Hogwarts Tournament of Houses Nominated for Producer’s Guild Award: But was it in the right category?

The nominees for the Producer’s Guild Award for Best Children’s Programming were announced last Tuesday, and included a Hogpro favorite, the Harry Potter Hogwarts Tournament of Houses. Other nominees included Animaniacs, The Muppets Haunted Mansion, See Us Coming Together: a Sesame Street Special, and Waffles & Mochi.

It is interesting to me that the show was included in the Children’s Programming category. Yes, it was a child-friendly series*, shown on the Cartoon Network along with HBO, but all save one of the contestants were adults. Arguably, the highest level of star power was generated by the distinguished host, Dame Helen Mirren, and Hogpro’s own David Martin, both of whom are septuagenarians. While we know the program was a major hit in the ratings, I am willing to bet the average audience member was well in their 30’s. I am even more certain that was true of the studio audience. This brings up the oft-debated question: are the Harry Potter books best considered children’s books, or something else entirely?

Of course, the quiz show was more about the movies anyway. But regardless, this nomination is evidence of the continuing all-ages appeal of the Wizarding World. We’ll find out March 15th who won. Personally, I think the inclusion message of the Sesame Street special gives them an edge, but you never know.

* As a studio audience member, I don’t mind telling you that there was a bit of snickering and banter when a male contestant requested to play the “Engorgio” game that was judiciously edited out, presumably for the sake of the Cartoon Network audience

Will The Ink Black Heart Reveal the Circumstances of Strike’s Medal?

Troubled Blood cleared up one oft-mentioned part of Strike’s history: the two times he had met his biological father. We can hope that, as the series progresses with the eagerly anticipated The Ink Black Heart, to hear more about Strike’s history.  One possibility, mentioned by Joanne Gray way back in April, before we even knew the title, was that we might finally learn the circumstances under which Strike was decorated for bravery.

The medal was mentioned in all three of the first Strike books, but relatively little is known about it, including its current location. We have never seen or heard of the medal being in Strike’s attic flat or the boxes of items Strike brought from Charlotte’s, which makes me think it is on display in either Lucy’s or Ted’s home. I know I won’t have trusted Charlotte not to destroy it, given her hatred of his Army career. And we know that it is a source of tremendous pride for his family. Jack drew a picture of Uncle Cormoran getting his medal on his homemade birthday card for Strike in The Silkworm.

Many people, Robin among them, who met Cormoran Strike after his Army career assume the medal was awarded for his heroism in the IED explosion that cost Strike his leg. That certainly seems to be Carver’s impression in The Cuckoo’s Calling.

“He’s ex-SIB,” threw in Wardle, from beside the filing cabinet.

“I know that,” barked Carver, raising wiry eyebrows flecked with scurf. “I’ve heard from Anstis all about the fucking leg and the life-saving medal. Quite the colorful CV.”

Strike doesn’t bother correcting him. It is not until Career of Evil that we learn the medal was awarded for something entirely different, during his conversation with Robin about the significance of his missing leg.

“There’s nothing heroic about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“You’re a decorated veteran.”

“I wasn’t decorated for being blown up. That happened before.”

“You’ve never told me that.” She turned to face him, but he refused to be sidetracked.

So, we know the medal was for bravery, and, if Carver is to be believed, (not a given), for saving someone’s life, and well before he dragged Anstis to the back of the vehicle in the IED explosion. However,  Strike seems to actively avoid talking about the circumstances under which he earned it. So, what could the circumstances be?

We’ve heard mentions of Strike traveling all over the world during his Army career: Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Bosnia, Nairobi, Cyprus, Germany. One of the more interesting mentions is from Bosnia, where a faulty cell phone data dump triggered a series of mishaps that almost got a good friend killed in Mostar.  Could the heroics of this mission have been the reason for the medal, as well as leaving Strike with an ongoing mistrust of electronic mapping devices?

