Sunday, July 07, 2013

TV Show Update

I'm just going to skip the usual intro and go straight into this.

The Americans is AWESOME. I only started watching it on local cable a couple of weeks ago, mainly because I had my hands full with a load of other more prominent shows, but it is positively addictive.

Bear in mind my personal taste, of course. My favourite series aren't always the biggest hits ( note: I don't watch ratings juggernauts like NCIS, Criminal Minds, etc ) and for good reason. Let's face it, the majority of TV viewers don't enjoy too big a challenge, which explains the appeal of fluffy programmes where characters are two-dimensional / flaky, and complex crimes are solved within the last 10 minutes of each episode.

The Americans isn't a crime drama. Rather, it's an espionage thriller chopped into 13 parts. Granted, it's relatively light compared to certain movie classics ( the Bourne series, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Debt, Patriot Games, to name a few ), but this is completely understandable given the medium. The best film comparison I can think of is Little Nikita ( 1988 ), which starred River Phoenix and Sidney Poitier, and also focused on a KGB sleeper couple based in the U.S.

In this TV update, the moles are played by Keri Russell ( Felicity, Mission: Impossible 3 ) and Matthew Rhys ( Brothers And Sisters ). I read or heard somewhere that creator Joseph Weisberg used to work for the CIA or NSA or something along those lines, so it's up to viewers to decide what's based on true events, and what might have been made up.

So why do I love The Americans so much? The pilot is one heck of an adrenaline rush! There's an ambush involving a KGB defector, flashbacks to the couple's training and meeting in Moscow, tension over the new neighbour ( an FBI agent in the counter-intelligence unit, dammit! ), marital issues ( wife tries to slit husband's throat when he kisses her, yikes! ), and a major twist when husband discovers a brutal link between defector and his traumatized wife.

Russell, whom I watched 15 years ago on J.J. Abrams' Felicity, has undergone a major transformation, especially after MI3. All that physical training paid off, because she's totally convincing as a fanatical, coldly efficient operative. Still reed thin with youthful looks, but when the fight scenes start, she's a force to be reckoned with!

Rhys, who played a gay lawyer on Brothers And Sisters, also does a 180 degree turn here. I relish moments like this which I describe as nothing short of magical. Within the first 5 minutes of episode 1, I sat up and asked, "Who the heck is this guy? I've seen him before... ( does a Google search ) WHAT?! The gay lawyer from B&S? I never knew he was capable of playing a KGB agent. Wow..." :)

Whether future episodes will match the premiere in the excitement quotient remains to be seen. So far, I'm still riveted 3 episodes in. But there's no denying the excellent cast, which is more than enough reason to tune in.

Rhys has also won the role of Darcy in the BBC series A Death At Pemberley, due for release later this year. Looking forward to that!

Next, we have The Killing season 3.

I've been obsessed with this show since the very beginning. Quite a number of people dislike the snail-paced plot development ( best evidence: 2 whole seasons devoted to ONE case ), but I think it's just too bad that they can't appreciate its many other attributes - i.e. great characters, mind-twisting investigative work, memorable quotes, and a stellar cast.

Mireille Enos, who plays lead detective, Sarah Linden, is fiercely compelling. Unlike most female protagonists on TV, she rarely demonstrates her true feelings, preferring to maintain a constant veneer of outward calm, even when her entire world falls apart. In fact, the first time I see her lose her cool is in season 3. Hearing her shout and bang the table for less than a minute made my jaw drop. It is such a powerful scene, whoa...

Joel Kinnaman is also back as Linden's partner, Stephen Holder. His reunion with Linden is a joy to behold ( watch the show for details ), and if you're an ardent fan like me, you'll understand what I mean. :)
I've always loved Holder, but Kinnaman really shines this season, and like Matthew Rhys, is shooting up my radar very quickly.
It also helps that Kinnaman gives fantastic interviews. Check out his stint on Jimmy Kimmel a year ago - it's guaranteed to make you laugh till you drop. :)

Oh yes, and I am fully aware of how gorgeous he is. Half American, half Swedish. Yum. :)

At last, the final season of Dexter has arrived! My all-time favourite crime series thus far, and the novels are also terrific.

I'm sad to see this great story conclude, but at least it's doing so on a high note. Dexter remains strong ratings-wise, with a substantial and loyal following, but even good things must come to an end.

I'm a little overwhelmed by nostalgia as I ponder the past 7 years. Dexter has introduced us to a plethora of colourful characters, many of whom demonstrate moral ambiguity of the highest calibre, and I love every single one of them.

Many aren't aware of my fascination with serial killers - real and fictional. This began in secondary school and reached a point where my junior college GP tutor expressed concern when almost every essay I submitted somehow managed to incorporate a murderer. Sorry about that. :P

But come on, serial killers are extremely interesting, and while they share a number of common features, they're also very unique. Author Jeff Lindsay created one of fiction's best characters in Dexter Morgan, whose gruesome childhood steered him towards homicide, only to have that bloodlust diverted towards those who deserved it. By his police officer adoptive father, no less.

Michael C. Hall has been nominated for Emmys for the role but hasn't won any to date. I consider it a major injustice, and fervently hope this will be rectified next year. Stop awarding Mad Men, for pete's sake. Give someone worthy a chance!

Two shows to look forward to...

Suits season 3 returns on 16 July. While I admit the later half of season 2 lost some steam, I hope the writers will return to form and reward fans with what made us fall in love with it in the first place - i.e. memorable legal tussles ( not crime-related ), zingy quotes, and more vicious power struggles.

My personal wish list:

1) A new love for Harvey Spector - one who can REALLY handle him, preferably with lots of epic courtroom battles. (Because his previous love interests hardly ever showed their faces at trial. Harvey, what the heck did you see in them? )

2) Something earth-shattering involving Louis Litt. I ADORE Louis, no question. He's brilliant yet juvenile, cunning yet remorseful, absolutely hateful at times but completely relatable because we picture ourselves doing exactly the same thing.
So what could be in store for Mr. Litt this season? I'm thinking either a major client with a whopper of a case, or a female legal opponent who whips him into a drooling frenzy ( preferably a drop-dead gorgeous blonde who returns his affections ). Forget about the Harvard professor and their S&M sessions. I want him to snag a lady everyone wants, but whose heart belongs only to him. In your face, Harvey! :)

And yes, expect the usual upheaval at the law firm, Mike Ross' perpetual stress over being outed as a fake, and his tumultuous romance with legal assistant, Rachel.

I can't wait. :D

Last but not least, the premiere date for Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, has been confirmed!

25 October on NBC, and from the looks of the YouTube trailers, it promises to be a Gothic, lavish, sensual affair.

I can't think of a better choice for the lead role. I've been a fan of Rhys Meyers' since his Henry VIII days on The Tudors, and aside from the fact that he's an exceptional, gorgeous actor, he also doesn't seem to have aged one bit since 2007 when the Tudors began. Hmmm, creepy... :)

Haven't found time to blog about my recent Tokyo trip yet. Maybe sometime soon. Stay tuned!

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