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Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2020.13

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve recently transferred my reviews to IMDb and made the list of around 1600 ratings publicly available. I’ve included the individual ratings with my notes for each movie. These ratings are not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the film on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood and. let’s be honest, level of intoxication. YMMV. Also, I make no attempt to avoid spoilers.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970) — 6/10

S.D Kluger (Fred Astaire) is the postman at the North Pole. The first letter he shows us is…odd. It has what looks like a Reichsmark stamp in the wrong corner of the envelope, as well as very Cyrillic-looking writing (backwards R’s and N’s). Very suspicious. At any rate, he tells the story of Santa’s origin.

We hear of how Burgermeister Meisterburger (Paul Frees), the mayor of Sombertown, turned down the opportunity to adopt Claus and sent him to the orphanage instead. On the way, a storm whisks away Claus’s sleigh, to be rescued by the animals, who bring him to the Kringles, a family of elves. The elves were toymakers living with Tanta Kringle (Joan Gardner), but the only problem was that “they had no children to give them to.” (I mean, obviously, it’s a bunch of guys living with their aunt—it is to be fervently hoped that that household not beget any kids.)

After growing up with the Kringle elves, learning how to make toys, an orange-haired, strapping, young, red-suited, and clean-shaven Kris Kringle (Mickey Rooney) heads across the dangerous mountains—sneaking past the Winter Warlock (Keenan Wynn)—to Sombertown. Cue another song by the absolutely Yiddish-accented Burgermeister and his British-sounding captain of the guard.

In town, Claus learns from the kids that toys are against the law. He also meets Miss Jessica (Robie Lester) and charms the impressively corseted and also red-headed young lady with a toy. Burgermeister patrols his demesne in a cart (he’d fallen down some steps and broken his foot), led by a double-file of troops. He has the best lines, especially when he meets Kris Kringle:

“A perfect day. Everybody is glum.

“[To Claus] You are obviously a nonconformist and a rebel.

“[after Claus gives him a yo-yo and he plays with it] Ooo…I’ve been bamboozled!

“[After Claus escapes across the rooftops] He climbs like a squirrel, leaps like a deer, and is as slippery as a seal.”

Claus escapes into the woods, but stumbles into the Winter Warlock’s domain where he is trapped by the Warlock’s trees. He escapes by—you guessed it—giving the Warlock a toy and melting his frigid heart. Cue another song.

Winter and Kris team up, establishing an exchange of toys for magic. Claus continues to deliver toys to the children in town until Burgermeister finally arrests him. Winter has lost most of his powers, but conspires with Jessica to use his remaining magic to enchant the reindeer and rescue Claus from jail. Burgermeister is hot on his tail and puts a price on his head.

This is of no concern. The Kringles tell him he’s really named Claus, he grows an Amish-looking ginger-y beard and just those things are enough to take the heat off of his tail. He marries Jessica, of course. Despite this, they are all eventually chased far north, the Clauses, all of the Kringles, the reindeer, and Topper, the penguin.

I gave it an extra point for Burgermeister, who’s a great character.

Frosty the Snowman (1969) — 6/10

This is the story of a snowman who came to life named Frosty (Jackie Vernon). The narrator is played by Jimmy Durante. The children from a local school are distracted from the magician visiting their school—Professor Hinkle (Billy De Wolfe), with his rabbit Hocus—who is overwhelmed by his failed tricks and throws his “useless” hat away. It blows out the window and, like Chekhov’s pistol, would be important in the next act.

The school bell rings and the children run out into the snow to play. They build a snowman. A wind catches the Professor’s hat and blows it onto Frosty’s head. He comes to life, saying “Happy Birthday!”. The children rejoice, but only briefly, because Hinkle runs out to reclaim his hat and extinguish Frosty’s short life. He leaves the mourning children and marches happily back into town, accompanied by Hocus.

Hocus waits for an opportunity and steals the hat back, carrying it back to the children, who plop it back onto Frosty’s head and awaken him once again. “Happy Birthday!”, he says, greeting young Karen (June Foray/Suzanne Davidson) who befriends him and takes him under her wing.

