Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: Dangerous to Know by Renee Patrick (Lillian Frost & Edith Head #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong time and place influence characters and story
Cons: I don’t know any cons
The Bottom Line:
30’s Hollywood
Offers more intrigue, danger
For this fun duo

Who is Dangerous to Know in 1938 Hollywood?

Earlier this year, I made the charming acquaintance of Lillian Frost and Edith Head while I watched them solve their first mystery.  I didn’t waste any time picking up Dangerous to Know, their second adventure, and I might have liked it even more.

If you aren’t an aficionado of old Hollywood, Edith Head was a costume designer during the golden age of movies.  (Don’t worry, I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of her either.)  Lillian Frost is the completely fictional young woman who came to Hollywood because she won a screen test and stayed.  No, she isn’t an actress and doesn’t even want to be an actress.  As a result of the first book, she’s found a wonderful position as the social secretary for millionaire Addison Rice, a man who gives some pretty creative parties.

This book takes place in December of 1938.  A couple of months before, Lillian and Addison had been in New York, and they had attended a dinner party that was going downhill before a maid accuses one of the guests, Albert Chaperau, of smuggling.  As this book opens, the FBI’s investigation of the charges has led to the doors of Paramount, where Edith is now the head of the costume department.  Edith wants every last detail from Lillian in hopes of helping the studio and some of their famous stars as the FBI keeps circling.

Meanwhile, Edith has another favor to ask of her friend.  She wants Lillian to ask around about Jens Lahse, a pianist who is friends with actress and singer Marlene Dietrich.  Jens has fled from Austria ahead of the German takeover of his country.  No one has seen him in a week, and Dietrich is concerned.  Lillian readily agrees, but just as her investigation appears to have reached a dead end, she makes a shocking discovery.  Just what has happened?

This book spends little time rehashing how Lillian and Edith met or their unlikely friendship.  If you want the full story, you’ll have to read the first book in the series.  However, nothing here spoils the first book if you decide to jump in here.

With the dueling plots, there is plenty to keep you engaged as you read.  The book spends some time setting up the new characters and their relationships with each other, but once that foundation is laid, things really take off.  I figured out the solution only paragraphs before Lillian did, although even then, there was quite a bit I had missed.

The book mixes real and fictional characters in a completely organic way.  Again, since I don’t know old Hollywood well, I suspect I missed quite a few of the cameos, although the extensive notes at the end of the book helped fill in the gaps.  But whether I recognized a name on the page or not, I felt like all of them came to perfect life.

And I really am impressed just how much real history was worked into this story.  The notes at the end help flesh out what is true, what is fiction, and what is inspired by truth.  Couple that with writing that evokes 1938 and the world as it was during that time, and this is a trip back in time.  While this book may not be focused on Christmas, it does play into a sub-plot and come up regularly, which I also enjoyed.

In addition to the real-life actors and actresses who appear, there is also plenty of talk about films.  I am finding myself intrigued by many of them.  I need more movies to watch about as much as I need more books to read, but I am definitely interested in watching more old movies after reading this book.

I’m so glad I have discovered this wonderful historical mystery series.  Dangerous to Know will please the many fans of the first in the series.  And if you haven’t taken this trip back in time to meet this wonderful duo, I highly suggest you do so today.

Monday, July 24, 2017

TV on DVD Review: Father Dowling Mysteries - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun mysteries and characters
Cons: Pacing is a little slow
The Bottom Line:
A priest, mysteries
Tad slow, but still delightful
With two charming leads

Introducing Father Dowling

Somewhere along the line, I caught a few reruns of the Father Dowling Mysteries, and I found them fun.  I’d always been curious to see more, and thanks to TV on DVD sets, I can do just that.  Season 1 was short, but it was also a good introduction.

