Tournament of Houses Wins House Cup for Ratings; Twitter Declares Hogpro’s David of Hufflepuff the MVP.

Word on the street is that Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Tournament of Houses snatched the Golden Snitch among television ratings, with over 3 million viewers, making it the top cable news unscripted show of the year.

If you watched the opening match of Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff, you know that the Badgers beat the Lions, and that’s own contestant recruit, David Martin, was the star player and an audience favorite. If you want some objective evidence in support of this view, I looked at a sample of the 10 top tweets that turned up with the hashtag, #tournamentofhouses. Three mentioned David by name. Only two mentioned the distinguished host, Dame Helen Mirren.  I think that is called, “star power.”

A few of the choice Tweets about David:


@sylvangreeneyes:  As soon as I glimpsed him in the commercial, I knew Hufflepuff was a lock. David is an amazing teacher and incredibly kind person. If you have a chance to hear him present at a con, don’t hesitate. True embodiment of badger values.

@jennifer_mcgee: David was a badger beast! Happy to be a fellow #Hufflepuff with him!

@Emmy415: David would have defeated Voldemort.

@TielaKegs: The Houses are now: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and DAVID

@PuffCastPod: Congrats to the Hufflepuffs for winning round 1 of the #tournamentofhouses which means we are getting either first or second place overall! All participants did amazing and shoutout to David for really being the team anchor we don’t know we needed!

@claunight: I want David to be happy but i’m a #Gryffindor, help.

@jertheotterbear:  David is the most Hufflepuffiest Hufflepuff of all Hufflepuffs.

@jessyymessii: David on #teamhufflepuff on the #TournamentOfHouses is everything I want to be when I’m a 77 year old Hufflepuff.

@JimtheLibrarian:  Watching #TournamentOfHouses and my jaw dropped when David snagged that Roman numeral question. WELL DONE.

A few other trends I saw among the Twitter commentators, and my response to them, based on what I saw of the show as an audience member:

  • Some folks thought the questions were too easy, and thought seeing the players “discuss” issues like what Lupin’s Marauder nickname was a bit contrivedMy answer: The show was trying to find a balance of appeal to both the die-hard fans from their contestant pool, and the more casual viewer. Judging from the ratings, they succeeded. Teams were told to discuss answers with each other, even if they were obvious.
  • Some complained that it was too movie-centric, and wanted more book-specific trivia. My answer: This was a Warner Brothers production, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the first film. Its purpose is to continue to promote the movies, and related properties like the theme parks. They have no vested interest in future book sales.
  • You expected them to recognize the Grangers’ couch? My answer: Well, that had to come up with something that would stump both teams. I think “Granger couch” could become slang for an impossible trivia question, just like “Flint” is now defined as a book continuity error.
  • A Cursed Child question?  That isn’t cannon!  My answer: They told potential contestants, even in the early stages, that all things Potter were fair game, including Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts and other Pottermore/Wizarding World material.

Pending Warner Brothers approval, we hope to have more inside scoop on the life of a show contestant from David posted here soon, along with some information on his soon-to-be-released book of Potter essays. In the meantime, some of us will raise a flask of Felix Felicis, and hope that the high ratings will mean a chance to appear in Season 2.

Tune in tomorrow night for episode 2, Ravenclaw versus Slytherin, and, if you see a flash of grey hair in the Ravenclaw audience, that just might be me!

JKR Tweets Strike News: “Ink Black Heart” as Title for Strike 6 Confirmed.

JKR dropped a fascinating tweet today regarding the sixth Strike book. The graphic makes it almost certain that The Ink Black Heart, as Strike Sleuths here had already guessed in April, is the title.

Update:  Another tweet confirmed that The Ink Black Heart is it!

Let the eager anticipation and predictions begin!


Harry Potter Tournament of Houses: The Gamemakers’ Perspective.

I was happy to see this interview from the Hollywood Reporter today. First, it has some great information, including that the show had more applicants than any other, which makes me feel better both about making it as far in the process as I did, and about not making the final cut.

Second, it’s the first publicity photo I have seen with our Hogwarts Professor recruitee!  Two thumbs up for David Martin! Tune in to see him tomorrow night at 8 EST! But while you are waiting, check out a few of his guest posts here, here and here!  It is obvious why his knowledge of Potter-dom caught Hollywood’s attention.


Helen Mirren talks “Hogwarts Tournament of Houses” –Preview with Spoiler Warning.

