Consistently Infrequent

March 14, 2014

Doctor Who 50th Fan Reactions Mashup

Filed under: Doctor Who, TV — Tony Breyal @ 3:35 pm

A playlist of videos I edited together which shows fan reactions to the 50th anniversary special episode of  Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor.

This is the first time I’ve ever edited anything together and whilst it’s not perfect (especially the poorly mixed audio) I’m still rather proud of it.

What an awesome episode!

I would appreciate some feedback in terms of how to make these types of reaction mash-ups even better. I hope to do some more in October 2014 when I finish my masters degree and thus have more spare time available.

February 11, 2012

Merlin, Series Four

Filed under: TV — Tony Breyal @ 8:54 am

Premise

A Smallville-esque retelling of the Arthurian legend set in a time of myth and magic when Arthur is still a Prince and Merlin his faithful servant.

Plot

The series story arc this year revolved around advancing to the next stage of the legend with Morgana fully embracing her evil side to plot the murder of Arthur, Guinevere becoming Arthur’s betrothed and her betrayal with Lancelot, Arthur taking on the political responsibilities of being the new King, and Merlin beginning to truly earn a measure of respect and leading Arthur to the Sword in the Stone.

Verdict

I thought that this was the best series to date. Any episode where Merlin becomes the aged Emris was an absolute delight with the show achieving some of its best comedy right there. Morgana is a difficult character to have sympathy with but Angel Coulby plays the role so well with glimpses of vulnerability that one can not help but stay interested in her story. For the Knights of Camelot, Eoin Macken’s Sir Gwaine brings a charming roguish qulity which makes him the only one you’d probably actually want to hang out with.  Bradley James does an excellent job as King Arthur Pendragon throughout especially in his more quiet and depressed states where he really sells those emotions to the audience.

Some of the low points for me were whenever Arthur is either dismissive or rude towards Merlin. At this point of being in the fourth series one would hope that there would’ve been enough character development for him to be at least more outwardly respectful towards Merlin instead still being just quietly respectful of him on the inside. I do recognise that his attitude has improved with each successive series but this attatude is really rather grating at this point with the comedic effect delivering diminishing returns. Also, even though Guinevere didn’t truly betray Arthur of her own free will, no one knows that, and so him still wanting her to be his wife just doesn’t ring true to me but if he loves her enough to forgive her then maybe that’s all that truly matters.

I would like to see more magical fights in the future but I’m guessing that the budget won’t allow for that. What would be really interesting would be for Arthur to find out about Merlin’s magical powers and see how that affects their relationship but that would probably be saved for either the final or penultimate series of the show. Overall, a great series and I’m now really pumped for series five to air sometime in 2012!

January 29, 2012

Great Expectations (BBC1, 2011 Production)

Filed under: TV — Tony Breyal @ 10:47 pm

Premise

Based on the Dicken’s novel of the same name, a young man apprenticing as a blacksmith is bestowed a large deal of money from an unknown benefactor. He goes to London to become a gentleman but is haunted by his past.

Plot

Young Pip is an orphan who lives with his elder sister and her husband, Joe, who is a blacksmith. One day Pip encounters an escaped convict and is scared into stealing a file for him so he can break out of his chains. Pip not only steels the file but also steels a piece of pie which he gives to the convict because he thought he might be hungry. Eventually the convict is caught though he does not reveal Pips involvement.

Later, Pip is commanded by his sister and uncle to visit Miss Havisham, an old and wealthy spinster, who has asked for a young boy from the village to be a playmate for her adopted daughter, Estella. Pip has his mind opened up to what the world is capable of offering him but at the same time is treated poorly by Estella who belittles him and even makes him cry by slapping him hard after he calls her lonely (and after that he promises he will never cry for her again). However there is also some tenderness such as when a rich boy tries to bully Pip but gets a good punch in return. Estella gives Pip a kiss for this action, which is seen by Miss Havisham.

Miss Havisham invites Pip and Joe to her house and offers to pay for Pip’s apprenticeship as a Blacksmith. Pip is crestfallen as he had hoped for something grander after she had opened his eyes to what the world could offer.

Years pass and Pip has grown and is doing well as the apprentice of a blacksmith. He has to put up with the bully Bulge who also works there but Pip just keeps a level head about him and gets his work done. However, a lawyer turns up and informs Pip that he is to receive a large sum of money from an anonymous benefactor and is to go to London to become a gentleman.

The rest of the plot revolves around Pip mistakenly believing Miss Havisham to be his benefactor and furthermore believing that she intends him and Estella to be together, Pip becoming a gentleman thanks to a new and true friend (the boy who Pip punched as a child), turning his back on Joe, having his heart broken when Estella is to be married to a man he can not stand, falling into debt, and finally learning that the convict he stole for so many years past is infact his true benefactor.

