People of a certain age will remember one advertising jingle, “Everything’s better with Blue Bonnet on it:”

Back then we were being sold an inferior product that had the shape and color of the real thing, but certainly fell short of the real thing.

I remember that we did a blind taste test in grade school, and our young taste buds, even then, for the most part could tell the difference between real butter margarine. Only one or two, out of fifteen kids, could not tell the difference.

Now we have communist apologists selling us again on the wonders of communism, named at times 21st Century Socialism, Democratic Socialism, and on and on.

The current wave started with the glamorization of Cuba’s misery: The Kardashians went to Cuba, Fast and Furious did an episode of the franchise and Chanel did a fashion show in Havana, which definitely was not the Wendy’s Soviet fashion show,

When tourists kept getting sick and the hotels didn’t get the promised amenities, travelers lost interest. Most people didn’t even need to learn about ongoing assaults on the Ladies In White or bizarre acoustic attacks on American and Canadian diplomats. They just stayed away.

But the cause lives on, and, if the believers don’t succeed, they try, try again.

Sex sells, so the NY Times found someone who extolls Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism.

Really.

I know a couple of people who actually lived in Eastern Block countries, and the last thing they had was “better sex.” They were too exhausted.

Snoopy of the Watchers’ Council actually lived there,

As any Soviet citizen with brain a bit larger than that of hamster will tell you: find a person who waxes lyrically about his/her life (sex life included) under the Soviet regime, and I’ll show you a person of privilege, not a regular Joe the Public.

And of course I just have to bring up this exquisite passage from the article:

Consider Ana Durcheva from Bulgaria, who was 65 when I first met her in 2011. Having lived her first 43 years under Communism, she often complained that the new free market hindered Bulgarians’ ability to develop healthy amorous relationships.

The hilarious quote caused me a few laughs. I am not disclosing my age, but I still could compare my amorous relationships before and after my 43. There simply ain’t any comparison, you are totally right, Ana, but I am sure it is not because of the social changes Bulgaria underwent. The weather was better back then too…

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, so the young and “woke” look to Venezuela for equality . . . while enjoying the East Village. Food lines, they believe, are good because “everyone has to do the same thing — they wait in line equally.”

The privileged few in communist societies would have a good laugh.

And no, you can’t get butter or Blue Bonnet in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, the East Village people ought to try doing without toilet paper for one day, and ponder what it’s like to do that “equally” every day of the year.

Attention: See Da Tech Guy’s pinned post!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Characters in Broadchurch

By John Ruberry

A few days ago I finished watching season three of Broadchurch, a British mystery series which is broadcast in the United Kingdom on ITV–and here on BBC America–starring David Tennant as Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as Detective Inspector Ellie Miller.

Tennant of course is best known as the Tenth Doctor–and the second one of after its revival–in Doctor Who. Except for the first half of the “Tooth and Claw” episode, Tennant uses an English accent as the Doctor, here his natural Scottish accent is utilized for his Hardy character. One of the supporting characters in Broadchurch is Jodie Whittaker, who will accede to the Doctor’s role in the next Christmas episode of Doctor Who and become the first female Doctor, to the horror of some longtime fans, including the founder of the blog you are reading now.

The creator–and sole screenplay writer, save for one episode that he had a co-writer for–of Broadchurch is Chris Chibnall, who has been executive producer of Doctor Who since last year and who will be showrunner for the feminized edition next season. Chibnall was a co-producer and screenwriter for Torchwood, the sexualized “grown-up” spinoff of Doctor Who.

The fictional town of Broadchurch is where this particular show is set, it sits on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset in southwestern England. Broadchurch is a tightly knit–perhaps too much so–small town that, in season one, is wracked by the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer (Oskar McNamara). Whittaker portrays his mother, Beth, and Andrew Buchan plays his father, Mark. The suspects are numerous and there are plenty of plot twists to keep you on the edge of your couch for all eight episodes. Season two, which also consists of eight episodes, splits time between being a courtroom drama and the re-opening of the investigation of a murder and disappearance in Sandbrook, which presumably is near Broadchurch. The botched handling of that investigation is what led Hardy to take the DI position in Broadchurch, which Miller assumed was already hers.

