Spectre

If you were at the cinema this weekend, you were probably there to see the Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as James Bond. Spectre hit screens this week, following 007 in the wake of M’s death in Skyfall. Following some unofficial orders leads Bond to confront his past, both in recent memory and from Bond’s personal history. By the film’s end however it is clear that the events have been building since Daniel Craig’s first appearance in Casino Royale.

Continuity has never been a big issue for the James Bond franchise. The biggest example being that six actors have portrayed the character on screen with barely any reference to how or why. Conversely, George Lazenby’s Bond gets married and her death isn’t avenged until Roger Moore throws Ernst Stavro Blofeld down an industrial chimney. Blofeld himself is played by multiple actors, all sharing distinctive traits and characteristics. But modern audiences want continuity. I’ve talked enough about the continuity in Marvel films. Is this James Bond attempting to cash in on the new found popularity of continuity in film?

Daniel Bond makes his fourth appearance in the role of James Bond in the Sam Mendes directed Spectre.

“Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to chase me around the world.”

Yes, is probably the answer, although not working at Eon films or having even a tedious connection to Sam Mendes, I can’t say for sure. But it seems clear that this is the intention given that Spectre draws on all of the films that came before. Not so much so that Spectre is unwatchable have you not seen the previous three but there are references within harkening back to Bond’s prior adventures. Furthermore, these four films seem to act as an origin for the entire franchise, setting up Bond’s love of Martinis, Aston Martins and one liners.

In terms of quality, Spectre is certainly enjoyable. Fans of the series will instantly recognise SPECTRE from previous novels and films. The criminal organisation has been around from the first Bond film but Spectre rewrites that to reveal this as Bond’s first encounter with the organisation and that the organisation and it’s shadowy leader have largely orchestrated the events of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. Fans who felt that the series was deviating too far from the staples and lore of the franchise will be pleased.

Audiences who just want a good adventure with fights, explosions and seduction should enjoy Spectre as well. In particular, Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx makes a strong appearance. He’s ruthless and tactical, whist shaking off the comedic overtones he delivered as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. But only complaint is that he doesn’t appear enough. In fact, that can be said of SPECTRE and Franz Oberhauser. The villains live up to their SPECTRE namesake, working largely in the background and only making targeted appearances.

Dave Bautista as the brutal and methodical assassin known only as Mr. Hinx in twenty-sixth entry into the James Bond series, Spectre.

Finger on throat means death.

Unfortunately, the lack of a villainous presence leads Bond to do a lot of searching and killing before he gets to where he needs to be. There’s a lot of leg work and the payoff isn’t really worth it. In Skyfall, Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva presents a constant threat and creates much more emotional impact with his targeting of M. The background politics and manipulation of SPECTRE make for a more subdued film, but one without impact. Even the personal reveals lack nuance. Spectre is still an enjoyable film but one without the same power in its twists and turns.

Spectre should appeal to fans and casual viewers alike, being much more like Skyfall than Craig’s initial appearances. Skyfall is the better film, if only for the opening title sequence. The inclusion of a literal octopus in Spectre’s opening is creepy, especially as it gropes nude silhouettes. But odd tentacle touching aside, you could do worse this Halloween than spending your time (and money) on Spectre.

Last

You guys are fortunate to get a preposterousprose blog this week. That’s not arrogance on my part but rather a comment on the fact that I’ve been without internet for the better part of this week. I am well aware that if no post presented itself, the world would keep turning unphased. But I do have my fans and my readers, that’s you guys, and you pleasent, diligent few will be pleased to know that at the final hour a technician arrived to sort out the fault in the line, allowing this post to make itself to you.

It had better be worth it then, right? Well, I wish I could say I’m reviewing something extremely entertaining this week, but actually I’m looking at BBC Two’s The Last Kingdom. You can surmise my thoughts on the program from that statement alone but I’d like to dig a little deeper into what is essentially a poor man’s Vikings. Because at the root that’s what this program is. It’s the BBC’s attempt to replicate the success of violent, sword and shield dramas such as Vikings and Game of Thrones but it sorely misses the mark.

Alexander Dreymon appears as Uhtred of Bebbanburg in BBC's historical drama, The Last Kingdom.

Needs more hairy breeches.

Matthew MacFadyen, formerly of BBC’s Ripper Street, appears as Lord Uhtred of the the Kingdom of Northumbria, tasked with fending off a wave of Danes, who have come to claim part of England as their own. Uhtred underestimates the Danes and gets a sword through his throat for his trouble. His son, eager to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of the Danes, sneaks onto the battlefield. Obviously he doesn’t get far, and is captured, being raised among the Vikings. Similarities are easy to make between the young boy Uhtred, and Athelstan, George Blagden’s kidnapped monk in Vikings. Both are taken from their homeland and raised in a foreign culture, constantly battling between the life they knew and the life that have adopted.

