Cinematic visions of mankind’s future usually go one of three ways.
Either our successors are trapped in a bleak, dystopian wasteland where a dog-eat-dog mentality prevails and there is little hope of any real improvement (or a working lightbulb and you can forget about a picnic out in the countryside) … or it is pretty much business as usual but with flying cars, jackbooted policemen and a noticeable absence of democratic rights … or there are zombies … lots and lots of zombies (there go the picnics again).
Living through any of those scenarios in real life is not an appealing prospect but watching them unfold on the big screen from the comfort of your cinema seat?
Ah, that … that is another matter entirely!
Which is why I am thrilled that another tale of less-than-ideal future, Elysium, is heading our way courtesy of the talented and imaginative Neil Blomkamp who gave the visionary District 9, which is one of most superlative entries in the genre of late.
Set in 2159, the Earth is divided in almost insurmountable fashion into the Haves, who reside in a utopian society aboard the pristine space station, Elysium, and the blighted HaveNots, who have been left behind on the crime-ravaged and poverty-scarred planet far below.
And this time he has garnered significant star power in the form of Matt Damon (a self-admitted uber-fan of the Mr Blomkamp), who plays Max, a man with a desperate need to get access to Elsyium’s state-of-the-art medical facilities and Jodie Foster (who doesn’t do movies for just anybody these days) who plays the station’s Secretary Delacourt and who will do everything in her power to prevent Max and other “illegal” immigrants like him from gaining access to the rarefied world beyond the clouds.
It is the outcome of the furious battle of wills between these two people, and the societies they represent, that will determine the future of all of mankind.
So a lot hangs in the balance.
Joining Damon and Foster are District 9‘s Sharlto Copley and Stargate SG1‘s Michael Shanks, as part of what will undoubtedly be a cautionary tale to contemporary man, wrapped up in stunning visuals, a narrative that engages and actually makes sense, and characters who make you care a great deal.
The non-spoiler synopsis for the film, which was printed on invitations to those fortunate to be invited to the first preview screening, is as follows and has me mighty excited:
In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government ofﬁcial, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that, if successful, will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.
This storyline indicates that Blomkamp will once again explore themes of inequality, segregation, racism and disempowerment, all of which, handled well (and there’s no doubt he will handle them exceptionally well) will make for a thoroughly engrossing and thought-provoking movie.
It opens in the US on 9 August 2013 (moved from its original 31 March release date) with release into Australia likely over the southern hemisphere summer.
No one ever said life in the apocalypse, zombie or otherwise, would be easy.
But just how hard it is was on full display this week in “I Ain’t No Judas”.
A quieter, more character-interaction oriented episode, it mainly concerned itself with Andrea’s (Laurie Holden) quest to bring some peace, love and understanding (with no sign of Elvis Costello anywhere) to the fractured landscape between the prison where Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group was in total lockdown (understandably fearful after last week’s sneak attack of going outdoors), and the blighted Stepford Wives-esque idyll of Woodbury which increasingly resembles, in Andrea’s words, “an armed camp” with even adolescents roped into its defence.
It was, in certain respects, a fool’s errand.
Not so much because Andrea was foolish – I would argue that counter to the majority opinion out there that Andrea in fact really stepped up this episode and show bravery and initiative where others simply uttered pointless bellicose rhetoric – but simply because both sides are entrenched in their positions, irrevocably distrusting of the other, and disinclined to any kind of rapprochement.
Even so, I am impressed that Andrea, though clearly conflicted by her feelings for the Governor (David Morrissey), stood up to him, demanding to know why she wasn’t informed about the prison attack and demanding to make a trip there herself to try for some kind of peace deal, however remote.
While this confrontation has been dismissed by some as yet more evidence of Andrea’s stupidity and wanton inability to see the truth about the man she is sleeping with, I think it simply reveals Andrea as emblematic of the prevailing damaged psychology of just about every survivor in this new and dangerously unpredictable world.
She is not alone in wanting a secure, untroubled life after so much death, emotional turmoil and fear for her life and those she loves, and it makes perfect sense that she would choose to only see what she wants to see.
