Category: Reviews

Outlander Season 201, Ep. 202 (Not in Scotland Anymore)

Titanic Blood And Steel 2012I burned my popcorn in the microwave last night. Well, not literally. Only to say that I’m not scattering popcorn kernels after last night’s episode. I’m going to keep my kernels private, which is more than I can say for the body parts Starz loves to flaunt.

Last night’s episode started off graphically with hot lovemaking between Claire and Jamie. With the young Scot dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s no wonder the lad is having nightmares. Well, you will be privy to that horror as the face of Claire morphs into the face of Jack Randall underneath Jamie, moaning with pleasure. Jamie loses it, grabs a knife, and repeatedly stabs Jack in the chest until he’s killed the bastard. At first, you fear he’s done in Claire during a moment of madness, but Jamie jolts awake dripping in sweat. This is your gory welcome to Episode 202 – you will be drenched in blood.

The things I avoided in the last half of season one, are apparently going to be shoved in my face by Starz regardless of my distaste. I would really like to get through this series, but if my complaining gets on the nerves of the die-hard fans, I am surely going to be hanged, disemboweled, and quartered.

After the shocking start of the episode, we get to the crux of the matter – they are not in Scotland anymore. I will give Starz credit for one thing – they have done a fantastic job with costumes and scenery. They have spared no expense to give its fans a time-travel trip into 18th century Paris. Jamie and Claire are living the life of luxury, wearing beautiful clothes, and making acquaintances so they can get an inroad into the royal court.

However, along with the greatness above, comes the vulgarity (love that word) of the French in the eyes of its visitors. As one scene unfolds in a brothel, while Jamie meets the Prince, you will be entertained by a few shocking scenes of prostitutes with decorative imitation penises and flashy nipples that give Jamie and Murtagh a shock.

I suppose you could call the lighthearted scenes of Claire’s new upper-class friend getting her legs and honey pot waxed slightly entertaining. You’ll later find out that Claire has tried the hairless trend herself and crawled into bed with Jamie. Poor Jamie, however, still sees the face of his enemy underneath and cannot perform.

The remainder of the show deals with Claire and Jamie attempting to infiltrate the court and rub shoulders with the individuals who can help their cause. Episode 202, not as moving as 201 with Claire’s return, pushes the story along. It jumps from nightmarish scenes, lighthearted bantering and hair removal, to dull, watching the king attempting to have a bowel movement, and an unexpected revelation at the end.  Jamie suggests eating porridge in the morning to the king as a means of fiber, since Scots don’t have that problem.  If anything, I can attest that one bowl of oatmeal does the job for me.

As I’ve stated before, no, I haven’t read the entire series in book form. I’m a virgin to the story, so I see this series televised from a different viewpoint. Unfortunately, Starz is apparently going to push those scenes I’ve attempted to avoid into my face nevertheless. Hence, my popcorn burned last night, and I’m keeping the few kernels that escaped to myself.

Oh, and once again, by 11 o’clock Friday night, the episode was posted for watching. At least I’m getting the value of my $8.99 a month Starz subscription. Thanks Amazon.  Here’s hoping Starz stops the flashbacks of terror and moves on with the show.

Chasing Shadows (Acorn TV 2014)

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Filling in the void while waiting for additional episodes to arrive for my favorite shows comes Chasing Shadows.  It’s a short-lived drama of four parts focusing on the missing persons unit.  It’s advertised as a “thrilling” show, but frankly I thought it a tedious show — mainly because of the main character who has a tendency to get on your nerves.

Reece Shearsmith plays DS Sean Stone, who has a real problem in life.  He has no idea how to interact with the human race.  He’s disconnected from his surroundings, rude, and insensitive.  Most of his life he is totally oblivious to everything going on around him.  It’s a wonder he can drive or walk down a street for that matter.  Of course, he’s the victim of a psychological disorder akin to autism, who is allowed to continue working because he’s good at what he does.  But is he?  Some of his conclusions end up wrong, so he can’t be right about all his deductions of “who done it.”

Alex Kingston is wasted in the role as Stone’s partner.  She spends most of the time irritated at Stone, who really isn’t her partner in any sense of the word.  He’s brusque, confusing, difficult to understand, and makes no sense most of the time. When she’s not trying to find him or chasing after him, she tries to do her job sensibly only to find it hindered by her coworker.

The four-part series focus on missing persons, who have all been murdered by a serial killer.  The last episode is left hanging when DS Stone’s housekeeper is the next to disappear, but it appears there will be no more shows to find out what happened to her.  This four-series short has not return, and I’m not surprised.

What doesn’t make the show work can boil down to one thing – the main character.  If you could find a sense of likeability about the guy, you might look past his inability to interact.  However, it’s because he is in another world of his own that the audience can never connect with him. He should be likeable to the extent that he gains your empathy.  Only then can you understand his disability and tolerate his odd behavior.

