TV Review – Luther -Where the F**k is Alice?

Without Ruth Wilson, this show is nothing. I said it!

Yes I know Idris Elba is the shows lead, but the absence of Alice Morgan is seriously a downfall in the shows season 4 two part episode. This at the time was written as a two hour finale for the show, but now with a FIFTH season starting next year, let’s just hope that Ruth Wilson can take some time from ‘The Affair’ and come back to save John Luther one more time.

But let’s crack on with the review.

Luther never gets old. The serial killers may get more twisted and warped with each case but Idris Elba remains as compelling as ever as the tortured detective – he just needs to shrug on that grey coat again and Luther is back.

It’s been four years since the events in series three but Idris reprises his role effortlessly and there’s a sense of familiarity that is surprisingly comforting.

Watching Luther again is like having coffee with an old friend – a dark and brooding mate who’s spent far too much time by himself – but a friend nonetheless.

Creator Neil Cross has dreamt up yet another horrifyingly gruesome story for John Luther to be thrown headlong into. There’s plenty of gory murder scenes complete with blood-spatters and body-parts that has become a key signature of this series.

We’re still in mourning for his slain partner Justin Ripley (Warren Brown), who made a brief walk-in appearance one last time tonight but we kind of knew he was dead and gone.

Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie makes an appearance as DS Emma Lane, who seems to be Luther’s new partner. But given his track record – plus Darren Boyd’s Theo Bloom getting bumped off in the first half hour – it’s not looking good for her.

However the real absence was that gaping Alice Morgan-shaped hole. There was a feeling of loss without Ruth Wilson’s iconic enigmatic genius killer that we all love.

Where were those luscious red lips curled up in that disturbing smile and that flame-coloured hair flying in the wind and those psychotic eyes with a hint of laughter behind them?

There weren’t any of those knife-edge moments between Luther and Alice where he could kiss or kill her in a split second – both equally as plausible.

The truth is that Luther isn’t Luther without Alice Morgan. She better be turning up again next week otherwise there will be hell to pay from fans. But we all know Alice isn’t dead, not really. That woman is bulletproof, we’re just waiting for her to pop up again.

Getting back to the case itself, Steven Rose (John Heffernan) – the voyeuristic cannibal with a tendency for some real visceral nastiness – is one the sickest killers that Luther has come across.

While blood-sucking cult killer Lucien Burgess from series one was pretty terrifying and mask-wearing, Spring-heeled Jack psychopath Cameron Pell from series two was sinister, Steven Rose is quite something else.

Yes, it may be on the formulaic side with plenty of police procedural tropes but this gritty, urban noir is still as great as the first-ever episode – it’s just a shame there’s only two episodes this time.

Yes, DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) and DS Emma Lane (Rose Leslie) may have caught cannibal serial killer Steven Rose (John Heffernan) but the concluding part to this story proves to be deeply unsatisfying.

Not only do we fail to get any closer to finding out the truth about Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) but Megan Cantor (Laura Haddock) proves to be a poor substitute for her, there’s not nearly enough sinister smiles or kookiness that made us fall in love with the flame-haired, genius murderess in the first place.

Then there’s the attempt to cram another case into this episode, which really demands your attention otherwise you’re likely to get lost in a matter of scenes.

Series three also had two cases running along simultaneously as DS Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird) tried to force Luther to investigate one murder while he was also on the hunt for the S’n’M copycat killer finishing off the work of a previous killer 20 years later.

Both that story and this episode make for an unwieldy viewing experience as you try to keep on top of everything.

The fundamental problem is that there is not enough time to justice to both the Steven Rose case and this secondary investigation involving a child murder.

On top of that is the bounty on Luther’s head as well as the mystery of Alice. Viewers needed at least two more episodes to really delve into these cases.

The end result is a battle to keep up and withdrawal symptoms. You get the sense that creator Neil Cross tried to pack quite a few ideas into these two stories and by doing so he leaves us unsatisfied.

The only bright spots are the case itself that Luther manages to solve in the nick of time with all the typical race-against-time adrenaline rush that we love this Brit grit drama series for and Rose as John’s new partner.

You start to get a handle on her and realise she’s cut from the same cloth as Luther in a way that even DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown) wasn’t.

There’s much less questioning on her part, she’ll do things the right way but not by the book and that’s why she is such a great character.

Luther needs an ally in a way he has never needed one before and she’s just what he needs at this moment in time.

Unfortunately it was always going to be a big ask to fill two episodes with all the searing brilliance that we usually get over four hours. Basically, we just need more Luther in our lives. So there’s only one question left…

Now what?

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TV Pilot Review – Gypsy

So she’s back, from the velvet underground.

Panned by critics, addored by fans. This Netflix original series is probably one of the best Netflix original’s since ‘House Of Cards’ (It’s still safe to talk about that? Right? Or as I like to call it now, ‘The Claire Underwood show’)

Despite being loved by fans, it’s hard to find a review online that actually rates this show. (Cause, you know, The critics f*****g hated it,)

So I’ve going to try and actually write one that sums up this amazing, slow burning and incredible show.

If the definition of a gypsy is “a traveling trader who sells fortunes, trinkets, baubles and snake oils” then at first glance the title could appear somewhat fitting. However, this is more the tale of that obscure and almost once cliché’ variety of gypsy that casts spells which reek turmoil and havoc. Not only on those who would come looking to her for charms and potions of salvation, but on her own cursed self.

It’s a shame that many who are rating this on the low scale admittedly don’t have the patience to let the elixir within it fully sink in by watching the series in its entirety. While it’s true that for a majority of the modern audience it probably moves too slow and teases too much, there is more than a mediocre fortune to be had within the full season.