The temperature rises and Frosty starts to sweat. He’s got to get to the North Pole. Karen takes him to the train station, where she wastes the poor stationmaster’s time ordering a ticket for which she cannot hope to pay. When he says that the price is over $3000, Frosty and Karen don’t have a thin dime between them. This isn’t a problem, though, since they just sneak onto the train anyway—Karen and Frosty discover that it’s a lot cheaper to stow away and you get what you want without paying a red cent.

Frosty and Hocus are comfortable in the refrigerated wagon, but Karen is very cold. At the first opportunity, they jump off the train, leaving Professor Hinkle to jump off the moving train, as well. Frosty needs to get Karen warm, which he does by getting forest creatures to build her a campfire. He and Hocus keep their distance. By morning, Hinkle finds them and Frosty and Karen flee, riding Frosty like a sled.

They end up at a hothouse, where Frosty takes Karen inside for just a minute. But Hinkle shows up to try to get his stolen hat back and locks them both inside. Santa is supposed to have showed up to rescue them, but he’s nowhere to be found. Frosty melts away into a puddle and Karen cries her little face off. Santa says that this isn’t a problem because Frosty just needs a bit of winter wind to wake back up.

So he does, although Hinkle is still trying to get his damned hat back. Santa threatens him with no more presents if he doesn’t shut his yap and toe the line, whereupon the craven Hinkle simply hopes that Santa will bring him another hat in the morning. He’s utterly uninterested in due process or any form of justice for the larceny done unto him. Santa’s got him by the short-and-curlies.

Frosty bails with Santa, returning every year when it’s cold enough. The end.

Christmas on the Square (2020) — 2/10

The movie goes straight from long credits (arguably the best part of the movie) to a song, with Dolly Parton crooning about poor people who’ve got it rough. It segues directly to another song-and-dance number that introduces the insipid central couple: the pastor and his wife, who are nearly unbelievably saccharine—and terrible actors, to boot. Their material isn’t great, I’ll give them that. Maybe they couldn’t turn down a paycheck in this year of COVID-19.

It’s pretty obvious at this point that we are balls-deep in a syrupy, sappy musical. The plot is basically that Regina (Christine Baranski) inherited the town of Fullerville from her father, who built it. She is a hard-nosed businesswoman bent on selling everything to the Cheetah Mall company, offering all of the townspeople generous buyouts. None of the people want to take the buyout and instead unite against her. Their town is more important to them than money.

Dolly Parton turns out to be an angel who wants Regina to “change”. Christmas is coming up and Regina threatens all of the people with eviction by Christmas Eve. There are so many songs and so much bad singing. Dolly Parton is still pretty good, but, man, has she had a lot of work done on her face.

There is absolutely no reason to discuss any more story than that. It’s like Touched by an Angel cross-bred with a Christian after-school special. I thought it was bad enough when they wouldn’t stop singing—until they started “acting” and “building the backstory”, which was much, much worse.

I have no idea why Treat Williams is singing so much—or for so long. The little bartender girl has an awful voice. It’s made more obvious when she tries to harmonize with Christine Baranski. Baranski is too good of an actress to be completely dragged down by this pap, but you can see her struggling to keep her head above water in this one.

Jennifer Lewis is quite good as Regina’s hairdresser—and she has, hands down, the best voice (and the only good song, during the hair appointment). However, even her two extra points were negated by the sheer awfulness of the rest of the movie. With about half an hour left, the angels (presumably with God’s help) put a little girl in the hospital from a car accident just in order to get Regina to “change”.

Dolly Parton as the angel rejoiced that her “plan” was working. It is presumably her God that engineered the car accident. How do people not realize how unutterably cruel such a plotline is? The town must be saved and one little girl’s life put on the line—and her father’s anguished suffering[1]—is worth the sacrifice. Absolutely brutal.

I feel like I’m watching something from an alien culture: I understand the language, but can’t understand how anyone could enjoy something like this. The direction of the musical numbers is terrible, with the camera way too close—amateurish, graceless and artless. There are people who rated it 10/10 on IMDb—it’s like we belong to different species.

[1] He also has a decent voice, for what’s that worth, given the awful material he has to sing.
The Grinch (2018) — 8/10

At 85 minutes, this version of the classic story is three times longer than the original. It fills in the time with more of the Grinch’s backstory (he’s an orphan, abandoned young, and never had a real family). He and his dog Max live alone at the top of a snowy hilltop, with a fixed daily ritual. The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch[2]) is an inventor and has filled his home with automation, including a coffee-maker with which Max makes him french-press coffee every morning before carrying it upstairs in a dumbwaiter. It’s adorable.

