I’ve been in blog hibernation again – mostly not knowing what to do with this blog because generally I don’t seem to have much to say unless it is about theater. And right now I’m too busy making it to blog about it. It’s a good problem to have. Alas.
However, I do have some small bits to say about some things. So here are my initial reactions to some TV I’ve watched in the last month or so.
First and most relevant to this audience:
I binged Castlevania – if 100 or so minutes can be called a binge – yesterday as an afternoon interlude. I’d skimmed a few early reviews of it and kept an eye on Servetus’ very thorough posting of reactions, but didn’t have much of a preconceived notion about how well I’d like it. Turns out, I liked it quite well! It was entertaining and at moments even thoughtful about the need to fight corruption and blind self-interest in the world. The plot is pretty tight (it doesn’t try to get too fancy) and characters believable enough to buy into. One of the things I didn’t agree with some reviewers on was calling it “hyper-violent”. Maybe I’m desensitized to violence after so many seasons of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Maybe it is because it is animated and easier to not take so viscerally (so to speak). But I didn’t find myself squeamish at it. The thing that will keep me coming back for more, however, is how really well SPOKEN it is – from top to bottom. Armitage’s voice work is so flexible and nuanced in Castlevania, it was a pleasure to just close my eyes during a second viewing and listen. But his co-stars’ abilities to convey character without giving up nuance are also on display here. For Armitage fans, put this down as a must-listen if you’re partial to his audio work.
Available on Netflix US and other Netflix regions.
GLOW & Delicious
I watched these two back to back while on a long weekend stay-cation.
I binged GLOW and an entire pizza in one sitting that kept me up until 3 a.m. The show and the pizza took about 9 hours to finish. It was so thoroughly addicting but never felt oppressive the way some bingeable shows can be. Set in 1985 Los Angeles and focused on the sausage-grind that was getting a women’s wrestling show on TV, it has a lot of that fun sort of pop-rocks glam-fizz that we associate with LA at the time, but it is bolstered by a very intelligent approach. Mostly, it takes these nascent Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling characters seriously, even when they seem ridiculous to everyone else. I don’t think the series intends to be too deep at any given time – mostly it aims to be a fun watch – but it touches on some serious issues including friendships, identity, ambition, sex, racism, and obviously sexism, all through the lens of the women involved. Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin turn in terrific performances, but are really at their best when they’re working together (much like their fictional counterparts). Comic Marc Maron’s performance also deserves an honorable mention for handling his character’s arc with sensitivity. My only real complaint about the show is that it short-changes a few of the ensemble’s stories in the back half of the season. But all stories cannot be encompassed in one season. Here’s hoping for GLOW season 2!
GLOW is currently available on Netflix US.
Coming off of a super-satisfying late night binge for GLOW, Delicious didn’t have a chance at matching my “stuffed from a whole pizza” expectations. But since I knew that going in, I was happy to find that it was a satisfying, staple supper made from fine, local ingredients. Dawn French, Iain Glen, and Emilia Fox make up the triangle in this soapy family drama with a restaurant/hotel at the center of it. French and Glen are formerly married chefs and Fox is Glen’s now-wife of 20 years. Their lives are, of course, intertwined by kids and cooking and a bit of sex here and there. The storyline kept me engaged with a few twists – and one quite serious twist that they very elegantly got out of! (mostly) – and the performances are uniformly good. This is one of those series, however, where everyone’s personality is a little bit fucked up so there isn’t much of a moral center to grab onto until everyone gets their heads out of their asses. I watched because I do love me some Dawn French and I have to say that she plays dramatically flawed as well as she plays comically flawed. A second season is being prepped, and I’ll be looking for it.
Delicious is available in the US via Acorn TV or Amazon Prime’s Acorn TV subscription. Originally aired on Sky1 in the UK.
GLOW & Delicious Parallels – **SPOILERS** in this section for Glow and Delicious
Because I viewed the two series back-to-back I noticed a particular parallel between them. In both shows, one of the leading women sleeps with the other leading woman’s husband. (In Delicious, this infidelity is actually perpetrated by BOTH women.) While this may seem like an age-old stereotypical trope, in both cases it isn’t the final crisis of the story. . . it is the beginning. In both GLOW and Delicious, the leading women have to learn how to work together, trust and communicate with one another despite the infidelity and its fallout. That’s something I have actually seen women do in real life, but cannot recall a time when I’ve seen men do that in real life. I just found it interesting that both shows highlighted that sort of steely “do what must be done for the larger goal” thing among women. The stereotypes of women don’t typically support that narrative, so it was funny to see it in two shows in one weekend.
Will Shakespeare as a young, rock-and-roll mover and shaker in Elizabethan England. Very “modern-punk meets fantasy idea of Elizabethan era”. I’ve only watched the first episode of Will, and what can I say? Nothing. So I’ll quote a friend:
[Will is] A cross between “Shakespeare in Love”, “Game of Thrones” and “Knight’s Tale”, with the best parts of each left out.
Or, here is Frock Flicks’ ramblings on it, if you’re interested. (Frock Flicks is my favorite costume drama review site. Whether or not I agree with them, their POV is solid.)
Will is in early episodes in the US on TNT.