Tag Archives: TV Series

What to Watch? Salem

As there’ll be witches in my next novel, I thought I’d better get to know as much as I could about witches. So, I watched the first season of Salem on Netflix, a supernatural horror series. I learned a lot!

Salem

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Cast

Main Cast

Salem_Janet_MontgomeryThe cast of Salem is very well chosen. Janet Montgomery plays Mary Sibley, the main character/witch whose features are beautiful and her soul ugly (or is it?), and Janet plays a good witch. Mary’s one true love, Captain John Alden, is played by Shane West. He has the rugged look of a man who’s been out there. There’s no nonsense to him, every word counts. Then there’s Tituba, the servant (slave?) of Mary, played by the beautiful Ashley Madekwe. I love, love Seth Gabel’s portrayal of the reverend Cotton Mather (where did they get those names from?). He is so believable and has such sorrowful eyes. If ever they decide to film my series Suckers, I’d be happy for him to play Charlie! (I know, he’s no dwarf, but still).

Others

Salem_Shane_WestI also have to mention the other actors in the series who do a wonderful job of entertaining. There’s Tamzin Merchant as Anne Hale (there’s more of her role to come, I’m sure!), Elise Every as Mercy Lewis, Iddo Goldberg as Isaac Walton, Xander Berkely as Magistrate Hale (his white long hair always reminds me of Lucius Malfoy), Michael Mulheren as George Sibley, Azure Parsons as Gloriana Embry, and Stephen Lang (remember him as Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar, the one talking about the indigenous having your eyes as jujubes?) as the scary Increase Mather.

Plot

Salem_Ashley_Madekwe.jpgThe series starts off in the past. The past compared to when the bulk of the series is playing, of course. Mary and John are still young, and when John is sent to go fight in the war, Mary promises to wait for him until he returns next year. Fast forward seven years. John finally makes it back to Salem, only to find Mary has married the one man who sent him away. George Sibley has mysteriously lost his faculties, though, and Mary, now the most wealthy woman around, is running the town in his stead, refusing to give up her position to be with her former lover.

Unaware to most, witches are running Salem. Their goal: to take over and live in peace. But who is friend and who is foe? And is it all mind control or is there real magic going on here? You’ll have to watch the series to find out!

What I liked about Salem

Salem_Seth_GableI won’t lie. I like watching old costumes and pretty people and special effects make-up. Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong time, but then again, maybe not! Back to the series. I liked the darkness of it. How the goodies are the bad guys, the bad guys are the good guys, and that everything is actually very grey overall.

I liked watching Cotton Mather’s frustration. I liked the power struggle going on between the witches and their attempts to keep it all under cover. I liked the way they suggested the lesbian relationship.

I also like the music they used in the series. The intro tune of Marilyn Manson’s Cupid Carries a Gun is very eerie.

What I didn’t like about Salem

Sometimes the acting wasn’t all that spectacular. Sometimes the scenes didn’t make sense. Sometimes the special effects were a bit fake. Yet this didn’t stop me from watching to find out what was coming next.

Summary

This is not a series for the faint at heart. It is gruesome, weird, shocking at some points. Yet there is hardly any nudity in it, for a change! I loved seeing something different, and I can’t wait to find out what they come up with in the second series.

 

What to Watch? Shooter

Excuses for my lateness of posting my weekly What to Watch? I was still travelling from Holland to Scotland yesterday (driving from Newcastle to Aberdeen), and I can tell you that typing on a laptop in a driving car isn’t easy 😀 . So, why Shooter (the TV series and not the film)? Because my son recommended it to me.

Shooter

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Cast

The Netflix TV series is based on the film Shooter, with Mark Wahlberg as the main character, which is based on the book Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter which again is loosely based on the US sniper Carlos Hathcock (but none of the story in the TV series has anything to do with Hathcock).

The retired US sniper veteran, Bob Lee Swagger, is played by Ryan Phillipe. He’s not a new kid on the block as he’s been in front of the camera since 1992. His wife Julie is played by Shantel VanSanten, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson plays Nadine Memphis, the investigating FBI agent. Omar Epps, also know from his doctor role in House, plays the Secret Service agent and ex-commander of Swagger, Isaac Johnson. I need to mention Eddie McClintock, who plays Jack Payne, and David Marciano as Memphis’s boss, Howard Utey.

Plot

Bob Lee Swagger is a retired US sniper, now spending time with his wife and daughter. His ex-commander, Isaac Johnson, seeks him out and asks for his help. There are rumors that a sniper is going to take out the US President during a visit to Seattle. Swagger reluctantly agrees and tries to figure out where the sniper could shoot from. All angles seem to be covered, until Swagger figures out something is wrong and tries to prevent the shooting. Unfortunately, Swagger is too late, and the visiting Ukrainian President is killed. As Swagger is on the spot of the crime, he’s arrested for suspicion of being the murderer. Swagger must prove he’s set up for a crime he didn’t commit.

What I liked about Shooter

As you may know, I’m not a fan of senseless violence. So, why did I like Shooter? Because the first few episodes were very suspenseful and were (somewhat) believable.

Someone, in a review on Rotten Tomatoes, mentioned there was no humor in the series at all. They are wrong. I loved the character of Jack Payne. He was so funny. Intentionally or not, he made me laugh out loud and care for him more than for Swagger. Same goes for Howard Utey. His character was less believable, but still gave it a less dramatic twist for me.

