Sunday, 31 July 2016

True Blood: Radioactive

"You guys are the worst fucking makers ever!"

It didn't look like there was a lot for a season finale to do. There was, in the end, but it's nice to have a finale with room to breathe and not needing to move at too fast a pace.

The main point here, of course, is that Warlow is an entitled and abusive man and always was if you were paying attention; his superficial charm is textbook abuser. So he needs to get his comeuppance. It's also interesting to see the contrast offered between the essentially BDSM relationship between Violet and Jason: she "owns" him, and makes him pleasure her daily while denying him release, but it's consensual. Ish. Warlow is just an abusive twat.

Also, we hear the welcome tones of the Breeders' "Cannonball", Bill is back to normal and, ironically, Adilyn is needed to transport everyone to faerie and defeat Warlow. There is much fighting and, at a fairly early point, the goodies win, Warlow is killed and the episode can now do other stuff.

There is a fascinating arrangement proposed for Bon Temps, proposed by Sam, to "pair" each resident with a vampire for protection in return for feeding. It's moving to see Jessica offering to protect Adilyn for nothing. It's also moving to see Tara's no good mother offering to feed her.

We end a surprisingly reflective episode, in a season that started rather rubbishy but ended up ok overall, with Sookie and Bill still estranged and, naturally, marauding vampires...

Friday, 29 July 2016

True Blood: Life Matters

"I fucked your progeny."

It's a brave and oh-so-right decision to dedicate and structure this episode around Terry's funeral, punctuated by the various poignant speeches and the flashbacks illustrating Terry's life, his effect on the community and peoples' effect on him. For a fantasy series it's a very grounded episode about everyday life and everyday tragedy. Every life matters, and every death hurts.

Before all that, Warlow isn't actually dead and Bill is still acting like a twat. But the funeral is the main event, and it is wonderful. 

In other plot threads we have Overlark's fitting death as Eric rampages his revenge in ways that will make a man wince, followed by Bill's coup de grace. And Bill gets his great Christ moment, letting all our favourite vampires eat his blood and not die from the sunlight as his visions foretold they would. Sudden death, and sudden life, both unexpected, juxtaposed. 

All our favourite vampires, that is, except Steve Newlin. Bye Steve.

Jason gets to chase Sarah for the final showdown, heroically refusing to kill her like the good bloke he is. Our vampires live, escape and rejoice... but plenty of infected True Blood is out there. This is ominous...

Wow. What a beautiful piece of telly.  Even as underwhelming a season of this can produce genius like this. I love True Blood.

True Blood: Dead Meat

"Did you just have sex with him?"

"I did."

"How was it?"

"Oozy, but productive."

Alcide's position as packmaster isn't fated to last; no surprise there. His plot thread, and Sam's, is vaguely dull. But the main plots of Warlow and the newly Nazified Sarah have become vaguely interesting of late. It throws up entertaining tangents like Jason, who always has been submissive to women in a kinky way, becoming "owned forever" by a very dominant vampire, Violet, who is going to make him beg to fuck her. This will be interesting, and is an example of how good character writing can save even a lesser season such as this one.

In parallel, Warlow only agrees to help Sookie save her friends if she is his forever, but this feels far creepier. Creepier still is our Dr Mengele making Pam have sex with him in return for better conditions. This is rape, and Mengele is sooo going to regret it. We have w three example hierarchy of twisted sex right there- consensual kinkiness, hints of an abusive nature, and outright rape.

Elsewhere, Arlene finds out that Terry has left her a millionaire, which is nice. Steve Newlin is a dirty, cowardly snitch. And Sam and Sookie meet, and hug, for the first time in ages. Sarah's covering-up of Truman's death leads, inevitably, to a gruesomely entertaining murder; she's crossed a line here and you just know she won't survive the season.

But we end with Warlow apparently dead. Has Eric killed him? This is a brilliant episode. Is the season coming good at the very end?

Thursday, 28 July 2016

True Blood: In the Evening

"Well, this is a first- waking up with a man in broad daylight."

The vampires we know are to be told about the Hep V, courtesy of Eric, but no one else, which is nice. Meanwhile, Bill refuses to save Nora as it goes against her dying wish; this doesn't exactly please Eric. And Sarah plans to officially cover up Truman's death and take charge.

There's a sense of the endgame being in sight from all this, in this shorter season of ten episodes, with most vampires conveniently located in the heart of the beast and the Nazi metaphor quietly betrayed in spite of the many Dr. Mengeles. It's a nice touch that the senator helping Sarah is doing so to hide the fact that he, a social conservative, is in fact gay; indeed, he was fucking Lafayette a few seasons ago.

Sookie is a good friend to the devastated Arlene. But at least, it seems, Arlene won't be poor, with Terry's life insurance to be paid out. Jessica finds James, warns him and (of course) fucks him. Butcher end with Bill telling all to Sookie and demanding Warlow, whose blood he needs to save the day. Bill as a character is simply not at all played or written to be likeable at this point, an interesting choice.

Another good episode. Perhaps the second half of the season will after all redeem it?

True Blood: Don't You Feel Me

"I'm gonna need you to tie me up..."

Predictably it's Warlow who saves Sookie, and Lafayette is himself again. Warlow is now in her good books and she's utterly disgusted, unsurprisingly, with her father.

Jason joins the anti-vampire Gestapo undercover in an attempt to rescue Jessica, and impresses people; he may be dim, but he's loyal and has skills, bless him. Sookie and Warlow get closer and closer, with hints of kinkiness in his vampire side. And Andy gets so close to his surviving daughter that he gives her a name: Adilyn. Number Four just won't cut it now.

Lafayette lets Arlene know the rather blatant fact that Terry is suicidal. They attempt to change his feelings by means of Lafayette's powers, but unfortunatwly this makes her m forget the danger he's in. He dies in Arlene's arms, and it's shocking and horrible. 

This dominates the episode. Other things happen- Sam vs Alcide, the revelation that Warlow want to turn Sookie and marry her, Jason and Sarah confronting each other- but this one, awful event hangs over everything.