Verdict

I love period drama – everything just feels so magical and other-worldly without being too far removed. Even having read the book and watched several other versions of this story I still enjoyed it. The real moving part for me was when the convict takes the file he had scared Pip into stealing and is then in additional is offered a piece of pie out of the goodness of Pip’s heart. Everything about that was perfect to me – volumes were spoken in the silence of that scene. Overall, this production was a success in my book with my favourite interpretations being performed by the actors playing the roles of young Pip, the convict and, Miss Havisham.

January 4, 2012

Doctor Who (2005), Series Six plus Christmas Special

Filed under: TV — Tony Breyal @ 1:16 pm

Premise

“No, look, there’s a blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up, there’s a bloke in it called The Doctor and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed ’cause he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up, and watch ‘Blink’.” — Neil Gaiman

Series Six Plot

The series this year revolved around two central points which were (1) the death of The Doctor and (2) the revelation of who River Song really is. Or was. Or will be. Tenses are difficult when it comes to DW! And then when that was all resolved, we had a Christmas Special inspired by the C. S. Lewis novel The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Verdict

First off, the opening two episodes were brilliant with the opening set of scenes introducing us to The Doctor’s death in the future. Just absolutely bloody brilliant. We are introduced to the Silence which are a group of aliens who you can only remember whilst looking at them because once you turn away you completely forget that there were ever there. This is semi-creepy in its own right but get’s bumped up to a who new level when Amy has to mark her own skin each time she encounters a Silent to remind herself that she’s seen one and needs to get the hell out of where ever she is – but because she forgets she ends up being covered in more and more marks which tells her that she is in serious trouble. Very creepy indeed and therefore very awesome. What makes the Silence an even more deadly foe is that when they say something it is taken as a subliminal message to the person hearing it and then they act on it but have no idea why they’ve done what they’ve just done. This latter point is ultimately the Silence’s undoing because The Doctor tricks one Silent into saying “you should kill us onsite”, records it, and then plants into the one piece of footage every human in the future is likely to see at some point in their lifetimes – the video footage of the moon landing. Nobody will remember seeing the Silent but they will act on that one message and not even realise why they’re doing it. Bloody writing genius that is and that’s just one of the reasons why Steven Moffat is my favourite script writer.

Other notable, none series story arc, episodes are Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife” in which we meet Idris, a physical manifestation of The Doctor’s time travelling spaceship (the TARDIS) and Tom MacRae’s “The Girl Who Waited” in which we see an aged version of Amy who has been living in seclusion for many years. Both are excellent episodes with tons of  re-watch factor.

Back to the series story arc, we get a revelation of who River is in the fabulous episode “A Good Man Goes To War” which is one of the fastest paced episodes I can remember and which delivers on almost all fronts. Special mention to Rory who proves in episode, and yet again in the series, why is may just be the most bad-ass companion of them all, love me a bit of Rory I do! This episode is then followed by one of the best titles of any Doctor Who episode “Let’s Kill Hittler” in which we get more River revelations.

Then we have the final in which The Doctor escapes death, which while a lot of fun, seemed like a big cheat given the build up to that moment. I know it makes sense and have no real problem with that, it’s just that when you start the series with The Doctor’s death, you can’t help but hope that there’s going to be a bigger pay-off in how that is dealt with. But still, a fun episode.

Overall it was a most excellent series and I feel Doctor Who has never been better since it’s return in 2005.

Oh, and the Christmas Special. I wasn’t too impressed by it (I much preferred last years which took inspiration for Dickens “A Christmas Carol” and which I still maintain is among the best ever Doctor Who episodes), but it had some great jokes and was entertaining at least. I just didn’t feel for any of the characters that much and I really need that connection in order to enjoy a story. However, the final scene in which The Doctor visits Amy & Rory unannounced for Christmas Dinner and then is told that they already have a place set up for him and in fact always have a place set aside for him… well, I’ll admit that I had a couple of tears running down my cheeks because of his private reaction to knowing that he has a place there and that he can still feel such emotions.

Bring on series seven!

Edit

BTW, my previous post has a chart of British TV ratings for the last 50 odd years of first run Doctor Who episodes.

December 20, 2011

Dexter, Series Six

Filed under: TV — Tags: , , , — Tony Breyal @ 10:22 am

Premise

After seeing his mother butchered in front of him while only a toddler, Dexter is adopted by a police officer who tries to bring some sense of belonging and family to his life. However as Dexter ages he starts to display tendencies towards psychopathy and so his adopted father realising that he can’t stop this instead refocuses Dexter’s energy to live by a code whereby he can only kill someone if they’ve already committed a murder and are likely to do so again. The series thus revolves around Dexter as an adult who has become a serial killer but will only kill murderers who are likely to kill again.

Plot

The sixth series story arc revolves around several ideas including (i) Dexter questioning his need to kill because all he really wants is to be a better father for his son and thinks it may be possible after meeting another killer who has changed his own life around, (ii) the main antagonists this series are a couple of religious fanatics who want to end the world, (iii) Dexter’s younger sister Deb, who is not a blood relation because Dexter was adopted, realising that she has romantic feelings towards him.