However, one key difference is that I never sympathised with Uhtred the way I did with Athelstan. That’s partly to do with perspective. The Last Kingdom is very much shown through the perspective of Uhtred, an English boy but I never got the sense that he was very English or Christian prior to his capture. And he seems to slot quite easily into the new life. Athelstan was very lucky to have Ragnar’s protection in Vikings, but Ragnar did have an ulterior motive and Athelstan still struggled accept some of the pagan customs.

Travis Femmel stars as the legendary Ragnar Lothbrok in History's drama based on the exploits of the mythical character in Vikings.

The Last Kingdom might sate your Norse longings until Vikings season 4.

I should say that I’m aware that The Last Kingdom is based on a series of books by Bernard Cornwell, first published in 2004, a little less than ten years before Vikings landed on our screens. But the series itself was only commissioned in 2014, a year after Vikings had already looted our hearts. The timing of the matter leaves it difficult to believe that this isn’t an attempt to cash in on the success of other historical fiction TV series. This isn’t going to quash the Conservative criticism that the BBC “behaves in an overly commercial way encroaching on TV genres and formats that could be served well by its commercial competitors”.

It is great that a fellow writer has seen such success but I do wish the end product was more exciting. The Last Kingdom is more historically accurate than Vikings and the building of the shield wall is a nice visual, but unfortunately the show lacks character depth. This first episode did nothing to get me invested in the show and I don’t know if I’m interested enough to continue watching next week. If you’ve seen Vikings and found yourself thinking ‘I want to see more of England’, then maybe this is for you. Otherwise, skip it.

Reality

X-Factor is really dragging the selection process out this year. Tomorrow’s episode will focus on all on Simon Cowell’s Six Chair Challenge with the Overs. Last week we at least got Cheryl Fernandez Versini and Nick Grimshaw in one slot but did Simon Cowell and Rita Ora really need their own two hour episodes? They have no problem cutting and editing the show any other time but now they want to be thorough? It’s also surprising that Rita Ora got the other two hour slot. Cheryl Fernandez Versini is the senior judge besides Simon, whose ego would obviously demand he get at least one slot. It could be argued that Rita got the slot because the girls category is so popular but if the popular categories got the the two hour episodes then it would have been Rita and Nick.

The reason for the drawn out process is partially to blame on the Rugby World Cup which is taking up the Saturday night prime time on ITV. Otherwise, there could be a X-Factor episode on both Saturday and Sunday and the whole selection would be done in half the time. That doesn’t really excuse Rita and Simon getting their own separate Sunday episodes. It would make much more logic to pack all the judges in pairs. What it does mean, however, is that X Factor will have to play catch up if they want to have the final on the 13th of December. The competition will air a third weekly episode on Thursdays before the live shows.

The boys  X-Factor 2015 Six Chair Challenge.

The one time ‘take a seat’ isn’t followed by ‘you’re fired’.

Can viewers handle a third episode of The X-Factor? The show isn’t as popular as it once was. After eleven years, audiences are understandably less enamoured by the singing competition. A third weekly episode is only likely to burn out fans even more so. And this third episode is likely to just be more of the same. In order to create time for the Rugby, the thursday episode will just be part one of a two part live show that will complete on Saturday. It still doesn’t solve the time constraint issue created by X-Factor not condensing other areas. In order to whittle down the contestants in time for the final, X-Factor will have do a double elimination a week. That’s taking into consideration that we still haven’t covered Judges houses.

Meanwhile, BBC’s reality shows are well on their way. Strictly Come Dancing’s fourth episode will air tonight following the elimination of Anthony Ogogo last week. Unlike most shows Strictly Come Dancing is fairly reliable. One can expect Kellie Bright, Helen George and Jay McGuiness to be around for a while. By the scores, Jay McGuiness is likely to be the favourite. The scores aren’t always a good indicator of the overall winner though. Many people remember when Abbey Clancy beat out Susanna Reid and Natalie Gumede in series eleven but Natalie actually had the higher end score of 119, compared to Abbey’s 116. That’s because there’s more that goes into the end decision than straight up numbers, most notably likability and progress. A celebrity who continually gets better and wins over viewers can ultimately fare better than a celebrity with a natural talent for dancing. With that in mind, someone like Peter Andre or Anita Rani could easily end up overtaking the others.

Georgia Foote gets dipped by Giovanni  Pernice on Strictly Come Dancing 2015.

And cue the romance rumours.

BBC’s other big return this week is The Apprentice and we’ve lost Nick Hewer. Claude Littner has replaced him, following around this year’s eighteen hopefuls. Those candidates are the same preposterous, boastful apparent business experts who claim to be able to manage and work together but constantly fail on even the simplest of tasks. I mean, why did Dan Callaghan even apply for the show? He admits that he can’t sell but selling is a main component of the competition. It’s as if these people have never watched the show.