A vampire called James turns out to be a gentleman, not raping Jessica as ordered in spite of both his torture and her low self-esteem. Oh, and Bill unexpectedly walk up to Truman and beheads him. Nice. Rather more upsetting is the death of Nora in Eric's arms; there's a lot of death in this episode.

We end with the revelation that Sarah (now clearly on charge) means to manufacture new Tru Blood spiked with Hepatitis V: genocide. And Sookie is, er, getting in rather well with Warlow. An unexpectedly gripping and emotional episode.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

True Blood: Fuck the Pain Away

"And I firmly believe God wants me to fuck you!"

So, apparently Warlow loves Sookie and she is his "intended": that's a little creepy. And then there's Jessica, distraught with guilt over murdering the fairy girls yet high on their blood. It doesn't take much to guess there's a lot more religious angst in store for her. It's quite an opening and I am, for once this season, almost hopeful about the episode.

Warlow, it seems, hates being a vampire, and killed Sookie's parents to stop them killing her, quite a bombshell. So is the fact that Bill, being part-Lilith, turns up to order Warlow around as his maker, a nice twist. 

Only one of Andy's girls are alive; this must be devastating. Understandably he's furious at Bill, under whose roof this all happened. Tara and Eric are also displeased, in their case about Pam being taken to the camps, and proceed to spend much of the episode being badass together. Things are getting bad fast, especially with Sarah whispering all that poison into Truman's ear.

Speaking of Sarah, after her inevitable shag with Jason (one up on her estranged husband there), she gets into a mismatched cat fight with Jessica, who is so not in the mood. Less lighthearted is the fact that Terry has just hired an old war mate to kill him; in effect, suicide by hit man. Last season's adventures with the Ifrit were all too much for him. 

Pam is fascinating when she says that, yes, she was distraught about Eric but that's over now. Vampires are old, with a long-term view, and "pain is a worthless emotion". This is a nice contrast with Terry in an episode all about the emotional pain people carry. At last, an episode this season that's actually about the human condition.

Lafayette helps Sookie to learn her parents knew about Warlow and wanted her to die so she wouldn't be turned by Warlow. Blimey. 

There's also a flashback from 3496 BC, with Warlow returning to his village and massacring everyone except Niall, another violent event causing lasting pain for so many. 

We end on a double cliffhanger, with Pam and Steve Newlin forced to fight while Lafayette, possessed by Sookie's dad, tries to drown her. This episode is much better.

True Blood: At Last

"You deserve to be one of us..."

We get the shocking reveal at the start that Ben, a half-fairy, is also a vampire, as he immediately uses his own blood to heal Jason. It seems a hybrid such as himself can walk freely in the Sun. There's more exposition as Nora explains, before being shot, that Warlow (this is where it clicked for me that he was Ben, an impressive reveal) is said by the Vampire Bible to be the only person who can kill Lilith.

Meanwhile Andy's fairy daughters are now teenagers, and Eric turns Willa (the first time since Pam that he has done this) both because she impresses him and to torment her father. Sam starts to develop a relationship with Nicole. 

Truman is appalled and heartbroken at what has happened to his daughter; Sarah is just straightforwardly evil. It's clear that she's both the power behind the throne and the true Big Bad. She persuades Truman to send his own daughter to the camp.

Interestingly, Warlow still seems to have purely romantic intentions towards Sookie in spite of being a vampire. But we end with a hungry Jessica, unable to control herself, killing Andy's fairy daughters for their blood. Oops...

This is much better; at last we're getting real drama and intrigue.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

True Blood: You're No Good

"I was crazy and more racist than usual..."

Eric and Wila have this very appealingly twisted erotic attraction, very much reminiscent of Dracula as I've already said. This is clever, but does it really mean anything other than pure reference in the sixth season of a series about vampires when we've already learned what vampires are like?

Bill's vision is clarified: Jessica, Pam, Tara, Eric, all to burn in the Sun. Understandably he's upset and determined to stop it. Willa gives Eric all sort of sordid details about her nasty dad. There's confusion about the extent of Bill's powers now. And Niall finds that there's been a massacre at the dairy club and they're all dead, which is awful. This is all entertaining enough but with a definite side order of meh.

More interesting is the return of Sarah Newlin, clever, deliciously evil and fanatical as ever, now working for Truman and aiming to be a politician- Republican, of course. And Bill tells Sookie that she's dead to him for refusing to help prevent his vision. Again, meh.

Also meh is Sam and his new civil rights friends' successful rescuing of Emma from the werewolf pack. Even the cliffhanger with Jason badly hurt can't liven things up. I'm seriously worried about this season.

One-Eyed Monster (2008)

"Circumcise it to oblivion with an axe!"

It had to happen: a slasher movie where a bunch of people making a porn film (including a certain Ron Jeremy, who is apparently famous in that world) are slowly attacked and killed by, er, a disembodied penis. Yes, quite. I'm not exactly saying it's good, but the WTF factor keeps you watching to the end.

There's not much more to add in the sense of things I'd normally mention, really. I suppose I should say that Amber Benson off of Buffy, while ostensibly the star, doesn't get much to do, but that sort of comment feels irrelevant to a film like this.

We get Ron Jeremy dying because the alien steals his huge cock. We get a machine designed to simulate celebrity vaginas for the gentleman's pleasure. We get an old man who encountered such a floating homicidal or is in Vietnam. The black guy lives!

Er, yes. This film defies criticism, but it rewards your ghoulish curiosity by keeping you agog and incredulous. See what you think...

True Blood: The Sun

"I was testing you and you failed miserably!"

Something comes through a portal- can it be Warlow? Meanwhile, Jason gets a bollocking from his fairy grandfather and it becomes abundantly clear that humans now have the resources and weaponry to fight back against vampires. Bill can feel vampires being tortured right now in Louisiana, a place where they have no rights and, no doubt, a Kristalnacht is coming.

Sookie meets Ben, a mysterious injured fairy, while Sam meets Nicole, a civil rights activist who knows he's a shifter and wants to fight for the civil rights of "sipes"- an opposite reaction to the new governor. Predictable.

Bill's Lilith-inspired powers provide us with a lot of spectacle, while Andy's kids continue to get older and Niall investigates the portal Warlow may have used.

