Films I Watch A Million Times Series – 10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You - Official Poster  - from IMDB.com

10 Things I Hate About You – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Director: Gil Junger
Writers: Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith, and William Shakespeare (play “The Taming of the Shrew”)
Stars: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I first saw 10 Things I Hate About You on a plane on the way to America as a 12 year old. I immediately loved it and it was always my dream as a teen to be like Kat. She was feisty, strong, had a mind of her own, and wasn’t going to be treated like a fool by anyone. It was her strength of mind that I loved most. She disregarded convention and was a rebel of a different kind. Kat rebelled against what was popular. In a lot of ways she was my first experience of indie, but it was more than that. I had never had much guts as a kid but heading into high school and becoming my own person (in my own mind anyway) was the chance to turn things around, to be a stronger woman, to stand against what I didn’t agree with, and be whoever she deemed she wanted to be. It was this that really connected me to the movie.

The relationships between all the characters are familiar to most as it is based on William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew which has had numerous renditions and adaptations. And as with most Shakespeare plays it has been done well and not so well as it has stood up to the testing of Hollywood. There are some really fantastic adaptations of Shakespeare including Baz Luhrmann’s modern Romeo & Juliet and Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. However for adaptations into a new period and without the Shakespearean dialogue you can’t go past 10 Things I Hate About You. It stands on its own two feet as a good teen rom-com-drama as well as adapting a brilliant Shakespeare. The characterisation of Kat and Bianca are beautifully fulfilled by Julia Stiles and Larisa Oleynik, let alone the performances of the young Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Patrick Verona and Cameron James respectively. It was imaginatively formed and it came together to produce a film that would continue to be enjoyed throughout the next 13 years.

This film helped shape me as a person and there have been so many moments when I have quoted lines from this film in real life and then realised that only the people who have seen it millions of times would know the significance of a line like “Sleep is good” or “Yeah, that’s a Toyota.” It also made me want to have curly long hair like Julia Stiles but that was never going to happen with my straight-can’t-be-curled-hair. It was the attitude of Kat and Patrick that I fell in love with most. It was the carefree attitude mixed with strength and loyalty that I strived for and in a lot of ways still do. It’s hard to be a people pleaser but it’s also incredibly hard to not let people’s opinions of us get the better of us and command what we do, say, wear, like, etc.

10 Things I Hate About You still makes me laugh, cry, and think hard about how I’m acting in my life. Kat is one of my heroines of literature and even though this says a lot about me and the kind of person I want to be, I care more like Bianca and obsessive like Cameron, and slightly less delusional than Mandelia, and simply awkward like Michael. It is a film where I relate to pretty much every character and they have come with me in this journey of life as influencing characters who have reminded me of what is real, what is true, and what is honest.

I lived vicariously through Kat as I grew up as a teenager and wanted to be like her. She was my role model. She had the attitude and the lifestyle I wanted. She was intelligent, driven and quick-witted. She wanted to escape to the big city. She didn’t want anyone controlling her life. She was brilliant in my eyes. I know she was never the best example or role model but I love her all the same.

What film or character did you love through your teens? Do they still influence you to this day?

The Literary Genre of TV Land – Wallander

Wallander - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Wallander – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Wallander (2008, 2010)

Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Sarah Smart and Richard McCabe
Series Writing credits: Richard Cottan (6 episodes, 2008-2010), Henning Mankell (6 episodes, 2008-2010), Peter Harness (3 episodes, 2012). Based on Henry Mankell’s novels.

I love my crime thriller TV shows more than most. There is something that compels me to watch them. From my adolescent times I loved CSI and for a while wanted to be a forensic scientist, then I discovered I hated chemistry and because that was a major component of being a forensic scientist I decided it wasn’t for me. The investigation and the intrigue that comes with crime shows is something I love because it is narrative driven. However when it comes to a show like Wallander there is something primarily different about it. The pace, the setting, the characters, the stories, and the audience it attracts is very different from your usual CSI, NCIS, and Law&Order audience members. It is much more character driven than other crime shows and it is for this reason that it has become a new favourite for me. That and Tom Hiddleston is in it. He is the reason I started watching it. I may be a little obsessed but don’t let that bias my opinion of the show because disappointedly he is only a minor character in the show and so it isn’t the reason I kept watching.

