Pretty Little Liars-Series One. An American Horror Mystery Drama. On Netflix. Episode One-Some short notes and My First Review. Minor Spoilers Only.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

 
Netflix Description of Pretty Little Liars:
“Rudderless without their missing leader, four formerly tight school friends band together when a blackmailer threatens to spill their dirt”.
2016. Nearly Five Stars. Seven Series/ Seasons.

“New Episode coming on Wednesday.”

Netflix Further Description of Pretty Little Liars:
“Beautiful girls. Ugly truths. They can’t hide their misdeeds because, somehow, someone knows everything.”

*

Pretty Little Liars.
Series One.
Episode One.
Some notes on first watching.

So there’s an unfortunate amount of ballad singing.

Within about ten minutes the heroine is being chatted up in a bar that serves cheeseburgers by an English teacher. Who you just know is going to turn out to be her actual teacher.

He is wholly unconvincing as an English teacher since he has already put his glass on top of a paper back book. Quelle horreure.

What did I tell you. Mr. Fitz. Writes on the board. The drama writes itself.

***
My First Review.

So this, I have decided, after extensive research and trawling through Netflix: is going to be my go-to series. Till something better comes along.

Now that the random episodes of Beck on BBC4 have ended. And the Olympics have begun..
But I digress.

I have only watched one episode so far and that in chopped up bits at different times. Not that I have chopped anything up.

The four ( I think) girls are all fairly vacuous in expression. They could be anywhere between sixteen to thirty years old. Or late twenties. I really couldn’t decide. which was distracting.

I could have sworn one of the main characters was around thirty. Later she mentions an internship. Yet the girls are all still clearly at school. Well I think they all are. The drama was really that confusing.

I think this confusion also arose from the fact that we start the episode with a flashback. So I had presumed that the girls were all older in the later scenes. I just misjudged how much older.

It seems that it is around a year later. Actually the length of time was shown at one point. Along with the name of the town: Rosewood in Pennsylvania we are told.

So there is a flashback which is the crux of the mystery that we are here to solve: which is what happens to one of the girls of their group who goes missing one night.

Her name is Allison and it transpires that she is a bit of a bwatch. Or mean girl. However she is horrible to her friends. Which is unusual. I think.

However I’m not an expert on mean girls or girly girls generally. Except that they always try and do your make-up (you will look like a clown) and dress you up in hideous outfits . Change your style. Give you pretty handbags and shiny plastic belts. But I digress.

Yes, inexplicably all five friends are spending the night in some old room that looks like a basement with millions of candles and uncomfortable looking chairs and no blanket or sleeping bags.

Not a very well planned camping experience one might say. Camping but not camping. Probably they were just hanging out drinking.

So anyway they all fall asleep except for one of them. Leaving the several hundred giant candles burning. Which seemed very foolhardy to me.

In the morning, one of the friends returns. One of the girls, having woken, asks her:
“Where is Allison?”

That, as they say, is the million dollar question. This is the mystery upon which the first episode rests.

It’s hard to care really. Although of course this is only the first episode. The girls are all vacuous and vague. One of them inexplicably moons over her sister’s boyfriend.

I say inexplicably perhaps unfairly as the boyfriend is officially English with floppy hair and a grin. Quite lively compared to the girls.

Yes, only inexplicably because he is her sister’s boyfriend. Like-D’uh! Am I getting the mean girl vibe. I think so.

In a rather cringeworthy scene this girl goes all gooey eyed when said sister’s boyfriend moves equally inexplicably in for the kill. Commencing to massage her shoulders. Oo la la.

Now previous to this scene an equally cringeworthy encounter occurs between the heroine (from the opening scene) and a mysteriously handsome teacher. That the heroine, Aria, meets in a Burger Bar/ Bar. I was not quite sure.

Well thence they meet and hence commence to snogging. In the loo! Sacre Bleau.

Yes, as mentioned in the notes: this romantically styled English teacher has already blown it in the believability or call it credulity stakes: by committing the cardinal sin of putting his wet bottomed glass on top of his paperback! Quelle horreure.

Now does any English teacher the world over treat a book in such an incorrigible way? I think not. To any book lover this is incorrigible indeed unforgivable sacrilege. Mon Dieu.

Yes even a humble paperback. Because of course paperbacks are not humble at all. In fact are the essence of mysterious cool. In the hands of that mysterious intellectually (now) appearing officially artistic and even sensitive man: in dramas.

I mean nobody ever sits reading a hardback in a coffee shop. Now do they. It’s just not cool. Dunno why. The hardback just kills the vibe. Doesn’t it. But I digress.

So yet another cringe worthy calamity comes a calling with another inexplicable lapse in continuity. When two characters return back to the house they were just in. In the previous scene. Beats me.

