Of Musings and Wonderings











{September 29, 2013}   Glee – 5×1 [TV]

Glee-Season-5-Beatles-PhotoGlee kicked off their fifth series with a tribute to The Beatles. Not only that, but they’re stretching it into two episodes. The second will be focusing on the later years, the first on the early. After these, there’s another tribute episode, this one to the late Cory Monteith. Following on from my Addiction Returns posts, I’ve been posting about the first episodes of each of the shows I mentioned there. But because of the way Glee is doing the first three episodes of this series, and because of the large effect on the show Monteith’s death will have, I’ll most likely be writing about each of them.

Anyway, onto the actual show.

The episode starts off with a chemistry audition between Rachel and Ioan Gruffudd. As she sits backstage, she hears the actor and director talking about her, discussing how green she is and how she may not be right for the role she thinks she is born to play. Well, to be fair, yeah, they’re right. I get why Rachel wants the role so badly, but surely she should be doing smaller, minor roles before going for Fanny Bryce in Funny Girl? It’s an amazing part, and it’s not like Rachel has actually paid her dues. Anyway. Rachel then breaks into Yesterday, introducing the series with a fairly sad song that packs a strong sense of emotion. And there’s a tinge to it, as viewers will be all too aware of what’s happened between the last series and this one.

Are we ever actually going to see Rachel paying her dues?

Are we ever actually going to see Rachel paying her dues?

The opening is kind of sad and sombre, and it feels like it might be an episode that could play out in that way. Or, at least, an episode that should have a balance of sadness and happiness. Instead, we get dragged to the high school where the Glee club are told they’re going to be doing two weeks of The Beatles, and suddenly it’s all bright, happy and cheerful. It’s a really sudden shift in the mood, and it doesn’t feel like it works. It feels like the emotion has just been pushed aside and ignored.

So what does happen in this episode? Well, the guys figure out that Tina is acting bitter because she points out to Artie that he shouldn’t settle for a secret relationship. Wait, WHAT? She’s trying to help a friend, seeing that yeah, he really doesn’t deserve to be treated like that by Kitty, and suddenly the guys are all “Oh, she’s so bitter now! We must do something and ride to the rescue.” Kurt agrees to get back together with Blaine and, suddenly, PROPOSAL! Blaine, using The Beatles’ brilliant Help, runs around and gathers three other show choirs – all former rivals of New Directions – to help him with his epic proposal to Kurt. Okay, I get it. He loves Kurt. He doesn’t want to live without him. But Kurt DOES have a new life in New York, and Blaine is still in high school and, seriously, why are these Glee kids obsessed with doing everything so fast?

Just because you CAN get married, doesn't mean you have to do it right now.

Just because you CAN get married, doesn’t mean you have to do it right now.

The songs are done okay, though it’s The Beatles and any sort of tribute is going to fall just a little short when compared to the original. But still, the cast do a good job with the material they’re given, bouncing off each other when they need to. But…seriously, can Blaine just STOP, for like, two minutes? The majority of the songs in the episode had him in it, even the one Kurt sang FOR him. Kurt starts off and it turns into a big number with a marching band and then, of course, Blaine is up and singing and Blaine is really starting to get on my nerves. Anyone else feeling it? I’d like to see some of the other male characters take over a little bit, especially Sam. That guy doesn’t get enough.

As an introduction to the fifth season, which is airing four episodes before taking a long break, it was all right. Don’t get me wrong, I love Glee and I think I always will, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see that it has its flaws and they seem to be getting bigger as the show goes on. They can’t seem to get the balance right between focusing on one or two main characters, which was annoying when it felt like the Rachel Berry show, and stretching out to include everyone. The episode jumped between a fair few of the characters while feeling like it was ignoring some of the others. It’d be better if they could focus on just one or two strands per episode, rather than cramming everything – proposals, New York, Sue becoming headmaster, Tina being bitter – into forty-five minutes. Just…slow it down a bit.

Hopefully, once the fifth season gets into its stride, things might change. But, well, it’s the fifth season. It shouldn’t have to get into its stride. Still, fingers crossed. We’ll just have to see what the next few episodes bring.

 

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{September 29, 2013}   Revolution – 2×1 [TV]

revolutions2poster4-710x400The first episode of the second series picks up exactly where the last left; Aaron, Charlie, Rachel and Miles are in the tower, with nuclear bombs heading towards some of the key American cities still standing. Aaron is trying to turn the power back off, while Miles is unhelpfully yelling a countdown at him.

Six months later, we join Miles setting fire to a barn, Charlie talking to a cute barman as he tells her he was asleep during the power surge, Rachel helping out her father (gasp!) in his sort of doctor’s surgery, and Aaron living in the same town, with a pretty woman.

