I love dancing and I honestly hate all those pretentiously artsy movies in which ballerinas are presented as loony, deeply troubled or borderline insane, even further, I hate the way ballet is presented and treated, either overly dramatic, like this horrible and traumatic experience or like such an effortless thing and overly simplified.
Ballerinas and ballet are complicated things. Ballet does not define them nor their psyche nor all ballerinas look like stick figures… ok, maybe in the highly professional world of prima ballerinas, yes… but there are so many wonderful ballerinas out there who happen to be of different colours and yes, body types and they are amazing.
So… all of this intro to recommend “Bundheads”, a new tv show about carpenters. Well, about ballerinas actually.
OK… this show also lack race diversity, though the body type diversity is a big wider than usual.
In case you are wondering, bunhead means a ballerina, because of how they are supposed to keep their hair in a bun. I know… truly amazing and infinitively original.
It is cute, it is silly, it is sweet and nice.
It is not the greatest show to ever grace our screens, but it is warm, sweet, witty and there is a lot of dancing.
The characters are believable, realistic and they look like they are really teenagers. Which is utterly awesome and nice for a change. Ahem, teen tv shows, I am looking at you.
We see different types of personalities and different attitudes towards ballet, it could be your calling, something you like and makes you happy, something you are used to like the nose on your face and you just do it, because you have done it since ever (isn’t this familiar) or something that everyone expects you to do but you have no idea how you feel about it.. It is truly sweet and nice.
I have this very strong “Gillmore girls” feeling about it (same creator) but we will see. The curse of “all-female-cast” has so far been averted and it is highly entertaining. I love to see complex female character interacting with each other, as well as variety of friendships and connections. The comedy is there, not too much of a stress of the drama and you are going to smile and laugh. In short, very sweet. It makes little to no social commentary. The world and reality of it is sugar and spice… but that’s ok. I am kinda fed up with gritty anyway.
And oh my god, isn’t the word “sweet” the word of the day for this review.
I am kinda bored of all those police drama and the such so it is a nice change of pace.
Because season 1 (Book 1) just ended and because I honestly to god have no idea what has happened with that story, I am going to re watch every episode and write a review on every one of it in order to try and find what is going on with this show and why it turned out so… um… ?
I am currently waiting for “The Killing” U.S. version to finish its second season in order to finish the back-to-back review. This thing is taking longer than I expected!
In the mean time, I have checked several other series like Angel, Miss Fisher’s murder mysteries, Revenge and Young Justice. And one thing is not like the others.
All of the shows are entertaining quite a lot but something sticks like the proverbial sore thumb. And that is… character development!
Seriously… if one’s going to make tv series which the audience is supposed to watch and care, it is good to have characters that are believable and change at least according to ANY logic whatsoever.
Unfortunately “Young Justice” have yet to hear about this novel idea, because I can not yet explain the sudden “and now we jump years into the future, adding several new characters and kicking out some others as well” further than “we actually had no idea how to make the audience care”. Which is completely true. People can write and shout until they are blue in the face how comics, animations and tv are just fantasy and that is normal for shows and stories to be completely bonkers, but I am not buying it. It is more than absurd to think that one would care about something they do not understand. In order to like a character it does not need to be sympathetic (e.g. Angelic from “Dark Shadows” the movie with Johny Depp) but it is important to be realistic at least sto some extent… else there would have been comics/movies and tv series about paint getting dry.
My biggest beef with “Young Justice” is not the fact that they are trying to cram too much in too little, I mean…DC universe is HUGE and there are so many beloved characters and stories we’d like to see, and the backstory is… well, you get the idea. So… my beef is simple… I WANT MORE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, and also I WANT IT NOW.
See, the show is now in its second season and minus an episode or two here and there, I do not give a damn about any of the characters whatsoever. Why? Because the story is all over the place. “It’s about the team. No! It is about a long-term evil story! NO! It is going to be “monster of the week, plus subtle character story a little here and there”…
The new season started… let’s see if there will be any progress compared to season one, when it was just “A game of tits.”
