Shelley (Jessica McLeod) flirting with Jack (Nicole Muñoz) the night before the Rising
For a while you think you might be watching the wrong show. Then you recognize Jack (Nicole Muñoz). Jack is noticeably less drunk (or perhaps just more inhibited) than Shona (Natalie Sharp), Shelley (Jessica McLeod), Kim (Zenia Marshall), and Brittney (Matreye Scarrwener), who make up the rest of The Eagles, Jack’s college archery team. They are in Seattle for a match the following day. They don’t know it yet, but they picked the right night to break training and have some fun. Continue reading →
“When you’re in a story meeting and you’re talking about something truly ridiculous, and you’re laughing your ass off, it doesn’t get any better than that. I get paid to come up with funny ideas and to laugh. In fact, you’re really encouraged to remain an eternal adolescent. I get to do sophisticated wordplay and make fart jokes.”
— Eriksen to Matthew Hays of Writers Guild of Canada
Here’s what is known about Shelley Eriksen. Her twitter is @badlady, her nickname is A.J., and she often works as an uncredited ‘script doctor’. Eriksen has a knack for focusing on what’s really important in the story and shoving the irrelevant crap aside. That focus results in memorable TV scenes. All four of her CONTINUUM episodes had different directors, and those four episodes are the best of the series so far. (Her most recent effort The Dying Minutes was the best episode of anything I saw on TV this year.) I encourage everyone to watch (or rewatch) another Eriksen effort, episode 5 of BOMB GIRLS. And she did participate in the writing of the abbreviated fourth and final season of CONTINUUM, which will air this spring.
“I played with Barbies for way, way too long,” Eriksen told Matthew Hays, “I went a couple of years past the date that most girls put them in the closet. I blame Barbie! I just loved telling stories, and that was a way to do it.”
#9 – LORDE
Lorde with her boyfriend James Lowe
“I’ll let you in on something big
I am not a white teeth teen
I tried to join but never did
The way they are, the way they seem is something else, it’s in the blood
Their molars blinking like the lights”
— Lorde (from White Teeth Teen)
I never watch the Grammys, but this year there was all this fuss about Lorde and I had never heard her or seen her. The fuss, as it turns out, was justified. Lorde (full name Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor), who recently turned 18, has released one truly exceptional album (PURE HEROINE). She’s an unpretentious, extremely talented singer with plenty to say, and that made her performance delightfully out of place at the Grammys. Speaking to Sinead Garvan of the BBC Lorde had this to say about her next album: “I’m working on stuff quite tentatively, it’s definitely still at the beginning and yeah, it’s totally different. I wrote the last album about that world which was the suburb where I grew up and populated by my friends and people who were really familiar to me. Now I’m in a different place every day and I’m with new people every day and it’s a different vibe.”
#8 – BYE BYE BLONDIE
Emmanuelle Beart in BYE BYE BLONDIE
“Bye Bye Blondie is adapted from the novel of the same name, which has been described as ‘punk-rock romantic comedy; by its author. It tells the story of a youthful love between two women, Gloria and Frances, that was resurrected twenty years after having been abruptly interrupted. One of the lovers, played by Béatrice Dalle, lives in Nancy, without work or family while the second, played by Emmanuelle Béart, lives in Paris where she is a television news presenter. And while, in the book, Frances is a man named Eric, Despentes deliberately wanted to film a love story between lesbians.
— Bruno Boutsen
This film was released in 2012 but I didn’t watch it until 2014 because i have been waiting for a version with English subtitles. Finally, I gave up and settled for Dutch subtitles (my French is not good enough to follow the dialogue, but by combining my limited French with my small understanding of Dutch, I was able to follow things. Alfred Hitchcock once said, “If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.” This is a good movie.
BYE BYE BLONDIE is a beautifully romantic and very funny film, with a great cast. (Now I want to see everything with Emmanuelle Beart in it.) It is Virginie Despentes second feature and I am puzzled why it has not been dubbed into English and released in North America.
