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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.237.146
Posted on Saturday, December 19, 2015 - 09:48 pm:   

Yesterday we finally picked up Season 4 of 'Game Of Thrones' (2014) after waiting with bated breath for several months following the shocking climax to Season 3. Anyone who is following the show (and sometimes it seems hardly anyone isn't) will know what I'm talking about and remember the traumatising effect it had when first watched. Talk about unpredictable! Talk about smacking the viewer in the face with their expectations!

'Game Of Thrones' deserves every accolade and all the public adoration it has garnered. It truly is the finest fantasy epic ever put on the screen - large or small. It even tops what Peter Jackson achieved with his Tolkien adaptations, imo. Stridently adult and unsentimental with truly cinematic production values and a narrative and emotional scope that staggers the imagination this show has moved the medium of television onto a whole new level. Yeah, I know I'm preaching to the converted but anyone who has yet to surrender to the phenomenon really doesn't know the journey they are missing.

We just watched the first episode and, if anything, it's getting even better!! Here we go again...
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.237.57
Posted on Sunday, December 20, 2015 - 01:39 pm:   

Now two episodes in - we're trying to string it out over the whole Christmas period - and the supernatural horror quotient of the show continues to rise. The suspense is almost unendurable!

Also looking out for the best deals on 'The Walking Dead' Season 5 and 'American Horror Story' Season 2, "Asylum", to get for Christmas. TWD remains my favourite TV show of the modern era. Heather's too. I love it so much that I rewatched all of the first three seasons on DVD with Heather, as she had never seen it, and I enjoyed it even more the second time round. From Season 4 all was new to both of us and the excitement, suspense and pure terror I felt for all those dearly loved characters, any of whom can and frequently do die at the drop of a hat in any episode, was the most intense experience I have ever had watching television - in all seriousness, I mean that!

"I can't wait to see their reaction when they find out..."

"Find out what?"

"That they've fucked with the wrong people."

Get in there...
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Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 120.21.46.103
Posted on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 10:44 pm:   

Stevie, have you seen 'True Detective', season 1?
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.71.76.214
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - 02:30 pm:   

Funny you should ask, Lincoln, but I just watched episode 1 the other night and absolutely loved it. The plot, so far, may appear overly familiar - shades of 'Seven' - but the presentation is thoroughly absorbing, with its flicking back and forward in time, and I thought Matthew McConaughey was brilliant (almost unrecognisable in his gaunt, scruffy inscrutability), as some kind of weird and seriously flawed outsider with a seemingly instinctive insight into the occult trappings of the murder. And the fact that this is a stand alone series with one self-contained mystery really appeals to me. Woody Harrelson (a favourite actor actor of mine) plays a great part too - kind of Watson to McConaughey's Holmes, it would seem.

My Christmas viewing this year has never been of a higher quality. Exceptional genre entertainment!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.71.76.214
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - 02:56 pm:   

Watched two episodes of 'Boardwalk Empire' last night with the missus and that's us almost finished Season 2. By God is that show violent at times. Some of the gangland murders are amongst the most vicious and downright cruel I have ever seen on screen. The show has the same appeal as 'The Godfather' movies, with its measured portrayal of the politics of organised crime, the huge cast of characters, labyrinthine moral complexity and explosions of shocking violence (and explicit sex!) that have one flinching from the screen. It's a bloody brilliant show!

I also picked up the complete run of 'The Sopranos' recently - all seven box sets for 20 in an Oxfam shop (I nearly shit myself!) - and we've decided to wait and watch it all only after we've finished 'Boardwalk Empire', as it will then work as a kind of chronological update of a sequel. Life is good!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.247.115
Posted on Friday, December 25, 2015 - 03:48 am:   

Just picked up Season 5 of 'The Walking Dead'!! Will be starting it tomorrow after a couple of months wait that has seemed like an eternity. It was a cracking cliffhanger!

Happy Christmas, everyone!!!!
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Friday, December 25, 2015 - 07:17 pm:   

Happy Christmas Stevie! Hope you got everything you wanted! And Happy Christmas everyone else still venturing in here... let's bring it back to life if we can....

(Part of that might be to fix the rift between certain members, but that's not for me to get involved in....)
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.221.204
Posted on Saturday, December 26, 2015 - 12:05 pm:   

I'll give it a go, Craig, but if we regular old timers keep plugging away I believe the site will take care of itself.

Watched the first two 'Walking Dead' episodes and the show just keeps getting stronger, more shocking in its level of horror and hopelessness and more emotionally affecting. That resolution to the big cliffhanger was one of the most satisfying sustained action, suspense and visceral horror sequences I can ever remember watching (there I go again, but it's the truth). Bloody awesome!!!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.71.76.214
Posted on Monday, December 28, 2015 - 01:55 pm:   

I can't say too much but they've really upped the ante in terms of pure viciousness in this season of 'The Walking Dead'. What makes the show great is the relentless way it keeps getting worse and worse (but better and better for us viewers) as every last vestige of humanity is stripped away from the survivors and civilisation becomes an ever more distant hazy memory. It's like 'Lord Of The Flies' on a global scale. Truly gut wrenching stuff!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.71.76.214
Posted on Monday, December 28, 2015 - 02:09 pm:   

Watched episode 2 of 'True Detective' last night and I'm now thoroughly hooked. An intense multi-layered character drama that I'm finding as absorbing as any great novel. The murder mystery is involving but almost plays second fiddle to the real mystery surrounding McConaughey's character and what on earth made him that way. His performance in this is mesmerising.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.71.76.214
Posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - 05:04 pm:   

'True Detective' - fucking brilliant!! Three episodes in and, after initial reticence due to the show's slow build pace, Heather is now as hooked as I am. The story is double barrelled - both a fascinating murder mystery and a deeply affecting character drama (acted with intense commitment by a superb cast) that shows the profound emotional effect such detective work has on the individual investigator and their loved ones back home. Woody Harrelson's oddly sympathetic yet odious character has now engaged my emotions as much as McConaughey's oddball outsider. This is storytelling of profound intelligence and insight into the conflicted vagaries of the human condition, when put under unimaginable stress. Absolutely superb drama!!!!
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - 05:31 pm:   

I saw ep one of True Detective and loved it, but got distracted (like always) and never finished it, Stevie... I gotta go back now and see it. I remember it also had something to do with R. W. Chambers and the "King in Yellow," right?
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.71.76.214
Posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - 06:04 pm:   

Yes, Craig. 'The King In Yellow' is mentioned in episode 2 and there has been a slow drip feeding of well researched occult details since the start. The serial killer is obviously a religious/satanic nut with an elaborate plan, ala 'Seven' (1995), but it's the human drama and interaction between the two mismatched central characters that is really driving the show. Well, that and the mystery of what has brought them back together in the present. Copycat killer or the work of a satanic cult?
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.236.137
Posted on Saturday, January 02, 2016 - 02:02 am:   

We just watched the "Better Call Saul" episode of Season 2 of 'Breaking Bad' (2009) and fell in love with the cocky sleazeball lawyer character, Saul Goodman, straight away. Hilarious!!

