meganbmoore: (princess bride: out of fire swamp)
This week, Galavant returned, and The Shannara Chronicles started on MTV, not to mention Beowulf: Return to the Shadowlands, so all in all, it wasn't a bad week to be a fan of high fantasy TV shows, especially if the Game of Thrones type of approach doesn't appeal to you. (I've posted on my issues with how GoT has influenced fantasy TV and historical dramas the last few years here, and will spare you repetition.  I also said a bit here earlier today about my irritation with how every fantasy show must be negatively compared with GoT.)

The Shannara Chronicles is based on The Elfstones of Shannara, the second book in Terry Brook's first Shannara trilogy. Skipping over the first book was wise, as even when I was really into Shannara (and Terry Brooks in general) I thought The Sword of Shannara was pretty dull. The Elf Queen of Shannara was my first non-kids fantasy book way back when it first came out, and when I was young enough to have never read a book series before that didn't have numbers on the spine (all the Shannara books do now, I think, but they didn't 20-odd years ago). I read all the Shannara books religiously even when I started to get a bit tired up them, up through partway through the "High Druid of Shannara" trilogy. Because I found out that my favorite character it that trilogy didn't count as redeemed if she spent decades being the most powerful force of good in the world to make up for her youthful villainy and everyone still thought she was evil anyway and she could only be considered redeemed if she sacrificed herself and turned into a tree. Terry Brooks actually has an odd thing about women turning into trees and women who are trees but we won't dwell on that. Anyway, I watched the first 4 episodes (episodes 3 and 4 are available on MTV's website), and I really like it. The dhort version of the plot is that Shannara is set in a postapocaylptic world where, after the nuclear fallout, different races that just happen to match up with fantasy races emerged, and magic filled the void left by science. Amberle is an elven princess who breaks tradition to become one of the guardians of the Ellcrys, an immortal tree that supposedly keeps demons locked away from the world. When she touches the tress, she has horrible visions that mistakenly make her believe that she'll release demons and kill the people she loves, so she runs. This wakes up Allanon, the last druid, who has been in a magic coma the last 30 years. Because this is high fantasy, Allanon decides that the best person to help him find Amberle and stop the demons is a random half-elf farmboy named Wil Ohmsford who is the last descendant of a legendary king, and is unaware that his father had been a great hero 30 years before. There's also Amberle's grandfather and uncles, who seem incapable of getting their acts together, and Eretria, a Rover (nomad) girl who will win her freedom from slavery is she can steal a magic talisman that Will has.

It's been years since read the book, but the most notable changes are that the structure is reworked to make Amberle the central heroic figure, and Wil the secondary one (I highly approve) and that Wil is now Shea's son, instead of grandson, and a half-elf, instead of a human with elven ancestry. I can't remember if Allanon's Doomed Love Story was in the book or not, but either way, I'm sad we probably won't get flashbacks. It also heavily emphasizes that this is a post-apocalyptic Earth, not a separate fantasy world, which was always hinted at in the books, but not made clear until later on.

The series, I think, is meant to but a series of miniseries with each season adapting a different book, but able to stand alone if someone hasn't seen previous seasons. This will work fine with Elfstones and Wishsongs of Shannara, which are standalone despite technically being part of a trilogy, but might get harder after that, when (if) we get to the later arcs that span multiple books each.

I really enjoyed the episodes, and am not at all surprised that you could have a drinking game with the GoT comparisons, despite having nothing in common save genre.

Beowulf: Return to the Shadowlands is, as the name implies, based on the epic poem, though it doesn't really have much more in common with it than the setting, and being about a man named Beowulf who sometimes fights monsters. Beowulf is returning home after having been banished years earlier, intending to mend things with his surrogate father, Hrothgar. When he arrives, he finds that Hrothgar recently died, and Hrothgar's son, Slean, still reallyreallyreally hates him just as much as when they were children. Not believing Slean was ready to rule, Hrothgar, named his wife, Rheda (JOANNE WHALLEY) as his successor. Rheda doesn't particularly want to be Thane, but agrees that Slean would be a spectacularly bad ruler. Slean's issues seem to stem from the fact that he assumes everyone likes Beowulf more than him, even if they don't mention Beowulf, and that everything Beowulf says or does is an indicator they Beowulf wants to take something of his. (Said "things" including his mother and his lover, both of whom he does seem to regard as possessions) "Subtlety" never crossed the writers' minds when creating Slean. Hopefully they'll get a bit better at that.

