Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Top Ten Harry Ruth Moments of all Time

I'm back on the grid.

With the Spooks I mean. It happened gradually and begrudgingly, but Harry and Ruth have stolen back my heart. I'm not even quite sure how I let them in.  But 'in' they are.  

Have you ever fallen in love with something odd?  I mean, ... I have. I've fallen in love mostly I guess with living male humans that I know personally,  . . . but when you stop to think of it, I'm not really limited to that.  I've fallen head over heels for, well. . . books. . . long-dead movie actors . . . even buildings. So maybe it shouldn't be all that surprising that I now appear to be in love with a fictional television couple.  

So much so, that I have been willing to re-watch all the "Harry and Ruth"-centric episodes of the show I thought I would stay mad at forever. Don't get me wrong, I am still quite angry at MI-5 (Spooks) and how it squandered its many gifts in its final seasons. In particular, how it took an incredibly compelling gem of a storyline that was handed to them on a platter by the charismatic charm of two amazing actors, and sucked the spark right out of it.  I am still disturbed with the creative team's unsatisfying vision for how to do passion.  In fact, the more I think about it -- and as well as they did violence -- Spooks visionaries had a major disability when it came to the ways of the heart.  I can think of very few even marginally satisfying romances over the run of that show hmmm . . . I think I feel a future post coming on. But in the meantime...

the point of this post is not to bitch,  but rather . . . to love.  

And though their romance may have been ultimately punishing to the viewer because it took place on an intense spy drama, there are still so many high points to cherish. 

So in that light, I present to you the Top Ten Harry Pearce and Ruth Evershed moments of all time: Scenes from the pairing that deserve an adoring airing. 

[The clips here are all, obviously, not my own, but the property of the BBC and Spooks, for whose indulgence I would be grateful, as I extracted them for personal and illustrative purposes only and no commercial intent.] Oh, yes, and I suppose, just as obviously, watching these clips and reading my comments will SPOIL your viewing of this show. Please stop here if you don't want SPOILERS!

10. "I'm fine." What a perfect description of personality this scene provides. You get Ruth's classic sarcasm along with her humanitarian moral understanding. She is PERFECT here and Harry almost mute, powerless to help or explain, but just standing there in rumpled clothes in which he has probably stayed, by her bedside all night. He can only listen to and love her.  9.7

9.  "You have to give a man a chance, Ruth." And here is Harry's counter point. His personality - headstrong, powerful, vulnerable and in love - is on full display and his deeper meaning is bitingly clear in this plea for her understanding. 9.3

8. "I'm trying, with all my limitations" Their reunion moment that cuts to the heart. Unlike the episode that aired just prior to this one, where they have re-met after time apart, but under horrific circumstances that have left them hardly able to speak to each other, here they attempt it. It doesn't go well. Oddly, I love that. I love Ruth's bite and bitter sadness and Harry's abject inability to be or do anything she needs. Heart wrenching.  8.2

7. "Hotel music." OK, this one is just plain sexy. I can't watch it without wondering what the hell she is thinking walking away from this man? Harry is extremely appealing here, but she won't have any of that.  A frustrating moment . . .  for both of them, as she makes clear later in the episode when she almost calls him as he sits drinking alone.  5.4

6. "Bus Scene." A beautifully filmed moment that is so warm and inviting. They get to act like people here away from the office and (somewhat) away from work. In the episode from which this comes, Harry has been temporarily removed from his position and the team is closing ranks to clear him. We see Ruth as someone who would be very amenable to any overture he might make. But he is too stupid to pursue it now; and Ruth is so beautiful in this light, it's hard to imagine what's keeping him from seeing it. . . . leaving the viewer to wonder exactly what he "regrets" having not done.  4.9

5. "The proposal." I love the proposal, though Ruth does not. Just like the hotel scene, #7, above, Harry in hot pursuit is something she must have a mind of steel to resist. I could not. He gets deep into her personal space, breathing her in and whispering "marry me".  Her excuse is hard to fathom and in some ways this marks the start of the series' writers' departure from a relationship that could have made sense, but I still love and treasure this moment of intense desire on the part of Harry and only wish the writes had had enough sense to let her say 'yes' . . . . or at least to let her sleep with him as consolation ;)  9.1

4. Some may find it odd that I count such a moment among their best, but I find it powerful and telling. This scene takes place in the episode after the famous 'bus scene' in which Ruth has clearly hoped for a bit more personal contact from Harry than he is able to give. It excels by way of explanation. He is passionate. He does want her (as is obvious from the way he pushes her to the wall and gets in her face) but Harry lives in a perpetual state of self-denial. This may be their most carnal moment. And I dig it. Episode 4.10

3. "Would you like to have dinner?" When Harry first makes a romantic overture to Ruth, he does it in quintessential Harry style with weird timing, bravado mixed with self-effacing charm and an appeal to her superior information. This scene showcases their mutual attraction, nerves and excitement. Its charming from start to finish -- especially his face as she walks away -- and  better than the actual dinner that follows. Episode 5.3

2. "You can tell Adam." I LOVE this scene which includes not just the lovestruck dazed gaze of our completely absorbed leads, but some of the best dialog and delivery in any Spooks episode. Beyond endearing and absolutely sexy. Episode 5.5

1. "The Kiss." Need I say more. This moment is not just Harry and Ruth gold, it is Spooks gold, having made it onto the "top 10 Spooks moments" countdown voted on by cast and crew, according to dvd special features for season 10. Special indeed. This goodbye captures their love and their passion, their spirits and their story almost perfectly. It is beautiful, sexy and heartbreaking. (In a good way...unlike other moments I have no interest in including in my list.) Episode 5.5

If you don't agree with my choices, pipe up! I'd love to hear what you would add to the list. I myself have another dozen or so clips I'd have loved to include, but just as in Spooks, hard choices are necessary and we don't always get what we want.  To get more of what you want though, you might check out my exhaustive list of all the special Harry & Ruth Episodes.