We also know that Strike has a particularly hair-trigger temper regarding any mention of child sexual abuse: hence the punching of Brockbank and the drunken dinner party argument. Not that this is an unreasonable response to such a crime, but it is at odds with his “you can’t save everyone— there are kids being abused all over” attitude of Career of Evil. Could the event have involved busting a child porn or sex trafficking ring? We know he worked on a case like that in Kosovo– which is not far from Bosnia.

Finally, we know he has another godson out there besides Timothy Cormoran Anstis. Could this child be the son of a different colleague that he saved, or worse, failed to save? Or a child trafficking victim he rescued?

Finally , when was the medal awarded?  Strike was in the army about 15 years, from shortly after Leda’s death in late 1994 until the IED explosion in May-September 2007, and then for about 18 months more, while he was hospitalized and recovering. I have speculated that it was awarded in his mid-20’s, that Nick and Ilsa were invited to the ceremony, and reunited there, each dumping their current partners and marrying a year later.

Surely, even if they did not attend the ceremony, Nick and Ilsa know the circumstances of the medal. It is curious that they have not yet told Robin, and that she has not asked. I guess she’s still too fixated on Charlotte. Dave Polworth presumably knows, and likely Hardacre and Anstis, along with Strike’s blood relatives. Will one of them spill the beans to Robin?

Here’s hoping for answers in The Ink Black Heart.

Evanna Lynch Denies “Rift” Between JK Rowling and Harry Potter Cast

Evanna Lynch, the actress J.K. Rowling said “was Luna Lovegood” spoke about the Harry Potter Reunion special, and rejected the idea that there was any major “rift” between the author and the actors that became stars in her work. She does, however, speak of “difficult conversations” between the cast and the author and expresses hope for “healing.”  I encourage readers to view her full statement. 

As someone who considers many of JKR’s tweets to be both misguided and hurtful to the transgender community, but who nonetheless appreciates the brilliance of her writing and intends to keep reading it, I find Ms. Lynch’s approach refreshing and comforting. It is not clear who the “us” is that she doesn’t want to “keep fighting”– her fellow cast members and JKR or JKR and the wider Twitter community, but she is clearly, as the anchor puts it, a peacemaker, who states that she, and her castmates have “great love and respect” for Ms. Rowling, despite disagreement with her views. 

Ms. Lynch is a woman of strong opinions herself, as a vegan and an animal activist. She has been open about how both correspondence with her favorite author and the Harry Potter books helped her recover from a serious eating disorder. I am happy to hear that she, at least, does not believe Ms. Rowling’s limited involvement with the reunion special is the result of any type of “cold shoulder.” If, as Ms. Lynch suggests, JKR is “busy writing books,” maybe we’ll have The Ink Black Heart in hand that much sooner. 

 

Mia Thompson: The Mysterious Aussie Gaffe-fixer of Cuckoo’s Calling

Last October, I started a Twitter-based read-along of all the Cormoran Strike books, sponsored by our fellow Serious Strikers from Strikefans.com.  Some of the group who had read the books in print earlier had chosen to listen to Robert Glennister’s outstanding audiobooks this time around. Imagine my surprise when, during the Cuckoo’s Calling review,  someone asked “What happened to the Australian saleswoman at Vashti’s?”

“What Australian saleswoman at Vashti’s?” asked I, and several others. 

There are many continuity errors in the Harry Potter series, and some of the more egregious (such as James emerging first from Voldemort’s wand in the climax of Goblet of Fire) were corrected in later editions. But this was the first I had heard of a change in a later edition of a Cormoran Strike novel. 

Who is this mysterious Australian lady, about whom those of us who read the earliest edition of Cuckoo’s Calling had never heard?  Find out after the jump.

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“I could not have survived without my colleagues:” David Martin of Hufflepuff Gives the Inside Scoop on the Tournament of Houses.