She isn’t stupid as much as she is an opportunistic survivor, and let’s face it, in that kind of nightmarish situation, it would be an extremely strong soul indeed – like Michonne (Danai Gurira) for instance – who didn’t choose convenient lies over the unpalatable truth since, with the end of civilisation, that is pretty much all you have left.
Is it necessarily a sensible course of action?
Probably not since the Governor has demonstrated time and again that he is willing to sacrifice anybody to keep his citadel safe and secure from all opposition, human or walker, and Andrea could just as easily be thrown under a passing herd of walkers as embraced and taken to the madman’s boudoir.
While it is the latter that happens in this episode at least, Andrea is now aware of the Faustian pact she has entered into with the Governor, and distinctly uneasy about what it may cost her.
Try as she might to hang onto her delusions about him and Woodbury, which saw her choose, in Michonne’s words “a warm mattress over a good friend” – their conversation at the prison did little more than air Michonne’s bitter grievances against her onetime friend and fellow traveller and moved Andrea to tears; not the mark of a hard, cold schemer I would argue but rather someone who is painfully aware of what survival has cost her – she is increasingly aware that all she has is a flimsy veneer of safety that could vanish at any point.
Given the powerful need anyone would have in that situation to stay safe at all costs, and believe what lies were served up to you, it is commendable that she is now admitting the truth to herself.
And that she chooses, even at the risk of retribution from her lover, to venture to the prison, with her very own limbless, jawless zombie – Milton (Dallas Roberts) and she “create” this monstrosity in the only truly gruesome scene in this episode moments before encountering Tyreese and his group, recently cast out from the prison, who are about to make their own unfortunate deal with Woodbury’s unhinged devil – and do what she can to foster values like peace and goodwill in a world where these are in very short supply and seen as luxuries that few can afford in the new dog-eat-dog society they call home.
She could be forgiven for wondering why she bothered given the treatment she receives at the hands of Rick and most of the beleaguered group.
No sooner is she through the door, her walker “pet” bellowing outside the gate with a frighteningly large group of fellow undead, that she is forced to the ground by Rick, patted down, and treated with hostility and contempt by a group of people she once called her family.
Carol (Melissa McBride) is almost alone in her warm embrace of Andrea and recounts who died and how in a painful but necessary conversation, which follows fruitless conversations with Rick, Hershel (Scott Wilson), Glenn (Steven Yeun) and the others where she learns that the Governor has lied to her to a far greater extent that she realised.
Noting that Rick especially is far colder and harder than he was when she was separated from the group, she seems genuinely perplexed by their palpable unwillingness to even consider any kind of truce, and realises very quickly that not only is she no longer truly welcome by her one-time friends (again with the exception of Carol who I am liking more and more all the time) but that she stands no chance of carrying out her doomed-from-the start mission.
But for all the futility of her trip to the prison, and the way it inspires her to almost do away with the Governor – she hovers nest to him, knife in hand, after their lovemaking but can’t kill him as she was urged to do back at the prison – Andrea demonstrates more decisiveness and bravery that she is being given credit for, especially when it could all cost her so much.
While “I Ain’t Judas” was very Andrea-heavy, it did allow for some quiet, and dare I say, amusing moments between members of Rick’s group.
Merle (Michael Rooker) went to almost comically-desperate lengths to win over various members of Rick’s group – he wisely avoid Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohen) who for obvious reasons want nothing to do with their torturer – trying to bond chiefly with Michonne who simply regards with her usual contempt for, well, everyone and everything, and Hershel, who surprises even himself by drawing out of Merle that he has an appreciation for the Bible.
It’s unlikely he will get Survivor of the Month in Rick’s group any time yet but he is here to stay – he knows it and everyone else reluctantly knows it – and he realises, canny man that he is, that he must go on a charm offensive to firm up his perilous position.
