Saturday, September 10, 2016

What's on TV?

TV does not figure prominently in The Canon. It feels like the only time we see them is at Professor Baron de Werd van den Platz ter Brant's ancestral pile. It's often tucked furtively away like a girlie mag in the small sitting room Araminta is expected to make her own in the coming weeks and months of her loveless marriage of convenience.

TV is something she might watch after wrestling with difficult Dutch verb conjugation, already consulted Mrs. Jolly about dinner menus and is waiting for her husband to come home. From a surgery? From driving to Belgium? From taking her sister, Nefarious Model, out?

The programs on offer never seem interesting. And I don't see the new baroness indulging in more exciting fare like my current TV obsession Stranger Things. (That is, as they say, another book. The only gorgons in Betty Neels novels are peppery night nurses.)  

(Actually, in the interest of honesty they share a bit more: Casseroles, a loveless marriage, bicycles, romantic yearning, working in a grocery store, teenaged hooligans, resourceful heroines, missing children, a plain best friend to the pretty one who really deserves a great love story...Oh my gosh, Betties. Oh my gosh.)

I digress. I was thinking of what might be enjoyed by the Baroness when she figures out the whole thing. Here is Betty Keira's Well-Bred Baroness Programming Guide:

Netflix has Martin Clunes: Heavy Horsepower. I really enjoyed it. The baroness needs to understand the massive Friesians on her new husband's country estate.

Singin' in the Rain. Oh. A musical. How diverting. (My 13-year-old was watching it last night and said of the meet-cute when Gene Kelly jumps from a tram into the passenger seat of Debbie Reynolds elderly car "That must be the best meeting in film." And then when Lena Lamont (a Veronica. Boo. Hiss.) comes to blackmail the owner of the studio into making Kathy dub ALL her films, she said, "Some people just want to watch the world burn.")    

Persuasion (1995). A tasteful remake of a well-loved classic sure to keep the baroness hopeful that her own wayward romance will find its own happy ending. In the mean time, Ciaran Hinds will not at all hurt the eyes.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi For the cooks in The Canon (Florina of The Great Lemonade Caper, Kate with her improbably small 100 pounds of seed money) they will appreciate the skill and beauty of a dish well-executed. For the nurses, they will recall that handsy houseman who tried to feed them on Asian food and then get familiar. Olivia wonders when her own husband will try to get familiar...

Antiques Roadshow UK Araminta, being tossed out of her ancestral home by an evil brother/step-mother/cousin with only her mother's old work basket and a papier mache table to show for her years of hard work tending a crotchety and ill man, will enjoy the idea that if things get really dire, maybe there's money in some of Mama's old things.

Hop to it Betties, we need a full complement of programming so that the baroness doesn't become so frustrated by her husband's continual absences that she is tempted to take off in her Loveless Mini to a hiding place so secret she already told him about it. (cough*The Blue Pool*cough) 


  1. Father Brown - Certainly the vicars' daughters will enjoy the antics of a priest who solves mysteries while judging baked goods at the church fete.

    Martha Stewart's Cooking School - Learn how to make anything from everything in a well-stocked pantry. Certainly useful when you're snowbound with a Lady and the elderly aunts, kids with measles, and doctors who are suffering from exhaustion from all the immunizations and home visits.

  2. There's a scene in the movie 'Babe' (which I love) when Farmer Hoggett is alone at the farmhouse while his stressful wife is away at a farm ladies' guild meeting and he is sitting before a crackling fire and watches TV. The show features two young women singing a hymn or classical song and there's this happy glow over the whole thing. That's how I imagine Optimal Neels TV Viewing.

    1. IS that what it was? I don't know. But there's just a tiny snippet of it in the movie and it's a lovely scene.

  3. There is one other gorgon in the Canon. The hero, unforgivably, calls the heroine thusly in one of the best first meetings of the principals in The Great Betty‘s entire œuvre!