I've heard the show gets darker and more serious as it goes on but so far I'm finding it one of the funniest adult black comedies on TV of recent years. The interplay between the two leads, Walter & Jesse, is just so comical, frequently having me in stitches, but now, with the addition of this cheerfully immoral headcase the show is approaching the genius of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', imo. Funny enough the actor who plays Saul - Bob Odenkirk - also played the title character in one of my all time favourite 'Curb' episodes, "Porno Gil" (2000).
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Saturday, January 02, 2016 - 07:40 am:   

Stevie, by the end of the original run, it had reached Star Wars-like fervor and involvement here in the States, and I think you'll see why once you get there. It wasn't just watched, here, by then: it was experienced, it was lived. I have a theory, that "Bad" is a seminal event still not quite understood: it was such a raw emotional experience, that half (or more) of not only the now sheer interest in serial dramas (movies are dying, TV serials are thriving like never before); but also, the intensity of the dramas being produced - "Walking Dead," "Game of Thrones," etc.: the emotional wracking those shows thrive upon - is a direct result of "Bad." Is the interest real, for these other stories, or is it more seeking of the same high?... Probably the former: you yourself are greatly involved in those other shows, and are only now watching/experiencing "Bad." But if it weren't for "Bad"... I wonder where we'd be right now, in TV?...

I agree with you, too, the first couple of seasons at least, it was far more a dark black comedy, and the actors cast alone hints at such. But things change... for better, or worse....

I also believe, firmly, "Breaking Bad" will return. Maybe not this year, or the next... but it will return. Only Star Wars can compete with the anticipation of such a comeback, when that day finally arrives.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.221.125
Posted on Saturday, January 02, 2016 - 12:11 pm:   

I've experienced intense, tear inducing even, emotional involvement in epic TV serials before, Craig. But they tended to be British shows of the 70s-90s. I'm thinking the likes of; 'Colditz', 'Secret Army', 'I, Claudius', 'Survivors', 'Cracker' and 'Our Friends In The North', etc.

Modern American TV seems to have learned the lesson that, when it comes to drama, less is more and clear emotionally involving stories with a pre-planned beginning, middle and end, are what the public crave and respond most to. Sadly, British TV appears to have lost the plot on that score and gone backwards into populist drivel. Just compare, in the sci-fi field, something as emotionally engaging, intelligent and self-contained as the 5 Season 'Fringe' to the cack-handed, lowest common denominator, devoid of continuity, insult to the intelligence that is modern 'Doctor Who'.

What has happened, with shows like 'Breaking Bad', 'Boardwalk Empire', 'True Detective', 'Game Of Thrones', 'The Walking Dead', etc, is that American big money TV executives have discovered that quality pays. And where the money is the talent goes.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.221.214
Posted on Saturday, January 02, 2016 - 12:27 pm:   

At the end of the day it's all in the writing and commitment of the acting, Craig. America has the absolute best TV talent in the world these days. We are living through a second golden era of TV drama. The first era was centred in Britain and lasted about 25 years. This one seems, from all I'm picking up, to have started with 'The Sopranos', David Chase and HBO at the turn of the millennium.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.221.125
Posted on Saturday, January 02, 2016 - 12:41 pm:   

Only three episodes of 'True Detective' left and that's it over. That thought, and the resolution it promises, fills me with nothing but joy. An incredible achievement!! This is one show that will still be watched, debated and winning devotees in decades to come, imho.

Carcosa is a state of mind. It is the surrender of the soul and the spirit to the material world. It is the triumph of experiential certainty over philosophical enquiry and honest doubt. Carcosa is Hell made real. Shudder...
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Lincoln (Lincoln_brown)
Username: Lincoln_brown

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 120.21.14.172
Posted on Saturday, January 02, 2016 - 02:13 pm:   

"I've seen you in my dreams... You're in Carcosa now"
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.118.144.237
Posted on Saturday, January 02, 2016 - 05:06 pm:   

I only recently found out that Carcosa was the invention of that arch-cynic, Ambrose Bierce, author of 'The Devil's Dictionary', Lincoln. The concept was then made famous by Robert W. Chambers in 'The King In Yellow', which I read quite recently, and that deserves its reputation as a visionary work of macabre fiction. Those that embrace the pleasures of the flesh as their reason for living or who give in to the bitterness of pain, as their reason for giving up on life, exist in Carcosa. That's my reading of the concept. Thomas Ligotti is probably its greatest living literary standard bearer. Discuss lol.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Tuesday, January 05, 2016 - 06:07 am:   

Stevie, I haven't seen those older Brit TV shows, but funny, I always just grew up assuming the Brits did better TV. Mostly based on their miniseries, like the many Dickens adaptations, Masterpiece Theater and whatnot. We do seem to be in an era where they're steadily pumping out quality material in TV - it's reminiscent of movies in the years before TV really appeared on the scene, where you got huge output of films from Hollywood, most of it B-roll - including many serials, feature or otherwise (the Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto, etc., films are essentially what would today be TV series) - most of it of such high quality that it easily stands up today. Not so in the years that followed: so much standard audience pleasers from later decades are hardly tolerable (the 60s might be the worst decade for film, what with the exhausted genres and overblown studios epics; the execrable spy craze and swords-and-sandals could do nothing to fill the hole left by the death of noir & the Western; film genres that consistently displayed quality material even as fast as the Hollywood machine was producing them).

But I also feel we're here - 2016 will be the first year of this - we are on the verge of whole new forms of tech (My own theory is this: the cell phone craze has peaked with the Samsung 6 [the final worthy rival to the iPhone]; the market's saturated, everyone's obsession will abate, and they'll be looking beyond hand-held app boxes for ever more innovative and dazzling tech advancements; the manufacturers, always happy to milk existing markets to total depletion, have been waiting for this moment to finally move on from smart phone dominance, and will now usher forth these sparklies to the public). With advancements in tech, we'll get new forms of narrative entertainment, that will not explode existing forms, so much as compete. VR, more complex interactive narratives whether in game or dramatic presentations, maybe even some kind of hybrid of the written word and live-action (the platforms exist: just need content)... it's all bubbling on the back-burner.

Sadly, whenever a golden age dawns, like this one we have now with TV, it never seems to last very long....
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.245.90
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2016 - 02:50 am:   

Bloody hell!! I just heard there's a one-off six episode mini-series of 'THE X FILES' coming out in February!! I fecking love that show!! Thought I was dreaming when I saw the trailer.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.225.233
Posted on Friday, January 08, 2016 - 02:57 am:   

Just finished 'True Detective' and I'm fighting the urge to start watching it again from the start. It has that hypnotic pace, haunting ambiguity, wealth of incidental detail and thought provoking depth to it that I absolutely love in works of fiction and always find so compelling. This is a flawlessly written, directed and acted one-off epic the equal of any of the great works of cinema and with much of the richness of literature, imo. It is one of the best things I have ever watched on television.

The writer, Nic Pizzolatto, has created a work of genius and revealed himself, at one fell stroke, as a major new talent in weird fiction. I am seriously tempted to seek out his short story collection 'Between Here And The Yellow Sea' (2006) and first novel 'Galveston' (2010) after this! He cites Thomas Ligotti as a major influence and that fact is apparent in every unsettling moment of 'True Detective'.

The plot uses the conventions of the police procedural TV thriller format (so overly familiar these days) to tell a powerhouse gothic horror story, based on all too plausible fact, that hints at dark supernatural forces at work in the world today. I know the kind of cases that inspired this show because I've long been fascinated by them myself. My own research over the past 30 years has satisfied me of the existence of just the kind of spider web of organised Evil that this show reveals so convincingly.