In the third season, which is said to be the final one, Hardy after time away from Broadchurch, returns and again is teamed with Miller. Their relationship has always been tense–but by this time they carry on like elderly spouses, albeit there is no physical side of it. When Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh) calls the police a few days after being raped at the 50th birthday party of a friend and co-worker, Hardy and Miller oversee another investigation that tears the town apart. This season is just six episodes long.

There are many fabulous performances in Broadchurch, beginning of course with Tennant and Colman, but also by Hesmondhalgh, Eva Myles (Gwen Cooper in Torchwood), David Bradley (Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and the new First Doctor in Doctor Who), Arthur Darvill (a onetime Doctor Who companion), who portrays a vicar attempting to heal the town of its wounds while preaching to mostly empty pews, as well as Carolyn Pickles. She plays a rarity–an honest journalist searching for the truth who goes out of her way not to hurt anyone.

I didn’t include Whittaker in that list, but perhaps not much was asked for her by directors of Broadchurch, although as the mother of a murdered child, that doesn’t make very much sense. Based on what I saw in the program, all the performers listed in the previous paragraph would have been better choices as the Thirteenth Doctor, not that I would expect Tennant to return to Doctor Who. My choice would have been Bradley as the next–the first shall be the latest–Doctor. But perhaps a septuagenarian as a lead character in a classic television show is too broad of a bridge to cross for our youth-worshipping culture to cross.

All three seasons are top-notch, but I’ll give my nod to the first one, which was re-done as Gracepoint for Fox in the United States. I haven’t seen that one and from what I’ve heard, it isn’t worth my time or yours, despite Tennant reprising his role as Hardy and Chibnall’s involvement.

Broadchurch is available on DVD, on Amazon, and Xfinity On Demand. Seasons one and two can be viewed on Netflix.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Today, broadcast television was interrupted with breathless “Breaking News” that Steve Bannon had been fired from the Trump administration. You would think that nothing else was happening in the world today or that nobody at home wanted to actually watch the end of their shows which had been preempted for this news and the endless public pontificating and bloviating over what it all means. Talking heads had been predicting this event and/or wishing for it for a long time, having long smeared Bannon as a raaaaacist (FYI, they have done and will continue to do this to pretty much anyone and everyone who works for President Trump, or defends him, or fails to denounce him sufficiently to their leftist liking).

The left and their #NeverTrump enablers are delighted and spewing their gloat at any public platform they can find. They think they have a major victory that will further their insidious goal of bringing down President Donald J. Trump. They are as wrong as they are obnoxious, and they are plenty obnoxious!

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Not to mention smug.

You know what?

It doesn’t matter.

In the final analysis, Steve Bannon was staff, always staff; simply staff.

Political Strategist Bannon did not create any of President Trump’s policies or platform issues.  The political policy from President Trump is directly from President Trump.

Here is a little experiment you can try: Go to the local grocery store or gas station and ask someone on line with you what they think of Steve Bannon getting fired, ask again at the waiting room in your doctor’s office or at the mechanic or hairdresser or wherever you go in your every day life where Americans are going about their lives away from the hair-on-fire histrionics of cable news and new media. Odds are the answer you get will be along the lines of, “Steve who?” – even among people who voted for Donald Trump.

And that is the point, people: we did not vote for Steve Bannon, or Sean Spicer or that Scaramucci fella – or anybody else who President Trump has fired or will fire in the future for that matter –  we voted for Donald J. Trump and as long as he is still our President and as long as he is still doing everything he can to MAGA despite the opposition he gets from all sides, it is all gravy. We don’t care. Covfefe on that for a while.

