Let’s talk televisuals..


Heroes, Season 4, NBC & BBC 2 *WARNING CONTAIN SPOILERS*
February 12, 2010, 2:38 pm
Filed under: Drama, Fantasy, GENRE, Thriller | Tags: , , , , , ,

If you’re finding it hard to fall asleep, put on an episode of the latest series of Heroes. To say it is abismal is an understatement. If you’re a loyal follower, you’ll know that

Sitting Stiff as their Show

although there is usually one or two disappointing episodes, you will still see it through till the end of the series with enough viewing satisfaction. But this time, you’ll find yourself feeling cheated till the very end of the series. The main problem being: you’ve seen most of it all before.

There are new characters but they just aren’t that interesting. There’s a deaf girl who randomly starts to see colours come off sound. First she sees it from her tap dripping and then eventually from a cello. If she plays it vehemently enough, the colours can physically hit things, like leaving holes in walls, for example. Eventually it turns out that when she plays the cello, it can attract people to her. It’s a pretty weird power.

They’ve also found a new villain: Samuel, who runs a carnival of “specials” and who thrives off other people’s powers. But he just doesn’t have the same charisma of Silar, who by the way is now turning good. There are a few other’s that come and go, like an invisible girl and a woman who can see the future. However, most of them are not very convincing actors.

Our main characters are all very much the same. Clare, the cheerleader has started college and is “struggling” to fit in. She still has her usual trust problems with her Dad. Peter is still trying to be the ultimate hero. Matt Parkman is still a cringeworthy actor and Suresh is still a bit of a drip (one bonus – there’s a lot less of Suresh, now). Frosty Tracy is still having problems holding her water. The one tragedy is the loveliest good guy, Hiro is dying from a brain tumour.

But none of the plots that they have at episode 1 seem to be carried through the series. I must have popped to the loo when Hiro was cured from his tumour or when Tracy figured out how to stop freezing herself. There is, also, a plot where Clare has a kiss with her new roommate Gretchen…but this lesbian plot turned out to be just another red herring. It was like they got two-thirds through the chapter and then suddenly did a handbreak turn and focused all the attention on Samuel and his carnival.

Sorry if this all seems a bit harsh, but lovers of this show will agree that when Heroes began it was full of thrills, great cliff-hangers and intriguing characters. One positive aspect is that the visual effects have remained fantastic throughout all four season’s.

*SPOILER* As usual, it all ends with the beginning of the next series – Chapter Five – where Clare uses the attention of the whole New York press to jump off the top of a Ferris Wheel. But whether this season will happen, is yet to be confirmed.



United States of Tara, Series One, Showtime

When approaching mental illness or personality disorders, it usually is dark and filled with tragedy from Sybil to Girl, Interrupted. But Showtime’s United States of Tara

United States of Tara

Who do you think you're talking to?

is coming from a whole other direction. Don’t get me wrong..it’s still dark but with a thick layer of humour over the top of it.

Tara is a housewife with two teenage children (Kate and Marshall) and a loving husband (Max). She suffers from Dissociative Disorder giving her four alternative personalities that come out of their shells when she is stressed. They are Buck (dirty, beer swilling, red neck type, trucker), Alice (1950’s housewife who enjoys making cakes and trying to make babies with Max), T (teenage, highly sexed and energised, cheeky, bad girl) and Gimme (who we don’t know much about except that they like to pee on Tara’s Dad and are vile).

The first episode was quite disappointing, nevertheless it was easy to watch. You are spoonfed the introduction to the storyline in the first episode through dialogue that leaves no stone unturned. And her alternative personalities seem more like caricatures than characters.

But as the series progresses you become more used to the alternates and pay more attention to how the rest of the family are coping; how it affects their relationships with each other and with Tara. And as this happens, the dialogue gets funnier, wittier but also deeper. There are many raw moments that compel you to watch. For instance, Charmaine (Tara’s sister) has always resented Tara for having all the attention from their parents. But when Charmaine begins to realise how it can humiliate and ruin Tara’s life as well as everyone elses, there is a new bond.

Her grounded husband Max always takes care of her and supports her. He is the rock that their teenagers come up against with their moaning and outrage at their mother. And he is also the balancing calming force to combine with his mad wife. Kate, their daughter is the least accepting of her mother but is also in her mid-teens and so rebel and experiment are key to her anyway. If you know a teenager that isn’t appalled by their parents, you should take them to a doctor. Finally, there is their sweet, gay son, Marshall, who is in his early teens and much more accepting of his mother. Well….until T decides to cause havoc in his love life. But I won’t spoil that surprise for you.