I can still feel the hairs bristling on the back of my neck as I think of what the writer is hinting at. I know the road he has walked. My own trail led from Kincora to Haute de la Garenne and on to Untermyer Park, before revealing the truth of "Carcosa". Follow me if you dare.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.181.138.81
Posted on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - 07:14 pm:   

Clone Wars; one of the best tv shows I have ever seen. Last night it summed up all of Anakin's darkness and innocence and focus in one brief, hilarious moment. Absolutely perfect writing.
Also watching R L Stine's Haunting Hour, which is more fun than most horror movies.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.225.79
Posted on Monday, January 18, 2016 - 08:12 am:   

Just watched arguably the best choreographed, most exciting, unpredictable and gory as feck fight sequence I've ever seen! Episode 8, Season 4 of 'Game Of Thrones'. Absolutely sensational stuff! It was a duel to the death between two of the show's major characters that has been brewing for quite some time and was more than worth the wait. Real adrenaline rush all-action entertainment with one hell of an emotional pay-off. This show just gets better and better and better... phew!!!!
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.218.157
Posted on Monday, January 18, 2016 - 10:35 am:   

Hollander. The proper one. And for the record, the Walking Dead I watched last night was the best ever - even if the good guys have morphed into the bad guys.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.218.157
Posted on Monday, January 18, 2016 - 10:36 am:   

Wallander, spellchecker.
Oh, The Bridge is great, too.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.218.157
Posted on Monday, January 18, 2016 - 10:40 am:   

And the old Hulk series, which is sometimes lazy but so often wonderfully strange and moving. What a great character. And such a brilliant character archetype - the anonymous traveller, possibly in limbo. Anything can happen to him.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.155.218.157
Posted on Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 12:42 am:   

Well, The Revenant LOOKED great, sort of. But I found every one of its qualities to lie in the execution alone, the surface only. Not one moment resonated with me.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.148.11
Posted on Friday, January 22, 2016 - 09:39 pm:   

I find myself torn in two by GAME OF THRONES and TRUE DETECTIVE for the same reason. Both are technically and even artistically superb, but they are not giving us what I think we desperately need. They're bad medicine. They're giving us hopelessness and telling us that that's truth. Confusing bleakness with profundity. I do think, admirable in execution as they are, addictive as they are, they might actually be bad for us.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.148.2
Posted on Friday, January 22, 2016 - 10:25 pm:   

For those (like me) who once bought the lines that film is declining and we are in a golden age of television, try the Brett Easton Ellis podcast. In his opening monologues to the Tarrantino and Jim Rash episodes (and others), Ellis reminds us that film is just being neglected, not surpassed, and that it will always be capable of doing things that television cannot.

http://podcastone.com/Bret-Easton-Ellis-Podcast
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Saturday, January 23, 2016 - 01:40 am:   

Hey Protodroid! Welcome back! We're all "born again" newbies here as it is, I feel. I love to see the board coming back to life again with our old family.

Regarding your penultimate post above, and right to your point: coincidentally, I just recently read this wonderful quote - relayed by writer Mark Steyn, but from another writer, James Wood of the Guardian, who was twenty years ago critiquing Pulp Fiction. Regardless of what you think of Tarantino, that film, etc., I think this is a most telling analysis of "postmodernism"; even moreso, a stinging critique of so much of what passes for the arts & entertainment today:

Tarrantino represents the final triumph of postmodernism, which is to empty the artwork of all content, thus avoiding its capacity to do anything except hopelessly represent our agonies.... Only in this age could a writer as talented as Tarantino produce artworks so vacuous, so entirely stripped of any politics, metaphysics, or moral interest.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.148.19
Posted on Saturday, January 23, 2016 - 12:04 pm:   

Hi Craig,

It looks like we're getting the old band back together!

Nice quote. Yes, so many talented people are flapping about like fish on a sunny dock. Like the trickster character in mythology, postmodernism served a purpose: to shake up 20th century modernism. But the fool has been wearing the crown for too long now.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.148.19
Posted on Saturday, January 23, 2016 - 12:05 pm:   

I'm almost glad you've turned your back on the Hollywood idea. I don't know how anyone could remain an artist in the studio system today.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.132.129
Posted on Saturday, January 23, 2016 - 04:58 pm:   

Regarding Hollywood, check out the last question here and in particular John Williams answer.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ia-TF0Jed3Y
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.228.182
Posted on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 04:37 am:   

Hey! Proto!!!!

Please forgive me for my perpetual over-excitement but it's such a joy to hear from you again and know that you are well. I know you have health problems and have often thought about why you disappeared off here. Sorry for being so honest but that's just me. We have lost too many people off here for the wrong reasons to lose any good, intelligent and informed people for the wrong wrong reasons - if that makes any sens at all?

Anyway... I understand totally where you are coming from in your reticence to accept brilliant dramas like 'True Detective' ( a work of genuine literary genius that I hope has got you over your dislike of Mr McConaughey - hey, I'm family and can say what I want, so get used to it) and 'Game Of Thrones' (an emotional tour-de-force that refuses to allow any of its characters be but varying shades of grey - as in the real world) but I disagree entirely that such rich writing and acting can in any way be "bad for us". People, of a certain class, said the same about Charles Dickens in the Victorian era and they were dead wrong. Thanks to people like him "Class" no longer exists in any meaningful way in the Western World (a fact that modern day mediaevally minded purveyors of hatred and envy would deny) and thanks to the sort of popular, yet literate and intelligent, entertainers (as Dickens was) that are producing these kind of shows at the present moment in time (that pull no punches and tell it like it is) we can rest assured that humanity and decency will continue to spread through the power of powerful fiction!

But, given your own inability to stomach anything fictionally negative and unremittingly bleak (for all its flashes of light and hope), I cannot fail to advise you to avoid 'The Walking Dead' at all costs!!!! You don't want flawlessly presented bleakness... then shy away from that show.

But I bet people said the same thing about 'Lord Of The Flies' back in the 1950s. Before it became part of the school curriculum. Get me?

Welcome back my friend. It feels great to get all the old intellectual adversaries on side again. Keep well.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.228.182
Posted on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 04:56 am:   

And as for Craig giving up his "Hollywood dream" I can be neither positive nor negative about it. If the will to "succeed" in Hollywood was doing him damage then he's better off out of it. But if he has the talent to succeed (and he does) but Hollywood doesn't recognise it then I would advise him to seek success somewhere where it is appreciated. Craig owes nothing to anyone.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 5.81.153.38
Posted on Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 02:21 pm:   

