Mon - October 30, 2006
Torchwood (Episode 1, "Everything Changes"; Episode 2, "Day One"; and Episode 3, "The Ghost Machine")
Torchwood is the new spin-off of the new Doctor Who, and the fact that it's aired three episodes already makes it three times as successful as the last Doctor Who spin-off, K9 and Company. The central characters in Torchwood are the members of the Cardiff branch of the titular organization. They include Capt. Jack Harkness (from the first season of Doctor Who, played by John Barrowman), Toshiko Sato (Naoki Mori), Owen Harper (Burn Gorman), and Suzie Costello (Indira Varma). They're tasked with investigating alien technology and keeping it out of the hands of the general populace, but it's not really clear by who.
"And this button is my intravenous Viagra pump."
The first episode, "Everything Changes," focuses on Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), a police officer, who sees the Torchwood gang bring a recently murdered man back to life, at least for a minute. She tries to track down the organization and Capt. Jack, and after a particularly disturbing encounter with a homicidal alien, she finds their secret headquarters. The episode is a pretty standard introduction to the team, with some added intrigue of a serial killer that stalking the city with an unusual blade.
Big deal, so Jack Nicholson went outside without his make-up.
The second episode, "Day One," has Gwen join Torchwood, just in time to investigate a recently crashed meteorite that contains a gaseous life form. The alien escapes and possesses a young woman, and anyone the woman has sex with is disintegrated because the alien wants "orgasmic energy." The plot is a bald face rip-off of the new wave cult classic Liquid Sky (1982), except that was sort of a comedy and Torchwood plays it straight. Playing such a stupid concept straight isn't really a good thing.
In the third episode, "The Ghost Machine," Torchwood retrieves an alien artifact that allows the user to experience events from the past. The problem is that the visions are so compelling that the user needs to act on them. And then there's a the device's other half...
"So... Tom Cruise or The Joker?"
The best part of the series, predictably, is John Barrowman as the omnisexual Harkness. He's still got charisma to spare. The rest of the cast is pretty good, especially Myles.
So far the connections to Doctor Who are being kept subtle. The other members of Torchwood don't really know who Capt. Jack is, and we still haven't found out how he got from the future to Cardiff in the present. His resurrection by Rose has left him with a very interesting condition. Harkness also covets a dismembered hand that, if the music is to be believed, is the one the Doctor lost back in the "The Christmas Invasion." Toshiko Sato is probably the Dr. Sato from "Aliens of London" (it's the same actress), or it may be her sister. Gwen Cooper is played by Eve Myles, who played Gwenyth in "The Unquiet Dead," so there may be some sort of family relationship there. No monsters from Doctor Who yet, though it looks like the fourth episode is flirting with Cybermen.
Posted at 10:47 PM
Mon - September 25, 2006
New TV Shows, Week One
Some scattered thoughts on the the first week of new network TV.
- For Pete's sake, why aren't more of you people watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? I netflixed the pilot and it was one of the best hours of TV I've seen recently. I'm going to be really pissed if it gets cancelled early. Then again, I wonder if the figures weren't depressed a little by the fact that so many people had seen the pilot already...
- On the same disc I got Studio 60 on NBC included the pilot to Kidnapped. Good cast, silly premise. I'm not really sure how you stretch the kidnapping of one kid over 20+ episodes and keep it interesting and realistic. Then again, despite the documentary style, maybe Kidnapped isn't supposed to be realistic. In the pilot the kidnappers instigate the kidnapping on a busy New York street, three or four people are killed in the ensuing shootout (two bodyguards and at least one, maybe two of the kidnappers, I forget), and yet somehow the whole thing is kept a secret from the police and the FBI? That's less likely than most of the stuff we saw on Lost last season.