There are hints at the start that Rachel was not quite right on the return from the tower, and is still not fully recovered. The barman mentions to Charlie that he saw Monroe, and she sets off to try to find him. Miles tries to leave the town, but discovers a group of bandits from a war clan, and returns to Rachel and Aaron, knowing he has to try to protect them. And Aaron sees strange things in nature that indicate the nuclear bombs might have caused more lasting harm than then realised.

For a second season first episode, it was okay. It had enough to carry on nicely from the last season, and we’re introduced to a world even more different from the last season. There’s a huge refugee camp that stretches for miles, where government officials arrive and offer to ‘help’ after the devastation caused by the bombs. There’s New Vegas, which actually seems like a pretty fun place, where people fight, drink and gamble, and sing.

What a waste of candles.

What a waste of candles.

Ah yes, the songs. Music, for obvious reasons, isn’t as evident in Revolution as it is in Kripke’s other show, Supernatural. But it is there, and this episode seems to bring it out more than the whole of the last series. Music is alive and well, with people playing acoustic guitars as they sing, what else, classic rock. As Charlie makes her way through New Vegas, we get treated to a cover version of Crazy Train, and it does add just a little something extra to the overall atmosphere. It serves to remind us that this isn’t some far away future. Many of the older characters have memories not so different from our own, and the music remembered is the music we listen to now.

The episode, essentially, does everything it should. It sets up where the characters are right now, while introducing new threats to the characters and new goals, beyond just ‘get the power back on’. The worst thing about it is, like the first season, Charlie. I don’t know why, but there is something about her that’s incredibly annoying. She did get more bearable by the end of season one, so let’s hope she doesn’t slip back into whiny little bitch mode. (I admit, I liked her at first. But as the series wore on she did get worse. Then a little better.)

Little girl does not look impressed.

Little girl does not look impressed.

This season’s focus is, clearly, going to shift a lot, as the characters adapt and react to the bigger events happening around them. The episode did set that up nicely, and there was nothing massively to fault with it. Although I’m eager to see where this goes, I do feel like it’s the weakest of the returning shows (that I watch, anyway) and it has a lot to do to try to keep people coming back for more. There are interesting aspects to this season but so far, we’ve only seen the groundwork, so whether they manage to pull it off or not remains to be seen. The different characters are placed further apart than last season, so it’ll be interesting to see where the different plot strands leave them and see if they do, at some point, end up reuniting.

Revolution isn’t a great show, but it has the potential to be one. It’s got a lot going for it but like with anything, the way it pans out depends completely on the execution. Let’s just hope this series ends up keeping up the excitement and tension, rather than letting it drop off halfway through like it did in the first.

 



marvels_agents_of_shield_640_large_verge_medium_landscapeIf you couldn’t tell from my first Addiction Returns post, I was very much hyped up for this film. I loved The Avengers, I think Joss Whedon is a genius, and let’s face it, Agent Coulson’s death left a bitter taste in all our mouths. But, hey, guess what! He’s alive! And he’s gathering his own team.

The first episode is pretty much a standard introduce the characters and bring them together affair. But of course, it’s not just standard despite my earlier words. This is something that feels fresh, it’s witty, funny and intelligent, and the main characters aren’t the ones with superpowers. Instead, they’re humans. Plain, ordinary humans. Well, except for the fact that two of them are British geniuses, one is a top notch computer hacker, one is Mulan (not even joking) and the last is a top spy, S.H.I.E.L.D’s own James Bond. And, following on from The Avengers, none of them are really team players.

Oh, and let’s not forget the guy who comes back from the dead.

 

Yeah, I'm alive. Get over it.

Yeah, I’m alive. Get over it.

As things unravel in the show, it just gets more and more interesting. And, of course, there’s the humour. It was this that partly made Avengers great, the ability to have moments of pure laugh out loud joy. It’s a brilliant talent of Whedon’s, not to mention the actors involved to pull it off. Of course, underlying all this are the darker elements that could potentially come out over the course of the show. When we first see Phil Coulson, we get an explanation along the lines of Fury faking the agent’s death to rally The Avengers. Coulson, apparently, recovered in Tahiti (which he keeps mentioning as a magical place. What did you do there, Phil? I’m betting it was drugs.) but a comment Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) makes implies Phil’s ‘resurrection’ was something a lot different.