The skeleton of the plot is the same as the original: Grinch doesn’t want to hear the Whos singing about Christmas; Grinch steals Christmas; Grinch heads up Mt. Crumpet to dump their stuff; he hears the Whos singing anyway; he regrets his actions and changes his ways; he saves the sleigh from accidentally tipping anyway; he rides triumphantly to town to return their Christmas; he celebrates with the Whos.

Instead of only showing up at the end, Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely)—who looks, acts, and sounds like every other kid in every other recent cartoon—wants to talk to Santa Claus to ask him to help her mother (Rashida Jones), who works the night shift and takes care of her kids all day. She hatches a plan to trap Santa when he visits her house. It’s obvious who she’s really going to catch.

Pharrell Williams narrates, doing a decent job, but sounding too … happy … in comparison with the sepulchral Boris Karloff from the original. Mr. Bricklebaum (Keenan Thompson, instantly recognizable) is an enthusiastic “neighbor” (they don’t live anywhere near one another) who considers the Grinch his “best friend”.

This version also provides more detail on how the Grinch planned and executed his Christmas heist, including hiking far to the north to get a herd of reindeer, returning with just one: Fred, a very husky exemplar. Fred lives with them for a little while, even hooking up to the Grinch’s high-tech sled for a speedy test run. He’s pulled up short when he sees his wife and child in their path—and takes his leave of a guilty Grinch.

Max is left to pull the sleigh, which he does with aplomb. The animation is digital and is, quite frankly, delightful. The absolutely physics-defying sled is really nice, as is the multitude of gadgets he uses to accelerate his theft of Christmas. Cindy-Lou catches the Grinch, but he weasels his way out of her trap with the same line as he did in the original: that he was taking the tree only to repair an ornament on it. Though he wavers, he continues his mission, putting Cindy-Lou back to bed before stripping her house bare.

He and Max take their towering load of goods back whence they came, heading for Mt. Crumpet. In the meantime, puzzled Whos are waking and finding everything gone. They gather around the town tree anyway, getting ready to sing. Cindy-Lou thinks it’s her fault for having offended Santa Claus with what she now laments was a rude and personal request.

Grinch hears singing, regrets, sled tips, he jumps after it, uses a candy-cane grappling hook to catch himself and the sled, watches the whole rocky outcrop give way—and Fred shows up with his family to save the day. Together with Max, they are able to pull the sled back to safety—and the Grinch and Max ride triumphantly back to Whoville, where the Whos are still singing.

The reception is chillier than in the original—the Grinch leaves his sleigh of goods and slinks off with Sam. Back at home, their ritual is … different. The Grinch actually gives Max a present. Their breakfast is interrupted by a doorbell. It’s Cindy-Lou asking the Grinch to dinner. The story proceeds unchanged from there. The End.

[2] Cumberbatch is unrecognizable with an American-accented alto rather than his customary English basso.
Klaus (2019) — 9/10

This is a new story about the origin of Santa Claus. We meet the shiftless Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), who is just ending a pathetic stint in the Postal Corps. His father is Postmaster and is gravely disappointed that his son has learned nothing and instead seems to be very dedicated to living in shiftless luxury for the rest of his life. Instead of letting this slide continue, papa sends him to the far-off, northern island of Smeerensburg, at the edge of the empire. There, Jesper has a year to post 6000 letters to prove himself. Failure equals disownment. Success is a return to a life of luxury and idleness and shallow pleasure.

Jesper travels north, meeting the boatsman Mogens (Norm MacDonald, immediately recognizable) who takes him to the foggy, cold, and battle-ruined island. He takes Jesper to his “post office”, a ramshackle building that doubles as his home, which he shares with innumerable chickens. The townspeople are split into two feuding clans: the Krums—led by matriarch Mrs. Krum (Joan Kusack, also immediately recognizable)—and the Ellingboes—led by matriarch Mr. Ellingboe (Will Sasso). They fight and feud all day every day. Their children do not play with each other.

