A Pleasant Surprise

Alphabet Movie challenge: day 8

Hidden Gem

Answer: The Impressionists


I realized that I neglected to write about The Impressionists

in the course of my “fan path”;


a grave error on my part because it is a mini-series that should not be missed! and not just because how unbelievably lovely Richard’s eyes look in this program, either 😉


As I shared in the Proust Questionnaire, Monet was a favorite of mine long before I knew about Richard Armitage. I didn’t know much about the Man vs. the Artist though, so it was very interesting to learn about the more personal side of things.

Monet and Manet; I wasn't the first to be confused
Monet and Manet; I wasn’t the first to be confused

How he met his wife and started a family with her; how he struggled, along with his artist friends, to fight against preconceived notions of what art should be;


and how he became widowed, slowly fell in love with a woman who had been his benefactor, but was denied acknowledging the relationship for propriety’s sake.


I also enjoyed peeking into the everyday life

of an artist from that time period;


what was



to make his visions

become reality.


The Impressionists made me look a little closer at the paintings I already thought I knew and even changed my mind about some I had previously disliked.


The Impressionists

was a pleasant surprise 🙂

can't say the same for that goatee...
can’t say the same for that goatee…

(Non-Armitage answer: The Matchmaker, starring Janeane Garofalo)

A Tale of Two Philips

Philip Turner

from Inspector Lynley Mysteries: in Divine Proportion


Philip Durrant

from Marple: Ordeal by Innocence


Both suspects in two different murder mysteries.

Philip Durrant is a disagreeable fellow who ends up in a wheel-chair, due to Polio. Think: Guy of Gisborne, in wool instead of leather.


Philip has been trying to get control of his wife’s money, while having countless affairs through the years.

there's a lady-friend behind that door *shh*
there’s a lady behind that door *shh*

His wife seems a bit uptight

ice cold

but that’s no reason to prey on her emotionally unstable, younger sister.

-is that hair barrette serving a purpose? I must know!-
is that hair barrette serving a purpose? I must know!

I’m not really a fan of this Philip. In fairness though, we don’t learn a whole lot about his character. Maybe he was never hugged as a child.

Heinz, is that you?
Heinz, is that you?

Now Philip Turner, on the other hand, I like much better.


In a I-know-I-should-stay-away but I-just-can’t-help-myself kind of way. Why is that? The opening scene, with the unmistakable voice, making all kinds of positive noise perhaps?  This Philip is the “other man” to a married woman. We’re led to believe that it’s nothing close to love, but if the man wants to spend the night, let him! Waking up to this:


would not be a bad thing (and might have kept you alive, just sayin’).

Philip did take part in the town “secret” though,

-should we paint the town red?... no, that only works if you're Clint Eastwood-
helpful suggestion: paint the town red. it worked for Clint Eastwood!

and suffered for it.

-I won't look where they're all looking, I won't!-
I won’t look where they’re all looking, I won’t!

So what do you think? Do both Philips belong in the Loathe Him club, or should Turner get a pass?


Radio, Radio

The first radio interview with Richard Armitage that I ever heard was Radio1 with Scott Mills, 2010, and it’s still one of my favorites. Richard seems so relaxed in this one, playful and funny, and speaking in an unhindered accent that I find particularly enjoyable.

It starts out with the hosts offering Richard some Fanta bread. I’m not sure if this was bread made with Fanta orange soda or just dipped in it, but Richard was a good sport and tried it…then he spat it out. It was “rank” and he just couldn’t bear it.

Lucas, hand to mouth
I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my Orange Crush

Then Richard lowers his voice, in a way that should come with a warning label, and utters the word “DIRTY *gulp* This segues into asking about Richard’s lady fans (of course). He takes the lighthearted, humble approach and claims he only has two. When asked what the age range of his fans are, he jokes that one is 25 and the other is 35…which is met with silence. His dry delivery was perfect.

talk slowly, so they’ll understand

When recalling a job as a dancing banana, we hear some of that accent that I love so much. Especially when he says “That’s not on your sheet” and “Find the pictures for that one!

Porter taking hostage gif
you’re going to “lose” those pics, understand?

The conversation switches to Guy of Gisborne and how girls always seem to like the bad boy. The female co-host enlightens the men on why that is: “they think they’ll be nasty to everyone apart from them, and just them they’ll protect.” Smart woman.

make me feel special, Guy!

