So I finally caught the Bomb Girls TV movie that serves as a series finale. At first I was a little miffed that it just glosses over most of the events in the second season’s cliffhanger to get everybody back to the status quo (Betty is out of jail! Gladys is back at the factory!) but slowly I got drawn into the story and really enjoyed it. Yeah, some of it is kind of far-fetched, but it’s fun. I’m not even annoyed with Gladys’ storyline as usual – mostly because her obnoxious love interest is [SPOILER] disposed of right at the beginning. I said “Oh thank God!” aloud at that scene. I can’t stand another minute of his faux British accent. The rest of the story is great too, and I only wish it was developed into a full season, because it definitely feels kinda rushed at times. Oh well. It’s a good wrap-up. Now, maybe I can move on to The Bletchley Circle or Call the Midwife. May Bletchley Circle first, that has only 7 episodes.
Why, Gladys, how very Agent Carter of you
OK, this is just spooky. I have reviewed 5 TV series on the blog so far – Pan Am, Bomb Girls, Black Mirror, The Hour, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. None of them has made it past the second season. Bomb Girls is getting a TV movie to wrap up the cliffhanger, Black Mirror is possibly coming back for a third season but even the creator doesn’t know when, and now it looks like Miss Fisher is not coming back either, because apparently it costs too much. But perhaps it is not so surprising after all. Four out of five of those series are period shows and Black Mirror is a sci-fi anthology, so they all cost a lot to make and the audience is not big. I mean, just take a look at Miss Fisher – they probably blow most of their budget on those fabulous costumes.
This post is, in fact, just an excuse to look at those costumes, because yeah, the second season is just as fun as the first, but let’s be honest here: I don’t watch it for the murder cases. I watch it for the costumes (mostly the hats. I love all of the hats.)
Just to be safe though, if I do want to review shows from now on, I should probably just stick to those that already got a few seasons under their belts – like Call the Midwife, which is on my to-watch list, but with Games of Throne and Mad Men coming back, it’ll have to wait.
I don’t have a book review this month because even though I did read two books, they’re by two of my go-to authors, Terry Pratchett and Bill Bryson (after A Children’s Book, I needed something more fun), so I don’t think my reviews would be interesting. Other than that I’ve been reading mostly short stories and Sandman comics, and none of those can provide an interesting review either, so here’s a review of a mini-series instead – “Death Comes to Pemberley”, based on the novel by P.D. James, which is a murder mystery sequel to Pride and Prejudice.
First, the story: it’s six years after Elizabeth and Darcy are married, and they are preparing for their annual ball when Lydia, who was not invited, arrives in hysterics, claiming Wickham has been murdered. The body they find, however, is that of Wickham’s friend Captain Denny, and Wickham himself is immediately arrested. What follows is an investigation that uncovers all sorts of secrets and threatens to tear Elizabeth and Darcy apart.
I really enjoyed this. It’s beautifully shot, the sets are gorgeous, the costumes pretty (it actually has some of the prettiest Regency costumes I’ve seen in post-2000 period dramas. I don’t understand how some of these recent adaptations can’t seem to get the Regency silhouette right. And don’t get me started on the costumes in the 2005 P&P, ugh.) I would like to see more of the “murder mystery” part, because it would’ve been super fun to watch Elizabeth and Darcy playing detective to save the reputation of Pemberley and ultimately, their marriage, but here the series mostly focuses on the drama part. I guess it’s a good choice though, because when the murder itself is resolved, it feels kind of anticlimactic.
Hard as it is to me to let go of my mental images of Elizabeth and Darcy from the 1995 P&P, I have to admit the cast is good too. Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys are no Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, obviously, but then again they don’t have to be – they are portraying these characters in a different period in their lives, and their Elizabeth/Darcy relationship is believable. Matthew Goode has a great balance between being charming and creepy, so he’s perfect as Wickham. Jenna Coleman (yep, Clara of Doctor Who) has a face that is too modern to be in a period piece, I think, but she brings some vulnerability to the character that makes Lydia a lot less annoying.
I haven’t read the book, though a quick glance at the reviews says it’s apparently not that great. Which is a shame, because I would totally recommend the mini-series, whether you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice or not.
The outfit is nothing to write home about, so here’s an impromptu TV review instead:
I had some unexpected free time this past weekend, which I spent watching the new Sleepy Hollow TV show. I love the Tim Burton movie, I like the writers, and the premise looks interesting. So far I’m enjoying it, but I think they make the mistake of overloading it with too much mythology so early in the series – to sum it up, the Headless Horseman is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Ichabod Crane is brought back from the dead to stop the end of the world. Which is all well and good, except it leaves the episodes weirdly uneven, and I often wonder what the “Monster of the Week” has to do with the bigger story arc. They should’ve taken a leaf out of Fringe (written by the same guys, Kurtzman & Orci) and presented it as an episodic show with an overarching mystery, and let us learn about the mythology as we go. Of course, that risks putting the show in the same trap that Fringe fell into, where it gets so wrapped up in the mythology and becomes way too convoluted.
