Posts tagged TV
Writing: Nick Spencer
Art: Ryan Browne
Cover: Frazer Irving
Review by Melissa Megan
Oh, Bedlam chaos and insanity, how I missed you. In issue #7 Madder Red is back to his old tricks, which in this case is playing puppet master with the heads of two recently murdered religious leaders for an audience of locals gathered to prove they are not afraid of Madder Red. Ok, so it’s only another flashback of one of his many bloody killings, but oh boy does it make his madness crystal clear. This opening scene is the kind of material that drew me to this series and I, for one, am glad to see the pace picking back up.
In present day, Fillmore is still working with Detective Acevedo, helping the police solve murder cases. He makes it look easy and she still doesn’t seem to understand how or why he has such an intimate understanding of all the madmen he paints in such great detail for her. Although Fillmore is maintaining some level of normalcy to Acevedo, he is losing his grip, having hallucinations and flashbacks of his alter ego, Madder Red.
This issue is the first one with a new artist. It was announced a couple months back that Riley Rossmo would be stepping down from Bedlam, due to “creative differences” with the writer. Artist Ryan Browne (Hack/Slash, Hoax Hunters) does an admiral job with the visuals of this world, obviously making a respectful attempt to maintain the appearance of the characters that we have grown comfortable with. His overall style is similar to Rossmo’s in it’s lines and wobbly sketchiness, but doesn’t quite have the same depth. The changes didn’t ruin Bedlam for me, but it does feel different. I suspect as long as the writing holds up, the new art work will melt in just fine, without causing much disruption in the atmosphere.
You should be buying and reading Bedlam. I admit, it has had some ups and downs, but in general is one of the best horror comics being written right now. It’s quite unique and terrifying.
Warning: May contain mild spoilers
More than a year has passed for audiences since the wrenching cliffhanger of “The Great Game,” and it’s fair to say that expectations have been running high.
Picking up where we left off, co-creator/screenwriter Steven Moffat wastes no time in exceeding those expectations. The stand-off is resolved with an audacity that firmly establishes the tone of the episode. There is an irrepressible cheekiness standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the darkness in “A Scandal in Belgravia,” as Moffat gives Moriarty (Andrew Scott) what is easily the creepiest line in the episode, “If you have what you say you have, I will make you rich. If you don’t, I’ll make you into shoes.” Then we get a brief, tantalizing glimpse of “The Woman.” Irene Adler (Lara Pulver,) a royal, blackmail and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), these are the basics that any Holmesian/Sherlockian knows. It’s the execution that’s full of surprises. There are enough nods to canon, the show’s fans, and pop culture in the first five minutes to delight any viewer. “The Geek Interpreter” and “Hatman and Robin” are the tip of the iceberg, as Moffat uses time-compression to move things along while cementing Sherlock and John as a professional unit.
It is a summons from an “Illustrious” client that brings about the duo’s meeting with Ms. Adler. From that encounter it’s clear that Irene and Sherlock fascinate each other. Watching this simultaneous duel and dance of intellects provides much of the episode’s zing. Yet is is Adler who sums up their dynamic, as well as the appeal of the show itself, “Brainy’s the new sexy” she declares shortly after leaving Sherlock speechless by greeting him in “Battle dress.”
Brainy is sexy, and this is television at its sexiest. While the plot unfolds, crammed to bursting with snappy dialogue and canon references, the core of the narrative is how Sherlock deals with matters of the heart. This is nothing as simple as a love story between Irene and Sherlock. Despite all denials Sherlock Holmes is an emotional creature. Choosing to subsume those emotions into intellectual pursuits just makes him that much more vulnerable to being blindsided. The primary relationship in Sherlock’s life is with his blogger, and if his fascination with “The Woman” eclipses that for a moment it’s to illuminate that Sherlock’s emotions are far more complex than he’s given credit for. His relationships with his brother, Dr. Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey) and Lestrade (Rupert Graves) are as planets orbiting a star. Yet we also see a deep devotion to Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) and the nascent understanding of his own cruelty during a Christmas gathering at 221B Baker Street. By the end of the episode nearly every character has been stripped raw in one way or another without completely breaking them. Everyone has an Achilles heel, and those are exploited with ruthless efficiency.
