Category Archives: TV talk

Is Lexa Doomed on The 100?

When Alycia Debnam-Carey was cast as one of the leads on Fear the Walking Dead, it seemed her long term future as Grounder Commander Lexa was in doubt. She is still billed as ‘guest star’ on The 100 (although this may be for contractual reasons) but on a show like this where no one is safe, her position seems precarious.

This week’s episode of The 100 ‘Hakeldama’ (3×05) made me increasingly worried for Lexa. The Sky crew now led by the warmongering, Grounder-hating Pike have just massacred 300 grounders – although thankfully not Indra – and Lexa’s first instinct is to raise and army and destroy them. Seems fair enough.

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Happy Valley Returns

happy valley

BBC’s Happy Valley returned this month after a highly acclaimed first series in 2014. Written by Sally Wainwright, the show stars Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood, a fantastically competent, if harried West Yorkshire police officer. The first six part series told the story of a bungled kidnapping, serial killer Tommy Lee Royce and Catherine’s dogged pursuit of the criminals.

What made the show stand out was definitely Lancashire’s wonderful performance and Wainwright’s taut plotting and blackly comic dialogue. There was also some pretty disturbing and shocking violence that really kept you on the edge of your seat. There was also a wonderful cast of characters including Siobhan Finneran as Catherine’s recovering addict sister Clare, Steve Pemberton as hapless criminal mastermind Kevin Weatherall, James Norton’s charismatically scary Tommy, George Costigan and more.

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Is The 100 one of the best shows on TV?

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The CW show The 100 began its third season in January and after a not terribly promising start, has grown to be one of my favourite shows. The premise is that the Earth was devastated by nuclear war, the survivors heading for an ark in space to escape the deadly radiation. However, resources are running low after 97 years, and any rule infractions result in a death sentence – unless you are under 18. A group of teenage rule breakers are chosen to head down to the surface to test out whether it is safe to return – a pretty dangerous mission, especially as once they get to Earth, the radioactivity is safe, but the survivors on the surface – known as the Grounders – are less than welcoming

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Jessica Jones, Supergirl and Female Superheroes

While Marvel seems to have taken over the blockbuster movie world, a common criticism is the lack of good female roles in the films (probably to do with many originating years ago in a time when most heroes were of course men!) However in 2015 a few are finally filtering through – to the TV world at least!

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Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black is THE BEST Netflix series! The streaming service ventured into original programming with House of Cards first – a US adaptation of the British black comedy political series from the 1980s (I think) that featured Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart, whose catchphrase, ‘you may think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment’ and his devilish asides to the camera were deliciously Machiavellian. The US version stars Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood and Robin Wright as his wife Claire. Produced by David Fincher, it was the sort of high profile, prestige drama that really put Netflix on the map. Very enjoyable and well made, House of Cards was a big hit, and the first of the Netflix model of releasing an entire season on the same day that made binge-watching a real trend.

Then in the summer of 2013, the first series of Orange is the New Black arrived. Based on the book of the same name by Piper Kerman, it stars Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman, a blonde yuppie whose past with a drug running girlfriend leads to her being sentenced to 10 months in a minimum security prison. OITNB came from producer Jenji Kohan, creator of Weeds starring Mary Louise Parker (not a show I ever watched) and had a few familiar faces. Kate Mulgrew from Star Trek Voyager as Russian cook Red, Jason Biggs from the American Pie films as Piper’s fiance Larry, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning and Laura Prepon plus a lot of new faces. The show can be hard to categorise – indeed, it’s moved from drama to comedy in award show categories as it really is a dramedy! Piper’s fish out of water story is the way in to a world peopled with so many fascinating and diverse characters.

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Glee Season 6 – One last hurrah!

Glee’s final season is about halfway through and I thought I’d add my thoughts on what is probably one of my all time favourite shows and how its final run is going.

