, was a wonderful period for detectives on television.

Rowling has already indicated her knowledge of the world of TV detectives of the period by having Anna Phipps and her wife Kim Sullivan in Troubled Blood own cats named Cagney and Lacey after the titular police detectives from the early 19080s ( the female cats  much to the amusement of their owners, seem to prefer the company of men. Cagney, whose namesake is the cat that immediately takes up with Strike, was involved with a slew of men on the series, unlike wife and and mother Lacey).

In Ink Black Heart, there are some wonderful salutes to some of the great 1980s detective shows that, like this series, include some serious romantic tension alongside the mysteries under investigation. Join me after the jump to take a look at a few fun and fascinating homages to some delightful series, including one that is finally streaming for a whole new generation to love.

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No More Fantastic Beasts Films?

According to widely reported accounts, Warner Brothers may be shelving the Fantastic Beasts series. With the last two films getting less positive response and less box office response than theFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) - IMDb first one, it appears we may not see the remaining two stories in Newt’s series, or at least not anytime soon.  Some news stories blame controversy or the rumored feud between the studios and Rowling, but it seems far more likely that the issue is financial. According to the Internet Movie Database, the first Fantastic Beasts film grossed $814,044,001 worldwide,  but the second only grossed $654,855,901 and the third $405,161,334. Franchises are supposed to make more money with each installment, or at least have close box offices, not drop sharply in revenue. For comparison, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone earned  $1,023,842,938 and the eighth film, the second part of The Deathly Hallows, generated $1,342,359,942. Each of the different installments had varying returns, but they all continue to be successful, generating income and running repeatedly on syndication. Warner Bros has cut other projects that were not expected to perform well.

While some outlets are declaring the Fantastic Beasts series as dead as Professor Binns, other stories are focusing on Warner Brothers’ interest in making more Harry Potter movies, with Rowling, if she is interested. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav says the studio is really interested in franchises and wants to see “if we can do something with J.K. on Harry Potter going forward.” The fact that he refers to her as “J.K.,” rather than as “Jo,” or “Rowling,” is interesting, and he also seems to be confused about the potential for more films about Harry, seeing the franchise as just another cash cow rather than as an adaptation of a book series whose books have all been adapted. Some think Warner Bros may try to move forward with a Cursed Child  adaptation, and some of the the film’s stars and director Chris Columbus seem interested, but the studio’s franchise focus may instead mean that the entire series could be getting a reboot with entirely new actors.

If Newt’s big screen adventures are over, will there be book adaptations to connect the dots between the prequels and the beginning of Harry’s story? Do you care? Thoughts, theories?

Farewell to Alastair Fowler, Mythopoetic Scholar Extraordinaire

Time's Purpled Masquers a book by Alastair FowlerOn October 9, a bright scholarly light left the world, with hardly a whisper in the press or online. Alastair Fowler, CBE, FBA, and distinguished literary critic and poet, studied under C.S. Lewis at Oxford and received his degrees from there before going on to teach at universities in his native Scotland, England, and the United States from the early 1960s until the late 1990s. Our readers here have surely felt the influence of Fowler, whether or not they realize it. He edited Lewis’s brilliant Spenser’s Images of Life, and, since he extrapolated upon Lewis’s notes and lectures, Fowler’s input upon this brilliant volume, published four years after Lewis’s death, was vital. He made numerous contributions to literary scholarship, particularly upon the works of John Milton and Edmund Spenser.

His edited volume of Paradise Lost, along with his Spenser and the Numbers of Time both made important additions to scholarship in the 1960s, but he was still publishing in the early 2000s, producing How to Write and often criticizing the growing influence of new historicism. Considering Lewis’s abhorrence of “the personal heresy,” it is not surprising Fowler was suspicious of a critical trend that often focuses less on texts and more on the author’s personal life and issues of power and culture.   Spenser's Images of Life. by Lewis, C.S. Edited by Alastair Fowler: (1967)  | Raptis Rare Books

His scholarship on Spenser provides vital tools for understanding some of the crucial symbols that come into play in Troubled Blood: ChrisC mentioned Fowler in our comments here as Louise Freeman pondered possibilities prior to the novel’s publication two years ago and a few months ago as John Granger speculated on Ink-Black Heart before its release. Thank you, Chris, for making that great connection! A brief Google search reveals no other articles linking Fowler to the Strike novels, but it would certainly have been interesting to hear his take on Strike and Spenser.

Although it is unlikely that any of us who study Lewis, Milton, and Spenser have not, somewhere, used or been influenced by Fowler’s scholarship, his death has not received much public attention. A brief obituary in the Times gives his honorifics but none of his publications or other literary achievements, simply listing his family. Since he and his wife, who passed away three years ago, were married for 68 years, and he was apparently loved by his children and grandchildren, his personal achievements were pretty spectacular. Sadly, his tremendous academic impact, which should continue upon the printed page for many years to come, does not have the interest of an internet trend or celebrity scandal. However, we here at Hogwarts Professor will continue to be grateful for his contribution to the study of important authors and for the tools he has given us.

Thank you, as well, to ChrisC for those great comment shout-outs and for letting us know of the passing of this brilliant scholarly voice.

Hogwarts Happy Halloween Highlights

The Hallowe'en at Hogwarts crossword | Wizarding WorldHappy Halloween! While we can’t boast giant-sized Hagrid jack-o-lanterns or actual ghosts sailing through the Great Hall as we enjoy a goblet of pumpkin juice, we can highlight a few seasonal activities for Hogwarts fans. We can also celebrate the ways in which the Wizarding World has affected the celebration of Halloween. At my Muggle school’s delightful Spooktacular celebration this past week, I counted numerous Harrys, Hermiones, and other Hogwarts students among our visitors. They were all delighted when I immediately recognized them and complimented them (although I did tease the Slytherins just a bit). A few years ago, my entire department had a Hogwarts theme. As I head out to my community’s very popular annual family-friendly celebration tomorrow evening, I expect to see numerous characters and decorations that would not be there had J.K. Rowling never created a lonely boy wizard with a distinctive scar. [Read more…]

Hugh Jacks? A Salute to Hugh Jackman and a Night at the Museum in-joke?

There is no question that Hugh Jacks, the man who really does not know the difference between being ignored and being led on, is something of a joke in The Ink Black Heart. He serves the narrative purpose of sparking Strike’s curiosity and jealousy while also sparking Robin’s annoyance from their initial meeting on the New Year’s ski trip to the ugly phone conversation where she points out the obvious and gets verbal abuse in return. When she finally tells him, plainly, that she is not interested, he turns nasty, blaming her for all his problems despiteNight at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb - Wikipedia absolutely zero encouragement or interest on Robin’s part. He also serves as an interesting contrast to the two other rivals for Robin’s affection: the ultra-physical suspect Pez Pierce and the super-nice guy police officer Ryan Murphy.

But he also is part of another little joke that is quite charming as well as pretty obscure. Hugh Jacks sports the nickname “Axeman,” as his name sort of sounds like “Huge Axe”; Midge notes to Strike that people should say baby names aloud before deciding on them. It’s just another joke that makes pathetic Hugh even more pathetic, but it’s a joke with a delightful connection to a far more charming gentleman, the multi-talented Hugh Jackman, who just celebrated his birthday earlier this month, and to a blockbuster fantasy film set in England (no, not one of THOSE films). [Read more…]