I hate giving out two popcorn kernels.  Usually when a show doesn’t sit well with me, I’ve either got heartburn, a headache, or I’m tired.  I’m long past the PMS stage, so I can’t blame that physical ailment or menopause for that matter.

Nevertheless, Chasing Shadows has ended up on my easy-to-forget list.  Time to search for something new.

Secrets of Great British Castles (Netflix 2015)

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Dan Jones presents another great historical documentary meant for those with an insatiable hunger for anything British.  Let’s face it – I hated history.  But since I started my own ancestral obsession, I can’t get enough of the Romans, Vikings, Normans, and Saxons leaving their mark upon the land I wish I could live upon.

In the past, I’ve watched some great documentaries deserving of a bowl of popcorn, soda, and hours sitting on my green recliner.  They fill that hunger to learn about England, making it interesting.  I have no idea why we didn’t have men like Dan Jones teaching 10th-grade history in high school.  Perhaps, I would have actually enjoyed memorizing all those dates and places.

Currently streaming is Secrets of Great British Castles on Netflix. You will feast on an insider look at these famous stone edifices:

  • Dover Castle (England)
  • Tower of London (England)
  • Warwick Castle (England)
  • Caernarfon Castle (Wales)
  • Stirling Castle (Scotland)
  • Carrickfergus Castle (Northern Ireland)

Dan Jones is a great narrator of history, making each visit fascinating.  He roams the nearby landscape, climbs the circular stairs to the tower, crawls into the bowels of dungeons, and visits the chapels where some of the names of history were slashed with swords and brutally murdered.

However, it’s not just a boring recitation of documentary information, it’s also acted by individuals, dressed in period costumes as the kings, queens, and famous figures of the day who built, lived, and conquered the castles.  Inside the stone walls, you learn about the great architecture and impenetrable fortresses, but also the interesting lives of the early rulers of England.

What makes this series great is its narrator, Dan Jones.  He’s a historian and newspaper columnist, as well as a fine looking bloke who does all the hard climbing and squeezing through holes for his viewers.  Another good series is Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty: The Plantagenets, which is based off a book that he wrote and was later adapted to another documentary. You can find on Netflix (2014).  Well done and intriguing, you’ll be swept back actually enjoying history.

So tune in on Netflix for an interesting look at the castles we will probably never visit.  Though I have personally seen Dover Castle perched upon the hill from the beach, I’ve never visited. Thankfully, I have visited London Tower twice, but the others will probably never be within my reach.  I would love to see Warwick Castle one day.

PoppyDuring the series, you will see in the background on the tour of the Tower of London the poppies on display, which were inserted into the ground in 2014 to memorialize the 888,246 British and colonials who died in WWI. A few of my distant cousins were among those numbers. I am fortunate to have a poppy, which I purchased after they were removed from the landscape.

Documentaries like these remind us of the blood shed to form the United Kingdom, but the poppies on display at the Tower of London in 2014 remind us of the blood shed to keep a nation.

 

Janet King: The Enemy Within (Acorn TV 2014-Present)

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Airing from down under is Australian television show Janet King, now streaming on Acorn TV through my Amazon subscription. Marta Dusseldorp, when not filming A Place to Call Home, plays a prosecutor.  After returning from maternity leave, having twins with her partner, she is thrown back into work and struggles to adjust.

At one point Janet King is called a dyke in the show by another employee, which frankly shocked me. Eventually the character apologized. However, that was not the only ill-spoken reference to Janet’s lifestyle during the series. Be warned, you may see and hear a lot of prejudice aired and spoken on the subject of lesbianism.

Apparently the term for one in her position is a “crownie.”  No she’s not drinking a king of beer or eating a baked good.  Crownies are solicitors who get to wear those funny wigs in court like they do in the U.K.  Frankly, as a U.S. citizen, I really think the attorneys in the states should wear wigs just to humble them a bit.  Can you imagine Perry Mason going to court with a wig on his head?  Well, maybe not.

The series focuses on a controversial case involving a senior ranking police officer and the corruption that is ripe within the judicial system and police involving child pornography. It is filled with court scenes, office politics, political bullies, gay prejudice, criminals, and victims.  I should warn you, however, that the story about child pornography can be disturbing as well as child sexual abuse. It’s not for the faint of heart.  However, as Janet King digs deeper into the mire and uncovers the truth, it stirs up a bees’ nest of nastiness and danger.

I wouldn’t say that the show is as gripping as some others, on the other hand I wouldn’t put it on the shelf and bypass it either.  You may find it intriguing as the layers are peeled back and the culprits are revealed in this sad story of exploited children. Unfortunately, I do think they overstep the boundaries of the subject by showing pictures of children semi-dressed found on a porn website and also a voice clip of a man sexually abusing a child and the little girl’s reaction. If you’ve ever experienced the horror of being violated as a young girl, this could very well trigger a response. Be careful.

As usual, the down under accents are comforting to my American ears, mate.  It’s worth the watch if you’re into this type of office politics, legal mumbo jumbo, and court drama.

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