Thursday, 30 June 2016

True Blood: Let's Get Out of Here

"Blame the witches. America's had no problem doing it in the past." 

We begin with both Alcide and Bill desperately trying to save Sookie; Eric is Antonia's bitch. Antonia is determined to wage all out war on vampires, and to do it at Bill's long-planned tolerance event; according to Nan Flanagan, cancelling is not an option.

But much of this episode consists of a possessed Lafayette, and the hostage situation with Arlene's baby, whose Damian-line tendencies were all to do with the ghost, Mavis. Meanwhile, Andy is taking V, Sookie is dreaming of Eric, pondering the fact she loves both him and Eric. What to do? She points out the gender double standards with polyamory, but where is this going?

Nelsan Ellis is outstanding as the Macis stand-off is resolved by a heroic Jesus; these are superb and emotional scenes. 

Sookie, with help from Debbie of all people, discovers that Tara and the others are all being held hostage by Antonia. And we get juxtaposed scenes of sex and death in artily directed and cut scenes; Sam cums inside Luna while Tommy, in the shape of Sam, is fatally wounded in a "duel" with Marcus. This is symbolic of their divergent fates, and a reminder that not all people born into poverty can rise as Sam did.

There is also some apparently good Dec between Jessica and Jason, but we end with all Hell about to break loose as Marcie interrupts Bill's tolerance event. Chaos erupts. I'm loving the topsy-the Y unpredictability of this season.

True Blood: Spellbound

"Jesus, tits and God America, Jason!"

Now here's a tune I recognise- classic early period Siouxie and the Banshees!

Anyway... Jason saves Jessica- and she's very grateful. But vampires are still not safe until nightfall as the spell may happen again: they must chain themselves indoors with silver. How very kinky.

On the one hand, this brings Sookie erotically closer to amnesiac Eric. On the other, Jessica brutally dumps Hoyt, and he doesn't react well.

But this is a very romantic episode nonetheless, with extended erotic sequences of Sookie and Eric in bed together in the artily shot snow. But Antonia/Marcie are planning full vampire genocide. Tara seems quite happy with this. We know that Bill's offer of a parley cannot go well.

Meanwhile Lafayette again sees the ghostly Creole lady with little Mikey. We discover that she lived a few decades ago, and that she and her baby were killed by her white lover, afraid of being caught having fathered a mixed race child. It's a reminder that this sort of racist horror is never far from the surface in the Deep South.

Meanwhile, we and Sam discover that her menacing ex, and Emma's father, is local werewolf packmaster Marcus, whom we've got to know a little through Alcide and Debbie. It's the sort of shock revelation that True Blood does very well.

Cruelly, Jessica is rejected by Jason out of loyalty for his best friend, even though she left Hoyt for him. Even more cruel is Lafayette's possession by the Creole lady, and his swift seizing of baby Mikey. But we end with the parley, swiftly degenerating into fast and confusing scenes of fighting. It's all beautifully shot, but Sookie uses her powers and receives a bullet, there is much commotion and Antonia bewitches Eric...

Superb stuff.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

True Blood: Cold Grey Light of Dawn

"I am not a zombie!"

The possessed Marnie escapes from Bill's helpless clutches as we get some light relief with Tara escaping from a hilariously annoyed Pam. The trippiness down in Mexico is leavened with a bit of family drama added to give it a bit of a plot purpose beyond establishing Lafayette's magical abilities, and Debbie and Alcide are initiated into their local pack. So far, so functional. But then we get to the real heartbreak; Tara feels she has to break up with her girlfriend to keep her safe. Will nothing ever go right for her?

Jason's position gets all the more awkward with his feelings towards Jessica and Hoyt confessing his relationship troubles, saying that "It'll kill me if I lose her". We all know where this is heading. We're well-informed on the Big Bad and her plans, too, as Bill uses Jessica to give us yet more exposition on who Antonia is. 

The father/daughter relationship between these two is genuinely lovely, though, especially given the abusive ways of her birth father. Also sweet is Andy's nervous approach to his date with Holly, his V addiction getting the better of him. It's an episode all about relationships but, in many cases, ominously. We get an ominous ending, too, as Marcie's spell has vampires running for the Sun, including Jessica...

Bloody brilliant.

True Blood: I Wish I Was the Moon

"But, ifyou turn into a panther, won't the cuffs just fall off...?

Bill is not at all happy to find that Sookie has been hiding the amnesiac Eric, but she has little reason to be truthful to him after recent events. Eric, in an interestingly philosophical mood, actively wants not to remember his past; he's appalled by his own past behaviour and wishes to be the good man that he now is- and always potentially was. He even submits to execution, glad that in his few days of life he has known true love with Sookie. A conscious-stricken Bill, of course, lets him live, diminished by him in Sookie's eyes and ours.

Meanwhile, the fire at Arlene's and Terry seems to have been caused by a ghostly creole lady who wants to take baby Damian. Sam is rather busy as Arlene's landlady and leaves Tommy to run the bar... as Sam. So he proceeds to act like a douche, firing Sookie. This will have consequences. So will his sleeping with Luna and then throwing her out...

Meanwhile, Lafayette and Jesus experience more artist shot trip pines in Mexico while Tara faces the consequences for lying to her girlfriend about who she is. But much of the episode consists of poor, thick Jason bonding with his sister while learning that he has not, after all, been turned into a were-Panther. Those scenes are really rather sweet.

Other relationships are awkward- Jason and Jessica know they shouldn't be attracted to each other- but Tara and Naomi are a sweet couple, and we end a surprisingly slow-paced episode with Sookie and Eric making love in long shot, as if the director respects their privacy...

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

True Blood: Me and the Devil

"Insanity comes with the job."

Tommy isn't in the clutches of his awful parents for long; he kills them. Oops. Meanwhile, Marnie is increasingly friendless, Eric is still an innocent without a past and Terry suggests to Arlene that they get an exorcist in. Cool.

Lafayette and Jesus are off to Mexico to see the latter's magician grandad, a sort of Mexican Alan Moore, and to generally start their own plot line full of trippily directed arty sequences. Jason pours his heart out to Hoyt about his recent Viagra-assisted gang rape. And said exorcist turns out to be the Reverend Daniels with Lettie Mae, not from the sort of church Arlene prefers. 

Probably most pivotal is Sookie's meeting with Marnie for a bit of a seance where she hears her Gran's voice, telling her very clearly that Marnie is dangerous. If that isn't foreshadowing then I don't know what is.

And then Marnie is possessed, seemingly permanently, by the woman from those Spanish Inquisition flashbacks who probably has some rather unpleasant agenda. Again, oh dear.

Things don't get better for Arlene and Terry with a fire starting, while Jason is attracted to Jessica, his best friend's girlfriend, after having her blood. 

We end with Bill giving us some backstory: the Inquisition woman was Antonia, a necromancers whose dying act was to exterminate all vampires within twenty miles by burning them in daylight. At the time the Catholic Church was full of vampires, although "Today, as you know, it's Google and Fox News".

At last we get a clear idea of the real big bad in an eventful episode.True Blood just gets better and better.

Friday, 24 June 2016

EU Referendum Result


That is all.

