Autumn TV Goodness and update


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Yeah I know to the majority of my readers, that’ll be ‘Fall TV goodness’ but I’m in the UK and well, that’s just how I roll.  Starting pretty much from now, there seems a plethora of exciting TV shows coming my way to fill up my nights with quality drama.  First off we have the return of The Walking Dead for it’s sixth series.  This very consistent and very well made show has never disappointed and the characters and storylines remain as compelling as ever.  Next up will be the return of er…The Returned, a French horror drama about a group of dead people who return to their hometown seemingly unaware that the people they love have been mourning their deaths for several years and had only just began to rebuild their lives.  Season One was excellent with some great characters and a quality, eerie atmosphere.  So I’m looking forward to whatever this season has install. 

homeland

Last week also saw the latest season of acclaimed drama Homeland hit UK screens and going by that first episode, it looks to be another gripping season ahead.  Homeland has certainly been one of the best shows in recent memory and the real-world relevant backdrop of terrorism adds a great deal to the impact this show can have.  Starting this Monday too, is the second season of that surprise hit TV spin-off Fargo, based on the Oscar winning Coen Brothers movie of the same name, this time set a number of years before season one.  I don’t entirely know what to expect, but last season was so damn good, it should be pretty unmissable.  Now add to this I’m still catching up with Game of Thrones which has been fairly consistent and gripping through the almost three seasons I’ve watched thus far, and that’s a lot of TV to cram in.

In other news, I’m gearing up to see my favourite band, alt-rockers Garbage on the 9th of November in London, a very long-awaited and never before realised dream for me personally.  Th12094917_1078237858853731_1035346105295295619_oe highly anticipated 20 Years Queer Tour kicked off stateside on 06 October and runs until end of November with a final date in lead singer Shirley Manson’s hometown of Edinburgh.  I’ve been watching videos on Periscope of them backstage, checking Facebook fairly religiously and probably doing my head in (and everyone else’s) during the build up – but dammit, am I excited and looking forward to it.  In preparation I got myself a copy of the re-mastered edition of their debut album in a deluxe version on CD, as well as buying a couple of t-shirts and other bits of merchandise.  Hey, I may never see them again as it’s not the easiest thing for me to arrange or make happen … so why not go all out?  I’m intending to take some photos and possibly record some footage so maybe I’ll put some stuff on here once it’s all over with.

In recent posts I have remarked on depression and difficult times and I’m trying my best to steer away from this now.  I have some amazing things on the horizon that should and will give me a different, more positive outlook on life.  I think I’ll always be prone to negative thinking and dwell on the past and on certain people in my past, but looking to the immediate future …. it’s more positive than I sometimes let myself believe.  My 40th birthday is also right around the corner and it will mark a milestone in my life and a step in the right direction, and I need to see it that way.  I need to look ahead with a clearer outlook and not focus on the past at least not as much, anymore.

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More TV than you can shake a…


My free time lately seems to be taken up with watching the latest series of various TV shows I have been following.  These days I am happy to report us Brits are not as behind as we used to be and usually there is only a few weeks gap from a TV shows U.S. screening and it arriving in the UK.  I can’t watch everything and tend to miss some good shows due to time and well, actually wanting to do more than sit in front of a TV set all day…so here’s a little run down of the shows I am currently enjoying.

Orange Is The New Black

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Season Two

This was a surprise.  The first season took a while to really grab me, but as it progressed I fell in love with the darkly-comical tone and some great characters.  Loving Season Two so far.

Homeland

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Season Five

Just started watching this again, and really enjoy it.  Real-world relevant and very powerful with a great performance from the often underrated Claire Danes.  Not sure how this season will pan out after the shock ending of season 4, but first episode was decent.

Boardwalk Empire

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Season Five

Think this has been disappointing.  After a superb first two seasons, a fairly good season three, and a slightly downbeat but still good season four, it feels like the writers of this show just don’t know how to satisfyingly ending this final season.  The acting is still top drawer, but the writing seems disjointed like they are just making it up as they go along and tying up loose ends in a very rushed fashion.  Very sad.  I only have two more episodes to go, and can already see where it’s going … but not really expecting a conclusion that will satisfy.

The Walking Dead

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Season Five

A show that can do no wrong in my opinion.  Powerful, gut-wrenching and very well acted.  The cast of characters has always been good and if the opening episode to this latest season was anything to go by, it’s only going to keep up the high standard. 

