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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


You're dead, Laura,
but your problems keep hanging around!
It's almost like they didn't bury you deep enough!

During it's 8-episode first season run, Mark Frost & David Lynch's bizarre prime-time soap opera murder mystery, Twin Peaks, became a tornado of a world-wide phenomenon, leaving it's second season with a lot to live up to.  

After the season one finale hilariously threw every possible clichéd cliff-hanger ending in the book at the viewer, the second year jumps right in the thick of things in true Peaks fashion that proves it wasn't just a flash in the pan.  The quality of the show is maintained for the next 7 episodes or so, until the television network forced Lynch & Frost, much to their dismay, to reveal who Laura Palmer's killer was fearing that audiences were growing impatient.  And with that a disgruntled Lynch more or less left the series and quite frankly, without him, it's astonishing to see the very apparent nosedive in quality within a single episode.  

From there the viewer is punished with 8 episodes of some embarrassingly bad writing that is not unlike the trashy soap operas the series set out to satirize.  A gaggle of new directors sloppily handled these episodes, all whom didn't seem to understand that Peaks used to be perfect blend of  quirky silliness, ominous darkness and the mind-boggling bizarre and instead brought them together like oil & water.  

Thankfully, after a brief hiatus, the writers got their shit together and the series became a faint reflection of what it once was.  Alas, the damage had been done and the task of picking up the shattered pieces isn't a completely successful one but it's light years better than the crap before it.  Sadly, the ratings plummeted something fierce and as quick as the series shot to popularity it was given the axe, leaving the viewer with an highly effective and disturbing cliff-hanger that still haunts me to this very day.

As a dedicated fan of the series, it's difficult to recommend due to a larger portion of the second season is just plain bad but it's also hard to properly criticize it because there's so many great things going on when it's firing on all cylinders.

3½ doppelgängers out of 5

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Box of Delights (1984)

TBoD is much-loved by many people. I suspect that some part of the warm feelings that accompany thoughts of the series is to do with similar feelings toward the holiday season in which it's always shown; i.e. the lead up to Christmas. I'm not implying that to love TBoD you need also to love Christmas, but there's a definite correlation there. As such, while I very much enjoy what it does on a technical level, the 'seasonal magic' is merely perfunctory for me.

I apologise if it seems like I'm treading on someone's childhood when I say that the story was frequently uneven, losing ground in the middle section before pulling it back for an exciting ending that was itself followed by what I'd consider a clichéd cop out if it wasn't for the slight ambiguity that lingers as the credits roll.

The story revolves around eleven-year-old schoolboy Kay Harker (Devin Stanfield), travelling home for the holidays. His adventure begins before he's even stepped off the train, and it moves to the next level when he bumps into a bearded Patrick Troughton (both pictured above), an encounter that changes the course of his winter break. The box, more like a box of tricks than one of delights, is sought by a number of unscrupulous people who'll do almost anything to retrieve it. Kay and his friends must do their best to help keep it from their lupine hands.

The young actors are all fine, but the danger level never reaches the heights that were needed to keep me fully engaged with their plight. But I admit that I sometimes find it difficult to relate to privileged rich kids.

It will likely appeal to fans of the BBC's more well-publicised adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1988), which it predates by four years. (The original novel by John Masefield also predates Lewis' Narnia books. The Box of Delights was published in 1935, whereas The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe didn't appear until 1950. I've not read Masefield's book.)

The 'technical' aspects I mentioned above are used to enable the magical properties of the box to be realised. The effects are a mixture of practical, chroma key, suit actors and hand drawn animation. The latter was my favourite - the scenes of animals running, flying, etc, through various environments are beautiful.

6 episodes, approx 30 minutes each (I really liked the episode titles).

3 hobsessions out of 5