Mel’s 5 Second TV Review: Penny Dreadful Season 1

Penny Dreadful (2014 – now)
Season 1 cast: Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Harry Treadaway, Reeve Carney, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper, Danny Sapani, Olivia Llewellyn, Olly Alexander, David Warner, Alex Price, Alun Armstrong

PENNY DREADFUL

So, I haven’t been keeping up to date on TV shows for a long time now. Even shows I love, like Supernatural and Doctor Who, I’ve completely slacked on. Not sure why. I still watch a lot of stuff, but it’s all documentaries and stuff like that. But slowly the fiction bug seems to be creeping back, with me watching more and more movies, and even some TV shows, like this one.

I’d been interested in it since the moment I heard of it (back when it was still in production, I did an article about teen hearthrobs, and Josh Hartnett was on the list), and I told myself I’d watch it when it came out. Of course, I didn’t. But speaking to my mother this weekend, she told me she tried to watch it, but couldn’t because it was too creepy. That immediately piqued my interest, and I just had to watch it.

Disappointingly, season 1 only has 8 episodes, but I absolutely devoured them, doing the whole thing in two sittings. I’d have done it all in one, but it was late, and I had to drive home the next day (3 hour drive), which is always hard on me. The setting and costumes are gorgeous, and the actors seemed perfectly suited for their roles. Even Josh Hartnett, who, despite his beauty, was never the best actor, has upped his game. The characters are all from classic horror, with Dr Frankenstein, Mina Harker, and a master vampire who has to be Dracula (but we still haven’t met him yet) rounding out the cast. And the story, there’s definitely no slouching in that department either, wonderfully complex yet simple at the same time. All said and done, this is, simply, a wonderful, wonderful show. 10/10. I can’t wait for season 2!

This series is currently streaming on Netflix Brazil, and is also on CraveTV. Enjoy!

M.

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Mel’s 5 Second First Impressions: Game of Thrones, Season 4

Game of Thrones (2011 – present)
(Season 4 cast) Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Charles Dance, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Natalie Dormer, Iain Glen, Gwendoline Christie, Jack Gleeson, Rory McCann, Aidan Gillen, Sibel Kekilli, Liam Cunningham, Stephen Dillane, Rose Leslie, Pedro Pascal, Alfie Allen, Diana Rigg, Michiel Huisman, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ian McElhinney, John Bradley, Ellie Kendrick, Iwan Rheon, Hannah Murray, Jerome Flynn, Indira Varma, Burn Gorman, Kate Dickie, Finn Jones, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, and Conleth Hill (holy crap there are too many characters!! :-p )

GoT s4

So, I figured since season 5 is about to start, I should probably catch up on season 4 first. I’ve read all the books, so I wasn’t as gung-ho about keeping up with it as others seem to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show. Everything is absolutely perfect, the actors, the writing, the locations, perfect. But, as with all adapted stuff, the show has started to veer away more and more from the books. At first it was just little things, but now there seem to be whole story-lines missing or changed. And, as an avid lover of the books, it’s bumming me out a little.

So, my impressions so far. I’m only one episode in, but damn, did it start with a bang. One story-line they’re getting perfectly is Arya’s. She is suck a kick-ass, it’s almost ridiculous. I absolutely CAN NOT wait for when she gets to Braavos!! Tyrion is wonderful as usual, and Shae is breaking my heart already, since I know what’s coming (I could barely read the book through my tears!). I love Jaime and Brienne’s relationship, but I really don’t like how they’re tweaking his story so much. And yes, I’ve heard what happens after Joffrey’s death. That’s just… unacceptable. Disgusting. He may be a lot of things, but that, he’s not! *stomps foot* And Sansa… Well, Sansa is Sansa, isn’t she?

One episode down, nine to go. I’ll be back in nine hours..!! 😀

M.

Mel’s 5 Second TV Review: Born to Kill?