- Can someone tell me why I should watch the second episode of Jericho? It's the most obvious Lost rip-off yet -- the residents of a small town in Kansas see a nuclear explosion and lose all contact with the outside world, so they have to form a new society, blah, blah, blah. Unlike Lost, the scenario isn't as mysterious as the writers seem to think it is, and the characters are completely uninteresting. As near as I can tell the biggest character mystery is where Skeet Ulrich has been. The only mystery I want to answer less than where Skeet Ulrich has been is what Madonna's armpits smell like after a workout.
Posted at 10:42 PM
Tue - July 25, 2006
I'm fascinated by unseen TV pilots, and even more fascinated with such pilots gaining a new life on the internet. Behold Aquaman, now at the iTunes Music Store! Apparently this show was known earlier in the development process as "Mercy Reef" and "The Reef," but in the end it (in the words of Jules Winnfield) became nothing because the WB ceased to exist and the CW didn't want it.
As yet I can't get the episode to download, but I will not be denied my chance to see a pre-failed TV show based on the lamest of super heroes!
Gift it? I guess I know how I'm taking care of my Christmas list this year!
Posted at 07:28 PM
Mon - June 5, 2006
Crap, it is summer. Now what am I going to watch on TV?
I guess the networks gave up on the whole idea of treating the summer season like the rest of the year, because I haven’t seen anything I really want to see on the networks, or even on cable. NBC will be showing an Amazing Race meets DaVinci Code hybrid show called Treasure Hunters, I may check that out.
Beyond that, maybe it’s time to start cultivating a World of Warcraft addiction.
Posted at 10:37 PM
Tue - May 30, 2006
Lost, Season 2 Finale (“Live Together, Die Alone”)
If that guy's a giant rat, I'm out of here.
So howzabout that episode of Lost?
After the somewhat disappointing season finale last year (a ladder?), the producers of Lost were dead set on making a blow out season finale that would make people happy by giving us some answers, and darn it all if they didn’t do exactly that. There were tons of answers. Piles. Scads. Whole gobs of answers, just falling out of the screen.
What are the questions, again?
There were essentially two big revelations regarding things we already knew. First, we got flashbacks into Desmond’s (full name: Desmond David Hume) past, and how he ended up on the island. We found out that he was involved with a woman named Penelope Widmore. That’s interesting, because companies named Widmore have shown up in the background of some episodes this season. Even so, like everything else in Lost, this appears to be a huge coincidence. Desmond being shipwrecked on the island also appears to be a coincidence.
"Do you think we could run OS X on this machine? It would really help with productivity."
We also found out that it was probably Desmond's failure to put the numbers into the computer on September 22, 2004 that caused the plane to crash. It appears, and this jibes with what we saw in the pilot episodes, that the hatch creates some sort of electromagnetic force that pulled the plane backwards and tore it apart.
I won't go through everything that happened in this episode, but I would like to discuss a few tidbits that may impact the overall story.
Desmond hit some sort of fail-safe when the electromagnetic force appeared to be getting out of control. (Thanks, Locke!) Outside the hatch we saw that the effect was a piercing sound, the sky changed colors, and finally a blinding light. This, plus the name Dharma, reminds me of HAARP, a project in Alaska that studies transmissions of energy in the ionosphere with an array of antennas. The actual project is pretty nondescript, but conspiracy-minded people have long claimed that HAARP has all sorts of "secret" purposes, including everything from weather control to mind control to creating death rays. Connecting HAARP to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) has been a favorite way of "proving" that HAARP is in some way sinister. If you can connect it to the Philadephia Experiment, you get extra points from the tin-foil hat crowd.
Erected by the Ancient Order of No-Homers.
But is the Dharma Initiative behind everything going on on the island? I doubt it. More and more, I thing the Dharma Initiative is there because the island is strange, not the other way around. The best evidence of that so far is that bizarre foot Sayid, Jin and Sun spotted on north side of the island. What's up with that? Four toes? The hell? Is it a reference to Atlantis, or more likely because they're in the Pacific, Churchward's Mu? I'm not sure.