This show follows the man Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) as he is confronted with the harsh reality of murder and the emotional damage that being around crime can have on a detective. It shows a different aspect of a detective as he continues to investigate these murders, it shows the character’s moral dilemma and the weight that is placed on the detectives as they try and make sense of the irrationality of murder. Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of Kurt Wallander is full of theatrical depth that you expect from a thespian of his caliber but the most interesting this about this casting is that his performance is almost entirely held in his expressions. Wallander is a man of few words, he is closed off, cold, and tormented by his vocation and Branagh is able to convey the complexity of this character in a single eye flicker or the way he holds his body as he approaches a crime scene. Wallander is a man that is confronted with the most horrific of human behaviours and struggles to deal with the trauma of these circumstances. Branagh grabs you and takes you with him as he explores the world of Wallander and pulls you in as he becomes more emotionally and mentally drained by these cases.

The pace of this show is one of the surprising things I found in watching it. It is slow and quiet. The atmosphere is dense and weighty and it feels all encompassing as you sit and watch these characters and stories unfold. It is definitely not a style that most people would enjoy and I would compare it to a popular fiction reader attempting to read literary fiction for the first time. It is heavy going and it does take a while to get into it. There are particular moments in each episode where if I hadn’t felt compelled to find Tom Hiddleston in the first episode that I may have switched off, but once you meet Kurt Wallander and get to know him a little bit more you can’t help but keep watching. The stories are particularly dark and complex but also truly intriguing. I have really fell in love with the characters in Wallander and the stories that connect them together. It shows the real pace of investigation and the humanity that lies behind both the criminal acts and the justice provided, as well the haunting of those detectives who are faced with the horrific. It is moving and beautiful at the same time and I have felt connected to these characters more than I usually do in tv shows. They feel real, they feel like they could be out there in the world, they feel true. It is a look at the darkness that underpins the evil in this world and the grief that is carried through the acts of violence that police have to deal with. This is a beautiful and tragic look at investigation of crime.

When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die – The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan (screenplay) and Christopher Nolan (screenplay & story), David S. Goyer (story), and Bob Kane (Batman characters)
Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman

There are so many feature length films nowadays that should really have an hour of them removed because they try and do too much in the one film. Story telling has been lengthened and not always for the benefit of the film or for the audience. Christopher Nolan has perfected the art of creating a story that ebbs and flows in such a way that enthralls the audience for the entire time. The Dark Knight Rises is a long film but it didn’t feel like the 2hr 44min that it claims to be. It may be that I was just overly excited by the perfection of Nolan’s writing once again, or that the adrenaline and excitement got to me, but the film just picked me up and carried my imagination through it without a hiccup of lost concentration.

I have to admit I wasn’t that excited about going to see The Dark Knight Rises. Especially after being disappointed with The Amazing Spider-Man (see review here), I really didn’t want to get my hopes up too high to be crushed again. But to the contrary I was blown away and riveted the entire time. The narrative of this film is as brilliant as the previous two with its own little twists and turns along the way. I think I got so involved in the film that when one of the big reveals happened and my friend beside me whispered “I knew it!”, I was still rolling in the amazement of it. I now can see how one could have predicted the twists but I was enjoying the ride too much to take that step back and think about what was coming.

The amazing thing about this film was the audience’s response. I saw the film the second night it was out, with a packed theatre. There are particular moments in the film when the sound becomes basically silent and it was in these moments when I realised how involved the audience was in this story. There was barely a rustle of lolly papers or crunch of popcorn to be heard in the entire theatre. The power of this film was astonishing. It hooks you in and doesn’t let you go until those lights are lifted and you are jump started back into the real world. I know that this will not be the experience for everyone but it certainly was mine and I truly hope that you’re experience of watching The Dark Knight Rises is as thrilling as mine.

