Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Newest Addictions

Over the summer, I developed new addictions that took over my movie, TV, and book preferences.  The first addiction is everything BBC & Masterpiece.  I am absolutely in love with the British and their dramas.  The second, somewhat related addiction is period dramas.  Anything taking place in the past, especially the Jane Austen era, is an absolute must.  And the final addiction is the murder mystery.  Just consider my TV schedule.  Castle, Unforgettable, Psych, and Grimm are all murder mystery shows.  Of course when the addictions overlapped - such as a BBC murder mystery - that was the absolute best.

BBC (non-period drama/murder mystery)
  • Primeval Season 4 -- After hearing that this dino-themed sci-fi series was going to be continued after its original cancellation, I was sadly disappointed when the fourth season finally arrived.  While it wasn't terrible, it didn't live up to the first few seasons.  Part of the problem is that they killed off most of the original cast, and the new characters just don't fill those voids.  The other part of the problem was that the show seemed to become overly sensational, like they were compensating for the lack of character development and chemistry with over-the-top, end-of-the-world scenarios.  Will I still watch season 5 if they ever decide to air it?  Yes.  (B-)
  • The Last Enemy -- This miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch showed just how scary an Orwellian, "Big Brother is watching" government could be.  Mathematician Stephen Ezard returns home to England from China to find his homeland has changed radically since recent terrorist attacks.  Cameras on every corner, ID cards containing your entire life, and computer chips embedded in your skin that can track your every move.  It's a very thrilling story that really makes you think.  Unfortunately, the British seem to hate happy endings, so don't watch this movie and expect to feel good afterwards.  But I'd still recommend this miniseries (best seen as a companion to 1984 by Orwell and A Brave New World by Huxley) simply as a means of opening people's eyes to a possible future.  (A)
Period Dramas (non-BBC/murder mystery)
  • Jane Eyre (2011) -- I have seen many versions of Charlotte Bronte's book since it's one of my favorite romances ever.  This most recent movie version, starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, is a poorly done remake.  While the filmography might be called artsy, the story itself was sadly undeveloped and contained huge holes.  Plus, the eeriness that's felt throughout the book is missing completely from this movie.  Another complaint I have is that Fassbender's Rochester is too calm and gentle.  Edward Rochester is supposed to brusque, brooding, and somewhat violent.  But I could have forgiven all of that had it not been for the ending.  Bronte wrote one of the best endings ever; it's sweet, romantic, and funny.  But this movie version destroyed it, and for that I cannot forgive them.  (D)
  • The Duchess --  So depressing!  Kiera Knightley and Ralph Fiennes star in this period drama about a loveless, arranged marriage.  The Duke marries a young woman of good family in order to have an heir, but he doesn't love her and continues to sleep with every other female.  Including her best friend.  The Duchess falls in love with a young politician, becomes pregnant with his child, and has her child forcibly taken away from her.  She then goes home to live with her husband, his mistress, and all of their children as one big family.  After watching this movie, even though I'm tired of them, I had to watch a silly rom-com just so I could watch something happy.  (C)
  • Venetia by Georgette Heyer --  I love Georgette Heyer's regency romances, and this one was great.  Venetia is a young woman who is about to resign herself to spinsterhood, when her rakish neighbor, Lord Damerel, returns home and swoops her off her feet.  At first he only does it out of boredom, but he soon discovers that Venetia doesn't fall for his tricks and games, which intrigues him.  He soon realizes that he's fallen in love with her, but as his bad reputation will ruin hers, he refuses to let anything come of it.  But Venetia doesn't intend to let him go so easily.  This story made me smile so much because the bantering and flirting between Venetia and Lord Damerel reminded me so much of the relationship between Castle & Beckett.  This is a fun romance with surprising ending.  (A) 
  • Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer --  This book has now caused my three-way tie for best Heyer book to become a four-way tie.  Funny, exciting, romantic- an all-together amazing read.  Sylvester is an aloof duke looking to get married.  His godmother suggests her friend's daughter Phoebe, so he decides to meet her.  Phoebe is an interesting young woman who wants more than anything to publish a novel, which she ends up doing successfully.  Unfortunately, the villain in her story is based off Sylvester himself, and as the two end up growing closer after a series of adventures, her book ends up causing the relationship a great many more hurdles and adventures to overcome.  I loved this book so much, I could not put it down or stop laughing as I read it.  (A+)
Murder Mysteries (non-BBC/period drama)
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie -- I read this book because my sister was taking a detective literature class, and both she and my mom liked the book.  It was so amazing!  Absolutely intense, gripping, and mind-bending.  I had no idea who the murderer was; every theory I had was completely wrong.  Definitely one of the best murder mysteries out there.  (A+)
  • Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot series --  I started reading these mystery novels after finishing Christie's And Then There Were None.  I loved the television version of these novels, starring David Suchet, so I figured the books would probably be even better.  They were.  The best of all them was Murder on the Orient Express.  Christie is gifted when it comes to keeping her readers on their toes.  In every one her books, I was completely amazed by the ending.  (A to A+)
  • Heat Wave by Richard Castle -- This first book from the fictional TV author isn't bad, but it's definitely not one of the best mystery novels I've read.  Honestly, I didn't expect it to be amazing, since it is from a TV show..  It was like reading the script for an episode of Castle, except the mystery wasn't that quirky or exciting, and Castle & Beckett's counterparts end up together.  I'll probably stick to the TV show rather than read the rest of the Heat series.  (B)
  • Castle: Season 3 -- What can I say about this show that I haven't said already?  It's still just as amazing as ever, but I'm starting to agree with my sister about the Beckett's mom story arc.  Could they just solve it and move on already?  The more twisted it gets, the more I lose interest.  The rest of the season was great however, especially the steampunk episode.  And nothing could have prepared me for that season finale.  Now that the 3rd season's out on DVD, I can't wait to get it and rewatch all the Castle/Beckett awesomeness.  (A+)

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