Pursued by the ongoing battle, Jesper flees across town, taking refuge in Alva the fishmonger’s shop. Alva is a hardened, embittered young lady with a lot of fish and a mean hand with a meat-cleaver. She tells Jesper how things work, revealing that she was the local schoolteacher who’d spent five years on the island, on an assignment similar to his own. She is very close to having saved enough to flee the place.

One day, a boy drops a drawing out of his window that Jespers picks up—it shows the boy jailed in the tower of his home. He tries to get the boy to pay postage for him to return it, but the boy refuses, so Jesper keeps the letter in his satchel.

Since most people are enemies, they have little need to send any mail, making Jesper’s job that much harder. Weeks go by without a single letter posted. Jespers checks off every house on the map, but then notices a home marked in a far-flung corner of the island as belonging to The Huntsman. Mogens encourages him to check it out, “he likes company.”

Jespers arrives at a spooky home, finding the Huntsman’s shed, which is filled with handmade and unused toys. The Huntsman is suspicious and looming and not-at-all encouraging. Fate brings the little boy’s drawing into the Huntsman’s hands. He responds by packing one of the toys and demanding that Jesper deliver it with him. The Hunstman’s name is Klaus.

The toy is delivered and the child is happy. He tells his friends. They bring more letters to Jespers. He returns to Klaus to ask him to donate more toys. They strike a deal. Because of the geniality of the toys, the children begin to play with one another across enemy lines. Mrs. Krum and Mr. Ellingboe intervene to put a stop to it, demanding that they honor the sacred sacrifice of feuding generations.

Things continue in this vein, with some of the local children begging Alva to once again take up teaching, so that they can learn to write in order to send letters to Klaus. Jesper and Klaus deliver presents, slowly emptying his workshop. Klaus reveals that he had made the toys for children that never arrived—and that he’d lost his wife to illness years ago. A young Sámi girl arrives to ask for a present, but Jesper shrugs her off, at first, because she has no letter with which he can get closer to his goal of 6000.

With Klaus unwilling to make new toys—it’s too sad—Jesper tries to make the girl’s sled himself. This act of selflessness inspires Klaus to help and they deliver the sled, to the girl’s delight. Her family expresses its gratitude by moving in and helping establish a factory for toys. The letters keep coming in, Alva’s spent her savings restoring the school, Klaus has purpose, the townspeople are at peace and have restored their village.

Only a handful of people are left to uphold the feud, led by Mrs. Krum and Mr. Ellingboe. Hearing that Klaus and Jesper are planning a giant delivery on Christmas, they scheme to sabotage it in two ways: they send thousands of letters to the mainland in order to make Jesper’s father show up and retrieve him (mission accomplished) and they plan an attack on Klaus’s stronghold to destroy the toys.

Jesper chooses not to go with his father, making him even prouder than when he’d heard that his son had actually achieved his goal of bringing the mail to the north. Instead, Jesper returns to Klaus and Anya to help them fend off the villagers. There is a merry chase and nice sleight-of-hand on Anya and Klaus’s part and Christmas is saved.

Jesper and Anya end up together and the toy-making partnership with the Sámi is long and prosperous—a dozen years. Then Klaus hears his wife calling and disappears in a puff of winter wind. Jesper doesn’t know much about what happened, but he knows that if he stays awake long enough on one night per year…he can see his friend again, once a year.

The animation style is lovely; digital, but in the style of Sylvain Chomet’s Les triplettes de Belleville (Wikipedia). The plot reminded me a bit of Going Postal (Wikipedia) by Terry Pratchett, where Moist von Lipwig was offered reprieve from a hanging if he used his prodigious con-man skills to get the city of Ankh Morpork’s decrepit Postal Service up-and-running again. As the film went on, the humor and direction seemed more akin to The Emperor’s New Groove, which is probably Disney’s best cartoon. The characters were nearly dead ringers, with Klaus as Pacha, Jesper as Cuzco, Mrs. Krum as Ezma, and Mr. Ellingboe as Kronk.

An absolutely welcome addition to the Christmas canon. Recommended.

Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976) — 5/10

It seems hard to believe that there was a clamor for a sequel to Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Rudolph is back with his weirdly whistling and glowing nose, back to help Father Time rescue Baby New Year, who’s gone missing. He ran away from home because everyone laughed at his gigantic ears. It is thought not only that Rudolph’s own physical aberration will help him navigate the once-again stormy weather, but will also give him unique insight into Baby New Year’s self-imposed exile.