True Blood: I'm Alive and on Fire

"Don't fuck this up. How many retired kings do you know?"

Eric has just killed and drunk from Claudine, a full-blooded fairy, and is therefore as pissed as a fart. It's all rather amusing, but also serves to underline how very real and unfeigned is his love for Sookie.

Less sweetly, Jason is gang-raped while Crystal, in the midst of raping him, is moved to tears by the joys of having (for her) truly consensual sex for the first time in her life. It's all very dark. Meanwhile Bill comes under pressure from Nan Flamagan while the source of Marnie's power is revealed as a poor woman burnt at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition.

Sam, meanwhile, visits Luna unexpectedly, and gets on well with Emma, her little girl. By the laws of television drama they are all doomed. This is the episode, I think, where we begin to get a sense of the shape of the season, and I like it. 

It's good to have a one-off bit of comedy, though, such as Bill discovering that his potential new girlfriend- a Bellefleur- is a descendent of his. Oops. That'll be him free to get back with Sookie at some point, then. How convenient.

Jason is finally rescued by Jessica and Hoyt, but is understandably traumatised- the light is juxtaposed with the dark. 

We end with Tommy trapped back into his parents' malevolent clutches, while Pam's attempt to stop Marnie results in her falling victim to a rather minging rotting spell...

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Doctor Who- Online Reconstructions of Missing Stories

Some superb online reconstructions of missing episodes from the '60s, the splendid work of MrVortexofDOOM...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Spider-Man (2002)

"You're not Superman."

I'll be generous; this film is well-made, well-acted, looks good, has a decent plot and it was amazing at the time (unbelievably the first ever Spider-Man film was released as late as 2002) to see Spidey on-screen. Tobey Maguire is a good Peter Parker and the film faithfully translates the comics well, particularly visually. But... even at the time it was a little disappointing that the film was so serious and totally lacking in Spidey's signature quips.

Now? Well, several years of witty, cool Marvel Cinematic Universe films make this film seem stuff and awkward. It's quite good, but forgettable, and feels like a relic of a different era. The most interesting thing about it in 2016, sadly, is that Cliff Robertson, who plays Uncle Ben, also played Shame in the 1960's Batman series.

Still, there are lots of things to praise, from the costume to the realisation of Spidey's web swinging to the casting of J.L. Simmons as a perfect J. Jonah Jameson. Doing an origin story for a superhero film is generally not a good idea but they get away with it; nice to see the radioactive spider being updated to a genetically engineered one. And Willem Dafoe makes a splendid Green Goblin.

It's just that, well, these days we expect our superhero films to be a bit less serious. Not a bad film, but surprisingly dated..

True Blood: If You Love Me, Why Am I Dying?

"You just killed my fairy godmother!"


This episode is largely about the amnesiac Eric, and how, vampire or not, he's so sweet, innocent and loving without memories to define who he is- a comment on human nature there, I feel.

Jason, meanwhile, is to be made a werepanther so the somewhat inbred tribe can survive another generation. It seems that panthers rules the Earth once, but were eventually eclipsed by what sound an awful lot like fairies. Jason is fed viagra, tied to a bed and... well, raped by Crystal and all the other women of child-bearing age. It's horrible. 

Jessica finally admits she's been unfaithful to Hoyt and he takes it badly... so she glamours him into forgetting. And so the relationship crosses the line into abuse. Again we have the theme, unusually, of women abusing vulnerable men. Tommy and Maxineare perhaps another example- her need for an obedient son figure is a little disturbing, but at least she's teaching him to read.

The episode ends with Marnie casting a big necromancy spell to raise the dead, with the process seeming very sexual. But Pam is after her. Meanwhile, Eric innocently murders Claudine at an awkward moment. Oops.

I'm loving this season and have no idea where it's going. Addictive as ever.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

True Blood: You Smell Like Dinner

"It's Bon Temps, Sook. Not like I expected the red fucking carpet!"

So Eric bought the house because he wants to protect Sookie, a fairy, from other vampires. He's even made himself a little cubby hole. Hmm. Not stalkerish at all then.

Less creepy is Sam's relationship with fellow shifter Luna, which is developing nicely. And equally intriguing is the flashback to a punk rock Bill(!) in the London of 1982, looking very much like Sid Vicious and being seemingly recruited by Nan Flanagan into an assimilist conspiracy within the Authority. My, that Stephen Moyer does a rather good English accent.

Oh, and Louis Pasteur is a vampire. Cool. So is the way True Blood is like a gradually unpeeling onion of complex vampire political agendas.

Tara, meanwhile, finally comes back to visit Bon Temps, her girlfriend in New Orleans believing her to be another identity entirely. The plot thickens as Bill explains that Marnie's Wiccans are necromancers and therefore a threat which Eric is to neutralise. Unfortunately he loses his memory while doing so. Isn't that a bummer?

In other bombshells, Jessica is starting to cheat on Foyt- is monogamy for her?- while Felton and Crystal are back. It seems that Felton, with all that inbreeding, has nothing in the tank and he thus wants Jason to inpregnate his sister-wife. True Blood certainly knows how to do a good twist..!

This is shaping up to be good season. I'm addicted as ever...

True Blood: She's Not There

"I have a fairy godmother???!!!"

This is certainly the weirdest season opener so far as Sookie begins in the Land of Faerie hearing an awful lot of exposition- Claudine is her fairy godmother; her Grandad Earl is alive and with them in Fairyland; there's a hint of malevolence behind the surface sweetness... and they don't want her to leave. Especially that.

Most weird is how slowly time passes there- her grandad, absent for twenty years, thinks he only saw her last week, as a little girl- which makes me think of the capricious faeries of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. When she finally escapes back to Bon Temps, at the cost of her Grandad's life, she's been gone thirteen months. Oops. People are quite upset. And Jason's sold the house. To Eric.

Things have happened over that year. Jason, for example, has been hand waved into an actual cop. Andy is now a hopeless V addict. Jessica and Hoyt's relationship is showing cracks. Lafayette now has a cool Mohican, and he is persuaded by Jesus to attend a Wiccan event presided over by Marnie, who must be important because she's  portrayed by Fiona Shaw. Sam is now embracing his shifter side, hanging out with other shifters. Meanwhile, Arlene's baby Mikey is looking more and more as though he should have been called Damian. That's a lot of stuff to kick off a new season.

If this new status quo wasn't enough to ponder, Bill is now King of Louisiana, Marnie's group turns out to be capable of real magic of a very Alan Moore kind, and Crystal's family are locking Jason up in an ice box. I love True Blood.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Unfriended (2014)

"You're really sexy when you're violent..."

This surprisingly splendid film is not, to put it mildly, about the experience of 39 year old a like me who could never have experienced cyberbullying, but the premise packs a punch: a girl forced to suicide by her horrible schoolmates returns to an online afterlife to slowly punish her oppressors through guilt, dramatic revelations and horrible deaths. And the whole film is shown in real time, as the contents of one persons computer screen with Skype, YouTube and Facebook goving us the twentieth century equivalent of the epistolary novel.

That means, as you'll have guessed, that it's a low budget film, as the lack of stars indicates, but less is more; this is the rare example of a genuinely scary modern horror films. Yes, the gruesome deaths are barely glimpsed and the gore implied rather than shown, and there's a distinct lack of music video-style directing, but those are precisely the reasons why this film is so bloody good. 

