TV: ‘Gotham’

a recent email conversation with my sibling revealed that they hadn’t heard of ‘Gotham’ – the TV show that started off with lots of hype and promise.

The first half of season one was entertaining enough but I struggled to get through the second half and still have the final two episodes taped that I must get around to watching.

Still, I was surprised how underwhelmed I was towards the show when I found myself typing 

“You are missing nothing good despite the idea being fun – it’s basically Bruce Wayne as a child and Gotham sinking into the bad place it is in the films. It is sort of light weight police procedural.

The main trouble is they overdo the crazy, it can’t just be a murder it has to be an insane murder. It gets very very dull.”

That said, the 3rd to last episode was surprisingly good and I’m hoping the last two might justify why someone gave ‘Gotham’ a second season!

TV: Sleepy Hollow – “no more first-hand accounts of witches or founding fathers. Or donut tax outrage unless you want to be sent back to the asylum”

The premise of the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ TV series is an odd one, Ichabod Crane is resurrected two and a half centuries after his death in the Revolutionary War and finds himself working with Police Lt. Abbie Mills.

Nicole Beharie is fab as Abbie and forms a superb odd pairing with Tom Mison’s Crane. The strength of their interactions really sets this series apart from anything else currently on television.

I can’t really explain the storyline in a way that does it justice – I really enjoy the culture clash between Crane’s historical viewpoint and the modern reality he now finds himself in. That combined with the supernatural elements just works for me!

sleepy hollow

Season 1 was entertaining purely on “this is different” and whilst season 2 did flag a little in the middle it ended on a high to the extent that now it has finished I am finding myself looking forward to season 3.

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TV VS Book: TrueBlood – “We are forming an elite spiritual army.”

I’m rereading everything I own as part of the mad dash to have less stuff to move house with and finding a surprising number of books that I don’t feel the need to keep. This is surprising, despite knowing that I am fussy about what books I really like, and I think is largely due to my Weltanschauung changed after the events of last year.

Weltanschauung can be simplistically translated from the German to mean “world view” but the real meaning is closer to “wide world perception” – a mixture of ideals, experiences and beliefs that act as a framework for how we view the world and react to it.

Wiki tells me that Michael Lind says “a worldview is a more or less coherent understanding of the nature of reality, which permits its holders to interpret new information in light of their preconceptions. Clashes among worldviews cannot be ended by a simple appeal to facts. Even if rival sides agree on the facts, people may disagree on conclusions because of their different premises.”

This allows people to see the same film but have very different reactions to it, to see one news article and understand it in a drastically different way, or to read the same book and have massively differing opinions on it. Because my world view has changed I feel differently about certain things and am reading into things differently.

Starting honestly, I read ‘Dead Ever After’ as soon as it came out and I hated it, the writing style was awful and the ending felt like it came out of the blue. I was aware that I’d felt that book 8 onwards had seemed poorer quality and that book 11 onwards had been a struggle for me to care about.

It was actually this feeling of annoyance combined with a desire to know the ending of the series that prompted me to start this blog, I wanted somewhere to scribble down spoilers and endings in order to remember why I hadn’t kept certain books and why some series I’d just walked away from before they ended.

So it made sense that at some point I would have to reread the entire set of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, aka the Sookie Stackhouse series, aka TrueBlood.

I have seen all of the TV adaptation and due to the noticeable differences between the two things I deliberately avoided rereading the books until after that was all over and I’d had some time for the memory of it to fade. However when I reread the books the series kept popping into the front of my mind.

Sookie is a waitress in a fictional town in northwestern Louisiana. She is also a telepath and over the course of the 13 books finds herself increasingly involved in supernatural hi-jinks. The TV show doesn’t really skimp on the amount of supernatural hi-jinks but thankfully doesn’t scrape the barrel by bothering with the dodgy “devil” plotline

At the start of the series the only supernaturals who are public (aka out of the coffin) are vampires. But werewolves, shapeshifters, witches, fae and similar all exist and we encounter them as the books progresses. The TV show is pretty faithful in following this.

It is a first person narrated series and I will say now that this isn’t an issue for me – I know some people who detest it as a style. It was interesting to see the TV show wasn’t all about Sookie and actually wandered off to develop other characters in ways beyond the book.