With executive- producer Steven Spielberg and Juno writer Cody Dablo, it’s clear that this series has a great team behind them. And the middle of the show is filled with witty one-liners, credible characters and complex relationships for you to get a kick out of. Just a shame that they start and end USoT on the wrong foot.

Series two starts March 22, 2010. Here is a trailer for all – enjoy.



Being Human, BBC Three, 11.30 pm
February 8, 2010, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Clip, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, GENRE, Horror, SPECIAL FEATURES | Tags: , , , , ,

Being Human

Ain't nothing human about this crew

It’s all going on in the West Country…

You see, there’s this flat-share with a ghost, werewolf and a vampire…and it’s all set in suburban Bristol. That must have been an interesting pitch meeting at BBC Three headquarters, nevertheless, ‘Being Human’, the channel’s pitch-black drama punctuated with laugh out loud humour has made it to its second series, with a third recently commissioned.

The set-up of the show is brilliant – mixing the supernatural with the relatively mundane nature of day-to-day flat-sharing such as a minor obsession with ‘The Real Hustle’ and the drinking of endless cups of tea.

But this really wouldn’t make for an exciting hour of television, and so Being Human is packed with drama – everything from death trying to track down the resident ghost, Annie, to the attempted ethnic cleansing of so-called evil werewolves and vampires by a group of religious nut-jobs.

And so to the most important part of what makes ‘Being Human’ such  abusive boyfriend in the first series and subsequently he rents out the house they shared to George and Mitchell, the hairy and toothy ones and so the ‘Terry and June’ set-up with added blood lust ensues.

Annie is bubbly, slightly dizzy and spends the first series trying to work out why she hasn’t passed over to the other side and is stuck in her Bristol-shaped purgatory. George the werewolf is sensible, neurotic and fond of list-making, making him the Monica of the group if this were Paranormal Friends.

The third part of the picture is made up of the louch and troubled vampire Mitchell, a man trying to conquer his insatiable lust for blood whilst exhibiting a natty line in jackets.

The way that the three characters bounce off each other is fantastic viewing, and the humour peppered in the script is a welcome relief from the frequent blood-letting and dark plot.

The second series is currently half way through its eight episode run and offers up new twists every week, meaning that there is definitely life in the old werewolf/vampire/ghost (delete as applicable) yet.

By Andrew Collier



Big Love, HBO
...Just be good to me..

...Just be good to me..

When you think the American Dream – big family, nice house and healthy bank account spring to mind, right? If you multiply them by three you get Bill’s family.

Born a mormon in a polygamist compound, he is used to this way of life. But it wasn’t always this way – he was thrown out in his teens and went on to live a normal life with his beloved wife, Barbara and two lovely children. Unfortunately, Barb got sick and found out she was unable to conceive again. So, as you would, they decided to take a second wife, Nicki. She took care of Barb and the children and had some of her own.

This set-up would seem enough for any man to cope with as a lover and provider. Cue, Margene – the innocent, sexy and slightly wild daughter of a Las Vegas bar girl. These three wives love the bones off their man and take care of their family as a sisterhood – Barb being the leader.

Slightly uncomfortable for an audience that is unfamiliar with the polygamist ways, this is still strangely addictive. Lifestyle choices aside, this ever-expanding family outcast from their mormon roots have many normal issues that any unit or institution would have. We watch as they try and cope with normal family problems and all evils and sin that come from the ‘righteous’ compound, run by prophet Roman Grant (Nicki’s Dad).

Confused yet? Agreed – it is a pretty complicated storyline and I think this is where they fall short. Below, is a complete summary from youtube. I could write for yonks about all the different characters but that would take all night. You wonder if there is the need for such complexities.

Saying that, the acting is superb and the characters have many dimensions to them. One of my favourite’s is Nicki Grant, the middle wife played by Chloe Sevigny. She is prim and proper and the only wife brought up on the compound. Her behaviour is rigid and her sexuality suggests frigidity, but it turns out there is a wild side to her just dieing to get out. Secretly, she takes the morning after pills, goes undercover at the courts to help her Dad escape jail and falls in love with the very man trying to prosecute him.

If you liked Sopranos, you will enjoy Big Love. For it has all the stylised shots, complex storylines and unusual dynamics that make it a pleasure to cut yourself off from your own life for an hour.



True Blood, HBO (USA) and FX (UK)
"Delicious to taste but doesn't satisfy a true appetite"

"Delicious to taste but doesn't satisfy a true appetite"

Goodbye (and good riddance) to Buffy and Angel, we don’t need your shallow, try-hard, overacted reruns anymore. Vampires have got a whole new look with HBO’s True Blood and it’s dripping with an apt macabre and seriously steamy style. 

