Newsday- Nintendo, Fred Williamson, Summer TV +more

Mario Kart 8, work and training for a 5k has eaten my blogging life. I didn’t pick up my comics yet this week, so I figured I’d tell you what’s on my mind.

Penny Dreadful, which I have been loving is renewed for season 2! After 4 episodes! FINALLY a show that I like doesn’t get axed with plotlines hanging around everywhere!

Fred Williamson, AKA “the Hammer” ex-football player and total badass has a new movie called The Last Hit Man. Written, directed and starring Williamson, with Franco Nero and Gary Busey. I got to meet Fred Williamson at TerrorCon over the weekend. I attended his Q&A where he said he turns down 4 or 5 movies every week (every WEEK) because the black characters are written as spoofs or goons or idiots who die in the first 5 minutes. Kudos to him for being uncompromising and making it work on his own terms, but shame on Hollywood for presenting the choice as “don’t work” or “degrade yourself”. It’s a damn shame. 

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He’s also in his 70s and will still kick your ass.

Under the Dome is back on June 30th, Stephen King himself  releases/reads the intro to snowball some hype. We have to wait until July 9th for Extant- Halle Berry fronts this scifi CBS show… about a woman impregnated by aliens after a trip to space. +3 for diversity, +1 for Spielberg, +2 for women in science… but impregnated by aliens? yeesh. Apocalypse/saviour baby plots are not my fave. Raped by aliens is not good. 

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TRUEBLOOD’s final season kicks off in a couple weeks. Rumor mill says there will be a same sex hook-up (“from non-gay characters”) in ep2. Honestly, I can’t imagine this will be handled in a mature fashion most of the gay characters have been bogged down with tropes on tropes. Every one is still hoping that Alexander Skarsgard is involved. Honestly, I think his little brother is cuter. Which is why I’m counting the days til July 11th when Bill Skarsgard returns as Roman on Netflix original series “Hemlock Grove”. 

Official season 2 trailer, anyone?

Absolutely no one anywhere can wait for the new open world Zelda. But we have to. 2015.

 

 

Penny Dreadful- Episode 5

“Closer Than Sisters”

The pace slowed down considerably with this episode. 

The entirety of the episode takes place in flashbacks to Vanessa’s childhood. The ENTIRETY. For a show with as large a main cast as Penny Dreadful has this is quite bizarre. No monsters. No vampires, no werewolves. No love triangles. No Dorian Gray.

Which means that I have to wait and see what happens with Dorian and Ethan. This show has sucked my in. As soon as I watch; I want more. This show is typically intense with multiple plotlines and motivations intermingling.

So this Vanessa-centric, nostalgic exposition was… different.

Vanessa and Mina were neighbors who grew up separated by only an open gate and a hedge maze. We see them first as children imagining who they will marry, frolicking on the coastline and brushing each other’s hair. Vanessa’s crush on Peter. Until one fateful night. The young Vanessa was out in the hedge maze and she caught her mother having sex with Mina’s father, Sir Malcolm. This breech of her innocence causes her to act out in other ways, stealing and other instances of “girlish mischief.” 

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As they grow older Mina meets the kind of man that they dreamed of growing up while Vanessa’s budding relationship never blooms. He tells Vanessa he is going off to Africa. Vanessa knows he’s too weak, but she loves him for his weakness. Peter pushes her away. Just before Mina and her officer with the grand mustache are to be married, Vanessa encounters him in the halls and they flirt over taxidermy. Then they have sex. Mina finds the pair while her soon to be husband is pounding away at her BFF and she casts both of them out of her life. 

Vanessa confronts her mother about her infidelity with Sir Malcolm but when Vanessa gets to Mina’s yard she is faced with Sir Malcolm. He doesn’t let her pass and slams the gate. Vanessa collapses.

She treated first for what appears to be epilepsy and then she is taken in for psychiatric treatment for psychosexual fits. Treatments like ice baths and heavy narcotics… but nothing seems to work. The possession continues. Her mother finds her humping the air (Vanessa envisions Sir Malcolm) and faints. Peter comes to visit just before a trip to Africa and Vanessa predicts his death. 