Lord Sugar was quoted as saying that this years group of candidates would be more serious and older. Older than what though? Twelve of the eighteen are in their twenties, with eight of those twelve being twenty five or younger. Of course that means that ten of The Apprentice’s candidates would actually fall in the overs X-Factor category. Did I miss the mandate that 26 was now old? I’ll be 26 in three days and I certainly don’t feel old. Of course I also don’t think that people over the age of 45 are afraid of the unknown so perhaps reality television isn’t the best reflection of actual reality.

Aftermath

This is England is iconic. It is an emotive reflection of British culture, it’s roots and how troubles in the country led some people to adopt white nationalism. This is true of Thomas Turgoose’s Shaun, whose sadness over the death of his father leads him to join a gang of skinheads. The friendship and companionship help bolster his confidence, until Stephen Graham’s Combo arrives on the scene. The group splinters, some following Joe Gilgun’s Woody and leaving, others accept Combo’s revelation of British white power. Shaun accepts it too because it gives his life purpose and someone he can blame for his misfortunes. But Combo is revealed just be bitter and jealous, lashing out after Andrew Shim’s Milky talks about his family. The snippet of Shaun’s life is a keen insight into how England adopted radical practices in times of dissatisfaction. Few films capture England with such honesty and emotion.

So in 2009 when it was announced that Channel 4 planned to show a four part continuation of the film, fans were excited and suspicious. How many BAFTA award winning films go on to have television shows made? How many of those television shows are successful and truly capture the essence of the films they are recreating? In reality, this rarely happens because of the difficulty in creating stories as compelling as their movie counterparts and because actors generally move on to bigger and better things so managing time schedules and contracts can leave some cast members unable to return. Worse, if producers attempt to recast a character.

Joe Gilgun and Vicky McClure as their characters Woody and Lol finally tying the knot on the finale of This is England 90.

Happy Ever After…

But Shane Meadows pulled it off. This is England ‘86 premiered in 2010, dealing with Shaun’s reconciliation with the group, Woody’s fear of marriage and growing old and Lol’s family issues, aggravated by the reappearance of her abusive, rapist father. Amazingly, Meadows pulled it off not once but three times, returning with This is England ‘88 in 2011 and This is England ‘90 in 2015. And each series as built upon the previous one, showing the aftermath of trauma which is so rarely shown on television, accumulating in the most recent series, which is apparently to be the last.

Was it a fitting end to the franchise? After a deeply tense and unsettling third episode, the final episode was always going to struggle to match it with the resolution. Milky is finally able to confront Combo over the events of the film, having promised to avenge the attack despite Combo’s atonement and apology. Combo is seen being dragged away but his ultimate fate is unknown, reflecting how Milky’s fate was ambiguous at the end of the film. Unfortunately, we got use to the film delivering on its aftermath. We saw how the events of the film affected Shaun, Combo and Milky in This is England ‘86. We saw how Lol’s father and his death affected Lol and Trev in This is England ‘88. This is England ‘90 is the accumulation of the past 7 years (film wise), so for it to end like this, with a chapter of Milky’s future untold feels underwhelming. But perhaps that happened could have possibly met viewers expectations.

Stephen Graham's character Combo is dragged away, possibly to his death in the last episode of This is England 90.

…But not for everyone.

On the other hand, other parts of the finale feel rushed. Shaun meets a new girl and moves on, to Smell’s disdain. Woody and Lol finally get married. Kelly, who has spent This is England ‘90 having sex and taking drugs, immersing herself even further after hearing about her father’s true nature, but simply just has a change of heart in the finale. It’s not that I don’t want it to end, although I do love the franchise. I understand that it is better to stop here rather than drag it out, especially if Shane Meadows or the cast want to move on. But this felt like a series that still had some gas in the tank.

Still, no one can fault This is England. The writing and acting has been brilliant. There would always be some aftermath left to tell. In the end, as much as the series followed Shawn and Woody and the gang, this was Combo’s story. The film told of his coming, and this last episode depicts his leaving. The rest was just all the people he affected and helped along the way. And we got one award winning film, and an award winning series out of it. And that’s more than anyone ever expected.

Familiar

PreposterousProse followers will know that Peter Capaldi has never struck a chord with me. The Twelfth Doctor was meant to be a darker, morally ambiguous character but in execution if felt like Moffat waving the character in our faces shouting, ‘look, he’s mean, he’s bad, he can’t be trusted’. But it was entirely rhetoric and in the end, the Doctor always did the right thing, as viewers expected.