I'm warming up to the idea that there's some sort of time travel thing going on. Maybe the fail safe somehow caused the island to move in time? The strange collection of people, ships, creatures on the island makes me think so.
Posted at 11:09 PM
Sat - May 13, 2006
Doctor Who, Series 2 (Episode 3, "School Reunion")
Here’s the most important fact you need to know about “School Reunion”: The awful spin-off pilot K9 and Company is now indisputably Doctor Who canon. Yes, this episode features the return of classic companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), thirty years older but still recognizable, and the barely mobile mechanical dog K9. Just to drive the point home the Doctor even states the K9 Sarah has is the Mk. III, as opposed to the Mk. I or Mk. II, which left with Leela and Romana respectively.
"Are you that desperate for a scarf?"
“School Reunion” starts with the Doctor and Rose working undercover at a British middle school where students are showing extraordinarily advanced knowledge. Now, in an American middle school that would mean a student capable of locating Iraq on a map, but here it means students knowing how to travel faster than light. The Doctor suspects alien intervention, a theory bolstered by strange goings on in the school kitchen, where Rose is working. At the same time Sarah Jane Smith shows up to interview the school’s headmaster, played by Anthony Head, about his pioneering techniques. Unsurprisingly the headmaster is really the leader of the Krilatine, aliens that genetically borrow attributes from other species that they destroy.
This is another very fun episode, especially as a fan of the original Doctor Who. There are some very funny lines, especially one where Mickey realizes exactly where he fits into the grand scheme of things. The enemies aren't nearly as badass as their reputation, but that's par for the course from Doctor Who. Nothing says Doctor Who villain like a the inability to traverse a small step or see in an arc of more than 10 degrees to either side.
"They replaced my coffee with Folger's crystals? Get them!"
Special mention needs to be made of Anthony (Stewart) Head's performance. He's really only known over here for playing the tweedy Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but his range as an actor is more than that. Here he has to be charismatic, evil, and obviously not quite human, and he pulls it off smashingly.
A big part of “School Reunion” is how Sarah deals with the feelings of rejection she feels after having been dumped back on earth by the Doctor at the end of “Hand of Fear.” It was an odd ending for a character that to many Doctor Who fans is the definitive Doctor Who companion. For the Doctor’s part I’m beginning to get the sense that he doesn’t deal very well with loss.
"K9 phone home, master."
K9 is completely accurate to the model they used back in the Tom Baker years, complete with some obvious nails used in his construction. I’m a little befuddled that he‘s somehow rusted in Sarah Jane’s care. What the hell did she do to him? He was made in the year 5000, surely rust shouldn’t be a problem. It was also fun seeing the producers try to fit such a limited puppet into the complicated action scenes of the new series. Because the K9 puppet can't really look up (not really an issue in the set-bound original series) they have the nose swivel up to shoot the flying Krilatine.
The wonderful thing about “School Reunion,” besides it being a very entertaining story, is that it puts the old Doctor Who series into context of the new series. We can assume that most of the classic adventures happened, though perhaps with more realistic consequences than we saw before. That being said, I doubt we’ll be seeing any more “classic” characters showing up on the new series. For one thing, “School Reunion” pretty much says everything that needs to be said on the subject of the Doctor’s old companions. Beyond that, I don’t think there’s any classic character that has the important combination of fan popularity, story logic, and actor availability as Sarah Jane Smith. After Sarah the most popular companions are probably both Leela and Romana, but the former is tough to fit into a plot cold and the latter is a Timelord and therefore probably dead. Peri’s popularity is probably sagging by this point. Nyssa? Tough to see how she could fit into a new plot. Adric or Turlough? Ha! As if.
Speaking of companions, Mickey joins the TARDIS crew at the end of the episode. In keeping with some of the themes that I think have been developing this season I don't think it's going to go well for him.
Posted at 11:06 PM
Sun - May 7, 2006
Doctor Who, Series 2 (Episode 2, “Tooth and Claw”)
"In 120 years the royal family is going to be known mostly for providing the British people with entertainment via tabloid stories? Maybe being eaten by a werewolf isn't so bad."