However his position at the end is shored up considerably when a much improved Rick – who shared a tender moment with Carl earlier in the episode when he was told by his son in the most loving way he could manage that Rick needed a rest from leading the group and should let Daryl and Hershel handle things – tells Daryl (Norman Reedus) that Merle can stay but that his continuing presence in the group is entirely up to his brother while Michonne will remain the responsibility of Rick.
And that, apart from a sweet moment when Carol tells Daryl she is happy to have him back – c’mon guys kiss or something will ya?! – is it for an episode that may be short on guns-and-ammo violence but packed a powerful character-driven punch all the same.
* And here’s a look behind-the-scenes at the making of “I Ain’t No Judas”
* What’s up next? Why this! Watch and enjoy the promo and this chilling sneak peek (all it takes is glances to communicate between Rick, Carl and Michonne that they know they should stop but can’t for fear of who the survivor may be; deeply unsettling insight into the new morality of the apocalypse) for “Clear” which airs Sunday 3 March (US) and Tuesday 5 March (Australia).
When last we left our intrepid artifact-tracking team from Warehouse 13, Peter (Eddie McClintock), Myka (Joanne Kelly), Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and Steve (Aaron Ashmore) had cornered Artie (Saul Rubinek), who thanks to some astrolabe-induced time-fiddling had turned a less-than-attractive shade of evil (in fairness while successfully trying to resurrect a destroyed warehouse and some of the people who worked there), and were trying to convince not to unleash a devastating plague upon the world, courtesy of the Black Orchid.
Alas they were unsuccessful and as the cliffhanger ended, we saw spiralling clouds of menacing black surging to all corners of the world carrying disease and mankind’s doom with it, and the team powerless to do anything about it.
Or … drum roll please … are they?
As this trailer shows all too well, they are going to give saving the world one more time a red hot go, even as they battle the effects of the disease and encounter, naturally enough, a host of obstacles that stand in the way of them achieving their goal.
It looks like an enormously exciting back half of the season, which debuts at 10pm on April 29 with the episode “The Living and the Dead” after the much-anticipated new series Defiance (part of syfy’s aptly-titled “Powerful Mondays”, and will also feature a mysterious historian Charlotte Dupres (Polly Walker) of Caprica fame, who plays dumb but appears to have more than little inside knowledge of the workings of Warehouse 13, as well as a new protege by the name of Abigail Cho (Kelly Hu, Scorpion King) for the mysterious Mrs Frederic (CCH Pounder).
My only complaint?
Waiting over two more months for more edge-of-your-seat action, wisecracks from Peter, technological wizardry from Claudia and brilliant insights from Myka.
I miss these guys.
I would seriously consider playing with time to get to the series return date sooner if it wouldn’t, you know, make me a world-destroying, disease-unleashing baddie.
Comedies are, by and large, notoriously hit-and-miss propositions.
You are either presented with a witty laugh-out-loud script, ripe with side-clutching comedic possibilities that is rendered mute and barely tolerable by actors who are unable to bring the words to life with sufficient verve or timing, or you have highly talented actors struggling to coax a giggle or two from lines that were clearly written by a committee of dour accountants who thought they were being funny.
Or, alas, sometimes, you have both.
Thankfully, Gayby is that happy coincidence of smart, fast-paced scripting with believable characters equipped with the sort of zingy one liners we all wish we could produce at a moment’s notice brought to hilarious life by actors who not only have a flair for comic timing, but can invest the necessary humanity into the roles too.
For great comedy, if it is to truly have any impact, must say something, however fleeting, about the human condition, and it is clear that writer and director Jonathan Lisecki, who also has a supporting role as one of the lead character’s best friend Nelson (and a handy way with “feminine bear” lines), knows this better than most.
Because while Gayby is hilarious, with witty observations and acerbic one liners flying so thick and fast that you’re still laughing hard when the next one is delivered ( which we all know effectively mandates a second viewing, or even a third), it also has great big helpings of warmth and humanity and a sense that these people really care about each other.
And that’s what marks out this comedy as one of the funniest, and insightful, I have seen in years.