I do have a tiny little issue with having references to things that only occur in short stories that are spread over a number of other books – according to wiki there are 18 short stories that relate to this series which are all separately sold, which seems a bit cheeky to me. I’ve read seven out of the 18 and don’t feel the need to read anymore.

In terms of the plots to the first five books (please note there will be spoilers):

Dead Until Dark’ – we meet Sookie, Sookie meets Bill Compton – a vampire. Sookie and Bill start dating. Sookie’s brother Jason shags anything that moves so when women start turning up dead he has slept with all of them and looks rather guilty. But it’s actually his friend Rene who is killing women that he deems to be vampire sluts. Rene kills Sookie’s grandmother, who had raised Jason and Sookie after their parents were swept away by flood waters.

Whilst trying to solve the murders Sookie goes to a vampire bar called Fantasia and meets the Vampire’s area sheriff Eric Northman.

Blood and sex are pretty much the same button for vampires.

Living Dead in Dallas’ – Sookie and Bill squabble, Sookie gets attacked by a maenad and Eric is primarily responsible for saving her. Eric asks for a favour, Sookie ends up infiltrating the Fellowship of the Sun Church – they don’t like vampires very much. Sookie meets werecreatures.

Club Dead’ – Bill goes missing after lying to Sookie about where he is. Eric suspects Bill’s maker Lorena might be involved, so sends Sookie to investigate Mississippi accompanies by a werewolf whose father owes Eric, the werewolf is called Alcide and this book is the most charitable portrayal of him – his later appearances are not overly flattering. Alcide has a violent ex-girlfriend called Debbie Pelt.

Elvis is a vampire. Bill rapes Sookie after he is tortured and deprived of blood. Eric saves the day repeatedly. Sookie dumps Bills.

Dead to the World’ – Sookie is driving home from work and finds a naked Eric running along the road, he seems to have lost his memory and Pam suggest that he stays with Sookie for a little while – at least until the witch coven responsible are dealt with.

Despite her brother Jason having gone missing Sookie has sex with Eric. Jason transpires to have been kidnapped and turned into a werepanther.

Alcide had the poor judgement to be date Debbie again and she decides to kill Sookie, she fails, Sookie kills her and Eric hides her body.

Dead as a Doornail’ – the shifters and were-beasties come out of the closet. Not everyone is happy, some get shot. Sookie’s fairy godmother Claudine has to work overtime.

After some contrived and silly circumstances Sookie is effectively blackmailed into telling Eric what happened during his stay with her.

Despite having waited sometime after watching the show I am remembering how much better certain aspects of the show were – for example in the show Eric and Pam were fantastic in a way that the book only alludes to.

I do need to crack on with reading the other books, but I was surprised that ‘Dead to the World’ wasn’t as good as I remembered and was handled more entertainingly by the TV show.

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TV: The 100 – “On the Ground, there is no Law”

I don’t have a great track record with post-apocalyptic science-fiction drama, I tend to get bored, find plot holes and start heckling.

The plot for ‘The 100’ is that about one hundred years ago there was a nuclear war or something equally stupid and destructive, so people ended up living in space. There are now somewhere over 2,000 of them and the punishment for most crimes is to “be floated” – aka blown out into space.

the 100

(Best bit of the show so far).

However if you are under 18 and commit a crime you get kept in prison for a bit then released (or probably floated, I wasn’t really listening) – at the start of the series there are 100 juvies in detention until someone has the bright idea of sending them to earth to see if it is hospitable yet.

They land on earth, it all goes a bit Lord of the Flies, there are some existing inhabitants on Earth who aren’t overly friendly and the juvies’ parents spend their time squabbling in space.

I’ve watched 9 episodes so far and it’s all very predictable and rather dull, although the characters are possibly slightly less stupid than those in Revolution – for the most part they have the excuse of being young and naïve having been kept alive in a fairly cushy prison cell, whereas everyone in ‘Revolution’ was old enough to know better.

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TV: ‘Veep’ – “That door should be half its height so that people can only approach me in my office on their (BEEP), (BEEP) knees!”

I had heard a large amount of positive things about ‘Veep’ and decided to give it a go.

