Saturday, September 24, 2016

Class - Everything You Need To Know

It's less than a month to go but finally, some concrete information in relation to upcoming BBC3 series and Doctor Who spin-off, Class has been confirmed as yesterday the cast and crew took part in a Facebook chat. Here's what we now know for definite.

- The characters are Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly), a physics teacher with maybe an evil streak, the hapless leader and gay Charlie (Greg Austin), the passionate and caring Ram (Fady Elsayed), wise and mentally strong, April (Sophie Hopkins) and child prodigy Tanya (Vivian Oparah).
- The characters are charged by the Doctor to take care of a great responsibility against some alien creatures.
- Expect a gay sex scene in the third episode and also expect this show to be quite bloody in parts.
- The first two episodes will drop on BBC3 from October 22nd. They are titled For Tonight We Might Die and The Coach With The Dragon Tattoo.
- BBCAmerica however will not air the series until 2017 as they are pairing it with the tenth series of Doctor Who. Canada however plan to air it to coincide with UK transmission.
- Peter Capaldi will be appearing in the first episode as the Doctor.
- Other cast members include Jordan Renzo, Pooky Quesnel, Nigel Betts, Anna Schaffer, Paul Marc Davies and Shannon Murray.
- Lucky people can see the first episode from October 20th at Class World Premiere in Shoreditch, London.

A trailer for the series however seems to be a bit further off but one will be seen at NYCC from October 5th-7th, which the cast are attending for the BBCAmerica panel. There will also be a Doctor Who panel with Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas in attendance with some exclusive footage for the year's Christmas special and Series 10. Speaking of the Christmas special, it's been confirmed that Matt Lucas will be appearing in it as Nardole and that it will be directed by Ed Bazelgette (The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived) and so far, that's all that's been confirmed.

Press Release:

Class airs Saturdays on BBC3 from October 22nd and will air on BBCAmerica from Spring 2017. Filming for Doctor Who's tenth series continues.

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 3x01: "We're Good People Now"

Written by Peter Nowalk
Directed by Bill D'Elia

Annalise (to the Keating 5): "We're good people now. Say it to yourself until you believe it.”

Continuing with the onslaught of catching up with new shows, the third season of ABC's popular crime series came back with an interesting bang, a shock (unknown) death, a break up and several interesting flashbacks and one of the better cases of the week.

The flashbacks first are somewhat scattered but over the course of the summer, you've got Annalise and Wes realising that Frank somewhat set them up with the Wallace Mahoney public shooting, but it led to a scene where the two of them exorcised that particular demon and came to peace with one another, which was nice.

The other flashbacks though, ranged from Annalise giving Laurel an ultimatum to cut Frank out of their lives (which Laurel seemed to actually do), promising Connor not to give Oliver a job (which she later went back on), refusing to loan the newly poor Asher any money and helping Michaela out of a DUI as well.

In the present day though, there were bigger problems to be had. First of all, Oliver did ask for a job from Annalise, managed to bag one and then dumped Connor when the latter didn't blow up over Oliver sabotaging his attempts to get to Stanford last season. I have to admit, I found the break up scene with Connor and Oliver somewhat odd but right now, seperating them might be a good thing. I do however hope that it's not a pernament one though.

Of course the big buzz about this episode was the body found in the Keating house at the end. Who's come a cropper this time? Is it Frank? Nate? Oliver? Wes's new girlfriend? Someone else? Either way, it generated a pretty strong reaction from Annalise and this season is apparently promising that every episode until the mid-season finale will rule out a potential victim as well.

As for the main case of the week, it was one of the better ones we've had. We had an immigrant named Kareem taking the fall for his daughter's possession charge and despite some moments where it looked like Michaela and Wes were going to crack the case, things went pear shaped towards the end of things. It's still one of the better cases we've had though.

As for Frank, well he's certainly in no-one's good books these days. Even Annalise had an unsuccessful attempt to take him out, which also makes me wonder if he won't be the body found. Then again, I'm not sure how he can get back into Annalise's good books after the events of last season though.

- Mr Drake, the fellow law student in the class and Wes's second in command seems to be a non fan of the Keating 5, who not so shockingly are the lowest scoring members in Annalise's actual class.
- Nice to have Lauren Velez on the show as Soraya. I hope the show utilises her well before she leaves. I also don't think Frank is the one sending the 'killer' posters to Annalise.
- What Frank has lost in hair. Connor seems to have gained a little. Annalise seems to have a new look as well.
- Excluding flashbacks, we've jumped ahead four months since the events of Anna Mae.