Friday, July 10, 2015

One to Ponder: Picard or Pearce?

I know I would like to make it so . . . And I'd be interested in hearing from anyone else on this matter. For romantic purposes, who would you pick: Jean-Luc Picard or Harry Pearce? I have been pondering this one all day and have been pleasantly, ahem, engaged.

          Here's the easy part. Both of em. Yum.

To fully appreciate the dilemma maybe you have to be someone who admires 50-something men. As I fit square in the center of that group, I am up to the challenge.  For the uninitiated reader, let me just briefly state that Picard, played by Patrick Stewart, is captain on the flagship of the futuristic planetary federation's space fleet in Star Trek The Next Generation which aired on American TV from 1987 through 1994.

[And because there are so many people who are (extremely) so, I always feel compelled to announce that I am not a "real" trekkie and you simply must not hold me accountable for my failings to properly appreciate and index all the dimensions of that universe. What I will lay claim to is being a deep appreciator of Captain Picard. And who that knew him wouldn't be?]

Anyway. . . to continue with the background . . . on the other side of the ring is Pearce, played by Peter Firth, the fictional head of British Security Services in the powerful television program Spooks from 2002 through 2011, (as well as in a recent feature film based on the series. Oh yes, I guess, then, that I should also mention that Picard was a film character as well. . .  bla bla bla.)

The point is: both characters are extremely sexy, and neither got nearly enough of the opportunity for romantic encounter that they deserved in their shows. . . . One must use imagination to fully develop ideas about a romantic partnering with either of these men . . . .

Oh, excuse me. You're still here?  Well, yes, um, lets get back to it.

I guess we can start with the things Picard and Pearce have in common, beyond that they both start with 'P'. Both are played by men of roughly the same age (at the time of their respective series'). While Stewart, born in 1940, may be currently approaching old age, Captain Picard will be forever preserved at the height of his sex appeal and charm as fit, bald and 50-something, a powerful and intellectual captain. Meanwhile Firth, a dozen years younger than Stewart in real life, is likewise ensconced in our hearts as 50ish Harry Pearce at the peak of his pouty, intense, and slightly rogue powers.

Both men are extraordinary leaders -- men who make you feel safe despite outrageous danger. On the down side, both are fundamentally married to their jobs. Which probably explains why neither got to have enough love affairs, although both did get to dabble in an almost-romance with a deeply appreciated and cared-for coworker; in each case, they remain single and alone -- probably in better position to do the difficult work the world needs done. And speaking of that: both tend to be a magnet for evil dudes and kidnappers (think Borg; think Russian spies) who want to change the way of the world our heroes are seeking to preserve. Both leaders are intense and enigmatic. Both have b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l voices and both are played by amazingly talented British actors.

Wait. Isn't it time for another picture or two?

These men are high up in their respective worlds, brushing shoulders with the biggest decision-makers and political leaders in their spheres, but, still able to (more or less) act on their own, with independent judgement, in most of their everyday encounters. Both lead teams of highly talented people whose respect they get to enjoy at an instant and deep level. And part of what makes them so appealing is that incredible authority they wield so well, handling stress and calling the shots with total facility and masculinity.

In fact, both are honestly most appealing when they are just a bit ticked off, raising their voices, barking orders and scowling - which (luckily) they do quite often! and which only makes it that much sexier when they do find an opportunity to relax, smile or speak softly, as they (luckier still) sometimes do when flirting with their attractive favorite co-worker, who, interestingly enough, and sensibly enough, in each case, is a woman who is somewhat outside the rank and file officer norm, women of their own unique position and power.

But which would I choose? Thats the point here and that is certainly the hard part.

For looks, I'd have to give the nod to Picard who is perhaps the more conventionally 'hot' guy. He is certainly more fit - and has more classically handsome movie star features.  It would be easy to spend time looking at him.  But, to give Pearce his due, I'd say that he has such an open warmth about his face and such an amazing mouth, that I'd just as eagerly gaze at him for a few dozen years.

And actually, I think that this is what this decision would come down to.  In a word, I see Picard as sharper/colder man (yes, I know that is two words) and Pearce as a warmer and more open temperament.  I choose Harry.

Further, I see Harry as a bit more of a renegade, doing what he wants and not always following rules and protocols. This is more exciting than a stricter/military hierarchy that the Captain almost always adheres to and demands.  And for icing on the cake, it also seems that Pearce is more over-the-top in love with Ruth than Picard ever was with Beverly, or any other woman. I see this as a good sign -- of someone who is capable of truly giving his heart, soul and body to a woman - even though he may not choose to do it or live in a world where he was ever allowed to.  And maybe, lastly, the 'reality' of the backdrop is a little more stark in our everyday world of real threats found in Spooks, than it is in a high fantasy world set hundreds of years in the future and in space to boot.

Not that this game needs to have any reality about it! but sometimes a fantasy that feels more 'possible' is a fantasy that feels more worthwhile.

So I choose Harry Pearce and though the decision may have little impact on the fate of the free world or the flow of space, (nor even the power to effect my continued enjoyment in re-watching The Next Generation), I do have to say that is feels worthwhile to have this issue resolved for good.