Centring on the friendship of yoga instructor Jenn (Jenn Harris) and gay graphic novelist/comic bookstore worker Matt (Matthew Wilkas), who are close friends of long standing in real life which accounts for their familiar, rich chemistry on screen, the movie swiftly establishes, via a somewhat tetchy conversation between Jenn and her accomplished married well-off hairdresser sister Kelly (Anne Margaret Hollyman), that the single New Yorker’s biological clock is ticking loudly and that she thinks that Matt could be the one to silence it.
Fresh from a relationship breakup with Tom (Zach Schaffer), a rising light in the comic book publishing industry, who Matt does his best to avoid by changing shifts at the store (at least until he finally gets the courage to ask him to shop elsewhere), Matt readily agrees and he and Jenn embark on an awkward attempt to produce this much-longer for child.
The old-fashioned way.
While Matt is unfazed by the prospect of having sex with a woman – “I’m a man. We’ll put it in anything” – and Jenn pragmatically accepts it’s what needs to be done to get the desired result, the initial scenes of them in bed negotiating their way to a mode of sexual congress that suits them is priceless, and worth the price of admission alone (as is the later scenes involving a syringe, Matt’s “boys” and oddest gynaecological examination you’re likely to ever see in a movie anywhere).
Jenn Harris particularly has a gift for awkward physical and verbal comedy that she puts to devastatingly good effect in a number of scenes throughout the film including the aforementioned bedroom scenes, and a later attempt near the end of the movie to make up with Matt after the inevitable and mandatory rom-com-esque falling out that is given a fresh lease of life by Jenn and Matt’s perfect comic timing.
That they do go on to conceive a child is almost a foregone conclusion but the path to this happy and much-desired place is fraught with emotional missteps, sex with the wrong people (Jenn accidentally sleeps, while drunk, with her boss’s brother who is painting her apartment he “feels it”, in one of the funnier scenes of the film) , dating misadventures, advice from all manner of strong, well-crafted supporting players – chief among them Nelson, and Jenn’s gay best friend at work, Jamie played by Jack Ferver – who hold their own with the leads, a rare feat in this type of movie, and one gigantic hurtful reveal that threatens to imperil the future of Jenn and Matt’s BFF relationship.
But as you might expect, they come through this myriad of obstacles with friendship, witty one-liners and their sense of basic humanity thoroughly intact, and new loves found, and yes, live happily ever after.
What is most noteworthy about this movie, apart from its ability to prise a seemingly endless stream of laugh-out-loud moments from me (a rarity with most comedies), is that it doesn’t sacrifice first rate character development or believable narrative twists- and-turns on the altar of cheap and easy laughs.
It would be tempting to do so with this many whip-smart, wise-cracking characters all jostling for their moment in the comedic sun, but Jonathan Lisecki keeps his eyes firmly on the ball and draws the comedy firmly out of an engaging storyline and believable, flawed but ultimately quite likeable people, who you genuinely want to root for, as they do their best to navigate the intricacies of friendships and love in the 21st century.
At its core Gayby, while hilarious from start to finish, is that very rare beast – a comedy that leaves you laughing like a fool for hours afterwards while providing food for thought and nourishing your soul.
It’s timely reminder that comedy done well can be ever bit as enriching an experience as the finest Oscar-worthy, issues-laden drama.
There is little doubt (unless you are a member of the sceptics society in which case it’s pretty much all you have) that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the most gifted comedians on TV at the moment.
Her preternatural gift for delivering just the right inflection or facial expression just when it’s most needed was one of the many reasons people turned in to watch Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine.
And now it is back in full, glorious comedic flight in her Emmy Award-winning role as much-overlooked Vice President Selina Meyer – is there any other kind? – on Veep which returns to US screens with its biting political satire on Sunday April 14.
To remind us what we’ve missing – unless like me you have been repeatedly re-watching all the season 1 episodes just because you can – along comes this hilarious trailer from HBO which in a perfectly constructed one-minute mini-film encapsulates the desperately optimistic (and largely ill-founded) self-confidence that powers the woman occupying the supposedly most second-powerful position in the US, and the half-glass-full emptying deflation that accompanies any actual contact with real power.
