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Breaking even

13 Aug
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“Breaking Bad” is back and it fills us, the faithful “baddies,” with exuberant joy. The wait was way too long, especially considering it was cut off mid-season. Sadly, it also means the show will be over soon. However, it`s pleasant to think it`s going to end while still in its top form, rather than keep getting extended until it grows so tiring and boring that you would hardly be tempted to watch the finale – as was the case for me with “House MD.
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And yet, as we all rush to our screens to get the latest delivery from Walter White, one can`t help wondering, why all this love, this popularity, this cult status? Of course it is a good story to begin with, it is well scripted and well-acted, but then many shows are, without producing the same effect. In fact I remember a number of people saying they dropped the show after a number of episodes as it was “too slow.” And yes, it was slow to start and it`s not always fast paced even now. Moreover, it had no famous actors in it and the main star was neither young nor attractive (the show made him into an icon he is now). In essence “Breaking Bad” is a story of one man – one man with no great designs and big ambitions, at least not at first. Just a man, who finds himself in a situation and deals with it the only way he can. And the first thing he learns is that to survive he can`t be a “good man.” Being good is not the winning combination – at least not in the real world we live in today.
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Surely I wouldn’t be the first one (more like the thousandth one) to say this but the truly epic TV heroes of today are not the “good people.” Walter White, Tony Soprano, Dexter Morgan and even Dr House and Don Draper are not good people. At least not in the sense that society sees it. Not in the sense that the system insists “good people” should be. But we love them and follow them because nowadays a lot of us understand that playing by the rules is not necessarily the right thing. Playing by the rules doesn`t even mean you won`t get in trouble – because trouble may come from the most unexpected places. We are a generation of non-believers, because there are less and less things everyday to lay our faith in. Governments spying on us, banks and taxmen stealing from us and all kinds of other greater powers playing us for fools day after day.
That is why the new superheroes are the common people who go against the flow, following their individuals needs and dreams. System doesn`t work for them, so they f**ck with it. They tell you that if the shit gets tough, you have to grow a pair and deal with it, because if you don`t deal with the problem, it will deal with you. So, all we can do is make the best with what we have and who we are, and that`s exactly what Walter White, the great anti-hero of our time, has been doing all this time. And if we put aside the whole drug and crime part, we know that in essence, he got it right.
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Strange attractions of “Hemlock Grove”

24 Jul

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I`m a sucker for a good TV drama – I enjoy comedies too, especially British, but an engaging, thrilling drama is something I need to have in my life. Once I`m done with one (or at least done till next season), I look for another. One of my more significant discoveries of late was “House of Cards” from Netflix – it was quite a delight, even though I agree that it did have its weaker moments and Spacey`s young reporter/lover was damn annoying (more a whore than a reporter), yet Spacey himself was still pure awesome. Since its first release was such a pleasant surprise, I couldn’t wait to check out Netflix`s next baby – “Hemlock Grove.”

Before I got to see it, however, reviews were pouring in, suggesting it`s much closer to the “True Blood” (which I did enjoy for a few seasons, until the writing turned total garbage) and “Twilight” territory than mature thrillers like “House of Cards.” And indeed it was.

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There sure was a twilighty feel to it – two young guys, one suggested to be werewolf, another – subtly hinted on to suffer from some form of vampirism, caught up in a freindship/love triangle with a girl – an angelic looking blonde, pregnant with a mysterious baby. Sounds like a classic recipe for a modern young adult fiction, doesn`t it? And speaking of “True Blood” the vampiric blond guy in “Hemlock Grove” is played by Bill Skarsgard – brother of Alexander Skarsgard a.k.a. True Blood`s most charismatic vampire, Eric Northman. Seems like to make a successful a successful supernatural show, you need at least one  Skarsgard – and they`ve got one here.

Overall, “Hemlock Grove” has many weak points.  First of all it`s strangely unbalanced, constantly swaying between a pretty good mysterious drama and a teenage horror flick. The blonde girl (Penelope Mitchell) is way too sweet and doesn’t do much proper acting apart from looking and talking real sexy. The transformation scene from a human into a wolf is truly revolting; the “good” doctor Godfrey (Dougray Scott) is too much of a weak loser; and for the most part the show runs quite slow, interrupted here and there by a sudden, totally unexpected bloodbath scenes.

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And yet, despite all the obvious cliches, and partly poor writing, “Hemlock Grove” is strangely alluring. Perhaps it has to do with Roman Godfrey (the aforementioned Bill Skarsgard), whose character`s vampiric nature is not truly revealed until later and who feels hardcore and intense despite the model good looks. Perhaps it`s his mom, the Queen Bitch Olivia (Famke Janssen), with her unrelenting arrogance, apparently inhuman strength and impeccably white outfits, that appear to emphasize her blood lust. Perhaps its her mysterious daughter – a deformed Frankenstein monster-like creature with a heart of gold or a a mad doctor, growing something unspeakable in his laboratory. In fact, it`s possible that I especially enjoy the show for not giving away answers too soon – things are revealed suddenly, yet the build up to it is gradual – while some turns are predictable, others remain to be seen.

One thing is clear – I will stay tuned for season number 2, and pray that it won`t be hit by shitty writing curse as much as “True Blood was.”

And one more thing I love about it is the soundtrack. A really good song playing as the episode ends and credits start rolling somehow makes up for all the shortcomings and leaves you wanting more.