UPDATE: Mt.Bannon has landed on his feet, back at Breitbart, and he remains loyal to President Trump.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

By John Ruberry

Around this time yesterday during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia one woman was killed and 19 others were injured when they were rammed and run over by a person driving a Dodge Challenger.

James Alex Fields Jr, 20, was allegedly the behind the wheel of that muscle car. He’s been arrested on numerous charges and presumably the case against him is very strong. According to multiple media reports Fields is a white supremacist and an admirer of Adolf Hitler. He was also prescribed anti-psychotic drugs. But that doesn’t mean Fields doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong.

In my opinion Fields is the archetypal contemporary member of the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party–a disturbed, and yes, dangerous person who has, as the British say, “toys in the attic.”

Multiple media sources are calling the racist rally, formally known as Unite the Right, a white nationalist event.

Every year, however, the Nation of Islam, which espouses black separatism, holds a Saviour’s Day event, usually in Chicago, to celebrate the birthday of the NOI’s founder, Wallace Fard Muhammad, who claimed that black people are divine and whites are wicked. According to Muhammad, whites were created by an evil scientist named Yakub. But because blacks are part of the victim class, according to establishment media mores, Saviour’s Day can never be a black nationalist rally. You can laugh off the Nation of Islam, which has about 50,000 followers, but one of its members, the since-executed John Allen Muhammad, was one of the Beltway Snipers who murdered 17 people–whites and blacks–in 2002. The other killer was John Lee Malvo, a teenaged illegal immigrant from Jamaica. One of the duo’s motives for the murders was to extort money in order to open a community for homeless black youths to be trained as terrorists in Canada.

Many Muslim groups condemn the National of Islam as a heretic sect.

Despite his surname, John Muhammad’s NOI membership was downplayed, even ignored by the mainstream media in its coverage of the attacks and the subsequent trials. He was not labeled a black nationalist. In 1995 Muhammad was part of the security of the Nation of Islam’s Million Man March, although the NOI leader, Louis Farrakhan, denies it.

None of us is all good–the potential to commit evil exists in all of us in different degrees. And of course no race or ethnic group is all good or all evil.

Yet here we are, well within the 21st century, and I have to point that out. Sad.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

My mom made fruitcakes every year during Christmas season; the rum they were soaked in was all I could smell in our house for weeks and I would only eat the special cake my mom made for me that had no alcohol (I prefer my booze in a glass, thanks). My mother said her fruitcakes would never go bad because of all the alcohol (except for mine, of course) but the theory never got tested because they always got eaten by the people she gave them to. My mom is not old enough to have made the cake they just found in Antarctica, though:

A fruitcake thought to be 106 years old was recently uncovered in an extremely remote Antarctic hut.

The cake was almost “perfectly preserved” and apparently untouched when conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Trust spotted it on a shelf inside a Cape Adare hut, according to Stuff.co.nz.

The shelter was built in 1899 during a Norwegian expedition, but it’s thought that the fruitcake was brought to Cape Adare in 1911 by Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition party.

Lizzie Meek, the trust’s artifacts manager, told Newshub the delicacy still had remnants of Huntley and Palmers brand paper stuck to its side.

“It looks like new, which is quite fantastic,” Meeks said. “It smells a little bit of rancid butter, but it looks beautiful.”

Despite looking “edible,” the researchers were not permitted to taste the cake for ethical reasons.

Meeks added that while the fruitcake’s tin had nearly disintegrated, the cake itself was well preserved due to freezing conditions.

The fruity treat was among nearly 1,500 artifacts found in the Cape Adare huts. The conservators also discovered tools, clothing, sardines, “rather nice looking” jams and “badly deteriorated” meat and fish during their 14-month effort.

Meeks described the fruitcake finding a “quite a surprise.”

“Most people don’t carry a whole fruitcake to Antarctica and not eat it,” she said.