Blaming Capaldi is a tad unfair though. His acting is, on the whole, competent and entertaining. It’s Moffat’s writing that fails to persuade audiences that The Doctor is a dark and suspicious anti-hero. This is in part because of the insistence of using comedy, even when it diffuses tension but the biggest contributor obstacle is the Doctor’s pacifism. That’s why the existence of the ‘War Doctor’ is such a big deal. The Doctor has always been a fighter, who stands for his beliefs, but always without violence if he can avoid it. This is perfectly expressed in the third series two parter ‘Human Nature/Family of Blood’.

Julian Bleach appears as The Doctor's arch-nemesis, Davros, creator of the Daleks in the Doctor Who season 9 two part opening.

Apparently beauty is the price of immortality.

This season 9 opening two parter is rather less perfectly expressed. It just feels wrong for the Doctor to be threatening genocide over one companion, no matter how beloved that companion might be. Perhaps this is something The Doctor would struggle with if it did save millions, which he did in ‘The Day of the Doctor’, but for one person? That’s not something the Doctor would consider.

Some people will argue that fans just don’t want to believe the Doctor is capable of such a thing. But this isn’t creating depth, it’s defamation of character. It’s the equivalent of Batman, who has at times been a successful dark anti-hero, whipping out a gun and gunning down Gotham’s criminals to bring Jason Todd back to life. There is no incarnation of Batman to which that would be acceptable. And there’s no incarnation of The Doctor who could kill Davros in cold blood to save Clara.

The second part, ‘The Witch’s Familiar’ was more enjoyable. The scenes of Dravos and The Doctor acting their age and talking candidly of the end of their lives was heartwarming, even if we all seen that it was all a trick still. I’m against the twist of the protagonist going along with the villain’s plan unknowingly though. It makes the rest of the plot very superficial if the previous threat wasn’t actually as dire as we were lead to believe.

Jenna Coleman reprises her role as the Doctor's companion, Clara Oswald, in the second two parter of Doctor Who's Ninth Season.

There’s ghostly goings on with Clara in ‘Under the Lake’

On the plus side, Clara feels like the writers actually remember her past this time. Having her control a dalek is a nice hark back to her first appearance in ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ and is suitably terrifying for both the character and the audience. Missy too is acceptably manic as The Master, even if she does go a tad overboard in the second part. I could do without her going from 0 to 100 with the Scottish accent mid-scene as well. But all in all, philosophical questions and bad portrayals of The Doctor aside, this two parter was a much more enjoyable and tense affair than the season 8 opener. It gave the series time to establish itself and it worked. I’m interested to see what’s to come.

Meanwhile there has been discussion, as there is every year, that ratings are lower and should Doctor Who be cancelled. While I wouldn’t say no to a new show-runner, and that’s not a swipe at Moffatt, I just think a fresh mind behind the steering wheel would invigorate the series, I do not believe Doctor Who needs to be cancelled out right. Reality shows and sports aside, Doctor Who is still one of the most watched shows on a Saturday night. And saturday nights, when most young people are out and about is no easy time slot. But Doctor Who still manages to attract attention. Furthermore, no show that’s getting a spin-off is in danger.

Wedding

Hi all,

With my wedding coming up this Saturday, there will be no new blog post this week as both my wife-to-be and I are busy putting the finishing touches on the event. There will also not be any blog posts for a few weeks after the day while we move and get settled in together.

Until then, look after yourselves.

Lesley and Boyd pre wedding shoot by Caroline Smyth Photography

Having a wedding in Northern Ireland? Check out Caroline Smyth Photography.

Supergirl

Supergirl is bland, bland, bland. It pains me to say so, because I don’t like writing reviews that are mostly critical, but so far Supergirl looks like a cobblepot of questionable decisions that’s trying to be too many things to too many people. As a result, the CBS show has wound up as ineffectual and inoffensive. It sticks out like a nail against the other DC films and TV shows. Maybe that was the point. Unfortunately, what they’ve produced feels like a series more at home in 2005 than 2015.

The plot follows Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, who is sent to Earth to protect Kal-El during the destruction of Krypton. The explosion sends Kara’s shuffle off course though and she winds up in the Phantom Zone. Somehow she escapes, having not aged a day. Kal-El on the other hand is all grown up and saving people. Kal sets his cousin up with an adoptive family and, with no one left to protect, Kara tries to fit in with life on Earth. The series picks up several years later, with Kara as a young adult working at CatCo.

If you guessed that Kara would become bored with her normal life and want to use her powers, you’d be right. If you guessed that some bad guys also followed her out of the Phantom Zone, you’d also be right. Wasn’t that the plot of Smallville’s sixth season? Not that that’s a bad thing. Sometimes the simplest stories are the best but in that case Supergirl would have benefited from embracing their simplicity. Instead, the plot is more intricate. Kara has to contend with the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, who don’t particularly like her.