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Years later, Vanessa is visited by Mina on a beach. Mina says that she forgives Vanessa saying that her suffering has been penance enough. Mina tells Vanessa about her new husband, Jonathan Harker. But once she lets it slip that Vanessa saw her father being unfaithful, Mina reveals that the Master has told her a lot. And then Vanessa visits Sir malcolm and tells him what Mina has revealed to her.

So let’s talk about it: Women’s sexuality demonized. Literally.

The loss of Vanessa’s innocence leads to her morality spiraling down the drain. Which isn’t supernatural mumbo jumbo. The young Vanessa sees that the adults around her are hypocritical in their religious and pious appearance, that they are sinning and she youthfully acts out. But then as an adult she is jealous of her friend and so she seduces her fiance. This act leaves her open for demonic possession. 

Slut shaming at it’s finest that Vanessa’s betrayal leaves her the property of Satan.

Other than that? 

I’m glad I have incorrectly assumed that Sir Malcolm raped Mina. It appears as though at the seance it was a young Mina’s essence who inhabited Vanessa (or possibly still Peter) but that the “her” was Vanessa’s mother. I hope. Possession is very confusing. 

This episode was comparatively slower to all the other episodes thus far, but it was so bizarre and captivating that it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of it. Eva Green can easily carry a scene and I have to give her props for some of the insane things that she pulled off there. 

I am concerned.

What I am concerned about is this:

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Now, I wouldn’t be bothered if Vanessa’s love for Mina is romantic more than platonic. But I will be bothered if Vanessa had sex with Mina’s fiance not because Vanessa was jealous of Mina for having what she envisioned but that she was jealous because she wanted Mina. I don’t need a “conniving lesbian homewrecker” plot. It’s preposterous.Hopefully I am just being paranoid. Tropes make me suspicious. Also, I hate to say it -because I don’t mind a “strong female character would do anything for true love” plot, which this would be if Vanessa had an interest in Mina that was romantic, but can girls just be down for their friends sometimes? I hope.

Penny Dreadful: Episode 4

This episode begins in the daylight. A rare occurrence, and this time it’s not a flash back. Dorian Gray and Vanessa are out at a garden and flirt with each other. I find the topic of them becoming a couple to be rather boring. 

Lots happened and I will discuss them in no particular order: Sir Malcolm accuses Vanessa of betraying Mina, Vanessa retorts that he betrayed Mina her whole life. Which makes further clear that malcolm was abusing his daughter. He’s supposed to be the leader of this group of monster hunters fighting against the darkness and I could not be less sympathetic towards him. Dr. Frankenstein hopes to run away to Africa to help with the mummy, but Sir Malcolm declines.

Ethan on the other hand is stealing my heart. As previously established: I love Josh Hartnett. I loved him in Black Dahlia. I loved him in 30 Days of Night. I loved him in Wicker Park. His voice alone melts my vanilla… anyway, Dr Frankenstein performs a transfusion on the young imprisoned vampire Fenton. Ethan declines. Suspicious. Further evidence he’s a werewolf? Malcolm donates blood, it doesn’t work. But more on Ethan. He takes Brona to the theater (to see a play about a werewolf, no less), it happens to be the same theater company that employs Caliban. At the end of the play Ethan and Brona run into Vanessa and Dorian (who made goo goo eyes across the balcony throughout the show), Vanessa compliments Ethan more than was really needed (perhaps to play up his prowess for Brona’s behalf? Make him look like more of a catch?) but things are more awkward since Dorian has paid Brona for sex and insulted her. Brona abruptly runs off, Ethan goes to confront her and she screams at him “Don’t you realize you’re fucking a skeleton?” and then tells him that if he wants her he has to pay for it like everyone else. 

Elsewhere, the master comes for Fenton and they get the drop on Sir Malcolm. The Master is dastardly looking, yellowish white skin, bloodshot eyes and a mouth full of pointed teeth. He looks sort of like the Master from Buffy. Sir Malcolm flails the fiends off of him and Fenton ends up impaled, bleeding from the head. 