No word on the alcohol content of the cake, but I don’t want to eat it – and it isn’t for “ethical” reasons. Maybe if I had a bunch of alcohol in myself first, but that’s a whole other thing. The cake and other items found with it will be returned to their places of origin so someone else can “discover” them again in the future.

I kind of want to go clear the leftovers out of my fridge now, for posterity or something.

Very old fruitcake

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

For the past six months I’ve become increasingly alarmed over the media’s obsession with Russia’s supposed interference on the 2016 election, which I view as a dangerous distraction. I have seen how reports on international news not directly related to the topic, especially on Latin America and our hemisphere, steadily dwindle to almost disappear while conditions in Latin American countries are increasingly dangerous.

I am very pleased over Justice Gorsuch’s successful nomination, and am hopeful over future nominees to the judiciary.

Pres. Trump’s speech in Poland outlining America’s foreign policy was very good . . . but you wouldn’t know it by listening to the biased, unfair and downright dishonest so-called journalists.

Trump’s interactions at the G20, and the invitation from French president Macron, the first from a French president to an American in decades, are favorable signs. But instead of reporting on policy, the news descends into arguments about Ivanka Trump’s sleeves and undisclosed meetings that weren’t.

The failure this week of a repeal/replace for Obamacare is a big setback, throwing chum on  shark-infested waters. Any substantial information on the hundreds of government regulations that are being repealed is hidden under opinion pieces.

I have no forecast since the overall effect of all the political reporting throughout the past year has put me off politics – and I used to be a news junkie – to the point that I’ve taken up listening to opera: all of the drama, but played to better music.

Cartoon via Gay Patriot

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

By John Ruberry

Donald J. Trump may not be going through a witch hunt, but he’s surely the only president to face so many attempts to remove him from office.

What follows is a brief summary of the plots.

Shortly after his surprise win over Hillary Clinton, Democrats and their media wing tried to delegitimize his triumph by claiming that Russians, meaning of course Vladimir Putin, hacked the election results. To date no evidence has emerged of a single vote changed because of Russian interference. And the liberals also claimed that Trump colluded with the Russians to win the presidency.

In December, shortly before the Electoral College met in the 50 state capitols and the District of Columbia, a group of has-been Hollywood celebrities calling themselves Unite for America released a video asking Republican electors to vote for someone other than Trump. Another group, the Hamilton Electors, also unsuccessfully made a similar call out to the electors.

The Electoral College didn’t punt–Trump won the most electors.

The following month a smattering of Democrats tried to convince Congress not to certify the Electoral College results. A few days after Trump was inaugurated a leftist group sued him, claiming that Trump was in violation of the obscure emoluments clause in the Constitution because a representative of a foreign government, might, just might, stay at a Trump Organization hotel. Remember, just a few days later. Besides, the president removed himself from running the company.

In May there was a spike in impeachment calls after the president fired FBI Director James Comey, citing obstruction of justice. Late last month Trump Tweeted about the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” drawing attention to a facelift of co-host Mika Brzezinski.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsWhich led to calls by Democrats to have Trump removed from office under the 25th Amendment, calling into question his mental health.

Blogger with a man claiming to be Trump

The latest impeachment dustup centers on his son, Donald Trump Jr., meeting with some Russian operatives last summer, which have brought new life to the collusion charges. Let’s dial this back. Trump’s son met with some Russians, so the president should be removed from office. Trump Jr. met with those Russians. Not the president. If that makes sense to you–then you are probably a leftist.

Let’s not forget the regular stoking of the ouster flames with the regular calls for Trump to release his tax returns–although there is no legal requirement for any president to do so.

You know what? All of this sounds like a witch hunt to me.

Or, as Lou Dobbs said on Fox Business last week, “This is about a full-on assault by the left–the Democratic Party–to absolutely carry out a coup d’etat against President Trump, aided by the left-wing media.”

Yep. A witch hunt. Definitely.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Deep in southwestern Germany in the Rhineland-Palatinate state lies the small village of Kallstadt, which has about 1,200 residents.

