Digital Polyphony

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TV Show Reviews (Colbert Gif Special)

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 2:30 PM

TV Show Reviews (Colbert Gif Special)

I binge watch TV. I don't have a lot of shows I watch on a weekly basis and in most cases I'm picky. But I sat and watched quite a bit the past few months and decided to do an update on some shows that maybe you're overlooking or are just flying under the radar. I know that one I wouldn't have bothered with but was hooked after the pilot alone.

Oh, and seeing as how I never like to do things simply, enjoy the many Stephen Colbert gifs that will represent my feelings. Because remember...


Orphan Black

You know, they try really hard to say that the city is in the US, but I know Canada when I see it, guys. The smell of bacon and maple syrup is all over this, all it's lacking is the McKenzie brothers.

But that's just an observation because when it comes right down to it, Orphan Black is a pretty damn enjoyable show and one that has a potentially great future ahead of it. Then again I said that about Alphas and look what happened there. The story is a little all over the place, but it all falls on the shoulder of Tatiana Maslany. Get to know that name, she'll be everywhere in a few years not simply because she's gorgeous but because she's one of the best actresses on television today and you probably had no idea she existed. The reliance on her is astronomical.

Why? Well, she plays ten different characters that's why. And I literally mean ten (and that's the literal meaning of literal, not that bullshit that the dictionary people are using where literally now means figuratively...seriously what's that about. I literally don't understand it). Some are more prominent than others, but all distinct. That's what's so impressive. They all look alike, but each has different accents, different speech patterns, different mannerisms. I don't know a lot of films and TV where an actress is asked to pull this off, much less a show that does it so well where we don't get all these similar looking characters confused.

They should do that more. We need as much Tatiana as humanly possible. The world would be a better place.

The story is a tad convoluted, but there's a great sense of mystery and Maslany is too good to ignore. The other issue is the supporting cast, but I don't know if they're all pretty forgettable because they're badly written (except for the gay brother, he's good comic relief and not in the 'just cuz he's gay' kind of way) or if they're forgettable because Maslany is that good and will do entire scenes where she plays all the characters in that scene.

Oh, that reminds me. The editing is fantastic. There are shot where they get actual Maslany in the same show two or three times, but in most it's probably just her and a double who's wearing a wig. The editing is so sharp, smart and understands conversation flow that you completely buy it.

I would go so far as to say Orphan Black is the best show you're probably not watching. That title used to go to Southland before TNT decided to be dicks and cancel it. So now it's this one, and with only one season under its belt the possibilities on where it can go and what it can do are pretty endless.

Find it. Watch it. It's a great little genre show, if only BBC would hurry up with Season 2.


Ripper Street

Oy, gov'na! Got me a right ole piece of 'istorical fiction, we do!

Sorry about that. Hard to ignore the cockney.

But I wasn't sorry about jumping in to Ripper Street. Like most shows, including the ones on this entry alone, the first episode is a very basic pilot. The production values were certainly there, it looks and feels the time (though on a TV budget, obviously), but the story didn't really grow on me. Then along came the next episode. Then the next. The show began to really grow, develop its characters, have a constant over-arching idea of their relationship to bring the "mystery of the week" elements together to feel like one whole. Those characters are what really hold the entire show together, historically accurate or not, they're damn interesting and fully fleshed out by the end of the season. Edmund Reid, which obviously there are liberties here in the interpretation, is damn compelling and Matthew Macfadyen is great in the role. Jerome Flynn and Adamn Rothenberg are fantastic as well as Drake and Jackson, which sounds like it could be a spinoff all its own.

Ripper Street isn't a very deep show, but it's kind of a guilty pleasure. I love the turn-of-the-century period, especially in London, and that you have these historical figures (well one of them at least) going around solving crimes is a lot of fun. It's why I love Sherlock Holmes in all his incarnations, but especially when he's actually set in this period which he's based out of (which is pretty much only a few movies, other Holmes shows and films set him in different times). It's gritty and dark, but has enough levity to not be morbid considering the nature of the entire East End of London at the time.

My favorite element, though, is the nods to history. There's a lot happening in the world around these characters and that sense of place and time is itself a masterful character. Big kudos to the researchers, set designers and artists that bring it all to life and the writers to make use of historical plot points (such as subways and shipping which were up and coming during the period).

As much as I love Orphan Black, and I would recommend it more, this one just hit my personal sweet-spot.




I was on a BBC high for a while. With Luther and recently with Orphan Black and Ripper Street, I figured Copper is a natural next one to get in to. It has a nice looking production and hey, I liked me some Gangs of New York.

Well, if you recall in a previous job, and I'm assuming you don't, I give any new show at least three episodes to hook me. In Copper's case, it went beyond three episodes to four.