This set actually starts with the movie that introduced the viewing world to Father Frank Dowling (Tom Bosley).  He’s a priest at St. Michael’s church in a poorer neighborhood of Chicago.  He’s assisted in his ministry and his sleuthing by Sister Stephanie “Steve” Oskowski (Tracy Nelson).  There’s also his housekeeper, grumpy Marie Murkin (Mary Wickes), who always seems to find something to complain about.  The movie finds Father Dowling investigating when one of the grown-up boys who had grown up in his church commits suicide by jumping from the ledge of his successful company’s top floor.

Thanks to the 1988 writer’s strike, the first season was short, featuring 7 episodes, although one of them was a double length episode.  Over the course of these episodes, a bride-to-be is killed and her fiancée framed just two months before their wedding at St. Michael’s.  Sister Steve’s old flame comes to them for help after he witnesses a murder someone wants to cover up.  A dead body vanishes between when Father Dowling finds it and the police arrive.  The duo must figure out who left a baby behind in the church.  And Father Dowling’s twin brother shows up in town and causes havoc for the priest.

These episodes originally aired during the winter of 1989, and the date definitely shows in some of the costumes and music.  Yet the stories themselves are still interesting.  I appreciate the fact that some of the mysteries don’t start with a dead body; there are other mysterious things happening before the dead body shows up.  It creates a nice break for the formula.

The characters are wonderful as well.  Those familiar with the series looking for James Stephens as Father Phillip Prestwick might be surprised to remember that he was only in two episodes this season.  He would join the cast full time in season two.  Marie is only in a few scenes, often providing some comic relief in a sub-plot, but her scenes are always fun.  That means as far as main characters go, Father Dowling and Sister Steve have to carry the show, and they do a wonderful job of it.  Their relationship is absolutely charming.  The two obviously care for each other deeply, but it is a father/daughter relationship.  We aren’t told for sure, at least here, but I suspect that Father Dowling had much to do with Steve not going into the ways of her former friends from the bad neighborhood where she grew up.  She has some surprises in her thanks to that background that the writers use to help solve the cases.  The actors are perfect at bringing this relationship to life, and you have to smile at some of their exchanges.

My only real complaint is that the show tends to be a bit slow.  It’s a pacing issue.  I don’t feel it is a matter of when the show was made because I didn’t notice it when watching the first season of Murder, She Wrote earlier this summer.  Instead, I think it is a stylistic choice made to set this series off from the other mystery shows of the day.  Either way, it is a minor issue.

As I said, season one was short, so it isn’t a surprise that this set only has two discs.  The seven episodes plus the movie are preserved in their native full frame and stereo sound.  Given how old the show is, both are in good shape and very watchable, although you won’t find the perfection of a show being filmed today.  The only thing we have in the way of extras is episode teasers.  By my count, the only episode that doesn’t have its own promo is the second part of a two parter, and the teaser that is included really covers both episodes.

With only three seasons, the Father Dowling Mysteries have fallen off many radars.  If you’ve missed the show, it is worth finding the first season set and enjoying these cases.

(Or you can do like I did and skip to the complete series set.)

Season 1 Episodes:
Fatal Confession (Original TV Pilot Movie)
1. The Missing Body Mystery (Double length episode)
2. What Do You Call a Call Girl Mystery
3. The Man Who Came to Dinner Mystery
4. The Mafia Priest Mystery (Part 1)
5. The Mafia Priest Mystery (Part 2)
6. The Face in the Mirror Mystery
7. The Pretty Baby Mystery

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Pin Review: Snow White - Storybook Classic Collection #11 - 2017 Disney Store Release

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good cover, great inside scene
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Snow White back to roots
Celebrated in two scenes
Presented as book

Disney Honors the Storybook Origins of Their First Animated Film

While Disney has created many films over the years, most of them are based on stories originated by others.  It’s just that Disney’s version of the film is the most famous.  Disney has been honoring those origins with their Storybook Classic Collection pins all year long, and this month, they are shining the light on their original feature length film – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Of course, this pin is based more on the book that Disney produced years later tied into their film, but still, it does feel like things have come full circle.  Like the others in the series, the cover is based on the Disney book cover and the features Snow White surrounded by the dwarfs.  Over the top of the characters, we get the title.  The cover is a light blue, and the characters are outlined in black and red.  It’s a rare time this pin has features more than one color on it, but it allows them to fill in the bow on Snow White’s head.