Melissa Benoist stars as Kara Zor-El, the young woman who will become Supergirl, in CBS's TV adaptation of the DC Comics character, Supergirl.

At least they got the costume right.

It’s not that characters can’t have more than one antagonist or have to work with a difficult and ambiguous ally. Those are pretty much staples of television because it creates a natural conflict so long as there is a legitimate reason for the two parties to work together. But it’s becoming a rather commonplace for the government to outright object to the presence of superpowered peoples. At least in Man of Steel Superman didn’t reveal himself until after General Zod and his henchmen had already started tearing up the city. It’s not shocking that the government might still be a little suspicious. Here though, Superman is nothing but revered and loved but Supergirl gets criticised for scraping a bridge while saving an entire plane. One character mentions it just isn’t popular to not like Superman but what the series shows the viewer is various characters idolising Superman while Supergirl gets branded dangerous. Sounds fair…

The show is also rife with feminism. That in of itself is not a criticism but it could have been executed better. There’s an in-show debate about calling Kara’s alter ego ‘Supergirl’ rather than ‘Superwoman’, which actually feels more like the writers and producers responding to fan criticism than a necessary conversation. It would be more effective to simply portray Supergirl as strong and independent. Instead, she get’s captured, beat up by the villain of the week and only actually manages to defeat him by pretending to be weak and vulnerable. The final plan is actually conceived by her sister, a DEO agent but it still took two women to formulate and execute a plan whereas Superman often operated alone. The cardinal rule of writing is ‘show, don’t tell.’ Supergirl tells the audience that woman can be strong and independent but it rarely shows that to be the case. Even Cat Grant, CEO of Catco., has all of the decisions second guessed by Kara.

This next point will probably earn me a lot of grief but, I don’t like that Jimmy Olsen is a black guy. It’s really an odd decision. It’s obvious that CBS were going for a more diverse and representative cast but I don’t see how making Jimmy Olsen black benefits that movement. Olsen is the second most well known character in the series right after Supergirl. Everyone knows that he’s a dorky red-haired white kid. The guy they got was a well-built, bald, black man. It’s almost offensive to everyone that CBS thought that Kara couldn’t fall in love with the original, socially incompetent Jimmy Olsen and that the only black guy she could fall for would be tall and confident. There are dorky black guys.

Melissa Benoist and Mehcad Brooks star as Kara Danvers and Jimmy Olsen in the CBS's adaptation of the DC Comics superheroine, Supergirl.

Jimmy Olsen as you’ve never seen him before.

I don’t mind that they cast David Harewood as the traditionally white Hank Henshaw though because it’s important to show black people in positions of power. The best character they could have recast with colour is Cat Grant, who could have acted as a role model to black women, a group that is generally under represented to a greater extent than the men.  I just don’t see the significance of changing Jimmy Olsen. It’s not just skin colour, the personality isn’t even the same. It would have been less irritating to cast Mehcad Brooks as an original character but it’s clear that CBS just wanted the connection.

Speaking of the connection to Superman, the series seems afraid to speak his name. He gets called ‘man of steel’ or ‘my friend in blue’ but the actual name Superman doesn’t get said a whole lot. Maybe it’s because the writers are being coy but it just comes across as vague and annoying. The intention is not to focus on Superman because the spotlight here is squarely on Supergirl. But that presents a problem. Supergirl is fighting some pretty dangerous criminals with serious plans for Earth. The leader even seems to have connections with the El family. That seems like something Superman would get involved in.

As much as I’m not a fan of this Supergirl series right now, it is only the first season and it hasn’t even begun. It may find its feet and learn to balance the various elements in a way that eliminates the blandness. One can hope. A TV show about a female superhero is culturally significant and it deserves to be better than this.

Preview

Are you all prepared for your social and professional lives to fall into complete and utter disrepair? That’s right, it’s less than three weeks until September, which means another season of new Fall television shows is upon us. That’s why Preposterousprose is here; to bring you up to speed on the new shows you should be watching and the shows are should never have been greenlit. Of course, you already knew that or you wouldn’t be here reading this. So let’s get down to it.

Blindspot

Jaimie Alexander, better known as Sif from Marvel’s Thor, stars in this FBI thriller in which a naked woman appears in Times Square. Her body is covered in tattoos, each one relating to a crime that the FBI must solve. It’s quite an interesting variation on the case of the week format and the woman’s unknown identity promises an overarching mystery. A strong offering by NBC that could be a real dark horse in the fall line-up amongst all the remakes, reboots and revivals.