The key to the episode, to the show in its entirety, is in the performances. Cumberbatch completely embodies Sherlock as an intellectual force of nature who is nonetheless flummoxed by his own emotions. Martin Freeman’s John Watson is simply the bedrock that Sherlock stands on. Freeman’s performance is quiet ferocity at its finest, yet puckish enough to take the arrogant wind out of Sherlock’s sails. A supporting cast that hits all the right notes makes “A Scandal in Belgravia” sing like traditional portrayals of Irene, and it is Pulver’s Adler who is the catalyst in Belgravia.
By turns brazen and uncompromising, cruel and vulnerable Pulver plays Adler as a mirror image of Sherlock. It is something that we don’t quite expect, to have “The Woman” illustrate precisely how flawed and brilliant Sherlock is by showing us her own brilliance and flaws. “A Scandal in Belgravia” is only marred by a resolution to the episode which muddies the Sherlock/Irene dynamic by being overly subtle. Audiences are used to seeing a clear-cut victory over Holmes, and Moffat’s decision to follow a particularly vicious battle of wits with ambiguity is sure to disappoint some viewers.
Overall, the episode succeeds as adaptation and long-awaited return to the universe Moffat and Gatiss transposed Doyle into. A sharper ending would have been more welcome, but much like Doyle, Moffat has left plenty of room for the audience to solve the puzzles themselves. (Episode 2 “The Hounds of Baskerville” airs Sunday, May 13th at 9pm on PBS.)
I confess that I knew absolutely nothing about this show before I started watching it. From the box art I could tell that it was a horror show that involved monsters of some sort, but that was about it. Now that I have finished the first season, I am completely convinced that everyone needs to check this show out (if you haven’t already). It is a wonderful twist on the zombie genre with an endearing, relate-able protagonist and disturbingly almost-sympathetic villains.
The Fades is a new supernatural horror series by 2011 Royal Television Society Award-winning writer Jack Thorne (the original UK Skins). Iain De Caestecker (Coronation Street) is Paul, a young man who is haunted by apocalyptic dreams that neither his therapist nor his best friend, Mac (Daniel Kaluuya, Skins, Sucker Punch), can provide answers for. Worse still, Paul has started seeing the Fades – the spirits of the dead – all around him. They’re everywhere but normally can’t be seen, heard or touched – until now. An embittered and vengeful Fade has found a way to break the barrier between the dead and the living. and Paul, Mac and their loved ones find themselves in the middle of it all. The worst is only yet to come as the fate of humanity rests in the hands of the two friends who already have enough trouble getting through a day in one piece, let alone saving the world.
The writing is witty and fun and the acting is solid. Iain De Caestecker does an excellent job playing the unwilling “nerd” hero who spent his childhood playing superheros only to be forced into a real-life superhero role as a teenager. Daniel Kaluuya plays the best friend perfectly by creating a believable character out of a variety of emotions/personality traits, including awe of his friend’s new abilities, fear, loyalty, and (more than anything else) geekdom.
Perhaps my favorite characteristic of this show is the fact that both Paul and John (the big bad) are well-rounded adversaries. Neither are perfectly good nor perfectly evil. Paul has moments where he screws up while John has at least one moment where I felt somewhat sympathetic towards him. The secondary characters are not necessarily as fleshed out in terms of personalities and flaws, but I think the writers did an amazing job building a world and believable characters out of only six episodes. I imagine we will get more from the other characters as the seasons progress.
Fair warning, there is a decent amount of gore (not really bloody/splatter gore but more like ‘body horror‘) and there are a lot of religious (mostly Christian) references. While both elements are consistently present throughout the series, I never felt as though either got to be so much that it took away from the storytelling. It’s clear the show is dealing with Christian ideology (plenty of references to angels and ‘ascending’) but it also does not ever really focus on the “God/god” question. The ideology is just there to add to the story and somewhat natural given the subject matter of ‘life after death’. As for the gore, there were plenty of moments where I felt a little ‘icky’ with regards to the visual effects on the screen, but I’ve also definitely seen worse in modern horror. Again, it’s not really your traditional excessive bloody gore, but more like gooey, oozy skin-related gore. I can’t elaborate beyond that without giving away serious spoilers but just as a heads up, you probably shouldn’t be eating while watching some of the later episodes (a mistake I made and regretted).