In this episode the Doctor and Rose land in 19th century Scotland and meet Queen Victoria. The Queen is traveling to one of her northern estates, and the Doctor and Rose tag along for fun. The Queen decides to stay overnight at the Torchwood estate, owned by a family friend of the departed Albert, but unbeknownst to everyone the estate has been taken hostage by group of monks who have a pet werewolf. (Though apparently from a local monastery, the monks are inexplicably given to Tibetan garb. This is the first of several possible references the 1934 movie Werewolf in London.) Sniff sniff. Do I smell a lot of running around hallways?
"You're going to blow the door down?"
"Tooth and Claw" is a straightforward quasi-historical episode, with the werewolf not-so-surprisingly given a sci-fi twist. As with the last episode the production values are excellent. The werewolf is all CGI, but up to TV standards. The episode even has (prepare for a phrase I’d never thought I’d write in the context of Doctor Who) a rather excellent action shot in the midst of the running around hallways. The story moves at a clip and has a fun ending. A good job, all around.
So what’s the overall story arc for the season? I’m still not sure. This episode does establish that Queen Victoria founded the Torchwood Institute, which will be the subject of a spin-off series later this year. In this episode we also see the Doctor and Rose taking a very light-hearted approach to time travel and danger. This last point is emphasized enough times that I think it’s probably significant. I’m guessing that something will happen in a future episode that will really kick the legs out from under the time traveling duo.
Posted at 10:04 PM
Thu - May 4, 2006
Doctor Who, Series 2 (Episode 1, “New Earth”)
There'd be more flying cars, but gas is $3000 a gallon.
This first episode of the new season of Doctor Who is direct sequel to last season’s episode “The End of the World.” One thousand years after the expansion of the sun and the destruction of Earth the Doctor and Rose land on New Earth, a paradise created in another galaxy by humanity to replace Earth Classic. The Doctor’s attention is drawn to huge hospital on the edge of New New York. The Doctor is quite astounded to find out that the hospital can cure almost anything, under the direction of a race of cat/nun/nurses. The Face of Boe is there, calling to the Doctor and simultaneously proving that the BBC hasn’t lost their love of recycling props as much as possible. The Face is dying of the one thing the hospital can’t cure: old age. Also hiding in the bowels of the hospital is Cassandra, who somehow survived “The End of the World.” She wants a new body… Hey, Rose has a body!
Rose. Also pictured: Body.
I’m sad to report that “New Earth” doesn’t really gel as a story. A whole bunch of things get thrown in before it ends, including George Romero-esque zombies, but it wasn’t clear to me how it all fit together. I can see that writer/producer Russell T. Davis was trying to goof on the idea of regeneration is a bunch of different ways, but it just didn’t work for me.
This nurse has a habit of scratching the furniture.
I can’t complain about the acting, though. David Tennant embodies the eccentricity of Doctor almost naturally. If you saw his bit part in the latest Harry Potter film you probably already know that his motto as an actor is “Go big, or go home,” and that’s perfect Doctor. It’s not a role that, by and large, requires subtlety, just charm. And speaking of charm, Billie Piper continues to. I think that that when they have to replace her I’ll find it a bigger shock than when they replaced Christopher Eccleston.
The production values in the second season are a huge leap over the first season. The sets are bigger, the special effects far more elaborate, the editing and the camera work tighter. The make-up for the cat-nurses is excellent, though I’m still not sure why the nurses are cats.
In this episode the only apparent hint at what the overall story arc for the season might be is a prophecy concerning the Face of Boe. Not really much to go on, except that we’re sure to see the Face again. Do you know how much that prop cost?
Posted at 11:02 PM
Sun - April 23, 2006
Next Week on Doctor Who
Actual unretouched image from the "coming next week" teaser on the end of Saturday's new episode of Doctor Who.
