Eyes, it has been said, are the windows into the soul.
A wholly romantic notion, thought not one with some truth, that can be applied to a variety of other things in life … you know, say, TV and movie trailers perhaps.
Although they are less windows into a real or imagined soul, as great big loud technicolour billboards hawking their wares from a very visible “Look at me! Look at me!” hillside.
Done well though, they don’t give the entire narrative game away, tantalise with delights to come, and have us counting down the days till we watch the episodes one by one or in an almighty torrent (thank you Netflix and Hulu), tasty morsels of the main dish to come.
So maybe think of these trailers less as windows into a pop culture soul and more entrees to an appetising meal to come.
Speaking of which, I need pop corn …
Former Senator Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has accepted the call to serve as Vice President of the United States. The job is nothing like she imagined and everything she was warned about. Veep follows Meyer and her staff as they attempt to make their mark and leave a lasting legacy, without getting tripped up in the day-to-day political games that define Washington. (Written by HBO via imdb.com)
Based on the 2005 British TV series The Thick of It and the Academy Award nominated film In the Loop, Veep is a classic exploration of what happens when an ambitious individual dreams of wielding great power … and kind of, sort of but don’t quite get there.
They are frustratingly close to the real seat of power, in this case the President of the United States but in a largely ceremonial position with no real effective power, only some of the privileges and many of the onerous responsibilities.
Not quite what the power hungry doctor ordered; in fact often so far from it that you have to order if the doctor was even in the same state when the diagnosis was pronounced.
But Selina Meyer (played to perfection by a comedically on point and Emmy Award-winning Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her staff, including the gloriously funny Tony Hale (Arrested Development) as her personal aide Gary Walsh, refuse to concede defeat with a real chance in the show’s third season of seizing that hitherto elusive brass ring of real power.
Season two ended with the president (who was never seen, in the tradition of Maris from Frasier or Wolowitz’s mother in The Big Bang Theory) declining to hang around for a second term, leaving the door wide open for Meyer to step right through.
Of course even with that sort of straight forward opportunity, the road to the Oval Office won’t be an easy one, with Meyer wracked by doubts about whether she is “ruthless … enough“, and all manner of hilarious complications, and series creator Armando Iannucci’s trademark blistering oneliners, but one thing’s for sure – there’s no going back to the impotence of a second tier position:
“I’d rather be shot in the face than serve as vice president again. Seriously, in the fucking face”, says Meyers at one point in the 30 second teaser trailer (below).
Veep returns 6 April at 10.30pm on HBO.
*Here’s a wonderful review of Veep’s second season by Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker.
UPDATE 19/3/14. The full VEEP s3 trailer via tvovermind.com …
When a group of fanatical terrorists escapes their planned execution in the year 2077, they vault back in time to the year 2012, sweeping dedicated CPS Protector, Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) along with them. Stuck in the past and unable to get back to her husband and son, Kiera concentrates on bringing down the terrorists before they can wreak havoc in our present.
Kiera receives unexpected assistance from a teen tech genius Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen). Impersonating a member of local law enforcement, Kiera also forms an uneasy alliance with her detective partner Carlos Fonnegra (Victor H. Webster).
(synopsis via pogdesign.co.uk)
Continuum, a Canadian production created by Simon Barry, is one of those shows that though very smartly written – it makes fine use of its ambitious, highly creative premise unlike other sci-fi shows past and present such as Star Trek Voyager or Revolution – has gone up and down in terms of how compelling it is to watch.
While some episodes such as the series 2 finale “Second Time”, were imaginatively plotted and executed, leaving us hanging ever so desperately for resolution as all well-crafted cliffhangers should, others left you with a sense of “meh”, not the kind of outcome you want in a show with the future of the world at stake.
But the end of season 2 really shook things up considerably with all sorts of relationships and allegiance shaken up in spectacular fashion, and no one ending up by episode’s end quite where they began it.
And that my friends promises a world of dramatic possibilities which is enticing in any show but particularly so in one where decisions made, and courses followed, can have profoundly damaging effects down the line.
After all, Continuum is all about protecting a certain timeline, the one where Kiera gets home to hubby and son, but is that necessarily the one that is good for humanity as a whole?
In a less ambitious series, getting a family back together would be a reasonable goal, but Continuum, for all its occasional dips in engaging narrative, has never wanted to aim that low or simplistically and so the idea that what is good for Kiera is no longer good for the rest of us is enormously enticing and suggests a third season wrapped in all manner of deliciously dramatic ethical and existential dilemmas.
Continuum returns on Sunday 16 March on Showcase.