Honestly, I have no optimism about it.
Some time ago I saw a trailer of Forbrydelsen (it means The Crime). I had no idea what I was watching but I liked it a lot, so I bookmarked and completely forgot about it. Then… a few weeks ago I stumbled on it again and downloaded the tv series on my machine and found out that there is a TV remake of the Danish (because it is Danish) show, which is called The Killing.
I know… an American remake of a Danish show, that’s bound to be a huge success right? However, since “Let the right one in” which American version wasn’t completely awful, I chose to give the American version a chance, so I will watch and review them back to back.
I want to point out… I am so very far from the Danish pop culture and subculture, that it is bound to be extremely visible in my review (that’s going to be a hoot, a Bulgarian, living in the UK, writing in English, reviewing a Danish tv show… globalisation at its finest!), so my most sincere apologies in advance for my mistakes.
Quick thoughts before I post in some time my review: I really like what I am seeing so far, and I will start with the covers.
Both shows look refreshingly different than the usual plastic Barbie ideas of women, that are everywhere and I dare say, look real. The very idea that they center around a woman, who is a detective and whose life we will observe… it is kind of sad how much of attention that is drawing, as almost being something completely irregular.
However, I am a bit peeved, because in the American version, a big chunk of the adverts for the series are based on the victim in the show, making it a bit too morbid for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, me love me some morbid, but the creepy fascination with pretty dead women which America has (in its pop culture) is… very uncomfortable for me, as a viewer.
To describe the two stories (because there are differences). They both start the horrific murder of a young girl (Nanna Birk Larsen in the Danish series and Rosie Larsen in the U.S. version), both shows begin with the unfolding story. We are shown a very real procedural show (so no “enhance the reflection of the hand mirror, of the eye, of the neighbor eyeglasses of the killer”!!!) and we are shown three different aspects. One, the police investigation, two, the family of the killed girl and three, an election which is neatly tied in the story. However, there are many subtle and not so subtle differences between the characters and presentations of the characters and I will dwell a lot more in the actual reviews.
So far… that’s it.
These two shows, combined with the unbelievable success that The Hunger Games books and movie are, make me hopeful that we are beginning to shred that utter need to cast inhumanly attractive people in the roles of supposedly ordinary women. Yay?
Blood Ties is a relatively short lived Canadian show which is again, relatively cute.
It is based on the books of Tanya Huff and it is supernatural.
I haven’t read the books but the premise looks interesting enough. And now, we will proceed to the !MONSTER spoilers as usual.
Our main character is Victoria Nelson, an ex cop, who has troubles with her eyes and that’s the reason she leaves the force. She is presented to us as tough as nails and stubborn young woman. She now works as a PI. She gets pulled into the supernatural business pretty quickly, after she encounters a demon and in the process of vanquishing him, gets branded with two awesome wrist tattoos. Now all the evil is drawn to the city and her. Hooraay?
So… our main protagonist is Vicky, who is sporting eyeglasses and quite frequently forgets that she almost can’t see, though she is supposed to have troubles with her eyesight. Whatever suits the plot, you know.
She is tough, she is opinionated, she is good in fights, she is… actually, we never see why we are constantly told how badass she is, since in all cases everyone wipes the floor with her. The excuse is that it happens to all the other characters too and that the baddies are supernatural, but it is kind of an issue on my side. Also? She looks like an asshole, acting the way she acts, without showing us any reason for her to be such a hard ass. The trouble if having a badass woman character who is clearly like that because the way women are treated in the society (especially in the police world)… without showing the actual negative treatment can lead to situations like that. She is nice and entertaining and the actress is enjoyable. She is saved in every episode by Henry of course, because… well… nothing screams a badass woman like being saved on every turn. Am I right or what?
The love interest/colleague/supernatural element is called Henry Fitzroy, who also happens to be a vampire and on top on that, is actually the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. I know… right? A vampire called Henry… He is working as an artist, drawing graphic novels. He is also so much trying to be Lestat in moving, gestures and the like, it’s a bit uncomfortable to watch. However, he is quite easy on the eyes and relatively well reads his lines. Not bad for a 500 years old grandpa.
