Archive for the ‘television’ Category

I watched all of this miniseries in the past two days. Please don’t judge me. The combination of Lucy Lawless and Jaime Murray was more than I could resist. (Ohhh and what a combination…) And it was actually kind of perfect for my cold-muddled brain.

And it may well be that I am biased, but I found this prequel series to be less terrible than the original Spartacus. They were, at least, somewhat less in love with their blood-spray effect, or else finally learned to use it in moderation.

I don’t have a lot to say about the plot or the acting (both were fine), but I did want to talk a little about the world-building. There was a variety of things on that front that I found intriguing.

On the one hand, this is a cable show, and it had the requisite gratuitous and excessive nudity, sexuality, vugarity and violence. On the other hand though, all of those things contributed toward constructing a society with radically different social mores and taboos than ours. Once it got past the shock value, it felt true in a way that the one episode of Spartacus I managed to sit through, with its endless slow motion sprays of blood, never did.

And it’s possible that the thing that felt most true about it, was that not once did any of the characters notice it, or wink at it, or reference it, or judge it. This was their world. And I was very much impressed by that acceptance.

I credit the writers for this. Particularly in the way they treated slavery. That, too, was a fact of life. And the slaves were able to take pride in their accomplishments and in the house that they served. But never once was it glorified. All the horrors of that position, that institution were shown in stark clarity. But that was the amazing thing. It was shown, not told. Never once did anyone whinge about their lack of freedom. There were no endless speeches about “one day I will be free.” And yet, as a viewer, you were always, always aware of the situation.

I just found it interesting to be shown: this is what life is like in the culture we’re depicting. (Never having studied the classics, I couldn’t tell you if it’s actually representative of life in the Roman Empire.) And to be shown this with absolutely no modern judgements imposed upon it. This is a rare thing, and I appreciated it a great deal.


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I’m watching a show called Finding the Fallen on BBC Canada. Not a show I’ve seen before. It seems to consist of a team of archaeologists who dig in former war zones to find fallen soldiers who never got a proper burial.

The episode I’m watching centres around three German soldiers who were found in a field in Ypres, where they fought and died in 1914.

Having found these three boys, the archaeologists want to re-enact their journey from the training camp to the field where they died. Which, conceptually, is a wonderful idea. It is certainly bringing the lives of these boys to life and giving tragic context to the pile of bones that has been dug up.

What’s making me a little uncomfortable, though, is that the archaeologists are re-enacting this in costume.

Partly, I feel like this turns it into a game. Scholars playing dress-up. It lets them think they really know what it was like, and they cannot possibly. I feel like this cheapens it, somehow. Like they’re not showing respect.

But, also, part of me feels like it’s tasteless for British men, who were the victors in that war, to dress up in the uniforms of the army that lost and parade through the streets of a German town.

On the other hand, it has been more than 90 years since that war. No one who was alive then is around to see them and be offended. Is it purely history now? Or is it still too close for this to really be in good taste?

I’d be curious to know what other people think.

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This is possibly the most fun I’ve had at a show since I’ve been here. It’s the a capella singing group from Oxford university – read: twelve incredibly charming young men in blazers with stunning singing voices.

They sang a wide variety of songs, from Tom Jones to the Backstreet Boys (complete with choreography), from ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight’ to Lady Gaga. And their multi-part harmony rendition of Billy Joel’s ‘Lullabye (Goodnight my Angel)’ nearly made me cry.

And throughout the whole thing, all I kept thinking was ‘this is what Glee should have been like’. They traded off the lead with every song. There was no magical appearing/disappearing pianist. They created all the harmonies and back-up they needed among themselves, singing guitar parts, trumpet parts, whatever was necessary. And the only microphone onstage was traded between the guys doing the beat-boxing.

They had huge energy, wonderful charisma. They were funny. They danced. They made each other laugh. (At the start of ‘Poker Face’ they had to hold for a minute, because they kept corpsing, one after another.) They seemed charming and wholesome and just a little bit naughty, and had I been ten years younger, I would have been crushing madly on all of them. As things stand, I may have had my first cougar experience.

The audience were all essentially bouncing in their seats, they clapped along, and there were big cheers at the end of every song. It was just a huge amount of fun, and I didn’t want it to end.

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This episode was… ok. (Spoilers to follow…) (more…)

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I continue to love this show. I’m getting closer to being able to articulate why. It’s a family that loves each other, without being treacly sweet, and without any heightened artificial drama. The parents are parents and the teens are teens, with none of that OC/90210 kind of mishmash. They have created something that feels real. Down to the way that people talk over each other. It can occasionally be maddening, but it feels real.

Which means that, in the last couple of weeks I’ve been having a little bit of trauma about all the yelling that’s been going on. The fights feel real, too. (more…)

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I liked this episode a lot better than I’ve liked most of this season. Of course, it guest starred Neil Patrick Harris, it was directed by Joss Whedon and Idina Menzel sang, so there is no bad. (Spoilers for the episode below…) (more…)

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Tonight was the last episode of Castle for the season. Spoilers below the cut… (more…)

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