Chicago Med

Next from NBC is the third entry into Dick Wolf’s ever growing Chicago franchise. This series will focus on Nick Gehlfuss as Dr. Will Halstead, the brother of Jay from Chicago P.D.  Wolf’s work on Chiacgo Fire and Chicago P.D. has generally been well written and consistent so Chicago Med is likely to be much of the same. Expect plenty of crossover.

Crowded

Crowded won’t be on NBC until midseason but it’s worth a mention. The premise of this comedy revolves around parents Mike and Martina Gunn whose lives are upturned by their two adult daughters moving back in. It’s a simple concept that will probably resonate with a lot of young people in the same situation. It doesn’t hurt that established stars such as Patrick Warburton, Carrie Preston and Miranda Cosgrove are involved.

HEROES: REBORN -- "Awakening" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Zachary Levi as Luke Collins -- (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

No Milo Ventimiglia or Zachary Quinto but here’s the similar looking Zachary Levi.

Heroes Reborn

It’s been five years since Heroes’ fourth and final season. This new miniseries looks to return to that universe in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that was blamed on people with special abilities. So long as Heroes Reborn sticks to a singular vision, this should be fairly strong. The original series only began to suffer after the first season when it seemed that the writers had no follow up plans. There is also a worry that Tim Kring will attempt to cater too much to fans of the original, when this really needs to be an strong entity in its own right.

Code Black

Over on CBS, there is another medical show debuting. Chicago Med might have the advantage of the pre-existing audience but the exciting Los Angeles local gives Code Black an edge. The challenge of both shows will be to stand out against the myriad of other medical dramas on television.

Life in Pieces

The premise of Life in Pieces is similar to Modern Family. So similar you wonder why the producers didn’t just end the meeting and just watch Modern Family. It follows a large family, with each episode delving into different stories of each family within the larger group. Sounds like Modern Family, right? At least CBS made Life in Pieces  unfunny so to differentiate between the two shows. Avoid.

Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Victor Garber, Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Caity Lotz and Ciara Renée star as The Atom, Rip Hunter, Firestorm, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, White Canary and Hawkgirl in The CW's upcoming DC's Legends of Tomorrow.

Say hello to the legends of tomorrow…TODAY!

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

The only CW show I found noteworthy and it won’t even air until midseason. A spinoff of The CW’s The Flash and Arrow series’, this show follows Arthur Darvill as a time traveller assembling a team of superheroes to take down an ancient villain. The idea is really strong and might even have worked as a film pitch. The Flash and Arrow have been popular, reflecting DC’s competence in television series creation so fans can expect Legends of Tomorrow to join their ranks.

The Grinder

Another singular showing from a network, this time Fox. And honestly, the only reason The Grinder made it onto this list is because Fred Savage is on the cast. Robe Lowe is the star though, appearing as an actor who plays a lawyer on television. After the show is cancelled, he returns home to where his family actually own a law firm and attempts to actually be a lawyer. It’s a comedy so obviously he’s going to fail, hopefully humorously. If not, this life may imitate art for this series.

Blood and Oil

Turning to ABC and the first appearance of a Gossip Girl Alumni, Blood and Oil follows Chase Crawford’s Billy LeFever and his wife as they attempt to cash in on an oil boom in North Dakota. Promos paint the show as a mixture of GCB, Revenge and the 2014 remake of Dallas, so it’s similar to shows we’ve seen from ABC before. The longevity of the premise is a concern and Crawford was generally the weakest actor of the core Gossip Girl group but this one might be worth a watch.

Chase Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse star as Billy and Cody LeFever, a young couple trying to get rich in ABC's Blood and Oil.

Can Nate finally make his own success outside of the Archibald name? Sorry, wrong show.

Quantico

In what looks to be Scorpion meets How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico focuses on the latest batch of highly intelligent FBI trainees, one of whom is suspected with masterminding a terrorist attack. This is another show where longevity is an issue. Either we find out who the mastermind is, in which case where does the show go from there, or we don’t and fans get tired of being given the run around. It’s possible they could introduce another group of recruits and a new overarching story next season. But let’s see if it even gets through season one.

Wicked City

ABC must have signed a pact with Bart Bass because this is the second of the network’s new fall shows to feature a previous cast member of Gossip Girl. This time the very talented Ed Westwick appears as a serial killer being chased by two L.A.P.D. detectives. It’s an anthology series, reminiscent of American Horror Story but in the crime genre. With True Detective falling from grace and some viewers finding Gotham too light, this could be the perfect match for crime enthusiasts.

Those are the shows that stood out this season for one reason or another. Next week, I’ll go in-depth on the Supergirl show. Until then if there are any shows that stood out to you, or you disagree with my assessments, fire me a comment below or on twitter.