Santa sends Rudolph off into a raging storm to help his friend Father Time, who lives way the hell on the other side of a nearly interminable desert. Joining him on the journey from the North Pole is General Ticker, who is mysteriously not with Father Time, but was already at the North Pole. Ticker is surprised by the cold, despite having most likely very recently traveled there in the first place. They reach the edge of the desert: The Sands of Time.

Here, they meet Quarter-Past-Five, a camel that will carry them to Father Time’s castle. Overhead, they see Eon, the giant, evil vulture whose life has been long, but will finally come to an end at the new year. He seeks to kidnap Baby New Year in order to preclude his turning to snow and ice.

They arrive at the castle and hear the whole backstory from Father Time. He sends them to the Archipelago of Last Years, where each Yearly Personage gets an island on which to retire forever. Rudolph gets on a small skiff, sailing for the islands. Eon attacks. Big Ben the whale saves Rudolph and carries him the rest of the way, on his back.

First stop is the island of One Million B.C., a neanderthal-looking year who accompanies them the rest of the way. A few montage visits later, they end up on 1023, an island full of fairy-tale creatures as well as Sir 1023, a knight with a closed faceplate and a long beard who exclaims “Odds Bodkins” and “Gadzooks” and “Zounds” nearly incessantly. Baby New Year is always one step ahead of them. Like clockwork, his humiliated departure follows the revelation of his giant ears.

The next island is 1776, where they pick up “Sev”, who is the spitting image of Benjamin Franklin. Finally, Eon snatches up Happy and carries him off to his own island: The Island of No-Name, where he ensconces him in his nest and vows to keep him there forever.[3] Rudolph, Sev, Sir, and O.M. show up on Big Ben and start to climb the icy mountain to Eon’s nest. They make too much damned noise—Big Ben’s tail clock rings 23:30 and Rudolph doesn’t have an inside voice—waking Eon, who brings down an avalanche on them.

They are trapped in ice and snow at the bottom. Rudolph uses his multipurpose nose to melt his way out of his snowball, then leaves the others trapped in ice to climb back up and stage-whisper his way through a life lesson for Happy about how it’s OK to be laughed at, while Eon sleeps not ten feet away. Eon sees the ears and experiences genuine joy for the first time in his long life and his laughter warms him enough to avoid his fate of being frozen in snow and ice. He tumbles all the way down the mountain, inadvertently freeing the other three whom Rudolph had left trapped.

The others hear the chiming of midnight and they need to get back to Father Time before the “last bong”.[4] The giant clock in Big Ben’s tail has already started, but freaking Santa Claus shows up to carry them back to the castle faster than time itself. New Year saved. The End.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Rudolph in his debut film. The sequel did nothing to change my mind.

[3] Why was Eon trying to live forever when he’d never experienced joy and lives on a barren icy island by himself with no obvious hobbies or occupation? What’s the point of living forever then?
[4] I am not at all surprised to find that there were 12 bongs associated with this movie.
Veronica Mars S04 (2017) — 7/10

Keith (Enrico Colantoni) and Veronica Mars (Jessica Bell) are back, still in Neptune. Neptune is a fictitious beachside resort/town in southern California with a very rich, very elite, and very snobbish population as well as the rest of the rabble that fills in the blanks of society for them. In the original three seasons, Veronica was in high school with these people and ruffled a lot of feathers trying to figure out who’d raped her and killed her best friend Lily Kane.

That’s the background to the story that unfolds in season four. Although it’s not essential to know, it does help to explain some of the resentments and squabbles among the returning characters.

Veronica has gotten a bit more hard-nosed, vindictive, and even more convinced of her righteousness and infallibility than before. You could chalk it up to youthful exuberance in the originals whereas, now, with her well into her upper 30s, it seems more like her personality has crystalized into a detective better suited for something like NCIS—where the cops always kick ass, always break rules, and are always retroactively justified in having done so.

As in the original, Colantoni’s Keith is a much more balanced, sympathetic, and deeply funny character. He seems to have learned how to be wrong or at least how to have doubt, a characteristic nearly missing from Veronica in anything but the smallest measures.