Verdict

I’ve always enjoyed Dexter not only because of it’s fantastic writing and performances but also due to it having an anti-hero as the lead character. I can’t think of many other shows which have, essentially, a ‘bad’ guy as the main focus whom the audience is also rooting for. I put ‘bad’ in quotes because even though he is killing other murderers and in thus in the process preventing potential future murders, he is still at the end of the day still killing people and that is wrong. Even so, I find myself cheering him on because it’s not difficult to see the good he achieves.

I think the show is having a hard time coming up with a good enough rival to Dexter after the Ice Truck Killer from series one and Trinity from series four. Having said that though it was still somewhat interesting to see Dexter battle with the religious fanatics in this series not because they were any kind of real match for him but due to how he as a character grew. At one point he realises that the best thing to do is to call the police instead of trying to satisfy his dark passenger and that to me is the reason why Dexter is such a likeable character – he may be a killer but he also has a code and realises that some things are more important than himself.

The one plot point this series that I’m not really behind however is Deb realising that she has romantic feelings towards Dexter. I know they’re not blood related but they were brought up together and that just doesn’t sit right with me. I can see where the logic comes from within the series given the relationship and shared experiences these two have but there’s still that initial ‘yuck’ factor for me. I’m actually interested to see how Dexter would react to this revelation in some future series. I know it’s not technically incest but it feels like it would be. Interestingly enough, as a side note, if one removes the issue around having children then it actually becomes very difficult to form a logical argument for why incest between two consenting adults should be wrong. Just thought I’d add that last point because it is interesting to think about.

The final scene this series matches my shock from the end of series four when we found out that Trinity had killed Rita, Dexter’s wife. Having Deb walk in as Dexter is about to kill the religious fanatic and ending series six there was a magnificent moment. I honestly thought that given how she hadn’t worked it out over the first five series that she probably wouldn’t this series either. I really hope series seven picks up at the scene that series six ended because I really want to see how she handles the realisation that her brother is a killer. Series seven is going to rock!

December 18, 2011

30 Rock, Series Two

Filed under: TV — Tags: — Tony Breyal @ 1:56 pm

Premise

The premise of the show seems to have evolved since series one from being about a head writer for an SNL (Saturday Night Live) type comedy sketch show trying to keep the wheels of the machine rolling whilst attempting to have some kind of personal life outside of work, to being a show about the people who work behind the scenes and everyday drama they have to deal with (or in some cases, cause).

Plot

30 Rock has an episodic format where each episode is for the most part self-contained and the audience can therefore jump in and out at any point. As far as the series two arc is concerned, the main story that comes to my mind is mostly about Donaghy tying to become the new chairman of the network.

Verdict

I tend to watch 30 Rock whilst doing my weekly ironing as it’s not really a show which requires my full attention and if I miss something because, say, I’m hanging up a shirt I’ve just finished removing the creases from ,then it’s not at all a big deal and I can usually still figure out what’s happening.

Kenneth is by far my favourite character, his innocence makes any scene he’s involved with just that much more entertaining. I like all the other characters too but I’d say Kenneth and Donaghy make the show very watchable for me.

To be honest I can’t seem to recall much of what happened in series two but I know I enjoyed it enough to want to continue on to series three as my primary show to watch whilst I do my ironing.

November 26, 2011

The Borgias (Series One, 2011)

Filed under: TV — Tags: , , , , , — Tony Breyal @ 1:22 pm

The Plot

The story follows the lives of the Borgia family when Pope Innocent VIII dies and Rodrigo Borgia is elected as the next Pope through his political manipulations and the reality his new position brings upon the rest of his family and Europe.

The Production

The Borgias is a Canadian-UK co-production with high production values, filmed on location in Hungary, produced in Canada and directed by an Irishman. In addition, Steven Spielberg is a producer and was the one who suggested that The Borgias might work better as a cable drama instead of a feature length film. Jeremy Iron’s takes on the lead role of Rodrigo Borgia in what appears to be a primarily British cast.

The Series Arc

When Rodrigo Borgia is elected Pope, some of his cardinals are displeased with one such cardinal going to France and asking its King to help dispose of the Pope for the reasons of having bribed his way into Office and having a mistress. The French King agrees in exchange for Naples which France has traditional claims over.

The Verdict

I rather enjoyed the relationship between siblings Cesare and Lucrezia Brogia in terms of how close they are to one another though it at times seemed almost incestuous which was rather disturbing. Lucrezia Brogia’s marriage was a sad affair given how mistreated she was at the hands of her husband but when her marriage was annulled and he publicly humiliated I felt happy she at least had some measure of justice.  The other members of the family didn’t impact on me so much though I enjoyed their stories too. I wasn’t too convinced on how Rome was saved from being sacked just because the French King would not see Lucrezia Borgia harmed so that whole resolution to the story arc was a low point for me. Overall I enjoyed all nine episodes and am very much looking forward to its return in 2012.

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