It is well-known for two reasons. It’s a stop on the German Wine Route and it’s the ancestral home of Henry J. Heinz, the founder of the H.J. Heinz Company, and President Donald J. Trump. In fact, Heinz and Trump’s grandfather, Kallstadt-born Friedrich Trump, were second cousins.

I was digging deep–very deep–on Netflix for something interesting to watch when I stumbled across Trump’s face on a movie poster for Kings of Kallstadt, a documentary by Simone Wendel, a Kallstadter. It was filmed in 2012 and released in 2014; her movie probably would have been forgotten outside of Rhineland-Palatinate had the Trump Train not steamrolled into Washington last year.

Much of the dialogue is in German–with subtitles of course.

There is a Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon feel within Kallstadt, because Wendel tells us that “the sun always shines and the wine never runs out.” And while Kallstadt has only 1,200 inhabitants it counts 1,600 members in its 27 clubs. “That amounts to 135 percent of love,” Wendel beams. Does Kallstadt have a Miss Kallstadt? No, it has a Wine Princess. No, make that two of them, which is a situation you might expect to find in the Andy Griffith Show’s Mayberry. Kallstadt’s culinary delicacy is saumagen, that is, stuffed sow’s stomach.

Yummy!

Trump is interviewed here, along with the family historian, Trump’s cousin John Walter. If you ever imagined what our president would be like if he was a modest accountant–that’s Walter. Because he’s a modest, albeit retired, accountant.

Fascinatingly, even before he officially entered the political world, the man who was then simply known as the King of New York felt compelled to bring up his troubled relationship with the media.

“Okay, I think (there are) a lot of misconceptions about me,” Trump explains to Wendel in a Trump Tower conference room. “I’m a lot nicer person than the press would have you think. I don’t want to ruin my image by telling you that, but I believe that.”

Not discussed in the film is what Donald and his father, Frederick, said about their heritage–the Trumps were Swedish–which the legions Trump-haters jumped on during the presidential campaign. But the Swedish fib is an understandable distortion of the truth. During World War I it was quite common for German-Americans to hide their ethnicity. I regularly run into people who tell me stories of a grandfather or great-grandfather who changed his name from say Muller, to Miller, after being hounded out of a town as Americans fought the Kaiser’s army. After World War II Trump’s grandmother, Elizabeth, and Frederick rented many apartments and sold many houses to Jewish New Yorkers, who understandably had extremely uncomfortable feelings about Germans.

“He had thought, ‘Gee whiz, I’m not going to be able to sell these homes if there are all these Jewish people,'” Walter told the now-failing New York Times last year about the dilemma of Trump’s dad.

More on Grandma Elizabeth in a bit.

“After the war, he’s still Swedish,” Walter continued. “It was just going, going, going.”

As for the Swedish tale, Donald repeated it for his best-seller, The Art Of The Deal. Frederick was still alive then. But by 1990 the Swedish stuff was dead lutefisk.

Outside Chicago’s Trump Tower in 2017

Friedrich Trump left Kallstadt at age 16 for America where he enjoyed great success in Seattle, Yukon, Alaska, and then New York. Walter tells Wendel that Grandfather Trump married Elizabeth Christ, a Kallstadter. She demanded that he sell his American properties and return to Kallstadt, which, in a story Trump confides to Walter that he never heard, Prince Leopold of Bavaria deported Friedrich. Yes, a Trump was deported! Friedrich died in 1918 in Queens, likely an early victim of that year’s flu pandemic. Elizabeth and Frederick then founded Elizabeth Trump and Son Company, now known as the Trump Organization.

Back to the almost present: a group of Kallstadters are invited as guests of New York’s German-American Steuben Parade. Trump was the parade’s grand marshal in 1999. They also visit Pittsburgh and the Heinz History Center, where amazingly, no members of the Heinz family meet them. Say what you will about Donald J. Trump, but he earnestly tries to make himself accessible except to those who are openly hostile to him. Trump could have easily dismissed Wendel’s request for an interview for her quaint little film. But Trump has alway been a salesman.