So who is Anthony Stewart-Head playing?
Oh, how those wily producers love to mess with Doctor Who fans.
Posted at 10:56 PM
Sun - March 19, 2006
Hex Season 2
I covered the first season of Hex a few months ago. That series was a big enough hit that SkyOne commissioned a 13-episode second season, more than twice the number of episodes as the first. How is it? I’d say the second season is an improvement on the first.
The premier episode is a bit of a tease. It features far more graphic gore than the first season and full frontal nudity (male and female). The tone is pure b-movie, and it’s quite horrific. In fact the episode has one of the most shocking horror images I’ve seen recently, movie or TV. If you watch the episode, I think you’ll know the bit I’m talking about.
"Where's the nearest Hot Topic?"
After the first episode, however, it settles in to a level of adult material similar to the first season. The first few episodes introduce Ella Dee (Laura Pyper), a new student at Medenham who just happens to be an immortal “anointed one.” For hundreds of years she’s kept any of Azazael’s potential spawn from coming to term, basically by killing any woman he had sex with. Ella missed Cassandra (Christina Cole), and Ella tells her that her aborted son Malachi is alive and well in Azazael’s care. Cassandra, Ella, and the still ghostly Thelma (Jemima Rooper) kidnap the child and intend on killing him, but things go very, very badly.
The next set of episodes is Azazael’s counter-attack on Ella, who is eventually committed to a mental asylum. She is rescued by Thelma and the formerly useless Leon (Jamie Davis). Leon becomes a main character and the love interest for Ella – at least until Malachi predictably ages to adulthood (or at least teenagehood) and enrolls in the boarding school. Are we ever going to have a genre show where the baby doesn’t become a teenager in-between weekly episodes? Just you wait: Walt on Lost is going come back next season played by Usher.
"And this is my... boom stick!"
Anyhoo, Ella and Malachi are attracted to each other, which sets up a few episodes of fretting by Leon and various angels and demons on either side of the battle between good and evil as the two teenagers make goo-goo eyes at each other. Finally in the fourth set of episodes the battle lines become sharp again and Ella vows to kill Malachi, while Malachi begins the wholesale corruption of the students at Medenham.
While some of the flaws of the first season hang around for the second (the narrative still jumps around a bit, especially in the first couple episodes, and the rules governing Thelma’s ghostly existence are even more confusing), this season has a more compelling plot. The ways Malachi corrupts the other students are clever, especially when he uses nothing more complicated than a felt tip marker to trick Leon into committing murder.
I give up. What the heck is she wearing around her neck?
I really liked the addition of Laura Pyper to the cast, because she brings a certain kind of sex appeal to the proceedings that was missing before. (SFX Magazine called her a “Goth wet dream.”) I was rather dismayed that she spends just about the entire series drugged, dying, aged to premature seniority, in a mental institute, dying, stabbed, and dying again. Generally speaking she’s pale, sweaty, and bedridden. It’s a shame because she’s gorgeous the two or three times they do let her smile.
It appears that there will be no more episodes of the series, so the ending is a bit of a bummer. Basically, the bad guys win and Malachi does what is required to bring about the end of days. What we don't know is what that actually means. It's too bad that we never find out.
Posted at 09:57 PM
Fri - March 10, 2006
Doctor Who article in the NYT
The New York Times ran this interview with Russell T. Davies earlier this week. The writer is a bit obsessed with finding a gay angle to the story, but to his credit he did publish this quote from an editor over at Outpost Gallifrey:
"Pointing out that Russell's gay, let's be honest, you can no longer get a story out of that. Gay is officially boring now."
Heh. Curse you, Brokeback Mountain!
Posted at 11:19 PM
Sun - February 5, 2006
Random Thoughts on the Super Bowl
The game is over. The first half was about as boring as football can get. I guess we should be glad things picked up a bit in the second half.
