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Monday, April 27, 2015

Orphan Black: Transitory Sacrifices Of Crisis

It's the second episode, and in it you can see the careful arrangement of all the myriad pieces being set-up for the season's overarching plot – though as ever, there's room for at least one Oh Crap moment (in which the survival of certain characters feels genuinely in doubt) and an early Put On A Bus departure for two central players. Okay, one central player.
Whereas last week we checked in with Delphine/Rachel/Dyad and were introduced to James Frain's Ferdinand, this episode catches up with Paul, Art, Cal and Mark (in other words, all the supporting male cast members, who had to wait until after the season premiere to be reintroduced).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Orphan Black: The Weight of This Combination and Penny Dreadful: Fresh Hell

At the risk of sounding like I have no life at all, this was the best Tuesday ever! Why? Because I got to watch the season premieres of my two absolute favourite (current) shows: Orphan Black and Penny Dreadful. The latter does not air properly until the first of May, though that's not as far away as it sounds, and with my weekly dose of Vikings, Musketeers and pirates having come to an end, I'm looking forward to spending my evenings with clones and witches instead (two sets of witches actually, as I'm still following Salem, though will probably just do an overview at the end of the season instead of episode-by-episode reviews as I did for the first).
The first season of Penny Dreadful I've reviewed here, though I've never once written on Orphan Black, mainly because I'm intimidated by just how good it is. So clever, so concise, so layered; even the meta written about it (such as this and this) feels beyond my capabilities. But I'm forcing myself to get over such inadequacies for the sake of joining in the conversation – and perhaps when this season comes to an end I'll jog back to the very start and write something worthy of it.
So here we go, the season premieres of Orphan Black and Penny Dreadful!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Outlander: The Reckoning and By The Pricking Of My Thumbs

Hey, look what's back! I was a casual viewer of Outlander for the duration of its first half, but there was something about the premise and atmosphere that drew me in. That's despite its heroine being menaced almost every episode by the threat of rape.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The 100: Pilot, Earth Skills, Earth Kills

So even though I'm currently juggling a dozen shows and have a TBR pile that is stacked halfway up the wall (I'm not kidding) the prevalence of The 100 on my dashboard and its recommendation in at least three emails from my sister meant that my curiosity was sufficiently piqued. It's time to see what the big deal is.
Here are my thoughts on the first three episodes. Now that it's just completed its second season, I've got a lot to catch up on!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Links and Updates

So remember a few weeks ago when I said I had been nominated for a Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Fan Writing? Well... I won!
I'm still sort of processing it all, and I've been told it'll be a few months before I get the award itself, but – wow. I didn't expect it, and I'm still very happy. Thank you to anyone out there who voted for me, as well as any lurkers that continue to read and share my reviews/meta.
If you're interested, the material that I sent in for my sample booklet was my Why Is Frozen So Popular? post, my review for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, two articles posted on Helen Lowe's blog as part of my Big Worlds, Small Screen series (Orphan Black and Robin of Sherwood) and my book reviews for Gregory Maguire's Wicked and Garth Nix's Clariel, which can be found on my page.
I'm ... kind of struggling to say anything eloquent about this! Again, I'm very happy and grateful to everyone who was involved –particularly Helen Lowe who nominated me, and June Young, who suggested that she do so in the first place. I'll talk more about this soon, though probably over on Helen's blog.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Arrow: Heir to the Demon

So the big draw-card of this episode was naturally: NYSSAAAAAAAA! Suffice to say I was very excited about her appearance, though I know very little about her comic book incarnation (I'm more familiar with Talia al Ghul, who I'm guessing is not making an appearance in Arrow because of her prevalence in The Dark Knight trilogy? Maybe?)