The Kallstadters attend a Pittsburgh Pirates game–big league baseball–but one cranky woman constantly complains that there is “no action” in the game.

But is there is a lot of action in a 0-0 soccer match, frau? Other than the brawls in the bleachers?

Then comes the Steuben Parade. As the Kallstadters–two of whom are carrying a giant model of a saumagen–and Walter gather on the route, an “Obama 2012” sign is seen from a window behind them.

Blogger in Washington State last year

Late in the film Wendel asks Trump if would like to visit Kallstadt. “When I’m over there I will certainly visit,” he replies. “Absolutely.”

The president will be in Germany next week for the G20 summit. No word of a Trump homecoming yet, along the lines of his visit to the birthplace of his mother in Scotland in 2008. Although Trump isn’t very popular in Kallstadt, at least according to media reports, since his political rise.

“Believe me,” Trump just might respond to such stories, “that’s just fake news, believe me.”

In addition to Netflix, Kings of Kallstadt is also available on Amazon. It’s an enjoyable, wunderbar, and yes, big league movie. Even if you hate Trump. Believe me.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Blogger at the border

By John Ruberry

Illinois isn’t at the crossroads. It’s on a collision course after driving off a cliff. It’s that bad here.

The Land of Lincoln faces what is likely its most pivotal two weeks in its 199-year history.

Last week Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican who never ran for political office before, called for a special session to pass an annual budget, which is something that the Illinois General Assembly hasn’t done in over two years. And it’ll be tougher to do so now, as a supermajority will be required to pass a budget because the 2017 session of the legislature ended on May 31. Getting a budget on the governor’s desk theoretically should be easy, thanks to the gerrymandering skills of state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), as there is a supermajority in the state Senate and a near-supermajority in the House. Madigan, who has held his job for 32 of the last 34 years and is also the chairman of the state Democratic Party, enjoyed a supermajority in the lower chamber for the first two years of Rauner’s term.

The Senate passed a budget bill this spring, one that was way out of balance, but Madigan’s House didn’t even consider it. And while Illinois’ constitution has a balanced budget requirement, none of its budgets have met that standard since 2001.

So why no budget?

I view Madigan’s strategy as an early manifestation of the national Democratic Party’s “Resist” strategy regarding Donald Trump, even though the political boss is a soulless creature who has no manifesto other than maintaining power for himself. And Madigan doesn’t want, at least yet, to have Democrats in the House vote “Yes” on a big tax hike. Yeah, they did so in a lame-duck session in 2011, but there was a Democratic governor in Springfield then to help shoulder the blame.

Rauner offered an extensive “turnaround agenda” as a candidate and he demanded it be included in any tax hike bill once he took office. He’s scaled back on that agenda since then, but the rump of it is still anathema to Madigan and his campaign contributors. Rauner is asking for pension reform, education funding changes, more business-friendly workers’ compensation laws, and a five-year property tax freeze.

So how bad is it in Illinois?

Here are some headlines from just the past week:

That last one is the most ominous news as Illinois’ comptroller, Democrat Susanna Mendoza, is warning that Illinois, because of court orders, will soon have to pay out more each month than it receives in revenue. “The magic tricks run out after a while,” says Mendoza, “and that’s where we’re at.”

Illinois has $15 billion in unpaid bills, which is over 40 percent what the state collects in revenue annually. It has over $100 billion in unfunded public worker pension obligations. Its bonds have the lowest rating of any state ever. It is one of only a few states, and the only one in the Midwest, that is losing population.

Pretty horrible. So much so that a “grand bargain” between Rauner and Madigan might end up being too little or too late to prevent the Land of Lincoln from collapse.

