Archive for the 'Drama' Category


Empathy – BBC Drama

Stephen MoyerComing hot on the heals of Jekyll, the BBC has now released Empathy, which they describe as a ‘Supernatural Thriller’. I watched the first episode last night, and it wasn’t bad. It features the excellent, if a little typecast, Stephen Moyer as ex-convict, but actually-a-nice-person Jimmy Collins. Who at the start of this story is released from prison to an uncertain future. What he didn’t expect was to start experiencing visions when he touches people, or objects, which he does from the moment he walks out the gate.
This leads him to become a suspect in a murder investigation, when his brushes past a person connected indirectly to the death of a young women. Assuming his knowledge of the crime is first hand, the Police lock him up again, before a second murder proves he’s not responsible. Best acting performances go to Mr Moyer and the excellent Amber Beattie as his estranged daughter Amy. My only concern is that so far this appears to be a complete conceptual lift of the classic Stephen King novel, movie and TV show ‘The Dead Zone’.
This looks very like a pitch for an entire series, but I see only one 90 minute production so far. Perhaps if it comes back we’ll get him shaking the hand of Gordon Brown yet.
Overall, entertaining enough if not massively original so far.


Jekyll Episode 6 – revelations

JekyllGosh, what a twisted mind Steven Moffat has! And, I say that in the nicest possible way. The ultimate episode of Jekyll aired just 11 hours ago, and I’m still trying to digest everything he managed to pack into an explosive 60 minutes.

So many unexpected outcomes, developments and plot pirouettes, where to begin? First I’d like to say that despite my misgivings about Episode 4, overall this was a taught exercise that griped the viewer with it’s clever conundrums and sleek performances. Top of the acting accolades must go to James Nesbitt, who moves transformation unhindered between Dr. Jackman and Mr. Hyde with consummate ease. On a least a half dozen occasions, he had a least one leg in ‘Jekyll the Panto’, but managed to stop himself sliding into utterly wild farce. I can’t wait for any Hyde out-takes, I bet they’re hilarious. The other solid performance came from Gina Belman, who’s character obviously revelled in the idea of no-consequence adultery as a side order to the mayhem. Denis Lawson did a sterling job as the duplicitous Syme’s, especially where prior to his demise he tried to justify his actions to Jackman/Hyde.

So back to Episode 6, was it the finale we’d wanted? To a degree yes, but it slightly took it’s foot off the accelerator in the final stretch. The opening was a masterpiece of genre manipulation, where we go back a year in time and see the organisation that pursued Jekyll finding the toughest mercenary they can find, and installing him and his highly tuned troops in their top secret location. He’s built up as a complete psychopath, killing his own men in training. We then flip forward to the main time line to see Hyde dispatch him like he’s nothing, 4 minute intro – 2 second death. At this point I was already chuckling, Hyde like, at what other film conventions Moffat potentially might mutilate.
It wasn’t a long wait. I don’t think Moffat likes child actors, perhaps he finds creating their dialogue tiresome, or something. Cue two matching miniature metal caskets, like the one they placed Jackman in, and that’s them and their sticky fingers sorted for the majority of the proceedings. Mrs Jackman wasn’t too happy about this, as you might imagine, and reminded anyone who’d listed then her husband was coming, and he wouldn’t be happy either. No shit, Mrs Jackman!
Normally in these dramas unless it serves the plot the revelations are held for the penultimate, or final scenes, but their where so many in this piece they soon came thick and fast. The nice grey haired old lady re-appeared and helped Mrs Jackman escape, guiding her to the secret 7th basement floor, where bad things have been happening. Here she see the failed genetic attempts to make Hyde, using DNA they’ll collected years before. So was Jackman another successful clone? Err…amazingly no. He was an throwback, a direct descendent of Jekyll, from a line fathered by Hyde. But, and this was really the unexpected bit, they’d realised early on that the Hyde effect was something of a binary weapon. It required Jekyll’s DNA, and Mrs Jackman’s presence to work. So realising they had a ‘Jekyll’ they got hold of poor housemaid Alice’s DNA, and made themselves a clone catalyst – Mrs Jackman.
That tied up so many loose ends in one fell swoop, and less than 30 minutes in, it then let you wondering what Mr Moffat was holding back, and it was a doozie.
But by now I was missing Hyde, and his return wasn’t far away. His first manifestation is to invade the minds of everyone in the building, sending them an unusually polite message inviting them to run away, or die. Unsurprisingly really, some did run.
Syme’s is the first to die, and in a somewhat fitting manner, leaving only the horrible American women, the cancer riddled head of security and a handful of mercenaries to dispatch. They all meet on the 7th floor for a final confrontation. Before this we’ve given one crucial piece of the puzzle about Hyde and Jackman, where it’s explained that it’s possible for one of them to be injured, which the other doesn’t experience, conveniently. I’d of been more comfortable with this information had it been revealed earlier in the series, rather than jack-in-the-box’d on us now.
Unexpectedly only one other then person dies, and it’s Hyde perforated with machine gun bullets, everyone else lives, including Jackman bizarrely!
Again expectations where built up, paraded, and then slaughtered in entirely unexpected ways. This tangent had me more than slightly suspicious, that Moffat’s original intention was to have a much darker and disturbing ending. But that senior BBC production, having seen the completed episodes held out the carrot of a second series, if he could keep Jackman alive. This may, or may not be the case, but enough hints where packed into the last ten minutes to suggest it’s at least a possibility, if not an absolute certainty.
Anyway, Moffat has one last flourish in his magic hat to pull out, which involves the old lady and the American women, which I won’t spoil. But it ends the series on more of a cliffhanger than a resolution, encouraging me further to think Jekyll 2 is on the cards.
Overall, not as weird and twisted as Episode 5, but jolly entertaining all the same. Somehow I doubt this is the last we’ll see of Jackman, Hyde or Nesbitt. But I must stop writing now, their seems to be something wrong with the electrics today, the lights just flickered…