The only aspect of the film which I wasn’t completely satisfied with was that of the villain, Bane. The Dark Knight Rises is the end of a trilogy that has been acclaimed for more reasons than it’s brilliant story lines and production values but it has been shrouded in some sadness and drama of its own. The loss of the brilliant Heath Ledger before The Dark Knight came out in 2008 was tragic and the film will always hold that external loss to it. However the beauty of his performance in The Dark Knight was the thing that really gripped the audience. He played the Joker so incredibly well that I still have nightmares when I see pictures of him, let alone watch the film again. And thus, it was always going to be hard to create another villain as tremendously terrifying as The Joker. This is the only fault I find with the new film. The villain doesn’t give me nightmares. And this I attribute purely and simply to the voice of Tom Hardy (Inception, This Means War). Hardy’s British accent didn’t suit his villainous look. It wasn’t monstrous or maniacal, it was simply plain and had barely a hint of evil apart from the words which formed the dialogue. Maybe that was what was meant to be so terrifying about him, that he was just one of the normal people, that it wasn’t because he was a raving lunatic but that he was simply a causer of havoc and discord. But after Heath Ledger’s performance there was a certain level of expectation and it wasn’t fulfilled for me.

However, in saying that, it was still thrilling to see Bane unfold as a character and how Catwoman (Anne Hathway) was worked into the storyline as well. I really loved Hathway’s portrayal of the woman behind the spandex and how Nolan created her character outside the seductress. The other outstanding performance was that of Joseph Gordon-Levitt whose character was surprising and beautifully portrayed. Nolan tends to use the same actors throughout his work with good reason, they suit his dramatic style of writing and make what could’ve been a really cheesy line quite beautiful and genuine. The passion and depth to each character was explored throughout the drama and provided the reality that a comic film needs to be truly identifiable with our real world. It is the characters challenges, triumphs, and losses that make this trilogy the wonder that it is.

Oh to be a geek! – The Guild

The Guild - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Guild – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Guild (2007)

Creator: Felicia Day
Stars: Sandeep Parikh, Felicia Day and Jeff Lewis
Website: http://watchtheguild.com/

Web series are a powerful medium that have been growing in popularity over the last few years. With the power of Youtube and advertisement support to gain income from them, they are also becoming a viable way of producing a show. It gives you a wider audience with the blessing of not having to deal with networks and the fight for airtime on television. There have been some really successful web series, such as Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, and from what I’ve seen most are directed towards those who love the internet and the medium of both blogging and online videos.

The Guild is the brain child of the gorgeous geek and actress Felicia Day. The series is based on a group of gamers who play a role-playing game called “The Game” online. They form a small group of individuals who work together in the game, or a guild. It is the story of how they meet and become IRL friends. For the main character, Codex (Felicia Day), the game is her main social interaction and has become the centre of her world, so much so that she sought a therapist for her addiction and then her therapist dumped her because she wasn’t willing to cut down on how much she played the game.

The show is quirky and reveals the good and bad of online games, especially those that demand hours of play time. However it is done in such a stereotypical way that both judges the gamer and their critics. It is this element that I love about the show. It is a hilarious look at online gamers and their world and is clever and entertaining.

The form of web series means it is light hearted entertainment but it also means that the attachment to the characters can be developed every week through the series. You really get to know the different characters in the guild and you discover what each of them brings to the group in their own special way. I love this form of story telling because it creates it’s own reality. It is a true situation comedy, these could be real people sharing their vlogs on Youtube. That is the wonderful thing about it.

Felicia Day is a fantastic comedic actor and really brings her own unique and inspired look into online gaming into this show. The genuine nature and honesty of it reveals a deep love for the gaming world as well as a wonderful sense of humour about the diversity of the people who play. I love all the characters, even Clara, and I really can’t wait until the next season starts airing online.

A little bit of screaming goes a long way – Supernatural

Supernatural - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Supernatural – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Supernatural (2005)

Creator: Eric Kripke
Stars: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Jim Beaver

Tumblr is a blogging site that operates mostly in pictures and the support of memes and fandoms. If all of that didn’t make sense to you don’t worry, I will get to the review shortly (or just skip to the next paragraph if you like). I follow a lot of different blogs on Tumblr, most of which have similar interests to me. Most of those blogs are about Doctor Who, Firefly, Avengers, Merlin, or other bits and pieces I’ve followed along the way. A few months ago a lot of gifs and pics started popping up on my dashboard that featured Supernatural. I was initially put off by the show because of its darkness and violence. I decided to give the show ago because I thought that if many of the people who like similar shows to me like it then I might enjoy it after all.