In the end, I strongly recommend this show for any fan of horror, zombie, or ghost stories. And luckily for those fans…Nerds in Babeland have two copies of the first season of The Fades to giveaway on DVD! In order to enter, comment on this post and tell us what your favorite horror movie or TV show is (either or works). We’ll select two winners at random on Friday, March 9, at 12 pm EST.
Once Upon A Time is fun to watch, if you’re a fan of Lost. It has beautiful production values, Robert Carlyle, and great guest stars. The only problem is that, like Lost, it’s a narrative mess. The split between Storybrooke and the Fairy Tale Land is less like watching parallel stories that inform and drive each other, and more like watching a set of back-to-back Fun House mirrors. Roughly the same plot playing out in both the, “Real,” and Fairy Tale worlds, leaving the audience interested but stuck. While Lost had the advantage of being completely unknown and using the flashback format to inform a motley group of characters, Once Upon A Time is already dealing in mostly known characters and it’s simply become repetitive.
True North and 7:15 A. M., are entertaining hours of television that don’t bring any depth to the show’s narrative as a whole. We already know that Emma Swan ( Jennifer Morrison) grew up an orphan in the foster system. We already know that Mary-Margaret and David (Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas) are replaying the Snow White/Prince (James) Charming narrative. We know these things.
The thematic focus of the show is maternal/parental relationships. Emma, Regina (Lana Parilla) Snow, Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket (Raphael Sbarge), even James/Charming/David are treated to the parental loss/abuse/failure plotline.
Losing a parent, or losing a child is painful: we get it. There are bad parents and parents who do their best but fail anyway: we get it.
In its last two outings, Once Upon A Time has cemented the fact that it does an amazing job of making fairy tales fresh and it has no idea of how to make the lives of Storybrooke’s residents more than a cheap soap opera.
Hansel and Gretel ( Quinn Lord and Harley Scott Collins) and the Evil Queen’s machinations to exploit their separation from their Woodsman (Nicholas Lea) father to steal from the Blind Witch ( Emma Caulfield) is far more interesting than the Storybrooke side of True North, which is simply Emma Swann replaying her inner child’s issues and trying to protect the children.
Showing the audience a warped version of how Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs came about, through a deal with Rumplestiltskin, the Prince’s venal father (Alan Dale) and true love’s sacrifice, has more depth and meaning than the triangle of Mary-Margaret/David/Kathryn, and 7:15 A.M. suffers from the contrast.
Once Upon A Time has the potential to be great genre television, and great television full stop, but until the Storybrooke narrative is as strong as the fairy tale, it continues to fall flat. The addition of a meta-fictional element in the form of The Stranger (Eion Bailey) as a writer in a town where a book holds the key to reality, could prove interesting if the show’s writers don’t leave the obvious trail of breadcrumbs we’re expecting.
Grimm’s return after the holiday hiatus, Game Ogre, seems to be the episode where the series has solidified its identity as a supernatural procedural.
A series of brutal murders lay a trail leading to Detective Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) and an escaped convict Oleg Stark (Eric Edelstein) bent on revenge. Oh, and the escaped convict happens to be a Siegebarste. The kicker: Siegebarstes don’t feel pain and have incredibly dense bones.
Scripted by Cameron Litvak and Thania St. John, the episode draws together the different threads of Nick Burkhardt’s professional, private, and Grimm lives. As Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) asks Eddie Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) for help with evidence, fianceé Juliet (Bitsie Tulloch) has to intervene when Nick (and their home) are being destroyed by the Siegebarste, and Monroe has to act as a Grimm-by-proxy when Nick is hospitalized, it becomes very clear that it’s impossible to keep those lives separate.
Game Ogre is a straightforward cop-confronting-murderous thug plot, but it works within the context of the series, which has often suffered from a lack of balance in its narrative. Hornsby is given a little more screentime, although his dialogue is trite, he delivers it with a sense of urgency that makes it believable. Silas Weir Mitchell’s Monroe is unmistakeably the breakout character of Grimm, fast becoming the pivotal audience proxy, exposition mouthpiece and the ethical heart of the show.
The further Monroe is drawn into Nick’s activities as both cop and Grimm, the more we see the moral grey areas that should be part of Nick’s narrative, handed over to the series’ resident Blutbad.
