Tag Archive | Lost

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What have you been watching? Including You're The Worst, Tyrant, The Strain, Suits and Halt and Catch Fire

Posted on July 25, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

With August and the summer holidays approaching, it’s going to be the last ‘What have you been watching?' for a few weeks, so I’ll leave you with this one as a happy memory. And because the holidays are upon us, I’m going to be ruthless with a few shows that might have got as far as a third-episode verdict any other time of the year. So I’m not bothering with last night’s Rush, Satisfaction or Marriage, because the shows aren’t good enough for me to go to any effort in catching up with when I’m back from my holidays. They're probably going to be cancelled anyway.

This week, I’ve managed to review the following new shows:

But after the jump, a round-up of the regulars, with reviews of The Bridge (US), Halt and Catch Fire, The Last Ship, The Strain, Suits, Tyrant and You’re The Worst.

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Review: The Strain 1x1 (FX/Watch)

Posted on July 15, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

FX's The Strain

In the US: Sundays, 10pm, FX
In the UK: Acquired by Watch to air this autumn

Vampires are one of the enduring horror icons of the past two centuries. Based originally in folktales, they first truly rose to prominence thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, initially playing on the dual horrors of death and sex, they’ve gone on to be metaphors for pretty much everything from women’s sexual liberation to drug addiction.

Along the way, though, they’ve lost a lot of their potency, in part because of the general decline in Christianity but also because of the even greater decline in belief in scary beast monsters that skulk in the dark. More sophisticated demands from audience in terms of characterisation and the acknowledgement that stereotyping is generally a Bad Thing have meant that the question of whether a race of creatures, even non-human ones, can be all bad has also added to people’s reluctance to take vampires en masse as scary evil bastards.

Indeed, it would be relatively easy to list at least some of the media that have ‘defanged’ vampires and made them almost objects of ridicule: The Twilight Saga, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Blade, True Blood, Being Human (US), Being Human (UK), Dracula, From Dusk Till Dawn, 666 Park Avenue, The Gates, The Vampire Diaries, Moonlight, Penny Dreadful… As you can see, the list does indeed go on and on and on and on - poor old vampires. Makes you almost feel sorry for them.

So you have to at least admire shows that try to make vampires scary again. The much revered and generally wonderful Channel 4 mini-series Ultraviolet is perhaps the best example of how to do this properly, treating them completely seriously, adding science to the mix, giving us all that nuance about whether vampires are truly evil or not, and then basically saying, “Yes, they are and they want to kill us all and stick us in battery farms after creating a nuclear winter to block out the sun.”

Guillermo del Toro’s calling card to the world, Cronos, was also another sterling attempt to make vampires scary, giving us a vampirism passed on by a piece of beetle jewellery, although the film suffered more than a little from del Toro's love of grand guignol.

Now, del Toro is having another go at making vampires scary with The Strain, an adaptation of his own books in conjunction with Lost/Bates Motels exec producer Carlton Cuse. This essentially takes that original story of Dracula and asks the question: “What would happen if Dracula hadn't turned up in the 19th century at a boat in Whitby but instead arrived on a 747 in 21st century New York? He’s super fast, super strong and kills in horrible nasty ways, before bringing others back to life as vampires, too. How would the authorities react? What would science make of him?”

So far, so good.

Unfortunately, taking a leaf from his own book, del Toro's also asked, “What if Dracula’s vampirism was actually caused by an infestation of worms? And there were actually a lot of evil vampires, all intent on taking over the world in a secret gothic conspiracy where they all dress in black?”

Equally unfortunately, the result is something not so much scary as a bit unpleasant yet laughably bad.

Here’s a trailer.

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Review: The Leftovers 1x1 (HBO/Sky Atlantic)

Posted on July 2, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Leftovers

In the US: Sundays, 10pm, HBO
In the UK: Aquired by Sky Atlantic. Will air in September

TV is filled with death. For many shows, it's their staple. What would 24 or Banshee be without their epic body counts? Would everyone love Game of Thrones as much were it not for its regular game of 'Guess who's going to pop their clogs this season'? Probably not.

In the real world, though, death generally isn't quite as desirable, even if it is inevitable. The effects of someone's death are almost always huge, traumatic and life-changing for those who know them. Religion can provide some comfort for the bereaved. It can even provide some answers as to why death happens at all. TV shows that remember this are few and far between.

So in many ways, The Leftovers is unusual and innovative. Adapted by Tom Perrotta, Lost's Damon Lindelof and Friday Night Lights' Peter Berg from Perrotta's book of the same name, it takes the Christian concept of the Rapture - in which the true believers in Jesus are taken up into the sky to be with God, leaving behind everyone to be judged before Jesus's second coming - and gives it a slight twist. What if 2% of the world's population just vanished, leaving everyone else behind, with no explanation for their departure? What would those remaining behind do? How would they feel? And without angels coming down to explain everything and given that some of that 2% include some very bad people indeed, not just the blessed - I mean, Gary Busey was one of those who disappeared. Gary Busey - could people even be sure it was God and not aliens or some bizarre space-time accident that caused the disappearance?

The answer to this existential dilemma, it appears, is be largely miserable, dull and nihilistic. Strangely, in fact, it seems like the animals have a better idea about what's going on than the humans do.

Here's a trailer. If you're in the US, though, you can watch the whole of the first episode over on Yahoo.

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