Like a book, this pin opens to reveal a scene inside.  The scene inside shows Snow White at the beginning of the movie singing into the well about her wish to meet her true love.  It’s a rare thing that any part of the pin matches the ornament, but they chose the same scene for the inside picture and the ornament this month.  I really like that.

And I like this pin overall.  Even though the cover is simple, it still shows off all the characters.  The inside picture is wonderful, especially given the limitations of the pin.  I’m impressed with the amount of detail we get.

Since this is a heavier pin, there are two sticks in the back to hold it in place if you decide to wear it.  Personally, I find pins like this too heavy to wear.

We have plenty of Snow White merchandise, but this pin is special.  As part of the Storybook Classic Collection, it is a great way to honor the movie and its literary origin.

Looking for more great pins.  Here are the rest of the Storybook Classic Collection.

Ornament Review: Snow White - Storybook Classic Collection #11 - 2017 Disney Store Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Many great details in this ornament
Cons: Snow White’s face is off
The Bottom Line:
Detailed ornament
Slight issue with Snow White’s face
Still great overall

It’s Hard to Wish for a Better Ornament to Capture This Scene

Since Snow White is a Disney Princess and the first full length animated movie, Disney has produced lots of merchandise related to it over the years.  Very few of those items capture her at the beginning of the movie, but that’s just what they’ve done with the ornament for the Storybook Classics series.

In fact, this ornament features Snow White from her first scene of the film as she is bringing up water from the wishing well.  She is standing next to the well with her hands on the side, and her head is back like she is singing “I’m Wishing” to the doves hiding under the roof.  The detail in this ornament is amazing.  We can see the texture in the well.  It captures the plants that are growing on the well, and there are a total of five doves in it  Heck, the rope is a course enough thread that you can feel the texture of it.

Which is why the one things that doesn’t have the proper detail is a shame.  Snow White’s face is off.  It’s not that she looks bad, it’s just that she doesn’t completely like herself.  When I first looked at it, it really bothered me, but on second look, it isn’t as bad as I remembered.  And they get the detail of the rag dress she is wearing in this scene perfect.

Being an outdoor scene, this ornament has a flat base, so you can set it out to display year round if you want and have the space to display it.  Or you can hang it from the red ribbon that comes attached.  When you do, you’ll find that it might tip forward ever so slightly, but you have to really be looking for it to see it.

It’s a shame that Snow White’s face isn’t better. In fact, it is a little surprising.  But it isn’t enough of a flaw to ruin an otherwise great ornament.

Looking for more great ornaments.  Here are the rest of the Storybook Classic Collection.

Original Price: $19.95

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22nd's Weekly TV Thoughts

And how do you make a short TV post even shorter?  By going on vacation, of course.  Yep, I left town Thursday morning.  I'll be back Sunday night, and I will have to catch up on Thursday's shows then.  As a result, this is a very short post this week.

American Ninja Warrior – They talk about how the athletes are a family.  By watching the show so regularly, we get brought into this family.  It’s nice to get updates on the various athletes and their families, like Brian Arnold becoming engaged and the one man’s wife who is doing so much better.  The family of six (with the seventh not old enough yet) was fun, although I wasn’t surprised they compacted most of their runs, especially with the results.  Very few finishers, which is a surprise.

Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge – Go Ninjas!!!  I was thrilled with the results, hoping that the Ninjas, the Mathletes, and the Stunt team would all go on.  Finale Sunday already?  Yikes!  That snuck up on us fast.