One of the stronger opening episodes I've seen this week. We're Good People Now saw Annalise wanting to change a new leaf but things slipping back into murky territory once again. I'm curious as to whom the body will end (please not Oliver) being.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Review of Empire's 3x01: "Light Into Darkness"

Written by Malcolm Spellman And Joshua Allen
Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Lucious (to Bella): "Wait til we show them how dark hell can get."

And this one certainly started off darkly too. Last season we had the cliffhanger of Anika and Rhonda about to go over and one of them certainly did. Because there was no way this show was going to murder a pregnant woman, it was Rhonda who ended up taking the fatal dive and died within the first two minutes of the episode.

My thoughts - damn it! I really liked Rhonda and thought her and Andre were a great team and regardless of it being an 'accident', this makes Anika a killer in respects. Anika already caused Rhonda to miscarry and now she caused Rhonda's death and having Lucious cover it up as a suicide adds further insult to injury along with the lack of an onscreen funeral.

However we did get to see Rhonda haunting a distressed Andre towards the end of the episode and I'm hoping that Andre exacts some revenge on Anika within the first half of the season. Speaking of Anika, she gave birth to a girl named Bella and was forced to move in with Lucious in order to make the marriage convincing, which only further enraged Cookie and Hakeem in the process.

I'm not surprised that Lucious claimed Bella as his own and it's certainly leading to a battle of sorts with him and Hakeem but I'm also intrigued to see how dark Lucious can actually make hell because he's done quite a bit of that in the previous two seasons. As for his half-brother, Tariq, I'm not big on the character. Right now, he just seems a bit annoying and will inevitably fail to get Lucious though he did succeed in needling everyone else during that dinner scene.

As for Cookie, this wasn't her best episode. While she had some lovely moments with her sons and sisters, most of the episode was her just sniping at Lucious for marrying Anika. I do think she made a good decision by trying to put some distance between her and Lucious and not rising too much to Tariq's taunts though.

As for Jamal, I like that they're continuing on with his trauma but at the same time, he's willing to forgive and even help Freda while pulling Lucious apart (nothing different there but still great to see). I also seeing him working with Shyne's daughter, Nessa during this episode as well. Oh and when Hakeem wasn't trying it on with Tiana, he also seemed enamoured with Nessa as well.

- New regulars this season are Morocco Omari (Tariq), Xzibit (Shyne) and Bre-Z (Freda). Kaitlin Doubleday is now a special guest star.
- I think they're setting up a moment where Leah might actually pose a danger to Anika later in the season.
- There was a time jump in this episode, given that we skipped Rhonda's funeral and Jamal shaved his hair. We also got flashbacks to younger versions of Lucious, Cookie, Carol and Candace.
- Standout music in this episode included Jamal's Need Freedom with Nessa.

We've had stronger opening episodes but Light Into Darkness was a good way of getting things started. I'm sad to see Rhonda go but I'm hoping her death will spur Andre into action against Anika. As for the new regulars, so far I'm a little meh on them.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Review of American Horror Story: Roanoke: "Chapter 2"

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Michael Goi

Flora (to Lee/Mason, re Priscilla): "They're going to kill us all and save me for last."

Week two of the creepy house in North Carolina and things are not moving as fast I kind of hoped they would do. While there are still some nice jump moments and the talking heads/re-enactment stuff still holds up well, this really should've advanced things better than it had.

On the plus side, we did get a glimpse of Kathy Bates leading a tribe of colony folk with both Wes Bentley and Lady Gaga at her side. Shelby observed them placing a pig's head on some unfortunate bloke before burning him alive before legging it out of there when she startled Bates's savage character.

Of course, despite reporting this to the police, they proved once again to be ineffectual but at least Shelby wasn't the only one having strange encounters in this episode. Lee was getting to see entrails all over the house with blood when her daughter Flora wasn't talking about her not so imaginary friend Priscilla wanting to kill them all.

Needless to say, that certainly soured things between Lee and her ex-husband. Lee then taking Flora and the child going missing as part of the cliffhanger. Not bad stuff but the sort of thing you could see coming a mile off though.

