Category Archives: series

True Detective (series, season 3) (2019)

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After a few years of silence, here we have the third season of “True Detective”. The first season was brilliant, the second less so, it was different, good, but not like the first season. This review of the third season is a bit like that of the second.

The first two episodes are great and like the first season. Very slow and minimalist, a droning soundtrack that suggests something terrible. Then we continue with a police investigation of two quite different officers, quite like in the previous series. The initial investigation is repeated a decade later and again later, so we get the story in three time-lines. The case itself looks small. Two kids get lost. Initially something sinister is suggested, but as the investigation continues, the focus of the series goes more to the drama of the investigators and the parents of the lost kids.

The series gets a bit of a Memento edge as one of the main characters’ memory starts to fail him in the timeline in which he is old. The story of the lost children is told in bits and pieces and in the three timelines only slowly clearing things up.

Season 3 is descent, mostly moody and well-written, but just as the previous one, 3 does not really rise above the level of descent.

American Horror Story Roanoke (series) – Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy (season 6 2016/7)

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Reading back my reviews of previous seasons I see that I am seldom overly enthousiastic about “American Horror Story”, yet my memories usually seem more positive.

My first thought about “Roanoke” is that it is the least interesting season so far. Looking back I remember the first season as alright, of the third, fourth and fifth I have good memories.

In “Roanoke” the series live up most to the term “horror” in the title. The series sets off as a bit of a “Blair Witch” type horror with pressing atmosphere and the suggestion that what happens is real. The story is told in interviews and images and the result is pretty much horror. Then the creators start to use different styles of horror going from found footage, jumpscare to torture and a bit of zombie-like horror. Way too horror for my liking. Only here and there the black humor of the previous series found its way into the story.

And then we get a variation to the story and another one and another one until it all becomes pretty dreary.

The story is simple. A mixed couple flees the city and buy a massive house in the middle of nowhere. Of course there are (un)dead people who do not want them there. In the variations the creators show how (social) media exploits such events which is one of the few positive points about “Roanoke”.

As I said before, the different seasons have nothing incommon with the rest except for the actors. If your preference does not lay in typical horror, I would advice to skip season 6.

Fargo (series) (season 3 2017)

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Once again the creators of the series have found an unlikely story in a remote part of the USA.

We meet the brothers Stussy, both played by Ewan McGregor. One is rich (Emmit), the other jalous (Ray). The feud gets kindled when the jalous brother hooks up with a client.

Emmit has another problem. Trying to save his business he took a loan from a shady middle man who now comes to take over his business. These two problems start to strangely mix again making a “Fargo” with weird situations, black humor and violent outbursts.

This time there does not immediately seem be a connection between the stories of the previous ‘Fargos’. It is again an amusing series with a weird, weird true story.

11.22.63 – Bridget Carpenter (series 2016)

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The title of these series of course refer to the date of the assassination of JFK. There is only one season of eight episodes which are written by noone less than Stephen King.

Jake, a high school teacher, learns from a friend who owns a diner that there is a door to 1960. When somebody comes back to the present, only two minutes have passed, no matter how long he stayed in the past. Al, the friend, took up the idea to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy and collects all the information he can find in the present and in the past and went ‘in’ several times only to come back without succes. So he asks Jake.

Of course when you want to prevent the assassination, you will have to spend a few years in the past. Most of the series are Jake in the 1960’ies try to blend in while trying to find a way to try to find a way to do what he came to do. When he succeeds, the result is not what he thought it would be though.

The series have some alright findings and things to think about, but all over the line it is not much more than a drama about a contemporary man trying to live two decades ago.

Westworld – Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (series season 1 2016)

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I got these series as birthday present. It was also on my wish list, but not too high. The first season is alright, but as with most series that I see, not good enough to make me want to see season 2 or the announced third series some time soon.