Since the death of Cory Monteith, the show has been on a bit of a downward slide. Let’s be honest, the show really should have wound up after the original cast graduated at the end of season 3. The split between McKinley and New York in season 4 was pretty up and down partly down to the incredibly bland bunch of newbies – Jake, Marley, Ryder and Kitty were no Kurt, Rachel and Mercedes.

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In Praise of Fargo

When it was announced there was to be a TV version of the Coen brothers movie, Fargo, not too many people were optimistic. It’s one of their most beloved and quirkiest movies, and who could possibly replace Frances McDormand as Marge, one the best movie cops ever.

Therefore it was a huge – and pleasant – surprise that it ended up being one the best shows of the year (and was voted the number 1 by TV critics overall)

The show was NOT a remake thankfully, but shared a lot of tonal similarities with the movie. Hapless dork Lester Nygaard (the fabulous Martin Freeman) is pretty similar to William H Macy’s Jerry Lundegaard in the film, but watching how conniving and selfish Lester becomes over the course of the 10 episodes was a lot of fun. Billy Bob Thornton’s bizarre wig was off putting at first, but as hitman Lorne Malvo, he was brilliantly menacing. Like The Terminator, this wasn’t someone to be trifled with.

However, the real star of the show was unknown actress Allison Tolman as dogged deputy Molly Solverson. As clever and determined as Marge Gunderson, Tolman’s Molly is a beacon of decency and intelligent level-headed  detective work while surrounded by knucklehead cops and FBI agents. The gentle romance between Molly and Colin Hanks single dad Gus was one of the sweetest relationships anywhere on TV this year.

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It’s Been a While…

 

Yeah, I know, no one but me is reading this so it really doesn’t matter how long it has been! I was interested to see the Breaking Bad mania here as I’ve had quite a few new TV obsessions since last posting. Coming soon (if I get the urge!)

Orange is the New Black (Netflix) – probably the best new show in years, prison dramady with a brilliant diverse cast

Transparent (Amazon) – the on demand revolution produces a groundbreaking comedy/drama classic

Once Upon a Time – since I discovered SwanQueen fan fiction, my Once interest has been reawakened.

Pretty Little Liars – another show I’ve been a casual fan of for a while but got more and more into

Orphan Black – fantastic sci-fi drama featuring a standout performance from Tatiana Maslaney as a bunch of clones

I’m also into:

Jane the Virgin, Major Crimes, Elementary, Haven, Game of Thrones, Covert Affairs, The Leftovers, Fargo, The Good Wife, Revenge, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, The Honourble Woman, Homeland, Borgen, Happy Valley, Line of Duty, Scott & Bailey, Broadchurch, Gracepoint, Faking It, Ugly Betty, Star Trek Voyager, Rizzoli & Isles, American Horror Story, Stalker, Arrow, Doctor Who and probably a whole lot more I can’t think of.

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Breaking Bad – the Final Eight!

So the final eight episodes aired and I have to say, Breaking Bad did an amazing job of being THE show to talk about! These final eight episodes weren’t perfect, but they got to the action really quickly, with Hank confronting Walt by the end of the first episode back. After 5 seasons of Walt sneaking around the truth with his family, things came out – and went bad – very, very fast. Some painful family scenes as Marie finds out and confronts Skyler, and then Walt too at the craziest Mexican family meal out ever!

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Up to date with Breaking Bad and …

Yes, my Breaking Bad 5 day marathon is complete. 54 episodes watched – and I actually took my time a bit, slipping in a bit of reading, a game of badminton and a cinema trip yesterday too. So am I glad I caught up with a show many people rate so highly? Hell YES! I love it, although I didn’t enjoy the latest season – the 8 episodes making up the first half of season 5 – as much as the previous two. Season 5 definitely misses Gus Fring played by the superb Giancarlo Esposito. His exit in the final episode of season 4 was extremely memorable – that Terminator-like gruesome image of him above and the way it unfolded was just brilliant.

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