Mini reviews of Television seasons old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional bunnies.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Copper (2013)

If you want the gloves to come off... so be it.
The gloves certainly do come off for season 2 of BBC America's period drama, but it is mostly to the show's detriment. The plot becomes cluttered and haphazard with too many plotlines and characters coming and going that nothing is ever finished. The first episode sets up one character as a terrorizing and fearless villain that could easily have been an interesting arc for Detective Corcoran to go against, but is then dropped by the end of the episode. This could have been a clever bait and switch, but clearly isn't as it happens about 3 more times over the course of the season like the writers got bored or distracted by something shiny and switch to something else at the drop of a hat with all the indecisiveness of a housecat deciding whether it wants to go outside or not. Interesting events that are part of the time period like disease outbreaks and opium addiction are set up as major defining moments and then discarded with no resolution and minimal effect on the main story arc. What resolution there is from season 1 is written off in a rather implausible way just to seemingly get back to the status quo of season 1 like the show-runners finally pulled themselves out of their cocaine and/or alcohol binge haze to notice the colossal mess they were making and tried to clean it up in the worst way.

When the show does get back to what it does best (vicious period drama crimes and character dialogue) there are glimmers of the entertaining show it once was, but it mostly tries to fill the void with extended gore and basic cable nudity. The plots set up aren't even bad per se, just muddled because they were all shoved together into a gelatinous mass instead of spreading it out and letting what worked play through to some sort of closure. All of it is then dropped at the end of the season for an unnecessary and shoehorned bit involving Lincoln's assassination that is cheesy and should really have had nothing to do with the rest of the show. The show comes back to end on a regular cliffhanger, but then it was cancelled making it one more unresolved moment to add to the pile. Donal Logue puts in a decent turn as a sleazy politician, even though despite his actual Irish heritage he seemed out of place at times and Alfre Woodard makes a brief cameo of sorts as a freed slave that was palatable, but could have been better. Though it was one of the few plot threads that actually had a full arc, so that's something. Overall nothing other than the set and wardrobe designers were really on point and what character drama there is to enjoy is not up to snuff for the bar the show set for itself in its first season.

Buyer's Guide:
Available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video with a forthcoming DVD release.

2 Sympathetic anti heroes that aren't sympathetic out of 5

Monday, October 14, 2013

.hack//Legend of the Twilight (2003)

An anime adaptation of the Legend of the Twilight manga trilogy that you can read about here: Volume I // Volume II // Volume III. You’ll find there information on the background you'll need to fully appreciate the LotT world.

It starts out the same as the manga, but branches off into something different early on. It finds its way back and then shoots off again into places new. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because the manga was lacking excitement for a long time in the middle section - the anime isn't. I also enjoyed watching a story with characters I felt I knew well being taken in a different direction than the one I'd already experienced; the element of surprise was attached to every situation.

The relationship between the siblings is well-defined. The geographical distance between them is bridged by the game world, and their changing feelings for each other are still developing as the story begins.

The character designs are somewhere between chibi and normal. It's near impossible not to like them. However, even though it has the appearance of being suitable for younger viewers, it's not free from fan-service. The bizarre incestuous undertone in the manga is carried over.

The Japanese voices are excellent and suit the characters well. After I'd finished the final episode I went back and picked an episode at random to check out the English dub. There were a few voices I recognised, and while I may praise them elsewhere, they were very ill-suited to the characters of .hack. Sub beats dub.

12 episodes, approx 24 mins each. There's also a 13th episode that isn't a part of the main story; it's a comedy coda that throws up a few surprises.

3 red threads of fate out of 5

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention (2010)

World of Invention is a science programme with short segments devoted to new inventions, both practical and whacky. It's like an updated Tomorrow's World but with claymation presenters alongside the human ones. At time of writing it's been three years since it was filmed, so some of the inventions may well have already gone into production (or the trash), but that shouldn't detract from the fun.

Wallace is the host. He's the guy with the desk. He introduces the science segments and is Wallace through and through; Peter Sallis knows what he's doing.
Gromit shuffles around in the background serving tea, and narrowly avoiding frequent death; it's business as usual for the pooch.

Each episode has a theme into which each invention fits, such as Nature, Flight, Safety, etc, meaning that each individual episode can be used as a supporting teaching aid for young viewers - you can entertain them while covertly teaching them stuff, without compromising on either aspect. If you're lucky, it'll inspire them to delve further. If you're unlucky, you'll be assaulted with a bevy of questions afterwards about things you know nothing about.

The science is split between cool stuff (jetpacks!) and practical stuff that will change the lives of people all over the world (e.g. a fridge for third world countries that needs no electricity to work). If you have any interest in science whatsoever there'll be something here that grabs you, no matter what age you are. Seriously, who doesn't want to see a fuel cell powered by dead flies?

6 episodes, approx 30 minutes each.

3 curiosity corners out of 5