Westworld is a virtual Wild West, an amusement park where people can submerge themselves in adventure. They can even go around killing people and go to the brothel, for most visitors the main attractions. Most people in Westworld are androids, robots that are almost exactly human, called “hosts”. When a host gets shot, it is repaired and sent back to the park to pick up their parts in their “loops” (part of a “narrative”) again. When ‘upstairs’ the hosts are usually clothless, an easy way to incorporate nudity into the series for an unclear reason. A host cannot kill a visitor.

In order to make them more and more human, the creators frequently update the hosts, even giving them some sort of consciousness. Then some seem to start to develop consciousness themselves. This leads to lengthy philosophical monologues about what makes humans human and what makes reality real. Of course it is in the development of an own will of the hosts that the series get their story from.

“Westworld” is an alright series that raises a few interesting questions. The events jump back and forth in time and the story is well-written with subtle references and a few surprises. Anthony Hopkins is great as one of the creators of the park. In the first episodes the score is interesting too, as it is often classical versions of pop songs.

All in all, “Westworld” made a nice watch, but like I said, I not nice enough to put the following seasons high(er) up on my to see list.

Kingdom Hospital (series) – Stephen King (2004)

For a long time I have known about this Stephen King version of Lars von Trier’s wonderful series “Riget” (a.k.a. “Kingdom”). In doubt if a remake would add anything to the original series, for a long time the idea of watching “Kingdom Hospital” remained slumbering in the back of my head. A while ago I ran into the box so cheaply that I decided that it was time to watch it after all.

“Kingdom Hospital” can be best regarded a series with references to “Riget” instead of being a remake. From the first episode it is clear that Stephen King does not follow Von Trier’s story. He added elements and left things out. Some characters return, but usually the names have been changed. Sigrid Drusse became Sally Druse; Jørgen Krogshøj, Dr. Hook; Stig Helmer, Dr. Stegman; Mona Jensen, Mona Klingerman. This immediately says something about the story-lines that found their way into King’s story. The weirdest things have been left out though!

Again the hospital is built on a place where a catastrophe took place in swampy conditions. The dead of these days still haunt the hospital, in King’s version causing earthquakes. Druse finds the little girl Mary and tries to help her in her typical spiritualistic way and her annoying personality, forcing her son to help her. King turned the story more in a fight between good and evil which brings a larger role to some elements, but also introduces new characters. Most notably “Antubis”, a boy trying to run amok and an artist patient who is chosen to save the hospital. Other notable elements are left out, such as Lillebror (the baby) and Age Krüger (perhaps he has been exchanged for the boy). Other things have been changed, such as the secret society of doctors, the sleep research facility and . Other amusing elements have been added, such as King’s own part as Johnny B. Goode.

You may get the point, “Kingdom Hospital” should be approached with no expectations of what is to come. It is an entirely new story with elements and characters known to people who know “Riget”. I think the series are more amusing when you indeed know “Riget”, especially because a few things make more sense. There is no need to know “Riget” to enjoy “Kingdom Hospital” though. The series make a slightly weird horror soap (more horror than “Riget” I might add) which has been worked more into a coherent story than “Riget”. What is too bad is that the “finale” is pretty weak and the end pretty horrible… That may be a reference to “Riget”s sudden end?

All in all amusing series which are probably even more amusing when you know the series made by Lars von Trier who produced Stephen King’s version.

American Gods – Bryan Fuller & Michael Green (series, season 1) 2017

I found this series because Ian McShane is in it who is brilliant in “Deadwood“. The series seemed strange enough for me to like it. And I did!

Let me start with a down part. The season is only 8 episodes and it looks like half a story. The series is based on a book by Neil Gaiman, so my guess is that the whole story has been divided over two seasons. Had I known that beforehand I would have waited until the entire series are available before watching it.

