Category Archives: Tv series reviews

Homeland Season 3, American tv series (2013/2014)

Homeland is just one of those tv series that I have a kind of love/hate relationship with. There are episodes that are completely briljant, but there also episodes that are quite boring, and at which I at times struggle to stay awake. For those of you unfamiliair with the show, Homeland tells the story of the American marine Nicholas Brody who is rescued from an Al Qaeda prison after having been tortured for 8 years. Upon returning home, and being reunited with his family, he begins to behave more and more strangely. The question becomes if he may have been compromised, and the CIA operative Carrie Mathison is convinced he has been, and may be planning an attack on America. Well, at least that was the story in season 1, but from there the story progressed, and in my opinion became an even better show.

Season 3 picks up where season 2 ended. Brody is on the run and the suspect of one of the biggest attacks on American soil. The only one who is not convinced of his guilt is Carrie. But she has her own problems at the agency, as an upcoming shift of leadership, makes it more and more difficult for her to do her job. And with a new threat on the horizon, the currently acting director for the CIA, Saul Berenson, has a briljant plan. But will he be able to execute it, as he too has increasingly more difficulty to do his job, under the upcoming director. With lines being drawn, the security of America and peace and stability in the Middle East hangs in the balance…

What a season this has been. I have heard it said that there were a lot of people that did not really like this season. They felt it was slowpaced, and that not much of anything really happened. For me though, this was the best season to date. In part that was because of the briljant acting of the three leads: Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin. Already impressive in the previous seasons, they really outdid themselves in this season. Some of the scenes between them were so incredibly powerful, that at times I forgot I was watching a television series. Another thing that will definitely haunt me forever is one of the final scenes of the last episodes of this season. Now without giving away spoilers, I think for me this will go down as one of the most emotional scenes ever seen in a tv show. I felt like I had been punched in the gut after seeing this for the first time. This season has been a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. I truly wonder now though, where the story will go next, as season 3 felt like the closing of a chapter, or even could have served as a series finale. I will let you know soon enough, as season 4 is next on my “to watch ” list.

As for season 3, I give this a 9 out of 10 score.

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Penny Dreadful Season 1, American/Irish tv series (2014)

Dracula. Frankenstein. Dorian Gray. All characters from literature that everybody knows or has at least heard about. There have been numerous books, tv shows and movies about all of them. Every one of those has put a different twist on the original story. Some of those were good, some of them were downright awful. Penny Dreadful also has it’s own form of telling the classic story, but it also puts all three of those characters together in the same show.

Penny Dreadful follows sir Malcolm Murray, a British explorer, in the desperate search for his lost daughter Mina. He has help in the form of a beautiful, but very mysterious woman called Vanessa Ives. Now miss Ives has a very dark secret, which begins to manifest itself as the story unfolds. In travelling the streets of 19th century Victorian London, they eventually get help from dr. Frankenstein and the American gunslinger, Ethan Chandler. As the search for Mina continues it soon becomes apparent that there is a very dark and evil creature who is responsible for the disappearance of sir Malcolms daughter. However as everyone seems to have secrets of his or her own, it becomes increasingly more doubtful Mina will be rescued. And time is slowly running out……

One thing that is absolutely well worth mentioning about Penny Dreadful is the atmosphere and the eleborate setpieces. The way 19th century England has been recreated,  especially on a tv budget, is absolutely breath taking. This series is dark, very dark. It is not for everyone, that is for sure, as the horror and gore in this show is truly sinister. One other thing worthy of note is the acting, which is definitely of a very high class. Timothy Dalton, portraying sir Malcom and Josh Hartnett playing Ethan, both do a fantastic job. And Eva Green as the mysterious miss Ives certainly takes centre stage. The series itself is as I said very dark and at times very slow. It sometimes reminded me a bit of American Horror Story, which also had it’s shares of slow and weird episodes. After seeing eight episodes of it, and concluding this season, I don’t feel a particular rush to continue with season 2. I will eventually, if only for the amazing setting and the superb acting, but also to at least find out what happens next.

Whether or not you are going to like this series is a pretty hard question to answer. I definitely did not dislike it, but for now it certainly doesn’t come close to appearing in my list of alltime favorite tv series. Maybe that will change with the next season, who knows?

As for season 1, I give it a 7 out of 10 score.

 

Game Of Thrones Season 5, American tv series (2015)

At the moment there are two big juggernauts in television series, that everyone is talking about. One of those is the Walking Dead, the other one is Game of Thrones. Now even if you are not a fan of either of those shows, I think that nobody can deny the massive succes these two tv series are having. I myself am a Walking Dead fan first, and a Game of Thrones fan second. The problem I sometimes have with Game of Thrones that there are episodes of incredible brilliance, that are then alternated with episodes of incredible boredom. And nowhere is this more apparent in season 5 of this show.