The lives of the men and women who work in an advertising agency in New York in the 1960s. The agency is enjoying success, but the advertising game becomes more competitive as the industry develops. The agency must adapt to ensure its survival. Don Draper is a talented ad executive at the top of his game, but the secrets from his past and his present threaten to topple his work and family life. (Written by Kad via imdb.com)
It is hard to believe that a series as epically engrossing as Mad Men could ever come to an end.
But like the 1960s themselves, which gave way to the far more cynical and disillusioned ’70s, Mad Men is about to shuffle off this mortal TV coil with the upcoming seventh season the end of the line for Don Draper and complexly drawn denizens of SC&P.
But what a way to go out!
When last we saw Don Draper, his world had come spectacularly apart in public, with both his personal and professional lives in (possibly temporary) tatters and things looked bleak indeed for the man who bestrode his life with the (publicly professed though privately troubled) certainty that he was bulletproof.
His state of being is intended to mirror that of the United States in 1968, says series creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner, which was facing some unique culturally disorienting challenges of its own as he explained to Vulture:
“My fascination has been about what hasn’t changed despite all those activities. I was trying to show that Don was very much aware of what was going on and, like everyone else in the culture, felt a sense of anxiety and instability and despair about the possibility of change and it being thwarted. Don’s facade has been punctured and the facade of the United States has been punctured. We had lost our confidence.”
It confirms that while Don and indeed the USA may recover from this shaking of confidence, life is unlikely to ever be the same again.
Quite how it plays out though will be an extended affair with AMC splitting the final season into two lots of seven episodes, exactly as it did with Breaking Bad, with the first half starting on Sunday 13 April 10/9C and the second half airing in the northren spring of 2015.
Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Political and sexual intrigue abound. The primary families are the Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon families. Robert Baratheon, King of Westeros, asks his old friend Eddard Stark to serve as his chief advisor. Eddard, suspecting that his predecessor had been murdered, accepts so that he can investigate further. It turns out more than one family is plotting to take the throne.
The Queen’s family, the Lannisters, may be hatching an incestuous plot to take control. Across the sea, the last surviving members of the previously deposed ruling family, the Targaryens, are also plotting a return to power. The conflict between these families and others, including the Greyjoys, the Tullys, the Arryns, and the Tyrells, leads to war. Meanwhile, in the north, an ancient evil awakens. Amidst war and the political confusion, a brotherhood of misfits, The Night’s Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and the horrors beyond. (synopsis via pogdesign.co.uk)
Based on George R. R. Martin’s sprawling series of richly detailed and extremely long novels, Game of Thrones is the embodiment of lust for power and the lengths that an array of disparate but similarly obsessed people will go to obtain it.
You know it, and the various noble families have done in the name of securing control of the kingdom of Westeros, a land which faces an inordinate number of challenges both from within and without.
It is show so complex that you almost need a spreadsheet to keep track of who is doing what to whom, which of course is the point of great power operas like this – the constantly changing positions of everyone on the chessboard of power is part of what makes watching the show so damn engrossing.
Quite who will triumph is the big question with season 3 ending with Joffrey Baratheon, who is as sadistic and merciless as they come, seemingly in the box seat to claim the Iron Throne.
But wait jostling out there in the field, in a world where a years-long winter beckons (and with it the return of the nightmarishly demonic White Walkers, is a veritable who’s who of Westeros with the deposed King Robb still in contention, along with Daenerys Targaryen and her growing dragon brood and Stannis Baratheon who, though weakened, still has fight in him.
They are but a few of the impressively large and determined cast of characters looking to make Westeros their own, and you can bet that like the three seasons before it, that season will be a gripping tale of power, love, loss and a whole lot of bloodletting.
Game of Thrones returns on 6 April in USA and on 7 April in Australia.
*Natalie Bochenski at smh.com.au has done a fine job of explaining and commenting on the many images in the trailer.
A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal – an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom – and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.” (synopsis via disney.wikia.com)
If the promotional imagery for this movie are anything to go by, Maleficent is going to be one hell of a movie.
Of course the Disney tendency is always to make things a little bit too twee and cosy in the final act, although that could be changing, but if they can curb this impulse as much as possible, Maleficent, with the archly magnificent Angelina Jolie in the lead role, should prove to be a gripping fantasy tale with all manner of subtext and meaning woven into it.
It follows an emerging trend of turning classic villains of old, broadly drawn and redolent with cliches, into more nuanced characters.
Done well, as it was with Wicked, it adds appealing layers of depth and meaning to the tales told, with the heavily shaded in grey villains far more complex, and thus far more terrifying for all their ambiguities, a more worthy foil for the pure hearted protagonists that inevitably give them their comeuppance.
Maleficent looks like it will add a great deal to the tale of Sleeping Beauty with its wholly original, differently perspectived take on the classic fairytale, a worthy inclusion in the world of post modern storytelling.
Maleficent opens in USA on 30 May 2014 and 19 June 2014 in Australia.