Even better, the website about not answering social media messages from the dead actually exists; that's multimedia horror for you. This is a superb film, even if it does make me feel a bit old.

Young people these days, eh?

iZombie: Pilot

"Why the hot sauce? Is that a zombie thing?"

This series, based on a DC Vertigo miniseries, only has two short seasons on Netflix so far; it should be fairly easy to get up to date with the odd episode while I'm in the middle of my True Blood marathon interspersed with the odd film. After True Blood, incidentally, I will get back to Buffy and Angel. Promise.

I'm loving this so far- the directorial style, the witty dialogue and first person narration, the fact that we get a whodunit story of the week amongst the zombie stuff- but it's all carried by the brilliant Rose McIver as Liv, who unexpectedly finds herself a zombie and is forced to give up her promising medical career to work in a morgue where there are, you know, brains. Fortunately she makes an ally of her boss, Ravi, an eccentric English scientist, and starts working with Clive, a police detective who has no idea what she is or, indeed, that her "psychic" abilities in fact derive from eating the brains of the deceased. Lovely.

It's funny, engaging, promises more zombie lore, has likeable and engaging characters, and seems so far to be a good whodunit. And I hope one day Liv can get over her rather wet fiancĂ© rather than mole all over him. Still, I'm hooked. 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The EU Referendum: Why I'm Voting Remain

So here it is: why, given the many absurdities of EU institutions, am I voting Remain with such great certainty?  After all, it's institutions are a mess. It's parliament wastefully migrates between Brussels and Strasbourg. The euro is a huge folly which has has terrible consequences already (if only Greece could simply have devalued the drachma it would not have needed bailing out...) and may have much worse in store; it is utterly fatuous to have a single currency, with a single central bank looking after the interests of such diverse economies, without political union, and political union is a pipe dream. It may have been Jean Monnet's intention for the six member states of the Common Market in 1957, but for today's EU of twenty-eight, well... it ain't gonna happen. Today's EU is about realpolitik between big European powers, not ever-closer union. It is prose, not poetry.

So, why do I so passionately want to remain a member? Well, not necessarily for reasons that follow the party line of the Remain campaign. Don't get me wrong; the diplomatic and economic consequences of leaving would be deeply uncomfortable for us all. There's a reason why every economic institution in the world wants us to stay. There's a reason why pretty much all mainstream politicians in all countries are pleading with us to remain. There's a reason why Vladimir Putin, who does not wish us well, wants us to leave. A weak, divided Europe is what he wants.

And yet... all this isn't really the point. Yes, the economy would take a hit if we left the EU. But it's not clear that this would mean doom for as after a few years of initial pain. The initial consequences may not even be that bad. Who knows? None of these big financial institutions predicted the 2008 financial crisis, after all. But, most importantly... none of this matters. Because anyone who truly wants to leave the EU would say, quite rightly, that if you oppose EU membership in principle you should be happy to weather a couple of years (or whatever) of pain. 

All this is why I despair at the plodding cynicism that the Remain campaign has been forced into, focusing on negative arguments about economic bad stuff rather than the big, positive things the EU is about. But it's not even their fault, as they were forced into it. Forced into it by the failure of politicians to make a positive argument about the EU for so many years, ceding the ground to those loathsome tabloids. It doesn't help, either, that the leading lights of Remain are despised Tory politicians like David Cameron and George Osborne. Jeremy Corbyn, as we can all tell, doesn't really give a shit and the media just ignores Tim Farron as it always ignores Liberal leaders who aren't in coalition.

But the Leave campaign... that goes beyond cynicism into some dark, dark shit. It's important to note that not everyone voting Leave is doing so for atavistic reasons, mind; the Leave campaign may be spearheaded by politicians like Gove and Johnson (much of the media may be on first name terms with "Boris"; I'm not) but let's do something that always makes Guardianistas like me feel uncomfortable and talk about (uuurgh!) immigration.

There are a lot of refugees right now. A large chunk of the Middle East is not a nice place, from Syria to Iraq to Yemen, from Assad's tyranny to the pure evil of Daesh to the Saudi bombs. This is all real. And it's happening to human beings. We have a moral responsibility to help these people. Oh, there comes a point where you can't take any more, yes, and we will have to talk about that when the time comes, but that won't be for ages yet. Oh, and none of these people have any connection with the EU. EU freedom of movement rules only affect EU citizens, mainly from Eastern Europe. And here the thing; most of them aren't here to stay, just to earn some money. The living standards in those countries continue to rise and there will be less and less need for them to come here. 

But I think what exercises most people is this; wages of ordinary people in this and other countries have not kept up either with the wages of the rich or with the cost of living, while working conditions have declined, courtesy of the Mike Ashley's of this world. And it falls people to see immigrants taking jobs for less money and under worse conditions than we would accept, driving down wages and working conditions.

And yet- can we really blame the immigrants for this? As a rule of thumb its wiser to blame those with power than those without. I blame lax employment rights. I blame the Government for making us pay to sue our unfair employers, pricing justice out of the means of many. I blame short-term corporate culture, taking dividends many times larger than they used to be and not investing in their staff, or infrastructure, for the long term. Immigrants are not the cause of low wages or poor conditions.

So... why do I want to stay in? In short, because I'm an internationalist. Because I believe in friendship, however rocky, between liberal democracies. Because, as a good Liberal, I believe in free trade, and the single market is awesome. Because many rising powers out there- China, Putin's Russia right on Europe's edge- are not liberal democracies. They threaten our values. Yes, there is also NATO as a purely military alliance, but we need to stick together. A post-Brexit, flailing Europe probably won't mean the end of civilisation, but isn't it better to build things than to break them? 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

True Blood: Evil Is Going On

"You watch you're fuckin' language!"

This is it, then. We begin with Eric and Russell dying in the Sun together, but then Godric's ghost turns up being all sanctimonious and that, sowing confusion enough for Sookie to run and save them both, using her mysterious powers- throwing a punch at Bill as she goes. Go Sookie.

Russell is now somewhat fried, and Eric's bitch to boot. In other plot threads Tara and Sam have a good chat, Hoyt is still in love with Jessica, and Jason argues with Andy about Hotshot: to raid or not to raid. But this plot thread is where it's at.

Still, Jason sees the shockingly poor living conditions of Crystal's family, and takes pity. Then Felton and Crystal's dad turn up to take her away, leaving Jason to look after them all. That was certainly unexpected. And in this company he's the smart one, a scary thought.

Tara is disgusted to find her feckless mother shagging the Reverend Daniels, but they eventually part on good terms; after all that's happened to her she has to get out of Bon Temps. Sam shoots Tommy. More drama is happening with Sookie, disgusted with both Bill and Eric, who reminds the invitation for all vampires to enter her house.

Jesus tells Lafayette that he has potential as a shaman- something for next season, I think. Jesus, it seems, is a witch. Thus concludes the round-up of the cast, and we can get to Bill's fate planned for Edgington- burying him in concrete for decades, to go mad with grief, starvation and lack of stimulation. He intends the same for Eric, but Eric has Pam. What's the betting that Russell will be back before long, perhaps madder?