Editor’s note: Headmaster John and I had the privilege of participating in a Zoom conversation with star Hufflepuff David Martin of the Harry Potter Hogwarts Tournament of Houses, the day after the first episode aired. There’s been a bit of a time delay in sharing the interview with our Hogpro readers, because this was, to my knowledge, the first piece published here that had to be approved by Warner Brothers first. But, the necessary edits have been made, and it’s time to enjoy the inside scoop from the nation’s favorite 70-something Hufflepuff. 

Louise:

Hello and welcome to a little Zoom program here that I am calling “Mirrenwatch” after Dame Helen Mirren, Host of Harry Potter Hogwarts Tournament of Houses. My name is Louise Freeman; I am a professor of psychology at Mary Baldwin University, and I’m also a longtime writer for hogwartsprofessor.com.

I’m here with two very special guests: John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor, otherwise known as the Dean of Harry Potter scholars, and Headmaster of Hogwartsprofessor.com, who is going to tell us a little bit about his role in the recruitment of some very special contestants for the Hogwarts Tournament of houses.

But our most special guest, I would have to say, is David Martin, who, right now, is probably the country’s most beloved Hufflepuff, judging from what I’ve seen on Twitter today. We’re recording this on Monday, November 29th, so the first episode of the series aired last night: Hufflepuff versus Gryffindor. And, be forewarned, there will be many spoilers for that first episode on the show today.

But we’re here with the person who I can say, for sure, was an audience favorite at the show, and seems to be a Twitter favorite today, after leading the Hufflepuff team to victory last night. David Martin, joining us from Wisconsin.

So how are you, David?

David:

Well, I’m well-rested; I’m feeling pretty good. It’s been an amazing 24 hours.

Louise:

I can only imagine. Well, just to let everybody know what we’re about here. I’m going to let both of you introduce yourselves, and tell us a little bit about your involvement with Harry Potter prior to the show. What turned you into a serious Harry Potter fan and a serious Harry Potter scholar? So, John, why don’t you start?

John:

Yes, my part in this conversation should be relatively brief. As the so-called “Dean of Harry Potter Scholars,” I became involved with Harry Potter in the year 2000, when I first started to read the books to my seven children. I quickly became entranced by them, and their depth of meaning, and I wrote a book that became The Hidden Key to Harry Potter in 2002. And, from there, I’ve written five or six books on the subject of J.K. Rowling’s work, and as you mentioned, I write on a regular basis at hogwartsprofessor.com.

Now, most of the posts are about Cormoran Strike, but, in that role, I’ve been among the cadre of Potter pundits for close to 20 years now. From that vantage, I know, pretty much, the academic crowd and I know the fandom experts. I’ve been in anthologies written all over the community, from the Big 5 publishing houses to self-published works. I’ve talked at universities from Saint Andrews and Pepperdine to Princeton, University of Chicago, etc. And that’s been my role, as largely at the nexus point of fandom and academia.

So, when Hollywood decided that they were going to make a game show about Harry Potter, I was one of the first people that they called, because they were looking for contestants. In my Gilderoy moment, I imagined they might be wanting me to be a contestant, but, they gave a quick little test and I demonstrated, once again, that my contributions to Harry Potter scholarship are not my mastery of detail inside the books, and certainly not in the movies. Which, frankly, I’ve always despised as maladaptations.

But, they still continued the conversation with me for several weeks, because they wanted to pick my brain about people that they should invite. I asked their permission to post about the show and about the possibility of contestants being taken from the gallery of Hogwartsprofessor.com. I put up a post, and that pretty much ends my part of this conversation, other than to say that I was thrilled to see David, who has been a guest poster, a longtime reader, listener and a friend from Harry Potter conferences all over the United States. Especially when he lived in Philadelphia, and I was living just north of Philadelphia.

It was thrilling to see David work his way through all those interviews to get to the contestant stage, and then to do so well last night. I know he’s a very serious reader, and that his movie acumen is kind of an add-on, but it was still wonderful to see one of our own up there on stage. Congratulations David, it was wonderful to watch last night with you.

David:

Thank you. Thank you.

David’s comment on John’s post announcing the contestant call.

More after the jump!

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