Born to Kill?
(2005 – 2012) Christopher Slade, Katherine Ramsland, Louis B Schlesinger, Helen Morrison, and David Wilson

Born to Kill

This show, in my opinion, is one of the very best of it’s kind. Along with details of the horrible crimes, a lot of the focus is on the killers themselves, and that age old question: was it nature or nurture that drove them to kill? We’re treated to Forensic Psychologists and Psychiatrists, Criminologists, plus the police and detectives who were assigned to the various cases, who give us facts of the cases and their opinions on the killers. We’re shown locations of murders, and even a few pictures, but never the really disturbing ones. Well, I mean they’re all disturbing, but… bah, you know what I mean! :-p As far as I know, there are 25 episodes, and only one which I still haven’t seen (edit: wrong!! hehe). Killers included in the program are well known serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Aileen Wournos, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy, and some lesser known, like Beverly Allitt, Donald Neilson, Donald ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins, and Dennis Nilsen. You can see the whole list (edit: nope, a partial list) here. On the whole it’s a very well made and informative show, and I give it a well deserved 9/10.

This show is unfortunately not on Netflix. It currently plays on the Identification Discovery channel, but it may take a while to see all of them, since they’re played in random order all the time. And never mind that, I just checked on YouTube, and there’s a playlist of 31 episodes! So that means there’s more episodes than I knew of, which means I’m not done yet! More grizzly horror for me to watch, yay!! Uh… yeah. Maybe I shouldn’t sound so enthusiastic about that…

M.

Mel’s 5 Second First Impressions: Bates Motel

Bates Motel (2013-present)
(Season 1 cast) Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Mike Vogel, Olivia Cooke, Nicola Peltz, Nestor Carbonell, Keegan Connor Tracy, Brittney Wilson, Terry Chen, and W Earl Brown

Bates-Motel

I’ve wanted to watch Bates Motel since it came out, but I just never got around to it. But after finally finishing all 9 seasons of Criminal Minds that are on Netflix (and pissed off about having to wait months till season 10 is available), I searched through my watch list for something else in the genre. And I decided that I should finally start watching this show. And man, what a show! I could say I really should have watched it when it came out, but really, I’m kinda glad I waited. This way I have three whole seasons to watch before I have to wait, hehe. I’m four episodes in, and so much is already happening that it feels like each episode is the end of the season. Brutal at times, and skin crawlingly creepy at others, this show is definitely not for the faint of heart. The first episode alone boasts two murders, a rape, and a captive girl being drugged. Continue the story with a town thriving on corruption, icky incest undertones, and the first mentions of Norman’s “blackouts”, and it’s more than enough to keep me hooked. I’ve got 6 episodes left of season 1, and I absolutely can’t wait to see how it’ll all come together.

M.

Mel’s TV Reviews: Face Off, season 1

So I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with competition shows. I love fashion and beauty stuff, so I enjoy watching things like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Ink Master, I love tattoos as well as beauty and fashion. But so many of these shows are 90% drama, with contestants yelling at each other all the time, putting each other down, sabotaging the other’s progress, etc. Even bloody cooking competitions have it, for fuck’s sake! America’s Next Top Model was so bad that I (barely) made it through just one season. I had to stop watching Ink Master about halfway through season 2, it had gotten way out of hand.

But then, something wonderful happened. They started playing reruns of Face Off on Space, which I’d only heard of in passing while zipping through the commercials (I never watch anything live, commercials make me violent, so I watch either on dvd or stuff I pvr’d). It looked really cool, though, so I decided to give it a shot. I started recording quickly, but I still missed season 1 and most of 2. But I watched all of seasons 3 and 4, and most of 7 (I think it was), and it was wonderful. Not only was there no drama (save one incident at the beginning of 3, I think it was, between contestants Tommy and Joe, and it’s still nothing compared to other shows, but I digress..), but the competitors actually helped each other! I was so happy to finally have found a competition show that was actually about competition, and not about drama. I won’t talk too much more about the later seasons, I’ll likely do a small review of each season.

No, this post (after my little intro) is about the horror that was season 1.

FaceOff s1

So, since I loved seasons 3 and 4 so much, I decided to go and, err, ‘acquire’ seasons 1 and 2 to see all the episodes that I missed. And man, I should have left well enough alone. Season 1 is awful. It starts with a few of the contestants bitching each other out, and it just went downhill from there. It’s like they had watched all the other competition shows and jotted down notes on how to make your show look as dramatic as possible. There was one girl in particular that I’m positive was kept on every week just to make sure it stayed dramatic. She had very little in the way of skill, and was in the bottom looks for almost every single challenge. Yet she stayed. If I’d seen season 1 first, there’s very little chance that I’d have kept watching.