    'You're alone in the house?'
    She didn't answer and he tried again. 'Is Mrs Burns at home?'
    'Chatty little thing, aren't you? Where is she?'
    Deborah was standing squarely in the doorway her small, rather plump person by no means filling it. 'At her mother's house.'
    She watched his face change to become serious. 'Is she ill?'
    'Her mother? Yes. Mrs Burns went yesterday—no the day before that. Now will you please go away?'
    For answer she felt two large hands clasp her waist and she was lifted gently aside as he went past her and into the sitting room, where he picked up the phone. She closed the door and went after him, watching while he dialled a number, staring at the wall in front of him. He was a good looking man, in his mid-thirties perhaps. She wondered who he was, if he was an intruder she couldn't do much about it now, but he looked different suddenly, serious and worried, his voice was different too, no longer casual and so amused. He got the number and asked for Mrs Burns and then said: 'Peggy? what's wrong? I got back a couple of days early and came to see you. There's a small gorgon here, defending your children with her life's blood...'
    He stood listening while Peggy talked. 'I'm coming over right away. No I didn't get your cable—I'd already left. I'll be with you in a couple of hours, maybe a good deal less.'
    He listened again and turned to look at Deborah. 'Coping very well, I should have said, starched backbone and a mouth like a rat trap. I'd hate to be in her bad books.' And then 'Hang on love, I'll be with you in no time at all.'

  4. Well, at least one heroine used to watch a pretty funny television programme (prior to her marriage?), a cooking show, actually, The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr.

    'What are we going to eat, or is it a secret?'
    She told him. 'Well, Gurkas Norge for starters—you know, the Galloping Gourmet...'
    'I don't know, but I daresay I'll catch up with you as you go along—a recipe book, perhaps?' he hazarded.
    'A man—a cook. Cucumber and anchovies and cream cheese and sour cream and some caviare—they’re rather expensive. I’m afraid.'

    Gurkas Norge

    Recipe courtesy of Graham Kerr

    The Galloping Gourmet
    Gurkas Norge

    " A Danish specialty "

    Total Time:
    2 hr 10 min
    Prep: 2 hr 10 min

    6 first course servings


    6 small cucumbers
    12 anchovy fillets
    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
    3/4 cup cream cheese
    2 tablespoons sour cream, plus more for garnish
    Freshly ground salt, to taste
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste
    6 teaspoons caviar, to garnish
    Lemon wedges, to garnish
    Parsley, to garnish


    Scrape skin of cucumbers lengthwise with fork to make long grooves. Cut in 2-inch sections and cut out seeds, forming rings.

    Mash anchovies with dill, chives, cream cheese, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Fill cucumber rings with this mixture and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.

    Garnish each cucumber with a teaspoon of sour cream, then a teaspoon of caviar. Serve with lemon and parsley.

    Recipe courtesy of Graham Kerr

    PICTURE: Gurkas Norge
    from Eating Vincent Price: Scandinavia
    Vincent Price's recipe from his & his wife's book A Treasury of Great ℜecipes

  5. VIDEO:
    The Galloping Gourmet prepares Filet Van Zeetong Nerleoise which he enjoyed at "De Gravenmolen" Restaurant in AMSTERDAM.
    De Gravenmolen was a restaurant in the Red Light District—Dutch: Rossebuurt, mentioned in A Match for Sister Maggy

    In this episode, Graham Kerr also prepares quenelles, which are mentioned a few times in the Canon.

    1. I put that badly. The Rossebuurt was mentioned in A Match for Sister Maggy, not the restaurant.

  6. So now I am going to have to give "Stranger Things" a try. I keep hearing about it but seeing it mentioned here has sealed the deal.

    Right now, I am really into "The Walking Dead", but I have to wonder would any Betty Heroine be into it? I think so, obviously, because it's a great source for meaningful discussion plus it's cathartic. Also, "Two Fat Ladies", "The Pioneer Woman", and the "Barefoot Contessa" cooking shows would make great additions to the baroness'S viewing schedule.

    In the end, though, "Sherlock" with Cumberbatch and Freeman is probably the best bet.

  7. Late as usual but I bet the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot adaptations would go over well.

    The Great British Baking Show! Another natural.

    Betty Marita

    1. Yes Betty Marita
      I think that Araminta would like "The Great British Bake-Off". In fact there are a few Araminta's in it and Mary Berry would be a shoe in as a wonderful sprightly grandmother for either the RDD or the heroine!