After that, I had to check out. It was one better than usual, so Nigel Tufnel would be proud, but I couldn't push further. It just wasn't working for me, and this is the type of stuff I like so for me to "check out" it had to really try it. It tried and succeeded. I won't lie in that I think Ripper Street did this type of show better, they're both the same time period, dealing with "Coppers" only one in New York and the other in London, but Ripper Street manages to have a procedural type of approach, ala a Law and Order or CSI where there's a case every episode, yet still miraculously weave its character development throughout all of that. Copper wants to have a continuing story where one episode leads in to another, but it's too drawn out and just wasn't interesting enough to get me to care even after four episodes (of a 10 Episode season, mind you).

The characters are what really killed it for me. I never got a sense of them being people I wanted to get to know. After four episodes, that's pretty inexcusable. I have no doubt that Kevin Corcoran is a good man, and Tom Weston-Jones great in acting as him, but I never really get a sense of who he is or what he's trying to do or wanting to achieve. I don't know his past, I don't know what he wishes for a future. For a short-season and a pretty small cast to not have developed your characters, especially your lead, at the near-halfway point, you're pretty much screwing up. Especially on a show like this.

I didn't utterly dislike it, and maybe I'll go back and finish it up, but right now it's on hold. I know BBC America markets it as their biggest series ever, but I hear a lot more people talking about Doctor Who and Orphan Black than I do this one…

…wait…that is unless they're…

….OHHHH…you sneaky devils.

Want to know why BBC America can call it their highest rated show and still be accurate? Because BBC America has only produced this one show themselves. Stuff like Ripper Street, Doctor Who and most of the other programming on that channel are out of BBC One, Orphan Black co-produced….

So when they say it's "their highest rated show" it's not by putting it up against other shows on the channel, it's because they're approaching it as "well, we're not lying if we look at it from our own production perspective." They also classify it as a "series premiere" so it's hard to gauge where that falls in with "regular ole episodes of more popular shows" stuff.

Ah, this is why marketers get paid money. They play with your head and you don't even realize it. They also try to get you to watch a pretty mediocre show.

I might go back and get in to this again, but right now...




Now I know what you're thinking. It's Network. It's NBC and they can't do anything right unless it's 1994 and people actually know who Eriq La Salle is. Well, they did this right. Boy did they do this right. They gave these creators and producers the freedom to not make some cash-in show on the Hannibal name, but a very dark, complex psychological thriller of a series held up by fantastic directing, top-notch acting and a Hannibal that makes you not even think of Anthony Hopkins.

Red Dragon was one of my favorite books. Well, I guess it still is but I haven't read it in a while, and it was made in to two pretty decent flicks as well with Manhunter and, originally, Red Dragon. What Hannibal does is kind of "rewrite" of what Red Dragon was all about. Where Red Dragon was the first story about Hannibal and Will Graham, their history is only alluded to. All that allusion is what this series is about, and it's every bit as weird, creepy and disturbing (and graphic) as you hope it will be.

I mean, I can sit here and tell you that's it is gory, but you're probably thinking "oh, you mean 'tv' gory, and 'network tv' at that." No, it's up pretty nasty. Enough to make you go...

By the way, did you know David Tennant was almost cast as Lecter? It was down to him in Mads Mikkelson and it went to Mads, and Tennant said "I would have also." Tennant could have done a great job, though.  I mean, Eddie Izzard is in this thing and he plays a creep really well. That also makes me want to bring up the great, and very difficult performance I would think, by Hugh Dancy. You'll pity him, hate him, love him but ultimately he's just a great character that Dancy really should be getting more buzz around. Obviously Mads is going to take the spotlight, but Hannibal isn't the main character.

I was concerned this might just be another precudrual show. If it was, it wouldn't have worked. It needs to have that approach of continuity because the entire point of Harris's books is a character study, especially the first two books which are brilliant. Hannibal does a great job in not only being faithful in tone and style but really faithful to who these characters are and how they think and what they do.

I'm glad this is picked up for a second season. Bryan Fuller is pretty damn brilliant, but he never has had anything really "hit' with viewers. Heroes dropped like a rock in a pool and Pushing Daises was always on life support. This one, if it holds this way, could easily combat cable and even pay-cable for one of the more bold and daring and just well-written shows out there. Don't let the fact it's on NBC fool you, it's quite possibly the biggest step they've done in years.

So yeah, enjoy the skinning/dismemberment/stabbing/shooting/throat cutting...because all that nastiness is worth a seeing a great psychological thriller story.


You know, I don't want to end this on something gory and nasty like Hannibal. So here you go:


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