Sad

Inside Out is not a kid’s film. By all appearances it looks like a kids film, the colourful design; the energetic characterisation; the sheer marketablity, but there are concepts that are play here which kids might not be able to grasp. It’s  very cerebral film, no pun intended, that wants to explore change and sadness in an eleven year old’s life. The film asks the question ‘why be sad’ and it does an admirable job of answering it, but there are some very subtle emotions that I’m not sure all children will pick up on. But maybe I’m underestimating eleven year old’s.

Disney-Pixar’s latest film follows Riley Anderson, an eleven year old girl who is forced to leave her home in Minnesota and relocate to San Francisco when her father acquires a new job. This transition is explored through quintet of emotions in Riley’s head which control her feelings with the control panel. As riley experiences new things, she gains memories. Some of these are core memories which power her personality, such as her love of hockey or being silly. The emotions, Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger, do not understand Sadness role in the group and routinely ostracise her with the intent of keeping Riley as happy as possible.

On the first day in the new school, Riley cries in class. Internally this is because Sadness keeps touching memories, making Riley view them negatively. This experience produces a sad core memory for the first time ever, but Joy is determined not to allow it to reach it’s destination. Sadness, of course, wants her contribution to be included. A struggle ensues and both Joy and Sadness, along with the core memories are sucked through into the memory bank. As the two emotions journey back to the main brain centre, Riley becomes increasingly despondent without the core memories to power her personality.

Amy Poehler,Phyllis Smith,Bill Hader,Lewis Black,,Mindy Kaling voice the characters of Joy,Sadness,Fear,Anger and Disgust in Disney Pixars Inside Out.

A different kind of Summertime Sadness.

By the end of the film, Joy has learned that Sadness has her place, just like the rest of them. She is able to emphasise with Riley’s imaginary friend, which gets him to point out the directions faster that Joy’s insistence to simply think happy thoughts. She is also correct about abstract thought being a dangerous short cut, but works out the solution. Sadness also rightfully advises Joy that scaring Riley will wake her faster than excitement. But it isn’t until Joy falls into the memory dump that she understands that every memory is good and bad.

The lesson is that sadness has its place in any well balanced emotional state. But there are implications which may not be caught by all audiences. For instance, Riley becomes distant after she cries at school because the sad core memory did not reach the hub in headquarters. The suggestion there is that Riley’s emotional state crumbles because she did not deal with her sadness. By trying to avoid it and think happy thoughts or pretend to smile, Riley ignores the sadness inside. It isn’t until the end when Joy allows Sadness to operate the control panel that Riley confronts her feelings about the move. Her sadness brings her family together and creates a new core memory, one that is a mixture of joy and sadness. Maybe it could be called bitter-sweet.

Our emotions are much more psychologically complex than the film makes them out to be but the film does touch on some heavy issues by showing Riley becoming borderline depressed and being forced to accept her sad feelings in order to move on and adjust. And it is an important lesson to many children, who at eleven are certainly starting to experience more change and responsibility in their lives. But I’m not sure the film does a good job of really indicating how necessary all the emotions are. People want to be happy, but, even though certain situations call for other emotions, no one really wants to be sad, afraid, disgusted or angry.

Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan voice the human characters in Disney Pixar's Inside Out.

We’ve all seen that look.

What is interesting are the little forays into the mind space of other characters. For Riley, Joy is her dominant emotion. Her mother on the other hand has Sadness at the helm of her control panel. Anger rules in the Dad’s head space. Is that something that changes as they get older? That’s a really unnerving idea if we all start out with Joy managing our minds but other emotions take control as we get older. As if happiness isn’t a priority for adults. On the other hand, it might just indicate that everyone has different emotional formations. It’s still rather unfair to think that one person might be managed by Sadness their entire life but it is a rather intriguing concept. If Pixar did make a sequel to Inside Out I wouldn’t mind exploring how someone with a different emotional leader might think and react.

This isn’t Pixar’s best film. Not by a long shot. It doesn’t have the same emotional nuances as Up or Toy Story and it isn’t as funny. I did laugh through the film but more so for the subtle brain jokes, such as the train falling into the memory dump indicating that Riley lost her train of thought. In another scene, the brain workers keep sending up a memory of a catchy jingle so that it repeatedly plays in Riley’s head. That was a clever nod to the way tunes can get stuck in our heads. There is a lot of more simple humour so I’d expect the kids to laugh more than their parents.

Inside Out is a film that kids will enjoy but there’s a lot of depth here that an eleven year old just might not get. On top of that, this was a really interesting concept and premise but Pixar only scratched the surface. But it is a fun film that kids will enjoy with a very positive message. By embracing her sadness and accepting the change, Riley is able to restore her core memories and her personality islands. It’s good to know that friendships can be rebuilt and old passions can be refound. Except for imaginary friends. They must be sacrificed for the greater good.