More Leaky TV

I mentioned the other day that in the past week a whole slew of TV show pilots and new season episodes had surfaced on the BitTorrent P2P system. Now even more have appeared, including the Pilots for The Bionic Woman, Damages, ‘Chuck’, and Aliens in America. I might have missed some, but that pretty much covers the new drama TV for the American fall season. All in the space of a single week.

Have they given all the TV stations DVD copies? Or is this guerilla marketing? Whatever the answer, it’s clearly not an isolated exercise.

Bionic Women


Leaky TV

As I’ve been writing about TV shows on here, and Den of Geek. In general I’ve been talking about those that are actually on TV, and people are watching. But at Den we’ve been inundated with reviews of TV shows that aren’t actually on the TV, and have been leaked onto the Internet.

In the last weeks we’ve seen these appear online, all of which are months away from their official first screenings.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles PILOT
Pushing Daisies PILOT
Californication PILOT
Weeds S03E01, S03E02.
Dexter S02E01, .S02E02
Brotherhood.S02E01, S02E02

If this had been one or two odd episodes leaked by someone in the production I’d understand. But the numbers of shows that this is happening with does make me think something else is going on here. While I can’t imagine any of these production companies would admit leaking their work, I suspect that some of these releases are marketing led exercises, aimed at hyping the show ahead of it’s run. If I’m wrong then almost every major US TV show seems to have it’s own resident pirate, ready to get their shows out to the downloading public as soon as they can!
Anyone out there got any first hand experience of what’s actually happening here?


Den of Geek is here!

This is a new online publication I contribute to, please have a look!

Den of Geek


Jekyll Episode 5 – crazy stuff!!!!

JekyllAfter the unnatural dip that episode 4 represented, Jekyll returned this week with a real attention grabber, the full impact of which I’m still coming to terms with. I’m tempted to work through this one blow by blow, but don’t want to bore anyone. So I’ll take the plot main points and flesh a few out scenes. In retrospect, this entire episode is a homage, with minor and major nods to a few classic films along the way. What it does is emulate the Taranatino flip in From Dusk Till Dawn, building the tension in dramatic fashion before flourishing into high camp and comedy.

In the first two thirds is built about a whole new revelation about the origins of Hyde, when the cask is opened to reveal him and not the good Dr. Not that this was a surprise, as we’re told his incarceration would ‘fix’ him in one personality.

Hyde emerges and then undergoes a series of visions, presented almost as VR, where he can experience Jackman’s life in small but rewindable chunks. ‘We’ve got Sky+ in here!’, he announces and later,’I’ve found the Adult Channel’, when he discovers an intimate moment from the Jackman’s past. The explanation for this I found massively unsatisfactory, the resident science geek explains that now that Jackman’s personality is ‘dead’, Hyde is now reclaiming the brain real-estate occupied by those memories. It’s a common modern analogy, but the brain isn’t a hard drive waiting to be wiped and reclaimed, as suggested. Perhaps ‘Click’ advised on this part.

But when the techno-geek in me was about to blast writer Steve Moffat, he made me forget this mumbo jumbo by doing something totally unexpected. Hyde encounters a memory from the original Jackman, or rather the original Jekyll in the Victorian era. What? How does that work? In it we see him meet Robert Louis Stevenson, author of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, to discuss the publication and it’s yet to be defined ending. Stevenson is ably played by Moffat pal and also another Dr. Who writer, Matt Gatiss, who presumably walked off his Dr. Who production onto this one.