In any case GIF sets of Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul have been all over my Tumblr dashboard for a while now, and were in fact part of the reason why I decided to watch this show in the first place. I knew about her role as Ra al Ghul's daughter, I knew about her relationship with Sara, and I knew bits and pieces of what to expect from her.
Unfortunately, this episode in which she first appears is more than little ridiculous, with the emotional impact of Laurel and Dinah discovering that Sara is still alive somewhat squashed by the contrivances that get them there.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review: Broadchurch Season Two

The second season of Broadchurch ended a few weeks ago, and having been mulling it over in my head since then, the time has come to add my two cents. For the most part I enjoyed it in the way I enjoyed the first season: top-notch acting, beautiful cinematography, a sustained sense of dread and suspense, a few resonant "human touches" (though fewer than last season) and all the show's trademark stylistic features: negative space, shots of people standing ominously against the skyline, David Tennant striding purposefully through the Dorset countryside in slow-motion.
Yet season two took a markedly different trajectory than the first in terms of its storyline – and I think it's to be commended for this. It would have been easy enough to throw Hardy and Miller into a brand new case, one totally disconnected from both their histories and the community of Broadchurch, but instead writer Chris Chibnall opts to explore the emotional toll of a murder trial and return to the Sandbrook case, the murder investigation whose lack of resolution was the cause of Hardy's bad reputation and failing health throughout the first season.
As such, season two really has two distinct plots across its eight episodes, which have next to nothing to do with each other beyond the effect they have on our protagonists.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Top Twelve Best Scenes in The Legend of Korra

Despite the title of this post, the following list admittedly encompasses my favourite scenes of The Legend of Korra rather than any objective attempt to rank "the best" moments on narrative or artistic merit. It's just asking for trouble to claim the definitive opinion on any given subject, so consider this disclaimer my insurance policy against potential "NO YOU'RE WRONG" comments.  
There is also no set theme to the entries on this list – these are scenes that could be described as heart-warming, tear-jerking, or just plain awesome. Some are lengthy sequences; others are brief moments that I thought were neat. The only thing they have in common is the impact they had on me: these are the bits that made me clutch my heart, gasp out loud, get a little misty-eyed, or any of the other embarrassing things you do when you're watching a TV show by yourself.
They're in no particular order beyond a rough "least to foremost" ranking, so don't take the placement of these examples too seriously.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Woman of the Month: Michaela Pratt

Michaela Pratt from How To Get Away With Murder
I recently finished up the second half of How To Get Away With Murder's first season, a show that contains the staple elements of any Shonda Rhimes drama: a twisty and – let's be honest here – melodramatic plot (almost too twisty and melodramatic at some points) and a diverse, complex cast of characters.
Now, a part of me feels like the Woman of the Month should go to Viola Davis as Annalise Keating – after all, she's the protagonist of the show, described in the actress's words as: "a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman".
But as compelling as she is, I've got a soft spot for Aja Naomi King's Michaela Pratt.  Shonda Rhimes gets that female characters don't have to be nice to be interesting; that they don't have to be likeable to be sympathetic, and Michaela is a high-achieving, somewhat neurotic, completely driven law student with a set of goals for the future that she's dead-set on realizing. Anything in her way will simply get bulldozed.
Naturally, that's the universe's cue to pull the rug out from under her. She has her ugly moments (her homophobic rant when she finds out her fiancé might be bisexual) and her moments of grace (deep concern over the fate of a black man who's been set up to take the fall for Professor Keating's death), not to mention her comical fixation on the trophy awarded to the best student in Annalise's class, but out of all the characters she's the one I find the most unpredictable. And that's saying something compared to the wild cards she's surrounded by!
There are so many defining beats to her character, from her awed "I want to be just like her" when she sees Annalise win a court cause, to her switch from catatonic wreck to composed actress when she spins a convincing tale to a campus security guard about why they're lugging a rolled-up carpet out of Annalise's house, to her final confrontation with her appalling would-be mother-in-law in which she suddenly slips into a pronounced Southern accent to tell her: "[Your son] doesn't love me. But I love me."
I've always enjoyed the development of characters who start off as spoiled brats and gradually learn compassion and humility from others (Cordelia Chase, Prince Arthur) but Michaela is already more than that. Clearly she came from humble beginnings and her current "princess" demeanour is just a façade to conceal her background – so going into season two, finding out more about her interests me more than whoever killed Rebecca.

The Musketeers: Trial and Punishment

So as we discovered last week, most torrent sites (or at least the individuals who provide material for them) seem to be based in Europe, something I'd never given much thought to until America was suddenly a week ahead in the airing of the final two episodes of this season. But we've finally caught up, and what did The Musketeers finale have to offer?
Structured around three consecutive rescues (Constance, Aramis, Queen Anne) and the attempt to get Vargas to spill the dirt on Rochefort's capacity as a spy to King Louis, the whole thing was worthy of a season finale – even if it had more endings than The Lord of the Rings.