She is in 7 films due to be released next year including THE DELICATE ART OF PUPPETRY, a comedy about a misfit puppeteer and his two abusive puppets (trailer on right), and PEELERS, a horror flick set in a Vancouver strip club. She will act in and produce THE TIGER PROJECT, a feature length action thriller set to film on location in Bangladesh.
Komogata also does restaurant reviews for the Vancouver lifestyle TV show 24/604, and can be seen (briefly) in the film AMBROSIA now streaming on Netflix (US).
#6 – DARKNET
Lina Roessler in DARKNET
The show describes itself this way: “DARKNET offers snippets of people’s lives being interrupted by vivid instances of unexpected violence or shocking strangeness. Shot in a visceral style that cranks up the creep factor, viewers become part of the Darknet, a mysterious closed network of disturbing imagery and stories that exist just under the surface of our ordered and safe society.”
There needs to be a Season Two of this show. It also needs its own genre. It is not merely horror, it is “horror that makes you think”. There have been six episodes so far, each with a different director and each with a different writer. In an interview with Katie Uhlmann, Show creators Vincenzo Natali and Steven Hoban described why DARKNET is different from other TV:
The creators of DARKNET – Vincenzo Natali and Steve Hoban
“It’s a show that’s very organic to the internet. It’s going to be on Superchannel [in Canada] but it is also accessible online and viewable in a different way online…and in someways I think it’s more organic to the digital experience because each half hour show is segmented into several little stories and when you log onto the DARKNET site, you will be able to experience the stories in any particular order that you want…not necessarily the way that they’re going to be seen on television…in addition, the Darknet site is also part of the narrative, so the characters in the show are interacting with the same site that the viewers will interact with.”
Ellen Fox watches intently as Penn and Teller demonstrate a magic trick
WIZARD WARS will be returning to SyFy 29 January at 10pm. It’s a nice little show that explains a bit about magic and is more entertaining than one might at first think, mainly thanks to host Ellen Fox. You may remember Fox from when she did film reviews for ROTTEN TOMATOES. Penn and Teller are WIZARD WARS judges, but have overall a fairly small role in the show.
The show is a competition challenging two teams of magicians each week to create entertaining illusions using randomly specified objects. The winning team in the first round then take on an expert “home team”: Magicians Gregory Wilson. Shimshi, and Justin Flom, along with mentalist Angela Funovits. SyFy (US) will run a WIZARD WARS marathon (all 6 episodes) on Christmas Eve.
Ellen Fox will host New Years Eve festivities at this year’s Prohibition NYE 31 December at LA’s Union Station. Tickets can be had at prohibitionnye.com.
#4 – DRINKS AT THE DAL
If you wish you had friends to discuss LOST GIRL with, this podcast will make you happy. DRINKS AT THE DAL published its first episode on 3 June 2013. Last week was episode #80. Stephanie, Kris, and Annie conduct intelligent and hilarious analyses of LOST GIRL every week. They live-stream a rambling unrestricted discussion that can go on for hours, and that takes a bit of patience to sit through, but once edited, the show is very entertaining and informative, and usually about an hour long. All 80 episodes are great, but if you’re time-challenged, the best are:
Episode 20 – Tamsin: The Maltese Valkyrie
episode 30 – Interview with Emily Andras
Episode 56 – The Colours of Lost Girl Season 4
Episode 71 – Interview with Rick Howland.
The people who run DRINKS AT THE DAL do just as fine a job on their Orphan Black podcast, TATIANA IS EVERYONE.
#3 – STRANGE EMPIRE
The two sheriffs – Cara Gee and Tahmoh Penikett – on STRANGE EMPIRE
“It’s not Sir John A. (Macdonald)’s history — it’s the history of the people who were actually in that part of the west — the Métis and natives and Chinese and black people and women, of course. If it goes beyond the first season, it takes place over the 15 years between Louis Riel leaving Red River and going to Montana and going back.”
— Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik
Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik, STRANGE EMPIRE’s creator
In 1869 Captain Slotter and his wife Isabelle are trying to operate a coal mine in Alberta near the Montana border. Slotter has enough men to mine the coal, but needs hookers to keep them happy. His solution is to find a group of people travelling through, ambush and kill the men (blaming the attack on Indians) and coerce the now-widowed females into prostitution. Like most of Slotter’s plans, this one doesn’t work out well for him, and he ends up with a female sheriff and a female doctor and a bunch of disgruntled women, only a few of whom have joined his whorehouse.
In an interview with Melissa Hank of Postmedia News, creator Laurie Finstad-Knizhnik said STRAMGE EMPIRE is an attempt to correct the Canadian misconception “…that we’re heirs of a European nation-state is misguided. We’re more like wild Australians. We’re very multicultural at root. Because the first people who came here, the Scots and French, they married into the native tribes.”
There are five women at the center of STRANGE EMPIRE. Kat Loving (Cara Gee), Rebecca Blithely (Melissa Farman), Fiona Briggs (Ali Liebert), Isabelle Slotter (Tattiawna Jones), and Mrs. Briggs (Fiona’s mother, played by Anne Marie DeLuise). Historical accuracy seems to be the rule, although Dr. Rebecca seems quite surprised and intrigued by the effects of electricity on muscles. One wonders how she somehow avoided reading about the experiments of Galvani some 80 years previous. She seems otherwise quite well read.
#2 – CHRISTINE HORNE
Christine Horne in the 2013 short film WE WANTED MORE. (Skyler Wexler, now Kira on ORPHAN BLACK was also in the cast.)
Christine Horne had two really great roles this year. First she was The Keeper, leader of the Una Mens. The Una Mens were the best villains ever on LOST GIRL, and, once we learned that Trick knew The Keeper’s pre-unamens name, it was impossible not to hope that Trick would somehow restore her to being Arabella. Alas, that was not to be, but Horne did have the best death scene anywhere in the series.
Then she was Suzanne, the intensely screwed-up daughter of Alice in the wonderful film TRU LOVE. The film’s story is sufficient unto itself, but a sequel would not be entirely a bad thing. We know what happens to Tru and Alice, but Suzanne’s future is so far undetermined. There are peripheral characters like the Pussy Whisperer who could be given larger roles in a second film. I really want to know what happens next in Suzanne’s life. (TRU LOVE will have a theatrical release in Toronto at the Carleton Cinema, 20 Carlton St – 23-29 January at 2pm and 7pm. Advance tickets are now on sale.)
We can look forward to seeing Horne as Jennifer in the Afganistan war film HYENA ROAD, which is due out in 2015. Paul Gross, who wrote and directed the film, was Darryl Van Horne in the short-lived but excellent 2009 TV series EASTWICK. Unfortunately, no description of Horne’s HYENA ROAD character seems to be available.
#1 – SKATING POLLY
Peyton and Kelli (Skating Polly) in front of Club Dada in Dallas
Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse have been Skating Polly since 2009 and they call their music Ugly Pop. They are from Oklahoma City, which is not a place normally associated with anything other than country music (there is nothing even remotely country about Skating Polly). It was Soko‘s endorsement that (fairly recently) brought them to my attention, and their latest album, Fuzz Steillacoom, is really good. There is no ‘best track’. The album is solid all the way through, and I am at a loss to find something with which to compare it. If I had to pick a favourite song from this, it would be Van Gogh, but that might change tomorrow. Here’s the beginning of that song:
“Don’t sketch a house from the trace in our head
Grow it from the ground and live there instead
Take everything we own and move it to our brain
Pretend for days we’re Magdalene and Jefferson May.”
(Chorus) “I don’t know a thing about love before Van Gogh
I don’t know a thing about love before stereo.”