Proto! Wow!
I could not get on with True Detective. It was slow in that 'bad' way slow can be, that I can't pinpoint, not slow in the 'good' way, which is sort of riveting - i.e. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfiBWJ5MuC4
Also...I just couldn't warm to it because it evoked no feelings in me, like the Ghost Story film or American Horror Story (among others), and the recent film of MacBeth which I saw yesterday and walked out of. In fact, MacBeth had the same sort of feel as The Revenenant, which I almost walked out of, too. Seriously, both those films were so uninvolving. What's funny is the same day I saw MacBeth I went to see this teen movie, The 5th Wave, and kind of enjoyed it more because it was just more engaging and dramatic (at least until the halfway mark). It had warmth and small touches that made you connect with it. I've come to believe a good story has more than a couple of notes to it, and both MacBeth and Revenant had maybe one between them.
I did try to watch Game of Thrones and while I admired it enormously I just didn't have the courage to watch it any further. Yes, courage. It upset me (same reason I switched off Funny Games), but not just that I also realise that people have to stand around nude in the show or feign sex and it sort of bothers me.
As an aside, I quite enjoyed Hateful Eight - it had more subtlety than Revenant, more craft than just pointing a camera at beauty and horror. Tarantino has a way of squeezing in small incident and nuance that makes you feel only you noticed it, and his post modern touches feel almost cosmically magical to me, make me feel we are time travelling. I find it quite elating, and while it might not be meaningful it gives us the kind of experience you only get with dreaming, a whole new view of the world.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 5.81.153.38
Posted on Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 03:07 pm:   

As for Walking Dead, I still claim it is good AND bad. But for the record, the last one I watched, last week, might have been the best episode yet, and certainly better than most recent films I've seen. In fact, it was incredible.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 176.12.107.139
Posted on Friday, January 29, 2016 - 01:12 pm:   

Hi Stevie,

Actually, True Detective did get my over my dislike for Matthew McC (he was undeniably good in it), but he's still in the red for 15 years or so of awful rom-coms.

I don't think TD and GoT show are "telling it like it is" because I don't think that that IS how it is. The world of GoT is utterly without wisdom. The world of TD is utterly without meaning. I don't think that either of those are a accurate or balanced reflection of the real world. Now of course it's fine for an individual piece of art to make a world that's inflected in one direction or another, but in a larger context modernism, optimism and emotional and intellectual intelligence are massively under-represented in art today. And I think it's actually damaging humanity. Nihilism can be useful to remove dead skin cells, but now I feel its relentless application to our collective psyche is corroding core values. In my opinion all of those comments also apply The Walking Dead, with the further problem that I feel it's a very poorly written and acted programme.

The things that are clogging up the mulitplexes today aren't even "films" as recognise them. But sometimes I do see something new that I like. INSIDE OUT and it gave me great hope that very complex and abstract ideas could be transmitted to a large audience in a popular format.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.132.189
Posted on Friday, January 29, 2016 - 05:54 pm:   

So many typos! I'm really out of practice.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Saturday, January 30, 2016 - 05:33 am:   

I do like Williams' final answer, Proto, re: the industry and individual talent. He speaks truth. So many are certainly not going to "design space ships or be Senators." If everyone wins the lottery, as Bruce Almighty teaches us, it's not worth very much.

For me personally, Stevie, "giving up the Hollywood dream" makes it much more monumental and grandiose than warrants my journey! Over a long and gradual period of erosion, there was "one day" (metaphor) where suddenly I realized: I didn't care anymore to create for it - I hope it's not sour grapes, but who can say? One cannot distinguish significant factors in that long gradual erosion, but there is one point of loss of faith that was pretty big. The biggest contest in screenwriting is the Nicholl Fellowship. Well, I read two of the winning scripts from, I think it was three years ago... they were significantly, I daresay empirically, TERRIBLE. So bad, so terribly bad, that I thought: there are no standards, there are no rules, no factors, no measuring rods. There is only chaos. How can one strive to improve in a system of chaos? It must then be random, advancement. Further erosion.

But enough about me.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Saturday, January 30, 2016 - 05:46 am:   

I feel like I have a fellow-traveller in Proto. I can't in honesty judge these shows - GoT (though I saw the pilot), TWD, TD, etc. - but something keeps keeping me away from them. I'll just say I think I get more from reading, which I enjoy so much more lately, like returning to my earliest reading days.

Proto, the other day I was turning the channels, and serendipitously stumbled across Robert Altman's Popeye as it was just starting. I sat through it again, and again marvelled at the genius, whimsy, beauty of that film. A film wherein all the characters are constantly in movement: comically slip-sliding, hitting the ground and bouncing back upright, like everyone's made of liquid. It's over and I'm turning the channels and see a commercial for this new animated gigantic budget sequel-sequel, Kung Fu Panda 3. Just the commercials, in direct comparison: it looked programmed to lifelessness. About as entertaining as watching a calculator run equations. I am in agreement with you, Proto, the collective psyche is being dulled and deadened. It's the decadent, spectacle phase: all lessons have been learned, stories told, characters analyzed - nothing left but to spectate. At least, often, it feels like that.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.45.176.126
Posted on Saturday, January 30, 2016 - 03:57 pm:   

Hi Craig,

About Popeye... I haven't seen that one, but I am now looking forward to it. I am finding that the films I'm enjoying the most are from the '70s and '80s. I think there was a sweet spot there. Films were beginning to be more audience-friendly but even relatively low-brow fare usually assumed some intelligence in the audience, assumed that an audience could handle being gently challenged.

There are so many films I missed from the '70s and '80s and they're a treasure trove! In contrast, the '90s seem to be a decade when (with just a few exceptions) things curdled.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.150.87
Posted on Saturday, January 30, 2016 - 09:47 pm:   

Jesus, I just re-read your post and something in it strengthened what I said in my previous post: "Robert Altman's Popeye". Huge talent was brought to bear on everything back then. Remember David Lynch was asked to direct Return of the Jedi?

What did the Hollywood dream mean to you, Craig? If it's just about writing and making films, that's obviously never been easier to do. It's obviously now a very soft market, and I think that as long as people are still watching films it'll remain that way forever now. But we can find new ways of doing what we wanted to do all along.

"I am in agreement with you, Proto, the collective psyche is being dulled and deadened. It's the decadent, spectacle phase: all lessons have been learned, stories told, characters analyzed - nothing left but to spectate. At least, often, it feels like that."

Oh Craig, but there's such a yearning in people for truth and genuine inspiration, even if they're not conscious of it. I'm reminded of the society in "Fahrenheit 451": all flowers and fireworks, their feet have lost contact with the earth. When people are presented with truth and genuine connection in a language they can understand, they'll drink hungrily from it. That's what's so exciting: a wasteland is actually a huge, thrilling blank canvas! Someone said that after talking to Orson Welles she felt like a plant that had bee watered. THAT'S the feeling your work can give people, now more than ever.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.224.149
Posted on Sunday, January 31, 2016 - 06:25 am:   

For me 'True Detective' fulfills all the criteria of great Art. The story is about a man, McConaughey, who has given up on life due to the pain and terrible loss he has suffered. He exists in Carcosa every bit as much as the pleasure seeking sexual predators and killers he is driven to hunt. A couple of them explicitly acknowledge him as a soul brother during the investigation - something he fails to understand until it is almost too late. But the journey he takes ultimately redeems him and pulls his soul back from that terrible place in the intensely moving final episode. Remember the inexplicable "thing" he glimpsed in the killer's lair? That was the howling void at the centre of nihilism. Now remember the man's barely articulate attempts to explain his resurgence of "hope" to Woody Harrelson in the grounds of the hospital? I found that sequence to be one of the most meaningfully life affirming expressions of redemption and hard won self forgiveness that I have ever experienced in a filmed drama. It wasn't just great television, imo. It was great literature. And the message I got from it was one of profound hope.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.132.152
Posted on Sunday, January 31, 2016 - 04:33 pm:   

Hi Stevie,

(True Detective spoilers ahead.)