So if you enjoy competition shows yet hate the drama, I highly reccomend you check out this show. Just skip season 1 😉

M.

Top 15 Episodes of Supernatural

Supernatural is one of my favourite shows, but I came into it surprisingly late. Season 5 was well under-way before I decided to give the show a chance, and that was just because my husband had borrowed the first 4 seasons on dvd from his brother. I had heard of it before then, but, even despite it being exactly the kind of thing that I love, I’d never been interested enough to watch it. With the dvd’s laying around, and my husband telling me how good it was, I finally decided to watch. And from the first scene in the Pilot episode, I was hooked. I watched those first 4 seasons in a few short weeks, then lamented the injustice of having to wait for new episodes every week. It’s lost some of it’s steam over the years (it should have stopped at 6 seasons, while it was still amazing), but it’s still entertaining. I’ve fallen behind on my Supernatural, though. I have so much stuff that I want to watch that I’ve only made it a bit more than halfway through season 8. I’ve also been in a very “nature documentary” mood lately, but I digress. There were plenty of episodes to chose from, but I was finally able to whittle it down to 15. The episodes are in approximate order. I can’t really say for certain which episode is my all-time favourite, so I just quickly put them in an order that looked about right. So without further ado, here are the top 15 episodes of Supernatural.

 

15 – Changing Channels, season 5 episode 8

changing channels

The Trickster traps Sam and Dean in a TV world where they have to act out their roles to make it out. They navigate through a bunch of different genres from doctor and cop dramas to sitcoms and genital herpes commercials. At the end they find out that Loki isn’t Loki at all, but the Archangel Gabriel, and he wants the brothers to accept their fate as vessels for his brothers. I loved Gabriel, and was very, very upset to see him go. I keep hoping the writers will find a way to bring him back. This is Supernatural, after all. Nothing really stays dead.

 

14 – Monster Movie, season 4 episode 5

monster movie

A small town celebrating Oktoberfest is under assault from several different monsters; or so it would seem. Sam and Dean investigate a “vampire attack” that looks like a classic Dracula did the job. Knowing that vampires have a full row of fangs, and not just 2 as the victim showed, the brothers are perplexed. Things get even weirder as more deaths occur, each molded after a classic horror movie monster. They find the culprit is a shapeshifter, who’s loneliness drove him to try recreate his favorite films, complete with victims and a damsel in distress. Great, fun episode. Filmed in black and white, for that authentic old movie feel, hehe.

 

13 – The Curious Case of Dean Winchester, season 5 episode 7

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Dean plays poker with a warlock where the chips aren’t worth money, they’re worth years of life. While trying to win Bobby back his life, Dean looses 50 years, and ends up almost 80 years old. While the much aged Dean and Bobby try find the warlock’s DNA for a spell, Sam puts it all on the line, playing the warlock for Dean’s years. I liked this episode not just for the fun of seeing Dean react to his current state (which is pretty awesome by itself), but that the “bad guy” isn’t really bad. He’s not exactly good, but he’s not evil. He doesn’t cheat at poker, but let’s just say 900 years of playing has made him damn near unbeatable. I liked that they portrayed him like that, not evil, just a guy.

 

12 – Hollywood Babylon, season 2 episode 18

hollywood babylon

Posing as PA’s, the brothers investigate a death and ghostly sighting on the set of a horror film. After the first sighting is proved to be a hoax publicity stunt, a real death occurs, and Sam hits the Net hoping to find any links to the set. I’m not sure why I like this one so much, but I do. I guess I like the idea of a haunted horror film.

 

11 – Dark Side of the Moon, season 5 episode 16

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Sam and Dean are shot and killed. You’d think that would be the end of the series, but of course, this being Supernatural, it’s not. The brothers end up in Heaven, where they find Ash and Pamela. On the run from Zachariah, they try to find the angel Joshua, who is rumoured to be the only one who’s able to talk directly to God. Once they find him, they are deflated to find out that God won’t help, that he doesn’t really care. Any opportunity to see the boys happy is a good episode. I miss good old Sam and Dean stuff. They’ve had so much stuff happen to them and they keep creating wedges between the brothers, it’s a wonder that they speak to each other at all anymore.