Can Grimm maintain the sense of itself that this episode establishes? We’ll see.
As the saying goes, “Every villain is the hero of their own story.” In the case of Once Upon A Time’s Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, (Robert Carlyle) revealing the origins of his villainy may not have been such a good idea.
Desperate Souls is, in itself, a solid episode. Carlyle turns in a performance that is both sympathetic and repulsive, as the story requires. It simply doesn’t feel like a necessary episode. It’s all well and good that Emma Swann (Jennifer Morrison) has to seek support from the sinister Mr. Gold when Regina Mills decides to replace her as acting sheriff, but this is obviously a VERY BAD THING and it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. The story in Fairy Tale land is certainly more compelling than anything that’s happening in Storybrooke, but where it should illuminate, it undermines instead.
Rumplestiltskin is a character that works best when we don’t know his motives, and revealing that he started out as a cowardly, cringing figure doesn’t make him more sympathetic to the audience so much as it weakens the sense of menace he projects.
Writer Jane Espenson is in good form, but aside from reinforcing Emma’s role as burgeoning hero and giving Brad Dourif a few scenes in which he steals the show, the episode is a bit hollow.
Coming off of winter/holiday hiatus, it’s time for Once Upon A Time to start moving the plot forward. Is this a series that is simply retelling fairy tales from a different perspective, or is there a point to gathering all of these characters in one place?
Is Grimm evolving? The last few episodes have shown that Portland’s resident Grimm (David Giuntoli) can be a protector as much as he can fill the role of slayer. The parallels between Grimm and the Whedon-verse, have never been more evident than in Let Your Hair Down.
Rather than simply laying down the law and dishing out justice, Nick Burkhardt is beginning to resemble Buffy spin-off Angel in a mission to, “Help the helpless”.
Opening with campers taken by a paranoid pot-grower, Let Your Hair Down is a sideways view of the classic fairytale Rapunzel. Let’s just say that you don’t want to mess with someone with waist-length hair, it might not be good for your health.
Shades of Deliverance crop up, but when a strand of hair matches a missing-child case Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) once worked on, the story takes a turn.
There’s a little bit of a, “Kitchen-sink,” feel to the plot, but it does something that the majority of Grimm’s episodes have failed to do: present all the characters as a team, rather than separate aspects of Nick’s life. Hank is invested in the case for his own reasons, and they’re just as important as the supernatural aspects that Nick and Monroe are invested in.
Monroe is Grimm’s breakout character, representing the duality of the mundane and supernatural in Nick’s life, often reminding Nick that he’s not always going to be able to help because he’s rejected the traditional Blutbad lifestyle. Injecting the show with both humor and heart, Silas Weir Mitchell shines in this episode as he tries to help a girl who is both in danger and dangerous in her own right.
BBC News journalist Lizo Mzimba tweeted the news from the screening of the upcoming Christmas Special “The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe.” Swiftly posted to the Doctor Who official tumblr page and confirmed on the BBC entertainment news blog. Steven Moffat has announced that Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill (Amy Pond and Rory Williams) will be leaving. Moffat said, “The final days of the Ponds are coming.”
While it’s been considered a strong possibility that Gillan, (soon to be seen as model Jean Shrimpton in “We’ll Take Manhattan”) and Darvill, (with a successful run as Mephistopheles in the Globe Theatre’s production of “Doctor Faustus”) would leave Doctor Who after the seventh series, this announcement raises some questions.
Although the BBC has confirmed the story, Moffat is well known for teasing fans via twitter and at the screening for “Let’s Kill Hitler” Moffat actively encouraged the audience to circulate fake spoilers on social media sites, to confound anyone who might be angling for a bit of attention. Could this all be an elaborate ruse?
It’s unlikely that this is a prank on an epic scale. Given executive producer/head writer Steven Moffat’s occasionally fractious relationship with those who leak spoilers and how much the energy and heart that Karen and Arthur have brought to their roles, fans can be forgiven for a little bit of wishful thinking.
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, like That Still Small Voice and The Shepherd turns the audience’s eye to the men of Storybrooke. While Once Upon A Time is a show that plays out sometimes riveting, sometimes unbearably soapy dynamics with its female leads, the last three episodes have brought some balance into the narrative.