If the intention of the programme was to show that there is goodness in the darkness, then for me, it didn't succeed. The programme portrayed existence as futile (to misquote the Borg) and humanity as pestilent for 99.9% of its run. For me, that isn't counteracted by the further message that the only possible source of justice is through extra-judicial murder. For me, that isn't a bright star in the sky, it's just another dead one, a further defeat. Because of this, I felt that the "happy" ending was trite and disingenuous rather than earned.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.132.214.54
Posted on Sunday, January 31, 2016 - 08:28 pm:   

I wouldn't describe the ending as "happy", Proto, but rather redemptive and overwhelmingly poignant. Those two guys were still going to have to live the rest of their lives haunted with regret at the bad life choices they made and all the wasted years of being poisoned by the darkness their work brought them into contact with. They achieved a minor victory but at terrible cost and with the knowledge that all their efforts amounted to little more than chipping at the base of a mountain.

Is that apparent futility any reason for good people to do nothing in the presence of Evil? To give in to indifference? This show answered with a resounding NO.

It would be a lovely world if morality were black and white. It isn't. All there is is varying shades of grey. Our souls darken or lighten in hue according to our own decisions and our reactions to life's disappointments and injustices. McConaughey's character was dragged kicking and screaming to that realisation and found himself overwhelmed and humbled by his own misguided certainty. Remember the beer can speech, when he outlined his utterly bleak philosophy? The man was forced to see just how illogical and downright stupid his former worldview was (a view he shared with all the inhabitants of Carcosa). He discovered honest doubt and, with it, hope. That's how I read the story. But, in truth, the show was so brilliantly written and tantalisingly ambiguous that it demands many repeated viewings and a whole volume of theorising. It was a wonderful work of art, imho.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.132.144
Posted on Wednesday, February 03, 2016 - 07:32 pm:   

Hi Stevie,

I shouldn't have used the words "happy ending". TD was clearly never going to attempt to have one of those. But I didn't find it redemptive either. I still admire it from a distance as a well-crafted piece, though. (I trust you're not inferring from my comments that I want only simple black and white morality in art?)

The problem with the piece is in the wider context. It might be a fine bottle of whisk(e)y, but if we look around our house and it's littered with other empty bottles, we might legitimately stert to think about our diet and wonder whether it's a healthy one.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 5.81.136.109
Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2016 - 11:29 am:   

Bates Motel series 3. Wonderful.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.148.27
Posted on Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 06:41 pm:   

I went through the first two series and thought they were good in places, but always had sub-stories that were acting as ballast. The two main leads are excellent and Norma is a complicated, layered character. Does it pick up after series 2?

I've started season 3 of HANNIBAL and so far it's much better than the previous two. It's programme I find similarly frustrating. For every good thing in it, there's something irritating. It's a little like the title character: clever, impeccably dressed, but hollow. I'm not sure what it means for the new Star Trek series if this is the producer. It's also quite the goriest television programme I've ever seen.

I'm on Season 5 of JUSTIFIED which has maintained a wonderful level of quality. I'll be sorry to see it finish in its sixth season...

... much as I was sorry to finish the sixth and probably final season of COMMUNITY, a hugely inventive, funny and loveable programme. It keep having fun with television format conventions right to the end when the character discuss what would happen in the 7th season if they were in a TV show.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.117.197.80
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2016 - 02:05 am:   

Just discovered Breaking Bad and am getting seriously addicted to the show. Also, I'm falling in love with Betsy Brandt, the actress who plays Marie, Skyler's sister)
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.150.36.142
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2016 - 06:14 pm:   

Proto, it gets much better. I was sad to find myself losing interest during series 2, but then found 3 more than restoring it.

I LOVED Breaking Bad.
Current favourite is The Bridge. Such living, breathing characters. I love them like people.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.148.16
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 12:36 am:   

Okay, I'll check it out. I wonder if the drug gang subplot in BATES MOTEL was forced in there by someone who was trying to copy BREAKING BAD. It really doesn't fit with the story at all.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.150.36.142
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 10:11 am:   

I think so. Quite amusingly all the drugs get burned to nothing in episode one, with no drama. But the characters (I think all of them are my favourite whenever each is onscreen) really take off. I've not reached the end yet and sort of don't want to. I don't want to go where I know it has to. Norma is so refreshing, so weak but TRYING to be strong. I kind of love her.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.171
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 06:33 pm:   

We're onto the final season of 'Boardwalk Empire' (2010-14) and have just six episodes left. I can't begin to describe how great the show is. Telling the story of the birth of Atlantic City, from the 1880s to the 1930s, and specifically the growth of the Mafia during the Prohibition years, with all the historical characters portrayed as vividly and accurately as I have ever seen (Capone, Rothstein, Luciano, Lansky, Hoover, Ness, etc...) this is truly epic television to rank alongside any of the great series mentioned above. The use of flashbacks and perfectly cast lookalike child actors along with marvellous ageing effects is particularly well done and adds immeasurably to the overall poignancy of the story. I am really, really going to miss this show when it's over. Steve Buscemi, as the linking character, Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson, gives easily the greatest performance of his monumental career, imho.

And we have all seven box sets of the companion series 'The Sopranos' (1999-2007) lined up to follow it!! Neither of us has seen any of it before!!!!
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 66.249.81.162
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 07:22 pm:   

Even when Norma does awful things, you can still see the wounded scared child in there.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.150.36.142
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 07:48 pm:   

Her best moments are in 3. Heartbreaking and uplifting.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.117.197.80
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 09:15 pm:   

Aah, The Sopranos, another guilty pleasure. I don't like the ending, but with a cast that includes actors from Goodfellas, Casino and The Godfather (not to mention a number of great cameos) nothing much goes wrong. My motto for this show would be: wack before you get wacked.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.171
Posted on Friday, April 22, 2016 - 11:02 am:   

Just picked up Season 1 of 'Fear The Walking Dead' and starting it tonight. I didn't realise it begins with a 90 minute film telling of the origin of the zombie apocalypse (all the stuff Rick missed while lying in a coma). Heard great things about this show and it'll ease the withdrawal symptoms while I wait for Season 6 of TWD. It really is the best thing on television, imho.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.171
Posted on Friday, April 22, 2016 - 11:12 am:   

Approaching the end of 'Boardwalk Empire' and I have real mixed feelings about the fate of Nucky Thompson. The character is a monster (the ultimate cold blooded pragmatist)... and yet, one can't help feeling for him and hoping it doesn't end too badly. One only gets this level of emotional attachment in these kind of epic TV series. It is their great strength.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.171
Posted on Friday, April 22, 2016 - 11:17 am:   

And we're about to start Season 4 of 'Breaking Bad' after a couple of months waiting for the resolution to that gobsmacking moral dilemma of a cliffhanger. Fantastic stuff!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.171
Posted on Friday, April 22, 2016 - 11:28 am:   

As 'The Walking Dead' has always made inspired use of flashbacks I'm thinking of FTWD as a whole flashback series that will fill in a lot of the mystery about the rise of the zombies. The possibilities for the scriptwriters to have fun with the characters is endless. How I envy them...
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.46.129.45
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - 11:42 pm:   

A Panasonic.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.35.250.4
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 03:38 pm:   

Bates Motel series two, getting more painful as it nears its end. And good news;
http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/bates-motel-renewed-season-4-ae-1201517941/
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.35.250.4
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 03:40 pm:   

And Fear the Walking Dead, which is also improving. Nice to see the outbreak begin. It's quite nightmarish.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.9
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 03:47 am:   

Recently finished 'Boardwalk Empire' - emotionally devastating, God but I miss it - and 'Fear The Walking Dead' - far, far better than I could ever have hoped or expected, I thought it was fantastic.

