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Emma Lou's adventures in Doctor Who fandom

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Blue Box Blog Sidesteps: Rambling About Genre TV

Posted by emmahyam on November 12, 2011

It feels like theres been quite a lot going on in the sci fi/fantasy/genre TV world lately and I’ve been watching plenty of bits and bobs that I’ve been keen to write about, but nothing that felt long enough to justify a full blog post so I decided to throw it all down here and see what you all think about this stuff. A note of caution, there are SPOILERS for all the shows below up to their episode of current UK transmission, so please read at with care. First up…

The Fades:  I liked this interesting little show, its got its flaws for sure, at time it could be too juvenile, the pop culture references could sometimes feel forced and the drama seemed to move at too slow a pace, however these minor gripes aside its got bags of potential for another series. It was visually stunning, the mythology of the show was brilliantly set up and the characters were well thought out and sympathetic. Handled right this could easily be a success in the mold of “Being Human”, a move up to BBC 2 and few more pennies spent on the effects could move this show from ‘good’ to ‘great’. TV in the UK lacks a show that aims for out and out horror in the way that The Walking Dead does in the US and its important than even if The Fades doesn’t make a return that these sort of shows are made.

The Walking Dead: The second series has just started here in the UK, running about a week behind the US, I had plenty of problems with the first season of the show (see my epic post ranting about it on this here humble blog) and they were almost enough to put me off watching the second season all together. Despite my reservations I’ve enjoyed the first three episodes far more than anything since that stunning pilot, things still grate on me a little though, the continual stupid decisions made by the group and the marginalization of characters like T-Dog and Glenn in favour of Rick and his family. The cut in budget the show took from the network is beginning to become evident, with some of the zombies looking a bit cheap. I also wonder how they’re going to sustain the drama over 13 episodes with Carl’s predicament and Sophia’s disappearance already starting to feel dragged out, even though we’re only 4 episodes in. This being said they’re are still plenty of reasons to watch, primarily for me, what on Earth Shane will do next, his motivations are mysterious and he appears to be getting more and more unhinged as signified by him shaving his head in episode 3. I’m also pretty intrigued by Daryl, the softening of his character seems pretty deliberate and hes easily the most competent of the group. This mean hes probably doomed to die horribly. The show has already been renewed for a third season and I think the production team is going to be faced with some increasingly hard choices regarding  just how much of the comics plot line they can put on TV.

Supernatural: Just finished watching the sixth season (yes I know I’m terribly behind) and despite some of the negative buzz I actually enjoyed this season quite a lot, I think it suffered from having to continue an arc beyond its prescribed life span, the early episodes felt unfocused and inconsequential as if the show couldn’t quite decide whether to return to a more “monster of the week” format or start a new arc story. Once it found its feet those Winchester boys were as good as ever and the supporting cast were also excellent, Castiel being the stand out, I loved him in his showcase episode “The Man Who Would Be King”, I’m intrigued as to where season 7 is going to go with the arc, I’m starting to worry that they’re going to run out of Big Bads, having laid waste to daemonic entities of all nearly every type, the progenitor of all said monsters, Satan and most of the heavenly host!

Terra Nova: just a quick note on this one, I’d love to know what they’re doing with that 4 million dollar an episode budget because they’re certainly not spending it on dinosaur effects, if they’re managing more than one dino and episode I’d be amazed and frankly the one they did have in the most recent installment looked flipping awful. I don’t understand why a show that sells itself on the basis of being about people trying to survive on a prehistoric parallel Earth chooses to concentrate on said people having arguments either in living rooms or a clearing in the jungle. As a very famous singer once said – a little less conversation, a little more action please.

Fringe: Fringe seemed to be in an odd sort of holding pattern for its first 4 episodes of its fourth season, it almost seemed afraid to kick on with its story without Peter, returning once again to a season one “monster of the week” format. As such it was beginning to get frustrating, it seemed like they’re were a million questions left to be answered at the end of season 3 and the producers were actively cocking a snook at viewers by ignoring them all together. Thankfully with the reappearance of Peter the story has really got going, with more going down in episode 5 than in the previous four installments, however I really hope they’re going to make more of the fact that they’re in contact with the “Over There” team, this story line feels totally neglected and I want to know what the Walternate is up to!