On the plus side, at least we also got some more screen time for Denis O'Hare this week. We learned that his character is called Dr Elias Cunningham, who moved into the house to research a book on a group of murdering sisters/nurses named Bridget/Miranda (Matt encountered one of their crimes in a dream) and quickly moved into a smelly cellar when shit got too creepy for him.

If you were hoping that the show would at least try to come up with a reason for Shelby and Matt to be stuck in that house, then this episode offered one. It seemed that thanks to that dodgy realtor/banker, they can't leave the house without selling the thing. It's not the greatest reason but it does at least make some sense though.

- Still no opening credits. FX's secrecy with the marketing this season is starting to grate now. It's not maintaining the mystery in a good way.
- Evan Peters, Matt Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson still have to show up, not to mention we don't have names for Kathy Bates, Lady Gaga or Wes Bentley's characters.
- Why don't Shelby and Matt try taking photographs of their strange encounters?
- The nods to Murder House seem apparent every episode now, don't they?

Chapter 2 really could've benefited from pushing things a little forward. I do like the new format but unlike last week, I found my attention drifting at times. The characters need to be a bit smarter. Lee in particular this week was monumentally reckless with bringing Flora back to the house.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Review of Gotham's 3x01: "Better To Reign In Hell"

Written by John Stephens
Directed by Danny Cannon

Nygma (to Oswald): "Details can be distracting. Sometimes a simple solution is best, so no matter what she's planning, just remember, penguins eat fish."

Ah, yes, that piece of information that every viewer of this show deduced back in 2014 when the series debuted and we were glimpsing the dynamic between Oswald Cobblepot and Fish Mooney. Of course, it was nice of Edward to reiterate the point during his brief encounter with his pal whilst still being stuck in Arkham.

Speaking of Oswald, my love for the character knows no bounds and this episode sure as hell maintained. Whether it was just him being an actual friend to Nygma (fanservice or not, their dynamic is fantastic), reminding Tabitha repeatedly that Butch's affections for her are keeping her alive, quibbling with Barbara over club ownership or even highlighting the GCPD's spectacular incompetence, he had a lot of moments worth getting into with this episode.

Of course, it was his obsession with figuring out Fish's next plan and trying to take her out that was his main priority in this episode. His machinations with that one put both Gordon and new reporter gal, Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung getting more screen time here than she has in Once Upon A Time) in each other's orbits but truthfully, Oswald might be the least of Fish's problems right now.

It seems that her newly acquired powers come with a price and the one she's paying is imminent death. I like that there's an obvious consequence to Hugo Strange's meddling with science for Fish and her band of mutants but at the same time, it might a bit of a cop out if she does eventually peg it though. We at least need another confrontation between her and Oswald before that probably happens too.

However with Fish being a problem for enough characters this episode, we had the pairing of Gordon and Valerie and it's an okay enough pairing. Valerie has a decent charm to her as a character but Gordon is as crap a bounty hunter as he was a cop with most of his plans going spectacularly awry yet again. His antics in this episode resulted in Peabody getting kidnapped by Fish's men before being aged to death by Marv for good measure. A fate that also kind of befell Ivy who unwisely incurred Fish's wrath towards the end of this episode but she's not gone from the game just yet.

As for the rest of the episode - Barbara and Tabitha with their own nightclub has potential. I still don't really care for them as a couple (from an LGBT perspective, other DC shows have done so much better) but I did like them mostly standing on their own ground with the mob squad trying to muscle in on them though.

Then there's Bruce. First of all, his doppelganger was skulking about the place, spying on him but not really aware of his existence (though he managed to freak out Ivy). I'm guessing he won't be too long for the series either if all the other experiments are on the way out too. However, the real Bruce managed to get himself kidnapped by the Court of Owls after his little outburst at Wayne Enterprises. Someone really needs to do something about the security at Wayne Manor right about now.

- Barnes is back as Captain and Lucius has joined the GCPD. Gordon initially tried to get back with Leslie but balked when he realised she had moved on with Mario Falcone.
- Valerie Vale is the aunt of Vicki Vale (who I assume we'll meet later in the season).
- Selina really does know how to flit from groups of characters to other groups of characters and do it so effortlessly. Babs and Tabs nightclub is called Sirens by the way.
- It's been six months since the events of Transference. This season's subtitle for now is Mad City.