Also finally discovered the sublime hilarity of 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace' (2004). In my opinion this is one of the laugh out loud funniest horror spoofs of recent times. A deadly accurate and pant wettingly silly homage to all things pulp horror. Was so impressed I ordered the follow up series, 'Man To Man With Dean Learner' (2006), and starting it tonight. Since the turn of the millennium we've had an embarrassment of riches in the horror comedy field and this one is right up there with 'The League Of Gentlemen', 'Jam', 'Nighty Night', 'Psychoville', 'Inside No 9', etc. For my money the funniest episode was "Skipper The Eyechild" but all six are just brilliant. I can't believe it took me till now to discover it.

Also halfway through Season 1 of 'The Sopranos' and it's as brilliant as I expected it to be. But what I am really surprised at is just how bloody funny the show is! No one told me about the pitch black gallows humour. It's exceptionally addictive TV with all the appeal of a high class soap opera from hell. Wonderful!!

And halfway through Season 4 of 'Breaking Bad' with the tension and suspense levels reaching near critical mass. The humour is still there but by Christ are these characters taking a kicking. The intelligence and creativity evident in every shot has clearly set some new kind of bar for TV drama that places it at least on an equal footing with the most artistic of achievements in cinema. A thing of rare beauty.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.9
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 04:13 am:   

Another great horror comedy (sort of) we're completely hooked on and two thirds through is 'American Horror Story : Asylum'. Yes, we finally started it. Completely bonkers. This is one show you just have to switch off your critical faculties and go along with for the ride. It's not straight horror. It's not straight comedy. It's not straight drama or even soap opera. It has elements of all of those (mainly horror) but is something entirely new and may just be a work of game changing genius. The brains behind the show, its sheer technical artistry and the quality of the performances and production values are simply superb - cinematic quality really. I love it and I'm hopelessly addicted but I don't know why!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.9
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 04:28 am:   

Just picked up the three surviving episodes of the BBC's horror anthology series 'Dead Of Night' from 1972: "The Exorcism", "Return Flight" and "A Woman Sobbing".

I have never forgotten seeing "A Woman Sobbing" at the time, as a 7 year old, and having the wits creeped out of me. I believe a babysitter allowed me to sit up and watch it. Really excited at the thought of seeing it again with Heather. In my memory it ranks up there with the M.R. James 'Ghost Stories For Christmas', Nigel Kneale's "The Stone Tape", the Pertwee era 'Doctor Who' or Ray Harryhausen's lumbering Talos as one of the most scarifying and defining viewing experiences of my life.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.142.128.168
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 01:22 pm:   

Exorcism is even better. A tv masterpiece.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 178.117.197.80
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 05:39 pm:   

Breaking Bad is exceptionally good. It has very dark moments and the photography is outstanding. My favourite character must be Mike Ehrmantraut, the 'regulator', but I also grew quite fond of po-faced supervilain Gus Fring. I fell in love with Betsy Brandt . . . A pity she's nearly absent from some of the later episodes.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.142.128.168
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 06:37 pm:   

The ending was one of the most life-affirming things I've ever seen. A masterpiece of a series.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.233.148.7
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 09:49 pm:   

Someone once described Mike as a jaded nosferatu.


I found American Ghost Story (Asylum) to be an almost unbearable catalogue of degradation and cruelty. I was gripped by it, but I can't say I liked it. Maybe I don't like horror any more.

I'm rediscovering, and in some cases discovering for the first time, older films on blu ray. The last couple were Michael Mann's THIEF, which is a better version of DRIVE. It's superb.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.9
Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 02:47 pm:   

I completely agree, Proto. Mann's 'Thief' (1981) is one of his and James Caan's very best films and vastly superior to 'Drive' (2011) - which I really didn't like at all. There's something I just can't warm to about the films of Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling. They strike me as average talents of whom certain critics are trying to convince us they are something special. I just don't see it. Refn is all style and no substance while Gosling, for me, lacks screen presence. The new Steve McQueen my arse!
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.142.128.168
Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 12:31 am:   

On the latest series of Walking Dead, and finally for me it achieves the all-time great stature it's been striving for.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.9
Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 02:00 am:   

Just watched 'The Exorcism', Tony. I'd never seen it before and you are so right - it's a stone cold masterpiece. One of the most hair-raisingly effective haunted house ghost stories ever made. Don Taylor's powerfully literate script deserves to be ranked along with any of the great works of supernatural fiction. And the cast were just superb, not so much acting as becoming the characters. They transported me into that awful house and their terrifying predicament in a way only the low key naturalistic style of classic 70s BBC drama can do. No flashy camerawork, no distracting music cueing the scares, just four people acting out of their skins with a script to die for. Absolutely superb. If I had seen this as a child it would have traumatised me for life ffs!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.9
Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 05:19 am:   

I'm going to concentrate for the next while on collecting all the great old horror TV shows. The 1970s was an absolute golden era of top quality drama on television, especially from the BBC, and there is so much of it I've never seen.

When I compare something like 'The Exorcism' to anything horror being made today, in TV or cinema, the difference in approach is stark. It was all about the story, the strength of the script and the acting and treating the material as seriously and atmospherically as possible in those days. The intent was to unsettle the audience rather than to gross them out. As much as I love the epic storytelling and character development of 'The Walking Dead' and can't help but be entertained by the OTT histrionics of 'American Horror Story' neither of them have scared me the way those old BBC ghost stories did and do. That is television drama at its absolute pinnacle, imho.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 94.10.34.9
Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 11:16 am:   

Heather was "disappointed" that there was no actual exorcism in 'The Exorcism' until I suggested that it was the ghost exorcising her house of unwelcome tenants, who could be seen to be dancing in blissful ignorance on her and her children's graves. The message of the play was that someone must pay for the monstrous social injustices of the past. The bitter restless souls of the had nots getting their self-righteous revenge on the haves. If human nature were capable of surviving death without learning anything from what follows then just such terrifyingly vindictive hauntings - and this one was remorseless in its sheer viciousness - would be the inevitable result. I remain chilled to the bone this morning after a night of unquiet sleep. Surely that is the ultimate the horror genre can aspire to.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.142.128.168
Posted on Tuesday, June 07, 2016 - 10:13 am:   

Just watched a great little film called The Gift. I'm not sure it's horror but my, it is tense and scary. Great seeing a thriller in which no-one dies, too, and you are nervous of someone you empathise with - strange such a tense film has so little violence, such a rare thing. It struck me how heavy handed and lazy horror films have become (not the first time we've said this), and it only seemed to become formulaic if you let it, if that can possibly be....
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 90.214.168.17
Posted on Monday, June 20, 2016 - 03:08 pm:   

We finished 'American Horror Story : Asylum' and I'm completely won over to the show's greatness now - after initially bemused reservations. The way they tied everything up in the last few episodes was perfection itself and I even found myself rather moved by the ending. It's wilfully unrestrained madness from start to finish but fabulously entertaining and I found it impossible not to warm to. I mean; masked slasher, diabolic possession, mad Nazi scientist creating monstrous freaks, alien abduction, evil Santa, etc - all under the one roof!! On paper this show shouldn't work at all... but somehow it does.