In this scene Stevenson pushes Jekyll on the exact nature of the potion that transforms him, writing down its parts on a note so that they can be confirmed.
The note is burned…but Hyde has VR memory, rewinds observes the plot twist, and what a twist it is! Stevenson’s premise is that there is no ‘potion’, and the true source of the transformation is ‘the girl’, which as you’ve already guessed is the previous version of Mrs Jackman. At this point I was having a significant WTF moment, because as strong a reaction I’ve had to sexy women, I yet to experience extreme personality modifications and psychopathic tendencies. Perhaps I’m just not meeting the right types.

The problem is that this doesn’t actually explain why Jackman and Jekyll look the same, or Jekyll’s housemaid Alice and Mrs Jackman, other than for the audience to follow what’s going on, which frankly might be a push at this point. We go on then to see the Victorian Hyde killing ‘Alice’, who he sees as his only real threat. This is a complete setup for the flip sequence, where we’re lead to believe modern Hyde will kill Claire Jackman, and her kids are brought into the lab for good jeopardy measure.

At this point the tension had been cranked up, although it was slightly blown by a the preceding sequence which referenced the sorts of horror movies that rely on supposedly intelligent people being in a room with something they know that’s dangerous, but decide to totally ignore.

And then…the flip…Suddenly Hyde’s a nice reasonable person who wants to escape and help the Jackman’s to do so too. Claire doesn’t buy this, and I’m with her. It also requires that the TV monitoring is intentionally turned off by the organisation holding them in a Dr. Evil, ‘No no no, I’m going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I’m just gonna assume it all went to plan’, moment.

Then the proceeds descend into high farce with a very obvious nod to Terminator 2, where Claire lays down the ‘no killing’ rules to Hyde, who then follows them in his own inimitable way. It’s quite funny, but all the tension that Moffat created earlier on is vented into space, and it’s never entirely reclaimed. I’m not even going to mention what happens to the now superfluous-to-the-plot women held in the basement, because it’s downright silly. But the Claire and kids are ultimately separated from Hyde, and he is left shouting ‘Why am I not Superman’ on the roof of the building in frustration, as they’re whisked away by the power dressing American in a helicopter.

This was the point where I came back onside, as the idea that without Jackman the Hyde character isn’t the real deal was great. As was the return of Jackman’s personality, “Daddy’s Back’, and the merging of the egos into one superhuman but rational being. It could have been me, but it looked at this time like one of his eye’s was normal while the other was ‘Hyde’.

Having had the episode redeemed at the end, Moffat then had all his hard worked trashed by the BBC, who blipverted at least four big plot points from the final chapter in their trailer. Twits.

Overall, the episode was massively uneven if plenty of fun, possibly the most entertaining so far, if totally unbelievable in places. It got so camp at one point I thought it was degenerating into a pilot for a 1970s American TV show, where superhuman Hyde uses his powers for good, fighting crime for a well funded but secret foundation. It never quite got there, but it was on that greasy slope on a few occasions.

Can’t wait for episode 6 though, even if the idiots at BBC promotions tried to spoil it so effectively for us.


Harry Potter R.I.P.

No, that’s not a prediction or a spoiler, but a comment on the end of an era. I’ve never read any of the books, although I’ve enjoyed the films, and yet I can’t help feeling a little sad that it’s all coming to an end. Except we’ve now got a long drawn out good-bye while the last two movies are made, which could take two or three years.

If I did know the ending I wouldn’t put it here anyway…because JK would be round to give me a swift Glasgow kiss…I reckon.

Harry’s final Potter


Dexter has escaped…yet again?

This is insane…this morning I reported on the mysterious appearance of Dexter Season 2 first episode around the Internet.

And now…Episode 2 has appeared…OMG!

Someone at Showtime, or in the production, has clearly gone barking mad…


Dexter has Escaped!!!!

I’m not sure what to think about this. But some ‘crazy’ person inside Showtime has released a copy of the new Dexter season 2 opener episode, the whole thing, onto the internet. The official start point is months away, September, so this is either a very pre-emptive promotional strike or someone in that organisation is going to get a kicking.

Has anyone seen it yet? Is it any good?

I loved the first Season.

UPDATE: Some Dexter season 2 details here!!!



Jekyll Episode 4 dissapointment


I was *really* disappointed in the fourth episode of Jekyll screened last night on the BBC. For starters there wasn’t much Hyde, which didn’t help, but it was the insertion of back-story information at this stage seemed to be entirely pointless. The plot I’d enjoyed for the first three was effectively stalled, and with the exception of one revelation, the undetermined origin of Jekyll, it contributed nothing.
I presume this is a six part series, so they’ve two more to get things back on track. But this was the low point for me, and was reminiscent of those end of season episodes American shows have when they’ve run out of money and make one almost entirely of flash-backs.