The half-time show with the Rolling Stones went off pretty well, except for two members of the band expiring from old age before it was over. I was a little surprised to see what appeared to be many members of the audience waving lighters halfway through. Even in Detroit, where indiscriminate arson is a bit a pastime, I couldn't imagine there would actually be that many lighters allowed on the field. On second look, I guess those were light sticks.
But what people really care about is the commercials.
There was a funny parody of One Million Years B.C. (1966) by FedEx, and another one that seemed to suggest that the new Cadillac Escalade is here to kill John Conner. There was a new entry in that long-running Budweiser series where two ranchers who watch animals do bizarre things, but it just make me think of Brokeback Mountain. No ads for that movie, go figure. I did like the Kermit the Frog one for Ford hybrid; it was a subtle parody of a kind of ad that used to always be used to sell SUVs.
Posted at 10:55 PM
Mon - December 26, 2005
Doctor Who - The Christmas Invasion
The Christmas Invasion is an in-between seasons special that introduces us to David Tennent as the Doctor. The first thing that happens is that the TARDIS crashes back in London on Christmas Eve, 2005. The Doctor, suffering from a regeneration gone wrong (again!), staggers out just in time to wish "Merry Christmas" to Jackie and Mickey before collapsing. It may seem that this somewhat comic tone will hold, with Jackie wondering "Doctor who?" when Rose identifies the stranger as the Doctor, and Rose being attacked by a brass band dressed like Santa Claus, but the special abruptly takes a turn towards the serious, or even the apocalyptic, when an alien race called the Sycorax invade. The whole situation is very much like one of the later Quatermass stories in tone. The Doctor, however, has been put out of commission by his recent change. It's up to the human supporting cast from last season, including Rose, Jackie, Mickey, and Harriet Jones (now PM) to deal with the aliens.
There is a middle section of the episode I wasn't a big fan of, where Rose basically gives up and can't think of anything to do but hide. But once the Doctor wakes up the episode is as entertaining as anything from the first series. There's a couple of nice twists and even a moral dilemma for the Doctor to chew over.
I don't think we have anything to worry about when it comes to David Tennant replacing Christopher Eccleston. If you've seen anything with Tennant you know he's the kind of actor who lives by the motto "Go big or go home," and that's usually exactly the kind of actor who thrives playing the Doctor. It looks like his Doctor will be funny, but perhaps even darker than his preceding incarnation. I also like the point writer Russell T. Davies makes about how the new Doctor is seeing everything as if for the first time. This opens up an interesting reason for why the Timelords apparently chose to give themselves the ability to regenerate instead of being just immortal. They never get bored if they become new people.
Pointy head, skeleton on the outside... Bryan Hitch is still doing the alien designs.
Some of the pre-release news stories about The Christmas Invasion were about the anti-war stance Davies takes, concentrating on the PM telling the President of the U.S. that she won't let him get her into a war. Yet... Well, you have to see it, but the story is a bit more complicated than that.
Hardcore Doctor Who fans will be happy to see UNIT showing up, with a secret base in the Tower of London. There's also our first view of a room in the new TARDIS interior other than the control room; a multistory wardrobe. We also get our first reference to Torchwood, the upcoming Doctor Who spin-off.
At the end of the episode we get a montage of scenes from the upcoming season. Highlights below.
A cat nun? I bet she's in the habit of coughing up hairballs. Hahahahahaha!
Elizabeth Sladen. Still from 1980, I'm guessing.
Anthony Stewart Head as the Head MASTER. Of a school. Really.
Wait, if K9 Mark I went with Leela, and Mark II went with Romana, where did the third one Sarah Jane got come from?
Finally, more back story on the Face of Boe. I guess the BBC can't resist reusing a good prop.
Iron Man with a handle. Did I mention Bryan Hitch is still doing the design work?
Is that Anthony Stewart Head again?
Hey, save some of that for Eric Roberts!