Sookie, with Bill and Eric, hears the truth: Bill originally came to Bon Temps at the orders of Sophie-Anne to "procure" her; it was all stage-managed. It was, in a sense, never "real". It's a crushing revelation, foreshadowed by his earlier telling Russell he was a procurer but still devastating. 

We end in a double cliffhanger; Bill and Soohie-Anne are fighting a duel, while Sookie is visited by Claudine and other fae, and vanishes while bathed in light..

Wow. That was awesome. I'm glad I don't have to wait..

Thursday, 16 June 2016

True Blood: Fresh Blood

"There are consequences, even for Russell Edgington."

It looks as though it's the jealousy of Eric's Estonian human girl that leads to her pleasingly random release, beginning a heady and eventful penultimate episode.

Lafayette and Jesus are both enthusiastic and changed by their recent V trip; their future clearly involves magic, but I suspect that's for next season. Crystal, meanwhile, explains that she has to marry her brother in order to carry on the werepanthet bloodline, dropping sprog after sprog until meoopause or death. Ouch.

But mostly we just have things unwind in the complex power play between Edgington, Eric and Bill, with Sookie in an awkward and dangerous place. Arlene tried unsuccessfully to get rid of her Damien baby although, being from the Deep South, she opposes abortion. Er, right.

Jessica and Hoyt are properly together again, and as sweet as ever. But mostly this is a dark episode, with Tara so devastated, Sam still out of character and firing poor, vulnerable Tommy, and Jason worried about another Waco with Crystal's family. And now Russell knows (courtesy of Bill's shocking apparent betrayal) what Sookie is. And he fully intends to test the legend of fairy blood allowing a vampire to walk in daylight. But there's a catch: Eric must go first. Yet he does, seemingly without incident, and Edgington follows. But it's a trap; soon Eric has Edgington where he wants them as they both burn together in a dramatic cliffhanger. This season is extraordinary.

True Blood: I Smell a Rat

"No dancing, no religion!"

Right from the off we start with Bill providing the big reveal about what Sookie is: she's a fairy- this makes me reminisce about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is no bad thing. And it's significant; the fae were seemingly wiped out of existence by vampires, their blood having legendary properties for them. Sookie, though, is not fully faerie, just with some ancestry, notably through her grandfather. Still, wow.

Jadon has killed Franklin, which is good, but this sets off guilty flashback of him killing Eggs (and Eddie the vampire; blokes whose names begin with "E" should steer clear), which is not. 

We then get an unexpected flashback of Sam, then a thief, in 2003, being swindled by his then-girlfriend and her bloke. This is completely out of the blue. It's shocking, later in the episode, to see him kill them, and he spends most of the episode in a bad mood, tired of being a nice guy who gets walked all over... but the way this is done just feels inconsistent and out of character, mostly from being so sudden. It's a rare misstep in the writing.

Crystal's family really are scum; apparently she has to marry Frlton; after all, it's not as though women's bodies belong to themselves or anything.this is dark territory, but there are large parts of Afghanistan and South Asia where this goes on all the time, a probable allusion. Oh, and they're all were-panthers... 

A brief cameo of Steve Newlin (remember him?) on the telly in Merlotte's reminds us that, out in the world, Edgington's public act last episode is having huge ramifications. And at last, after a big argument, Tara starts to talk to Sookie about the fact she's been raped. Meanwhile we discover that Holly is a Wiccan and, surprisingly, Jesus wants him and Lafayette to do V together.

This leads to delightfully trippy and well-directed scenes which indicate that both of them are descended from magicians, and True Blood seems to have a very trippy, Alan Moore conception of magic- very interesting, especially Jesus' warlock grandfather.

Meanwhile, Jason tells the truth to Tara with predictable results and, horribly, Jessica finds a burning cross on her lawn. Still, at least it seems that she and Hoyt are back together. So are Sookie and Eric, with Sookie chained up in exactly the same place as Lafayette was...

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

True Blood: Everything Is Broken

"I wanted to meet the sick fuck who ordered the veggie burger with bacon."

No wonder Eric and Pam are panicking; Russell Edgington is going to be very angry. But it gets worse as Nan Flanagan arrives to investigate the dealing in V. It's a sensitive time politically, with just two more states needing to ratify the Vampire Rights Amendment. Heaven forbid that something should go wrong.

Sookie and Bill meanwhile are getting all erotic with each other, even sooner than I predicted. Bill admits he's been keeping a file on Sookie and her relatives with similar powers- he has to know what she is, but she seems fine with that.

An apparently far more solid couple are Lafayette and Jesus, who continue to be sweet together. Rather more disturbing are Jason and Crystal, especially when Felton comes for her once again.

Eric puts in a good performance at his trial, but he's still in deep trouble until, unexpectedly and not entirely convincingly, he gets off for political reasons. Tara and Holly connect at a rape survivor meeting, and it turns out that Sookie's son has her powers too- I'm sure this will become significant later. So many plot threads, yet it's all coherent, and the characters are developed beautifully. True Blood is indeed magnificent.

Terry reacts wonderfully to Arlene's confession that the baby isn't hers, which means that the baby itself, not him, is going to be the source of trouble. Another Damien? 

There's hope for Hoyt and Jessica as they have a nice and potentially healing chat. There's fear and despair for Tara as the disgusting Frannklin turns up, alive and well and as entitled as ever. Crystal again chooses her abusive, inbred family over Jason.

But the climax is rather dramatic, as Russell Edgington dramatically kills a newsreader live on air and makes a rather dramatic speech ensuring that, for Nan Flanagan and her supporters, everything is indeed broken...

True Blood: Night on the Sun

"This is Holly, your new waitress. Don't sleep with her."

So, after last week, it's all doom and gloom for Sookie's and Bill's relationship. This is it. Definitely. It's over.

I give them two episodes to get back together, tops.

There's also a rather big domestic between Russell and Talbot, fallout from Russell's impulsive killing of the Magister, something which needs to be hushed up rather sharpish. Can he trust Eric to keep schtum?

Bill returns home and unexpectedly releases Jessica: he has no time for her in his complex life right now. She's upset about this, but at least they part with a hug. 

Alcide, meanwhile, is staying with Sookie. Hmm. Not good for Bill. Neither is the fact that both Andy and Jason want her to press charges against Bill. Tara continues to deal with her recent trauma, and Crystal turns up at Jason's unexpectedly; Felton is beating her up and it seems she and Jason are together again. Oh, and Merlotte's has a new waitress.

Crystal was "promised" to Felton at the age of four- what kind of people are these? On a happier note, it looks as though Lafayette and Jesus are back together. 

We end with Russell going after Sookie, with Bill and Jessica there to protect her. Meanwhile, though, Eric is finally exacting revenge for his family by fucking and then killing Talbot. The King is not amused...

That's True Blood for you. Every week the stakes get raised again.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

True Blood: Hitting the Ground

"Never really thought I was smart enough to get depressed, but here I am..."

It's a miraculously if temporarily recovered Bill to the rescue; what other resolution could there have been? The pre-titles teaser ends with Lorena's death. Her last words are "I love you, William."