In season 5 almost all of the main characters are scattered to the winds, and in different parts of the country. Tyrion is on the run after the crimes he committed in the previous season. The dragonqueen Daenerys is having troubles of her own in the country she recently liberated and in danger of losing her life. Cersei also finds that though she is the queen, forces are conspiring against her, and she will face a challenge such as she has never faced before. Arya Stark is also challenged, but in a very different sort of way. But the biggest threat is coming from the North where Jon Snow is going to have to face the fact that winter is coming, and with it maybe the end for everyone….

As I said Game of Thrones sometimes has some very dull episodes, but season 5 really has too much of those. For the first five to six episodes almost nothing really happens. Yes there is the occasional skirmish, and some interesting conversations, but not much of anything of interest occurs to be honest. Things are finally starting to pick up at episode 7, and the following episode, has got to be one of the best episodes ever made of Game of Thrones. With the last episode a lot of storylines are closed, but also end on some very big cliffhangers. Most noteworthy of these is ofcourse the shock ending of one of the most beloved characters. All in all though this has been the weakest season of Game of Thrones to date. The locations and production values are ofcourse as beautiful as ever, the acting is superb, and yes, as in previous seasons some events that happen are truly shocking. But the season just takes to long to get going, and because of this, did not hold my interest as much as previous seasons.

I give season 5 of Game of Thrones a 7 out of 10 score.

Stranger Things, American tv series (2016)

Ah the 80’s. The time where we had saturday morning cartoons, such as He-man and Transformers, cool rock music, and best of all some fantastic movies. Who doesn’t remember titles such as E.T., the Goonies, The Thing, Back to the Future, the list goes on and on. I sometimes wish I would be able to travel back in time, and live my life again back in those days. Ofcourse that is wishful thinking on my part, but the Netflix Original series Stranger Things, does the next best thing. It revisits those times and brings it back in such a fantastic way that I am completely in awe of this little gem of television.

In Stranger Things we start with four young friends who are enjoying a game of Dungeons and Dragons in a basement. At the end of the session everyone heads home towards their respective houses. However one of them, the young boy Will, never makes it back home, as becomes clear the next day. The three remaining friends soon set off in search of Will, despite the warnings of the local sheriff not to get involved. When searching in the woods, they all of a sudden meet a strange girl with a shaved head. Who is she, and what is she doing alone in the woods? It becomes clear that the girl is no ordinary girl, and the three friends stand on the verge of entering a nightmare from which they might never return. However they will not give up the search for Will, and are determined to find him no matter what the cost.

To tell more of the story, would be to deprive you of the fun and scares this fantastic series has to offer. Now I watch a lot of tv shows, but this has truly been one of the best shows I have ever seen. I am almost struggling to find the right words in order to describe how much I enjoyed this show. Let’s begin with the atmosphere this series brings. By having the series take place in the 80’s you are literally getting the same feel you had when watching all those fantastic movies in those days. The show is a fantastic blend of all the best things of those times together, with elements of Stephen King and John Carpenter. The acting in the show is superb. It is great to see Winona Ryder back on the screen in a great role, as the desperate mother of Will. The young children are also very good, especially Millie Bobby Brown, who plays the role of the mysterious girl. Finally the music of the show completes it, and sounds as though you are watching a John Carpenter movie.

Are there any bad things? Just one: the series runs for only eight episodes. I truly hope with all my heart this show is going to get a second season. Stranger Things is scary, funny, emotional, exciting and is one of the best rollercoaster rides of this year. Once you have seen the first episode you are hooked, and it will be nigh impossible to turn it off before you have seen the final episode. Anyone who want’s to feel like he or she is back in the 80’s, or who loves good quality television, watch this show.

I give Stranger Things a 10 out of 10 score.

Falling Skies Season 4, American/Canadian tv series (2014)

Falling Skies has sometimes been described as the Walking Dead, only instead of zombies there are aliens. I can understand the comparisons. Both shows feature an Earth where humanity is facing extinction, and society has fallen apart. However I do think that it is not entirely fair to just call it a Walking Dead clone. Falling Skies is also a show about family, and where young children have to fight in a war out of necessity. It has always been the human element that makes this series shine, and season 4 is no different in that respect.

In season 4 the Mason family and most of the main cast become seperated from each other after a devestating new Espheni attack. Tom Mason will have to rely on all his skills to figure out a way to reunite the 2nd Mass and take the fight back to the aliens. The person who is also going to be playing a big role in the war is his own daughter Lexi, but the question on everyone’s mind is: can she be trusted? With the 2nd Mass scattered to the four winds, the war rages on and the stakes have never been higher.