He is, as I said, a vampire, but in this world, there are no troubles with holy objects and he literally dies during the day and comes back at night. His supernatural abilities are used a bit like deus ex machina here and there but we can live with it. As a character… mmm… nothing to say much about him. He is there and he is good at looking sexy, kind of brooding and for us the see why our main character could consider jumping in his pants. For a character… kind of undeveloped, though, ironically, he’s the oldest one around.
The quirky side character (yes, we have one of those unfortunately) is Coreen, who is goth (kind of perky though) and also an assistant in the agency. Coreen is the hacker/walking library of the series. Though at the beginning at the show she works in a bar, it turns out she is not just pretty (and so very thin…) but also convenient because she has read or knows all about all supernatural foes that come around. Huh? The biggest downside of Coreen is the actress. There is nothing perky and easy going of her so it does not translate into her character. It’s a bit too obviously that it is a role and not her personality. But… oh, well…
Almost last, but not least is Mike, an ex-colleague of Vicky who is still on the force, also a love interest (because what is a tv show with a woman main character and supernatural at that, without some insane and completely unneeded love triangle?)
He denies the supernatural in almost every episode and almost insults Vicky when she suggests other forces at play, though is almost every episode he sees the said forces. I can understand and support healthy skepticism, but here is a bit much. He does not like much Henry (the shocker) and they are regularly at their throats (ok, bad analogy) and the only few times they bond, they are talking about Vicki and complaining about her. And because the writing is the way it is… they have reasons to be kind of pissed of someone who is constantly shown as failing to take care of herself. Vampires and men, united in their eyerolling of those pesky romantic female leads!
The side characters… nothing particularly eye-catching and memorable. They are fine, I guess.
So… now, the verdict.
As a whole, the show is enjoyable but is explicitly created as a fluff starting kiind of promising and then giving up half the way. The screenwriting is pretty straightforward, the characters are… the usual crowd. The cases are the usual run of the mill supernatural cases and the relationships show us nothing original or even remotely surprising. The show does not have any major flaws unless you know, the way Vicki is written and treated and her damsel-in-distress actions is almost every frigging eppisode… but also doesn’t have anything to say as well further than “hay, Henry looks good shirtless, also Vicky has the hots for him, but it is going to be a tease for a whole season without any real resolution”. No wonder it got canceled pretty quickly.
It is not a bad way to spend an hour but… one can live without it without any troubles.
The plus side… they do not completely butcher a show with a main female protagonist. The minus side…that’s almost the only plus the show has.
So… pass/no pass, doesn’t really matter.
This time around, I am going to try and write a short review. You know… for the test’s sake.
Jekyll is a British tv series created by no other than Moffat. I know… the amount of tv series I have reviewed here created by the same person is uncanny. So… this one is the last. For now that is. It is again, my favorite genre, a supernatural show. Surprise, I know.
The story is based on the classic “Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde“. In the most easy take on the story, it is about one person, a scientist, who, via chemicals, gets the split personality of the year, becoming two different beings, one, his regular and normal Dr Jekyll and the second, his dark side, Mr Hyde. I have seen many takes on this story, some good, some bad and some batshit insane. But all of them speak about the same thing, what if all of our subconsciousness comes to life, separate from us. What if we act the way we want and not the way we are supposed to. Cue more or less successful analysis in the moves about right and wrong.
Jekyll is based on the same premises minus the dabbling in chemicals, he just starts turning without any reasons and beware of the SPOILER MONSTER!, because I am still going to review this as a whole.
It is based in present day and it has a wonderful opening scene. My hat to you, dear Moffat
We have some brilliant actor work in the series and I am just in awe. The show is just elevated by the pacing and timing and it has a few tricks up its sleeve and twist and turns that can be tad unexpected.
We have the somewhat nerdy main protagonist who has an issue, sharing a body with a lunatic. How do you control another person who are you… but not exactly, with a completely different mindset and attitudes towards life, who is also kind of violent and unpredictable? Well… you deal with with. Because of it, Jekyll has a second apartment, chaining himself to a scary looking chair and having an assistant to work as a mediator between the two of them.
