Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer screen

   This season is exceptionally filled with good dramas. Last year I had I Hear Your Voice and Monstar to spazz about, this season - few of them. Both Korean and western series.

   The order of these dramas is completely random, although I have to confess - High School King and Trot Lovers are just the right crack I needed. There are other series piling up like Glorious Days or Marriage Without Dating, but I need some more time to handle those.

  I watched Salem, hoping for a new take on the (in)famous witch trials in Salem in 17th century. The twist was there in terms that the series pictured events as true. Or at least half-true. True - because there were witches in Salem. And about those (200) innocent people who lost their lives in the process? Well, they were necessary offerings preparing the ground for the Grand Rite.

   The series was venomously against Puritans and it was visible throughout all 13 (voila!) episodes and it started really good, with tension, limited but present imaginarium of demonic forces and supernatural powers. However towards the end it became a sloppy, mushy mess. After losing his woman, Cotton lost also any spine that prevented him from becoming a mopping imbecile which resulted in his father's premature, albeit not unjustified, demise. Mercy went full ballistic and since she never was the most stable person on this show, she created herself a small army of emptybrained children to rule them all. John Alden lost balls he had in the first half of the show and Mary herself became almost a sloppy teen. I'm sorry I just couldn't see her as this the most powerful and fearless witch she has been described constantly. Tituba, on the other hand, oh she's a witch all right.

   The Grand Rite that would unleash the Death into the world was supposed to take place on Hunter's Moon (that is the next full moon after Harvest Moon, and Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to autumnal equinox). This show, despite having few nice moments, was spurting such nonsense at times I just cringed with the writers lack of access to books or internet. This Death closed in a box of an apple shape is more likely The Plague that devastated Europe in 1346–53. But here's the thing, in series they say this Death roamed the Earth 500 years ago. Salem witch trials: 1692-93. Simple Maths says you're a dumbass. Any other earlier plagues troubling our old Europe? Yes, in 7th and 8th centuries and no plague between 750 and 14th century. I call your bullshit, series.
   Other huge blunder? Rituale Romanum in English. In fucking English!! Because what, viewers couldn't read two additional lines of subs? Old Witches speak gibberish and there are subs, why not here? Rituale Romanum is in Latin and Latin only. Plus, to have it used by a Puritan pastor indicates the difference between Protestant and Catholic way of dealing with demonic forces. Mary hissed at the thought of Catholic ritual among Puritans, yet she was terrified because it actually worked. Demon was cast out of Mercy so she had to deal with it quickly. And she cooked her own undoing this way. If they ever make a second season, I demand more Cotton Mather in it.
   Also, this son of Mary and Alden... ugh. I know nothing about pregnancies but to me it looked like she was maybe 4-5 month pregnant when she performed the sacrifice, so the fetus most likely died. OK, fine, let's assume demonic forces for whom this sacrifice was, saved the baby somehow, but for seven years (7 deadly sins, 7 virtues, 7 wives of Bluebeard, 7 sacraments, 7 tassels of Mason Order apron, 7 hills of Rome. Any funny coincidence?) he was kept hidden, well fed and clothed. For me it looks just like a trick.

   Two new series started lately, Extant and Strain so I checked the first episodes. Both are sci-fi shows and both first episodes were not as much intense as I expected. Extant  tells the story of a young woman who happens to be a scientist for 13 months working all alone on space station. After she's back, she gets the news she's pregnant. This can get weirder, because with her husband they tried for years to have a baby and when nothing worked out, her hubby built a robot kid. Not creepy at all. (I see kid's future: he gets a new name - Ash and gets assigned to Nostromo. Seriously.)

   Not much was explained in the first episode. Molly works alone on the station and one day, electronics get a bit jumpy and after a short power cut, she sees a ghost of Christmas past. In this case - her dead first love. Kind of retarded ghost as he can only repeat two words after her. After short time she wakes up and checks the footage on which she's alone and talking to the air, so she deletes the footage.

Yes, Hiroyuki Sanada in another sci-fi show

   There is a trend, me seems in US series with their latest liberation. It seems writers tend to create one-plot novel like series. Procedural formula is maybe good for crime shows, but lately I see one developing plot through the entire series. This is why the first episode told us so little. I will watch it to see how they play those space ghosts, androids and Yasumoto company (Yutani much?). Also I want to see how they explain the title: Extinct/Extant. Also the plot of Harmon Kryger and his "suicide". There is a lot to work with and I hope they won't follow Helix' pattern for self destructing nice premises.

Hi, my name is not Damien and this is not "Omen". At all.
   Strain is another sci-fi show. We have the chief of CDC who was called to check mysterious circumstances surrounding the plane who landed where it wasn't supposed to. It starts on the board of said plane when one of the attendants hears some weird, animal-like thumping below, in a cargo hold. Of course, the owner of this thumping breaks free and... the plane lands but as specialists say - its exterior is dead cold as dead animal.
So much nonsense in the first episode that even new form of vampirism didn't seem that convoluted. While checking the cargo, they see a huge box filled with soil. (not my fandom not my problem, but they didn't even watch, cause I don't believe they read, Bram Stoker's Dracula? Coffin filled with soil on the board of a ship? Anyone??) I will check the second episode, but so far, Extant seems more promising.
   I'm not fond of detective stories, but when I read "demon" and "Louisiana" I knew I had to check this series as well. And it blew me completely, it was 4 am when I finished. If you're in a need of a good, gripping, intense, greatly acted, scripted and directed series - watch True Detective.  I take back everything I ever said about Matthew McConaughey. Here he's brilliant! I like Woody Harrelson, so it was no problem for me to check it, but McConaughey obliterated everything in this show. The storyline taken from IMDb is not the most exciting out there: "The lives of two detectives, Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, become entangled during a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana." But the story is more complex, entangled and twisted. It shows that no demonic forces are needed because, to quote some other fandom: "demons I get but humans...". I don't want to spoil the fun for those who haven't seen it yet, but there is a lot from local southern hoodoo tradition, swamps, woods and eerily haunting Carcosa.

