Tag: television

What’s on the Telly (2)

What’s on the Telly (2)

There I was a few weeks ago, having a lovely time plodding through Downton Abbey which needs no explaining as I don’t believe there is anyone left on the planet who hasn’t watched it.

Just as I was getting comfortable,  good friend Pippa sent a text: “have you seen American Horror Story yet?”

american horror story

Wow and wow. Forget Dexter, this is the bomb.

Firstly I just have to say this: I love Jessica Lange, remember her? She has just the right amount of loveliness, sexiness and creepiness to make the whole show worth the ride. Secondly, this is not my usual genre. While I have dabbled in zombies and vampires, ‘horror’ is not really my thing. American Horror Story is such a tightly wound little drama, however that it’s perfect for those Downton Abbeyists who just need a break from the Abbey for a bit of “captivating style and giddy gross outs” (Washington Post).

american horror story lange

Each season is self-contained so it doesn’t matter whether you see them in order or not. In the first season, a family of three, psychiatrist Ben, Vivien and Violet move into an old house, unaware it is haunted. They get to know their neighbour, Constance (Lange) when her special needs daughter Adelaide (Addie) visits unannounced regularly, sensing and seeing the evil that lies beneath the veil of the living. Constance is a failed actress who has a complicated relationship with her daughter and those who dwell in the house.

The relationships within the little family are also complicated with Ben (Dylan McDermott) trying to win back his wife’s trust following an affair, his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) trying to recover emotionally from a miscarriage and their sweet but sullen teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) suffering from depression and struggling with every aspect of her life and her parents complicated situation.

american horror story family


The second season, American Horror Story Asylum, takes place in a sixties mental asylum, Briarcliff, run by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) overseen by Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes).

American Horror Story Asylum


It seems to be almost a caricature of a 1960’s mental asylum, with people being locked up for being gay, people being locked up and treated for insanity for racial reasons, patients having no voice, being trapped for decades in the brutally run asylum. The story follows four inmates specifically with many others providing fill. One is Lana (Sarah Paulson) whose lesbian lover is tricked into committing her when she comes to Briarcliff to write an expose piece on the place.

american horror story sarah Paulson


Jessica Lange is again superb in this season. She grows increasingly suspicious and unhinged as dark supernatural (or are they?) forces conspire to make her as mad as some of her patients. As one reviewer wrote, it’s hard to look away, even though you feel you should.

jessica lange American Horror Story Joseph Fiennes


The third season is in the works and probably called American Horror Story Coven. Can’t wait. I had to put down the iPad and start reading good old books again after this one.

The first two seasons are available on iTunes. My vote is they are both worth it. Have you seen it yet? Let me know what you think if you do.

What’s on the telly?

What’s on the telly?

A passionate reader my whole life – ever since I was spellbound by Walter Duck and his romantic pursuit of Winifred at Blackberry Farm – I now find myself completely hooked on TV shows. It’s terrible. However for all my viewer’s remorse, I am still lurching down the viewing road with gay abandon and thought I would share some of the better shows MSF’s have been recommending. Yes it’s your fault, friends.

After this I will tell you what I think of the titles on the Booker short list 2012 (not really; I am just waiting for Lee Child to write another Jack Reacher book actually. I am hoping MSF Sarah will write some book reviews here though).

Back to the telly. I accidentally bought the entire first season of The Bridge (the Swedish/Danish one) on iTunes the other day. I only meant to get the pilot and inadvertently bought the lot. I immediately noticed it is all in Swedish and Danish with English subtitles and madly pressed buttons to try and cancel the download, to no avail.

Which is lucky because it turns out it is a ripping good series. The BridgeIt starts with a murdered woman (women in fact) being left right in the middle of the bridge that connects Sweden to Denmark. Police officers Saga (Sweden) and Martin (Denmark) team up to solve the case and turn out to be even more fascinating than the murder. Martin is a friendly man recovering from a vasectomy and Saga is completely emotionally detached, presumable due to Aspergers (it isn’t clear or explained as yet). They work really well together as characters and I cannot wait for Season Two. Absolutely worth the $30 I accidentally spent downloading it.

Coming up this June is the second season of The Newsroom. Just find it and watch it and if you already have then for goodness sakes make sure you see all six seasons of The West Wing. Aaron Sorkin wrote both and I love him for it. Apparently he was already working on The Newsroom when he did The Social Network back in ’09. It’s a fast-paced, fun, fascinating look inside a cable news network.303372-the-newsroom Jeff Daniels stars as the news anchor forced to re-think what he is about. Snappy screenplay, fun characters, makes you believe you have a brain because all the news they cover is set only one year in the past so you sort of remember the headlines. Ticks all the boxes.

If you’re interested in going a bit low brow without compromising quality, check out The Walking Dead. Yes that’s right: Zombies. ZOMBIES! I was a little very sceptical at first. After all I was just coming down from True Blood and worrying that my brain was actually dripping out of my head onto the floor. I even thought of picking up my kindle or doing craft with my six year old. But after sticking out a gruesome few days of severe viewers remorse and putting up with the un-dead eating people on the streets of Atlanta, I got into the storyline. I know I sound like a man justifying why he reads Hustler (“it’s for the articles!”), but it’s not bad if you can tolerate the nightmares later.The-Walking-Dead-06-castBasically some sort of virus causes the dead to regain minimal brain function (enough to walk with a limp and moan a lot but not recognise anyone they once knew, or talk) and walk the earth in search of food; food being any other living creature. A brave little band of survivors battles through each episode. It’s a compelling, fantastical look at a post-apocalyptic world.

ABC TV production Jack Irish is fantastic: It’s set in Melbourne and stars the wonderful Guy Pearce who is at his best in this – so far –  two part series. Each of the shows is 1hr40min so you’re getting your ten bucks worth on iTunes. IMBD describes it: “A former criminal lawyer is getting his life back together and now spends his days as a part-time investigator, debt collector, apprentice cabinet maker, punter and finding those who don’t want to be found – dead or alive.” jackirish_main_3-620x349The cinematography is excellent and the well known Aussie supporting cast are superb. I only watched this one night on a whim because I’d run out of episodes of Dexter and was delighted to stumble upon something so good. The two parts are Bad Debts followed by Black Tide. I hope there is more to come.

I am having a long-ish love affair with all things Scandinavian so will also recommend Wallander (thank you to My Sensible Canadian Friend). I spent nearly the whole afternoon in IKEA today as I just needed a hurgen vurgen fix. The salmon salad was very good value. You can find Wallander, another crime show (is there a pattern emerging?), starring  Kenneth Branagh on iTunes and sometimes on ABC iView or the BBC equivalent (worth the subscription price) if you’re watching on your iPad. Here is how much I liked it: I found his ring tone and adopted it as my own. Not kidding.


If I don’t wrap this up I won’t have time for another episode of The Bridge before sleep time so will get more recommends from MSFs and update the viewing guide soon. Also soon to come is a Clever Man contribution, this time involving sour dough bread.



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