One minute the two girls had just met, awkwardly kissed, were hanging out smoking: the next scene they were walking back to the same house from school. Or College. Who knows. Not me.

I could swear it wasn’t a school day. One of the girls was unpacking boxes in her new house (Allison’s old house). In the previous scene.

And so the drama continues.

Yes the drama is all a bit underwhelming so far. The four girls are as expressive as zombies really or maybe less so. Just in nicer, perfect outfits. (Yeowch!) I think I could be a mean girl.

I am noticing that the male characters are all irredeemably awful. As in portrayed as awful.

The romantically styled English teacher is rejected by the heroine: in an officially empowering but ultimately embarrassing scene.

When in another fit of insanity to add to his previous lapse in the bar: decides he just cannot let her go. And grabs her at the top of a staircase, declaring his (already) undying love. She pushes him aside and walks on.

Truth be told-there is a lot of walking from the girl characters. Up and down a road a lot. Oh, but they do go shopping.

Then the boyfriend of the sister of one of the girls is awful too. Then there’s the father of one of the girls. See-he is awful too.

The number of suspects in mind behind Allison’s disappearance is mounting..

Because it couldn’t possibly be one of the girl, now could it..

However a breath of fresh air appeared character wise in the form of a Police Detective (another officially and or awful man-from the girls’ point of view) who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Hurray.

Plus there is another mysterious story in the form of the dramatically interesting character Jenna. I should say no more.

But it appears that the girls may well have form. In being involved in calamitous happenings…

Now what happened to Jenna is casually referred to as : “The Jenna Thing”.

Indeed Episode Two is entitled: “The Jenna Thing”.

So I may well return to Pretty Little Liars. Just to find out. About Jenna. Then I could well be hooked.

Because Pretty Little Liars is set in that classic and glowily lit and beautifully filmed and styled: small town. Rosewood Pennsylvania.

The sort of drama where soothing titles tell us the place and time in the story. Everybody lives in picture perfect homes, there is a background of a school. Or High School.

People lead perfect, perfect lives. Wives assemble amazing gift baskets for newcomers. Of sumptuous wondrous jars.

Me I always wonder-where do they keep the baskets? Do they have a collection? Is there a basket shop somewhere? But I digress.

Yet already one character has said to her daughter:
“We have our reputation..”
“You know how they talk in a small town”..

Yep. We do.

All the classic ingredients for the small town horror story are in place..

They could even be in the bottom of that basket.
***

Posted by Clarissima at 16:32
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Stranger Things-Series One. An American Horror Series. On Netflix. My One-off Review. Minor spoilers Only.

Friday, 5 august 2016

 

Netflix Description of Stranger Things:
“A lost boy. A government lab steeped in terrible secrets. A mother who won’t rest until her son is found”.
First aired on Netflix on 15th July 2016.
*

Stranger Things.
Series One.
Episode One.
Some notes and dialogue on first watching.

Nb. So I made a note about Stranger Things. And then completely forgot to preview the series.

So Stranger Things is brilliant so far: plus they played White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane.

It’s set in the 1990’s. The setting is perfect and spot on. The phones look crazy now. That you have to plug it in the wall and the line only goes so far..

Yes. Now they are playing Hazy shades Of Winter..

Ah ha. So Winona Ryder is the mum. She’s brilliant.

I haven’t clocked Matthew Modine in it yet.

OK the mysterious white haired man is Matthew Modine.

The Sheriff or the Chief as he is called is a good character. After a while I realised that his right hand man is the father of one of the boys.

Did I say classic Spielberg era. For the series.

The teacher is quoting from The Heart Of Darkness:
“The brown river flowed downwards..”

I like that there’s no atmospheric music. But just occasionally a brilliant song.

Much later-Episode Five..

So Stranger things defies notes.

You have to see the tree..
***
Review.

So I loved Stranger Things. I seriously binge-watched this series. I guarantee you will too. Well that is if you like it. Because you have to know what happens next…

I guess that means episodes end on a cliffhanger a lot. They do.

Plus I like the very healthy size prologue. Which is allowed to happen with out dreadful credits appearing on the screen like slug trails for the entire opening scene and the next twenty to thirty minutes. Before the series officially starts. As is the annoying custom these days.

Sigh. The seventies had the best music. They had lovely jumpers and comfy corduroy trousers. Microfiche instead of internet. Gigantic phones. And teachers like Mister Clarke.

***

Postscript.

So this really is a post, postscript because I have come back to write much, much later.

Since really Stranger Things for me is one of those very rare dramas-like Between Series Two-that speaks for itself. Which seems complete unto itself. And needs really no words.

You just have to see it and see for yourself. You will either love it (like I did) or you won’t. Even if you don’t-I think you will remember it, be moved. Affected.

