Okay, I’m moving into new territory with this review blog. I decided that since I haven’t been seeing many movies, I’d talk about some TV shows that I’ve been watching. TV is often better than movies these days anyway, so…here we go.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ ANY SPOILERS, DON’T READ THE PARTS IN RED.
The Fall: Seasons 1-3
This is a detective story set in Belfast which follows Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) as she pursues a killer who has been targeting young women in the area. But we don’t just follow the detective, we also follow Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, #notmychristian), the killer himself, as he carefully plans and carries out each murder. Both characters are somewhat of a dichotomy. Stella can be cold and seem emotionally detached, but then also display a high level of thoughtfulness and caring when you least expect it. Meanwhile when Paul isn’t murdering people, he spends his days with his wife and children and as a counselor.
Each season has a bit of a different feel, but each season manages to be compelling despite the differences. It’s hard to describe the seasons without spoilers, so skip the next paragraph if you don’t want any of that noise.
I’d have to say that season one was the most compelling to me, maybe because I’m more into traditional detective stories. Plus it’s more about character building, plot development, and atmosphere. The most uncomfortable aspect of season one is actually seeing Paul carry out his crimes. Not because we see any graphic violence, but because we see him sneaking around in people’s houses, sometimes when they’re home. Something about the way it was done was very unsettling to me. It made me question every little sound I hear at night in my house. Once they figured out who he was at the end of the season, I wondered how season two would maintain my interest, but it did, just not to the same degree. It managed to be interesting, and unsettling, in different ways, as Stella became a bit obsessed with the man she was pursuing. Then once again I was confused about where season three would go after Paul was caught, then shot, at the end of season two. And I’ll admit, for a while in season three, I was a little bored, but once again they managed to make it compelling. Adding the element of Paul possibly losing the memories of his crimes was a different kind of interesting, but it was still my least favorite of the three seasons. I would assume the ending of season three means there will not be a season four, unless they want to continue the Stella Gibson character on a different case.
Overall, season one is the best, in my opinion, but it’s worth watching the other two seasons for the overarching story to be completed. Good performances, good atmosphere, and a creepy vibe. These are things I like in a detective/serial killer show.
Keeping with the serial killer/detective show theme, we now follow Marcella, a detective played by Anna Friel who I liked so much in Pushing Daisies. Totally different character here, of course, but still a good performance. Maybe a little one note, but good.
Marcella is a detective who has been on maternity leave from the force for many years, but after being separated from her husband, she returns to her job to help pursue a killer that seems to have resurfaced after being dormant for a long time. Marcella has a knack for losing her temper, blacking out, and coming to later with no memory of what she has done for the last several minutes or hours. This miiiight lead to some problems for her later.
I like the feel of this one, as far as how it’s shot and acted and such, and at times it was really compelling, but not quite as consistently as The Fall. Definitely worth a look though, especially since the season wraps up nicely in the final episode. I don’t know if we’ll see further exploits of Marcella Backland in the future, but she’s a good enough character that I hope we will.
It’s always nice to see a smaller scale superhero movie, especially one with compelling heroes AND villains. This show is not about a super-villain, alien, god-like monster that has to be defeated. It’s about politics, criminals moving guns on the streets of Harlem, and the people (cops and a superhero) trying to make it a safe place for the average person to live.
Luke Cage is a man who was sent to prison for a crime that…wait for it…he didn’t commit. While there, he was subjected to some experiments that left him super strong and bullet proof. Naturally. After escaping, he’s taken up residence in Harlem, and he just can’t seem to avoid the trouble that’s swirling all around the place. Will he reluctantly become the hero that Harlem needs? Yeah, probably.
For the first half of the season, I was really digging the plot and all of the character interactions. Then it suddenly takes a turn, and for several episodes, the momentum it built up petered out a bit. It finished fairly strong, but I can’t help thinking that the turn it took was a mistake. I’ll discuss that further in the red spoilers text below.
As I mentioned above, I didn’t like the turn that the show took midway through. If you’ve already seen it, then you know that what I’m referring to was having the main villain killed off unexpectedly. Mahershala Ali is SO GOOD as Cottonmouth, and I hated to see him go. The character is intimidating, has depth, not to mention a great laugh. When Diamondback shows up as a replacement villain, it’s a pretty big let down. He’s a much more one-dimensional character that you’d expect to see in the average superhero movie/show. It didn’t ruin the show, mainly because Alfre Woodard picks up some of the slack, but I would have preferred if they had kept Mr. Stokes around.
All in all, it’s a well written show that dares to let dialogue and characters take center stage instead of special effects and crazy superpowers. Yes, watch please.
Black Mirror: Season 1
So I’ve only seen season one (which is only 3 episodes long) of this anthology show which has apparently been around since 2011, but I like what I’ve seen.
The first episode had me wondering a little as to what all the hubbub was about, but then episodes two and three saved it for me. Those were both much more interesting explorations of technology and how cool and terrifying it can be.
There’s not too much to say about it without going episode by episode since each one is different (like Twilight Zone or similar shows), and I’m not going to do that. But it’s well made, well acted, and makes you think. Of course, it might also make you retreat from technology like it’s a hornet’s nest. Stop showing me cool stuff and then making me fear it! Maybe I WANT an implant that records everything I see at every moment, okay!?
Australia…often known as a place where just about everything can kill you. But who knew, apparently it’s also a place where you can suddenly come back to life, even if you’ve been dead and buried for years.
For constable James Hayes (Patrick Brammall), this is even more surprising, because he was not expecting to see his dead wife again any time soon. Why is she, and several others, back from the grave? ‘Tis a mystery that needs to be solved before too many people start to find out about these awoken dead.
This show is definitely a slow burn, and at times I wasn’t sure I was going to finish it, yet somehow it manages to leave you wanting more at the end of each episode. They throw one little twist in there and boom, I was clicking to the next episode on Netflix. It helps that it’s shot beautifully. The acting is all good, and even though it takes a while, they do flesh out the characters pretty well. Sometimes, though, character motivations were a little muddy, and you just wish people would say things to each other rather than hiding so much. Some of the drama felt a little manufactured.
Regardless of that, it’s a good show if you’re a patient enough viewer. I see it won multiple awards in Australia, so I guess my opinion is shared, therefore valid, obviously. So there ya go. You should watch it, although, don’t expect a satisfying conclusion. I assume there will be a season two, as many things are left unexplained and a little confusing. Hopefully it doesn’t go all LOST and over-complicate things to the point of annoyance, but for now, I have hope that it will return and provide answers.