now we like miss marple … and columbo

crime-268909_1280I think I’ve converted my mother! I love mysteries – of all kinds – but Mom was not a fan. So, either I’ve worn her down or she has seen the light.

Cozy mysteries and older TV shows are nice because they are not too graphic or gritty. Although some of the fictional characters may have passed on in the show (murdered!), the real people were all alive at the time and showed up on some other show the next week. There is very little blood and gore, so the cozies are separate from reality and can be tolerated even as we grapple with the horror of another school shooting here at home and the news reports of conflict and bombings around the world.

I think what works with these shows is that the puzzle is the real draw and the murder is just the opening gambit. The crime could just as easily be robbery, espionage or some other sinister activity – the game’s the thing that attracts people. Yet, it is still disconcerting these days to perceive violence, however banal and tidy, as entertainment. There is something strange about seeking solace in a murder mystery.

However, if I set aside my civic-minded side for a moment, I was very pleased to hear my mother say, “I like that Miss Marple!” because I like her too. If I am ever able to retire, I’d love to be some combination of Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote). I already knit and I love to write so … who knows!

In addition to Miss Marple, we watched a Columbo marathon over the weekend – another great character in the pantheon of TV detectives. I loved this show when I was a kid and it’s great to see it again. Peter Falk is just wonderful and the props still work: the raincoat, the cigar, the car, the dog, and the “just one more thing”. Mom was delighted with the marathon. The slower pace of older shows works well for her – she has a hard time when current shows speed through both action and dialogue (even with “closed caption” on!).

When working through their cases, Miss Marple and Columbo are both underestimated by those who don’t know them, which makes their victory all the more satisfying. It’s fun to see the people who dismissed the old lady and the untidy, plodding detective get their comeuppance when our heroes carry the day.

I think my mother identifies with Miss Marple in that she, too, feels undervalued and dismissed, even though I do my best to make her feel comfortable and appreciated. The reality is that it’s usually easier and faster to do things myself – at times I have a tight schedule and need to get through several things. However, I know that I need to slow down and include Mom more. She needs to feel that she can contribute.

In the meantime, what I enjoy most about the fact that she is open to mysteries is that it gives us something more to enjoy together. We can watch an episode of something in the evening and cheer when the bad guy is finally caught.


3 thoughts on “now we like miss marple … and columbo

  1. deb March 15, 2018 / 4:09 pm

    Those older programs are quite a contrast to today’s mysteries in other ways, too. Not only are mysteries such as NCIS and CSI gory, they are also loud with music and the scenes jump around quickly. Sometimes that’s part of the deflection but other times it was hoped it would grab younger audiences that way.

    I don’t know if you get the Hallmark channel or not but they have several mystery series going. They are quieter but still relevant–no horror at sex outside of marriage, for instance. And they revolve around the lead (always female) character’s career, such as an owner of a collectibles shop, a librarian, a fixer upper and others.

    One note. You’ve never mentioned whether or not you have had children but your comment on knowing you can accomplish tasks quicker than your mother rang true with me and children. (Actually, my husband too but i came to see that as a ploy, “I can’t do it as well as you…” LOL.) I couldn’t agree more that it takes patience and self-reminders. One tip which may help is that when i had a task, i’d come up with some less vital task for them to do while i finished the urgent ones. Hang in there, Susan!


    • alphacatonline March 15, 2018 / 10:05 pm

      I became almost addicted to the Hallmark Christmas movies this year! I cannot believe I did … nor do I believe I’m admitting it. Anyway, we have watched some of the Hallmark mysteries – Mom seems to like the “garage sale/collectibles” one, I think mainly because the character is married has a nice relationship with her husband. At one point, she mentioned that something reminded her of my father and the things they used to say to each other. With some of the others, there is a bit of eye-rolling! Some of them seem to take the stupidest chances (let’s go check out the dark, empty warehouse at night … alone!) and Mom just can’t go there.

      I don’t have children so this is a challenge for me. A spoiled cat is just no substitute for a child as far as learning patience, so this time with my mother is a learning experience for both of us. Fortunately, I can usually take a walk around the block and let off some steam so that I can address the situation calmly.


      • deb March 18, 2018 / 9:02 am

        Good to know you have found a release for your steam. It’s important. Did i mention sanity-saving, too?

        I am amazed at the number of otherwise intelligent women who watch those Hallmark Christmas shows. Did i mention i’m one? Indeed, my husband watches me watching them and rolls his eyes. My sister-in-law, retired Army colonel, is addicted to them. What is the draw? The Holidays? The bad acting? The crank we know will be won over? The decor? Believe me, i ask myself this question Every Year.


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