A solid and engaging premiere episode. Better To Reign In Hell certainly felt more like a set up piece and while it arguably had too much going on in some parts, it was nonetheless as enjoyable and as bonkers as we've become accustomed to with this series.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Review of American Horror Story: Roanoke: "Chapter 1"

Written by Ryan Murphy And Brad Falchuk
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Shelby: "Humans respond to fear in two simple ways. Fight or flight. There's no shame in getting the hell out of the way."

With all the secrecy surrounding this season, I've decided to change things up. Instead of recaps, I'll do a more traditional review for the new season and after months of waiting, we finally know (for the most part) what exactly this new season is actually about and it's certainly a bit of a departure from seasons before.

Told in a Paranormal Activity documentary style, My Roanoke Nightmare focuses on an interracial couple named Shelby (Lily Rabe), a yoga teacher and Matt Miller (Andre Holland), a pharmaceutical rep who along with the latter's former cop sister, Lee (Adina Porter) recalls the events of the couple buying a farmhouse in North Carolina, in Roanoke and the crazy goings on that came with it.

Here's where it goes all documentary style. Rabe, Holland and Porter are recalling the events but it's actually being seen via Sarah Paulson (as Shelby), Cuba Gooding Jr (as Matt) and Angela Bassett (as Lee) within the events themselves as Shelby and Matt deal with some unhelpful locals and one too many crazy event throughout the hour long premiere episode.

For instance, Shelby herself witnesses a hailstorm of teeth, is nearly drowned in a hot tub by a ghostly Colony woman (Kathy Bates) whom she later hit with her car and even got locked in the basement with her sister in law to watch a video of a terrified man (Denis O'Hare) being hunted before stumbling into the woods and encountering some scary locals, which also included Wes Bentley as the episode came to a swift end. By comparison, husband Matt almost fared a little better.

There's a sense of this season trying to recapture the 'innocence' of sorts that it had when the show debuted in 2011. Shelby and Matt are similar enough to Ben and Vivian from the first season but somewhat a little more likeable and happier together as they deal with the loss of a baby, Matt being assaulted by a gang of thugs and moving from the city back to country. It also helps that both Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr have great chemistry with each other as well.

This opening episode certainly took a slower pace than seasons past and by not having too many cast members all at once, I think it maintained it's focus a little better. Needless to say, all the praise in the world needs to be heaped onto Sarah Paulson/Lily Rabe, Cuba Gooding Jr/Andre Holland and Angela Bassett/Adina Porter but even with the scantest amount of screen time, Kathy Bates was pretty unsettling as well. I can't wait to see where the rest of this season is going,

- We didn't get the title sequence as such for this episode but both Evan Peters and Cheyenne Jackson are regulars this season. Matt Bomer and Lady Gaga are recurring. Oh and Chaz Bono made a brief cameo in this one.
- Roanoke (the official title) was actually mentioned back in the first season and I'm curious to see if this season will references former years like Freak Show and Hotel did.
- Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr were also on The People V. OJ Simpson earlier this year. Paulson will be appearing in Feud next year as well.
- Now that the mystery is out of the way, I hope we get some proper cast pictures/trailers for this season.

An intriguing start to the new season. Chapter 1 certainly feels like the show starting from scratch all over again and it's documentary/real life events style format worked well enough for this opening episode, though whether it can be sustained I'm not sure. I do like that they scaled back on some of their more overt excesses as well for this episode too though I'm sure things will undoubtedly get crazier as we progress into the season.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Moffat vs Barrowman: Is Torchwood Being Blocked?

Well, the end of last week certainly gave us fans of Torchwood something to chew as John Barrowman gave people a clue as to why the series has not been on the air since Miracle Day aired back in 2011.

According to John Barrowman at a recent convention, it seems that "certain egos" have stopped the popular spin-off (currently revived in audio form, via Big Finish) from returning to BBC1. In fact, Barrowman's comments seemed to be aimed at current/imminently departing Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat playing some role in Torchwood not being brought back with even a suggestion of Barrowman also having a meal with Chris Chibnall about the show's possible television return. Needless to say, certain fans ran with this on social media and piled it on Steven Moffat with the latter forced to make a response.

Moffat's response being this ....

“To be very clear – I haven't blocked it; I wouldn't block it; I wouldn't even be ABLE to block it. I didn't even know a revival had been mooted till I read about it on the Internet. 
“As John perfectly well knows, it's not my show and I could no more prevent it happening that he could cancel Sherlock. I am bewildered, and a little cross, even to be included in this conversation.”
“For the record, I really liked the show (especially the third series) and would be very happy to see more – monsters and mayhem, why not?” 
“But the fact is, it has nothing to do with me. Please pass this on to the anxious and the angry – I've had enough hate mail now.”

