Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Saw This!! What I Have Been Watching (PT C)

Pt. A, B can be found there.

I Saw This (double exclamation point) is our feature wherein Graig or David attempt to write about a bunch of stuff they watched some time ago and meant to write about but just never got around to doing so. But we can't not write cuz that would be bad, very bad.  Y'know, three types of aliens invading your world, bad.

So, back from three abandoned shows to three more completed seasons. If I was blogging about these while they were running, it wouldn't be an entry of I Saw This!!

Before we roll into the latest SyFy Channel genre series with a lone female kicking ass, i.e. Van Helsing (disappointgly not based on the Hugh Jackman movie), let's go back and talk about season one of another lone female kicking monster ass. Amusingly enough, both are descendant based, gender bent (kinda) heroic shows.

Wynonna Earp, 2016, SyFy -- download

Based on a comic book, which I only know from some atrocious covers, Wynonna Earp is a descendent of Wyatt Earp, the American lawman who had the Shootout at the OK Corral. But we only heard half the story; those fallen to Wyatt's peacmaker returned in generations after, as demon possessed people.  Someone, a descendant of Wyatt, as to re-kill them with The Peacemaker. There is also something about them being contained within a western triangle.

Wynonna's returns to Purgatory after an extended absence and resumes her role as the town pariah. Years ago her older sister was kidnapped and her dad killed, all in front of her; by said demons. She was institutionalized. She comes home only to find out that all the "delusions" she had as a teenager (not that long ago, really) were real and there are demons in Purgatory. Aaaand she is quickly recruited by a current day lawman, a Black Badge -- an agency that combines cross-border (FBI/RCMP) enforcement of supernatural crimes. Something is up, and he is here to make sure the demons don't escape their magical confinement.

In the genre range, that goes from Asylum (Z Nation) all the way  up to Firefly, this show is a little bit above middling, smacking of Canadian scifi shows (shot in Alberta) but having more heart than most of them do. At that heart is the relationship between Wynonna and her sister Waverly.  As well, there is the antagonistic relationship between them and chief demon Bobo Del Rey, played by my fav Canadian bad guy Michael Eklund. The rest of the cast, unfortunately including Black Badge Dolls (it took me five episodes to hear his name correctly), are so generic it hurts.

The series tries to milk the demon of the week but does so weakly. It shines when it focuses on its primary story. Sure the demons are back again, but this time they are organized by Bobo (yes, stupid name, but he used to pretend to be Waverly's imaginary friend) and witches are involved. Some sort of End of Days conspiracy is at play. Again, the weakest story link was the whole Black Badge element which is badly attempting some X-Files shadowy backstory.

Outcast, 2016, Cinemax -- download

On the other end of the spectrum is the incredible, spectacular, the second best thing I watched this year past -- Robert Kirkman's Outcast. Kirkman is the creator behind The Walking Dead and this is his new story, about demonic possession and a coming apocalypse. But just calling it demonic possession is doing it so much injustice. This is a deeply nuanced story, which had me sitting up straight in my seat once I realized what they were doing.

At the core of the story lay Reverend Anderson, a small (incredibly grotty) town preacher known for a successful exorcism years ago, and Kyle Barnes (holy crap, Patrick Fugit, the kid from Almost Famous), the now grown son of the exorcised. Kyle has his own dark recent past, which has forced him back to Rome and the abandoned home of his childhood. The Reverend has been milking his own pride at exorcism and continues them. Nobody asks why such a small, one horse town has so many possessions.

When Kyle returns it not only stirs up a lot of emotions, but also sheds some light on the demonic possession situation. The good Reverend was never successful at the exorcisms, in fact the only time he actually did get rid of a demon, it was due to Kyle -- blood & tears, when in contact with the possessed, causes horrific expelling reactions. The Reverend learns that many of his "successes" were just demons pulling the wool over his eyes. And he begins to come unhinged. That slow realization, the turn around from a confident man to a stumbling, ranting pariah was incredible.

As for the possessions, it has all the attributes of an alien invasion. For one, the black goo at the heart of it, highlighted in the opening credits (with incredible music by Trent Reznor collaborator Atticus Ross) which reveals more with each watching, is very X-Files. And then there is the creepy man-in-black leader of the demons, played by Brent Spiner. He is a man who has come to terms with the demon inside him, a pact having been made, an agreement that benefits the two.

And furthest out in the already-done series is S2 Daredevil.

(Uh, where's my review of S1 ?)

Daredevil Season 2, 2016, Netflix -- Netflix 

I guess I didn't do a post about season one, but let me just say... it... was... incredible. The Marvel cinematic universe was barely touched upon, and it wasn't needed, in this microcosmic story set in NY's Hell's Kitchen neighbourhood where blind lawyer Matt Murdock decides to put his extreme martial arts training to use defending his town from the enigmatic, powerful Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin. If I remember anything about the first season, it was the powerful fights -- heavy hitting, heart pounding, bone crunching, chest heaving, exhausting fights. Conversely the connections between the mains: Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, had more heart than almost anything on TV. I loved the season, but for the weak final episode, something Marvel TV seems to repeat.

Season Two begins with a heat wave. Foggy Nelson is still pissed at Matt for revealing he is the masked vigilante in town. Matt is also majorly letting the lawyer side of his life slide, and their agency is hurting. Karen seems to be doing most of the heavy lifting. The void left in Fisk's absence has been filled by the gangs, but someone is voiding them -- The Punisher. Thus appears the core question asked this season; how far should you go as a vigilante? How far is too far?

Jon Bernthal as The Punisher is the best of the many sordid versions of Frank Castle to be seen on the screen (Dolph Lundgren, Ray Stevenson and my fav Thomas Jane) and the only to actually take on the rather broken soul he is. His tragic history is dug up by Karen, who again proves she is much more than any man in the show cares to notice, and makes us care for an ultra violent man, so much more so than Suicide Squad did.

Meanwhile Matt is dealing with his own connection to the end goal of every vigilante -- to stop criminals. He was trained by Stick to be a weapon, an ultimate weapon. And his ex-girlfriend, Elektra Natchios (mmmm nachos) has returned to remind Matt of how he was supposed to turn out. But from Matt, she wants her own redemption.

Again the season moved towards a weak ending, one that is probably going to connect to in greater detail to the larger Marvel cinematic universe -- magic and Iron Fist and Dr. Strange.