We get an interesting set piece between Eric and Governor Truman Burrell in which the battle lines are drawn and we learn that the tyrant has an Achilles heel, a daughter, Willa, whose name sounds a bit like "Wilhelmina" and whom Eric later seduces through the window, Dracula-like.

Niall gives another info dump to Jason and Sookie: the Stackhouses are vampire royalty and Warlow is obsessed with them. Niall is a King. Warlow murdered his family; John was his son. Even cooler is that Sookie has a kind of supernova power that can kill vampires- but she immediately stops being fae if she uses it.

Alcide and Sam are also clashing about custody of Emma after Luna's demise, and Jessica has a beautifully shot moment of religious angst. But we end with Bill having a vision of all our favourite vampires about to die by sunlight in an obvious analogy for a gas chamber.

This episode is better but still awkward, and the crudeness of the Nazi metaphor is getting more and more jarring.

Monday, 25 July 2016

True Blood: Who Are You, Really?

"Who the fuck is Mary Poppins and can I please kill her?"

So Bill turns into a rampaging and expensive-looking god-beast, but everyone escapes. It's a dramatic start, but with more than a hint of meh. This Lilith storyline has already gone on too far.

Even more meh, we have a new Governor of Louisiana who is instituting racial laws against vampires which are clearly meant to invoke the Nazis with a hint of Jim Crow. I generally like my metaphors rather more subtle than this and, well, isn't it seat her obvious thing to do at this point?

In other stuff, Tara and Pam are still sweet together. Pam is still awesome. And Jason gets an info-dump from Nora; Warlow was allegedly vamped by Lilith herself and is truly ancient, indeed mythical. And Jason is going through a racist phase. It's parental thing, literally.

Andy is slowly growing into fatherhood, Alcide is now packmaster, and Kason meets his "fairy grandfather", Niall. We know he's an important character, as he's played by Rutger Hauer. 

Bill is suddenly, seemingly, Bill again. Both Sookie and Jessica are uncertain. Is he really Bill? The new governor has Fangtasia raided, injuring Tara while doing so. And Eric returns Sookie's house to her. That's a lot of stuff, but mostly either set-up or tying up loose ends.

But we end with a lot of angst from Bull; what is he now? What are his powers? It's all very well-executed but I'm a little concerned that True Blood may be getting a little high on its mythology and forgetting to actually be about something.

iZombie: Blaine's World

"Nice ball sac..."

So, to the finale. Blaine has Major at his mercy as the Max Rager conspiracy finally gets exposed. Oh, and Peyton finds out that Liv is a zombie under viokent circumstances and runs away, appalled. It was bound to happen. Will she back and, if so, as friend or foe?

It's a firmly awesome finale, setting up new threats as du Clark seeks to use zombies to produce "Supermax", which will mean consumers no longer need to sleep. And Liv gives up her apparently last chance for a cure to use on Blaine, a suitable Guinea pig for a solution that killed a rat. Suzuki dies heroically in the end, covering up his corruption. It's all very neat.

But the ending is heartbreaking as Liv's brother is caught in the explosion and she's asked to donate her blood. But she can't...

This has been an unexpectedly addictive,entertaining and intelligent series. A season of True Blood next and then I'll be blogging Season Two...

Saturday, 23 July 2016

iZombie: Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat

"Now, if you wouldn't mind feeling around my lobsters for a bit..."

So, Liv made a zombie in a boat while in a spot of bother, if you remember. Well, said zombie thug is duly run over by some stoned kids, consumed with guilt in an I Know What You Did Last Summer sort of way. Said kids start turning on each other, murders happen, said zombie is of course not actually dead, and we're getting very close to the finale. Good stuff.

Oh, and "The Ass Hats" is a superb name for a band.

Anyway, Ravi's cured zombie rat dies, which is a bit of a bummer. Peyton and Ravi continue to get on well with, allegedly, lots of sex. Liv, with her stoner brain, er, gets stoned. The case is solved but threads are left unresolved as we're about to start the season finale. Oh, and Blaine has Major, whose sleuthing has got him into trouble. We're nearly done now. This is a superb debut season.

Friday, 22 July 2016

iZombie: Astroburger

""Careful! Don't open yourself up to the classic reverse Sicilian gambit. That's a chess thing, right?"

"Sounds more like something a call girl would make you pay extra for..."

We know iZombie by now; yes, Majoy may be in a mental hospital because Liv thought he'd be safe there, but he isn't: his chess-playing mate gets murdered. Liv duly acquires said delusional brain, complete with chess skills, voices in her head and (we discover) an imaginary friend. Meanwhile Ravi and Peyton start dating, and it seems to be going well.

Major, after this, discharges himself and returns to his obsession, made so much worse by his not knowing the truth. There is ascent in which Liv reveals all to him but this is, rather predictably, a delusion.

Also, Blaine has stick zombie client who wants the brain if someone who has walked on the Moon(!) and Ravi's successful cure for the zombie rat seems to hold out hope.

Another good episode, then, if predictable in places. And it reminds me that a) weed is legal in Washington State and b) I must watch Vertigo again, and blog it.

iZombie: Mr. Berserk

"Liv, you're off the case..."

At last the Max Rager stuff moves centre stage as a journalist investigating the drink's propensity to cause violence is murdered. Liv's ingestion of her brain makes her tenacious and alcoholic, which is not inconvenient. It's more good telly.

In other conspiracy news, Suzuki is covering for Blaine; he knows where his brains are coming from. And the fallout from Lowell's death continues as the truth has to be hidden. That's three separate conspiracies. Paranoid much? You really tend to sympathise with Major.
Especially when Clive comes close to sectioning him. It's a very arc-heavy episode.

Major checks himself into hospital as Liv drinks and investigates. It's clear Max Rager are guilty but it all gets rather dangerous, insidious and exciting as Liv ends up having to go into full-on zombie mode to avoid being murdered. Unfortunately her prospective killer is now a zombie, and Max Rager are still uncaught. 

It's getting exciting and the season finale is still in sight in the least story-of-the-week episode yet, but iZombie is still as awesome as ever.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

iZombie: Patriot Brains

"You'll eat human brains to get bigger muscles?"

