Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waxing Lyrical

It's been a while since I dedicated an entry just to TV shows. I find it very relaxing so please bear with me. :)

I am a big fan of Ghost Hunters. Probably for at least 5-6 years now. It used to air regularly but local cable stopped screening it for ages, before season 7 recently reappeared on the Thrill channel ( which specializes in horror and suspense ).

There're a lot of paranormal investigator-type programmes out there, in the U.S. and U.K. alone. I've seen quite a few of them, but GH always wins hands down. ( Ghost Adventures is also pretty good, but I have no idea what happened after season 1 and haven't tried Google searching. )

GH was founded by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, who are - get this - plumbers by trade. A moonlighting gig earned them a network contract, and the rest is history.

The format for every episode is standard, but the entire team keeps things interesting. They go to the coolest places - Sharon Tate's home ( scene of the grisly Manson family murders ), sprawling forts / asylums, even a resort in Maine which reminded me of the film, The Shining - the team members all have different, dynamic personalities ( my favourite, Dave Tango, and his pal, Steve Gonsalves, like to investigate together and crack corny jokes which have me in stitches ), and they sometimes pick up the eeriest paranormal phenomena ( disembodied voices, weird sounds, video footage of strange occurrences ).

I'm not saying everyone will enjoy this sort of thing, but I can't get enough of it. :D

Something else I'm addicted to: The Chicago Code.

Originally aired in the U.S. in 2011, after which it was cancelled after 13 episodes. It only materialized on local cable a few weeks ago, and I think it is EXCELLENT. ( Capital letters necessary, believe me. )

I'm a bit of a conoisseur when it comes to American legal procedurals. NYPD Blue, Law & Order ( original plus all the spin-offs ), CSI, Dexter and The Practice, to name a few.

The Chicago Code is right up there with my top 3. The cast is impeccable - Jennifer Beals, Jason Clarke, Matt Lauria - the stories fascinating ( though I don't think I'll have the balls to step into the city ever ), and the action sequences nail-bitingly awesome.

Is Chicago really this frightening? Who cares, when it makes TV viewing so exciting? :)

Beals is superb as the new female police Superintendent - smart, tough, and really cunning. The tactics she employs to solve cases, battle sex discrimination and fight corruption are ingenious. I've learned a few things which I use at work heh!

Lauria is adorable. All boyish good looks and earnest innocence, but blossoming quickly, with sharp instincts of his own.

Clarke, however, is the star. An Australian actor whom I've already seen in Zero Dark Thirty ( caught my eye as one of the Navy Seals who stormed Bin Laden's hideout ) and a few other not-so-prominent films ( e.g. Texas Killing Fields ), he has my undivided attention every time he appears in Code.

As Jarek Wysocki ( talk about a creative character name! ), the Superintendent's ex-partner and best friend in the force, Clarke is perfect for the smart-mouthed, swaggering role. He nails the American accent, keeps me on the edge of my seat whenever a suspect is interrogated, and handles a gun like the best of Hollywood's action stars.

Not conventionally handsome looks-wise, but an incredible actor who oozes massive sex appeal.

Little wonder he's recently won roles in The Great Gatsby and the upcoming Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. He's 43 but still single. Please stay that way. :)

And now, on to Hannibal. It took 20 years for Thomas Harris' Dr. Lecter to hit the small screen, and the result is quite spectacular.

While the first 4 episodes annoyed me slightly - solving serial murders within one episode, plot holes sprinkled here and there, a ludicrous story about abducted boys returning to kill their families - the show has improved significantly since episode 5.

If it had been any other series, I would've stopped watching after episode 3. But I'm a long-time fan of the Hannibal novels ( excluding Hannibal Rising, which is obscenely bad ), and love Hugh Dancy to bits, so this was a no-brainer.

Dancy's Will Graham differs greatly from Edward Norton's version in Red Dragon. Here, Graham is psychologically scarred - by the gory crimes he investigates and his unique ability to think like the killers he hunts. He's socially withdrawn, moody, unshaven and plagued by terrible nightmares. Which is where Lecter steps in, when Graham's boss requests his expertise in keeping poor Will from teetering off the edge.

Mads Mikkelsen is an inspired choice for this crucial role. Following in Anthony Hopkins' Oscar-winning footsteps is never an enviable task, but he does so very well indeed. It's refreshing to see Hannibal in a younger form, still enjoying his freedom and indulging in culinary activities. Part of the fun for the viewer is figuring out what's in those delectable French dishes he whips up. The first 5 episodes keep his true nature ambiguous, but episode 6 reveals him committing a murderous deed for the first time ( that we know of, that is ), and the cat-and-mouse game ramps up 10 notches.

I think Mikkelsen may soon outshine Hopkins as the quintessential Lecter. Perhaps a TV series format helps flesh out ( apologies for the pun ) the character better, making it easier for audiences to embrace him. But there's no denying Mikkelsen's charisma - he doesn't always do or say much, but every act and word, however simple, resonates. He speaks with a rather thick European accent, in an unnervingly calm manner, always assessing the other subject with great interest if s/he is worthy. I've grown very fond of Hannibal's therapy sessions with his unsuspecting patients. Look out for a simpering, bearded, chubby fellow ( I can't recall his name offhand ) whose clumsy attempts to befriend his psychiatrist is guaranteed to elicit pity and uneasiness. Will he be Hannibal's next main course? If he keeps irritating him, yes!

More importantly, we learn of Lecter's previous specialty before he switched to psychiatry - "ER surgeon". Oooh, thank you, scriptwriters! :D

There're plans for a 5-season run, so I'm rubbing my hands with glee. Keep up the good work. Don't take us for granted! :)

Dexter fans unite! Looking forward to season 8, which, as the picture aptly describes, signals the beginning of the end.

I'm sad to see one of my all-time favourite TV shows sing its swan song, but I'm sure it's going to be epic.

Check out the many YouTube promo clips, which are fantastic. Crime scene nastiness-wise, Hannibal is a worthy successor. Thank goodness - I need my gore fix every now and then. Oh wait, there's also True Blood. And Game Of Thrones. And The Following. And Bates Motel.

TV isn't suitable for kids anymore. I'm glad that phase of my life is long over. :D

No comments: