Let’s talk about the Breaking Bad film…

A slight delay in reaction over here at the Hall of information because I have been in the cave of intensive writing and with the fear of my brain becoming mush I’m attempting to pallet cleanse as well as discuss the fact Netflix have announced a Breaking Bad movie.

el camino.PNG

‘El Camino’ will grace the screens (of those who have paid, mostly) this October and from the reaction I have seen, only present’s one real question:

AM I THE ONLY ONE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS? 

I’m trying not to be a party pooper here but can anybody entertain my point which I fully intend to defend.

Breaking Bad is simply a masterpiece, a fu**ing masterpiece of modern television storytelling. Some of you will know my favorite show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer but even I know and appreciate there is a difference between something being the outright best and my personal favorite.

Digressing here but you can link the two shows, they both would have shared the same number of seasons initially but Buffy was basically ordered by the higher ups to keep running. (spoilers here but it’s no longer 2001) Buffy’s season five and it’s finality of the main character’s death sort of expressed that and quite honestly it’s the most powerful and beautiful moment of the whole deal. The same goes for the finality of Breaking Bad’s final episode (well we think ‘W.W’ died anyways). The story of Breaking Bad had a beginning and middle and finally an end. And it avoided cancellations, apart from the writers strike all seasons were of decent length and above all it finished on its own terms.

Of course the second billed ‘Jessie Pinkman’ rode off into the sunset during that finale but can’t the rest be left up to the imagination? A lot of what I liked about this show was killed off during the experience – the characters.

The defense

I am only suggesting this if ‘El Camino’ is bad, so my counter is simple.

Vince Gilligian – the genius behind Breaking Bad has returned for this film. So no matter what, we are in safe hands right?

Your opinion?

Don’t come at me with that ‘I haven’t seen it’ crap and I mean that in the most polite of ways, but seriously its the show of the decade! I’m excitedly concerned and look forward to seeing how they carry on what is a perfect story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Orange is the new black Season 7 – Review

A show that isn’t afraid to be the mirror of truth displaying a reflection back to the modern world…

Orange is the New Black carved a path for modern television. Being the third ‘Netflix original’ it introduced the entertainment world to a brand new concept; binge watching. But that isn’t all this show is responsible for and quite honestly I’m a little cut up that it’s finished.

There aren’t many shows out there that make you laugh, think, get angry, feel sad and overall feel fulfilled like ‘Orange’ does in one episode. I have always raved about this show and I will proudly say there isn’t one bad episode or one bad series.

Piper is finally on the outside, her struggles intertwine with what it is like to be someone in this day and age struggling the find work and life balance while still trying to maintain her probation. Her story steers this season which feels like a change as the ensemble have had the floor for the past few years. We see Larry again and Piper’s journey seems to close after going full circle. Although I never approved of Alex their relationship finally finds balance.

Taystee is reeling from the shocking outcome that saw the riot pinned to her or at least the killing of Piscatella. She starts with nothing to lose but we see her eventually reform and it probably becomes the most rewarding journey seen in this show, even though she was knocked down, she found a way to get back up and we always knew Taystee was the one of the good guys.

Nicky seems to find only struggle and is caught between her prison family – both Lorna and Red are essentially receding into their own minds and the performance of these three in particular stands out along with ‘Crazy Eye’s Suzanne’ who may be the best actress in the whole damn thing.  

Joe Caputo really is a victim of the times as he is thrown into a ‘me too’ scandal and cannot help himself along with trying to maintain relevance and a relationship with Fig.

The prison itself is thrown into political and moral dilemmas such as the new warden being chosen simply for PR reasons and an ever growing drugs problem.

There are so many other characters I possibly couldn’t name that endure their own journey bringing this show to its eventual close but something happened during this final season, and although I know it has always been there from episode 1 but this show turned everything back towards the audience as if we were looking in a mirror but the reflection we saw was the ugly truth about this world. From corporations, politics, immigration, drugs, mental health, education, race and even harassment we saw it all.  There was even a huge dig towards Donald Trump’s immigration policies adding just another relevant dimension.

The performances throughout display some of the finest acting I have ever seen and known. Some win and others lose in what I found to be an emotional finish to what is a show that ended too soon. A show about humanity’s best and worst – pretty much all of the main characters are women which is yet another big important step for society.

You’ll notice this review is hyper vague because there is so much detail I could go into about how this show gave so much to society and I’m not exaggerating. All those hero stories out there get nowhere near Orange is the New Black. 

 

Stranger Things 3 Review

The Duffer Brothers have gradually pieced together a universe that fuses gripping story telling with references from their many childhood influences. Now after three seasons Stranger Things relies less upon the retro callbacks of days gone by and more on its own identity even if they do still tribute pop culture of the 1980’s; the greatest thing that has become of this show is the characters.

Before we start its worth a quick mention that this post contains some spoilers for Stanger Things Season 3….

Character development that falls in favor of the viewer is the real wonder of television. Writers and show runners who listen to their audience give them exactly what they want along with a couple of surprises – exactly what the Stranger Things team have done with season 3 and continuing on with the previous season. There are some formidable groupings of the faces we want to see; Dustin and Steve Harrington continue their friendship and carry a chemistry that is great to watch even if it is berated by new face Robin who finds an original way to slot into the cast. I must also mention Erica for her sometimes sassy but always entertaining swagger.

Of course the original group of kids are center piece and it soon becomes apparent that growing up is probably the main theme of this whole thing and it always has been. They are teenagers now and trying to find your way in this world – now that you are aware of it is daunting and so are relationships. Will, the brunt of two seasons feels held back in moments, he hasn’t been able to have a ‘normal’ childhood and is still catching up; full credit for the writers in giving Will a better purpose than being the missing or possessed kid this time around, perhaps his journey is the most emotional.

Law man Jim Hopper is back and we see him experience first hand the perils of parenthood to a mid teen in Eleven, he attempts to ‘talk’ with his adopted daughter but defaults to his thug ways especially as it’s peace time now. And I say thug because Hopper is but in a totally bad ass way. He teams with Joyce Buyers and together they find a common goal in protecting the kids while having some excellent back and forth dialogue capped off by the returning conspiracy man Murray; who is responsible for creating Jonathan and Nancy – a couple that become an important moving part in the whole duration of this season.

There is something lurking underneath the surface of Hawkins and it makes for an original and perhaps absurd direction for the story, but after all the show is called Stranger Things. The influences come out thick and fast from the Terminator and even the Thing; both of which are done exceptionally. I was happy to see a tribute to 1985’s blockbuster ‘Back to the Future’ which I am sure many were expecting. The music was bang on point as usual along with the synth soundtrack viewers have become used to.

The horror concept of everyone being ‘in’ on it works incredibly well – I should know, one of my books carries the same cliche… Billy becomes a great bad guy; he kind of was anyway and they build upon that while fusing it to the mind flayer,  his story then becomes beautifully explored by Eleven.

Creature feature moves to the central theme later on while we see the Star Court Mall attacked and pretty much destroyed in true 80’s style with the shops, the food places and everything else that makes the awesome production design take everyone back. All of the characters are reunited briefly to fight the threat that is consuming Hawkins; a moment which makes for great watching.

In fact the season is a series of moments; some are fun and laugh out loud, others more emotional and raw; Robin confides in Steve about her sexuality; a step in the right direction for LBGT awareness to a main stream audience- something more shows need to be brave about. Carey Elwes joins the cast as Mayor Kline – although brief, very effective in execution to the main plot.

I found myself quite moved by the ending of Season 3 and came to the realization that this story really is about growing up. People move on and move away; life goes on and friends drift; all of this is the reality of the real world. The performances by everyone throughout might arguably make Stranger Things the best thing out there on television right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Review

Being part of the Nickelodeon generation (the good Nickelodeon generation) I’ve been looking forward to this Netflix adaptation/re imagining ever since it was announced, plus you know most of my books delve into the occult and my first TV hero was Buffy the Vampire Slayer so on the surface this show looked to tick many a box, or so I thought…

First of all this isn’t a fully negative review of what I thought was a mostly decent show but…

We’ll start with the good: 

The Characters…

Netflix have done an outstanding job in casting this thing; from the lead who is great and also has eyebrows like it’s 2018 because suddenly they became a thing, either way Kiernan Shipka carries the show as sixteen year old Sabrina Spellman; a half witch half mortal about to delve into the witchcraft underworld of her hometown Greendale. In fact I think possibly the best thing about this show is the array of characters and the cast. Love interest Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) carried his role with a depth and emotion that was well played throughout. Of course the Aunties are back in the form of Miranda Otto (scared the hell out of me, but also glam AF) and Lucy Davis (from the UK office), we even see a new character, housebound cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) who acts a lot of the time as a sort of consoling adviser to this young witch as she tries to balance mortal life of a typical High School teenager with that of the occult. Of course there are bad guys in the form of ‘the sisters’ and lead villain Michelle Gomez spends the entirety of S1 as the main antagonist. I have to mention Salem, who is a cat yet again but more of a ‘familar’ who doesn’t speak this time… (I’ll allow that as this isn’t predominantly a comedy)

The Setting

I loved the look of the town known as Greendale and surrounding forest. Everything seemed to have a certain dark grit which was delivered by some typical of the genre angular camera work . The high school stood somewhere between Archie comic and dark realism; in fact the production design and sets were flawless on screen. Greendale does indeed look to be an interesting place…

So Netflix are doing well, but then we get to the actual story which is where the problems begin…

I really really wanted to like this show, and I did mostly but Sabrina has problems with it’s story, there isn’t just one, there are several stories, in fact there are too many. The main story, sub stories and back stories spread this show too thin. Much of the time I felt the long running time of each episode did in fact drag which to me is such a shame because this show has so much potential. They seemed to be doing too much at once which to me felt like there wasn’t enough of everything.

Story telling in television and cinema seems to be a problem these days with the fact people make these wonderful productions with great performances, production design, costumes, effects… but the story is where it’s lacking (ref The Walking Dead, Star Wars, any Hollywood Horror film…) and that is where Sabrina falls down. There isn’t enough for what it is and that’s worrying for something with hour long episodes. There isn’t enough action to stimulate the dragging effect that seems to weigh this thing down. With Buffy every episode had to have a sequence of action, even if it was a solitary out-swinging kick it had something, this show doesn’t.

Attention spans are shortening and this whole binge watch thing works if the show is binge-able but it has to come naturally and not forced/planned. Orange is the new black works as a great example of this, you want to know what happens next, the tension grips you throughout but with Sabrina they tended to force every ending with a cliff hanger enticing viewers to binge, but after that long hour previously I really didn’t feel like another one.

This is problematic going forward and the show needs to do a lot to convince me to carry on watching for season 2. Netflix is great but not everything they do is. Just tell a story and stop worrying about telling several…

Final Thought and it’s positive!

The final episode was in fact awesome and if you like the occult genre then do check it out. There are some great characters; great performances and some familiar faces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Netflix Review: Orange is the new black S6

There aren’t many shows that one feels inclined to binge watch in under a week, but Orange is the new black has retained that status for the 6th year in a row. Netflix have always been onto something golden with OITNB, by mixing must watch television with a wide ranging story of depth and characters you cannot help follow.

On the surface, a show about some middle class rich girl who gets incarcerated doesn’t inspire much towards the imagination, but since the early seasons the story has been so much more than it’s premise. And now after six years, the format still seems to work mostly, so here’s what I thought with keeping spoilers to the minimum.

ot.PNG

What we knew before going into s6….

Season 5 was a story overhauling revelation. Although OITNB has a knack of always closing an episode on edge, there really wasn’t a dull moment during Litchfield’s real-time riot. Of course this was due to the fallout of Poussey Washington’s death, a central and much loved character, so the audience were for most of the part behind the inmates gripe and reasoning to revolt. Taystee’s search for ‘justice’ became a central theme but eventually became swallowed by the unruly with sympathetic Warden Joe Caputo becoming victim of that. The whole season finished with the death of Piscatella; a known to be corrupt and violent guard, with the smoking gun pointed to those who held out in the riot’s final moments….

And so s6 begins to recoup all the chaos and find some level of calm…

All of the well known faces are now in max, or maximum security. It’s a robust new world filled with new threats and possibilities. The first few episodes focuses on those who were at the center of last seasons riot. The prison higher ups are trying to pin blame on prisoners, many who were innocent of any wrong doings. This presents new challenges and even dilemma for some who begin to look after themselves and themselves only.

We soon learn max is a much more threatening place, with three separate blocks, two of which are run with a gang nature fueled by drugs and a rivalry of two sisters going back thirty years. This rivalry eventually becomes a central theme and pays off in the final moments of s6, a necessary vessel to carry the whole max experience.

New characters impress…

With the new environment comes an opportunity to present new characters and the OITNB trademark, back stories. We have the rival blocks and their leaders/sisters Carol and Barb, their story stretches back and reveals a semi pointless rivalry that they are only to blame for. A notable performance for me came from Deputy leader of ‘C’ block ‘Badison Murphy’; a convincingly depicted villain who reminded of that typical bad kid of the class. The deputy of ‘D’ block came in the form of ‘Daddy’ a semi pimp drug ‘controller’, who like everyone else had a story to tell.

litch.PNG

Some of the guards from last time out are back, some with PTSD and we see their struggle which to me was a true human story confirming there are two sides of prison. Guards Luschek and McCullough were notable for their performances on both sides of the riot fallout spectrum, of course we got to see them mix with other guards and newer faces to the cast. They discover a game known as ‘fantasy inmate’, perhaps a crude version of fantasy football where guards can score points based on inmates trials and tribulations. This eventually becomes another central theme of the story.

Stories continue…

The search for justice of Poussey takes an unexpected turn when we see Taystee being blamed for Piscatella’s death. Former warden Joe Caputo returns to try and aide the case in which runs throughout the series.

Of course OITNB isn’t complete without it’s main character Piper Chapman, whose prison experience is galvanized by maximum security and really completes her journey as a prisoner, the focus does lean towards her more this time around, and for that you’ll discover why at the season’s close. I found myself liking her performance along with her now prison fiance Alex.

Many of the usual faces were put in out of comfort situations this time around which sparked up new friendships and allegiances not seen before. This made for some entertaining combinations of characters who wouldn’t usually mix.

We only see those who were transferred to max from ‘camp’ so there are plenty of notable faces pretty much missing this time around (split up from the riot). With only 13 episodes a series this one could have easily stretched to 16 as I feel there were many loose ends yet to be tied up.

Concluding thoughts…

OITNB is still as good as the first season, it stays true to the original story and goes where you wouldn’t guess it would go. The cast were, many of which are famous for this show, great in every essence. This time the ending seemed less cliff hanger and perhaps a conclusion of such a journey for select characters. Saying that I shall certainly be ready for another season next year.