Gotham

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First Season

The new kid on the block.  I’m still a bit on the fence about this.  First two episodes were ok, but had a rather over-acted, cheesy tone that felt very nineties.  That being said it’s quite glossy, has a decent Benjamin Mackenzie as Jim Gordon and the idea of it being set before Batman intrigues.  Will keep going with it to see how it progresses.

Wentworth Prison

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Season Two

Who would have thought a re-imagining of the classic Australian soap Prisoner Cell Block H would actually be any good?  Very well cast and with a more stylish, gritty feel … this is turning out to be essential viewing.

Breaking bad-habits


breaking-bad

I’ve waited until now to post about what has arguably become one of the most talked about and celebrated TV shows in history.  Yes Vince Gilligan’s award winning Breaking Bad.  Last night I finished watching the final season, and came away so shaken, impressed and wowed at the shows excellence that I really felt I had been witness to a major landmark in television entertainment.

I will try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible as I think this is a show that really needs to be enjoyed to the max, without knowing what lies ahead, and is another reason I have waited this long to talk about it.  Brian Cranston, previously best known as the dad in Malcolm In The Middle, plays a chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer.  Fearing for his family’s financial future, including a disabled son and a pregnant wife, he plots a scheme to get involved in the crystal-meth cooking business with a helping hand from former student Jessie (Aaron Paul).  For me I considered this a strange concept for a show and not one I could have foreseen being so popular – I mean really, the main character is a drug dealer (of sorts).  Yet in the hands of Brain Cranston he makes a morally dubious and sometimes downright awful person likable … and you are there every step of the way as he faces up against rival drug barons, his own brother-in-law DEA agent (the wonderful Dean Norris) as well as his own family woes.

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First and foremost despite an unusual premise, what holds this all together are a wealth of first class performances, especially from Cranston and Paul who excel in their roles and believe me go through the full gamut of emotions and obstacles throughout the  series … these guys really earn their pay cheques.  Cranston especially breaking out of his sitcom routes to become one of the most iconic and memorable characters, nicknamed Heisenberg and with a bald head and goatee that will truly go down in history.  I really can’t praise this show enough.  Gilligan’s direction (and the various other names who step in, including Cranston himself) all deliver a show full of style, quirks, often clever camera work, great music choices and plenty of tension – with a fair bit of comic-relief too.  This is a black comedy at times, but also hard-hitting, violent and disturbing – in a good way that hits home and lingers in one’s mind.  The kind of show you just have to talk about afterwards.

Another feather to its cap are some of the supporting characters, the lovable but deadly hit man Mike (everyone’s favourite eighties villain Jonathan Banks – Beverly Hills Cop anyone?) and most notably Giancalo Esposito’s Gustavo Fring – who really stamps his evil presence from the show’s 3rd season onwards.

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My American readers may have already seen this show and moved on, some may wonder what all the fuss is about – as did I … but after reading many (often celebrity) recommendations, I got curious and thanks to Netflix have been able to enjoy this show in it’s entirety.  It hasn’t been treated the best by British TV networks, being a complete no show on terrestrial television or even satellite service Sky – something that totally baffles me to this day … maybe that will change some time soon, even now the show is done … because it really deserves the widest audience possible. 

TV programmes come along like this very rarely … so don’t let it slip you by.

Gone Baby Gone


Viewed – 01 February 2014  Netflix

Taken me a while to review this and it seemed the most interesting choice on Netflix as I was perusing titles suitable for both my mother and father to watch at same time … so anything particularly violent or with sex in it is usually out the window.  This 2007 drama stars Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan as a 30 something couple who are also private investigators.  They get hired by the dysfunctional family of a recently kidnapped girl after the Police fail to produce leads.  Will they manage to find the girl when the authorities could not?

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Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane and Directed by Ben Affleck, who has increasingly made a name for himself as a director with titles like the Oscar-magnet Argo … this I feel is his most assured and meaningful film, with a real-world relevance in reflection to those missing children headlines we hear about.  Co-starring Morgan Freeman as a world-weary Police Chief (isn’t he always?) and Ed Harris as a special agent Casey turns to during his investigation, this has decent performances across the board.  Although taking a while to warm to, Ben’s younger sibling proved a believable and watchable lead and well, I’m a fan of the gorgeous Monaghan who again proves convincing.  It doesn’t gloss over the more harrowing aspects of child abduction neither.  For a movie watched with my parents, the language was stronger than I felt necessary, but that’s my only sticking point.

The story had plenty of twists and turns, keeping me guessing throughout (although I got lost a little) and even when I thought I had it figured out, pretty much guessing one of the bad guys early on … the final morality-punch was a surprise, leaving me thinking ever since.  Well worth checking out.

Verdict:  4 /5