 

10 – Heart, season 2 episode 17

heart

Sparks fly when Sam is assigned guard duty to the lovely Madison, who the brothers believe is in danger of a werewolf attack. The ending of this episode is absolutely abysmal, I still can’t believe they did that to poor Sam. It has me in tears every time I watch it.

 

9 – Mystery Spot, season 3 episode 11

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You wouldn’t think that Dean dying would make for perfect comedy material, but it does. This is both one of the funniest and one of the tensest episodes of the whole series. While investigating a so-called “Mystery Spot”, Dean is shot and killed. After he dies in Sam’s arms, Sam snaps awake, only to find himself waking to the day that just happened. He goes through the day again, increasingly confused, and makes a different call for investigating the mystery spot, one that won’t get Dean killed. Dean dies again, however, and as soon as he does, Sam is once again back in bed, waking up on tuesday morning. The montage of Dean’s deaths, despite the subject matter, is freaking hilarious. He gets killed by everything from a dog to a falling piano to a “funky” tasting sandwich. Turns out the Trickster is behind this, to show Sam that he’ll have to go it alone, after Dean’s deal ends.

 

8 – Bitten, season 8, episode 4

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This is the only entry from the last two seasons (well three now, I guess, since season 9’s well underway). I’ve been less than impressed with the last seasons. There have a been a few good stand-alone episodes, but the seasons as a whole are pretty meh. But still, pretty meh Supernatural is still better than most of the drivel that’s on TV now. I’ve seen some of the stuff my mom tapes and ugh! It ranges from “meh” to “horrifying”. Anyways… I’m getting side-tracked again. So here they decided to tackle the “found-footage” genre that’s so popular right now (and this needs to stop. No really, we’ve had enough.) I’m not a huge fan of this, unless it’s done right. And this one was. We follow a cute geek, Brian, and his roommate / best friend, Michael. They meet a cute girl, Kate, and both fall for her, she picks Michael. Being film students, they’re making a film about life in a small town, and they’re bringing their cameras wherever they go, filming everything. Michael is bitten one night while walking through a park. He tells Brian and Kate, but no one else. Sam and Dean are seen in the film through the students’ eyes; two FBI agents investigating the recent deaths in the area, where the heart had been removed. Brian gets jealous of Michael’s newfound “powers”, and begs him to bite him too. They really hit the nail on the head with this one. Both the drama and the horror were very effectively done. They found some good little actors to play the students, which is good. Good acting is always important, but even more so in a found-footage film.

 

7 – Dead Man’s Blood, season 1 episode 20

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Supernatural‘s take on vampires, of course it’s on this list! I don’t particularly like the rows of fangs they’re sporting, but the rest of the mythos is great. I’m not one of those who gets offended if the vamps don’t burn in the sunlight, so that part didn’t bother me. The only thing that bothered me is the same thing that bothers me in countless other vampire films and shows: the fact that (in this episode, anyways) being turned equals automatically being evil, there’s no choice. They changed it in future vamp-centric episodes (for which I was very glad), most notably in the season 6 episode Live Free or Twi-Hard (which was thisclose to being on this list, such an awesome episode), in which Dean is vampirized. But in this episode, a woman and her husband are kidnapped by a group of vamps. The husband is killed, the wife gets turned. She’s still tied down when Sam and Dean sneak through the lair to find the Colt, but as soon as she wakes, while Sam is untying her, she yells alerting the others that there’s an intruder about. So, what, now that she’s a vampire she doesn’t care that they just murdered her husband? I don’t care if you’ve granted me the gift of eternal life, if you killed my husband, I’m not going to be on your side! I prefer the type of vampire that remains who he/she was before being turned. I like the conflict of who you used to be versus what you have to do to live now. But, of course, there are many, many more films and shows with automatically evil vamps than without, so I do like it anyways. Also, the lead vamp is extra yummy. Oh yeah.