Supernatural is centred around two brothers and their search for the father. The family business is “hunting” but instead of hunting animals they hunt the supernatural. From ghosts and changelings, demons and hellhounds, if it is hurting people they will hunt it down and kill it. Charming, right? Well I didn’t think so either. But Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are so damn cute! They provide the entertainment with this show. It took me two and a half seasons to stop thinking of Jared Padalecki as Dean from Gilmore Girls and to reconfigure my mind to remember that he is actually called Sam in Supernatural, that would be Jensen Ackles’ character. After that little mind hurdle the show provides some interesting and entertaining story lines, but the main reason to keep watching is just for the eye candy.

The show is dark and scary. It’s balanced with some humour and banter, but when you have a ear piercing squeal and violins playing spooky music in the background it can be incredibly intense to watch. I’m not easily scared, that is, I can handle most violence, although I don’t like gore much, but when someone squeals you just can’t help but jump. I find Supernatural really interesting because it deals with subject matter that is highly mythical and fantastical. This provides both a new way of thinking about the world but also a different way of escaping. The world of Supernatural isn’t a happy one, it’s violent and scary and not a world I would want to live in necessarily. However, the ideals of the main characters are noble and honourable which is the main pulling point for getting involved with the characters and their journey.

I’ve now watched four seasons out of seven and have finally gotten to the point where I couldn’t keep watching, it just became unreal for me. And as much as I feel in love with Misha Collins (plays Castiel, an angel) it became too fantastical. Now that may seem silly because the premise is based on the unreal or unknown, however there is a point where I can suspend belief too if the world is real and if it fits within the realm of possibility. In fantasy it may be that a new, different world is created and thus the laws of our natural world do not apply in the same way, but in Supernatural it borders between the real world and a different reality that it lost me into the space between the two dimensions. I couldn’t believe that what was happening could happen in the world we live in now, even with everything that had come before, and thus I disconnected from the story.

It makes me sad that this happened. Not because I loved the show but because it meant that there were three seasons left for me to watch but I didn’t want to. I hate not finishing a story. Supernatural will be unfinished for me, but will live on in Tumblr land through gifs instead. I’ll just remain in the dark of the unknown of the world of Supernatural for the time being.

Fantasy in the real world – Dollhouse

Dollhouse - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Dollhouse – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Dollhouse (2009-2010)

Creator: Joss Whedon
Stars: Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix and Fran Kranz

I have recently become a little obsessed with Joss Whedon’s work. After falling in love with Firefly and then The Avengers, I’ve now taken up the task of watching his body of work. (Although I may skip most of Buffy as vampires have never been my thing). I first heard about Dollhouse from a couple of my nerd friends who were having an Avengers marathon at the time and were talking about Whedon’s work. I put off watching it for a while as I didn’t really know that much about it. And then I got sick last week. And I watched the entire first season in two days. Oh my word. Joss Whedon is a genius. No really, there is nothing this guy can’t execute brilliantly.

Dollhouse is based on the premise that there is a exclusive, secret organisation that fulfills people’s fantasies through the use of “actives” or “dolls”. These dolls are people that have volunteered for the program for five years, had their memory wiped, and are imprinted with another person’s traits, abilities, characteristics, desires, etc, in order to fulfill the fantasy of the client. It sounds weird, it is, and it is fraught with ethical dilemmas. Whedon knows this and explores this in a really interesting way throughout the show.

Our journey in Dollhouse is centred around Echo, or Caroline, played by Eliza Dushku. She is one of the best dolls in the dollhouse and the story follows her life in the house and on jobs with clients. She has the ability to adapt in the imprint though and this unpredictable nature of Echo brings her under closer inspection. It is through Echo that we see the world of the dollhouse as what it is and what it does. I came to really love and care for Echo as she was tormented with the half-remembering of her past and the passion to find what really happened to her. It is characters like Echo that is the reason I love this kind of show. It has a unique ability to transport you into the world and to question what you know about your own world. It harnesses the power of the unknown and gives you a glimpse into how the pure can be corrupted. It transports desperation into peace, all with the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach of knowing that it isn’t quite right. And it grabs you and pulls you along for the ride through each episode with the excited and nervous anticipation of what will become of these people.