Richard then says that Guy does have a “redeeming quality” under all of that leather. Listen, then tell me your mind didn’t go straight to where mine did…

Lucas, bang on coffee table
oh good! now we’re all on the same page.

The talk turns to Strike Back next, which is what Richard is mainly promoting in this interview. They talk of the training regimen and how Richard needs to watch his diet, etc. For those stalkers out there, he apparently drinks Soy Lattes.

finger pointing
forget you read that!

When they’re talking about the risk the production company took with centering a big budget show around one character, the way Richard says “just me” is adorable.

smirk, outside studio


As they move on into discussing the ad campaign and how the billboards are so massive, one fan says she sees Richard’s face every morning when she opens her bedroom window. Richard responds with, “gettin’ into her bedroom window, NICE!

remind you of anyone?

As talk turns to Lucas, an interesting point is brought up: what does Lucas do in his down time, what are his hobbies? The hosts suggest stamp collecting or a love of model railways.

close-up, serious Lucas
Double O gauge all the way, baby!

The interview wraps up with Richard lamenting that Robin Hood could have gone on for five series, instead of just three, and then he says “wicked” a few times. This interview just makes me smile every time I hear it!

selfie, close-up
less maniacal, more blissful (yes, that’s me)

I love the audio interviews, I even have a few different ones downloaded to my mp3 player. When I hit “random” to listen to music, sometimes they’ll pop up unexpectedly; those are the best surprises.


My Baby Just Wrote Me a Letter

When I discovered the messages Richard Armitage had written to his fan collective, I became very excited!

Monet and friends in gallery
more excited, less stylish (I was in my pajamas)

These messages reinforced the kind of person I suspected he was already, while also giving me a peek at some new aspects of his personality I had yet to encounter.


Richard Armitage is sweet and silly.

dancing Richard

The majority of the messages are in response to the never ending support the fan base has given Richard through the years, which he is extremely grateful for. The bulk of the content is repeated apologies for not sending individual Thank-Yous for gifts received. Some of the gifts mentioned I found particularly unique, but Richard emphasizes his appreciation for all of them.

“I don’t think any of your gifts are WEIRD, I love them all.”

He often painstakingly highlighted each gift individually, while other times he gave a more generalized Thank-You; silly commentary almost always included.

“Many other cards and gifts from Austria, Canada, USA, Czech republic, Belgium, Australia…The Moon…Mars…Snickers…Uranus…NO don’t start all that!”

bashful laughing on The Today Show

Another way he showed his appreciation was by looking out for his followers and trying to protect them, as best he could, from afar.

I would and have never “ridiculed” any fan for their dedication, I have always corrected interviewers when they talk about “crazed fans”, I make sure they understand the respect and intelligence with which most of you all conduct yourselves. I am mortified that this has somehow been misinterpreted, but take responsibility for this and will stand firm in the face of future ridicule.

BBC America Robin Hood interview
we’re all in this together

He even went so far as to apologize directly for the infamous relationship article, expressing his sincere regret for revealing those very personal things; not in embarrassment for himself, but rather for how the article may have affected his fans.

“The arena which I work in trades with this kind of information currency, I intend to be a spendthrift in future.”

So when he pointed out his love for Keane’s Hamburg Song, because “if you listen you might understand why”, it’s clear that he truly was sharing a part of himself.

Richard Armitage is wise.

One of my favorite excerpts from these messages was written in response to drama within the fandom. Jealousy had reared it’s ugly head and a dispute arose about which sites were receiving the letters and why.

stern expression- in suit
we’re only human

What Richard said in response touched me so deeply that I now have it written down and close at hand, as a personal reminder during my daily online activities.


“I just ask you to look after each other, that’s all. There are quite a few sensitive souls lingering out there which need protecting, not to mention the younger members who are looking at you as role models. This goes against everything I believe in, I think you know that.

To live and let live, without clamour for distinction or recognition; to wait on divine love; to write truth first on the tablet of one’s own heart-this is the sanity and perfection of living. (Mary Baker Eddy)

Keep up the good work and SHINE.”

Truly words to live by.

brown jacket, against stone wall
you help me shine, Richard

Richard Armitage is creative.