The countdown to Sunday’s premiere of the Hogwarts Tournament of Houses is underway. If you want a sneak preview, check out this 4-minute clip of host Dame Helen Mirren speaking about her show experience. But be forewarned, if you want absolutely no spoilers for question responses, steer clear. Otherwise tune in to see some shining moments of contestants, including one recruited via 

With any luck, we’ll have some fascinating post-show analysis here, from both contestants and audience members!

Some Thoughts on my First Listen Through the Harry Potter audiobooks.

After all my years of Harry Potter fandom and academic work, I had never listened to the English language audiobook productions, though I had listened to Philosopher’s Stone a few times in Spanish.  I decided to rectify that this year, listening to them all on my daily commute.

Some random thoughts, and things I noticed this time through.  An incomplete list, to be sure, since I am not in the place to take down notes in the car.

Sorcerer’s Stone:  In the Forbidden Forest detention, Neville “panics” and sends up red sparks when Malfoy grabs him from behind.  Panics?  It looks to me like Neville actually kept his head and did exactly what Hagrid had told him to do at the first sign of trouble. For him to have the presence of mind to use the right spell under those circumstances is quite an accomplishment for the kid who has trouble with magic. Malfoy, on the other hand, when confronted with the horror of Voldemort feasting on the unicorn blood, screams, turns tail and runs, followed by Fang, the dog Hagrid describes as a coward. A nice early example of Neville showing Gryffindor-style courage, and a fair bit of magical talent (when he needs it), in contrast to Malfoy’s cowardice.

It also reminded me a bit of Robin Ellacott successfully defending herself when Morris grabs her from behind.

Chamber of Secrets:  I had forgotten that the name Mundungus Fletcher came up this early in the series.

Prisoner of Azkaban: During the Dementor patrol on the Hogwarts Express, Ginny had almost as severe a reaction to the dementor as Harry. Of course, she is the only one besides Harry who has also had a close encounter with Voldemort.

Order of the Phoenix: As he is walking Cho down to Hogsmeade for their disastrous Valentine’s date, Harry looks up at the Quidditch pitch, and feels a “horrible pang that he was not up there with them.”  The two people he specifically mentions seeing are Ron and Ginny. Could this be a preview of his attraction to her?

Half-Blood Prince: Snape told us back in Philosopher’s Stone that the Draught of Living Death was made with powdered root of asphodel and an infusion of wormwood.  Here, the potion students seem to be doing something quite different, chopping up valerian root and sopophourous beans.

Slughorn drops the Dirk Cresswell name as another example of a Muggleborn who made the Slug Club. The poor guy meets a tragic end in Deathly Hallows.

Deathly Hallows: Voldy thinks he is the only one who ever discovered the Hall of Lost Things?  Then who does he think put all that stuff in there?

The closing line of Elphias Doge’s tribute to Dumbledore describes him as: “to his last hour, as willing to stretch out a hand to a small boy with dragon pox as he was on the day that I met him.” Elphias has no way of knowing that, in his literal last hour, Dumbledore did try to extend a helping hand to a boy named “Dragon” who certainly had a figurative “pox” on his house, with his family in disgrace and his desperate efforts to redeem it through murder.

Some nice Easter Eggs in this brief view of the Battle of Hogwarts:

Harry saw Yaxley slammed to the floor by George and Lee Jordan, saw Dolohov fall with a scream at Flitwick’s hands, saw Walden Macnair thrown across the room by Hagrid, hit the stone wall opposite, and slide unconscious to the ground. He saw Ron and Neville bringing down Fenrir Greyback, Aberforth stunning Rookwood, Arthur and Percy flooring Thicknesse…

  • The twin’s friend Lee is at George’s side now, after the loss of Fred. “River Jordan” has become the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
  • I love seeing “tiny” Professor Flitwick take down one of the most powerful Death Eaters, the guy who, among his many crimes, killed Molly Weasley’s brothers in the first Wizarding War.
  • Hagrid gets to defeat Buckbeak’s would-be executioner!
  • Neville is fighting by Ron’s side, taking Harry’s place in the Trio, just as Harry had wanted. And, together, they are taking down the one who earlier had grievously injured (or killed?) Ron’s ex, Lavender Brown, on top of his having bitten Remus Lupin. thereby avenging both a fellow Gryffindor and a teacher, who was especially kind to Neville.
  • After two year’s estrangement over Percy siding with the ministry over his family, father and son team up to defeat Pius Thicknesse, the current Minister of Magic.

Please join in and add any details that jump out at you upon re-reading or re-listening.