By focusing on the humans, it feels like we’re going to get a very different take on superheroes. We’re not dealing with billionaires (though they do have some cool toys), super soldiers or gods, but they are mentioned. We get to see a different side, get to see the people directly affected by these heroes, as well as getting glimpses into the fame of Thor, Stark, Captain American and the Hulk. There’s a nice speech made by the closest thing to a superhero near the end, where he talks about how he has been lied to and pushed down by ‘you’, talking to Phil Coulson but, it seems, in reality talking to the faceless ‘man’ (you know, the one that is usually proceeded by ‘the’) about how he has been told all it takes to make it is to be good, be a man, try hard. Yeah, it’s social commentary at its obvious, but it’s a valid point and truth be told, it’s one of those moments where you just get glued to the speech and feel really connected to the man speaking, even if does have super-strength.

A good man with a lot of bad breaks.

A good man with a lot of bad breaks.

It’s great to see Whedon with another TV show, and judging from the first episode, it’s going to be just as good as (if not better than) some of his past ones. Let’s just hope he holds back from killing off the most loveable characters.

Without a doubt, I’d suggest watching this one. I, for one, will be keeping my eye firmly on it.

Yeah, what he said.

Yeah, what he said.

 

 

 

 



{September 26, 2013}   Doll Parts – Wayne Simmons

doll-parts-wayne-simmonsA group of survivors set up home in Belfast’s airport, trying to establish a life for themselves while the beautiful undead take over outside.

Doll Parts is definitely a different take on zombies. Okay, some of it is the usual stuff that keeps cropping up. We have the different groups who unite to survive, the eccentric characters, the going-off-the-rails-leader. But underneath all that is something that brings this novel up and makes it unique.

For starters, the zombies themselves aren’t your traditional rambling undead. Instead, there are moments where see real humanity seeping through or, at the very least, some sort of logic left behind. There are three girls who attack the one guy, Barry, and it emerges that he actually raped them. There are the characters themselves; Star, a spunky tattoo artist, Red, a doctor who helps the survivors in what little ways he can, and Cole, a man with a dash of split personality. Lastly, we have the zombies themselves. Like I said, they’re not the traditional kind. Instead, Simmons creates a group of undead, beautiful women who are more patient than we usually see in the undead. Oh, and they disappear when the rain arrives.

Cole is perhaps the most interesting and strongest character in the story. The POV switches – sometimes a little too quickly – but it was always Cole’s that kept drawing me back. Partly because of the two personalities he has living inside his head, who have some brilliant scenes of their own even in Cole’s mind, and partly because he just has this take on the world and the Dolls around him that made him more interesting to read about.

Some of it was a little weak in places. Like I said, the POV sometimes switched quickly, especially near the beginning which made it hard to keep track of the characters, But after a few chapters, the story picked up and the book became harder to put down. For some reason, I completely missed the fact that this is a sequel, so I’ll have to pick up the first book to see what I missed.

If you’re looking for a zombie fiction that’s a little different, Doll Parts should be right up your street.

If you have any recommendations for things I should watch or read, just let me know in the comments. or e-mail me at gracebunting@hotmail.co.uk.



{September 24, 2013}   Mud [Film Review]

Mud_posterMud is the story of two boys, who discover a strange man hanging out in a boat caught in a tree. A boat the boys want. In exchange for their help, the man – Mud – promises they can have the boat when he’s done. Turns out, Mud is waiting for his girlfriend to turn up, at which point they’ll ride away happily into the sunset.

So, of course, that doesn’t happen.

This is one of those films I can’t help but think of as Oscar bait. Or just plain old pretentious. It feels like there should be a message here, like the film is really trying hard to say something, but it gets lost in everything else it’s trying to say. Is this about judgment? About protecting people? About the way people screw each other, failed relationships or about how the way of life of some people is being destroyed? It’s all crammed in, and the film feels like it trips over itself as it goes through everything about the people involved.

The film itself is slow. It drags on. There’s nothing terribly exciting about it and even the mystery of Mud was a little weak. As it turns out, he’s just…well, a good guy. He seems pretty simple, but this is never really expanded on. Or maybe he’s not meant to be like that, and the character just…well, fell flat. Not that it was all bad, but the good parts felt a little overshadowed. There wasn’t really much to the ending, either. Just a shoot out, with Mud disappearing during it leaving the two boys to wonder if he’s alive or not.

It felt like there was going to be a twist or some big reveal at the end. We were betting on it turning out that Mud and his love interest are actually siblings. But, nope, nothing of the sort. The film just plodded on and left us relieved when it finally ended.

Really wasn’t fussed on this one. I’d suggest giving it a miss, unless you really like these type of films (and there are people out there who do, oddly.) Just wasn’t for me.

Always on the look out for new things to read and watch. If you have a film, TV series or novel you think I should check out, just comment or drop me an e-mail.



et cetera