During the filming of Robin Hood, he mentioned how hot it was in Budapest that summer. He illustrated this fact by sharing a (faux) Health decree issued by the government listing several warnings including: not to dress “head to toe in black leather”, and comparing the castle where filming was taking place to an oven that could roast internal organs. The situation was “ridiculous and illegal”.

Guy, in black coat, turning forward gif
Guy should be ridiculously illegal

During the filming of Spooks/MI-5 Richard was prevented from corresponding because of the (made up) accusations claiming that the letters had not come from the real RA; this eventually led to his (fake) arrest for “fan abandonment”.

“It’s not true, I always wrote everything myself. I even put in bad grammar, spelling and inappropriate humour to appear more down to Earth.”

inappropriate humour? like (in thanks for a particular gift):

“Mini Wooden Cello and Bow (having trouble getting it between my legs: as the actress said to the bishop)”

laughing, stripped tie gif

This was all relayed by a “Spooksperson”

These messages represented what I had already come to know of  Richard Armitage: he was a gentle man, who excelled creatively.

premiere suit, maroon tie


What I had only gotten a glimpses of, up until that point though, was that the man is just plain funny!

re: the Keane song, just liked the song really. Good job I didn’t mention “Smack my Bitch up” by Prodigy (No, not one of my favorites!)

(that one cracks me up every time!)

Andy, Martin, and Richard laughing gif

It seems that Harry’s cheekiness came naturally.

I Need a Hero

As I was lurking on message boards and searching through Tumblrs on my quest to discover all that was Armitage

-which way to the skin pics?-
which way to the skin pics?

one elusive title kept being suggested as an absolute must-see: Strike Back.


I had learned not to be misled by the readily available American version that touted itself as the complete first season



but rather the UK original version of Chris Ryan’s Strike Back, the one starring Richard Armitage.

the one & only
the one & only

I was directed to a link to view the entire 6 part series, in whole, on YouTube. Ten minutes into my viewing I stopped, and scrambled to download all of them first

hey, make them region-free and I will gladly buy them!
hey, make them region-free and I will gladly buy them!

because I knew magnificence like that was bound to be removed very quickly!


and I was right! three days later they were gone.


Everything about this series captured me instantly.


The style and story line were reminiscent of things I had watched with my Dad  through the years.


military based, conspiracy theories, full of no-nonsense action and focused on a tarnished hero.


John Porter is my favorite kind of hero. The kind that does what he does because he has no real choice in the matter


it’s ingrained in him to just do what needs to be done.

hiding a razor-blade up the bum? hero, indeed!
hiding a razor-blade up the bum? hero, indeed!

Someone else would have probably defended their actions concerning the young suicide-bomber, and fought for the right to continue to serve their country


but Porter knew that course would be neither honorable nor productive in the end. He owned his actions and accepted the consequences. When his personal life fell apart because of it, he braced himself as best he could and trudged forward.

"I'm at a payphone trying to call home..."
I’m at a payphone trying to call home…

I must pause here and give his wife a few harsh words. Granted, we don’t see the parts where John struggles with PTSD, often aided by alcohol.


So their initial separation may have been a necessary evil for the state of their marriage at that time

just focus on the thumb
just focus on the thumb

but to declare later, when John had been reported as being MIA, that they’re better off without him?!

none of us are better off without this
none of us are better off without this

I don’t really hold his daughter’s actions against her, though. She was young and acting out her resentments. Been there done that, sorry to say. And in pretty much the same bratty manner.

lucky for us, Dads are forgiving
lucky for us, Dads are forgiving

And while we’re here, let’s talk about why Collinson would even report that to John’s family in the first place. Porter was on a secret mission and had not been out of contact for any significant amount of time, all things considered.

Just one more way to step in and try to take something that belongs to John!

-the Armitage Army is mine! you can't have them!-
the Armitage Army is mine! you can’t have them!

That is what I love about the series though, the focus is on the mission and action of the plot

yes plot, strictly plot
yes plot, strictly plot

but there are underlying story lines throughout that give insight into who John the man is, without taking the spotlight off of John the soldier.


I could easily go into a detailed discussion of every episode, because I greatly enjoy every one of them in this series. It would be long-winded and full of passionate praise though, so I’ll save that for another day.


What are some of your favorite Strike Back moments?

these jeans
these jeans