Alcide's ex, Debbie, is the adversary for much of the early part of the episode, and I suppose she's very real as a character- an addict who has chosen a very bad relationship. She certainly doesn't react well when Alcide shoots her new bloke, the one she got herself branded for.

Hoyt's new girlfriend is incredibly annoying. He's only with her to get back at Jessica, and now he's stuck with someone he can't stand. And she's really into him. Oops. Bill is into Sookie, too- literally; he has to be physically restrained from drinking too much of Sookie's blood when unconscious. This goes down very badly with all concerned, especially as Bill is on very thin ice at the moment. There's an awful lot of drama over a supposedly dying Sookie until Bill is finally allowed to turn up and save her. None of this is doing anything for Tara's current hatred of all things undead, understandably given her recent experiences.

Sam finally finds out what his family is up to- and it's truly reprehensible: his birth parents are using Tommy, their own son, to take part in dogfights to earn income for them all- and his feckless dad just gambles away the money. Sam, quite rightly, takes Tommy away from them, but he's a troubled kid. 

Perhaps even more surprising as this, mind, is the revelation that Jason is the older sibling. Really? The really big reveal, though, is Sookie's dream in which she meets others like herself, one of whine, Claudine, is played by Itene Adler herself, Lara Pulver...

We end with Eric and the King rescuing Pam... by murdering the Magister, although naturally not before getting him to declare Russell and Sophie-Anne married: the King of Mississippi has just annexed Louisiana. What with the Authority do? And, actually, just who are they?

Perhaps there's just a little too much hospital, but this is a brilliant episode with revelation after revelation.

True Blood: I Got a Right to Sing the Blues

"Well, that sucks. Not in a good way."

Interesting; the King is nearly 3,000 years old, old enough to learn contempt for blind tradition but not as wise as the much younger Godric. I wonder which civilisation he comes from, and if he can even remember?

But there's little scope for such reflection as Sookie and Bill are utterly betrayed by Eric. Bill is sent to the slave quarters to be tortuously executed- by Lorena of all people. Cue various scenes of TV-friendly torture and, on her part, much emo.

Meanwhile Lafayette and Jesus are still a sweet couple; there's a contrasting spikiness between Jason and the decidedly non-kinky Crystal. After sex, though, she vanished, telling Jason that she won't see him again. This being a television drama, of course, we know she will.

Edgington, in a chat with Eric, reveals his motives; much as he despises werewolves he works with them in the grounds that demihumans must unite against humans, who are despoiling the Earth. He has a point, although I wonder whether vampires would truly be willing to forgo their carbon-guzzling gizmos.

Alas, Lafayette's sweet relationship with Jesus is seemingly ended by the revelation that he does drugs. A less sweet relationship also begins as Russell forcibly proposes to the cash-strapped Queen of Louisiana, presumably meaning his annexation of the state. More satisfying is Tara's escape, as she violently kills the loathsome rapist Franklin in highly satisfying scenes.

Jason's reunion with Crystal after tracking her down doesn't go as hoped; not only does she deny having met him but she has a thuggish fiancé, Felton. What's going on here? And what's the secret with Sam's birth family? All this has to wait over the mid-season break. Naturally we get a big cliffhanger as an escaped Sookie and Tara are attacked by Lorena as a dying Bill lies helpless..

It's all good stuff. But given the ending I'm grateful for box sets...

Monday, 13 June 2016

True Blood: Trouble

"The only power he has over us is the power we give him."

The Machiavellian King continues with his complex skulduggery, playing chess with the lives of people and vampires. His solution to the various claims and counter claims on who was or was not dealing V is simply to get rid of the Magister, on open defiance of the vampire tradition to which he surely owes his own position. Can he really keep all these plates spinning? Television drama tends not to be forgiving of hubris.

In other plot threads, Jason continues in his increasingly farcical attempts to get Andy to employ him as a cop, while Franklin's abuse of Tara becomes more and more distressing as he expects her to "love" him.

It's happier news for Lafayette as his mum'snurse, Jesus, asks him out, and the two of them begin a rather sweet romance, and Jason is attracted to Crystal, a mysterious girl from the wrong side of town. Secrets are hinted at, naturally. Eric, meanwhile, finds his father's crown among Edgington's stuff, meaning that it was he who killed Eric's family...

But the episode is focused on the true horror of Tara's situation, with her captor proposing to "turn" her, making her his for eternity. This is very, very dark stuff. 

We end with Sookie, backed into a corner, once more using her light powers, in an episode about secrets, revelations and, yes, male violence against women. It all very good, if very dark.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

True Blood: 9 Crimes

"Well, maybe the man you love only ever existed inside your head?"

This is the episode where, after some odd behaviour by Bill, his and a distraught Sookie's relationship goes Deep South. At first she disbelieves the fact that he's apparently dumped her by phone, but things look grim. Especially as Sookie and Alcide seem to have chemistry; he looks suspiciously like a sudden new love interest. His relationship situation- an ex gone bad- even parallels hers. Oh, and he's a werewolf.

Meanwhile, Sam's useless and now homeless family continues to sponge off him, but as now we have little clue as to where this is going. And we see an erotic dream about Sookie and Eric... but it's his dream, not hers.

Most chilling, though, is Franklin and his pursuit and kidnapping of Tara; he's aren't ooh example of an abusive man in how he talks and acts and she's completely at his mercy. The fact that he's a vampire is an obvious metaphor here; someone who seemed, at first, to be kind and concerned, is in fact disturbingly and casually controlling, with a breathtaking but completely unexamined sense of male entitlement. He's far more terrifying than anything we've seen before.

Elsewhere, Jason realises he's getting older, a fed up Bud retires formally as sheriff in favour of Andy(!) and Bill rats on the Queen (and Eric) to Russell Edgington as V-dealers. It seems that Sophie-Ann needs the money. This leads to a raid on Fangtasia by the Magister and Pam being held prisoner after V is found. Eric has 24 hours to find Bill, his scapegoat, or she dies. There's a lot of intense vampire politics all of a sudden, with power games and little proxy wars.

 Eric deepens his interest in Lafayette as an employee. Jason decides he wants to be a cop. And Edgington is still consorting with werewolves- what's he up to? 

We end with Sookie running from a load of male werewolves in a thematic episode about male violence to women- even Bill bites the girl he "procures" for the King, but worst of all is Tara's kidnapping and multiple rape, which makes for deeply uncomfortable viewing.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Poltergeist (2015)

"Well, it's not like it was an ancient tribal burial ground.."

Meh. It's not that this film is badly made- it looks slick, is stylish and is well acted in a naturalistic style that Sam Rockwell excels at in particular. It just doesn't work as a horror film. At all.

As I've said many times before, I dislike sequels. And, as my wife pointed out during our viewing of this film, it's true that the slick look of so many modern horror films destroys all atmosphere and suspense in favour of a kind of music video arty cleverness; even the clown isn't scary.

The film goes through the plot motions of the original films but, while nothing is bad, and there's a genuinely brilliant scene involving a drill, well, Zelda Rubinstein has been replaced by Jared Harris as a reality TV ghost hunter and the directorial style, while slick, lacks the emotional manipulative was of Spoelberg which, while often annoying, makes the proper version of Poltergeist work.