What looks like little more than a story of a 40 something privileged woman who should have enough in her life to satisfy most people’s desires, going through her own mid-life crisis, is in fact more of a ‘dance of many veils’ which eventually are almost all stripped away.

At the conclusion many of the questions that develop about our main character are answered. Although we are still left teetering precariously on a cliff that if we peer into our crystal ball, seems unlikely to have any other outcome than a very deep and destructive drop for everyone, in its potential future season(s).

A person could certainly do far worse in the psychological drama department. While not every line is the work of a master writer(s) and there are slightly contrived and silly plot devices peppered along the way, if juxtaposed with a show such as “The Path” it will at the least feel “satisfying.”

All in all, a fair series for those who love slow burn psychological dramas and whether you watch it with your significant other, friends, or by yourself, once it’s over you’ll find that this Gypsy’s fortune is one you can turn your back on, or look forward to without giving up your firstborn.

Plus, we have that amazing theme tune prefomed by Stevie Nicks. For me, this made the show, and no netflix, I don’t want to skip intro.

TV Pilot Review – Homeland

Co-created by Howard Gordon, an X-Files veteran and former showrunner on 24, the series begins with (My So Called Life) Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison, a CIA operative racing through the streets of Baghdad to get access to an enemy prisoner slated for execution. Believe it or not, this is Danes’ first time back on series TV since My So-Called Life, though Carrie is no Angela Chase. Determined, single-minded and quite possibly sick in the head, she sports exhausted, world-weary dark circles around her eyes like a badge of honor.

Ten months later, Carrie is back in Washington, D.C. The walls of her apartment are plastered with surveillance photos from Iraq, photos of various Al Qaeda agents arranged by chain of command order, and so on. She’s clearly fully invested in her job, possibly obsessed — surely brilliant — and yet she can’t get to her briefings in time and her supervisor doesn’t like her. And he’s about to like her even less…

Carrie and her fellow agents are told that they have reason to celebrate. After eight years of being MIA, Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody has been recovered in Iraq — alive and, apparently, well. Held prisoner by the enemy all this time, he’s returning home for a hero’s welcome — a poster boy for the current White House administration (as personified by Jamey Sheridan as the Vice President) and their efforts in the war — and presumably a happy ending. But Carrie doesn’t see it that way. She has reason to believe he’s a plant, a mole — a Manchurian Candidate.

Damian Lewis (Life, Band of Brothers) plays Brody not as a war hero or a Rambo or a stricken vet or any other obvious cliche, but rather as a guy who has just had some bad s#!t happen to him and is trying to deal. As he is being flown home to be reunited with a wife he hasn’t seen in almost a decade, to children who barely even remember him, all to be broadcast on national television with pomp and circumstance, Brody has to go puke his guts out in the bathroom. How the hell did he get here?

As for that wife, she’s Firefly and V’s Morena Baccarin and she’s been pulling a bit of a Lori Grimes, if you get the meaning. Love hurts!

But how bad should we feel for Brody? We can’t help but increasingly question whether or not Carrie is right in her suspicions. Has Brody been turned by the enemy? Finding out the answer could very quickly turn into an episodic shell game where one week we think we know, the next we don’t. That could get tired quickly, though as it stands at the end of the pilot, Homeland has given us a compelling, complex, sad and scary lead character in Brody.

Carrie’s sad — and scary — in her own way. She doesn’t know everything about Brody that we know as the audience. So while her suspicions seem to have some merit to her handler/mentor (played by Criminal Minds alum Mandy Patinkin, calmly, but with the occasional “WTF, Carrie?”), her anti-psychotic meds and her penchant for stranger-sex (when she’s not peeping on Brody and his wife in bed) and her general intense know-it-all-ness don’t always inspire confidence.

Of course, the show does face several challenges moving forward. The central conflict is ultimately between Carrie’s truth-seeker and Brody’s potential threat, but how will the writers get these two face to face on a semi-regular basis without it feeling contrived? In the pilot, they have a single, tense encounter during a debriefing session. Too much of that sort of thing could come across as false. So far this series is too good for that.

Homeland functions on several levels. It’s an ace thriller, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat throughout this first episode, while it also has something to say about the seemingly never-ending War on Terror. This is a show that could actually be relevant in the here and now. That’s rare.

Scene Analysis

 

The film I have chosen to analyse is the Netflix original documentary entitled “Amanda Knox”.

The reason for me choosing this particular documentary is that this case has always fascinated me. From the original trail, all the way up to the acquittal of Knox in 2011.

This film is a biographical documentary telling us the point of view of the aftermath of the murder of Meredith Kurtcher in Perugia on November 2nd 2007.

Right from the get go, we are thrown right into the action with a shot of the apartment in which this tragic event took place. With voice over from the emergency call to the Perugian Police providing us all the information we need to know.

We’ve got a piece of soft orchestral music providing us the score. Actual police footage from the scene of the crime and quite horrific images. That all set up the scene and what this documentary will be about.

Another key code for this type of genre is a voice over. This time it comes from the main protagonist. Amanda Knox. This again sets up the documentary to be from her point of view. When we cut to Amanda speaking, she’s in the centre of the screen, the background is a soft grey colour and the focus is entirely on her.

“Either she’s a psychopath or she’s one us”. Now that’s a terrifying way to end an opening scene and really does pull the viewer in. It’s a case that is so controversial That will get people to watch weather they believe she killed Meredith or not.

The chemistry between Amanda and her ‘then’ boyfriend Raffael Soletchito is everything you expect two people to be in love to act like. You get the sense that this is a a romance and it’s very clear to see why.

It’s also clear to see who the audience is for this film. It’s for the older people. It’s certainly not going to be for kids.

Another thing to notice is Knox’s body language, she’s calm, she’s dressed in a calming colour and everything about her just seems relaxed.

She’s very close to the camera, so you know she’s the one who we’re going to focus on.

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