Here is one of the strongest aspects of the series, the transitions between the two people. Played by the same actor, the subtle differences are in the hair line, tan, expression, body language and quite a lot of cinematographic effectes which add nicely to the whole deal.The show has been intended as a multiple season show which unfortunately ruins the coherent story telling. Alas, there are no chance for further seasons, so 1st season is all we have.
We quickly learn that the things are not what they seem. Though we are a teensy bit bored by Jekyll and a teensy bit terrified of Hyde, it gets clear that a bigger conspiracy is in order when its made clear a shadowy organisation is interested in them both. Jekyll is an intelligent person and Hyde is, as they do not stop repeating during the series, a child… with the appropriate apetites and attitudes of a grown person minus the social bounderies a grown person usually has.
Very cleverly, we are shown that they share a same mind but they react very differently to things and we can see the face of Hyde in some of the actions and attitudes of Jekyll (however, not so much the other way around). However, he is also kind of supernatural, being extremely strong and able to control animals not to mention other tricks here and there.
The biggest asset of the series is the twist that Hyde is not really a monster… he is the inner self of a person and very much like the Mask (with Jim Carrey), it is about the person and his subconsciousness. Which means… the world is not just good/bad/nice/naughty/monsters/heroes but about choices and actions of different people.
We are shown by the revalation that the “curse” is given from mother to son (though it is not clear how that works and we have a major story flaw there unfortunately, at least for the nitpicky but it can be easily ignored) and that the head of the shadowy organisation is the “monster” side of the main character mother. Pretty neat, huh? And though Hyde could be a bit… problematic, his monster is more on the type of entertaining and just checking how far he can go, the dark side of the mother is truly scary.
The series end quite open but because of that, we have no idea what actually happens with our characters, which spoils the series profoundly. And the biggest issue… the script just goes all over the place from one moment on. No idea how to explain the transformation? Throw secret experiments of sorts. No idea how to explain the repetition of it? Throw a clone there (yes, they actually went there). For me, the biggest flaw is their attempt to actually explain the reasons and… they fail. Miserably. That and the biggest other flaw, the wife.
I have valiantly fought off another rant about how much Moffat fails to write interesting female characters (however, in this series, the only fail is this character, though she is supposedly the most fleshed out. So… he can create nice sketches of female character but fails to deliver when he has to build them in full human beings. Kind of the same as River Song, Amy Pond and Irene Adler). I
have no idea about the actress, never have seen her before and never since (actually, I have seen her. She has played in one episode of Jonathan Creek and she was quite meh there as well) but she just… sucks. I do not believe their connection, their interaction and almost got a headache from eye-rolling in the scenes between her and Hyde. I blame to big extend the writing but mostly… the actress was not able to pull it trough. The whole show is a bit over the top but the lazy writing of the wife, which is revealed to be the center of the story is inexcusable.
As a whole… most of the characters are fine. Jekyll and Hyde are going with flying colours (mins a few small nitpicks here and there), the dynamic duo (that is, the lesbian private detective couple which are an actual couple in real life can melt your heart) are charming, sweet and very nice, a teensy bit too much on the nose, but still OK. The assistant is a bit… odd. I find the stumbling of her character a flaw mainly on the writing and not that much on the actress herself. The children actors… really good, surprisingly good for their age actually. The mommy dearest (mmm, really having troubles here actually, on one hand I like the idea of a split mother and her being more than just a mommy but also power hungy person intriguing, on the other, I have seen this trope too many times to feel easy about is already).
The evil asshole was… with very funny American accent but a very nice touch (although one of the only characters from another race, which was kind of meh) and the evil-ish boss was entertaining as well. Last is the wife, because just… fail.
As a whole, the show is not exactly family friendly, because it can give children nightmares but it is entertaining and well written (well, to some extent at least) and quite pleasant. So… recommend strongly.
To point out, the music is incredible, the actors are quite good and the cinematography is excellent.