Someone I follow on twitter who’s opinion I respect often mentions how if you value independent websites and blogs on the internet. You should continue to create and contribute to them, not just consume. That rung true for me because of my array of personal sites which hadn’t seen much new content in a long time. Including this one. So i’ve cleaned the look of this up slightly, and i’m posting something new.
I know that one of the reasons I often don’t post much of my sites is I can get very picky and critical of what I write. So i’m going to try a new style. At times it may almost be bullet points. Just get my thoughts down and posted.
Halt and Catch Fire is a show I go on about a lot, and I rewatch atleast once a year. I’m about to finish my latest rewatch. Here are some of the reasons I like it so much:-
It builds. Every season is better than the last as it grows more confident.
It has a positive outlook on technology and creativity, whilst also being aware and self-aware of some of the traps and pitfalls.
4 central characters (and many more side characters) that you really care about. This is so key for me. They could be reading the phonebook aloud, but if I care about the characters i’m in.
Relationships. All manner of different relationships are explored.
It has two of the best hours of patient and quiet drama i’ve ever seen produced for television. Episode 3×10 “NeXT” and Episode 4×08 “Goodwill”.
I’m going to get into spoilers for these two episodes to explain why they are so good. Only as far as I need to. But you have been warned.
For a few people, the title of this will already give you a strong indication of what this is going to be about. For the rest, heres a ‘previously’. In all of Aaron Sorkin’s first 3 TV shows, the final episode of season has been titled ‘What Kind Of Day Has It Been’. It’s one of a number of things you can find repeated through-out his TV work (some you have to look for, and others will likely hit you in the face). Anyway it appeared to be something of a tradition, but it’s a tradition that his most recent (and apparently last) TV show ‘The Newsroom’ broke. That shows season 1 finale was titled ‘The Greater Fool’.
But as it turned out, it only bent the tradition, instead of broke it. As the Newsroom’s series (and season 3) finale used the title. So at some point I had the idle thought of ‘wouldn’t it be interesting to what all 4 versions of ‘What Kind Of Day Has It Been’ in one sitting and use that as the spine for a discussion of the similarities of the shows and how Sorkin’s writing has evolved. So that’s what i’ve just done. All 4 episodes in one go, roughly 3 hours of TV.
Following on from last years ‘What I’ve Been Watching in 2012‘ I give you the imaginatively titled ‘What I’ve Been Watching in 2013’. My hope is that some others might follow suit and post on their blogs a similar list. If you do just drop us a note and I’ll try to keep some index of them updated. Potentially if enough people post them I’d do a compiled list. As per last year the inspiration for this remains William Gallagher‘s Poll of the Year on his UK DVD Review podcast.
My criteria for my list is simple, anything I’ve watched in any format in 2013 is eligible. Things are ordered 10 – 1 based on how much I’ve enjoyed them in 2013.
Had a slightly shaky start to its third series, but the last 6 episodes really motor. Damien Lewis and Clare Danes continue to put in spellbinding performances and Mandy Patinkin relishes an expanded role as Saul. Highly recommend giving Homeland a watch if you’re yet to give it a try. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Watching in 2013”
A little while back me and a colleague went to a film festival screening of “I’m Not There”, I’m a minor Dylan obsessive, he didn’t know a lot more than the average person might about Dylan. The film piqued his interest in more detail, but in conversation afterwards it became clear that the sheer size of the back catalogue proved something of an obstacle. Just where do you start? The conversation concluded with me set a challenge, come up with a list of 12 tracks which would help him test the waters.
Now you can debate exactly what such a list should be, is it the “best of”, is it my personal favourites?, is it the most popular? Or perhaps the 12 best examples of each of Dylan’s various styles? I eventually boiled it down to this. For me Dylan is something of an addiction, so for me the list had to be Dylan in his “purest, most concentrated form”, the songs where I don’t want them to end. This by and large meant the songs which initially hooked me on Dylan.
As drama addicts and box-set junkies I’m sure you’ve had the problem of trying to describe a great show to someone whose not quite convinced. It’s a problem with a lot of the best shows because often what makes them great is the part that can’t be covered in a standard synopsis or format and genre description. On top of that some of the best shows go ahead and call themselves ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (or ‘Stargate Universe’) so that as soon as you mention the title people tend to look at you like you’ve grown a second head.
Of course since they are great shows and you know friends and family would love them if only they’d give it a chance so you try various descriptions to see if any work. “Imagine a cross between Lost and Deep Space Nine!” was one such description I tried for Battlestar to no avail, possibly because everyone to who that description is appealing was already watching. “It’s really great drama that just happens to be set in space!” seemed to be the most effective one for BSG. “It’s similar to BSG” worked to get a certain audience to try Stargate Universe.
But as hard as its been to get people on board with ‘Drama that happens to be set in space’, another genre has proved monumentally harder to get people interested in. Teen Drama. “A teen drama?” people will say before you apparently vanish into thin air. There is a massive stigma. I am guilty of giving someone the odd sideways glance when they recommend a Teen Drama as worth a watch. That’s despite 3 of my favourite shows fitting squarely in the genre. Of those 3 shows I’ve never been able to get anyone to watch them, nada, not one single person. Continue reading “It’s A Teen Drama?”
It was recently announced that 24 will return next year with a 12 episode miniseries titled ’24: Live Another Day’, the below is an article first published on my other site 24fans.com which explores the possibilities for the new series.
Before I start I want to explicitly state that this blog post should be read only by people who have seen ‘Skyfall‘. It has spoilers from throughout the film and would spoil your experience to read this before watching.
Momentum, thats what the key word for this blog, so i’m going to try and cut a lot of my usual waffling pre-amble. This blog is about the New Yes, Prime Minister Series which has just finished showing on Gold. I’ll cut to the end and say overall I was disappointed.
To understand what was wrong with the new show you have to look back at why the original worked so (seemingly) effortlessly well. The original was about machinery, the machinery of whitehall, of government. Jim Hacker, first the Minister and then the Prime Minister tries to put the machinery to good use (to secure his position in cabinet, win votes and to make peoples lives better, in that order). Continue reading “Yes, Prime Minister”
Slightly different from my usual posts, the above is a poem that I ‘composed’ during a university module on identity. Thought I’d post it up here because it speaks to how much TV, Film & Music can shape the language we use to discuss ourselves and the things around us.
I’ve just finished watching all 13 episodes of the new ‘House of Cards’ on Netflix. It’s taken me 4 days. I’m surprised it took me that long. Thats my recommendation in short form but allow me to go into a bit more depth.
First just a bit of background. ‘House of Cards’ was first a book, then a BBC TV Series and now a Netflix original drama starring Kevin Spacey. I saw the original BBC TV show about 2 years ago and loved it, in a ‘how haven’t I heard of this before’ kind of way. It follows the almost Shakespearian anti-hero Francis Urquhart (Underwood in the remake) as he devises a plan to take revenge after the newly elected Prime Minister/President goes back on a promise to make him Secretary of State (citing his influence as Chief Whip being too important to lose with a tight majority) and he sets his sights much higher than the cabinet post he feels was rightfully his. Continue reading “House of Cards”