Suits – That’s a rarity, two episodes in a row without major cliffhangers or conflict at the end.  In fact, we saw some growth in characters and we left them in a relatively good place.  It’s kind of nice.  Plus, they got Mike’s past off the table, at least for a while.  I knew a lawyer would throw it in his face sooner or later.  It was an obvious plot point, and it was well played here.  But I guess we need to get used to some F bombs each episode now that they’ve pushed the S word as far as they can.  That’s disappointing.  I really would like this show more if they cleaned up the language.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ornament Review: Seven Swans-a-Swimming - 12 Days of Christmas #7 - 2017 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Beautiful swan
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Ending series birds
With simple, elegant swan
Stunning as always

Simple is Elegant with the Swan-a-Swimming

We’ve reached the final bird in the 12 Days of Christmas series.  (For that matter, it’s kind of hard to believe we’ve reach the seventh entry already.)  This year’s Seven Swans-a-Swimming is a bit simpler than previous years’ entries, but it is still beautiful and elegant.

This is a white swan, and it is pretty much white.  There is a gold treble clef symbol on the front and golden leaves holding the wings in place.  Of course, we do get black eyes and an orange beak with a gold crown on his head.  The only other real color is on the wings, which are white blending into blue.  On the wings, we get bits of music and part of the verse of the song.  Dangling from the bottom of the ornament is a gold heart with “Seven” and “7” written on it.

One thing I have enjoyed about this series is the unconventional choices that have been made at times.  This one feels a little obvious in that regard.  However, before I can get too disappointed, I start to really look at it and I fall in love all over again.  This bird is stunning because it is that simple.  I honestly can’t picture it any other way.  It will even stand out from the rest of the birds in the series.  This is one that fans of this extremely popular series are going to be very happy with.

As usual, this ornament isn’t designed to be set out for display.  You can blame the dangle if you’d like.  However, that isn’t an issue since it hangs perfectly level, and if it isn’t level, well, you can’t tell because of how the bird is designed.  It won’t be an issue on your tree at all, trust me.

Those looking for a 7 in a Christmas tree series marker will find it on the swan’s bottom.  No surprise there.

If you are looking for an example of simple being beautiful, this ornament is it.  Although we had a hint of how the rest of the series will play out with the 12 Little Days of Christmas series last year, it will still be interesting to see what they look like in full sized color.  But that’s next year.  For this year, I’m going to enjoy having Seven Swans-a-Swimming on my tree.

Enjoy the rest of this beautiful 12 Days of Christmas series.

Original Price: $12.95

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: A Puzzle to be Named Later by Parnell Hall (Puzzle Lady Mysteries #18)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Laughs and familiar characters
Cons: Mystery takes a back seat to the antics.
The Bottom Line:
Baseball, mystery
Wrapped in comedic trappings
Overall, it’s fun

Play Ball with Murder

Summer means hot days, relaxing, swimming, and watching baseball.  So I waited to read A Puzzle to be Named Later until summer so I could read it in the proper season.  Okay, not really.  It just so happened that the first chance I had to read it was in July, the month when the book is set.  I wish I could say I planned it that way.  But I have no problem saying I enjoyed it.

As any fans of this series knows, famed Puzzle Lady Cora Felton is a huge Yankees fan, so when Matt Greyston moves to the area, she is absolutely thrilled.  Matt is the Yankees latest star closing pitcher who, unfortunately, broke his arm in a car crash.  He’s decided to rent a home in town to rehab.

His big introduction to the town at their 4th of July picnic is overshadowed by a break in, however.  A therapist has had her home burgled and a flash drive stolen.  That’s when a puzzle shows up that makes Cora wonder just what this therapist’s files contain.  Then a dead body turns up with another puzzle, and Cora knows she has her work cut out for her.

This series is hit or miss with the mysteries, and this book was a weaker mystery.  Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty happening, but that was just it.  It seemed like it was stuff happening and some random clues that didn’t really lead much of anywhere.  Cora is able to piece things together at the end, but it is rather convoluted.