My own thoughts on this debacle ....

I don’t blame Moffat and I feel bad that he had to state this. It should be obvious to anyone with a brain cell that he has no control or say over Torchwood, including John Barrowman himself. I get that people don’t like Moffat and his era of Doctor Who but the bile he gets from time to time crosses a line and this was another time it did that. I like Barrowman but the guy seriously needs to get a grip. If the BBC want to bring back Torchwood, they will but his constant pestering them and slagging them at conventions certainly isn’t going to do his cause any favours.

Right now, Torchwood isn't coming back and while it's divided some fans, Class is the only foreseeable spin off for now.

Press Release:

Doctor Who is currently filming it's Christmas special. Torchwood is currently in audio form, courtesy of Big Finish.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Every Inch The Queen

We're into September and we're back into the swing of many things both debuting and returning, so here's a look at some of the things I've watched lately.

Newzoids: I sort of missed this one last year, bar seeing a few of the sketches on YouTube but last week, I watched the first episode of Series 2 along with The X Factor. Well, it's an interesting and amusing enough modern version of Spitting Image and a somewhat more successful version of Headcases from a few years back. The targets are current (Will & Kate, Tom & Taylor, Trump, BBC rivals etc) and the jokes virtually write themselves but for a half hour programme, it's pretty diverting nonetheless.

Orange Is The New Black: I effectively blitzed through nine episodes the last time I talked about this show and can I just say how much I fucking loved this season? Easily the best we've had so far with some genuinely great flashbacks episodes (Lolly, Maritza, Poussey, Bailey, Suzanne), one hell of a comedown for Piper, the amusing antics of Judy King and Black Cindy and the more serious problems of overcrowding, growing racial tensions and the worst CO's we've ever seen in Litchfield along with the death of a beloved character and a prison riot with one hell of a cliffhanger. On a nicer note, it's also great to have Nicky and Sophia back into the mix as well.

Stranger Things: The most hyped show of 2016 and while it took me a little while, I did get around to finishing the series off. By now, everyone knows that a second season (along with all the titles) has been announced but the second half of the show's debut year upped the ante as the gang and Eleven worked with the adults to bring back Will. I did like that we got more details on the sheriff's family life and Joyce somewhat improved as a character along with Nancy's boyfriend, whom the show managed to humanise a bit more. It'll be interesting to see where things go in the second season though.

Victoria: In her first major role post Clara Oswald, Jenna Coleman has swapped the BBC for ITV. A TARDIS for a palace and being an immortalised school teacher to being a young queen at the beginning of her ruling. Three episodes in and ITV's latest regal smash is certainly trying it's best to fill the void left by Downton Abbey's ending and for the most part, it's a success. Coleman is excellent as the young Victoria and she's ably supported by a great cast, notably Rufus Sewell's Lord Melbourne. While there's certainly a sense of writer Daisy Goodwin playing fast and loose with historical factor and while the downstairs staff are a little hit and miss at times, this is certainly some excellent Sunday night viewing, even with Poldark proving to be some stark competition.

Young Hyacinth: For the last fortnight, the BBC have been on sitcom revival fever. Already we've had updated versions of Are You Being Served, Porridge, Goodnight Sweetheart but Young Hyacinth possibly stood out that little more for the fact that it was a prequel unlike the others. With Kerry Howard taking on the role of everyone's favourite snob, this opening episode certainly took a little getting used to but it was certainly fun and despite needing a few tweaks here and there, I wouldn't mind seeing this one actually become a series more than anything else.

- Tobias Menzies has signed up for a leading role in upcoming AMC anthology series, The Terror.
- Tyrant, Devious Maids and Mistresses have all been cancelled.
- Mariah Carey will be playing a character named Kitty in Empire's third season.
- FOX have commissioned a pilot for Greg Berlanti's Black Lightning series.
- Grey's Anatomy will tackle domestic violence in the new season.
- Kara Royster will be guesting in an episode of Supernatural.
- Richard Madden will star in Amazon's sci-fi pilot, Strange New Things.
- Meryl Streep and JJ Abrams will be working together on a series named The Nix.
- Zayn Malik and Dick Wolf will be producing a boyband drama named Boys for NBC.
- Narcos has been renewed for a third and fourth season respectively.