Not necessarily in a soppy slushy way but some kind of deep movement. A reaction. To some kind of higher art. That’s all I can say. Spotless had aspects of art too. For me anyway.

No wonder I’m coasting enjoyably on Celebrity Big Brother right now. and I haven’t watched it in years.

Because, as mentioned in my write-up on Teen wolf-where else was there to go? After such a wonderful glut of good series such as I have recently seen.

Yes, just one right after the other. My eyes and senses are filled. My love of film and stories and wonderful dramatic art: is replete. Like a month long feast.

So this sounds seriously slushy. But it’s really not meant to be. I knew I shouldn’t have come back. There are too many words you see.

But I digress.

Stranger Things made me homesick for the seventies (but was apparently set in the eighties-1983 to be precise) and American High School. Which I went to for a while. With its microfiche booths in the enormous library, (doing) book reports on Kurt Vonnegut and an Algebra teacher that never gave up on me. Until I passed.

Stranger Things is set in that long forgotten world in which children lived completely seperate lives. In which the parents were if not officially then ostensibly: the enemy. Excepting actual injury-you told them nothing.

Yes children ran wild and went everywhere with their friends and siblings and only came back for dinner. They had secret dens and adventures and made up mysterious even magical quests.

Stranger Things is a story of one of those adventures Except this time the adventure or quest, is real..
****
Footnotes.

A Hazy Shade Of Winter (referred to in the notes for episode one) I reckon is the only song ever with the line: “Drinking my vodka and lime”!

Nb. Lime refers to the English concentrated drink called Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial.

***

I especially love the cymbals in this song.

***

I have just learned that the later, Bangles version of A Hazy Shade Of Winter (1987) is the one played in Stranger Things and that the above described line (and its accompanying rhyming line) was censored!
Quelle Horreure.
Strictly speaking: the cover version of A Hazy Shade Of Winter by The Bangles was not out yet in 1983, the year in which Stranger Things is set.
***

The book The Heart Of Darkness referred to in the episode notes is by Joseph Conrad.

***

Posted by Clarissima at 14:28

Between-Series Two. My One-off Review. Minor Spoilers Only. Netflix.

wednesday, 3 august 2016
Between.
Series Two
So I wasn’t really planning on writing episode notes for Between. So I didn’t. Beyond remembering this:
“It’s fifty three days since our lives went to hell.”
Spoken by Adam. As a good introduction perhaps.

I was kind of putting off Between Series Two. Not because it is bad because it s so good.

But also I know that the drama is heavy, intense, harsh. Chillingly realistic. Achingly artistic. Apocalyptic.

I started to think Between was at the level as a creation-of The Walking Dead. Though it is unfair to compare.

Between is a drama of that quality but beyond. Off on it’s own whole new thing. A step beyond.

***

Postscript.
Between was stunning to watch I felt.

Particularly this series for me-which amped up its game, gathered up its dark and foreboding skirts and went somewhere else entirely dramatically speaking: towards the end..
***
Posted by Clarissima at 16:21
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Continuum-Series Four. A Canadian Science Fiction/ Sci Fi Series. Some short episode notes and a one-off Final Review. Nb. This is the final series. Minor spoilers Only. On Netflix. My previous write-ups on Continuum-the earlier series were posted on 16th October and 1st December of 2015.

tuesday, 2 august 2016
Continuum
Series Four
First Few episodes.

Some notes and dialogue on first watching.

So I love Continuum.

I’m on episode three now. I believe Continuum is Canadian and I often like Canadian series.
Created by Simon Barry.

For the life of me I can’t remember what happened to Dixon.

The future soldiers are like Vikings or Romans or both.

Love it when Gharza and Kiera go on a mission and they both have the super-duper suit.

The fights are pretty heinous. Even though nobody really uses guns.

C’mon Gharza and Kiera. Go Lucas! Oh no. Things just got serious.

(later)
I wasn’t sure what was going on there. It was like Travis was hypnotising Kiera!

End of episode notes.
**

Other random dialogue:

Jason:
“It’s Supernova weird!”

Carlos:
“Harumph..” (I forget exactly now)

***

Review.

So Continuum is Continuum. That’s what I will say. I’m a bit loathe to review it, as it seems super spoilery if you haven’t seen Series one, two and three.

So talking about the final series is a bit of a minefield. Metaphorically. A safer sounding metaphor being hopping frog-like (well actually you would really need to be a frog to make it work) from lily pad to lily pad-on a pond.

I would say that at one point the series seemed quite intensely long: the next minute it was over. Noo!

I think it was all the mind boggling future forward timelines and various conundrums that were stretching my mind. Therefore possibly- stretching time.

***

Posted by Clarissima at 14:54