Accompanied by a gutsy, amped-up song from The Sheepdogs, “The Way It Is”, which matches her brief moment of self-important hallway striding to a tee, this is one of those promos you will want to play over and over till you risk breaking YouTube (you can’t do that right? I mean, can you?).
Yes ma’am, Veep is back!
Will power prove any less elusive the second time around?
Jack the Giant Slayer, directed by X-men’s Brian Singer, is set to bring the fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk to the big screen in suitably epic fashion.
In keeping with the tendency of modern effects-laden blockbusters to modernise and amplify the original tale, Jack (played by Nicholas Hoult, About a Boy, Warm Bodies) is no longer just a boy who accientally plants a giant vine that takes him to the rarefied realms of a giant whom he must outwit in order to make his escape, taking many of the giant’s most treasured and valuable possessions with him.
Now, thrust into a land where an entire race of giants, dispossessed of their once terrible (in the truest sense of the word) rule of our realm, are set on reclaiming all that they lost centuries before, he is the rescuer of a plucky, more-than-capable princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), a slayer of giants (one of which, with two heads, is played by Bill Nighy and John Kassir) and, at a guess, the saviour of mankind who stands a fairly good chance of becoming a legend himself.
Not bad for a farmhand with a poor ability to handle commercial transactions, and let’s be honest, not much of a future in horticulture.
Admittedly he is helped along by a heroic band of the king’s regiment led by the dashing Elmont (Ewan McGregor) but brave and daring and accomplished though his deeds may be, he will still have to face the opposition of the king (Ian McShane) to his taking of the princess’s hand in marriage.
All this while the king contends with a dastardly plot to take his crown by his chief advisor, Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci), once again confirming that threats don’t just come from without; they often come, sadly, from within.
While all this narrative busyness could very easily result in a showy CGI-overwhelmed spectacle with little in the way or compelling characters or decent plot, the fact that Singer, who made the X-Men franchise a must-see viewing event thanks to his fastidious attention to these very elements, inspires confidence that this could be one movie that defies the trend of superficial show-pony blockbusters.
Here’s what Singer had to say about the movie in an interview with totalfilm.com in April 2011:
“It’s a very traditional fairytale, probably the most traditional thing I’ve ever done. But it’ll also be a fun twist on the notion of how these tales are told.
“Fairytales are often borne of socio-political commentary and translated into stories for children. But what if they were based on something that really happened?
“What if we look back at the story that inspired the story that you read to your kids? That’s kind of what this movie’s about.”
The movie opens in the US and Canada on 1 March this year with other countries to follow later in the same month.
And while that much-quoted truism is taken as a given in director Xavier Villaverde’s film El Sexo de Los Angeles (translated as The Sex of the Angels on the official Mardi Gras program or slightly less literally as Angels of Sex on the trailer), what is not regarded as a gospel truth is the form that this everlasting love will take.
At the start of the movie, university students Bruno (Llorenç González) and Carla (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), who have been together since they were 15 and remain deeply in love, are in a conventional relationship with very strong views on fidelity and the importance of forsaking all others to ensure the sanctity of the relationship is preserved.
So far so conventional, and at this juncture, neither party sees anything wrong with this arrangement.
After all, when you love someone that’s what you do right?
Indeed, Bruno when challenged at one point about whether he would consider straying from the conventions of monogamy, immediately rejects the notion, making it quite clear that if there are no limits on the relationship, and either party is free to sleep with whomever they like, then you cease to be a true partner and are “just another person”.
And then comes martial art instructor and talented breakdancer Rai (Alvaro Cervantes).
When he enters first Bruno’s and then Carla’s life, he turns all these well-honed, deeply-entrenched and rarely thought-out notions on their head so comprehensively that the couple is forced to re-assess, and quickly, what their relationship means to them and what they will or won’t do within its boundaries.