This is a pointless remake. A shame; if they'd just made an original film about poltergeists they'd have saved themselves the awkward comparison.

Friday, 10 June 2016

True Blood: It Hurts Me Too

"I got your rug all wet!"

The King is still very curious about Bill and Sookie; why has he not turned her, as he did with Talbot centuries ago? It's that old chestnut again. Elsewhere, Sookie and Eric both realise they need to go to Jackson, Mississippi to find Bill.

Elsewhere, Tara has what she is determined to be a one night stand with vampire Franklin, while Jason finds his obsession for this season; he wants to be a cop. Oh dear. It's not good for Arlene, either: her baby can't possibly be Terry's and must be Rene's. Again, oh dear.

Nobody has a particularly good time; Tara sits tearfully through Eggs' sparse funeral as Bill has an unhappy flashback from 1868 which explains why he could never again see his family, Sam's birth family start to sponge off him and Bud quits as sheriff after one murder too many.

Bill's flashback seems thematically related to his acceptance of service to the King; has he dumped Sookie in doing so? This is paralleled (a device this series uses a lot) as Eric underlines Lafayette's status as his V-dealing employee with a gift of a swampy car. More ominously, Franklin visits Tara and glamours her. And Sookie meets the mysterious Alcide.

Again, so much going on. But it's all good stuff and I'm intrigued where this very unpredictable season is headed...

True Blood: Beautifully Broken

"You drank from my guest!"

It seems the werewolves are all underlings of the mysterious and charismatic Russell Edgington, the King of Mississippi- do all fifty states have a vampire monarch, and are all of them as odd as the two we've seen? The King has an agenda, a fractious relationship with his boyfriend Russell and a troubling willingness to consort with werewolves, which is Simply Not Done among aristocratic vampires. On the other hand, I'd imagine that owning a bed once possessed by Elizabeth Bathory is de rigeur.

Sookie sets off a flashback to Augsburg during the collapse of the Third Reich in 1945 when she tells Eric of the werewolf connection, where he and Godric are looking for werewolves.

Tara is utterly distraught at the death of her one true love but Lafayette, a wise and good person beneath it all, is wonderful in looking after her. Poor Jessica wants Hoyt back but "it's too late". Sam learns that his "real" family are poor, feckless and not much to write home about. Not many people are happy, but at least Sookie's there to do an impression of Bill and cheer us all up. (Btw, a thought- both Bill and Angel from Angel- Liam- are called William. A little nod?)

The King wants Bill's secrets, and won't let him leave. That's unfortunate, as he had Lorena with him. Tara meets a vampire played by the familiar James Frain, and Sookie and Eric, like Bill before, are attacked by werewolves...

This is the episode where everything shifts into new areas. It isn't clear where things are going yet, but True Blood is as great as ever.

True Blood: Bad Blood

"Pam, I'm in no mood for lesbian weirdness!"

Again we continue straight on from the dramatic season finale, with Bill missing, Eggs just having been shot dead by Jason and Sam looking for his birth family. Not much is resolved, per se, but much is set up and, as it leaves you wanting more, this is a bloody good season opener.

Bill, it seems, has been kidnapped by a bunch of blokes who want to feed on his blood. Tara is distraught, and in no mood for Arlene's horribly racist comments- but I suppose a character like her, a working class white woman in the Deep South, would hold all sorts of horrible views. At least Eric is duty-bound as to help look for Bill; the police were distinctly unhelpful. Crime against vampires, it seems, is taken as seriously as black-on-black crime.

Sam, meanwhile, is up in Arkansas following up leads and, er, having awkwardly erotic dreams about Bill after ingesting his blood. Arlene is pregnant! And the Magister is getting suspicious about Eric and Queen Sophie-Anne dealing V. The Queen, in particular, is so cool that she gets her own directorial flourishes.

Sookie's on the case, but over in Mississippi Bill has werewolf trouble- are they the season's big bad? And what's with their tatto, the same one seen in Seadon 5 of Grimm? There's so much going on. I love it.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)

"A few little tiny murders and everyone just freaks out!"

Yes, I know there are more comedy slasher films out there than you can shake a stick at, but this one has a particularly good twist: Tucker and Dale may look like psychopathic hillbilly killers who are out to slaughter the college kids visiting their patch of West Virginia one by one, but they're only trying to help. It's just that the kids keep randomly dying in increasingly bizarre ways.

Not only is it a good idea, but it works. It needs the precise plotting of an excellent farce combined with a load of slasher tropes to work well, and that's just what we get. We also get a mostly unknown but excellent cast, led by Alan Tudyk of Firefly and Dollhouse fame. There are so many memorable set pieces, not least where Tucker and Dale try to explain things to a sheriff before his random and unexpected demise, but for once I'll avoid spoilers as the film is obscure.

This is a brilliant film and well worth watching. It's on Netflix at the moment on the UK.

True Blood: Beyond Here Lies Nothin'

"Was there no god?"

And so we have this truly thrilling finale. Maryann's death is fitting and, interestingly, seems to have an atheistic subtext, albeit one based on disbelief in an Ancient Greek god so as to avoid offending anyone. Again, too, the season finale points forward to next season as Sam sets off to discover his real parents. Shockingly, too, we end with the sudden death of Eggs, the result of a horrible moral dilemma for Sookie and proof that Tara is the most unfortunate person ever.

We learn here that Sam is truly brave (and allowed, here, to be the hero), Bill is a clever tactician, that Eric doesn't like Yahtzee any more than I do and (this is truly horrific) Queen Sophie-Anne plays it to five million. That's just evil. 

It's good to see Hoyt finally rejecting and leaving his abusive mother, and Andy getting his badge back as a reward. Yet Jessica isn't responding to Hoyt's advances, and is biting some other bloke. And Eggs' death is... well. Poor Tara.

If that isn't enough drama, we have Bill proposing to Sookie in a restaurant (where does he get the money for those plane tickets? Does he have any income?)... and her hesitating. Worse, when she returns from the ladies', about to say yes, he's gone, and seemingly by force....

Making people wait for this to be resolved is pure evil. Fortunately I have it all on box set, though, and after a brief cinematic interlude I'll be moving on to Season Theee...

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

True Blood: Frenzy

"Tiny, tiny souls. Or penises. Or both."

I love the Queen of Louisiana- mad as a brush, delightfully polysexual and keen on Yahtzee- a rather boring game to us sane people but let us not be prejudiced. Anyway, she provides some much-needed exposition on how a Maenad may be killed- apparently she needs to be persuaded that her God is ravishing and sacrificing her, and she will die in joyful agony. Perhaps. We'll see. 

There's another big revelation too- it was Tara who summoned Maryann through that silly exorcism. Even quack ceremonies have power, which is a scary concept. There's a surprising amount of exposition and explanation for such an action-filled episode. Indeed, it's so action-filled that there's surprisingly little to write about.

There's a bit of intrigue, too, as Bill threatens to tell the queen about Eric selling V-juice, Hoyt hears devastating things about his past and Jason and Andy bond over both being thick. But it's all hands to the final showdown now as we prepare to end a superb season...

True Blood: New World in My View

"Jesus and me agreed to see other people. Don't mean we don't talk from time to time."

