Orphan Black – First Impressions

orphan_black_2_poster_2After catching up with Penny Dreadful, The Big Bang Theory, and Daredevil, I’ve been in the search of a new TV series to watch. I asked for recommendations on Twitter, and the show with most mentions is Orphan Black.

The posters of this series are all pretty bland – showing the lead actress Tatiana Maslany in various versions. The posters weren’t very appealing to me, so I never gave it a try without the push of my Twitter friends.

The plot, as set up in the first three episodes, stands as follows: Sarah sees a woman who looks just like her jump in front of her train. Since Sarah is in dire need of money, she impersonates the woman to get into her savings account – but then she gets caught up deeper and deeper into the dead woman’s life, and the mysterious circumstances of their relatedness.

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Daredevil – First Impressions

Last Saturday, nothing was on television. I had heard many great things about the new Daredevil TV show, so we gave it a shot. After watching the first four episodes, I can admit that I’m hooked.

The premise is fairly simple. Matthew Murdock is a blind lawyer by day, and superhero by night. Set in New York neighbourhood Hell’s Kitchen, he and his friends become increasingly tied up with the city’s underbelly.

First off, the show looks absolutely fantastic. The cinematography is amazing, and I feel like I could just take some stills from the series and put them on my wall. Comparable to other Netflix-produced show Hemlock Grove, the backdrop is gloomy and often filmed with a greenish filter.

What I appreciate most about the series is how the narration is handled. Marvel movies tend to be rather cliched (sorry) and a bit tame. They tend to follow a safe pattern, and make every point in the story as accessible and clear as possible. In this TV series, the viewer isn’t coddled. We’re given hints, bits and pieces, but it’s up to us to piece it all together.

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Hemlock Grove: Season One

So while I would love to make this a coherent post about the positives and negatives of this TV series, my thoughts on Hemlock Grove aren’t nearly that cohesive. Instead I shall try to give an impression of what watching this series is like.

Hemlock Grove is a Netflix original series, basically meaning that Netflix made it and you won’t see it on your TV. One of the pros of it being made by Netflix is that seasons are posted in their entirety. Huzzah for binge watching!

I watched the first five episodes with a friend, and our first reaction was: what the hell is this even about? Though the premise is quite clear – girls get murdered in the town of Hemlock Grove, by some beast that might or might not be supernatural – the execution is incredibly strange. The entire mood of the series is dark, but not a lot happens. The characters are nowhere near the glossy pretty-perfect standard Hollywood stars. The teens smoke and drink. One of the main characters also is very much into drugs (much snorting of white powder is done) while he also has a weird craving to play with blood (usually his own). There is a lot of sex, though not that much nudity. When the series progresses there is also a big dollop of gore. All in all, Hemlock Grove isn’t pretty.

When the plot starts to unfold, things get really crazy. The series finale was one of the most nail-biting ones I have ever seen, especially because the series really doesn’t mind killing off some favourites in the progress. The last ten minutes of the season left me sitting open-mouthed, muttering “what? what? what the fuck?

My only real gripe with this season is that it ends on such a frigging cabinet of cliff-hangers. Although the main mystery does get solved (the girl-killer), the things the main characters undergo in the last episode have such a sense of foreboding that almost cannot be ignored. Lucky for us, the second season is available and watchable immediately.

Although Hemlock Grove won’t have a universal appeal, I loved it in all its quirkiness. I love how there was a great balance between teen and middle-aged characters, the acting was amazing, the story original. The tension arcs were incredibly well done, especially in the last half of the season. I often have problems concentrating longer than 20 minutes on a series, breaking episodes up so I don’t get bored and let my mind wander. I didn’t have any of those issues with Hemlock Grove, easily watching an hour-long episode. And that’s probably the highest honour I can give a television series.