The Cuckoo’s Calling was a compelling detective drama – but one that faltered at the last hurdle

cormoran strike the cuckoo's calling tv jk rowling robert galbraith tom burke holliday grainger bbc one ben richards michael kellior tom edge

In every respect, The Cuckoo’s Calling was a competently executed detective drama, moving intelligently between the different hallmarks of the genre. It was never, for example, the high concept thriller of Sherlock – there are no astounding deductions or leaps of intuition. Rather, this was a case of gradually unveiling each layer of mystery, plunging the viewer into a well-drawn world of colourful suspects. You could describe it as generic, perhaps, but in a way that’d be missing the point; it’s not so much that The Cuckoo’s Calling typifies the genre, but rather embodies and enlivens it.

An article I wrote recently about The Cuckoo’s Calling.

I was, I think, probably a little too positive about it. I don’t know. The Strike adaptations started to take up quite a lot of thought for me for a while; they were often very close to being good, but never quite working. I got the sense that much of what was entertaining about them was almost by accident – an adaptation struggling against the flaws of its source material, for the most part. Indeed, lots of what was good about the show was probably just a quirk of casting Holliday Grainger, who did a great job with a character who I suspect could otherwise have been very flat.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Pitch

fantastic beasts and where to find them pitch crimes of grindlewald logo jk rowling david yates eddie redmayne jude law johnny depp

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m at least a week late. Yet I shall still add my thoughts to the pile. Here be thoughts on the casting, the plot and… probably other stuff.

On Story

In the interviews, the film was described as the start of a series. I assumed this meant a series about Newt Scamander, rather than adapting all the tie-in books, like Quidditch Through the Ages and etc. Although I imagine that films like that might be inevitable at this point.

So, the first chapter of the life of Newt. The first film doesn’t need to be his whole life – it can just be part of his research for the book. So here he is, in 1920s New York (which is good, because it sets it apart from the other films visually) and Newt is down on his luck. The biography section in the back of Fantastic Beasts says that he’s living on minimum wage, or the Wizarding equivalent. And then, from there, he goes on his quest… to find the animals. It shouldn’t be another, massive “end of the world” stakes story; this is a bit more of a personal quest type thing. Also, he should have a best friend who is a Slytherin. Not an evil one, cos they’re not evil, but an ambitious one, who is sarcastic (possibly referring to him as “Salamander” the whole time). I think that the friend should possibly make a fair amount of the journey with him?

Newt himself should be… like the magical Steve Irwin, but also quite like Hiccup III in How to Train Your Dragon (the film, not the book), where he has that sort of “well, why is this happening? Lemme find out” kind of quality.

On actors

I’m picturing Newt as sort of… a cross between Matt Smith and Martin Freeman, which I guess means someone like Ewan McGregor? I think he’d do quite well at the part.

Equally though, I think that perhaps he should probably be a POC character, cos there weren’t many in the Harry Potter films. So… suggestions?

If not Newt as a POC, it should be his Slytherin best friend. (The Slytherin guy should be really very important in the story. Like, this is really a friends story, I think.)

Also, Hugh Laurie should be in it. Possibly as young Dumbledore, possibly as someone else. Because he’s really cool.

On the tone and the world

The weird thing about setting this in magical America (assuming it is in magical America, that is. Maybe there’s just lots of fantastic beasts there, but no wizards) is that you kind of have to explain how the Wizarding world co relates with each other. And… that makes no sense at all, when you think about it. Why is it that no one stepped in when Voldemort was doing his thing? Britain’s in the middle of a civil war, and not one wizarding authority anywhere thought… hey, maybe we should step in and stop this Voldemort guy? (That’s kind of my only problem with JK Rowling’s writing. There’s a lot of stuff she didn’t seem to totally think through)

Generally, the film should be relatively happy, and fun, because it is about a guy going round and having the most fun ever doing what he loves.

On the title

Um, is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them all that great a title for a movie? It doesn’t seem wholly marketable to me…

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