Monthly Archives

August 2015

England Prep- Detective Style

August 10, 2015

Dear Reader,

As you all might know, I am heading off to merry old England in just a few days. Thus, I thought I would do some preparation. Since I have already been through every period drama ever made at least eighteen times, I thought I would turn my attention to something a little more current. Thus, detective dramas. I have been bingeing every one I could find and here is my comprehensive list of recommendations (in no particular order):

1. BroadchurchBroadchurch

Broadchurch is probably one of the most well-known of these series, as David Tennant graced it with his presence and his Scottish accent. It tells the story of a child’s murder in a small town and goes through all the tragic aftermath of trying to deal with something so incomprehensible and painful. I give it full marks for all of the following: beautiful scenery, obfuscation, Scottish accents too thick to understand without subtitles, and also writing. It is very very good and decently upsetting, as it should be.

2. Jack TaylorJack Taylor

If you, like me, are instantly charmed by an Irish accent then this show is for you. Not only does Iain Glen (of Game of Thrones friend-zoned fame) have a great Irish accent, a heavy drinking problem, and a penchant for beautiful younger women, he is also a pretty good detective. He plays Jack, a former policeman who was kicked off the force for punching an elected official in the face. For Jack, the blows rain down on him with astonishing frequency and the only option for him is to turn to the bottle and to being a boozy private detective. Full marks for charming Irish phraseology, a lot of complaining about Belfast, very topical mysteries (if you are living in Ireland, that is), and a really great coat.

3. HinterlandHinterland

Well you may not know him as the hot doctor from Bleak House, but I do! The main character in Hinterland is a Welshman who has been working as a detective in London for some time, had some personal tragedies, and is now back in his native Wales. Quite like the previous two, he is haunted by personal issues and the cases that he becomes involved in. What is most stirring about this drama is how absolutely isolated the main character always is. He is more isolated than any man I have ever seen and his struggle to deal with and possibly overcome that is as riveting as the mysteries he solves. Full marks for the Welsh countryside, shots of Matthias running on a solitary road in a blue windbreaker, and every time I hear Welsh spoken and it sounds like thunder.

4. WallanderWallander

So I am currently watching an episode of Wallander as I type this so my disclaimer is that I haven’t finished it all. But what I have watched is really excellent. My other disclaimer, and perhaps the most important one, is that this is not a cheery show. It is, in fact, an abysmally depressing show with few rays of hope or sunshine to lighten the picture. Wallander is a Swedish cop (although they are all British actors and speak in English but type in Swedish- which is weird and disjointed) who is so brought down by the cases he deals with that he ends up crying at least once in every episode. Kenneth Branagh plays him with masterly sorrow and great red-rimmed eyes. The cases are more bizarre than the previous shows tend to boast and they also tend to get uber-personal, something all these shows share in common. Full marks for TOM HIDDLESTON being a small but (in my mind) essential character, great shots of the wheat fields of Sweden, and how every episode is more depressing than the last. All jokes aside though, it is a great show.

As are all of these. I gave you a strong female-centered mystery list and now this one is all about the menfolk. These detectives throw heart and soul and liver into their jobs and the result is some great drama.

Sense 8

August 3, 2015

Dear Reader,

I have spent the last week bingeing on Netflix’s new offering du jour: Sense 8. Netflix has a good track record with me. I almost always end up enjoying their productions, occasionally even loving them. I’ve long been a House of Cards addict and Hemlock Grove held this weird sway over me for a while of which I sometimes still feel the pull. So I was prepared to at least enjoy Sense 8. I was not quite prepared for the ecstasies it sent my tv loving brain into.Sense 8

That is more than enough of me- what is great about this show will be my focus from here on out. Sense 8 is, in brief, a show about a group of eight people across the world who can telepathically communicate with each other. This includes appearing in whatever spot one of their companions happens to be (without anyone else being able to see or hear them), randomly experiencing what another one of the eight is feeling, and being able to sort of replace one of the eight in a given situation while still appearing to everyone else that the original person is still there. That sounds complicated but it basically means that if Lito needs to punch someone but doesn’t really know how, Wolfgang will step into his body and do it for him.Sense 8

Now for the great stuff. The eight main characters are living in Chicago, London, Nairobi, Seoul, San Francisco, India, Germany, and Mexico City. The show manages to juggle eight separate people, most of whom never meet in the flesh, and still form coherent storylines that connect them. They become an interconnected group that have specific relationships with different people within the cohort and also manage to have their own storylines. So over the course of twelve episodes we see eight different full storylines as well as one overarching storyline for the season. It is mindblowingly difficult to do that with half as many main characters.Sense 8

And the best part is that you as a viewer care deeply about these people. The show has countless moments that could easily be corny but are instead actually heartfelt and profoundly moving.Sense 8

You dip in and out of what amounts to a Bollywood romance, a german revenge tragedy, a cop drama, a South Korean version of Orange is the New Black, a gang warfare action movie…. etc etc etc. And they work together! Wolfgang the german safecracker who is out for revenge against his evil family will suddenly get pulled into Kala’s Bollywood wedding dramedy, altering both of their perspectives. And so on and so on. The characters grow and build upon each others’ growth to form a cohesive unit that I very much hope will continue to develop in season two. They certainly had me weeping with emotion and joy by the end. Pull up a couch and binge this one. DO IT.

The * The first few episodes struggle a bit with getting into a cohesive groove just because there are so many characters. Get to the episode “What’s Going On” and watch that scene (you will know it when you get to it) and then, if you aren’t hooked I will allow you to give up. But not until then 😉

Another * This show is TVMA for a reason. It can get intense in a number of ways, so be aware.

Ok now go!