"I'm open to that as an option!"

Things start rather badly for Liv and Lowell as she informs him that he's been subsisting on the brains of murdersd teenagers, a rather nifty metaphor for the unethical origins of what we all eat. This causes friction, as you imagine, but during the ensuing argument he admits he loves her. Oops.

The racket in said brains, and the linked police corruption, move surprisingly to the forefront here. Meanwhile, Blaine is as big a Nirvana fan as Oam (he references Fecal Matter) and is about to hear stuff that wasn't even on the Outcesticide bootlegs. Bastard. And yes, I realise how old I found to be mentioning bootlegs.

Anyway, we also have a murder of the week, and Liv duly eats the brains of the victim, a sniper and Afghanistan veteran. But the main focus is on the relationship between Liv and Lowell. Their reconciliation is quite heartwarming. Automatically we know that,  any time a couple couple in a TV drama reconcile after a recent row, one of them will die. We know it will be Lowell, him not being the title character, and sure enough- he's killed by Blaine as Liv bottles out of using her sniper skills to kill him.

Major has a bad time this week too, and thinks he's going mad, but the shock of Lowell'sdrath overshadows everything. Yes, iZombie is brilliant, all right.

iZombie: Dead Air

"Oh, it's a zombie thing. You wouldn't understand."

This episode is as much about Liv's flourishing relationship with Lowell- we open, in a classic piece of misdirection, with what looks like an orgasm but is in fact him massaging her feet- as it is about the excellent murder mystery of who killed a radio sex talk presenter, but it's excellent. Bonus points for Liv eating the brains of a sex expert, which does her sex life no harm at all...

But we also see the fallout from last week; Major's concern for the street kids is tearing his life apart and ruining his career, and he's convinced (correctly, as we know) that there's been a cover-up.

Liv's new brain is not from a very nice person and, for the first time, she says things that really upset Ravi. 

We end with the mystery resolved, alongside an entertaining on-air meltdown, and the stirrings of possible romance between Peyton and Ravi. Unfortunately, we also end with an alarming vision for Liv and Ravi being bitten by the zombie rat...

Date Movie (2006)

"In fact, growing up on a farm, I once milked a cat."

Here we have one of Aaron Seltzer's many spoof movies, this time spoofing romantic comedies such as Meet the Parents. Like most of them, it's humour isn't particularly witty but it's amusing enough and Alyson Hannigan, always brilliant at comedy, is outstanding. Possibly more so than the material deserves.

Still, it's an amusing way to spend a couple of hours, much as I was never going to get many of the references. It's the signature Scary Movie style of humour, and at least this time it isn't doing a dumb spoof of what was already a comedy of a much wittier kind, as that film was.

Oh, and it may not have been as geek-friendly as, say, Superhero Movie, but I loved the honeymoon on Kong Island...

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

iZombie: Maternity Liv

"But you should eat something. Possibly. With vegetables, if you so choose."

It had to happen; Liv has eaten the brain of a pregnant woman and is getting all motherly, a mad this is of course played for comic effect. But this helps to lighten a surprisingly dark episode about parental abuse and, in the end, dodgy cover-ups. The central mystery is, as ever, excellent.

Major, meanwhile, is working with a tenacious journalist to find out what happened to those missing kids. And Ravi and Lowell have an excruciating conversation about London football that clearly wasn't written by a Brit.

It's a brilliant conceit that Lowell's apparent standoffishness towards Liv is explained by a gay brain he's eaten, and their relationship is simmering nicely. 

We end with a cover-up, Suzuki suspecting that Liv is a zombie, and Ravi's lab rat becoming a zombie rat...

Monday, 18 July 2016

iZombie: Virtual Reality Bites

"Well, I had to escape the chilly, wet, depressing London weather. So, Seattle, naturally."

That quote only narrowly beat "Nice shag". Anyway...

This week's murderer victim is a right nasty piece of work, an online troll called the "Sim Reaper", and he so deserved his fiendishly clever nut allergy-related death at the hands of the brother of a girl he drove to suicide. It's an entertaining murder mystery, as always, and in the end a rather poignant one. It also involves an online role playing game (I prefer tabletop, preferably with dice, THAC0 and saving throws. I'm old school like that) which enables Ravi and Major to bond a bit.

Meanwhile, Liv starts to date Lowell but it's early days and rather awkward. Blaine (quelle surprise) is behind the kidnappings. And Liv's younger brother is at risk...

By this point I'm well and truly hooked.

iZombie: Flight of the Living Dead

"I'll only hover by the phone for the next 72 hours or so. After that I'm on to the next Zombie girl."

It's fascinating to see how the murder mysteries of the week (another good one here, involving the death by parachute of Liv's old uni friend) dovetail with the gradual zombie subplot, slowly showing us, tantalisingly, what the "rules" are. Here, one of the suspects- Lowell, a professional rock musician- has a good alibi in that he's a zombie. Unsurprisingly, being nice, good-looking and not evil like Blaine, he rapidly becomes Liv's love interest.

Also, in other news, kids known to Major- a social worker- are going missing, a new plot thread. Soft drinks manufacturer Max Rager is shown to be a bit dodgy. Oh, and Clive's boss is a zombie. All this is the ideal mix: we're still getting stories of the week, and good ones, but mixed with a strong arc element; the best of both worlds. 

It's becoming clear that this series is very good indeed.

iZombie: Liv and Let Clive

"You got your ass kicked by a girl. Get over it."

This is an episode which needed to come early in the season; any later and we'd know and trust Clive too well to believe he could have dodgy relations with criminals. Instead we get an episode which deepens his character; he spent a year undercover and was deeply affected by it.

We also have more moustache-twirling by Blaine along the usual lines. His extortion victim, Jackie, actually fancies him. Bastard. Blaine is already a superbly written and acted villain.