The episode starts, interestingly, with Sookie having an erotic dream about Eric, an obvious consequence of last episode, but the episode is about her, Jason's and Bill's return to Bon Temps and the true decadence they find there. There's nothing like an outsider's perspective and, after all this time in Dallas, that's what they have.

Things in Bon Temps are not going well; Maryann is still planning the ritual sacrifice of Sam as Sookie and Jason arrive back to be filled in by Hoyt on what's been happening as he and Jessica deal with his possessed mother. Sam and Andy are on the run, and Tara is going through cold turkey with Lafayette and her highly unreliable mother. 

It's interesting how fascinated Maryann is with Dookie and her mysterious powers, helping to foreground this ongoing mystery as we learn that it was Maryann who attacked her in the woods. Maryann's doings are bittersweet, though: the controlled Terry is not a damaged person but a highly competent soldier. 

Fortunately, Dookie brings Tara back from Maryann's clutches. Unfortunately, Tata still escapes as a result of her mother's stupidity, and heads off looking for Eggs. But we end with a double cliffhanger as a starving Jessica bites Hoyt's mum and Bill goes for help from a vampire queen...

True Blood: I Will Rise Up

"You've killed a man."

"That was for self-defence, not for lunch!"

The Brotherhood of the Sun subplot is all wrapped up... and suddenly one of them (Luke, whom we've come to know) turns out to be a suicide bomber and blows up most of the cast. That's quite an opening.

Fortunately, Sookie survives because of Eric(!( taking the full force of the blast for her, seemingly selflessly. And yet... he uses his own need for healing as a pretext to "own" Sookie as Bill does, being able to sense her in the same way. And, as Bill warns her, she's likely to experience feelings of attraction towards him. But... are we really supposed to be ok with the implication that Bill did this to her too? I suppose he saved her life, but it feels a bit queasily rapey.

Speaking of Bill, he ruthlessly kills all Soldiers of the Sun present, wisely allowing one to live and tell the tale. Elsewhere, Jessica and Hoyr continue to be the sweetest couple ever and Tara and Eggs are increasingly uneasy about Maryann- but are completely under her control, in spite of Lafayette's managing to take Tara away. Maryann's influence has led to half the town being locked up for lewd behaviour; Bon Temps is an increasingly weird place.

Hoyt arranges for Jessica to meet his horrible, controlling mother and ends up having the chat he's needed to have with her for a long time. Good for him. There's a heartwarming chat between Sookie and Jason, and Sookie has a disturbingly erotic dream about Eric...!

The imprisoned townsfolk are all freed by an increasingly confident and increasingly powerful Maryann; the season is clearly gearing up for a big conclusion as an increasingly strange Bon Temps awaits Sookie. It's a masterful build-up.

The most extraordinary part is the end, though, as the old, wise, tired and Christlike Godric chooses to embrace death by sunrise after his twenty long centuries, with only Sookie beside him. He wants to burn, dying happy, serene and surprised at this sight of a human shedding tears for him. It's an utterly beautiful scene.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Henry VI, Part 1 (Dominic Cooke, 2016)

"A day will come when York shall claim his own..."

It's been four years, but the BBC have finally got around to doing Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays under their The Hollow Crown imprint. Strictly speaking this isn't Henry VI, Part 1: we end the much-truncated production about halfway through Part 2. But it's a welcome attempt at some rarely-filmed plays and the cast, including those listed below, includes Philip Glenister, David Troughton and Michael Gambon.

Like its Hollow Crown predecessors, this is a straightforward retelling with 15th century costume and no directorial flourishes. That means it's all reliant on the acting, and the acting is superb. This is a play from a very young Shakespeare- one of his early hits- and isn't well known, also being somewhat lacking in famous lines, much as Shakespeare's dialogue is never less than sublime, even in his youth. There aren't, as far as I'm aware, any film versions to compare this to, so in spite of being good rather than great it's sort of the best by default.

We begin with huge vistas of Dover's white cliffs; this tries to be as visual as possible, in the Hollow Crown house style. But it's all about the performances. I haven't seen this play before, truncated or not, but I much enjoyed it, raising perhaps an eyebrow at just how wet the King is, how women are just chattels in this world, the very derogatory portrayal of Joan of Arc, but most of all, as ever with Shakespeare, getting drunk in the language.

The production is merely good; the play (or play and a half) is sublime.

Monday, 6 June 2016

True Blood: Timebomb

"I reckon I've already been to Heaven. It was inside your wife."

This episode focuses on Godric; that he's Really Important is signalled by the reverent behaviour of Eric, until now a huge authority figure. And then there's his Christlike bearing and behaviour, far more "Christian" than anyone in Steve Newlin's ridiculous cult, defusing the whole situation (and ending the sub-plot so that Maryann can take centre stage) with enormous grace and dignity. It's tempting to see this 2,000 year old vampire as an older and wiser version of Bill, which has obvious implications. Huge themes of sin, redemption and the wisdom of religious ethics as opposed to actual belief are at work here.

Bill escapes, interrupting Jessica and Hoyt in coitus to get them to flee to Bon Temps. Sam is framed for Daphne's death, joining an awful lot of licentious locals in jail. Daphne was missing a heart...

The grossest bit is, of course, Maryann serving Daphne's raw heart to Tara and Eggs in a pie, but this spectacle is narratively necessary to ficus us on her as the proper big bad of the season, now that the Reverend Mr. Newlin's little sideshow is over. The most tragic bit is that Jessica's hymen has grown back as it always will; for her, sex will always come with the pain of her first time. That's awful.

It's a rich, powerful episode even before we get to the ultimate cliffhanger: Luke as a suicide bomber...

True Blood: Release Me

"I'm gonna kick your ass so hard you'll be shitting boots."

The cliffhanger, and Sam's certain death, gets resolved by... the arrival of a rat-arsed and confused Andy Bellefleur. Only in True Blood

Otherwise, things are not going well as Sookie and Hugo are rumbled and caught by Steve Newlin and his nutters. Bill is unable to help because of Lorena holding him captive, leaving to an intriguing flashback from 1935, where he finally leaves her and resolves to stop killing people; stating that he could never love her.

It seems Hugo, jealous at not being "turned" is the traitor, not that it does him much good. He reveals all- not good news for Jason, now brother to a spy. At last his somewhat over-baked plot line is coming to an end.

An angry Sam confronts Daphne but finally gets done answers; Maryann is an immortal, ancient Maenad, presumably from Classical Greece, a worshipper of Dionysus. That explains the Bacchanalian rituals but is a genuine surprise. So is the fact that Daphne is killed by an increasingly evil-seeming Maryann. Yep. She's the big bad.

We also get a lovely series of scenes where Kessica and Hoyt pop their cherries with each other, and quite a cliffhanger in which Sookie finally meets the mysterious Godric...

Sunday, 5 June 2016

True Blood: Hard-Hearted Hannah

"Did you know that there was an actual vampire pope back in the Middle Ages?"

Sookie's undercover mission into the cult is going to be assisted by Hugo, also a human love of a vampire, in his case Isabel. After Barry, Sookie finds yet another parallel to herself in Dallas.

