Monday 30 June 2014

Flavours of the Month: June 2014...


South Park Season 16 - seasons 15 and 16 definitely had some dud episodes in their mix, but as I said last month, re-watching these shows on their own terms (rather than with the expectation that you have, perhaps unfairly, when new episodes air) does bring a new sparkle that you didn't see the first time around. One of my favourite episodes from season 16, and the series in general, is the Halloween episode in which Randy buys the local Blockbuster rental store and everything goes a bit 'Shining'.

Fargo - this limited-run 10 episode story from FX and MGM has been a real gold mine. I was unsure how it would work upon first hearing they'd taken the Coen brother's movie and turned it, somehow, into a television show, but after the first couple of episodes I was hooked and it just kept getting better. It wasn't really an adaptation at all, it was a spiritual successor. Unpredictable, truly stunning, filled with characters that you genuinely care about (or fear), and all written by Noah Hawley with such an easy flair and eye for gentle dark humour that he makes it seem effortless. Clearly a lot of thought and craft went into all aspects of making this show and it paid off in spades. A bright shining highlight for 2014 television drama.

Click "READ MORE" below for the other flavours of this month...

The Walking Dead 4x09-4x16 - a second spin through the back half of the fourth season, and it has to be said that "The Grove" (4x14) is definitely one of the best episodes of the show ever. Building on season-wide themes and plot lines, it is perfectly balanced and guts the viewer with precision storytelling that is shocking, but so good at the same time. Roll on season five!

Californication Season 7 - that's all for the tale of Hank Moody and friends. Arguably the show went on for a couple of seasons longer than it should have, but even in these last couple (where it's felt like we've been going in circles) there has been much to enjoy. Some things are tied up, other things are left hanging, and then there's the in-betweens, off into the sunset with more tales to tell, but for which we won't bear witness.


Marilyn Manson "No Reflection"

Alice Cooper "Nurse Rozetta"

Stelvio Cipriani & Goblin "Solamente Nero (The Bloodstained Shadow)" Soundtrack


"Sleb" novelisation - the finishing touches. I cut together a video trailer for the book to give potential readers a punchy introduction to the attitude, characters, and wider themes of the story - view it here. After a little bit of a break it was also time to make final draft tweaks and then publish it online via Amazon Kindle. The process was somewhat complex, and there's a bunch of new ropes to learn, but generally things went quite smoothly. "Sleb" is available to buy on Amazon Kindle (or for the free Kindle App for all varieties of smart phones, tablets, and computers) for a decidedly reasonable price - find out more information here. This might sound a bit hokey but, sincerely, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Holiday in Nice - a bunch of us went off to the South of France for a week's holiday. It was blisteringly hot, but we saw and did an awful lot of stuff. We also ventured to Monaco (expensive, glamorous, sweltering) and Cannes (not as flash as it's film festival reputation suggests). A great time was had by all - it was a fantastic trip.

Nintendo Wii - Mario Kart and Wii Sports Resort, basically. In the apartment we'd rented in Nice there was a Wii, and I'd never played on that console before, so we got a fair bit of that in during the quiet times.

"The Walking Dead: The Fall of The Governor Part One" by Robert Kirkman & Jay Bonansinga - this third tie-in novel generally works better than the second as it fits more comfortably into the established world of the comics, and some of Bonansinga's bad habits when it comes to the prose are diminished. That said, he's still overly-concerned with informing the reader about times, distances and directions that don't really translate well to the written word. There are some odd inconsistencies, too - most obvious of all when it comes to the description of Michonne. Here she's described more than once as both amazonian and skinny.

There are a handful of moments of over-explanation that tend to grind - we don't need to be told, time after time a zombie is shot, what colour the fluid is and what sound it makes when it hits the ground. Similarly with repeated reminders that one character's screams are coming from behind a gag, or that the lights in the garage underneath the racetrack are housed in cages. These details could be relayed just once, rather than several times, particularly within the same chapter. In the grand scheme of things these are small transgressions, but they could have easily been avoided. The book is brief, which does inject some extra energy, although - considering The Fall of The Governor was split into two parts late in the game - there appear to be certain chapters that have been drawn out to, perhaps, fulfil a word count, which is unfortunate. Over-the-piece though, it's a solid read that will definitely appeal to fans of the franchise.

"Silent Terror" by James Ellroy - the author's sixth book (from 1986, aka Killer On The Road) is a chilling first-person account of a serial killer's life and crimes. It wasn't until his seventh book that Ellroy's most famous achievement began (the "L.A. Quartet"), and his style is in its earlier stages here, but you can nevertheless feel the vibe of his later work coming into focus. There are bits in the middle section where the attention seems to drift and the foot comes off the accelerator, but Ellroy always gets back on track for a satisfying close. It's a quietly disturbing piece that feels authentic in it's depiction of how a man can slowly transform into a serial murderer.

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