In The Flesh

9 x 56 min.

More zombies? Yes, but possibly like you’ve never experienced them before. These zombies view brains as a delicacy, they are back from the dead, and they are medicated in such a way that they are not rabid any more and need to assimilate (back) into society. The bbbc-in-the-fleshBBC sometimes likes to spin things just a bit differently, and this time they do it well.

If the pain and discomfort of having undead murderers move back into your neighbourhood, add a bit more human horror with having the neighbourhood being a small, Northern England one, and have the main character be different in another way as well: main character Kieren is gay. It’s hard to discover which one is viewed as worse.

That makes In The Flesh – possibly more than other zombie stories – a show to look at your way of viewing the other in society, and the hypocrisy of Not In My Backyard and the like. This doesn’t turn it into a Save Humankind pamphlet, which might make things even a little bit more depressing. And yet, it’s a show to watch, a pain to suffer. That darn BBC again.

In The Flesh, BBC 2013

Luke Cage

13 episodes, 50 min.

Another Netflix Marvel cooperation? Of course, as long as people watch it.

marvel-luke-cage-posterWas Jessica Jones special because we finally got a female character, this time Marvel goes off the beaten path with a black main character. Heck, the absolute majority of the cast is black, which must have had some people worried about sell-ability. Is the blackness (the surroundings, the cast, the subjects mentioned) the problem of the show? No, it isn’t.

Then what is? The length, and the main actor. As stoic, almost-invisible stubborn hero, Mike Colter is doing fine, but he is surrounded by too much talent to not escape comparison. As usual, the less focus on the main guy, the better.
This season is thirteen episodes, while it would have been tighter and more exciting if it would have ended after episode eight. Now we get a load of new villains that need to provide a cliffhanger that’s just too weak. This has been a problem with the other Marvel Netlix shows as well.

The ladies steal and save the show. Alfre Woodard, Rosario Dawson, Simone Missick and those in smaller parts show that a female part can be more than mother, Maria and whore. For once, I can say that you can pick a Marvel project for the women.

Luke Cage, Marvel 2016

Daredevil

26 afleveringen, 50 min.

Zoals eerder al genoemd: Marvel stopt niet. De samenwerking met Netflix gaat ook lekker en na eindelijk eens een project met een vrouwelijke hoofdrol (AKA Jessica Jones) mag Matt Murdock aka Daredevil alweer voor een tweede seizoen opdagen.

Daredevil_Season_2_netflixEn net zoals in seizoen 1 is de show het vermakelijkst wanneer het titelkarakter niet te veel ruimte krijgt. Charlie Cox is charmant, maar Matt Murdock kan nogal piepen en zeuren, met daar bovenop een martelaarscomplex. Gelukkig zijn er nieuwe toevoegingen Frank Castle en Elektra en doen van de oudgedienden vooral Foggy en Claire hun best. De schrijvers hebben deze keer zelfs aan de invulling van (love interest) Karen gedacht.

Maar toch: het blijft comic book super hero materiaal. Je mist er niks aan, je kunt er best door vermaakt worden. Het is een Netflix Original, dus als het goed is kan iedereen erbij.

Daredevil (Season 2), Marvel 2016

Jim Henson: the biography

Jim Henson slowly folded himself into a couch inside Reeves Teletape Studio, sliding down, as he often did, until he was nearly horizontal, his shaggy head against the back cushions and his long legs stretched out in front of him.

This isn’t the last mention of Jim Henson’s hair or length.

One of my reading resolutions was more non-fiction, and biographies are a large part of that genre (in my head). Jim Henson: the biography was recommended to me, put on the To Read List and hey, I like the Muppets, I grew up with Sesame Street, why not.

Because it’s still an one man’s story (I should look for a woman’s (auto)biography next). And for over five hundred pages, that’s a lot. Even with someone who did so much, lived such an adventurous and bizarre life. Combine that with sometimes too woolly prose and a lot of repetition and foreshadowing and suddenly you’re going “yeah sure” about a lot of things.

So don’t read this in one go. Maybe per one or two chapters because there is a lot to learn about the history of (children’s) television, puppets and how much of a game changer Henson and his company was.

Jim Henson: the biography, Brian Jay Jones, Ballantine Books 2013

Luther

57 min. 16 afleveringen

Luther is Idris Elba, maar om het weg te zetten als niet meer dan een stervehikel zou een belediging voor de show en een gemis voor de kijker zijn.Heeft de eerder genoemde Paul Rudd misschien alle charme, Idris Elba is een magneet in wat hij ook doet, hoe lelijk of aggressief ook.

Luther_TV_Series_BBCWant, zoals vele hoofdpersonen-van-politieseries voor hem, detective John Luther is geen lieverdje. geen gezellig type, op trouwe collega Ripley na geen mensenman. Dat komt deels vast door de zaken die hij moet oplossen, gruwelijke situaties waardoor je bijna Londen niet meer in zou durven.

Wat Luther geen zaak-van-de-week serie maakt, zijn Elba en zijn collega’s. In welke plotlijn ook, of ze nu voor of tegen hem zijn, de serie is een bastion van acteerwerk.Voeg daar het karakter van zeer vreemde vogel Alice Morgan aan toe en de show is meer karakterstudie dan politie-en-verlos.

Ondanks de kleine hoeveelheid afleveringen raad ik ‘binge watching‘ toch af. Je wilt je nog wel af en toe ergens veilig voelen.

Luther, BBC 2010

Jane the Virgin

40 min/22 episodes

Know how some people like to use the argument “you just have to suspend disbelief” when recommending stuff? For Jane the Virgin I’m going to give it a twist: “please remember it’s based on and inspired by telenovelas”.

"Pilot"
The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Because seriously: virgin gets accidentally inseminated and pregnant. With the sperm of her boss, while staying abstinent until marriage with her boyfriend. For me, with my ideas about sex and sexuality, it took me a long time to get myself to try it (because “it’s so much fun”, “so sweet!”, “so cute!”). Why not get an abortion, sue the gynecologist and carry on with your well planned life?

Well, and with gold stars for the writers, all that is explained. And even though you may not agree with it, by then you’re sucked in by the sweet, cute fun.

That doesn’t mean that the telenovela (Latin American soap operas, P.S.) part sometimes is too loud and bright. But it’s so nicely balanced out by family love, friendship and adorably (awkward) silliness. It’s cotton candy, but with a heart.

Jane the Virgin, The CW 2014

Scrotal Recall

24 min. 6 episodes

Isn’t that a fun title to recommend to friends? Originally a Channel 4 show, but now to be found on (Canadian) Netflix as well, Scrotal Recall is a perfect little weekend show with plenty of ‘awwww’ moments.

scrotal-recall-poster-channel-4Well it doesn’t really start out very romantic. Main character discovers he has chlamydia and is told to inform previous sexual contacts. Good luck. At least he has a list of the women he slept with, and per episode we view the meeting, and the confrontation. But in the background there’s best friend Evie and ..well, things keep happening while both of them are off making plans.

It’s how rom-com’s should be, down to the awkward endings and weird side characters. Heck, there’s even more diversity than in most Hollywood rom-com’s combined. So brownie points for these stumbling fools, and a nice night of soft entertainment.

Scrotal Recall, Channel 4 2014