Maybe that’s just me, maybe I get too involved in TV characters and the worlds writers create for me to escape into, but I do love it. I live vicariously through them as they do things I would never do, things I wish I could do, and things I know I would love to do. And then when each episode ends I long to return with them into their world, to be one of them, and to experience life in a dramatic and exciting way. But as I pull back from that world and the main titles fill my screen I’m brought back to the fact that I am sitting on my couch, sick and tired, and that the world I’ve been transported into is not real and that I would much prefer where I am to the bruises and ethical dilemmas that the characters experience in that world. I suppose that is why I love TV so much as well, because you can escape that world when you need to. If only it was the same for life sometimes. And maybe that’s why Dollhouse has grabbed me so much, because the dolls live in an escaped world, where they experience something and then come back from the real world to their haven of tranquility to forget and escape the horror of the real world. Is it the same for entertainment? Is entertainment our haven?

Time Travel Is Complicated – Men In Black 3

Men In Black 3 - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Men In Black 3

Agent J travels in time to MIB’s early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writers: Etan Cohen, Lowell Cunningham (Malibu comic)
Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin

Oh that opening ten minutes was trying. At one point I thought one of my friends was going to gross out and leave. Fortunately we all stayed and the third installment of the Men in Black franchise surpassed expectation. I have to say after the horrific experience of the second Men in Black my expectations were not high. And once you get passed the gross, icky insect crawling into a man’s hand then the story gets interesting. The alien in this film is bizarre but Boris the Animal really compels a fascination in the audience to wonder how Boris was captured in the first place and how Agent K managed to control him into a prison.

With the complications that time travel can bring, the script works quite well in the way it solves the problem of Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin) disappearing from most people’s memory except Agent J (Will Smith). The humour and the action are as they ever were, impressive and entertaining. There are some moments when the film waned and I was just waiting for the next bit of action to happen, especially with the romance side plot between Agent K and Agent O (Emma Thompson). And here I was thinking that he had always loved that woman who he had stalked via satellite and gone off to be with at the end of the first film. I suppose this was before then, but still what a woman magnet that man must’ve been! I really enjoyed the way they explored the reason behind why Agent K is so emotionally withdrawn and secretive about his life. It gives a new depth to the character that we don’t really see in the other films however I’m still a bit confused the way the phone call works where Kay tells Jay that he will tell him all the universe’s secrets tomorrow. But apart from that small hiccup in logic (probably more on my naivety then the filmmakers) the film runs smoothly and the complexity works.

The best bit about this film is the character (and performance of) Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg) the multidimensional being. He is the perfect amount of quirky and plot-solving-elegant. His quirkiness is not too overpowering and not too underplayed either. Stuhlbarg’s performance was gripping and had me both laughing and feeling emotional at the same time. He was a redeeming feature of the film when the narrative waned.

Overall Men In Black 3 was way better than the second one but still floundered at points when you expected it to soar and thus it had moments where you could easily tune out and tune back in five minutes later. It is a fun film but one that you could wait for DVD/Bluray to see unfortunately. Although the shots of Will Smith falling to the ground is impressive on the big screen, as is the fight scene on the Apollo 11 launch tower. I want to watch this film again which usually means I like the film but I suppose like anything it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

Just Having An Angsty Teenage Moment – Awkward

Awkward - Poster from IMDB.com

Awkward – Poster from IMDB.com

Awkward (2011)

Creator: Lauren Iungerich
Stars: Molly Tarlov, Ashley Rickards and Beau Mirchoff

I discovered this show late one night while I was scanning through a list of shows on GetGlue. I started watching the first episode at 10pm as something to fall asleep to. Six hours later I had not slept and I had finished the first season. I’ve gone back again and watched the first half of it through again and I have to say MTV has actually done something right for once.

Awkward tells the story of Jenna, a bit of a nobody at her American high school but after a summer camp and her first time with a guy from her school – Matty – she is confronted with the prospect of becoming high school famous as she has an accident whilst choking on some Asprin which makes it seem like she has attempted to commit suicide.

The season unfolds with Jenna finding her new found status on the school’s radar as “That Girl” both troubling and exciting. The complexity of teenage relationships, the pressure of high school, and the humour behind having parents who were only 16 when they had you brings the tormented world of high school to life.