Sheriff Graham (Jamie Dornan) is struggling with his attraction to Emma and bound to Regina but he doesn’t know why. Plagued by memories of a life not his own, Sheriff Graham needs answers.
Henry has answers, from his book of fairytales. Sheriff Graham is the Hunstman, raised by wolves, whom the Evil Queen hired to bring her Snow White’s heart.
The fairytale backstory, as in previous episodes, feels infinitely more vital than the events unfolding in Storybrooke. Storybrooke is The Evil Queen/Regina’s playground, a Stepford-ish version of reality where she can reign with casual manipulation and an underlying fear the residents can’t quite place. Henry and Emma have upset the poisoned apple-cart, and as her machinations are thwarted again, Regina’s cruelty bleeds through the smooth facade she wears.
Jamie Dornan, finally getting to be more than background eye candy, delivers a performance that gets under the skin with its swings between the Huntsman’s primal sense of honor, and Sheriff Graham’s desperation as he senses a wrongness that he can’t ignore. It may be the most emotionally-charged performance in the series so far, which makes the episode’s denouement even more tragic.
For the Evil Queen did pluck out the Huntsman’s heart when he betrayed her, and swear that he would serve her faithfully. If he ever betrayed her again, she would stop the heart she’d torn out.
Parilla has been consistently compelling as the Evil Queen, and is no less so here. While Regina often devolves into a purely bitchy caricature, The Evil Queen keeps the audience asking,”Why?” Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough development in even a nominal attraction between Graham and Emma, to make the romantic aspect of the episode work. Dornan’s scenes with Ginnifer Goodwin have more chemistry than those with Morrison. Emma has yet to be developed beyond her relationship with Henry and conflict with Regina, which makes it hard to care about her. Attitude without depth and a red leather jacket are not enough.
Once Upon A Time has started to inject some personality in twisting the familiar stories ever so slightly and revealing the humanity and inhumanity of the residents of Storybrooke. It’s a pity that most of that personality isn’t being used in developing the female leads the way the last three episodes have developed the male leads.
After a brief hiatus, NBC’s Grimm has returned with the particularly gruesome and therefore aptly named Danse Macabre and followed it up with Three Little Pigs. The episodes illustrate a bit more complexity of characterization in the supernatural species (Reiningen and Bauerschwein, respectively) but still fall flat.
Given Nick Burkhardt’s dual roles as cop and Grimm, I can accept that police procedure will be hand waved. What has become unacceptable is the gaping hole in the narrative of exactly why the Grimms are Grimms, and Nick himself appearing to be a completely neutral human being. Giuntoli invests the character with an earnest sense of justice, but there isn’t a sense of purpose or passion in Nick. The blandness of the character serves to highlight that every other character is either, more mysterious, more interesting, or more charismatic than the title character.
Riffing on The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Danse Macabre makes the piper a rat-like species, the Reiningen, while rats are still those lured by his music. In contrast with previous episodes where the villain is always supernatural, the episode subverts this and puts some striking visuals onscreen, yet never rises above a paint-by-numbers plot. Silas Weir Mitchell makes a scene in which Monroe attempts to give wrong-side-of-the-tracks musical prodigy and Reiningen, Roddy Geiger (Nick Thurston) a pep talk both touching and hilariously awkward. When a repairman who is also Reiningen flips out because he knows Nick is a Grimm, the scene is both funny and sets up the possibility of Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) noticing that there are a few too many strange things happening to Nick these days.
In Three Little Pigs we’re introduced to the Bauerschwein and, in another subversion, it’s not the pigs’ houses being blown down. Monroe gets a little more history. Including an ex, Angelina Lasser (Jaime Ray Newman) with a penchant for motorcycles and bunny blood, and continues to provide much of the emotional conflict of the series. Both episodes raise the question, “If even relatively harmless species fear the Grimms, then are they truly heroic?”
It’s an aspect that I’d like to see explored, the moral grey area. Is the hunter truly on the side of good, or like the Spanish Inquisition, have Grimms been the oppressor of those they view as evil without evidence? Thus far, there is far too much focus on the monster of the week and not enough context for the larger world in which the supernatural and mundane exist side by side. The procedural format may make it exceptionally easy to start watching Grimm at any point, but six episodes into the series; the show hasn’t developed the sense of its own world in a way that makes it easy to want to.