Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What I Am Watching: True Blood, Luther, Under the Dome

SPOILERS.  You are warned.

Yes, we are still watching True Blood long after having given up on it. Why? Because of the train wreck appeal (forgive me that phrase considering the news of late) the show currently has, as if they were writing the show to elicit outrageous, over the top internet reactions and spawn terribly funny recaps. Consider what is going on this season. Werewolf Alcide, when not selling ice cream, is now full-on angry wolf leading his pack and being an asshole, Sookie the Half-Faerie is still fucking anybody who comes around the corner, this time being Ben, the Faerie-Vampire who happens to be the oldest vampire on earth and the alluded Big Bad of last season Warlow. Meanwhile Vampire Bill drank Lilith's blood (yeah, that Lilith) and has become some sort of uber-vamp. Meanwhile the Governor of Louisiana is on a rampage, tossing vamps into concentration camps, where they have them concentrate on fucking and killing each other. Meanwhile Terry, the damaged war veteran, got himself murdered and the 4 faerie daughters of Sherrif Andy got themselves eaten by Jessica, after having grown to teenager age in a few episodes. Annnd breathe.

Those are just the story lines I care to talk about. Its all a chaotic mess of intersecting plots with no attempt at order. Internet ready taglines and common phrases, ready to be shouted at the screen, are the norm for this season. They pick up and drop story lines sometimes in less than an episode. "Its the merkin queens !!" when Lilith and her ghostly, always nude, entourage shows up. "Faerie vaginas glow when they are aroused ?!?!" But will I stop watching? Nope. LaLa still rocks.

Ending its three series / season run this year is Luther. The show stars Idris Elba, the coolest guy on big and small screens these days, as a cop working the serious & serial crimes division. We were introduced to him as a man of extremes, letting some criminals die instead of bringing them to justice, and just not dealing well with his breakup. But a series of unfortunate deaths and a cat & mouse game with a sociopathic suspect tempers him as the show progresses. At first he is all about anger, and he scares those around him, but he is always a skilled investigator, if a bit unorthodox.

This unorthodox but always productive nature is what almost brings everything down around him. He is finally getting over the death of his wife, at the hands of his best friend & partner, and is dating Mary. But a previous colleague, at odds with his brusk attitude and that unorthodox behaviour is working her own investigation, trying to pin all the world's woes on him. She does have a point though, as numerous people have died in his presence, from suspects to friends.

Elba is incredible as John Luther. We all know he is a big man, but in this series he looms over all the supporting cast, even as he constantly slouches under his tweed coat. I want to describe how compelling his character is as an investigator, instinctive and resourceful, but its not about being all Sherlockian, its about the nature of his approach that is appealing -- that and the equally compelling villains. The whole show started with Alice, the sociopath in love with Luther (if she can even feel love) and there was the dice rolling twins, obsessed with playing a real life RPG, killing people to earn experience points. This season the killers are secondary to his own investigation, but the lynch pin remains a vigilante who is killing those who escaped justice and presenting it to the world via the Internet. Luther should be his peer, so everyone thinks, but this is an evolved man who understands the murderous crusader has to stop.

On the lighter side, I am compelled to watch Under the Dome but really, I should have listened to my burbling gut. Anytime Stephen King highly recommends a screen adaptation of his story, we are in for trouble. He just loves the TV and film production process so much, he never seems to notice how much crap has been produced from his work.

In the book King takes a small specfic premise, of a town that is suddenly trapped under an invisible dome (no not perfectly half sphere) with no explanation, and expands it into a Lord of the Flies analogy. What makes the book so good are the characters, who are often brought into the show in name only. So much has changed, I don't find any characters interesting or sympathetic. As expected, acting is middling and since they wanted to extend this into a full blown series, not even a short-life mini-series, they are stretching plot ideas very very thinly into episodes. I am still watching but I am not sure for how long.