The cast is good, though. Tom Mison, who plays Ichabod, is too pretty for my taste (mostly because I know him from Parade’s End, where he plays the quintessential pretty boy), but Nicole Beharie, who plays a Sleepy Hollow’s police officer unwittingly pulled into the fight to stop the Apocalypse, is awesome, and they have fantastic chemistry. Honestly the only regular character I don’t like is Ichabod’s wife Katrina, who’s not so much a character as a vessel for the writers to tell us what’s going on. Still, it’s only been three episodes, so I’ll keep watching.
Shirt & Jeans: Mango, Heels: Steve Madden (thrifted)
I’m waiting for Boardwalk Empire to come back (the premiere on HBO Asia is usually a month after the US premiere – gives them time to do subtitles), so in the meantime, I checked out another show set in the 1920’s – “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”. Based on a series of books, it revolves around Phryne Fisher, a lady detective in late 1920’s Melbourne. The pilot feels a little flat to me – despite the glamorous setting, it all feels a little too familiar, too reminiscent of other lady detectives like Miss Marple and Nancy Drew. But I keep watching anyway, and grew to like it. Most of the TV shows I watch now are serialized, and I’m happy to get back to an episodic show with just a simple seasonal arc that you can jump in at any moment. It’s light, and the characters are fun – the chemistry between Phryne and Inspector Robinson, her reluctant collaborator in many cases, is great, while Constable Collins (Inspector Robinson’s right-hand man) and Dot (Phryne’s right-hand woman) are so sweet together they give me a toothache every time they come on screen. Plus, the costumes are gorgeous (I want all of Phryne’s hats. I don’t care that I can’t wear them anywhere. I just want them.)
The second season just started earlier this month, and I’m crossing my fingers that it gets more than 2 seasons, because none of the shows I reviewed has – I’m still holding out hope forBlack Mirror, but there’s no news so far.
I spent the long Labor Day break last week catching up on season 2 of “Bomb Girls”. My verdict: I enjoyed it, though not as much as season 1. I think it’s more suitable for a 6-episode season instead of 12, because there are episodes in this season where I can definitely sense the writers scrambling for a storyline, while the continuity in other storylines is not carried through at all. Not to spoil it for anyone, but suffice to say there are a couple of big events at the beginning and the middle of this season, but by the end it’s like they’ve never happened at all.
Same with season 1, I still find Betty’s and Kate’s storylines much more interesting and think that they should be developed more, while rolling my eyes so hard at Gladys’ storyline. Not to mention that the guy playing her new love interest has the worst fake British accent I have ever heard. He sounds so annoying that I turned the sound off whenever he appears in a scene – it’s not like I’m that interested in Gladys to begin with. Still, it’s fun to watch in a nighttime soap opera kind of way, and the costumes are pretty.
The show won’t be renewed for a third season, which I would be OK with had it not ended on a cliffhanger (just like The Hours – crap, maybe I should stop reviewing all these new shows. Both new shows I reviewed didn’t make it past the second season!) Well, I’d live. But if you want to save the show, you can go here.
When I first found out about “Black Mirror“, I didn’t think it was for me. I mean, yes, it’s British, but there is nary a bonnet or hoop skirt or Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbone to be found in it, and on top of that, it’s an anthology show about our technology-obsessed world (think The Twilight Zone with Twitter.) But I decided to check it out anyway, because again, it’s British, and it looks effing insane.
Well, it is insane. Insanely good, that is. I’m not going to tell you anything about the plot, because it’s best that you go into it not knowing much, or anything at all. Each episode (there are two seasons and six episodes so far) is a standalone story, a standalone cast, a standalone world. Just as the title suggests, these stories are like twisted fables that reflect on the way we live, and show us the dark side of our current world. Much like a “black mirror”, really. And the brilliantly terrifying thing about these stories is that the technologies they present all seem too possible, like any minute now they can happen and soon we’ll find ourselves getting lost in them just like these characters. I feel the same way when I read Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, but I like “Black Mirror” even better because of its sick (in every sense of the word) twists, and of the unflinching, cynical way it looks at the world. I believe the human race is doomed anyway, so it’s the perfect show for me.
I don’t know why it’s not as well-known as it should be; perhaps audiences now are not so used to the anthology format anymore. Still, I urge you to check this out if you can. I’m emotionally exhausted after watching just one episode, but I keep coming back because it’s that good. I’m hoping there’s going to be a third season soon!