Affair

It is doubtful that anyone set out to watch The Affair because of the gripping who-dun-it crime drama. Viewers tune in to see Dominic West’s married father of four break his vows with Ruth Wilson’s equally married but notably childless characters. The premise is based around this central infidelity and explores what leads people to forsake their husbands and wives. It also deals with the issue of blame and where the fault lies in these situations. Those are tough issues but those are the themes audiences expect when they watch a television show called The Affair. The question of who killed Scott Lockhart is perfunctory at best.

Noah Solloway, the aforementioned father of four, and his wife leave their New York home in the summer to spend time at her parent’s house in Montauk. It is there that he meets Alison Bailey, a waitress struggling in her own marriage following the loss of her child two years prior. Numerous characters comment on how Noah appears to be the perfect family man, but it is his professional life that has left him unfulfilled. His first novel is unremarkable and much of their financial dependence relies on his wife’s father. The fact that her father is a successful novelist is further grating for Noah.

From the very beginning, the viewer can see stress lines in the relationships. It is easy to see what draws Noah and Alison together. For Noah, Alison isn’t born from privilege and he inspires his creativity. On the other hand, Noah is able to make Alison feel again and doesn’t remind her of her dead son. In Alison’s own words, she sees her son’s face every time she looks at her husband. There have been events in these character’s marriages that have caused deep cracks. Failing to deal with or repair those cracks have only caused them to widen. And as they’ve drawn apart from their spouses they draw closer to each other.

Ruth Wilson's Alison reassures her lover, Noah, played by Dominic West, as he is arrested in the final episode of season one of Showtime's The Affair.

Noah’s arrest is the only event we can be certain happened.

The story is about Noah and Alison but some reviews have decried the lack of details given about Scott Lockhart’s death. There are scenes of Victor Williams’ Detective Jeffries interviewing the main couple intermittent throughout the series. Supposedly what we seen on screen is the characters retelling the events of the summer and beyond to the detective. This, in part, explains the different perspectives. The episodes are split in two, with Noah and Alison giving their own slightly differing version of events. The problem is that we don’t know who to believe. And if they’re covering for each other they could both be unreliable narrators.

At the end of season one, Noah Solloway is arrested for the murder of Scott Lockhart based on Scott impregnating Noah’s daughter, Whitney,  and for attempting to bribe a character who could punch a hole in the alibi. But whether or not Noah actually did the deed isn’t the point of the show. The murder investigation is only present to bring Noah and Alison back together. After the summer, they break off their tryst and return to their separate lives. Their better halves soon find out but it isn’t until Whitney runs off to the Lockhart home in Montauk that the characters finally get together again. And that’s what the viewer is waiting for.

If the series was grounded in the murder investigation the split interpretation of events would be frustrating. There are few details to base any assumptions on and neither character can be believed. But the separate perspectives are obviously about more than just the investigation, because Noah lies about being at a bar called ‘The End’ but there are scenes from that summer that show him being there. Because it’s about the titular affair, the bias makes sense. It’s not an alibi, but how each character views his or her role in the relationship. Noah sees himself as discouraged and weary of family life. Alison views herself as grieving and broken. Both see the other as alluring and provocative.

Dominic West's Noah Solloway chats up a girl at the swimming pool, played by Carolina Ravassa, in the final episode of The Affair's first season.

The real question is can Noah be faithful to Alison?

It goes without saying that cheating is never the answer. It’s an extremely selfish action that does enormous damage to the trust of a relationship. Sometimes the guilty party can be forgiven but the symptoms of such unfaithfulness can take many years to repair and heal. But The Affair does a fine job of displaying how two people can succumb to temptation. It’s not as simple as ‘this person is better looking than my spouse’ or ‘this makes me feel good about myself’. There are personal issues at play. The Affair excels at exploring these personal issues and the damaging repercussions of using negative and destructive methods to deal with those issues.

In the hands of less accomplished writers and directors, The Affair could be melodramatic and superficial. That’s not to say that Dominic West and Ruth Wilson aren’t beautiful people but their characters are so much more than their appearance. Their acting captures a wealth of emotion, bringing the afflictions of their characters to life that a more sensationalist actor would not have accomplished. Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi demonstrate an ability to creatively tell a story with real depth and emotion.

The second season of Affair will premiere in October. Many viewers are eager to see the cliffhanger ending of season one resolved and finally find out who killed Scott Lockhart. For me, the story has always been about Noah and Alison’s infidelity. The Scott Lockhart investigation has only ever been a vehicle for that central premise. I’d much rather see an explanation for why some events vary wildly from one to another. A change of clothes or words is one thing but in one episode Alison remembers sneaking out to have sex with Noah, while in his version he is called away by a family emergency. Theories persist that one is a novelisation and the other is the real thing. Only time will tell if either reveal who killed Scott Lockhart. I humbly submit: who cares?