The end of Illinois as we know it will arrive by the end of this month. If no deal is reached it’s hard to imagine the Prairie State not ending up in a quasi-bankruptcy situation, even though Congress will need to get involved first. An austerity budget will likely hasten the population exodus, as will a massive tax hike without any reforms.

Another Illinois-style temporary fix will only delay judgement day. And that judgement will only be harsher when it comes.

As Ben Affleck’s character in Argo phrased it, “There are only bad options, it’s about finding the best one.”

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Illinois resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Last fall in my review of the first season of The Last Kingdom I wrote:

I’ll be back for season two, hoping for more. (More meaning better shows, not bare buttocks.) After all, the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood didn’t hit its stride until season two and it didn’t achieve consistent greatness until The Children of Earth in season three.

And so I have returned for season two of the show, which is now a co-production of Netflix and the BBC. The series is based on books by Bernard Cornwell.

The Last Kingdom didn’t reach the stride that I was hoping to find, rather, it is just running in place.

Minor season one spoiler alerts in the following paragraph.

Uhtred the Godless (Alexander Dreymon), who was enslaved as a boy by Danes and robbed of his inheritance of Bebbanburg in Northumberland by a duplicitous uncle, becomes a chieftain for King Alfred (David Dawson). England’s “last kingdom” is Alfred’s Wessex, holding out in the 9th century against what historians later named the Great Heathen Army. Alfred prevails over the Danes in the Battle of Edington, preserving not only his kingdom but also his notion of an England. Havde danskerne vundet kampen, kan du læse denne sætning på dansk i stedet for engelsk. Oops, make that, had the Danes won the battle you might be reading this sentence in Danish instead of English. But for Uhtred the victory is bittersweet, his mistress, the sorceress Queen Iseult of Cornwall, is beheaded during the battle.

So that’s it, right? Alfred becomes Alfred the Great and the Danes are forced back to Denmark? No. Viking raids–oh, the word “viking” doesn’t appear in The Last Kingdom–continue until the auspicious year of 1066. Alfred and his successors merely push back against the Danes, who never leave, they become Anglicized. Although in 1016 Cnut the Great, a Dane, albeit a Christian, is crowned king of England.

And that’s the heart of the problem of the second edition of The Last Kingdom. Sure, the Saxons and the Danes are still slaughtering each other, but historically post-Edington is a less interesting time in England.

Minor season two spoiler alerts in the following paragraph.

A handsome warrior like Uhtred isn’t going to remain unattached for long, he marries the sister of the mild-mannered Guthred (Thure Lindhardt), a Christian Dane and former slave who becomes King of Northumberland as a result of a prophecy-dream of an abbot. But Guthred betrays Uhtred and as he sets matters straight, Uhtred proceeds to anger Alfred. But the king soon finds himself in a situation where he needs his chieftain’s aid.

As with first season the second one ends with a fierce battle.

My disappointment in the second season lies with the lack of character development. Perhaps you can argue that Uhtred’s strong mental fortitude is why the travails he suffers doesn’t alter his nature, but he’s essentially the same person since his appearance as an adult at the end of the first episode in series one. Alfred remains the pious king–despite his own sufferings. Only Uhtred’s priest friend, Father Beocca (Ian Hart) and Erik Thurgilson (Christian Hillborg), who does not appear in the first season, progress as characters.

There are a few other of annoyances. Each episode begins with a pompous “I am Uhtred son of Uhtred” proclaimed by Dreymon  which is followed by a summary of previous events, which are only sometimes helpful. When a town is shown in a wide-angle shot the old English name is displayed first, then the modern equivalent. But in the case of Benfleet, the site of much of the action in the second season, is it necessary to do so three times in the same episode? Are we that stupid? And until I receive solid proof otherwise, let’s assume that Alfred’s crown is plastic.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

So far The Last Kingdom hasn’t been renewed. So I’ll withhold my commitment to watching season three.

Oh, as for bare buttocks, yes there a couple of scenes with them, if you have to know.

And now you do.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.