From the creators of Six Feet Under, this sexy new drama serves up a world where vampires are now citizens and living among us. This is thanks to a Japanese scientist creating synthetic blood called True Blood that is sold like a pack of beers in gas stations or a hot toddy in bars. Understandably, many are still apprehensive but there are the ignorant and nasty few who go that one step further.

Roses are red...

Blood is red, Veins are blue...

Based in  a small town in New Orleans, our story centres around a telepathic waitress, Sookie (Anna Paquin) who falls in love with her neighbour, a lonely vampire, five or six times her age, Bill. There are frequent murders occurring and the prime suspect is her horny, dumb brother, Jason. So she sets out to clear his name with the help of her new man.

The funny thing is, that True Blood is the real world sugarcoated in fresh blood, so to speak. It seems to reflect society with the moral issues it flags up. Such as the severe prejudice many hold against the vampires and the few that accept and protect them. V (vampire blood), the new trendy drug can take you to new psychedelic heights or repair you. So some humans will drain a vampire, just to get their fix or make some money.

The creators have combined an intricate fantasy world combined with the real one for you to get lost in. Enhanced by an above average cast and occasional slashes of timely humour, this is worth watching. Although not appealing to everybody, there are also quite a few vehemently graphic sexual and violent scenes.   But don’t get too high expectations. It’s not always that thrilling and the cliffhangers are often an anticlimax.

True Blood has already finished in America and has just been commissioned for a second series. Alas, UK viewers will have to wait until summer 2009 and that is only if you have FX Networks. Otherwise, box set recommended.



Desperate Housewives, E4 (UK) and ABC
October 7, 2008, 12:55 pm
Filed under: Comedy, Drama | Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Move over Eve and watch out Adam

Move over Eve and watch out Adam

Merge together SATC’s Samantha, Charlotte, Carrie and Miranda and you get the typical modern city girl. The same thing happens with the Desperate Housewives but this time representing the archetype of a middle aged, middle class woman of suburbia. Bree the perfectionist;Susan the quirky crazy one; Lynette the business woman and; Gabi the sassy sexy ex-model. If you’ve been to Cobham, Surrey, you’ll know what I mean.

Set in Wisteria Lane, it’s always highlights what every community understands: no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Every series a strange new neighbour moves onto the cul-de-sac with some dark secret that unravels itself over the season. The end of series four is just finishing in the UK at the moment. Bree’s most threatening rival (and close friend) Cathy is having a hard time from her violent ex-husband who is vehement to reconnect with his daughter. This is actually not as exciting as you’d think. And after watching a few series of these kind of cliffhangers, it is hard to muster up enthusiasm.

These days television is fast moving and although suspense is still important, most writers are focusing on detailed woven stories with optimal character development more than patronising their audience with silly plot questions over characters you don’t really know or care about.

No, no Marcia - putrid orange and ginger hair will never go.

No, no Marcia - putrid orange and ginger hair will never go.

But Season 5’s (started in US on 28 September) Desperate Housewives sees our four fave girls in five years time. New challenges, new politics and a new mysterious villain has moved in: Edie’s husband.

Spoilt, shallow Gabi is now the mother of two overweight, hyperactive girls and still married to blind masseur, Carlos Solis. Bree is now Wisteria Lane’s answer to Martha Stewart and is estranged from both her daughter and granddaughter. Lynette now has three strapping teenage boys all with bad boy tendencies to get in trouble with the law. And Susan….I will let you see for yourself.

 



WEEDS, Sky One, Showtime
September 21, 2008, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Comedy, Drama, trailer/advert | Tags: , , , , ,
Weeds on Showtime

Weeds on Showtime

A young widower starts dealing marijuana, in her well-to-do middle class neighbourhood Agrestic, to look after her family. It’s a sassy, black comedy about rolling with the punches when life gets tough. It’s original, quirky and witty at the same time.

Bummer

Bummer

Our protagonist, Nancy, gets herself out of some serious shit with grace and usually, a bit of jamminess. Alongside, Nancy’s farcical shenanigans, you get to enjoy the hilarious escapades of the other inhabitants of Agrestic. This includes Doug, the always baked accountant and Celia, the uptight, insensitive, bitch from hell neighbour. They both have the most comic value and satirically show what the American Dream gives to you: an addiction to sex, drugs and alcohol. 

The writers of Weeds clearly like to mix things up which strangely gives the half hour balance. It touches on how both halves live and the issues that come with it. Nancy works with many minority groups throughout the four series. And she comes across many other worlds including heroine dealers, gang warfare and even sex slave smugglers. But at all times, you will be lightly entertained by the characters reactions and dealings with these things and each other.

The shameful thing with this show is the length and the opportunity to see it. It is a showtime production in the USA and on Sky One here. So unless you pay for these channels, you will have to buy the box sets. I guarantee they’re worth it.