But I don’t read these books for the mysteries, I read them for the humor and word play.  And here I was rewarded.  The banter between the characters was as sharp as ever.  Cora’s grand-niece Jennifer is growing, and she provided some laughs of her own this time around.  In fact, she has my favorite line in the entire book.

The usual gang is all here and it’s always fun to spend time with them.  I really enjoyed the new characters that were introduced in this book as well, which made it hard knowing one of them had to be the killer.

As you’ve probably guessed with all the talk of puzzles, this book includes two crossword puzzles and a Sudoku that you can solve.  Or, if like me you don’t enjoy the puzzles, you can keep reading until they get solved for you and the clue they hide revealed.

So if you are looking for a light, funny summer read, A Puzzle to be Named Later will fit the bill perfectly.

You’ll find more laughs with the rest of the Puzzle Lady Mysteries.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

TV on DVD Review: Diagnosis Murder - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Humor livens up some decent mysteries
Cons: Not the show’s best episodes
The Bottom Line:
Doctor on the case
Mixing comedy, murder
Slow, fun series start

“There Are Times When All Doctors Have to be Detectives.”

I stumbled on Diagnosis Murder late in its run, probably around season 5 or so, but I immediately fell in love with the mix of comedy and mystery.  I caught some reruns over the years, but I know there are plenty of early episodes of the show I haven’t seen.  I’ve at least partially fixed that by watching the season 1 set.

If you are new to the show, you’ve probably already guessed that it features a doctor as the main character.  Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick van Dyke) works at Community General, which also happens to be a teaching hospital.  Among his friends on staff are Dr. Amanda Bentley (Victoria Rowell), the pathologist on staff, and Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio), a resident who has overcome a troubled past.  Then there’s Normal Briggs (Michael Tucci), the administrator who seems to clash with Mark quite a bit.  Rounding out the hospital cast is Delores Mitchell (Delores Hall), Mark’s secretary and a nurse in her own right.

But Mark also works as a consultant for the police helping them with medical cases and murder in general.  It helps that his son Steve (played by Dick van Dyke’s real-life son Barry van Dyke) is a homicide investigator.

Over the course of this season, Steve gets frame for murder when he tries to blow the whistle on some dirty cops.  A killer tries to use an earthquake to hide a murder.  A telethon to raise money for the hospitals ER gets off to a shaky start when the celebrity host is killed.  A long time patient of Mark’s shows up at the hospital dying of a gunshot and hands Mark a winning lottery ticket.  When a magic trick goes horrible wrong, a magician dies in front of a live audience.  And Amanda finds herself set up for murder when a sorority sister with a secret to expose dies after threatening to write a tell all book.

Coming late to the show, I feel like its best days were ahead of it.  Of course, that’s partially because Scott Baio left the show after season two, and I’m partial to his replacement, Dr. Jessie Travis.  Not that there isn’t anything wrong with Scott or his character; it’s just not the character I know best.  Dr. Sloan isn’t living in his beach house yet.  In fact, he’s not sharing a house with Steve yet, either.  It just feels weird to me since it’s not what I’m used to.

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that the show moves inexplicably from Colorado to Los Angeles part way through the season.  They’d never made a big deal out of either setting, but if you pay attention, you can definitely tell.  Yes, the earthquake episode happens after the move.  Normally, I’d roll my eyes at the cliché, but considering the episode aired in 1994 when the Northridge earthquake was fresh on everyone’s mind here in LA, I’m very willing to let it slide.

Many of the episodes this first season are closed mysteries – a mystery where there are a certain number of suspects and Mark and his friends are trying to figure out who the killer is.  They fall into a pretty predictable pattern right down to the number of suspects – three.  The show does have a few open mysteries – a mystery where we know who the killer is early on and the suspense comes from watching Mark try to prove what we already know.  The show mixed things up a lot more later in the run (by the time I was watching it on TV), and I find both styles fun.