Peyton told Dennis Speilman of Uncovering Oklahoma how the latest album got its name, and at the same time gave us some insight about Skating Polly’s creative process: “We recorded our album at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia and on the drive up there we were always thinking of possible titles for the album. One morning during breakfast the news was on and a guy named Fuzz Hogan was speaking and Kelli was like “Fuzz Hogan…that would be a cool album title”, but we didn’t want to give him that much credit so we started pairing the word “fuzz” with everything we saw. Once we actually got into Olympia on the first morning we were recording we saw Sleater-Kinney Road on the way to the studio and we learned that Sleater-Kinney named their band after that road where they had a practice studio. Anyway, we thought that was extremely cool and the house we were staying at was on Steilacoom Road, and we really loved how Steilacoom sounded paired with fuzz.”
Rebecca (Melissa Farman) and Finn (Joanne Boland) have their first rendezvous
Episode Six, in which Kat wonders if she fights for justice or is just a cold-blooded killer, and Captain Slotter appoints a particulatly ruthless henchman as Sheriff, airs tonight (17 November) on CBC at 9pm. No new episode of STRANGE EMPIRE aired last Monday, however, and I found that surprisingly disappointing. With the Slotter saga on hold for a week, I had time to contemplate westerns in general.
Fiona (Ali Liebert) offers comfort to Rebecca’s husband (Michael Adamthwaite)
The most successful American TV westerns, RAWHIDE and BONANZA, had great theme songs that outlived the shows. The opening of GUNSMOKE (the longest running of all) had a completely unmemorable theme, but the opening showed Marshall Dillon gunning down a (presumably) bad guy and that was the hook. There was little attempt by any of these shows to realistically depict anything.
Times change, and the last major American attempt at a TV western, DEADWOOD, took a shot at realism. Or at least the show created that impression. Their trademark was extensive use of the f-word, and it was so effective that I remember nothing else about the show. Someone at the West Virginia Surf Report took the trouble to count, and found that, in the show’s three seasons and 36 episodes, the f-word was used 2,980 times (a rate of 1.56 utterances per minute of air time).
There is virtually no cussing in STRANGE EMPIRE, and the intro is a lovely Orphan-Black-style aninmation featuring a gun transforming into rose petals. The music is pleasant, but not really hummable, and there are no words to it. So what is the hook? Historical authenticity? Well-drawn characters?
Cara Gee as Kat Loving, cattle rancher turned gunfighter
The writers indulged themselves a bit when naming characters. Slotter is another way of spelling slaughter, which is what John Slotter (Aaron Poole) does. (His victims are people, not cattle. There are no cattle to speak of in this show.) There is a gunfighter named Kat Loving (Cara Gee). She’s a mostly non-lethal, philosophical gunfighter who is always saving people and may or may not love cats, but her outfit always reminds me of Yul Brynner. Then there is Rebecca Blithely (Melissa Farman), who does things, well, blithely. Don’t get me wrong. Doctor Rebecca is a fascinating character and the best reason for watching STRANGE EMPIRE. Her name is quite appropriate, though.
Ali Liebert was why I originally tuned in, and one hopes her role as Fiona Briggs will expand (it has been quite small up till now). Both Liebert and Ann Marie Deluise (who plays Fiona’s mother) are listed by IMDB as being in only nine of the thirteen episodes of Season One.
Fiona, with her mother and Kat
SERIES HIGHLIGHTS THUS FAR:
— Rebecca declaring to Kat “I am no believer”. This outburst of skepticism occurs after she is struck across the face by her husband, apparently because of her impious curiosity.
— Kat’s mushroom-fueled spirit quest. A lovely dream sequence that gave us a small insight into the mind of Kat, as she learns to accept the death of Jeremiah.
— Rebecca’s developing relationship with Finn Morgan (Joanne Boland), whom she apparently does not yet realize is a woman.