The plot is, as ever, a superbly crafted mystery and che character development is proving to be first class; it'll be interesting to see what happens now that Major has moved in with Ravi. 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

More Post-Referendum Stuff

Matthew Parris has always been my favourite commentator on the right, and I think he nails it here, odd comment about Enoch Powell not being racist aside. Not all Leave voters were driven by hatred of immigrants- in fact, if you voted Leave and you're reading this, you almost certainly weren't- and millions of ordinary people voted Leave for honourable reasons. But the Leave campaign itself (or, rather, both of them) pandered to a deeply disturbing element, won largely because of this, and our country is a nastier place as a result.

Friday, 15 July 2016

iZombie: The Exterminator

"Devoid of compassion. Full of factoids."

This episode is interesting as it shows us a traditional, mindless zombie; this is the fate that awaits Liv if her supply of brains dries up. Nice. Meanwhile, Liv experiences the brain of a sociopathic hit man. Not that there's any other kind.

Again, this is a good murder mystery and, it must be said, the third brilliant episode in a row. Liv is fortunate to be devoid of empathy as she witnesses the fate of her friend Marcie, forever a mindless zombie, and has to kill her. It's a brutal reality check for her and for Ravi, tirelessly seeking a cure.

Meanwhile, homeless kids are going missing; it seems that. Rather than weaving a light set of season arcs through stories of the week, the series is rather more heavily arc-based. Good.

iZombie: Brother, Can You Spare a Brain?

"What's more meta than a zombie, the  having a bad zombie dream?"

Time to return to iZombie to complete the first season; then it's True Blood again. I'll then do the second season of iZombie, the final season of True Blood, and then I'll be back to finally finish Buffy and Angel. Promise! Obviously there will also be films.

Anyway... this second episode features an excellent murder mystery which follows all the rules and features her off of Scrubs, but it also develops the characters and format in a way which is extremely promising. 

The conceit of Liv acquiring traits of those whose brains she eats is brilliant and potentially a cause for endless fun; here she becomes artistic and says things like "There was something historic about his chin". I love this series' humour, visual wit and style, characters and brain eating generally but this is a unique selling point.

Interestingly, we meet Blaine, the first other zombie and a somewhat cynical one. I love their conversation about terminology and "full-on zombie mode". Blaine became a zombie that same night and has visions too; interesting. Unfortunately he's a baddie who makes rich people zombie and sells them brains for big money. We'll be seeing more of him then.

Liv's developing relationship with her ex-fiancé, Major (odd first name!) is clearly something to watch; here, her new found artistic enthusiasm helps them to bond over jazz. Other cool things include a dog-friendly Internet cafe called "Mutt Bowl Surfers"; Gibby Haynes would approve. So far I'm really enjoying this series.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

True Blood: Save Yourself

"You're a dick!"

At last this season ends, but inconclusively. We begin with a swift resolution to the cliffhanger as Eric suddenly kills Russell Edgington, but the story arc doesn't quite end as the season climaxes with Bill seeming to merge with Lilith. Yes, we have the traditional setting up of the next season's plotlines- Andy's four new fairy daughters are delivered by Holly, of all people- but this is an uneven and unsteady finale.

There's a somewhat messy showdown during which Jason gets visions of his rather anti-vampire parents while kicking arse somewhat awesomely. Alcide finally kills J.D. and becomes leader of the pack. But mostly it's all about the messy downfall of the authority, following which Bill tricks and betrays Salome, whose death is sudden, like Edgington's.

It's an odd finale. Parts of it are satay img conclusions to arcs. Parts are intriguing set-up. But as a whole this is a finale uncomfortably lacking in coherence.

True Blood: Sunset

"Kind of strange to hear you were sold to a vampire 300 years ago..."

Much of this penultimate episode consists of Lilith appearing to Bill and various other chancellors, tempting them to drink her blood and... then what?

Bill, it seems, no longer cares about Sookie, Jason or indeed any humans; the exist only as food. Jessica is tested to
see if she agrees, being sent to sire Jason, something which we instantly know she isn't going to actually do. And we get more exposition about the scroll, and Sookie having been promised to a vampire called Warlow. 

Incidentally, "Stackhouse" isn't a very Gallic name. Could there have been Stackhouses in the Louisiana of the Sun King himself back in 1702?

The increasingly deranged Sanguinista council declare ware against the USA by killing a general, not something that can be reset easily; this will have permanent consequences. Roman's dire predictions of the consequences of not mainstreaming may well come true. 

On a much nicer note, Pam decides to sacrifice her life for Tara and take the blame for the killing of the nasty new sheriff of Area 51. She may not always show it, being grumpy old Pam, but her character arc to becoming a loving mother is now complete. Aaaah.

We end with the dairy club in dire peril as Russell Edgington approaches. An eventful and exciting episodes but I wonder, yet again, if this may be concealing the possibility that the series may be past its peak and over-reliant on its own mythology.

True Blood: Gone, Gone, Gone

"Who's the smart one now?"

Bill's idea is bearing fruit; the lack of True Blood is already leading to an increase in vampire attacks on humans. Things are taking an increasingly apocalyptic tone as we approach the end of this rather uneven season.

The most heartbreaking event of the episode is that Hoyt is not only leaving for Alska but gets Jessica to glamour him so that he forgets her-his first love- and Jason- his lifelong best friend. This is the thematic centre of an episode about abrupt endings.

Eric is in deep trouble as the new Authority takes over, setting quotas for new vampires to be turned and menacing a splendidly incandescent Pam. But Bill has an agenda of his own, and it involves Lilith's blood. 

Jason, meanwhile, once again shows himself to be good at police type stuff by finding a mysterious old scroll in Sookie's house. The language seems utterly inscrutable, but this artifact is clearly important. 

Bill is getting increasingly creepy and fanatical, trying to push religion on to Jessica just as her dad did. He's a little less dull this episode because of the good handling of the mystery of his motives, but the character is nonetheless neither likeable or particularly interesting. We're all motivated here by our liking for Jessica.

Ominously, Russell Edgington has a plan to breed fairies so that vampires can "day walk"  Salome disagrees and there's a permanent schism between them; Russell never did have any true allegiance to religion. Interestingly, his accent turns German when he's emotional...

We end with Maurella appearing to Andy, pregnant, and explaining that he's agreed to raise her children. This is quite the bombshell, especially given his flourishing relationship with Holly. And that piece of vellum in Sookie's house turns out to be a contract from 1702 saying that the "first fae-bearing human heir" of one John Stackhouse belongs to someone called Warlow. And that would be Sookie...