On to 'Season 3 : Coven' now! Here's hoping they can keep the alchemy working.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 90.214.168.17
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 04:32 am:   

Nearing the end of Season 4 of 'Breaking Bad' - which gets more superb with every new plot twist.

Also been rewatching 'The Mighty Boosh' and fallen in love with its inspired silliness all over again - halfway through Series 2. For me it belongs alongside the likes of 'The League Of Gentlemen', 'Jam', 'Nighty Night', etc, as part of the Monty Python inspired post-millennial resurgence of dark horror influenced surreal comedy TV.

Hoping to pick up Season 5 of 'Game Of Thrones' in the very near future and can't wait to get back into its labyrinthine plot convolutions. Also desperately missing 'The Walking Dead' and wondering when the hell Season 6 will be released on DVD?!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 90.214.168.17
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 09:14 pm:   

Watched the second of the BBCs 'Dead Of Night' plays - "Return Flight" (1972), directed by Rodney Bennett and written by Robert Holmes (of many of the best 'Doctor Who' stories fame). While it isn't nearly as effective as "The Exorcism" I still found it a quietly unsettling and brilliantly acted little ghost story. An experienced commercial airline pilot faces psychological scrutiny after reporting a near miss with a World War II bomber that only he believes he saw and that failed to show up on radar. His case is complicated by the recent death of his wife and the belief that he returned to work too soon - as well as thinly disguised feelings of inferiority he experiences having been of an age to have just missed the War, while many of his superiors are ex-RAF men who "did their bit for King and country". This slow burning character study morphs into something more sinister when he is eventually allowed to fly again but his first return flight from Germany to Blighty descends into a series of frighteningly real hallucinations that he stubbornly keeps from the rest of the crew while trying to fly the plane virtually blind. There is a disturbingly bleak twist ending that I won't spoil here but let it be said that Peter Barkworth's performance as the haunted and quite possibly mad pilot is a masterclass in understated escalating desperation. In the end it is his own crew's typically British stiff-upper-lip deferment to his superiority that damns them all - blissfully unaware passengers included. I liked this one a lot and it certainly lingers in the mind.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 90.214.168.17
Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 09:29 pm:   

And two episodes into 'Coven' we're hooked again (Heather adores this show) and I believe, with the New Orleans setting and presence of Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett, along with the increasingly impressive Jessica Lange, this one is already shaping up to be the best series yet. Fabulously deranged, funny and positively Clive Barkerish in its originality, imho.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2016 - 05:35 pm:   

Stevie, "AHS: Asylum" was my favorite by far. "Coven" is great, but a tad lesser-than; I really wanted to love "Circus," but sadly, it falls apart completely; I haven't seen "Hotel," I lost access to the channel before it showed. I heard mixed reviews about it. I wonder if it will ever achieve the heights of "Asylum" again....

You must watch "Penny Dreadful." Easy to get through: they've only just about run through season 3, and season 1 is a short one - just six hour-long episodes, mostly a set-up (I found) for all to come. But masterful! Eva Green is simply amazing, as is the full cast, including the cameos each season. They shake up your expectations of these classic "monsters" and madmen - they have to, I guess, if you (say) are putting Dr. Frankenstein in the late-Victorian era. I'm two episodes into season 3, and it's so far maybe the best one - the actual presence of Dracula and attendant figures (Dr. Seward, Renfield), the introduction of Dr. Jekyll.... Anyway, can't recommend this one enough: at first I was hesitant, but soon won over. Kind of like I was with AHS, come to think of it.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 90.214.168.17
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 12:40 pm:   

'American Horror Story' is a great show, Craig. We loved the first two seasons but I must say, at 4 episodes in, 'Coven' is our favourite so far. I think it has the most coherent structure and the characters are just so memorable. Very funny too. Have you ever seen the British series 'Psychoville'? Although it is more broadly Pythonesque in its comedy I can think of no other horror TV show that is similar to AHS - mixing so many horror tropes with such utter abandon.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 90.214.168.17
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 12:51 pm:   

And we just picked up, at long bloody last, Season 5 of the mighty 'Game Of Thrones' and will be starting it tonight! Believe all the hype and don't be put off by the mass adulation - it is the single greatest fantasy production ever put on screen. Jackson's Tolkien films, great fun as they are, shrivel before it. Think 'Excalibur' level quality sustained over days worth of awestruck viewing. Moments of the last four seasons live in my memory like dreams. The birth of the dragons, the battle with the giants, the duel between man mountain and man serpent, the spawning of the shadow demon, the bloody wedding feast, etc, etc... Can't fecking wait to get stuck in again!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 90.214.168.17
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 01:59 pm:   

And through all this TV excellence I'm also well into Season 2 of 'The Sopranos'. A show of such sublime quality and addictively soap-like entertainment value, including laugh-out-loud black comedy, that it almost exists in another world and is all too easy to just accept as a classic defying superbatives. 'Boardwalk Empire' - how I still miss it - had a more epic time-spanning narrative drive but I see 'The Sopranos' as a more intimately submersive experience. The characters, the acting, the writing and production values are the very highest quality that drama can aspire to. Wonderful!!!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 90.214.168.17
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 02:14 pm:   

Now please hurry up and release Season 6 of 'The Walking Dead'!! It remains my favourite of this current golden era.

I wonder will they ever meet up with the survivors from 'Fear The Walking Dead' - a show equal in quality, imo. How could the writers resist it ffs!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 93.97.134.20
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2016 - 04:50 pm:   

The first episode of 'Game Of Thrones', Season 5, was pretty much a recap and gathering breath after all that went before. Allegiances are shifting, characters are taking stock, all is about to change... irrevocably. The excitement lies in knowing that there will be long awaited first meetings of cherished, but very different characters who have engaged us from the very beginning. This is the very definition of epic entertainment - as first crystallised by the likes of Dickens and Tolstoy in their earliest picaresque serialisations. So much and so little has changed in the intervening years...
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.68.170.9
Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 05:58 pm:   

Having just completed rewatching all of 'The League Of Gentlemen' (1999-2002), 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace' (2004) and 'The Mighty Boosh' (2004-07) I've decided they are far and away the greatest British "sitcoms" of modern times. I nearly laughed myself into a coma. We will look back on that period in the decades to come as a time of ridiculous comic genius, imho. Especially if one factors in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' airing at the same time from across the pond.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.68.170.9
Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 06:09 pm:   

Now about to start watching, for the first time, the related dark sitcom 'Snuff Box' (2006) featuring many of the same gang from Marenghi and The Boosh. Expectations dangerously high! Here's hoping...
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.68.170.9
Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 11:25 pm:   

Christ!! And I thought 'Jam' was fucked up!!!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.68.170.9
Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 11:30 pm:   

If Ramsey Campbell (in full on 'Needing Ghosts' mode) had ever scripted a "comedy" show 'Snuff Box' would have been the result. What the fuck was that!!!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.68.170.9
Posted on Friday, July 15, 2016 - 01:22 am:   

Can't get some of those images out of my head. Going to string this series out one episode a night - it's that special. I've realised I only have to look at Matt Berry to burst out laughing.