What I didn’t like about Shooter

As I said, I don’t like senseless violence. This series is supposed to be realistic, but people are being killed left, right, and center without any remorse. I don’t mind if this happens in fantasy movies with non-existant creatures but not in a series about humans and by someone who’s supposedly the good guy. Besides this, Ryan Phillipe reminds me of a pouting school boy, not a seasoned veteran. Maybe it’s just my age…

The further you get into the series, the more unbelievable it becomes. We finished the first season, but I doubt we’re going to watch the following two.

Summary

Shooter is a good show to get away from it all and have you on the edge of your seat for a couple of evenings but don’t expect it to be too realistic or see fantastic performances.

I haven’t seen the movie with Mark Wahlberg as the sniper, but I’m dying to see it now.

What To Watch? Safe

The other day we began watching the short series ‘Safe’ on Netflix. It is a murder mystery of only eight episodes long, but boy, is it binge-watch-worthy!

Safe

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Cast

The most notable actor of the series is Michael C. Hall, the man who also played the serial killer Dexter, now in the role of surgeon Tom Delaney. He’s lost some weight and has acquired an English accent, but performs the same great acting we’re used to. Less humoristic, more serious, still extremely entertaining.

There are multiple other actors and actresses that play an important role, but I’ll mention two of them. One is his buddy Pete Mayfield, played by Marc Warren, and Detective Sergeant Sophie Mason, played by Amanda Abbington, playing Tom’s girlfriend. Both played their roles splendidly!

Plot

The series follows Tom as he’s looking for his missing daughter and spans consecutive days in a gated community in England. Every single episode begins with a flashback to the evening when things go wrong. Parents have an anniversary and go out for a weekend, daughter throws a party, and a dead body ends up in the pool. The dead body happens to be the boyfriend of Tom’s daughter, who goes missing from that moment on. This should be enough to make you want to watch Safe already 😀 .

What I liked about Safe

I liked seeing Michael C. Hall again (who, I believe, is the executive producer of the series). Dexter was one of my favorite series, and I got used to seeing his cute face. In Safe, however, he is much more serious, showing off his acting talent.

The best part of the series is the plot. It keeps being driven forward. You keep wanting to watch the next episode to find out what happens next. There are so many red herrings! You keep on guessing who did it… and you keep being wrong.

What I didn’t like about Safe

There honestly isn’t much I didn’t like. Maybe it was strange to hear Michael C. Hall talk English instead of American, but I got used to it pretty quickly. The final plot wasn’t far-fetched and very believable, just very unexpected. The whole series was very well thought through.

Summary

I would recommend Safe being watched by teenagers and adults alike. It is real-world stuff. People make stupid choices, getting others hurt, without the blink of an eye. It’s got a good ‘moral-of-the-story’ of ‘don’t do drugs.’

What To Watch? Grimm

Guess what? I haven’t watched any movies this weekend! Not. One. Movie. That’s a very rare occasion. Why? Because I have been working my butt off on my WIP. This didn’t mean we didn’t watch any TV at all. We did watch Grimm, and The Bing Bang Theory.  We only discovered the latter recently. But never mind TBBT, here is my take on Grimm.

Grimm

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The Cast

Grimm is the story of a homicide detective, Nick Burkhardt (played by David Giuntoli), who suddenly can see people change their image into fairytale creatures, called Wesen, when they lose their composure. They can be anything from werewolves to snakes to birds. Nick’s auntie Marie informs him, just before she dies, he’s a Grimm, a person with this special seeing abillity who must keep the balance between humans and the Wesen. Other people can’t see the Wesen unless they are a Wesen too or when the Wesen want humans to see their true self.

Nick is not alone in his new duty. In the first episode, he befriends Monroe (played by Silas Weir Mitchell) who is a Blutbad, a Wesen like a werewolf. He is the comic relief in the series but plays a major role. Nick has a work partner, Hank Griffin (played by Russell Hornsby) and a girlfriend, Juliette Silverton (played by Bitsie Tulloch). Hank and Juliette don’t know Nick is a Grimm (at least, not at the start). Nick’s Captain, Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz) also plays a major role. I have to mention sergeant Drew Wu (played by Reggie Lee) as he, too, is very funny. His humor is more subtle than that of Monroe, though.

The Plot

Every episode, Nick needs to solve a murder mystery. Very coincidentally, most murders have a Wesen involved (surprise, surprise!). All sorts of creatures pass the screen and it’s fun to see their faces change when the Wesen are upset or die (and they revert back to their human form).

The second storyline mainly depicts Nick’s relationship with the others; Monroe (who is unwilling to help at first as Grimms usually are out to kill Wesen), and Hank and Juliette (who have no idea why their partner is acting so strange lately). In season two, Juliette plays a bigger role than in season one as she gets involved in the mysteries against her will.

In the background, there’s always the ‘bigger picture’ story involving Nick’s boss Renard and his involvement with a Hexenbiest, or witch, called Adalind Shade (played by Claire Coffee). Things are happening on a more international level with them.

Likes

I like the fact that this series is about a more mature cast, not teenagers for a change. Nick is in a steady relationship with Juliette, yet the series manages to incorporate some love issues here and there.

It always amazes me how they come up with yet another type of Wesen. The creators must have a very good imagination or a damn good book on mythology.

The secrecy and love plots make you want to watch the next episode and when you’ve done that, you want to see the next one. There are some really good cliffhangers.

Dislikes

There’s always some dislikes, of course. The graphics are not the greatest. Yes, I like the facial changes of the Wesen, but they can look really fake. The fact that only the head changes (well, most of the time) also seems like a rather cheap option.

Sometimes the plot is a bit predictable, but only sometimes.

Overall

We have binge-watching nights of Grimm, going through three or four episodes per night, depending on how much time we have. We’re only in season 2 yet, and there are six seasons in total, so we still have a fair amount to feast on. Bring on the Wesen!

 

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