 

6 – Lazarus Rising, season 4 episode 1

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Our introduction to Castiel. Wonderful, beautiful, angelic Castiel. Pulled out of Hell, Dean wakes up in a pine box under the ground. Panicking, he’s finally able to dig himself out. He finds himself perfectly healthy and unhurt, except for a hand-shaped mark on his upper arm. He goes to find Sam, who, after the original shock of seeing Dean alive and not a demon, is over-joyed to have his brother back. But Dean doesn’t seem to have come back alone, as he’s being ambushed by an unseen entity. They consult a psychic friend of Bobby’s and she holds a seance to find out who, or what, pulled Dean out of Hell. Imagine their surprise when they find out it wasn’t a demon, but an angel who rescued Dean. The first time we see Castiel, with the lights exploding, and the lightning flashes, and those giant wings… ah, leaves me weak in the knees every time.

 

5 – What Is and What Should Never Be, season 2 episode 20

what-is-and-what-should-never-be

While hunting a Djinn, Dean is transported to a world in which his mother didn’t die in that fire. His father is dead, but he died of a stroke, nothing supernatural. He’s not as close with Sam as he was, but Jessica is alive and they’re getting married. Dean has a beautiful girl of his own, who apparently loves him completely. Dean, at first, is over-joyed to live in a world with no demons. But his happiness is put on hold when, after doing some research, he finds that all the people he and Sam and their father saved are all dead now, since the Winchesters aren’t hunters here. He has to make a choice: find the Djinn to undo the “wish” so that all those people get saved, or stay in this world with his family intact.

 

4 – Sex and Violence, season 4 episode 14

sex violence

“Strippers, Sammy! An actual case, with strippers!” So says Dean at the beginning of this episode, where the brothers are following the trail of a seductive Siren. She feeds on love and devotion, and she’s making men kill their wives to show their devotion. A young FBI agent assigned to the case joins Dean on his hunt, while Sam “consults” with a local doctor. Which one is the Siren? Soon enough, of course, both brothers are under her spell and she wants them to fight over her. To the death.

 

3 – Something Wicked, season 1 episode 18

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Following their father’s directive, the brothers head to a town where children are falling into comas with no apparent cause. Dean recalls a similar case from his childhood, a Shtriga, where Sam was nearly a victim and it was able to get away. John sent Dean there because he knew Dean felt bad about letting it get away the first time, and would want to get it himself. After his little brother is hospitalized, the motel manager’s son lets Dean use him as bait for the creature.

 

2 – Asylum, season 1 episode 10

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Supernatural-does-House-on-Haunted-Hill is how I’d describe this episode. And it does it well. A boy and his girlfriend are attacked after sneaking into the supposedly haunted asylum, but lucky for them, Sam and Dean are there, too. There are spirits everywhere, but they’re only trying to help to stop the doctor who also died here. Sam is lured into the basement by a phone call from not-really-Dean, and comes face to face with the doctor. Under the doctor’s rage spell, Sam shoots Dean full of rock salt then goes for the real gun…

 

1 – Provenance, season 1 episode 19

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It’s no wonder that the top 3 episodes in the list are from season 1, it’s still the best one. Both Pilot and Bloody Mary (episodes 1 and 5) were almost in the list too, but I decided to give the other seasons a chance. After discovering that all the owners of a particular painting were killed, Sam and Dean investigate an art dealership. Sparks fly when Sam meets the dealer’s beautiful daughter, Sarah, and he asks her out on a date. Horrified when the painting they’d thought destroyed was back in one piece, the boys go to the latest owners house, with Sarah in tow, to hopefully save her. The ghost in question is the little girl in the painting, Jodelle Ferland giving us her very best “creepy dead kid”, which she does so well (see exhibits A and B, Silent Hill and Cabin in the Woods).

So, that’s it. Took me much longer than I’d anticipated to finish this one, I kept on blocking while I was trying to write. Ever happen to you that suddenly you’re just staring blankly at the screen, mind empty? Well that’s been happening to me all morning. I dunno if it’s cause I’m tired, or what, but just getting these words out was incredibly tasking. So you’d better enjoy them!! Hehe. Like I said up top, I’m not sure all the episodes are in very real order, but that’s the basic of it.

M.