What's it about? From what I can gather it's about an English "gentleman" hangman, and serial killer who keeps encyclopaedic diaries, and his dorky American friend, whom he is fleecing money from due to the socially inept idiot being the son of a famous star who died in tragic circumstances, the identity of whom he refuses to divulge, but his "mate" reckons it must be Mama Cass. Then the American stumbles upon a portal back in time, when using the bathroom in their crusty old London hangman's club, and meets the ancestor of his "mate", who introduces him to Victorian sex games with drunken prostitutes that have ominous echoes of Jack the Ripper. And loads of other randomly interspersed weird stuff that would give the Monty Python team nightmares.

Is it funny? Fuck, yes!!!! I nearly bust a gut in between pushing my jaw back up. I love this kind of stuff!!
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.68.170.9
Posted on Saturday, July 16, 2016 - 01:22 am:   

It gets weirder and weirder but there is, unlike the scatological madness of 'Jam', a discernible narrative, warped by dream logic asides. This is one very, very twistedly funny and disturbing show.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.68.170.9
Posted on Saturday, July 16, 2016 - 01:29 am:   

It posits an upper class whiskey swilling elite who carry out secret hangings of those deemed undesirable by the British state. And portrays the self-loathing and mental disintegration of their alcoholic head hangman. It seems he was born into it due to the Satanic dabblings of his Victorian ancestor, the public hangman of the time and, possibly, Jack the Ripper, as well as a black magician with a portal to the present. I think...
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 93.97.134.20
Posted on Saturday, July 16, 2016 - 05:36 pm:   

Just realised what the strange little tune going through my head all day is. It's the theme song to 'Snuff Box' that pops up at odd moments through the show. Can't remember the words but the melody is trapped in my brain. Looking forward to Episode 3 later.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 5.68.170.9
Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 07:57 pm:   

Just finished Matt Berry & Rich Fulcher's 'Snuff Box' (2006). Here are my first last thoughts.. for this is one I shall be returning to.

The one-off six episode show belongs in the same group of surreal horror Monty Python influenced sitcoms cum sketch shows of the era. Along with the likes of; the best of them all that really kick-started the trend 'The League Of Gentlemen' (1999-2002), 'Jam' (2000), 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace' (2004), 'Nighty Night' (2004-05), 'The Mighty Boosh' (2004-07) and 'Man To Man With Dean Learner' (2006). It resembles 'Jam' most closely in its free-wheeling stream of consciousness insanity and deliberate targeting of taboo subject matter. Frequently the viewer is left speechless and wondering where the fuck these guys got their ideas from! As with 'Jam' the show is as nightmarishly disturbing as it is original, oddly fascinating and twistedly funny, in a way that defies every accepted comedy convention in the book. Some of the darker "jokes" appear to fall flat, but linger in the mind, while there are more than enough genuine belly laughs and moments of priceless stupidity to avoid the trap of becoming "too clever for its own good".

The stars, Berry & Fulcher, were both familiar supporting faces from 'Marenghi' and 'The Boosh'. Matt Berry was, imo, the funniest thing in the former show, as the ridiculously suave lothario action hero, Todd Rivers - I crack up just thinking about that character and his hilariously straight-faced delivery of awful lines. Kind of a Zapp Brannigan working in a hospital. While Rich Fulcher will forever be identified as Bob Fossil, the disgusting sweaty nemesis of the Boosh boys. He and Berry were first seen as the villainous double act in that show. Again, Berry's booming bombasity as mad scientist and explorer extraordinaire, Dixon Bainbridge, never fails to cheer me up.

In 'Snuff Box' these two comedy maniacs take centre stage playing "themselves". Berry is a nihilistic, self-loathing, whiskey swilling alcoholic and "extreme sex" addict who works out of his private gentleman's club in Whitechapel as a secret hangman for the state. He keeps volumes of obsessively anal diaries that reveal all his darkest secrets going right back to his childhood as a torturer of small animals and his later career, it is strongly hinted but left teasingly ambiguous, as a serial killer (perhaps he means the hanging job). Fulcher, a nauseating caricature of the boorish American living in Blighty, is his "best friend" and incompetent assistant, as well as being the secret love child of Mama Cass.

Their adventures include travelling back in time to 1888, through a portal in the gents, where Fulcher strikes up a Faustian friendship with Berry's hangman ancestor and founder of the club, who purveys backstreet prostitutes and, of course, may well be Jack the Ripper. What I loved is how all of this is left hauntingly ambiguous and it is up to the viewers to work things out for themselves. If ever there was an outwardly silly comedy show that respected the audience's intelligence with a passion it is this one. The other pleasures include a plethora of guest star appearances, some real, some faked, a support cast of wonderfully deranged recurring oddballs, many series-long running jokes that unobtrusively creep up on us before revealing their killer punchlines at the most unexpected moments, and a soundtrack of irresistibly catchy tunes, written by Berry, that are worth the price of admission on their own. I would seriously consider getting the soundtrack album of this show - the quality of the songs and incidental music is that strong.

Far too eager to push the limits of acceptability the show was never intended to be a mainstream hit - and couldn't be broadcast in Britain before 11.00 at night due to the nudity, violence and wilfully "offensive" tone - but it is a true underground classic for those who can take it. In the end I found the characters, for all their repulsiveness, to be oddly endearing and was genuinely sorry when the last episode ended. More of this kind of thing, please!!
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.164.193.85
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 03:05 pm:   

Been watching the Hellraisers. The first is beautiful, isn't it? So good looking, so atmospheric.Enough. The second really makes a great attempt to broaden the world, and is so gloriously twisted and horrible, but beautiful, a kind of Labyrinth or Neverending Story for adults. But then...3. I have to say for the first third or so I had previously misjudged it, but then no, some ape grabs the script and screws it up into a ball, and it might as well be Sid James playing pinhead. At least it gave me the kind of belly laughs I haven't had in a long time. Next was Bloodline, which I've long avoided, and you know what, flaws and all (and there are a few - it is and Alan Smithee film, after all) I actually found a lot to admire in it. We see the cube being crafted, the story hops about the centuries. Someone was trying to make something big and interesting. And it very nearly got there, bashing unceremoniously against a studio glass ceiling. Well worth a watch though - it's very nearly special.
Will keep you posted.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.153.254.41
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2016 - 04:38 pm:   

Started Season 2 of "Scream Queens" last night, though the show's already four or five episodes in. It was one of the (if not, just the) very best shows from last year, and Season 2's premiere promises the whole to be just as good. This one's the comedy version of "American Horror Story" (same producers) - a send-up of the slasher genre, as well as a satire on the worst excrescences of our current culture. Great guest stars already, and as plain bonkers as the first one. Hope this series thrives.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.147.136.205
Posted on Wednesday, November 02, 2016 - 12:47 am:   

We watched episode 1 of a thing called Channel Zero last night. It was sort of lazy and slow, and a tad amateurish, and yet most of the creepy scenes have stayed with me. I'll keep watching for now.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.181.138.66
Posted on Saturday, November 12, 2016 - 02:06 pm:   

Conjuring 2. Much recommended, despite not having much to do witht the original case. It's hugely atmospheric and cinematic in a way a lot of horror cinema has ceased to be. It feels like horror being 'big', widescreen, rich-looking as Harry Potter.

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