Ok. I'm intrigued.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

True Blood: Everybody Wants to Rule the World

"Whatever happens we keep our heads down, our tits up and the True Blood flowing!"

We get an overdue and, in the end, satisfying resolution to Terry's Iraqi Ifrit subplot and, as a bonus, we get a resolution to the anti-Supes KKK plotline with a genuinely surprising revelation; former sheriff Bud, while very much under his fanatical girlfriend's thumb, is secretly the "Dragon" in charge. It's a well-executed and entertaining end to the subplot, with Andy and Jason shown to actually be capable of good police work, and a clear message that the baleful influence of such racist terrorist organisations persists in the Deep South and beyond.

Otherwise, though, there's a slight sense of going through the motions. Yes, Pam is awesome, but the scenes of Bill embracing his role as senior baddie and thinking of Sookie while shagging Salome simply don't have much traction; the character has become boring and the ambiguous Eric is far more interesting. 

It's amusing to see Edgington and Steve Newlin as delightfully homicidal lovers, taking Emma as their unfortunate "pet" and generally being gleefully evil together. We meet Alcide's disgraced dad, who bears an awfully close resemblance to the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. But, worryingly close to the end of the season, I'm feeling an unexpected lack of enthusiasm. Can things improve?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

True Blood: Somebody That I Used to Know

"And  first, may I say... God has the most beautiful tits I've ever seen..."

All our favourite vampire characters continue their drug-fuelled religious orgy of death and trippiness while Sam and Luna continue to deal with the presence of an anti-supe Ku Klux Klan. Eric is sceptical of his drug-addled visions. Bill, who is becoming less likeable with every passing episode, is not. Eric, at least, is not a religious fundamentalist and, unlike Russell Edgington, is not a hypocrite.

Sookie, meanwhile, is fed up with being a fairy, and it takes an intervention from Jason to stop her using all of her powers up forever. Alcide, training to challenge for the role of packmaster, is shagging his trainer. But mostly this episode examines our vampires. We get a flashback to Bill in 1910 as he refuses to make his dying daughter a vampire in spite of her pleas; what right has he to recuse? Bill is becoming both less likeable and, in spite of the interesting themes, less interesting.

Hoyt and his very right-wing mates are getting on rather well until, predictably, he's made to stake Jessica. This causes the expected change of heart and, with a bit of trickery, the two of them soon bugger off after a bit of drama. 

Sookie and Jadon get some help from Claude and their other fairy friends to reconstruct the deaths of their parents on that bridge and sure enough- it's a vampire who killed them, with Claudine then arriving to somehow get rid of it. It seems to have been called "Warlow"..,

Eric and Nora clash over what Godrc would have wanted as Pam helps Tara get some delightful revenge over a racist customer. Lafayette helps to bring Terry's subplot closer to its welcome conclusion while Russell Edgington and Steve Newlin bond over gay fantasies. Bill makes himself useful to the now Sanguinista-dominated Authority by suggesting the bombing of True Blood factories.

There's a lot of incident, yes, and Sookie's plotlines is fascinating but, well, this is the first episode where I've felt a definite sense of the plotlines not all being as entertaining; some are becoming tiresome. For the first time I'm thinking that perhaps True Blood may be a little past its best.

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

"To the winch, wench!"

This isn't a film I have any great nostalgia for- it didn't seem to connect with me the one and only time I saw it on video in the mid-'80s. But I'm happy to say o thoroughly enjoyed this fantastical pawn to storytelling, imagination and puppetry.

It's odd to see this very German tale awkwardly transported to the USA- "Bastian" is not a very American name- but all that vanishes once we arrive safely in Fantasia for a wonderful picaresque tale of no stars but many wonders which knock modern CGI into a cocked hat. Books are dangerous things!

We get a dreamlike quest narrative, with the child hero Atreyu obviously mirroring Bastian, who is reading this in a book. We get Alan Oppenheimer, the voice of Skeletor. And we get Falkor the luck dragon, dangerously close to a kids' show cute puppet but who works. Why doesn't he take Atreyu all the way to the Empress's tower, though? 

A film that has dated in the best possible way, The NeverEnding Story is well worth a rewatch.

Friday, 8 July 2016

True Blood: In the Beginning

"Join us!"

"Never, you Bible-banging cunts!"

Edgington, that hypocrite who has so recently burnished his atheistic principles,  is taking over at the Authority. As if we ever doubted it, he's clearly the season's Big Bad. 

Elsewhere, there are touching scenes between Sookie and Jason as he reassures her that she isn't responsible for their parents' deaths. Their relationship is rather lovely.

Andy visits Bud for some advice; long time, no see, but Bud seems distracted. You know his random appearance has to have some significance, though. Tara is visited by her horrible mother, and disowned. Poor Tara. But, of course, in the long run I suspect this is done to underline the fact that Pam is her mother now, and finally one who cares. Or will do.

Lafayette is off on his own shamanic subplot in Mexico while Edgington takes control of Marcus' old pack. Sookie tries to use up all her powers do she can lose them. And all the Authority have a massive drug trip where they see Lilith.  There's a murderous death orgy and Eric and Nora see Godric's disapproving ghost... 

Most of the characters are at quite a low ebb; must be mid-season then...

True Blood: Hopeless

"You're no better than humans with your absurd magical thinking. There is no Lilith!"

Predictably, Sookie saves everyone with her mysterious powers before the Authority arrive to take custody of Edhington, who is seemingly at their mercy. Fatally, they spend most of the episode underestimating him while he mocks their religious certainties.

Hoyt, still desperate to get Jessica back, is getting quite kinkily submissive, while Sam is at Luna's bedside; it seems she isn't dead but they want revenge. And we see more of Lafayette's delightfully twisted relationship with his mother. And Sookie hears how it was a vampire that killed her parents, leading Jason to introduce her to his new-found fairy mates.