Buffy and Angel: Myself and my other half have embarked on a rewatch of the seminal Joss Whedon shows, watching them in broadcast order, I’m finding it a quite rewarding way to watch, especially as living in the UK means we often got shows months after their US transmission and sometimes edited bizarrely, or shown in the wrong order, thus rendering the intertwined story nonsensical. We’re in the fourth season of Buffy/first season of Angel and I must confess I’m enjoying Angel a great deal more, I hated Buffy season four on the first time around and now I know whats going to happen it seems interminable. Its thirteen episodes before we finally meet our Big Bad of the season, I found the whole concept of The Initiative fairly silly and the weakening of Buffy as a character (all that rubbish with Parker) was massively irritating, whereas with Angel I’m loving the beginning of their Myth Arc and the relationship between Angel, Cordy and Wesley. As a Doctor Who fan I’m finding the parallels between Buffy/Angel and Doctor Who/Torchwood really interesting, RTD cited Buffy and Angel as a major influence and doing this rewatch very much brings that home, especially comparing the tone of Angel to Buffy, it feels exactly like the Who/Torchwood relationship.

Are you watching any of these shows? I’d love to hear what you think, leave your comments below!


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Blue Box Blog Sidesteps: The Walking Dead

Posted by emmahyam on December 11, 2010


With the broadcast of the last episode of The Walking Dead I thought it would be a fun idea to write a post about my thoughts on this series. Overall I was very impressed with some parts of the show and very disappointed with other parts. As an idea, doing a whole show about a zombie apocalypse is incredibly brave, the comic book has a passionate following and doing a whole TV show about it should in theory do the source material more justice than a movie.

Firstly the good stuff. The pilot episode was probably one of the strongest I’ve seen in years, it was tense, eerie and emotionally affecting. The scene where Morgan struggles to shoot his zombified wife brought a tear to my eye, as did Rick’s mercy killing of a particularly pathetic zombie. Rick’s awakening in the hospital, his descent of the stairs lit only by a match was unbearably tense. I could barely watch the screen as I waited for something to loom out of the darkness. The wide-shots of the desolate streets and thousands of bodies outside the hospital sent chills up my spine and the special effects and make-up are second to none.

Now the stuff that annoyed me I have three issues: firstly most of the characters with the exception of Rick and Glenn were intensely despicable and are painted in such broad strokes as to be ludicrous. Shane is a rape attempting troglodyte who apparently thinks women are only good for doing the washing up and sex-on-demand. Daryl and Merle are redneck racists, the only male regular black character is only known as T-Dog(?). The women are nearly all ineffectual, whiny wastes of space except for Jacqui who elects to blow herself up at the CDC rather than put up with this bunch of idiots. The show is choosing to concentrating on emotional impact and group dynamics but if you can’t make me care about the fate of the characters then that’s a failure on the part of the writing. Also it seemed to me they were sacrificing action for Grey’s Anatomy-esque drama, I think they managed to have no zombies in episode 2 IN A SHOW ABOUT THE BLOODY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!

Which brings me to my second major gripe with the show, all the decisions made by the group range from idiotic to foolhardy to insane without stopping at rational in the middle. I understand that the show is portraying a group of panicked people trying to survive in appalling conditions but does every single choice made have to be so dumb? My frustrations were best expressed by a forum member from the Television Without Pity website:

“Trapped handcuffed to a thin pole on a roof with a saw? Cut your hand off. Guy gives you an ultimatum while holding your group member hostage? Go in there and stand, clearly outnumbered with guns pointed at you, and just hope for something good to happen. Zombies around in most places in the city that can walk and travel in packs? Set up camp a few miles away and just hope they don’t walk near you. Someone in your crew who works for the zoning office? Don’t bother ever successfully using that knowledge, just have that person do laundry and attend to infected people. Jenner mentioned how there were tons of weapons lying around and he familiarized himself with them? Don’t bother doing the same, just turn around and leave the city, even though it isn’t dark out. Haven’t eaten for days? Don’t bother planning to scavenge any places for goods, just take a slow Sunday drive home. Morales leaving and taking his family? Don’t bother suggesting a place to meet up in a year, or otherwise setting up any kind of system where you could be found if Morales gets to Birmingham and finds a camp with people who have actual, functioning brains.”

Quite! Thirdly the leaps in logic required by the viewer are irritating in the extreme. Rick should have died at the hospital before the events of the pilot half a dozen times over, the zombies behave in a inconsistent manner dependent on what the story requires. We waste time at the CDC learning nothing of use until Jenner whispers something we’re not privy to at Rick? Why are all these people sticking together when it should occur to people like Daryl and Dale that they’d be MUCH better off alone? Why are the group going hungry and running out of fuel when abandoned cars and houses are plentiful and have apparently been left unmolested?

The show has been confirmed for a second season but with a whole new writing staff. In a fit of pique I vowed I wouldn’t be watching the show next season, however I will be watching to see if it improves at all. I’m worried about the sustainability of the show. Theres 78 (and counting) issues of the comic book but I’m aware of a great deal of stuff they are NOT going to be allowed to put on mainstream TV. Despite this the main thing I want to see is a move away from the soap opera elements and the introduction of some new characters to liven up the group dynamic otherwise…

…I’m coming to get you Frank Darabont!

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