Posted at 11:44 PM
Tue - November 22, 2005
Night Stalker: This is How the Story Ends
As you may have heard ABC's new Night Stalker show has been cancelled. Not that surprising. Though the cast, including Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchak and Gabrielle Union as Perri, gave it a game try the mysteries they were investigating were far from interesting.
The last episode ABC aired was "The Source," and no further episodes are scheduled. Even though I wasn't enjoying the show much I was a little annoyed that ABC ended it on a cliffhanger that was going to be picked up in the next episode. Luckily ABC is offering that next episode on iTunes.
Posted at 10:57 PM
Sun - November 6, 2005
Hex Season 1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a big hit in England, so I suppose it was inevitable that a British channel would come up with a show aimed at all those Buffy watchers who no longer have a slayer to watch. Enter Hex, which aired it's first five episodes late last year on Sky One.
"And now I'm off to Cash in the Attic!"
The main character is Cassie Hughes (Christina Cole), a teenage girl going to a remote boarding school. Her roommate Thelma (Jemima Rooper) is a lesbian who is not so secretly in love with her, and she has a thing for hunky Troy (Joseph Morgan). One day Cassie finds an antique vase while sneaking a smoke in an abandoned carriage house on the school's grounds. The vase is some sort of supernatural artifact, and it awakens telekinetic powers in Cassie. It turns out that Cassie is instrumental in the plans of Azazeal (Michael Fassbender), a fallen angel. Azazeal manipulates events so that Thelma willingly sacrifices herself to save Cassie, then proceeds to try to seduce Cassie for reasons that only become clear in the fifth episode.
From the first episode you'd probably get the impression that Hex will be defined by sex. In the first episode all the students and even the teachers at the school talk about sex in a very frank manner. Once Thelma is killed, however, the series takes a turn for the more serious. In fact Hex is largely defined by wild changes in tone and direction. I'm not sure if writer Lucy Watkins knew what she was getting into when she decided to write a supernatural teen soap.
Did Thelma die on her way to a costume party, dressed as Neil Gaiman's Death?
Perhaps the most obvious example is Thelma. After she is murdered (or does she commit suicide by drowning?) she returns as a ghost. What's strange is that the show never establishes any consistent rules for how being a ghost works. Sometimes it seems like only Cassie can see Thelma, yet other times Thelma hides when other people are around and at one point she uses a phone to call a "help line." Yet other times she sits and eats bags of chips in crowded rooms. Are they ghost chips? No, she gets them out of a vending machine. A ghost vending machine? Apparently not. Thelma doesn't seem to have any problem manipulating physical objects, including the change she puts in the vending machine, but she says a couple of times that she can't touch Cassie. It would be nice to know why that is. The exact powers and motives of Azazeal also remain fuzzy.
There's also a certain choppiness to the narrative. After the first episode sets up Cassie's powers and Thelma being a ghost, the second episode picks up weeks later with Cassie apparently used to having run-ins Azazeal's minions, though it's not clear who they are. Episode 3 is mostly about Troy and Cassie finally meeting cute. In episode 4 Azazael "possesses" Cassie, though this mostly means she becomes "a total whore", which seems less like possession and more like a spell that removed her inhibitions. In the last episode the show finally begins to live up the potential of the premise with some genuinely creepy scenes. Not really creepy in the darkness and cobwebs way, but creepy in that intellectual way The Wicker Man was creepy.
Guess which version of Cassie this is.
The real reason to watch Hex is the cast. Jemima Cooper is great fun as Thelma, and Christina Cole brings more depth to the part of Cassie than I would have expected. Cole's transformation into slut-tastic Cassie is shocking because she plays both version of Cassie so well. I also really enjoyed Colin Salmon as the headmaster of the school. He doesn't get many scenes, but he makes the most of the ones he has.
Hex was picked up for a second season that's airing in Britain right now. It looks like the first season must have been successful because the new episodes look like they have more money for cast, locations and effects. I hope the new episodes can bring a stronger narrative to the series as well.
Why does England in 2004 look like America in 1984?
Posted at 09:45 PM