Tag Archives: television

Style over substance: thoughts on SS-GB

12 Mar
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Sam Riley in the BBC’s adaptation of SS-GB

Whitehall draped in swastikas. Nazis riding the King’s horses in the centre of London. Churchill’s death. These are the moments in the BBC’s new adaptation of Len Deighton’s SS-GB that are meant to give us that little thrill associated with the taboo, or perhaps a pleasant relief that history took a different turn. It’s funny, though. Given the drama’s fortunate – or unfortunate – relevance at a time when nationalism, white supremacy and even outright Nazism seem to be emboldened, what should be searingly topical instead falls rather flat.

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Violent Delights ~ Thoughts on Westworld

16 Oct

Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything. – Donald Trump

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In this era of endless reboots, remakes and re-imaginings, Westworld is hardly remarkable. A new version of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie (itself endlessly parodied), the series has been given the high-gloss HBO treatment, with a stellar cast and big budget. Its production has been beset by delays; its concept rehashes not only the original movie, but also a host of tropes harvested from across the science fiction genre. And yet, it may turn out to be the season’s most relevant drama.

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BSG Rewatch: 1.3-1.5

9 Oct

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A rioting prison-ship led by a convicted terrorist. A rogue missile in the hangar bay. A dust-bound planet with a toxic atmosphere. Not to mention their own demons. As BSG Season 1 hits its stride, there’s a hell of a lot more for our heroes to worry about than just killer robots. In three excellent episodes, Bastille Day and the two-parter, Act of Contrition and You Can’t Go Home Again, the show maintains the thrilling mix of tight plotting and character work that made its opening installments so engaging.

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BSG Rewatch: Mini + 1.1-2

25 Aug

It was 2007 and I’d just started my summer job at Christ Church in Oxford, doing admin for a summer school for mature students (mainly Americans aged over 60). It was to become a regular gig, and it was a really great job to have because it included a lot of free food, a nice place to stay over the summer and quite a bit of free time. The guests were usually interesting to chat to and I have a lot of great anecdotes from that time.

Anyway, the first weekend I arrived and moved into my amazing suite of two rooms, which I later discovered was once lived in by Lewis Caroll! I had a laptop and a Wheelock’s Latin textbook to work through, but disastrously no internet connection. I soon realised I was going to need some way to amuse myself in the long stretches of downtime. The next day I popped into HMV and browsed their DVD stand, eventually picking up Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica, which wasn’t too expensive for the amount of episodes included. I’d seen some of the original version when it was 0n BBC2 and something about this remake really caught my eye. Maybe it was the promise of a fresh reimagining of a show that had seemed fairly campy and silly; maybe it was the picture of Six punching Athena in the face that let me know there’d be some badass ladies. I don’t remember what really sold me on it, but anyway, I bought it.

A few weeks later I had inhaled almost all three existing seasons. I fell in love with the mythology, the politics, the grey morality and the amazing female characters (hiiiiiiii Starbuck!) It became one of my all time favourite TV shows, and I was able to follow Season 4 in real time. I also introduced my friends to the show and we used to watch the DVDs together after finishing our essays and tute work, usually around midnight, so I got to experience it a second time. Then *that* finale happened, and I was so sad about it I didn’t want to rewatch the show at all. Until this year…

So, join my lovely friend Jodie and me as we dive into a rewatch of BSG! Our reactions are grouped into four categories: Starbuck (the most impt, of course!); Mythology; Music; and the rather bloated Miscellaneous. Spoilers abound!

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From Both Sides – The Mad Men Finale

29 May

It’s been two weeks (nearly) since the Mad Men finale. It’s been a long process of digestion for me, but I’m finally ready to breathe deep, crack my knuckles and sit down at the keyboard to write about it.

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image from vanityfair.com

Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ was the final song of Season 6, playing over the poignant scene of Don showing his kids the dilapidated house where he grew up, but it comes to mind now that the show is over and done with. It was the perfect track for a show that was all about duality – a show all about Janus, looking back both into the traumatic first half of the 20th century and on into our own time. And it wasn’t just about Don’s double life – as I’ve said many times before, Mad Men’s key conflict was between our own longing for and rejection of the past. So, it seems fitting that I’m still in two minds about this finale.

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Mad Men’s ‘New Business’ – some thoughts

13 Apr

One of the downsides of catching up with Mad Men after the US is seeing spoilers. It’s unavoidable – I follow several TV journalists and their tweets, whilst not specific, usually hint as to the mood of an episode at least. So, when the reaction of the twitterverse seemed to be ‘boring episode’, I was a little apprehensive going into ‘New Business’.

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Mad Men 7a Part 2: The Women

28 Jun

In my last Mad Men post, I quoted Danielle Henderson in The Guardian, in which, via the topic of sexism in Game of Thrones, she made the following comment about MM:

 I’m exhausted by the triumph of men at the expense of women as a narrative device.

As I promised, I’d like to rebut this idea, with a particular focus on the half-season just gone, but also with reference to the show as a whole. Because, if you’re interested in feminism, gender or the experience of women and you’re not watching Mad Men, I’ve gotta say – you’re missing out.

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