Even when we do run into a string of three suspect closed mysteries, this show still entertains.  The roster of main characters allows us to have some variety when it comes to the investigating.  Everyone has their quirks, and those quirks give us some great moments.

Plus, this show starts Dick van Dyke.  That means there are going to be some scenes you wouldn’t see on any other show as the writers take full advantage of his talents.  We’ve got several episodes that allow him to tap dance for us.  In one memorable episode, he gets to interrogate a suspect from the back of a car racing around a police obstacle course.  Truly, the writers are brilliant at coming up with ways to show off the talents of their star.  About the only episode that doesn’t work is the one where Mr. van Dyke plays some elderly distant relatives of his character.  With him playing four characters plus Mark Sloan, it just doesn’t quite work for me, especially when he’s trying to play a woman.

But that’s the only truly bad episode of the season, and the only misstep of the acting.  The main cast already has great chemistry, and they are so much fun to watch.  Dick van Dyke especially is warm and delightful.

Season one consisted of 19 episodes, and they are preserved here on five discs.  The video and sound aren’t quite what we are used to today, but these episodes are almost 25 years old, and the imperfections on the screen aren’t that surprising as a result.  Believe me, they are still very watchable.  My biggest complaint with the set itself is that the menu screens are significantly louder than the episodes themselves, so you need to be ready to mute or turn down the volume as soon as it is over.

The only thing we get in the way of an extra is the episode of Jake and the Fatman that introduced the character of Dr. Sloan.  I’ve never seen an episode of Jake and the Fatman, and I still don’t feel like I’ve seen one.  This episode is almost all Mark Sloan with the series character only getting a couple of scenes.  Yes, Dick van Dyke played the part, and he was assisted by a few of his medical students, but that’s the only thing that carried over to the show.  Heck, Mark even makes a comment at one point about not having any kids.

While the first season isn’t quite what Diagnosis Murder would become in its heyday, there are still some fun episodes in this set.  Fans of the show will enjoy reliving where it all began.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Miracle Cure
2. Amnesia
3. Murder at the Telethon
4. Inheritance of Death
5. The 13 Million Dollar Man
6. Vanishing Act Part 1
7. Vanishing Act Part 2
8. Shanda’s Song
9. The Restless Remains
10. Murder with Mirrors
11. Flashdance with Death
12. Reunion with Murder
13. Lily
14. Guardian Angel
15. Nirvana
16. Broadcast Blues
17. Shaker
18. The Plague
19. Sister Michael Wants You

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy (Zoe Chambers #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful writing and characters in gripping plot
Cons: None worth noting
The Bottom Line:
Winter mystery
Lives spinning out of control
Amazing debut

Another Debut I Should Have Read Sooner

While I don’t always read all of the books nominated for the Agatha Awards each year, I do pay attention.  After Annette Dashofy was nominated twice for her Zoe Chambers series, I decided I had to put the series on my to be read list.  I finally dusted Circle of Influence off and read it, and it’s easy to see why this book was nominated for best first novel.

Zoe Chambers is the assistant coroner and an ambulance paramedic in the small community of Vance, Pennsylvania.  On one snowy January night, she parks her ambulance for a couple of hours to attend the local township’s board meeting.  The meeting is filled with tension, mostly thanks to the antics of Jerry McBirney.  Zoe has her own reasons for hating Jerry, but Jerry recently seems determined to anger the Bassi family, some of Zoe’s closest friends.

After the meeting breaks up, Police Chief Pete Adams is called to check out an abandoned car, that of Jerry.  When he arrives, he finds a dead body inside, and quickly calls Zoe to the scene.  It isn’t long before the two are embroiled in a case that hits very close to home.  What will they learn?