   Under the Dome second season started. Along with Junior's full blown psychotic routine. I read the book, but I still enjoy watching what is going on before my eyes. The plot came to the moment when our trapped characters realize there is not enough food to feed everyone inside the dome. The game gets intense.
Utopia is also back, but since I only managed to watch the first wacky as usual episode, I won't write anything yet.

The rain of blood that is not blood.

   As for K-dramas... don't get me started. Writers probably have a secret pact that states they create perfect, highly addictive crack and the dump all at the same time once every year. Joseon Gunman is so far one of three shows I'm watching but I'm not dying to see, if you know what I mean. I like it, revenge is always good, any chance of period dramas, shooting and violence is also good. This show needs more violence though. But we have an intelligent (so far, love turns all of us into imbeciles) lady, and dashing young men with their... guns.

SKKS much?
 Since I watched only 5 episodes so far, I can't write more on this revenge plot that's forming and other subplots involved. But let's kyaa at the pretty dresses and Junki fighting, shall we?

I want to rob ladies here of their clothes, accessories and everything

   Anything with trot on it must be good. This drama is good. After a series of mishaps a fallen star and a rising star end up working together on the latter's debut. Cuteness ensues, but with it, a Golden Rule of every Kdrama ever: Noble Idiocy. I should probably write a separate post regarding this one drama especially, pointing out everything I love in it.

 Our second lead is not merely usual second lead: good shoulder, supportive and gentle (as opposed to foul tempered main lead). He's also a whackjob.

Come to the Dark Side. We have Weird Directors
   We have lots of singing here, not only trot music. I missed characters singing in a drama. I miss musical dramas, Mnet should do another one, because Monstar was so precious. Casting Eunji was a great choice as she can not only act but also sing. I feel alive again watching those dramas this season. I have perfect entertainment for the entire hour, I forget about everything, my problems, meals...

   High School King which I dubbed as King SIG on twitter just because he shines there, is one of those dramas that some people love from the start and others don't. There's nothing in between. The premise is a bit convoluted as we have two brothers with older having some unclear for now problems and asking younger one to pretend to be him. At work. Big company. Brothers are supposed to be very alike visually so the plan might work. problem is, the younger one is 18 years-old highschooler who spends his time playing for hockey team and avoiding a Stalker Girl. Plan has no faults, if you ask me.

A cup of B Rh+ every morning works miracles

   Director Yoo (played by your very friendly neighbourhood Vampire) is a really interesting character. Calm and deadly dead indifferent on the outside, he's a wounded puppy inside. His character flickers like broken lightbulb, moments of light are followed by darkness in coffins. He was made a Director, yet he's despised and never properly recognized by his own father and their estranged relationship is one of the harshest I have seen lately. His mother is recovering alcoholic and quite a violent lady confined to some rehab center, yet as we got to know, her health deteriorates (I couldn't figure if they were talking about her physical health or mental).

   I am a firm believer that given the right circumstances every person is a killer. Our pale Director Elf is bottling up every emotion both positive and negative, probably having also the distinction between right and wrong blurred. He has these moments when I ofter wonder how close he is from setting the whole world around him on fire. He's capable of violence. He can jump to this state easily. And Minseok with his 18 yo, jubilant and arrogant behavior is just adding the oil to the brimming well.

   And Minseok... well, he has to drink the beer he brewed. Pretending he's someone else wasn't his fault. However, now he has a 10 years older woman who fell for him not knowing (erhm, OK, episode 10, OK) who he is. 10 years gap is not any impediment in relationships, but Minseok is 18 years old. And he played a very dangerous, very egoistical game. And his lady, a gullible to the extreme, soft and vulnerable to the point of self-denial creature is now in the open. Her crush on Director Vampire got crushed by man himself, then he played a cruel trick on her, but now when she opened herself to another possible love, she gets such a blow.
I cling to the first episode beginning where we saw Suyeong helping this 18 yo dumbass escape from work to school, to see the problems resolved. Still, there is a problem of their relationship. Will this drama give us One True Time-jump to Rule Them All and All the Troubles Solve? Or will our lovely airhead couple break up? Maybe there is a light for our Vampire Director too? He can be honest, he can show his scarred and vulnerable heart so we can pierce it with wooden stick empathize with him, because frankly, he's in a deep, desperate need of warm human contact. His approach to get it is completely wrong... Wait, why am I even sympathizing with him??
Seo Inguk forever!!

I could write a book on how much of a brilliant actor he became

And yeah, I still watch Dominion but don't ask me why as I have not a one good explanation to give. Latest, 4th episodes was godsawfully boring, Gabriel is a caricature of any being, yet I will watch it till the end. Maybe they will explain why Powers have damn red kevlar suits.