Rai, for his part, is a man who fears commitment and loves the theatre and spectacle of the chase – as his friend Maria (Julieta Morocco) observes knowingly at one point, he loses interest once the seduction is over – all of which he readily admits, is also shocked to discover that rather than wanting to run once things get too intimate for his liking (although run at one point he does till Bruno and Carla together race to retrieve him), that he wants to somehow, against all the odds, and all of society’s coupling norms, form an ongoing relationship with both of them.
Emotional confusion abounds on a grand scale, and while an element of farce begins to creep in at one point as Carla first kicks out Bruno when she discover his passionate affair with Rai then accepts him back then too falls into bed with Rai leading Bruno to push her away temporarily, it maintains for the most part a cold and steely eye on the upheaval these sort of events would cause to people who still subscribe to old-fashioned, and admittedly, still widely-held notions of love and fidelity.
In conversation after conversation, whether its between Carla and her mother Nuria (played by Lluïsa Castell, who remains with Carla’s philandering father partly because she fears loneliness but also because that’s what you do), Carla and her best friend Marta (Sonia Méndez) who struggles with finding a man who won’t cheat on her, or Carla and Bruno and Rai in various permutations, long-accepted notions of love and fidelity are brought up, played with, accepted, rejected and examined, almost for the first time, in excruciating detail as everyone struggles to find a way forward that they can live with.
It is every bit as emotionally fraught and tense as you would expect it to be (with a few almost throwaway comic moments courtesy of Bruno and Carla’s mutual friend and colleague Dani played by Marc Pociello), and all three of the main actors, plus the supporting cast, give finely tuned performances that tell a convincing tale of people at the forefront of social and sexual change, caught unawares by forces beyond their experience and almost at some points, beyond their control.
While the ending does dip its toes somewhat unsuccessfully into the waters of melodramatic Hollywood-esque race-to-get-to-your-one-true-love-before-they-leave-your-life-forever rom-com territory, you forgive this because the rest of the movie is such an expertly told, perfectly emotionally-calibrated and wonderfully acted story of what happens when life refuses to subscribe to accepted norms.
In our modern era when so many long-cherished and little-examined notions of love, fidelity and sexuality are being challenged across a wide variety of fronts, The Sex of the Angels is a timely reminder that we must be prepared to question everything or like Carla, Bruno and Rai, risk losing it all.
Not just because of the, you know, “alive” part of which very few negative things can be said (apart from the existence of Reality TV and the continuing prevalence of raw tomato in salads), but, and this is also important, the way technology has given creative people the world over the chance to do gob-smackingly-amazing things and to share it with the rest of us (for which we are eternally grateful).
One such insanely talented person is Phil Postma, an imaginative character designer and illustrator from Ottawa in Canada who among many other delightfully quirky projects has taken it upon himself to imagine what Kirk, Spock and the rest of the intrepid boldly going etc etc original Star Trek crew would look like if the good folk at Pixar got their hands on them.
The results are beyond impressive and I am also wishing that as well as this year’s Star Trek: Into Darkness, that I had a Pixar-inspired Star Trek movie hitting the cinemas too.
When he is done imagining Star Trek and yes Star Wars (also on his blog – check them out!) – clearly J. J. Abrams who’s about helm the new Star Wars sequels after two Star Trek movies took his cues from Phil – perhaps we can persuade him, Paramount and Pixar to join together in an awesomely creative alliance and bring this to our screens?
Or at the very least a website near you. (Yeah, yeah I know technically they all are.)
*Oh, and yes I know I used a Star Trek Next Generation catchphrase for an article on original Star Trek; it’s called poetic license and I am using it to justify everything!
In this week’s hilarious episode of The Big Bang Theory – no that isn’t being cocky; it will be and you know it – Sheldon comes ridiculously close to acting like a normal human being when he thanks Penny for her help the night before.
But at the last minute, just when he’s made Penny’s day, and she is walking (quote unexpectedly) on cloud nine, he veers away and it’s business-as-usual.
Which is pretty much what you’d expect to happen but it’s funny watching it play out.
