Monday, February 13, 2012

The TV Dump (ii)

Stringing It Out?

With 8, possibly 9, episodes to go in the current season of The Vampire Diaries, you have to start questioning what the hell is going to happen and not in a dramatic way either. This current series has felt like one long season finale at times, with some blinding stand alone episodes that could easily have been climaxes for other, lesser, shows.

The problem that has crept into this current series is the 'big bad' - the main villain - because he's rapidly diminishing in stature and his story seems to be treading far too much water. The current VD villain is uber-hybrid vampire/werewolf original Klaus; one of the first vampires who is both vamp and wolf and is one of a family of immortals, who can only be 'killed' by a special method and they can be resurrected if desired - the mechanics of it are not really necessary, except to say that the fact you can't kill them rather limits your ultimate possibilities.

Klaus has been a reasonable character, equal parts charming and psychotic (as they often are) who packs the punch of a Smurf. Or at least that is what has happened to him. The original vampires were portrayed in this series as ruthless, utterly powerful beings that are not bound by the same curses normal vampires and werewolves are, who can rip other vampires to shreds as easily as you could tread on an insect; yet as the character and his siblings have developed, they seem, in many ways, to have become just another bunch of vampires. Throw into the mix a millennia of family broken ties, double-crossing and 'killing' each other and you have a pretty unstable mix of characters; yet they seem a bit too cosy.

The thing I like about VD is its parallels to Buffy, the slightly bonkers approach and the fact that there is an element of unpredictability about it. It also seems to enjoy parodying itself and other genre shows, giving it a slight irreverence that is reflected in some of the dialogue. It's crazy TV that acknowledges the fact. The problem is, going back to the beginning of this, there are a lot of hours to get through before the end of this season and I'm struggling to see where it can go unless it is going to string out the current storyline all the way to the end and if that is the case, we're going to badly need something to happen for it not to start repeating itself.

VD's problem is now it is established and the fans like their favourite characters, it's a bit too comfortable and it is relying a bit too much on the illusion of change. It is still a great way to spend 42 minutes on a Friday night though.

Beyond the Fringe

At last. Something is happening in Fringe. After over half a season of treading water in a new reality, the show is beginning to come alive and this week's episode felt a little like coming home. My theory also appears to be coming true or at least the bones of it. At the end of the last season, Peter disappeared from reality, the scales of time had been balanced and the Observers had fulfilled their objective of repairing their earlier mistakes. But Peter didn't disappear, because you can't just remove an entity from reality without him popping back up again. The new series has played big on the merged realities, making sure that the viewer is aware that this is the new reality, while simultaneously re-introducing Peter to a cast that have no idea who he is and it was not good TV. But recently, now that Peter has his 'father' helping him find his own reality via the Doomsday Machine introduced in the last series, it appears that the memories of the old reality are beginning to creep into this new reality. Characters are beginning to remember things that haven't or didn't happen and I believe as Peter and Walter search for a door into Peter's world, they will discover it doesn't exist and Peter is where he should be and everyone else is out of step with him.

Suddenly plot is taking centre stage in this series and I expect it to stay there, because the show's producers need to increase ratings and pay the devotees back for sticking with it. The problem Fringe has is that it has set up so many subplots on its return that the fans didn't care about. They care about the Peter Problem and not much else. It's a bit like the first few seasons of Babylon 5, people only cared about the Shadow War, the rest was a hindrance.

The latest episode was a mix of Groundhog Day, The Langoliers and Brigadoon and was, by far, the best episode of the season so far, because it has started to feel like the old team is working together again, rather than the disjointed, distrusting and unfamiliar feel the new season introduced. I just hope it isn't too late, because I feel it may not get renewed for another season after this experiment failed.

Wolf Bat Spirit

Apparently there's been a bit of a backlash from nerds about the massive changes in Being Human (UK). The sudden deaths of Mitchell, George and Nina sitting uncomfortably with aficionados and long time fans of the show and the replacement characters not gelling with the viewers.

A couple of things: I think Hal, the new vampire, has the scope to become a far better character than Mitchell. I think the guy playing him might have more range as an actor than Aiden Turner.

I think the series would have worked had it continued with the story of the Southend-on-Sea contingent. Have the first episode, but give Annie another door and close that story off for good. You could have had Tom (Michael Socha) join Hal and Pearl as a new trio and I think die-hard fans would have accepted it. As it stands Annie's character has been reduced to alarming comedy routine and after the first 30 minutes of last night's episode, I was seriously doubting whether I'd watch the third.

Successful TV shows will always struggle to keep their names because the temptation to move to new challenges is always great. Fanboys need to realise that sometimes their favourite fantasy shows are governed by the laws of reality - people die, people leave, people move on and if they treat their shows the same way they'll realise that it is just art imitating life.
As for the new main story... Well, there's something a bit Life On Mars cheesy about Eve from the future wanting to kill baby Eve and the new vampire horde are a bit disorganised. The new series seems to weighing heavily on the humour again and while it sometimes works, it just doesn't feel right. When I said about Annie becoming the comedy routine, I really meant it. Her character has become incredibly irritating and I really think a new ghost is needed.

Such a Shame

The real highlight of the week? Shameless (US). It is just the best thing to come out of the USA in years and as much as I hate to say this, pisses all over the UK version (once Anne Marie Duff and James McEvoy had left). Paul Abbot has transferred his creation superbly to the US and while it uses the same characters and themes, it has gone off in its own unique direction and seriously makes the UK version seem like a version of Little Britain. The US show is nasty, dirty, sexy, scary, funny and gobsmacking. Frank (William H. Macy) Gallagher (US) is a complete and utter c*nt. Fiona (the gorgeous Emmy Rossum) is the real star of the show, but Lip, who's UK counterpart was always very interesting, has the scope to lead this show if and when they write Fiona out.

It is just bonza TV. If it gets shown over here, you should watch it. Seriously. The UK is missing out on possibly the best thing since The Sopranos.

Rumour Mill

Talking to a mate yesterday via email, he said that he'd heard a rumour from a friend of his that one of the next season of Dr Who will feature an episode where Matt Smith meets the 22nd reincarnation of The Doctor. I take it with the usual pinch of salt that accompanies most DW rumours, but it is an interesting idea...

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