Tag Archives: Tuesday trio

Tuesday Trio: Power Play

PolitiMix

If you are like me and most of America who subscribe to Netflix you have binged watched House of Cards by now. Life after ‘Cards is the new reality. So what’s next for you? Two other shows that came to mind while watching House of Cards was the critically acclaimed yet under the radar show Damages and the scifi/political drama Battlestar Galactica.

House of Cards (Netflix Streaming / DVD)
Ambitious congressman Francis Underwood is skipped for an appointment he feels he earned and takes matters into his own hands. He makes his ruthless climb up the political ladder while popping off rivals and bystanders along the way. Stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara among other notable actors.

Damages (Netflix Streaming / DVD)
Patty Hewes, a morally ambiguous lawyer and head of Hewes & Associates, takes protégé Ellen Parsons under her wing as she builds a case in a class-action lawsuit. The time shuffling style of storytelling as well as the superb acting makes this show particularly submersive. Hewes is a lion to Parsons’ cub, but soon Parsons learns the game.  Stars Glen Close and Rose Byrne as the lead roles along with Tate Donovan, Ted Danson, and a dream team of supporting actors.

Battlestar Galactica (Netflix Streaming / DVD)
At first glance it appears to be a scifi military show, but it is actually more like The West Wing in space. Human society is nearly wiped out by their own creation. Cybernetic robots called Cylons and skin-job versions that are indistinguishable from humans return after decades banished to deep space. Humans lose the war and most of human infrastructure in the blink of an eye and go on the run in a convoy of ships. In the meanwhile the Secretary of Education, Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) is the next in the chain of command to become president and hold society together.  She must negotiate with the military and civilians while being threatened by political parties that spring up and the ever present threat of enemy pursuit, infiltration, and risk of extinction. Stars a long list of quality actors including Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfir, Grace Park, and Katee Sackoff.

 

 

 

Tuesday Trio: Wintry Mix

WinteryMix

It’s that time of year when two things happened. It gets cold out (or coldish in the case of Texas) and there isn’t anything to watch on tv. The dreaded winter network television hiatus. What better way to combat the doldrums than with with cold, dreary, Scandinavian television?

Lilyhammer (Amazon/Netflix Streaming)
It’s like the Ballykissangel of mobster shows. An American gangster testifies against a Mob boss and goes into witness protection. A random memory of a winter Olympics leads him to pick Norway as his refuge. Snowy, isolated Lillehammer welcomes in a mysterious immigrant who quickly has to adapt his mob ways to Norway’s liberal culture while avoiding attracting the curiosity of the local police or the mobsters out looking for him. The show is a mix of English and Norwegian (Norweglish at times too) with subtitles scattered around. Two seasons are out on Netflix Streaming.

Forbrydelsen/The Killing: Series 1 (Amazon)
Forbrydelsen is a near claustrophobic 20 episode account of the days following the murder of a teenager, the family’s downward spiral, the maze of suspects that reaches the highest levels of Copenhagen society, and the Alice in Wonderland like hole the lead investigator falls down in her search for justice. It’s an interesting look at society, personal responsibility, and the illusive and sometimes inconvenient thing which is justice. There was an American version of this show which aired on AMC. This is the original Danish. The real gem with the award winning performance by Sofie Grabol, the cold Scandinavian scenery which becomes almost a character itself, and a runaway train pace that doesn’t end until the climax at the last episode. Yes, the original series resolves the mystery at the end of each season. None of this pace killing wait til next season to find out who the killer was garbage.

Vikings (Amazon)
Vikings has every bit as much character goodness and grittiness as Game of Thrones without the bloated mess that a book translated to television unfortunately has. Instead of having a cast of  thousands it has a small cast but very clear story goals. All I ask of my shows is that they do what they set out to do and Vikings succeeds at the scope it was targeting. It is an explorers narrative. It is a family story. Brother against brother. It’s a story about a bamf shield maiden. It’s a power struggle between houses. It manages to pull off making two religions feel like living religions. That last doesn’t always translate on tv well. I think the only other show I’ve seen do similar is HBOs Rome. The scope of the show is both micro and macro in that it revolves around one family, but the context is within the framework of viking expansion and growing influence as explorers. It also does a great job at showing early egalitarianism in Viking culture that shows the early seeds of a superior egalitarian society in the region today.

Tuesday Trio

booktrio-2

I’m trying something new here so hang on tight. I always like getting recs for books or movies especially if there are little threads like ‘hey, you’d like this because this character reminds me of such in such’ or ‘this feels like a progenitor to that.’

So if you like Susana Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell it feels like the grandchild of George MacDonald’s Lilith and a cousin to G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday. If you like Lilith you should check out Jonathan Strange. The connection then to Thursday is a bit more tenuous, but both involve men of a pre-1910 time period thrust into confusing, new reality. Both are very foundational in philosophical speculation and MacDonald a direct influence on Chesterton.

The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton (Amazon/B&N)
Set in a phantasmagoric London where policemen are poets and anarchists camouflage themselves as, well, anarchists, his 1907 novel offers up one highly colored enigma after another. If that weren’t enough, the author also throws in an elephant chase and a hot-air-balloon pursuit in which the pursuers suffer from “the persistent refusal of the balloon to follow the roads, and the still more persistent refusal of the cabmen to follow the balloon. via Amazon | more at wikipedia

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke (Amazon/B&N)
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England–until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear. via Amazon | more at wikipedia

Lilith, George MacDonald (Amazon/B&N)
Mr. Vane, the protagonist of Lilith, owns a library that seems to be haunted by the former librarian, who looks much like a raven from the brief glimpses he catches of the wraith. After finally encountering the supposed ghost, the mysterious Mr. Raven, Vane learns that Raven had known his father; indeed, Vane’s father had visited the strange parallel universe from which Raven comes and goes and now resides therein. Vane follows Raven into the world through a mirror. Inside the world, Vane learns of a house of beds where the dreamers sleep until the end of the world in death: a good death, in which life is found. Vane’s grandfather refused to sleep there and is, instead, forced to do battle with skeletons in a haunted wood. After a treacherous journey through a valley , Mr. Vane meets the Little Ones, children who never grow up, remaining pure children or becoming selfish and getting bigger and dumber, turning into “bags” or bad giants. After conversing with Lona, the eldest of the children, Mr. Vane decides to help them, and sets off to gather more information, although the Raven has warned Mr. Vane that he needs to sleep along with the dreamers before he can really help them… via wikipedia | more at wikipedia