As is Sheldon inability to resist giving into his OCD compulsions when he has to knock three times on the door – he weaves it not-so-subtlely into the conversation to Penny’s growing bemusement – after Penny opens the door just as he walks up to it.
Meanwhile Koothrapali, who only just recently looked to be on his way to love true love, or at least the Valentine’s Day party equivalent of it, has been left so traumatised by a date that he refuses to leave the apartment.
Here’s hope he recovers quickly from his broken heart, which no doubt will be played for all the laughs possible (with a little TLC thrown in too I hope, poor guy).
Hopefully love does beckon for the only single member of the group, and one where he doesn’t need alcohol to get through it.
The episode screens 8pm EST on Thursday 21 February 2013 (US time).
One of the many joys of the current golden age of television, which may or may not have ended depending on who you listen to – no prizes for guessing where I stand on the issue – is the insanely large variety of shows on offer.
On any given night, you can go from laugh-out-loud sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory or Suburgatory, switch across to an English period soap like Downton Abbey, zip back cross the channels to take in an imaginative and sci-fi show like Warehouse 13 or Haven before settling in to watch one vision of the apocalypse unfold in The Walking Dead before finishing up with a fantasy like Grimm or Once Upon a Time or a searing drama like House of Cards or The Americans.
Talk about spoilt for glorious choice.
It makes it kind of hard to think about sleeping right?
Of course I do (not nearly enough though as I burn the pop culture absorption candle at both ends; for the record, it bright, colourful and pixelated) but like last night the temptation is to keep watching TV till your eyes pop out – a very Fringe-like event if ever there was one but I digress – and mix up genres like nobody’s business.
And so I do with alacrity.
At the moment I am trying to watch episodes of shows as diverse as Once Upon a Time (season 2), Happy Endings (season 3), Ben and Kate (sigh … just the one season) and British show This is Jinsy , all snugly stored on my PVR, and season 5 of Fringe, season 2 of Suburgatory and Haven (season 3), all happily sitting there waiting to be viewed on my housemate’s PVR.
Of course that completely ignores the legion of shows on DVD sitting in my bulging-at-the-seams IKEA Benno shelving like all 3 season of In Treatment, seasons 2-4 of Parks and Recreation and all of Bored to Death, which I desperately want to watch if only sleep and the need to work for money didn’t keep getting in the way.
In an effort to make some headway on this enticing backlog – which is also bizarrely inducing a kind of Unwatched TV Anxiety Disorder which is sure to be entered into psychiatric journals the world over any day now – my housemate and I settled on an eclectic mix of two episodes of Fringe season 5 (“Five-Twenty-Ten” and “The Human Kind”) and two episodes of season 2 of the quirky sitcom Suburgatory (“Homecoming” and “The Witch of East Chatswin”), giving us a heady brew of two parts dystopian view of the future with two (very tanned and perky) parts quirky suburban satire.
Two very different shows but both excellent viewing, and both explorations of what it means to be human (although though clearly from very different perspectives), and somehow they both balanced each other perfectly.
Once we were done with our beloved Fringe team retrieving all manner of odd devices such as a giant industrial magnet and two Alien-like cylinders, and cringing as Peter (Joshua Jackson) cut an electronic bug out of the back of his lower brain stem with a knife at the urging of your wife Olivia (Anna Torv) to stop him becoming an emotion-less Observer, we merrily skipped across a host of files and watched Tessa, newly returned from a summer in New York with her maternal grandmother, and excited about the connections she might have with her absent mother, navigating once again the treachorous shoals of superficial, if well-meaning, suburbia, and dealing with a witch who turns out to be not a witch at all but a, um, feminist?
While I am aware there has always been a heady mix of genres down the history of television, there is something about the vast breadth of current choices and the creative risks taken by today’s TV producers that gives you the chance, every single night of the week if you want it, to mix-and-match high-quality eminently watchable diversely-themed shows to your heart’s content.
It truly is the Joy Eclectic of TV viewing and long may it last!
* What’s your weirdest mix of shows at one sitting? Do you prefer one genre per viewing stint or happy to be as eclectic as possible?