To the series then. It is not clear to me why a man named Shadow Moon has such a big part in the story, but coming out of jail, he is picked up by a man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday, but people who know him call him Grimnir. I leave it to you to guess who he really is. With the identity of Mr. Wednesday in mind, the series make a whole lot of fun.
What Mr. Wednesday represents is one of the Old Gods (a bit out of place in America though) and he is looking for other old Gods to get the influence back that they used to have. There are many, many references to all kinds of mythologies and religions, sometimes obvious, sometimes vague. The story is not about the fight between prechristian religions and Christianity, Mr. Wednesdays opponents are of the like “Mr. World” (a god of globalization?) and “Media” (Gillian Anderson).

In this manner there is plenty dialogue about the demise of wonder and religion in modern man and critique to modern society. This is done in witty dialogues, with good humor and with both subtle references and blunt statements.

And so we have a fairly vague, at times pompous series with elements that make only little sense and elements that start to make sense as the series continue. My guess is that a few things will only start to make sense in season to and I wonder if the story is going to be milked out in an 8+ season series or if the creators will stick to the book.

Season one is very promising and made an interesting watch.

Twin Peaks (series, season 3 2017)

I would be lying if I said that I have been a ‘Peaky’ for 25 years, but it has been certainly more than two decades since I watched the series every couple of years and I have followed Peak-freak groups for many years. These groups, of course, only contained ‘die-hard fans’ when the series had faded from the public eye. Then a while ago there was a stir within the fan base, since, did Laura Palmer not say: “I will see you in 25 years” at the end of the original series? Would Lynch (and Frost) indeed revamp the series? For a while Lynch denied, but either or not persuaded by all the attention, at some point he confirmed that work was done on a new season. Not too much later the filming had actually started, again in Snoqualmie, and people who went there to see what was going on, could see what actors were involved. Actors were confirmed, rumors wandered around the rest and in the end the new season was put out with a massive amount of publicity. Mark Frost even published a book. Suddenly everybody was a Twin Peaks fan and had been one for 25 years. Continue reading

Fargo (series) (season 2 2015)

I have good memories of season 1, which I remember is quite like the film. Reading back my review of July 2015, this is not really the case though. Somehow I had the idea that I had seen season 2 already and when season 3 came I noticed I had not seen season 2 yet. Time to do something about that!

The story is season 1 is that of the film, but with more context. So what would the story be of season 2? Do small, snowy cities have more violent crimes? Apparently they do, since season 2 takes us back to 1979 in which a clash between two criminal groups runs completely out of control. Some civilians and local police officers get caught in the middle and a story as unlikely as that of the film and season 1 unfolds. The stunning naivety of some of the main characters gives plenty room for the black humor that accompanied previous Fargos and the cold-bloodedness of the criminals allows for violent outbursts and more black humor.

Now I do not know if you want to know this or not, but season 2 is not just similar story in a similar surrounding. Two characters that feature in season 2, return in season 1. Or put the other way around: season 2 is a “prequel”.

Just as season 1, season 2 is a fun watch, but by and far not as good as the Coen film. Since there are only 10 episodes, the music (especially in the earlier episodes), characters, story and atmosphere are well done, I would say that this second season is not a waste of time though.

Vikings (series, season 3) – Michael Hirst (2015)

Well then. Even more so than the previous season, 3 is mostly a soap opera. The focus is almost exclusively on the characters.

We jump back and forth over the globe. In one scene we are in Kattegat, then suddenly in Britain or with many of the characters (including women) in Paris. In Britain a Viking colony is started, but the conquering of Paris would be to Lothbrok’s fame.

Besides gathering fame, Lothbrok toys with the idea of Christianity throughout season 3, much to the demise of mostly Floki who develops a growing dislike for his king and his best friend Athelstan.

There are the usual talks of the relationship between men and women, of course the raids with an occasional fight and only a handful of scenes on the sea.

A little annoying is the way Norse mythology is used. A man comes to Kattegat, tells a story that in the Edda is an adventure of Thor, but the man is Odin in disguise (and the story only used partly).

“Vikings” remains a series that may be amusing, but nothing more than that.