The premise is Vice President Selina Meyer is a former Maryland Senator and one-time presidential candidate who didn’t get the top job but ended up as Vice President.

veep

The first episode pretty much jumped in from there and didn’t bother with much scene setting. In terms of character development everyone swore a lot, shouted and were generally dreadful people.

I’m really not sure I understood the point of this show, it wasn’t nice, it wasn’t entertaining and it wasn’t terribly funny.

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Film: ‘Dark Shadows’ – “I am neither good nor gentle! And I do not forgive! “

I had zero expectations from this film as I paid 10 pence for a brand new copy – to be exact the film cost 10 pence more than the postage costs of a book that I was buying anyway and buying the film meant I didn’t have to pay postage.

Having avoid the lack of buzz when it came out the only film-specific things that I knew were that it was based on a TV show that I hadn’t seen and the jeweller who made my engagement ring had also made most of the jewellery for the film.

dark shadows

Being a Tim Burton film it was almost certainly going to be weird and visually stylish – which is was. It also had some intentional laugh out loud moments, some of which were somewhat ick and I wouldn’t personally have given it a 12 rating.

The plot jumped around like the Mexican Jumping Bean that kept my sibling amused for a whole afternoon summer, it didn’t flow, there were lots of bits everywhere and very little actual resolution but it was fun.

The ending was sudden and almost a let down, but up to that point it had been visually very fun and definitely not boring! So all in all it was a good use of 10 pence.

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Books: Charlaine Harris’ ‘Grave Sight’ – “I was profoundly glad I hadn’t been having an affair with her husband”

Charlaine Harris seems to have a thing for writing about young women who are socially isolated and have a power that is more of a curse than a blessing.

Sookie Stackhouse was a fairly accessible character and had some social skills. Harper Connelly is a pretty cold fish by comparison and it is probably a good thing that she only had four books in her series – ‘Grave Sight’, ‘Grave Surprise’, ‘An Ice Cold Grave’ and ‘Grave Secret’.

grave sight

It isn’t that they are bad books, they have a plot and wander along to a good enough ending each time. It is just that Harper is rather had to empathise with, I suppose finding dead people for a living  because being hit by lightening means that you “buzz” when you are near a corpse and then seeing their final moments would make you somewhat withdrawn and less than chatty.

Following the success of ‘True Blood’ there have been some interest in turning this into a TV show, it could work rather well with enough deviation from the books but it wouldn’t be as popular as ‘True Blood’ and would probably be cancelled by the end of the first season.

Part of this will be down to the total lack of sex appeal; Sookie was a bit of a slapper whereas Harper isn’t, however I wasn’t entirely sure why Harper felt the need to share with us that her step-brother’s penis was curved and that is going to be a longer lasting memory than the actual plots.

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TV: Revenge Season 4 predictions

I personally found the end of series 3 of ‘Revenge’ a little too much like a rejected plot from a Mexican soap opera.

It is also disappointing that ‘Revenge’ has been renewed for a fourth season as it means it can find new lows to sink to – I will still watch it (or at least read spoilers after the US have shown it) but I would really like season 4 to be Emily and Nolan sitting on a beach being bitchy about everyone.

That would be an enjoyable show!

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TV: Castle – “The last thing I need is to watch someone from my past try to seduce my fiance while talking about the goddess that lives in her hooha”

When I started watching ‘Bones‘ I did watch eight seasons almost back-to-back, this isn’t normal for me so I am rather surprised that I am now on the fourth season of ‘Castle‘ – having watched the preceding three in quick succession.

It is more lightweight than ‘Bones’ and has lighter humour, which is hitting the spot right now. In many ways it almost feels light fast food TV but with better plotlines and (sometimes) better acting.

castle season 2

I’m not entirely sure why my TV provider feels the need to warn me that the show contains “suggestive dialogue” as it has so far been rather tame – certainly my coworkers at work have racier conversations, although they do also discuss in detail how to dispose of an universally hated Third Party Supplier’s Relationship Manager…so far fire or rats are the frontrunners.

Unlike ‘Bones’ this series isn’t giving me any tips on body disposal, however it is proving educational in terms of ensuring a lack of visible motive or opportunity – rather like a more homicidally successful ending to Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’.

Now if only I could kill my cold off once and for all.

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