Logan (Jason Dohring) reprises his role as Veronica’s beau—he proposed to her, behind which she sees him trying to exact control over her—and he’s in town from his naval-pilot/secret agent job abroad. He’s jacked up beyond all knowing, flexing his comically large biceps at every opportunity. Even he has more nuance, depth, and humility than Veronica, though.

The season starts with a bang, as the first of several bombs go off in a venerated seaside motel, The Sea Sprite, nearly blowing the hand off of Congressman Daniel Maloof’s (Mido Hamada) son Alex (Paul Karmiryan), and killing the boy’s fiancé as well as the son of a Mexican drug-lord, El Despiadado (Marco Rodríguez) and the motel owner Sul Ross (Brad Morris), who is survived by his daughter Matty Ross (Izabela Vidovic), who is quickly and rather unsubtly marked as Veronica’s protege.

Escaping death but not damage is pizza-delivery guy and leader of the “Murderheads” amateur/internet-sleuthing club Penn Epner (Patton Oswalt), who quickly becomes a thorn in everyone’s side with his crackpot theories and meddling. The police chief Langdon (Dawnn Lewis) is also back, surly as ever.

The bombings and a small-time crime wave suspiciously coincide with a community action trying to clean up Neptune, which has the dubious honor of being the west-coast capital of Spring Break. Richard “Big Dick” Casablancas (David Starzyk), owner of much of the town, leads the way. His son, “Little Dick” (Ryan Hansen) leads the charge for the revelers.

Veronica befriends bar owner Nicole Malloy (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), while Keith befriends right-hand man to “Big Dick” Clyde Pickett (J.K. Simmons). Dick and Clyde had met in prison. Both Veronica and Keith suspect that the other is sleeping with the enemy, as it were. Keith’s case looks stronger to me.

El Despiadado dispatches two of his men—Alonzo Lozano (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Dodie Mendoza (Frank Gallegos)—to travel north and find out what happened to his son, and to take action as needed. They settle in to Neptune and start to get a feel for the criminal undercurrents, helping out here and there.

Congressman Malouf hires the Mars Detective Agency to find out who set the bomb, taking three fingers (and a fiancé) from his son. He hires Logan as a bodyguard to protect himself against the increasingly irrational and violent attacks of his son’s fiancé’s hillbilly family, who are wondering where “her ring” is. They make increasingly strident, violent, and illegal attempts to get it back, even though no-one really knows where it is. Maloof’s endearing mother Amalia (Jacqueline Antaramian) hires their competitor Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) for spite. Since Logan spent so much time in the Middle East, he is privy to the Maloof family’s conversations.

The local criminal element, more-or-less led by Veronica’s former schoolmate and friend Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra) is possibly on Casablanca’s payroll (via Clyde) in order to drive prices down and let the town puritans buy beachfront property super-cheap (how they expect prices to magically come back up is a mystery).

The Mars family flails around a bit, as do others, like Penn. They no longer strongly suspect Clyde—though he’s definitely up to something—and they only half-suspect Nicole (the bar owner). The screws turn more tightly and the Marses set their sights on Penn and Big Dick: they suspect Big Dick got the ball rolling, but that Penn started copy-catting after that.

Twists and turns and they finally get Penn to help Keith defuse the last bomb. He’s the hero and it turns out he’s not losing his marbles—he’s just got the wrong mix medications, which is messing with his memory. Veronica agrees to marry Logan and they do a quickie ceremony. When Logan goes out to Veronica’s car to move it for alternate-side-of-the-street parking, Penn’s backpack, with the last bomb. goes off. Why is a serial bomber’s backpack still in Veronica’s car? Because the story demanded it.

One year later and Logan’s therapist sees fit to give Veronica his last message to her. Keith has had his hip replaced and is doing great. Matty owns the motel because she literally fucking hocked the ring she stole from the wreckage and everyone’s just fine with that.

I’m just shocked at the level of criminality deemed acceptable by what are ostensibly the good guys. Veronica lies and cheats and steals and manufactures evidence. She breaks into places. Matty does the same. It’s all just fine. I wonder, as I often do when watching American police procedurals, how much of this is just to train citizens to accept that police and PIs get to do whatever they want in order to arrest the person they already knew it was before they illegally obtained proof—or not, as the case may be. At any rate, some people have nothing to fear for breaking the law—and others are very much guilty until proven innocent.