Monday, November 24, 2014

Box Set Blues: Breaking Bad

I found myself trying to describe what I loved about Breaking Bad to someone the other day and realised that it probably sounded really horrible. Whenever you wind up watching one a show that is so unrelenting dark, something so determined to keep hurting its audience, it's hard not to focus on the horrible things going on, and how horrible everyone is, and then, suddenly, you realise that you probably sound like one of those people that slow down for car accidents to check if they can see the blood. I'm not sure that that is Breaking Bad's attraction - I think I've got a certain intolerance for media that revels in it's own grimness, hence not watching (for example) The Walking Dead - but its swirling darkness is potent and tangible. So what, then, is it? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Declare

Over on the Dissecting Worlds channel, we're currently doing a series on Spies and all things Espionage related. We've just recorded the third episode, on the intersection between horror and the spy genre, and when we mentioned this planned episode a couple of months back, one book kept coming up, and it was one that I've never actually heard of. I guess thats kind of appropriate, right? The book was Declare, by Tim Powers, and when at least four people recommend is a "set text" for the subject, then you really have to read it. I'm really, really glad I did. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Movie Review: Interstellar

At the moment I'm very used to being behind the curve on things, entertainment wise. Hell, we just this week finished off Breaking Bad (review soon!) the most talked about TV show of last year, and thats pretty up to date for us. Add to this the difficulty in getting to the movies for anything that isn't a superhero-themed action film or a flat-out kids flick, I'm mostly in the habit of shrugging and expecting to find out what all the fuss is about a long time after everyone has stopped being, well, fussed about something. So it was nice, this weekend, to see Interstellar, which seems to have generated a lot of interest, and to be able to express and opinion whilst that interest is still around. I'm still a little shocked about that! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

TV Review: Doctor Who, Series 8

If there was ever a show that proved the old maxim that "you just can't please everyone" it is Doctor Who. Having passed its 50th year, and now 8th year since its unlikely return - regeneration, perhaps - from the dead, it seems to have found a place as one of the most talked about TV fixtures of the year. The national press do it, of course - dusting off the old casting rumours, gossip about who is leaving the show and hoary old complaints about it being "too dark for children" or "too silly for grown ups", safe in the knowledge that the comments sections will fill up with impassioned defenses and critiques. It's very prominence makes it a lightning rod for wider debates, a metaphor for wider issues in TV as a whole and geek TV in particular. And so a show about a time-travelling alien in a phone box, that goes out on a saturday evening to a family audience, seems at times to have the weight of a more serious, worthy show, whether it wants to or not. It also means that simply "liking" or "not liking" feels like its not enough.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

First Impressions: The Flash

So following on from the start of Gotham a couple of weeks back, the wave of new comics-based shows continues with the start of The Flash. Unlike Gotham, however, The Flash shares a world with the already-successful Arrow, and Barry Allen even appeared for a couple of episodes to hang out in Starling City and flirt with Felicity, damn him. I was late to the party on how worthwhile Arrow was, so the spin off show, promising a lighter tone and yet still tied in, has been hotly anticipated in our house of four geeks of varying ages. Now we're two episodes in, and so I thought I'd share my opinion so far. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rambling: DC vs Marvel Movie Showdown

Anyone paying much attention to either the movie news or the comic book world news (or both, if you're like me) will have noticed that in the last few weeks both Warner Brothers (who own DC) and Marvel Studios have announced their upcoming slate of superhero movies for the rest of the decade. This is ignited a lot of chatter, a lot of excitement on the main but also a good helping of snark and some of the good old tedious Marvel vs DC argument. I have to admit I'm a good deal more excited about the Marvel properties than the DC ones, which has led to a little bit of self examination, as historically I've always been a much bigger DC fan. So, if you'll bear with me, this will hopefully go some way to bearing out my thoughts. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

First Impressions: Gotham

What a time it is to be a fan of capes'n'tights-themed comic books. A few years back, if someone had told me that the biggest film of the year would be based on the Guardians of the Galaxy, I would have called them mad. If they then went on say that the autumn TV schedules would feature five superhero shows I would have been on the phone to the local sanitarium. I mean, thats crazy talk, few supers shows have succeeded in the past, and even the ones that did are rarely fondly remembered, for all we're getting nostalgic about Adam West these days. And yet, here we are, As Agents of SHIELD enters its second year, and Arrow its third, one of this years newcomers is Gotham, which has now shipped out two episodes in the UK. So, how does it start?