Bill and Eric are, it seemed, now heroes to the Authority, their misdemeanours forgotten. Edgington is to be executed. But we know by now that Russell is bound to end up on top and, sure enough, the villainous vampire takes full advantage of an unexpected Sanguinistas coup against Roman from within the highest ranks of the Authority...

This is where the unexpected twists start. Yes, this is the season where True Blood perhaps begins to become over-reliant on its own past mythology. But it's excellence goes on and on. 

True Blood: Let's Boot and Rally

"New York City smells like pee. And the people are rude."

I love the opening scenes- Sookie vomiting before she's about to have interrupted sex with Alcide, and Lafayette enduring a bad trip, except that this is real magic of the Alan Moore kind. Religious angst; must be the Deep South.

Jason gets trippiness, too, spending most of the episode "seeing" and "hearing" the parents he now knows to have been murdered. Sookie, under the splendid influence of alcohol, is highly amused to see the alpha male fight between Bill and Alcide. And the Authority continues its purge against Sanguinistas.

It becomes clear what's persecuting Terry and his former unit; they shot an Iraqi woman in cold blood and were cursed to be persecuted by a demon called an "ifrit", a creature from Islamic mythology that I know mainly from Dungeons & Dragons.

Andy and Jason are investigating the murder of Sam's friends, and Andy confides to Jason that he naughtily cheated on Holly with a fairy, no less. But the sweetest scenes are of Tara slowly adjusting to life as a vampire. Less sweet by far is Luna being suddenly shot, with Emma fleeing as a wolf.

But the episode is mainly about the hunt for Russell Edgington; Bill and Eric are running out of time but, with the help of Sookie and Alcide, they find him. And are ambushed by his signature wolves...

An episode of plot, plot, plot, perhaps, but with plenty of humour and character along with the incident.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

True Blood: We'll Meet Again

"The man who wrote [the Vampire Bible] was high the whole time.."

At last Pam reluctantly steps up to be a maker/mother to Tara, in her usual comically curmudgeonly fashion- it's been obvious that she would for some time. Meanwhile, Bill and Eric are still loose, albeit under pressure to find Russell Edgington, while Nora is still being tortured.

Sookie finally confesses to Jason about Tara- and killing Debbie; thankfully he's quite sensible, and Andy is amenable to a little clamouring from Jessica. Oddly enough, Jason is actually quite a good cop. Lafayette starts to explore his powers as a magician while Patrick and Terry head to South Dakota to track down the arson suspect, their former comrade who was with them when they shot civilians in Iraq.

I love seeing Sookie getting pissed on vodka; Anna Paquin plays this brilliantly. Andy and Jason are also partying, courtesy of a corrupt judge, except this is an invisible club- run by fairies. And Andy sees and shags Maurella again! Isn't he supposed to be going steady with Holly? Tsk.

There's more bad news for Sam as his shifter friends are murdered, while Terry and Patrick find themselves at gunpoint. A drinker Sookie has a bit of a fumble with Alcide, with Bill and Eric watching. But it's Jason, in the club, who gets the big revelation: his and Sookie's parents were murdersd by a vampire...

The emotional heart of it all, though, is when Eric, on the run, lovingly releases Pam to protect her, approving of the fact that she is now maker to Tara, his "granddaughter". These are surprisingly moving scenes.

More excellent stuff. I'm enjoying this.. 

True Blood: Whatever I Am, You Made Me

"These beans are as cold as titties in a brass bra."

This episode, primarily, is about Tara- a character neglected last season somewhat- beginning to come to terms with what she now is. We also learn of the Sanguinistas, their opposition to the Authority, and their approval of Russell Edgington, of whose presence we are always reminded. Bill and Eric have their work cut out.

Still, Tara still has her friendship with Sam, whose plotlines have increasingly gone off in their own direction of late. At least he's someone she can trust, and drink with. It's nice to see them intersecting again.

Jason spends much of the episode coming to terms with the fact that he lost his virginity to an old teacher- an interesting character point- while we see more of Pam in 1905, with events going predictably and foreshadowing her growing into her own role as maker, and Bill's first meeting of Eric. Steve Newlin inhabits his new role as comic relief. Andy and Holly are now officially a couple, which is sweet. Oh, and one of the Chancellors is Salome. The Salome. "Chancellor Agrippa".

Nora is tortured by the Authority, but has spirit: "And, as we say in Surrey? Sod the fuck off, you cunting twat". All this is delivered in a delightfully cut glass accent; top swearing.

We end with an angst-ridden Tara attempting sunbed suicide, but we know Oam will discover her maternal instincts and save her. A good episode, giving the plot and characters space to breathe, and all about what made the characters- Tara, Jason, Pam- what they are.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

True Blood: Authority Always Wins

"Can I just say... before you became a vampire you were a massive dick."

I love the fact that an amused Pam just nuggets off and leaves Sookie and Lafayette to deal with the newly undead Tara; she's really shining as a character this season, and a lot of this also has to do with the flashbacks to 1905 Sam Francisco where Pam, as a brothel madam, first encounters Eric. I suspect that the theme here is what it means to turn someone, to become a maker/parent, and that Pam has a long journey ahead of her which will culminate in her learning to love and cherish Tara. But that's for later.

In other news, Luna snaps at Sam while Eric, Bill and our new friend Nora are interrogated by the stooges of the Authority in New Orleans. At last we begin to see what the fabled Authority is like. Steve Newlin, wonderfully, has replaced Nan Flanagan as the TV face of vampires.

We also learn of vampire mythology, courtesy of their Bible; God, it seems, was a vampire, and his first creation was a vampire, the mythical Lilith. Humans exist only as cattle. And yes, vampires have their fundamentalists. Nora is said to be one, which is interesting. The Authority does not approve.

Terry and his war mate head off to further their sub-plot, Tara is most displeased to find herself a vampire, but what loons largest is the Authority. We even see the Chancellors in session with their boss, Roman, a great believer in mainstreaming. Bill offers them Russell Edginton in a desperate attempt to save his and Eric's lives, and the last thing we see is Russell himself...

A superb and tantalising episode, then, in which things begin to take shape...

True Blood: Turn! Turn! Turn!

"There is dirt in my bra!"