I have heard it said that this fourth season of the show is where Falling Skies is beginning to drag out the story line. I do have to say that in comparison to the three other seasons, this one certainly does feel a little weaker. Some of the episodes are just a little bit less exiting, and the action that was always prominently featured on this show, at times is not as spectacular. However to say that because of that this was a bad season, I have to disagree with that notion. There were still enough good episodes that made it worthwhile. Noah Wyle was especially good this season, and in his role as Tom Mason he had to make a few very tough choices, ones that not everyone might agree with.

The season finale was definitely one of the best episodes of Falling Skies to date, and because of that episode alone, I am glad I stuck around for the ride. Ofcourse it ends with a cliffhanger, and with only one more season to go I am truly wondering how all of the storylines are going to be wrapped up. All in all though I still enjoyed this season enough to be looking forward to the fifth and final season of Falling Skies.

I give the fourth season of Falling Skies an 8 out of 10 score.

Bitten Season 1, Canadian tv series (2014)

The Canadian born actress Laura Vandervoort, has achieved a bit of a cult status amongst sci-fi fans. She is perhaps best known for her role as Kara, Supermans niece in the fantastic tv show Smallville. After that she has played in numerous sci-fi and fantasy productions most notably the sadly cancelled V. Bitten is the first show where she is not playing a supporting role, but stars as one of the lead characters.

Laura plays the role of Elena Michaels, a woman who is at first glance a strongwilled, but normal person. Elena has a very dark secret however. She is the first woman who has survived a bite from a werewolf. Elena tries hard to live a normal live, together with her human boyfriend Philip. Eventually though her werewolf past catches up to her. The Pack from which she desperately has tried to stay away, is in dire need of her help. Someone is turning serial killers and other psychopaths into werewolfs, and the local autorities are beginning to investigate her surrogate family. Elena, who was the best tracker of the Pack, is asked to help find the people responsible. It is not long before Elena is drawn back into the Pack and has to face her former ex-boyfriend Clay, himself also a werewolf. Will Elena be able to keep the secrets of her past in balance with her new life? As the bodies start piling up, and events are beginning to hit closer to home, things are becoming increasingly more difficult…

When watching the first few episodes of this show, i did not really feel a connection with it. The characters lacked depth, the special effects were not very convincing, and the frequent nudity just felt like it was put in there to draw an audience. I am glad i stuck with it though, because as the show progresses it definitely becomes better. I loved the increasingly dark atmosphere, and especially the second half of the season, is definitely well worth your time. As the story becomes darker and more secrets of the past are revealed, the show begins to pick up the pace, and the first few episodes are quickly forgotten. The end of this season will definitely leave you hungry for more. This series could best be described as an adult version of Teenwolf, and if you like dark fantasy shows, with convincing performances, this one is for you.

I give the first season of Bitten a 7 out of 10 score.

Banshee Season 3, American tv series (2015)

Some things in life are just guilty pleasures. The American tv series Banshee is one of those. Yes, it contains a lot of sex and a lot of violence, but oh my, this is so incredibly good. For those of you that have never heard of the show let me tell you what this is all about. Banshee tells the story of criminal Lucas Hood, who has just been released from prison. Travelling to the small town of Banshee, he assumes the identity of a murdered sheriff. Lucas, with a band of colourful friends, continues his crime spree, right under the noses of the local police. However, eventually Lucas learns that some sins can’t be outrun, and his past catches up with him. Soon the town erupts  in violence…..

Now Banshee has always been a terrific show. It contains brutal violence, but because it is sometimes so incredibly over the top, it almost feels like you are watching a comic book. However season 3 takes things to an entirely different level. Following the events of season 2, Lucas Hood faces his most dangerous enemy yet. Right from the very first episode this season kicks off into high gear and doesn’t let go until the season finale. Every episode this season has been a thrill ride and it is hard to even name an event that stands out at all. However i am going to name one: and that is the fight in Episode 3 between Indian girl Nola Longshadow and the brutal enforcer Burton.

Now i have seen a lot of fights in a lot of different shows. But this one has to take first place in the rankings of alltime greatest fights ever made for television. Ofcourse i am not going to tell the outcome, but trust me when i say that this will leave you gasping for breath. As for the rest of the season, there are some truly shocking moments, and we also get to know a lot more about the past of some of the characters.

Performances in this season are absolutely top notch, and as always it is Job who is the one who provides the best one liners. To say that this is the best season of Banshee so far is putting it mildly. It outclasses the other already very impressive seasons by so many miles, it is almost as if the writers have been ignited with a high octane mixture of liquid nitrogen. Unfortunately i have only one more season to watch and then the series meets it’s end. I have no idea if season 4 will also be this impressive, it is almost hard to believe, but i am definitely looking forward to it all the same.