Before the mission, though, a flashback from 1926 ("Fuck Prohibition" indeed) introduces us Lorena, Bill's maker and former lover; for us Buffyverse fans, his Darla. And yet... he never loved her, and when he realises this he stops killing humans. I'm sure this relationship has a long way to go; she certainly still loves him.

Sam and Daphne, both shapechangers, are really connecting, and by all rules of drama they therefore cannot last. She encourages Sam to be more open about what she is, and reveals she was attacked by the beast that went for Sookie, and survived.

Sookie and Hugo have an interesting chat: she won't "turn" him, and he feels unwanted for this; will she still want him when he's old? This is an awkward question that Sookie and Bill will have to face.

Maryann is coming across more and more like a child, but Tara finds evidence of what has been happening during one of Eggs' increasingly prevalent blackouts- a clearing, the site of what looks like an orgy and, perhaps, human sacrifice, although both of them hide from the inplication. By now, for the viewer, there's no doubt that Maryann is the big bad of the season.

Meanwhile, Lafayette suffers a panic attack. It's devastatingly powerful to see someone so confident and witty so vulnerable and afraid. Strangely, Eric wants him to deal in V again.

Meanwhile, Jason gets further indoctrinated and has more sex with Sarah, Hoyt and Jessica continue to be the sweetest couple ever, and we end with a shock; Daphne was leading Sam into a trap all along. She's working for Maryann, and it seems he's to be sacrificed...

Brilliant. Again.

Marvel's Agent Carter: The Atomic Job

"I like pie. Pie is good."

This could be the best episode yet. The decision to up the comedy quotient for themselves season is really paying dividends, and it's mostly down to both the superb scripting and the excellent comedy acting from all involved.

We begin with the suggestion that possessing Jane Scott's body could help make him tangible and, given that we end with him less tangible than ever, I suspect that's where the next episode is headed.

This episode, though, begins with a rather sweet scene in which Sousa proposes to Violet- and she says yes. Which makes things rather bittersweet when she realises, at the end, that he moved to LA to get away from his feelings for Peggy. What will they do now?

But the episode, mostly, is a brilliantly designed and executed farce where Team Whitney and Team Peggy both race to get to some nukes, with the stakes being somewhat high. Along the way we get a nice bit of feminism from Peggy, showing that Rose, being fully trained, is better used in the field than as a receptionist. And the rather amusing trope of lab scientists with chips on shoulders continues. The best scene, though, involves Peggy, a memory inhibitor and a creepy old lecher.

The development of Whitney is interesting too; the dramatic showdown between her and Peggy makes clear that she doesn't want to be "cured", and her bullying of Cal begins to tip over into domestic abuse. Here we have an increasingly violent reaction against the tyranny of patriarchy. The themes add an extra level to an extraordinary series.

Friday, 3 June 2016

True Blood: Never Let Me Go

"I would no more allow you to feed on that young man than watch pornography on television!"

Sam has a shock; Daphne knows what he is, being a shifter herself. At last he's not alone, and has a lover he can really feel close to. Nothing bad will come of this, right? This is narratively paralleled with Sookie finding another telepath in the unwilling Barry and, embarrassingly, Sam and Daphne also find Arlene and Terry arriving for their own woodland sexual adventures. This series is plotted with the precision of a farce. I love it.

Meanwhile, we discover why Eric is so keen to rescue Godric; he's Eric's maker, as we establish with an unexpected flashback set in (roughly) Beowulf-era Sweden. The fact we've seen nothing like this before makes it extraordinary to watch, and our first sight of Godric is in this context, an interesting choice.

We also have Maryann and her tribe moving into Sookie's, after a little manipulation of Tara, and Jason's continuing experiences woth his religious cult. This plot strand still feels a little dragged out, but ends rather interestingly as Sarah visits Jason for rather unpuritanical reasons. That Jason...

True Blood: Shake and Fingerpop

"I am a vampire- I'm supposed to be tormented."

It's becoming increasingly apparent that the character of Bill works quite well, intentionally or not, as a deconstruction of Angel from, er, Angel; he's tormented, yes, but he's not stupidly guilty about it. He's mature, realistic and, best of all, not treated over-seriously by the script as this big romantic Byronic hero. After all, it's a trope that practically invites mockery.

Anyway, Sookie is off to Dallas with Bill, Jessica is prevented from popping her cherry with Hoyt (those two are sweet), and Jason is continuing to be rather crudely indoctrinated by the Fellowship of the Sun in a storyline which, while both amusing and serving to get us to know the organisation, feels as though it's being dragged out somewhat.

Meanwhile, that monster in the woods has another victim, and Tara has the first nice birthday of her entire life, poor girl, but the disturbing presence of Maryann hangs over everything. She seems wise, in a way, but also immature and hedonistic. I'm still not sure what she's about.

Andy continues his downward spiral, handing in his badge. Lafayette, now Eric's bitch, gets healed with his 1,000 year old blood and watched The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, sensible chap. Sookie and Bill arrive in Dallas to intrigue; there's clearly a traitor about. 

Godric, the missing sheriff vampire, is over 2,000 years old, twice Eric's age. I suggest this storyline is going to lead to some epic revelations. Oh, and Barry is a mind reader- Sookie isn't the only one?

In other storylines, Daphne knows what Sam is. And Maryann's party tonight is huge and mad. Again. There's so much going on at the moment. I love this season.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

True Blood: Scratches

"It's always a pleasure doing business with you, Dr. Ludwig."

"Fuck off!"

We begin, after last week's unpleasantness, with a blazing row between Sookie and Bill leading to her running off into the woods... and being attacked and nearly killed by some mysterious creature that's clearly going to loom large this season. She can only be saved by the intervention of Eric; Sookie and Bill now owe him an awful lot, much to Bill's annoyance.

Eric, incidentally, is more than 1,000 years old, and therefore a Viking. He's Swedish, mind, so he can't be in America because of Vinland... what's his background, I wonder?

Maryann, meanwhile, continues to disturb- Sam warns Tara against her, and Karl seems simply to be a slave. She and all around her seem to smoke an awful lot of weed, too. 

Jason is still being steadily indoctrinated by this Fellowship of the Sun cult in spite of his doubts; he's so easy to manipulate, especially by the flirty and attractive Sarah. She also seems more intelligent than her husband; is it she, rather than Steve, who is in charge? 

Behind all this... the Fellowship may be evangelical fanatics full of all sorts of bigotries but, while there are exceptions, the evidence we've seen so far indicates that most vampires are indeed evil. Yes, that's in spite of Bill's big speech about everyone, human and vampire, having agency. Vampires are still, on average, evil.

Sookie and Bill are off to Dallas for Eric, in return for Lafayette's freedom; this is intriguing, and no doubt will show us much more vampire lore in due course. Who is this mysterious, missing Godric?

Jessica and Hoyt getting together is, of course, the sweetest thing ever, and I hope the start of something beautiful. Less nice is Tara's situation with Maryann and her tribe; she's beginning to notice, and be disgusted by, what look to be Bacchanalian excesses.

Meanwhile, Sam and Daphne seem to be getting on well during a midnight swim... but those scratches look awfully like Sookie's. Curiouser and curiouser.

This is already an extraordinarily complex and compelling season, full of contrasts and questions. I suspect, behind it, there are themes; it's going to be a fascinating ride.