So Tara's dead. Actually dead. There's absolutely no way that a distraught Sookie and Lafayette, in this season opener to a vampire-based series, can possibly save... oh. Cool.

Meanwhile Eric and Bill are both in trouble with the Authority, and duly caught by Nora, Eric's "sister" and also progeny of Godric. I suppose that, technically, their constant shagging of each other isn't actually incest...

Steve Newlin is indeed a vampire, which is a huge surprise, and a "gay vampire-American", which isn't. Nor is it particularly surprising that he has a thing for Jason, although unfortunately "the dog don't bite that way". Pam spends the whole episode being awesome.

Meanwhile Sam, Luna and Emma all have to leave as they're being pursued for the death of Matcus but, alas, it's too late. Andy has an embarrassing Facebook incident. And Alcide takes time to tell Sookie, at an inconvenient moment, that Russell Edgington is free. You can certainly tell that this is a season opener; stuff is happening and being set up all over the place.

In yet another plot thread, Terry's old sergeant explains that, of their whole unit, all of them have had house fires. Is the remaining veteran an arsonist? My bet's on something more supernatural. It seems Terry has a dark secret from Iraq. Is this what "Rene" was alluding to?

Jessica is living the party lifestyle without Bill- I love her rendition of "Cherry Bomb"- but her and Jason's relationship is very uncertain. A lot is in flux as we end this excellent episode with Tara's resurrection as a vampire...

Monday, 4 July 2016

Oculus (2013)

"It was the mirror..."

This could have been a very good horror film. The central idea is sound, indeed very good, if a little derivative, and the performances (though Karen Gillen's accent slips) are generally good. This isn't, however, much of a start for Gillan's post-Doctor Who film career.

The concept- a mysterious mirror of a MacGuffin manipulates reality around it to cause murder, violence and gore and is resistant to scientific inquiry- is strong, and making the protagonists two siblings trying to make sense of their parents' deaths ten years previously increases the drama. The use of two parallel narratives, the present and the past, works well. The ending is particularly clever and horrific, with Tim being arrested for a murder he didn't commit in both time zones, and I love the philosophical implication that reality itself is subjective.

However, the realisation of this is hampered by the direction. Oh, it looks professional in its way, but it's over-glossy and suffers from that modern curse of MTV-derived directorial styles that simply don't work on a horror film. One is left to wonder just what a previous generation would have made of this script.

Friday, 1 July 2016

True Blood: And When I Die

"Dude! I'm dead, you're a medium; I'll always be with you."

An ominous finale; we know someone is going to die and by the iron laws of drama it has to be Jesus. Still, his name is an obvious Christ metaphor and it seems, in a sense, he will always be with Lafayette.

Nelsan Ellis is superb playing a Lafayette possessed by Marnie- something foreshadowed by Mavis earlier in the season. Clever. Jason confesses to Hoyt about him and Jessica, thereby destroying their friendship. Terry is visited by his old sergeant from Iraq- something for next season- and Marnie is going to burn Bill and Eric at the stake, which is nice. 

And then, just to make a dramatic finale, the dead rise, including Antonia and, shockingly, Adele. Sookie is, obviously, emotional. More sinisterly, Rene (as Rene, with a Cajun accent) returns to Arlene to warn her of "that man", Terry. More foreshadowing.

Most unexpected is the outcome of Sookie's love triangle; after much tension, she dumps both Bill and Eric. Blimey. It's a downbeat episode, with a seemingly downbeat take on a Buddhist theme that life is suffering and that true death, oblivion, is the only release. Cheerful stuff.

Marnie ultimately dies, as she herself predicts, and we get to wrap up. Jadon has sex with a Jessica dressed like Red Riding Hood, and the cliffhangers end the season: Steve Newlin is at Jason's door- and he's a vampire! Alcide finds out that Russell Edgington is loose again! And, in the final shot, Debbie shoots Tara. It looks as though she's dead...?

True Blood: Soul of Fire

"Why are you on top of me?"

"Because you're handsome."

This penultimate episode starts from Jessica's POV, as the cavalry starts their assault on Marnie and her hostages. Unfortunately Marnie's binding spell, plus Sookie being inside, throws a spanner into the works and delays the final confrontation until the season finale. Who'd have thunk it?

Jesus, however, has a plan. It better work, because Marnie is increasingly revealing herself as the psychopath that always lurked beneath the diffident outsider; hers is a deep and complex character realised superbly by Fiona Shaw.

In other plot lines Sam and Luna find Emma and fight Marcus, and Andy has random sex with a fairy called Maurella, an act which is bound to have consequences. Meanwhile Alcide, seeing Debbie with Marcus, abjures her, but all of this is a fascinating sideshow. We return to the main event as Jesus' spell works. But there's an episode to go...

This is an intense, action-packed episode with relatively little timely stop and breathe, but that's all part of the True Blood tapestry. Brilliant.

True Blood: Burning Down the House

"You were the best part of my life..."

A lot of things are upended in an episode which sees Tommy's tragic ebbing away with Sam at his side while everything starts to gear up for the season finale.

But first we have all the chaos and confusion as Antonia/Marcie attacks Bill's reconciliation event. One early consequence is Sookie zapping Eric with her powers, causing his memories to come back; that's goodbye to the innocent Eric of recent episodes. The question of whether he loves her as much hangs in the air. It's a nicely simmering will-they-won't-they dynamic.

Jessica is having a hard time of it; she dumped Hoyt for him but Jason is not only siding with his friend but wants her to glamour away his feelings for her. Ouch. It's not a good day for Nan Flanagan either as Bill tells her flatly that she's no longer in charge. Politics again.

Eric insists he still loves Sookie, but she's unsure. He's less reassuring to Pam, his own offspring, which seems ominous. So does Bill's determination to confront Antonia, even if this means the death of Tara and all other hostages. Bill is slowly becoming less and less likeable and I think this is deliberate. He's no longer the romantic lead, a brave move.

There's hope, though, as Terry helps Andy to kick his V addiction. There's also shock, as Antonia and Marcie clash: Marnie is horrified by what they've done. It's Marnie who's the true monster. 

Things are at fever pitch as we end the episode about to start the final confrontation. This excellent season is nearing its end...