Mystery of Mysteries

IMG-2936I confess, it is with an abundance of mischievous pleasure that I introduce this Owl Journal entry, under the title I’ve given it, knowing full well that many of you have been reading my memoir and blog and will therefore be nicely set up to assume that I might have had another spiritual epiphany concerning the great unknown beyond our earthly existence.


Rather, I’ve mentioned several times before that, in my disabled state, unable to engage in numerous preferred activities that I used to enjoy, most of them physical, I’ve had to instead lean pretty heavily on screens of various sizes — phone, tablet, laptop, TV — for reading, and for video content ranging from educational to mere entertainment. Sadly, due to relentless fatigue, periodic breathing difficulty, and a daily nap, I can only read, write, visit with friends, or sit in meditation for so many hours per day.

Now, given my terminal condition, you might find it surprising, puzzling, mysterious even, that what has become not only my go-to video entertainment, but also a kind of obsession, is…

TV Murder Mysteries

I know, right?!

Well, let me rush to qualify that, actually.

A lot of crime drama — in fact I’d estimate most of it — is WAY too dark, gritty, and violent for me. Whatever the virtues of realism in fiction may be, viewing many, many hours of heavily explicit/graphic depictions of the very worst possible human behavior, in episode after episode, season after season of TV shows is arguably the progenitor of doomscrolling.

Not good. Not healthy.

Mystery > Murder

Fortunately, there is a wealth of television programs that emphasize the mystery more than the murder in Murder Mysteries, and most of what I’ve enjoyed can be defined by at least some, if not all, of the following characteristics:

  • The Suspension of Disbelief Prerequisite: This is NOT realism. If you insist on historical and scientific accuracy, and you are unable to switch off the eyerolling, this genre is NOT for you. So, give your inner critic a rest. Embrace blatant, manipulative Red Herringism. It’s just a TV show! 
  • The Gentility of Britain, Her Colonies, and/or Days Gone By: The vast majority of the shows I’ve watched were set in England, three other shows were set in Australia, New Zealand and Canada respectively, and many were set in the past, ranging from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. Yes, the gentility of this time and place and of British people in general is just a stereotype. Yes, some humans (e.g. Jack The Ripper) committed unspeakable atrocities even back in the Good Old Days. But, once again: 1.) This is NOT realism. 2.) Suspend disbelief. 3.) Have fun!
  • Not-Quite Cozy Mysteries: So, I only just recently learned of this term Cozy Mysteries from a friend, after I mentioned the epic murder mystery binge I’ve been on. It turns out Cozy Mysteries, or Cozies, are a mystery fiction subgenre noted for rural village settings, minimal violence depicted, and sleuths who don’t actually identify as detectives (e.g. priests, nuns, doctors, nosy spinsters), and I must say I have definitely not limited myself to the Cozies. While some of the Cozy characteristics are shared in several series I’ve watched, I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed my share of stories set in cities like London, and featuring both police detectives and professional private investigators. For instance, Midsomer Murders is one of the few shows I’ve watched set in modern times, it features a police Chief Inspector and his Detective Sergeant sidekick, but it’s set in a slew of fictional small villages scattered across a rural English county, and it employs generous doses of humor to balance out the darkness of the crimes.

The Numbers

So, like I said, disabled as I’d become, I had a LOT of time to kill, or, um, murder 🤣, and as it happens there’s a LOT of murder to kill time with.

I’m sure I’m missing something, but, at a minimum:

Show# of Episodes
Midsomer Murders122
Agatha Christie’s Poirot70
Agatha Christie’s Marple23
Murdoch Mysteries221
The Brokenwood Mysteries30
The Doctor Blake Mysteries45
Inspector Morse33
Inspector Lewis33

The episodes for these shows range from 45-90 minutes in running time, and while not pinpoint accurate, if we consider 60 minutes a rough average per episode, that’s a startling…

638 Hours

…of my precious time.


That’s a LOT of death to expose oneself to while one is dying, right?!

And, you’re probably wondering what, if anything, I might have taken away from the experience.

Well, honestly, nothing particularly profound was learned, but I can think of a few observations I’d like share, presented here now in a simple list:

  • As has already been explained, I use all the energy and attention I can summon for other obviously preferable activities, but then I’ve been surprisingly grateful for so many hours of entertainment/distraction, rather than embarrassed by my rather extreme TV consumption.
  • Even though the deaths portrayed in these shows are the result of human cruelty, I do think that I’ve experienced a certain degree of helpful desensitization and demystification of the simple truth that is death. It is a non-negotiable for us all, and fearing it serves no other purpose than to inhibit one thing or another.
  • Because most of the murders happen very quickly, they nearly seem humane compared to the slow torture that is ALS. 🤪
  • The death in a murder mystery is just the beginning of the story. 😉
  • When facing life’s last and biggest mystery, observing the very act of solving mysteries, over and over and over again, holds enormous, even irresistible, appeal!

Don’t Forget The Yang Chaser

You’d be justified in considering 638 hours to be a very large amount of time, but keep in mind that those 638 hours were spread out over the last two years.

(24-hour day x 1 year) x 2 = 17,520 hours

I still had lots of additional time to balance out all that murdery Yin with healthy doses of Yang goodness: comedy, music concert videos, documentaries on octopuses and sustainable farming, etc.

I mean, it’s not like I’m a masochist or something!


3 thoughts on “Mystery of Mysteries

  1. julie2342hotmailcom July 22, 2021 — 6:07 pm

    Good humor mixed with a underlying sense of having ALS and it’s attending psychological mindset. You are amazing,so intelligent, talented and brave to share so much of all these traits with us. I laugh and cry and even feel some of the fear this f…..g disease presents. Love you Howard and think of you all the time and send wishes that you will find your path that it will give you all you need to feel safe, loved, and comforted forever.❤️

    Sent from my iPhone Annapola2342


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I’m going to check some of these shows out myself! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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