I really love this show because of the character of Jenna and how she seems to be one of the only three sane characters in the entire show along with her father and Jake, the golden jock. Her sense of humour is delightfully dry and the way she approaches tricky situations is balanced with a reasonable amount of both crazy and sensible. It creates a perfectly real character that intrigues and makes you want to keep being involved in Jenna’s life. You want to be her friend and to help her make better life decisions and you want to bitch slap Sadie and Matty at points for her. Jenna is a compelling character because she is conveyed to be misunderstood and underestimated by those around her.

The relationships that Jenna forms over the season bring to light a complexity to people that we all know is there but it really can be seen in teenagers as they try and work out life. The things that go unsaid because of fear, or the reasons why some people are awful to all those around them are not just as simple as the fact that they are awful people. Jenna’s relationship with her nemesis Sadie is an interesting one because Sadie isn’t your typical pretty, thin, popular mean girl, she is popular because her family is rich. It’s a different take on the mean girl because it shows the real insecurity of bullies. It reveals the true nature of teenagers in their own little world and the fact that no matter who you are and where you come from the insecurities that haunt you also haunt others. The beauty in this for a teen show is that it makes you, as the viewer, relate to the characters on screen. No matter how old you are there will be resemblances of you in this show, especially if you are a woman, although I feel that the male characters are quite true to form in their complexity and confusion.

The story line of the show is mixed with humour and seriousness but it is held together well with the arching narrative of the ominous letter and the mystery of who wrote it to begin with. The narrative within each episode isn’t strong and it at points can seem to struggle pushing through the 20 minute episodes. It is however one of those shows where you get to the end of the episode and without thinking go to the next one because you are compelled to keep watching these characters and see where their lives will lead them. It will be interesting to see how long the show goes for and how they continue to chart the course of Jenna’s experiences but I am looking forward to seeing where they take it.

A Unexpected Underdog – The Adventures of Merlin

Merlin - Poster from IMDB.com

Merlin – Poster from IMDB.com

The Adventures of Merlin (2008)

Creators: Julian Jones, Julian Murphy, Johnny Capps, Jake Michie
Stars: John Hurt, Colin Morgan and Bradley James

I wasn’t going to watch this show when it first started on TV but I ended up watching it, like everything I watch, because someone said I might like it and it had an Irish actor in it. So I started watching and then kept watching and haven’t stopped.

I was never very interested in magic, magicians, witches or anything like that as a kid and I totally missed the Harry Potter faze that most of my friend’s went through growing up. I was however a lover of the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Growing up I really enjoyed the Sword In The Stone and the tale of a poor young boy who was actually the King of Camelot, proven for his character more than his birth right. I love a good underdog story and so when I worked out that this was a King Arthur tale I was in.

Now from saying the above you would think that I would’ve been quite disappointed with the adaptation of Merlin, however the first episode really grabbed me because instead of Arthur being the underdog, it was Merlin. The character of Merlin and his noble cause of seeking to stand up for the rights of those who were undermined and disadvantaged was one that really appealed to me. The cheesy humour and character relationships didn’t hurt either.

Colin Morgan who plays Merlin is an outstanding young actor and his innocence, naivety, and compassion are abounding as Merlin. He brings a real earthiness and humility to the character which makes him a likable underdog. There is a fragility to his physique that makes him the perfect young wizard and also makes him believably strong in mind and heart. It is this heart of the character which is the core of this show. It is about how he struggles to help and protect those who cannot protect themselves and it is his battle with the arrogance of Prince Arthur (Bradley James) and his connection with him that helps create the conflict needed for the narrative.

The creators and writers of the show have really made the show develop and succeed through it’s twisting of the myth and although it holds the mythology well in it’s narrative there is also a lot more depth to it created by the conflict with the characters and the secrets of the past that come to light over the seasons. The playfulness of the the first season slowly becomes less prominent as the story continues and as more people turn evil, however it remains within the realm of “family entertainment” for the most part. The youthfulness of the lead actors and the growing up that they experience over the course of the show has made it appealing for both children and adults alike.