Honestly, if you sat down to read this book not knowing it was a debut novel, you’d never guess.  It is that polished.  Take the weather.  Yes, I’m starting with the weather.  This is set in Pennsylvania in January, which means ice and snow.  Without ever slowing the story down, I felt that cold weather while reading this book.  What makes that even more remarkable is that this July here in Southern California, we’ve been experiencing record heat.

The winter ice also makes a great metaphor for the plot.  It slips and slides all over the place.  You never know when you will hit a twist and spin around.  I might have actually gasp at one of them.  The climax is strong and perfectly logical.  There is so much tension in this book it was almost impossible to put down, which explains why I was up later than I should have been finishing it.

While the series is called the Zoe Chambers series, it really has two main characters – Zoe and Pete.  We spend equal time with the two of them as our limited third person narrators.  The author takes full advantage of that to build suspense and keep the pages turning.

Much of the success of this book rests on how attached we get to the characters so quickly.  They truly are that strong.  In lesser hands, I don’t think I would have been pulled in like I was.

Now make no mistake about it, this is not one of the light, cozy reads I tend toward.  This is on the traditional end of the spectrum, and the subject matter is a little darker as a result.  There’s still nothing too graphic here, it is traditional, after all.

Discovering a wonderful series with multiple books already published is a mixed blessing.  It means you have immediately added multiple books to your to be read list, but it also means you have many wonderful reads in front of you.  That is definitely the case with Circle of Influence.  If you haven’t started this series yet, don’t wait any longer.  Once you’ve read it, you’ll be like me, looking forward to visiting Zoe and Pete again soon.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ornament Review: Baker Snoopy - Spotlight on Snoopy #20 - 2017 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun design
Cons: Tips forward slightly, similar theme to older ornament
The Bottom Line:
Snoopy hard at work
Baking delicious cookies
Anniversary year

Christmas Cookies Now Ready

I love sweets.  As if you couldn't tell that my regularly reading my blog, right?  So naturally, this year’s Baker Snoopy doesn’t have to work that hard to appeal to me.

Yep, for the 2017 edition in Hallmark’s Spotlight on Snoopy series, Snoopy is working as a baker.  He’s got a tray with four cookies on it.  Woodstock is standing on a corner of the tray holding a shaker, and it looks like this is shaking out the red and green decorations that are on the cookies.  The one next to Woodstock has the least on it so far, so obviously, he’s still working on that one.  Speaking of red and green, Snoopy is wearing a red chef’s hat and bow tie as well as a green apron.

This ornament is similarly themed to Happiness is a Warm Cookie from a few years back, but it is different enough I don’t mind it too much.  I like the non-traditional chef’s hat since red will show up so well on the tree.  In fact, I like this ornament overall.  I just wish that Snoopy’s ears didn’t have a white border on them again this year.  Unfortunately, that seems to be the case on many of Hallmark’s Snoopy ornaments over the years.

This is the twentieth entry in the Spotlight on Snoopy series.  And yes, the series marker on the underside of the tray reflects that.  Honestly, it’s a little hard to believe it’s been that long, but if I think about it, it certainly makes sense.  This series holds a special place in my heart since it was the series I was collecting before I was seriously collecting Hallmark ornaments.  Most years, this was the only one I would buy, so it is nice to see this series continue and show no signs of slowing down.  And to include my name in tribute in the series piece, well that’s just…me being delusional about a coincidence.  Still, I am smiling about that title.

The ornament will stand up on it’s own, although it isn’t completely stable.  The only base is Snoopy’s feet, and Woodstock and the tray that Snoopy is holding make it a little front heavy.  Still, I wouldn’t worry too much about setting this one out.

Because of that, I’m not super surprised to see that the ornament tips forward slightly when hung.  Snoopy looks like he’s standing on his toes.  Honestly, by the time you get tree branches around him, you’ll never notice.

Longtime fans of this series will be happy with Baker Snoopy.  And if you just enjoy Peanuts ornaments in general, this one will catch your eye as well.

Check out the rest of the Spotlight on Snoopy series.

Original Price: $12.95