I give this season of Banshee a 10 out of 10 score.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, American tv series (2014/2015)

Marvel is on a roll. Whether you like superhero movies or not, you can’t deny the massive succes these movies are in the cinema. Every movie Marvel brings out these days is a blockbuster, and brings in massive amounts of money. Because of this Marvel has room to experiment and brings out movies about lesser known heroes, like for instance Ant-man or Guardians of the Galaxy.

Now because of their succes, Marvel is trying the same on the small screen. And those shows,  though ofcourse on a lower budget than their bigscreen counterparts, are slowly finding their fans as well. The 2nd Season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , was for me an even bigger enjoyment than the already fenomenal first season. The shows driving force is ofcourse Agent Coulson, or Son of Coul if you prefer. He has to be one of the most sympathetic characters ever created, and that has everything to do with the way he is played by briljant actor Clark Gregg. His team is this time joined by a whole bunch of new characters. All of them are great in their own way, but my favorites have to be Bobbi and Hunter. They just have an instant chemistry that immediately draws a smile to your face.

Now the story of season 2 pretty much picks up, right where season 1 left off. Skye is still looking for clues about where she came from, and ofcourse the fight against the evil organisation Hydra continues. Nearly every episode of this season is outstanding, and there are so many great moments that it is hard to pick a favorite one. If i have to pick a few, i would say the midseason cliffhanger is definitely one, but also the last two episodes of this season are absolutely fantastic. Just like in season 1 there are tie-ins to the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe, though this time they aren’t as big as in last season.

That really doesn’t matter though because this show doesn’t need those tie-ins. It is already a force to be reckoned with, and really doesn’t need any of that help. For those of you that have not yet discovered the magic of this fantastic piece of television: shame on you, and go watch season 1 as quick as you can 🙂 But if you have, than season 2 will leave you with a hunger for more. Luckily the show has been renewed for a fourth season, which will start later this year. And ofcourse there is season 3, on which i myself still have to start. Even if you’re not a Marvel superhero fan, you might want to give this show a try. Because at it’s heart this a show about characters and friendship, and that is what appeals to me so much in this show ( well that and of ofcourse the spectacular action 🙂 ) .

I give the 2nd season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a 9 out of 10 score.

D-day, Korean drama series (2015)

Korean drama series, or K-drama’s as they are more often called, are becoming more and more popular. One of the big advantages of these shows is the fact that they are series that usually run for just one season. As so many shows these days get cancelled on cliffhangers, you don’t run any risk of that happening with a K-drama.

The series i am about to review, D-Day, is one of those shows you just have to binge watch. Yes, it really is that good. In D-Day the capital city of Seoul gets hit by a violent earthquake. It then focuses on the brave men and women of the rescue-services and a hospital that are left behind to deal with the effects of the aftermath.

Let’s first talk about the special effects on this show. Usually effects on tv shows are mediocre at best, simply because of budget restraints. However that was definitely not noticeable on D-day, because when the earthquake strikes, it can stand up to the effects used in big Hollywood blockbuster movies. Even more striking are the effects that are used more subtly throughout the show, like small cracks on roads and buildings. All these help to make you believe that there really has been an earthquake that destroyed most of Seoul.

However it is not the effects that makes this show so great. No that right is reserved for the wonderfull cast of characters and the actors that portray them. Every single character, from the main characters to the lowest sub characters, has it’s role to play in the unfolding drama. The lead character is doctor Lee Hae-Sung, a doctor who is known to be reckless in his pursuit of saving human lives. The natural charisma of him (a credit to actor Young-wang Kim) makes you rooting for everything he does all throughout the show. He is soon joined in the series by the young female doctor Jung Ddol-mi, another character you will fall in love with as the series progresses. She provides most of the comic relief, a thing that is well needed in what would otherwise be a pretty bleak and depressing show. The list of characters is very big and to name them all is just not something i am going to be doing here. However my review would not be complete to not at least mention the hospital director Park Gun. I don’t think i have ever seen a person that i hated more in a tv series than this loathsome man. Trust me when i say that you will come to hate him as well. But oh wow, is he played well by actor Kyeong-yeong Lee.

The series will take you on a rollercoaster trip throughout a total of 20 episodes. It will make you laugh, cry and sit on the edge of your seat, and once you start it will be hard to stop watching it. Is the show perfect? No ofcourse not. Yes there are some moments in the show that feel forced, or in which there are some overacted scenes of emotions. I also read some reviews that did not like the ending of the series. That ofcourse is, as it is with most things, a matter of opinion. I for one loved the ending, which i am not going to be spoiling here.

Overall though i loved this show and give it a 9 out of 10 score.