The latter seasons although a bit darker are also more interesting as the relationships between the characters develop. The rival of Morgana and Emerys (old version of Merlin, still played by Colin Morgan and is incredibly convincing as an old man, it’s actually a little concerning how well he acts this role, awe-inspiringly good acting) and the love between Arthur and Gwen start to give a new depth to the story.

The battle between good and evil continues and the wisdom to know the difference is something that drives the characters in this show as well as the idea of duty and responsibility which for our day and age is an interesting one to explore. We don’t have the same sense of duty as they did previously however this show deals with the subject in a balanced manner which shows both the ill and the blessing of fulfilling duty and destiny.

I really like this show for many reasons but mainly because of Colin Morgan’s superb acting in every episode. He is mesmerising on screen and brings Merlin to life in the best way possible. His compassion and strength as Merlin is gripping and his journey through the story is riveting.

This show isn’t for everyone, it is fantasy and can be a bit cheesy at points. It requires a bit of suspension of reality and you have to allow yourself to be taken back in time but if you can live with the fantastical nature of the show it is a beautiful show to watch.

From A Genius Comes A Genius – Sherlock

Sherlock - Poster from IMDB.com

Sherlock – Poster from IMDB.com

Sherlock (2010)

Creators:Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat
Stars:Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Una Stubbs

I have been in awe of Stephen Moffat’s writing for a while now. I loved Press Gang when I was growing up and still remember watching it with my parents. I belly-laughed until it hurt at Couplings when I discovered it and consumed it like there was no tomorrow. Then when I worked out that he was the one responsible for the episode “Blink” on Doctor Who I took my Moffat appreciation to a whole other level of obsession. There was something about the way he constructed a story, intertwined the characters, and provided a script that held secrets that I don’t think even he realised were in there that I still sit shocked to realise. The complexity of the arching narrative, the detail in the little moments between characters, and the genuine nature of the dialogue between his creations is what makes it compelling to watch.

When it was announced that Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss would be collaborating to bring Sherlock to the small screen I couldn’t wait to see what they produced. Both geniuses in their own right, their collaboration was always set to bring forth a truly delightful television experience. And they delivered with Sherlock.

I wonder how many people have read the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. I for one have and I have loved them for a while now. I’m a sucker for a good mystery and I loved the wackiness of Sherlock’s character in the books. To bring the character into the 21st Century though is a challenging task because of the traditional investigatory paths that the original Sherlock had and the advancement of technology nowadays. I would never have thought to make Sherlock tech-savvy and that is probably why Moffat and Gatiss are the geniuses and I am not.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are brilliant characters brought to life by Moffat and Gatiss’ scripts and by the superb acting of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The chemistry between the two men is inspiring and they explore a new angle of the relationship in a lot of ways. There is of course a lot of the original essence of the weird friendship there but it is a lot more complex and has a new depth that the original novels lack to convey. From the moment the two characters are introduced there is a spark of wonder that is the catalyst for the rest of the show. It is a moment that shows so much of what is to come in a simple minute of the film. The arrogance and charisma of Sherlock and the insecurity and rationality of John combine to drag you into these men’s journey together and which compels you to keep watching.

The show is slow moving and long for the most part but the quick speeches of Sherlock balance the investigating and experimental processes that are combined in his work. He reads rooms, people, scenes quickly but takes the time to make sure he sees the details as well. This makes the show roll on in a good pace and gives you time to take in what Sherlock has discovered in a quick minute of walking around a room. This pace allows the characters to develop and allows the relationships between the characters to be fleshed out more carefully. As the audience it is hard not to feel like you are taking the perspective of John Watson just like in the books and it allows you the perspective to journey along as an observer as John is for the most part.

The cleverness of the on screen text and the processing of information is one of the highlights of this show. I get giddy when they do something fun and new like that and it makes me excited for all the twists and turns that Moffat will provide in the narrative. It is small things from the text to Mrs Hudson’s one liners in the episodes that make this show really amazing. Moffat and Gatiss have made a show that will be rewatched over and over again and get the fan sites buzzing with theories on the how and whys of the show.

It will be a special and exciting moment when the third season finally airs and we find out how Sherlock escaped death and I can not wait for that moment!

I really recommend you spend the time watching this show. They are long episodes (90minutes) but every minute is worth it and it gets way better the further into the show you get. This is a fantastic show because of the writing and acting and production. Watch it!