Brona slaps Ethan, races off and collapses in a coughing fit, sputtering blood. Meanwhile, Dorian comes to collect Ethan. Ethan.. rather… ummm… no one talks like this, but he asks Dorian if he ever just wants to be someone else. He says he does and he takes Ethan out for drinks and gambling (on how many rats can a dog kill) Ethan gets freaked out and ends up slamming back whiskey, some blokes pick a fight and he handles it quick. Dorian apologizes and brings Ethan back to his own mansion, with floor to ceiling framed pictures adorning every inch of wall. Ethan says “I saw some pictures I liked before” (People really think Americans are this uncultured.. they aren’t wrong) and described Native American paintings that he saw in a dwelling carved into a cliff. Animals, the sun, the moon. No people. Dorian asks why he liked those. First he says they were “primitive” then he visibly shakes himself and says that they were honest and focussed on what was important. Dorian asks if art can ever be honest. He thinks only music can be, and he plays a recording on a wax cylinder. The song causes Ethan to reflect on his time in London. Monsters, murders, Brona, waking up under the bridge (with what looks like claw marks from clenching his fist into his palm)  and then this…

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And I about climbed into my TV

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I am thoroughly enjoying this show, for the human connections as well as the monsters. But this one was rather soap operatic. I hope we get to some more blood and adventure next week, but it looks as though Vanessa is stealing center stage and we get more backstory on Vanessa and Mina. 

I wonder if Ethan and Dorian are going to wake up together. I wonder what their relationship will be going forward. 

Penny Dreadful- Episode 1

The cast list reads like a who’s who in the action and/or horror and/or fantasy TV and cinema realm. Former Bond Timothy Dalton, former Bond girl (much later) Eva Green (also coming soon in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) my longtime crush Josh Hartnett (Sin City, Black Dahlia, 30 days of Night), Billie Piper (“Doctor Who”), Rory Kinnear (plays the Creature, also Bond alumni circa Blonde Bond).

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The set design, costumes and cinematography is lush… and set in victorian London. I’m concerned already since a production in the same genre set in the same atmosphere with less (but substantial) star power just got cancelled. I’m talking about NBC’s “Dracula”, new of it’s cancellation was announced yesterday. 

This show is expensive. But I’m not sure they are paying for new ideas… 

Josh Hartnett plays an alcoholic gunslinger who despite the trembling in his hand is seen fit by Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) to take on monsters that are terrorizing London. Even though he’s crashed and burned and is putting on a travelling side show. Vanessa and Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) bring Hartnett’s Ethan Chandler to the vampires’ nest. After some struggle, the vamps are defeated (we get a glimpse of Vanessa’s telekinetic powers, Ethan’s skill and Sir Malcolm’s bravado) and they bring a carcass to a scientific type (Frankenstein) played by Harry Treadaway (Cockneys versus Zombies, Lone Ranger)

The next day, Ethan is to meet Sir Malcolm at his home. A Black servant answers the door. WTF TV execs?Think we can suspend disbelief for vampires, but believe that we cannot stretch our imaginations that black people could be anything more than servants on these shows?.  

“Who the fuck are you people?”

Sir Malcolm’s daughter has been taken by a “creature” and Vanessa’s reasons for pursuing the monsters are “her own.” Secretive. Grizzly crime scenes are popping up all around, people are whispering about Jack the Ripper (likening this series again to “Dracula” AND to “Ripper Street”) Ethan wants to bail. He’s in over his head. Performing isn’t so bad. It’s better than messing with creatures of the night. But he is intrigued. And he interlopes on the investigation of a disgusting murder of a family.

Mina pays a visit to Sir Malcolm. Mina Harker, that’s right. Although these vampires bear a stronger resemblance to Nosferatu than any version of Dracula. sir Malcolm says that he will find her, Vanessa goes to pray, but candles levitate and bad omens present themselves in interesting and stunning ways.

It’s the small touches, Dr. Frankenstein asking Ethan about advancements in electric power in America, crosses turning upside down and exploding with arachnids and full frontal nudity that make this for me. Maybe Shotime can pull off what NBC could not, maybe a subscription channel can carry the weight of all these actors and scenarios.

At the end of the episode Victor Frankenstein accidentally reanimates “the Creature” and they have a touching and bizarre encounter. 

I am optimistic about this series. But the budget must be immense: it’s gorgeous. Mishmash of big name monsters also reminds me of “Hemlock Grove” (although this makes more sense already). Timothy Dalton is pulling his best (also former Bond) Sean Connery in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and my gosh, is it good to see Josh Hartnett taking on vamps again.

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But there’s not much to add, elements of plot are emergent but there’s not much to speculate over all about the dynamics of characters in upcoming episodes.