Let’s talk televisuals..


MODERN FAMILY
April 11, 2011, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Comedy, GENRE, SPECIAL FEATURES, trailer/advert | Tags: , , ,

Prepare to laugh out loud with this bunch of lovable misfits. From the makers of Frasier and Golden Girls, this ensemble comedy has a top-class cast to deliver quick-witted, often dry and sassy dialogue. And opposed to 30 Rock, it is in a setting that all of us can relate to: family life. Included within the cast are three very different sets of families all connected by a father and his grown up daughter and son.

From top left and clockwise Haley, Gloria, Clare, Cameron, Alex, baby Lilly, Mitchell, Jay, Luke, Manny, Phil.

The traditional nuclear family is headed by his daughter, Claire Dunphy and her goofy husband, Phil. Her brother, Mitchel is part of a loved up gay couple who’ve just adopted the cutest Vietnamese baby ever. And their Dad, Jay is starting a brand new family with his new vibrant, young wife Gloria and her wise beyond his years, thirteen year old son, Manny.

From the creators of Frasier and Golden Girls, Modern Family shares the same kind of tightly written scripts where everything fits more perfectly together than origami. The writers have woven the character’s plot threads with effortless grace to set up hilarious one-liners. Catching an episode every now and again is easy;  you don’t have to worry about missing something if you don’t watch them in chronological roder. It doesn’t need to draw you in with complicated storylines that drag on forever or mysterious happenings that unravel themselves through the series. A little like the Simpsons, each episode just is.

Although rare, every now and again you get a show where everybody can watch. After Friend’s, I think many of us telly-addicts and coach potatoes had given up hope. Bit Modern Family delivers a show you can watch again and again.



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.



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.



Californication, Channel 5 (UK), Showtime
Suffering from riders block

Suffering from riders block

Approaching is the long awaited second series of this highly original, witty television drama about a troubled but chilled, sex addicted writer living in California. If you have not watched the first series, you have missed the least formulaic show in television history.

We watch while our hero, Hank, struggles to win back the mother (Karen) of his much loved daughter (Becca). And, at the same time. get himself out of some serious scrapes including sleeping with a 16 year old girl who turns out to be the daughter of Karen’s new boyfriend. 

The dialogue is the most refreshing aspect of this comedy. They say that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but you may disagree when you hear it coming from David Duchovny. Even though the storylines can be quite heavy such as statutory rape or living in a broken family,the rock n roll attitudes of the cast give them a lighter edge.

Hank can get women to laugh at comments that would usually get men a slap in the face. It gives him a strong air of mystery. His sexy demeanor and quick wit is especially appealing when he bounces off his neurotic, Jewish literary agent (and best friend), Charlie. He is as morally corrupt as his best bud. Despite being married to his soul mate, he still can’t resist the temptation when his secretary invites him to discipline her.

This is another showtime production, like Weeds. They seem to breed shows that are fresh and cutting edge. With Californication in particular, there is something for everyone to enjoy, without being spoonfed a block of cheese. Season 2 starts in America on Sunday 28th September. As soon as we know the dates for UK, we will publish them.



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.



Heroes, BBC2, Wednesday 9pm

Heroes is back for an extremely anticipated third series! For those of you that have never watched this adventurous drama, it is X Men on the rocks with a twist. There are surprises at every single corner but several things set it apart from other American thrillers. You want to escape to this fantasy version of our world where supernatural beings exist.

In the first series, these gifted people are brought together to save the planet (and the cheerleader). Each gift is very unique and helpful to the cause. When Hiro, a desk clerk from Hong Kong finds out he can time travel, he also discovers that the end of the world is close by. With the inadvertent help of the Petrelli brothers, the cheerleader and a few others he goes on his mission.

Series two introduces some new characters, helps us get to know the existing ones and the significance of their relationships to one another. Always running along side the many intertwined story lines is our relentless villain, Silas. His gift is knowing how things work. We aren’t quite sure how he steals powers except that he lasers their head open and we believe eats their brain. Maybe, we’re wrong. If you have any other theory, we’d love to hear them.

Hiro

Adorable and hilarious: Hiro

Anyway, all bets are on that the new series called Chapter Three, Villains, is going to be as addictive as the last two. So far, the cliff hangers are dramatic have been interesting enough, that you are always be hungry for more.