The pilot largely involved Beowulf going home, getting falsely accused of murder, then proving he's innocent, while setting up some things for the future, There's also a painfully awful prologue of little!Beowulf and little!Beowulf flashbacks that are mostly painful because the child actor doesn't really react to things. I mean, in the prologue, he sees his father get killed by a troll and then kills the troll and just...has no reaction. He might as well have been waiting for the schoolbus when he was found with the corpses. The promotional materials that I saw heavily emphasized multiple women and PoC in the cast, and they're there, but Rheda is the only one that really got a lot of development or development.

I mostly enjoyed it but didn't love it, and will watch more.

And, finally, there's the second season of Galavant, aka "the season that almost didn't happen," something the show makes sure we know in the opening musical number.

I thought the opening episodes were strong-and, honestly, much better than the first two episodes of the first season. The Big Misunderstanding in the romantic plotline is annoying, but I honestly expect that to sort itself out without too much trouble, and it'll probably be overshadowed by other things soon. The first season mostly poked at 80s and 90s fantasy movies (if you missed out on Madalena being the anti-Buttercup, I kinda feel bad for you, because her stuff is so much fun when you notice the lines deliberately delivered the way Robin Wright did) and old school fantasy and medieval romance tropes, and this season continues the trend, but also takes on current fantasy shows. I suspected in season one that the Galavant creative team didn't think that much of GoT, and 2.1 pretty much solidified that. The musical numbers are good so far, and I fully expect fanvidders to go to town with "Off With his Shirt".

One thing about the episodes is that they pretty much made "knights in shining armor riding to the rescue just get in the way of the damsel in distress" a theme. In the pilot, Galavant makes a big show of dramatically coming to Madalena's rescue, only to find out that he's actually just being a nuisance as far as she's concerned, because while she might not be into Richard, she's very, very much into the wealth and power that come with him. In season 2, Isabella actually does want to be rescued. She's been having a pretty good go at escaping on her own for months, but escaping is HARD when an entire kingdom (including your parents) keep getting in your way, and your quasi-friends are willing to help you to a degree because they don't think you should be forced into marriage, but their own lives are actually a lot better than before, so they're not going to go TOO far with that. Then she does seem to have a plan that will work and is in the middle of escaping when Galavant discovers magical medieval facetime, and because of the bad reception, her plan ends up being tosses and she's right back where she started. Based on promotional pictures and trailers, it looks like she'll be taking care of things herself, though.

One fun thing about Galavant airing at the same time as other fantasy shows is imagining the characters watching them. Galavant and co would probably like Shannara, but the shipping wars would get intense. They'd make fun of the CGI trolls and Slean's whining in Beowulf, but secretly like it. GoT isn't currently airing (I think?) but I assume the characters would have about as much regard for it as the shows seems to, though i'd really like to hear what Madalena would have to say to GoT characters about taking over a kingdom.
meganbmoore: (gfb: cute)
 117 x Galavant (season 1)


here ) .


May. 8th, 2015 06:31 pm
meganbmoore: (hwajung: jungmyung plotting while ja kyu)
1A. Secrets and Lies ended. Well, the season did, at least. I had thought it was a miniseries going in, and seem to recall it being promoted as such. Pretty much, I didn't realize it was possible to feel that betrayed and let down by a show you found faily all over the place anyway, and didn't actually like.

1B. It was renewed, and I'll probably end up at least trying out season 2 in the hopes that the one element of the finale that I liked gets followed up on.

1C. Agent Carter and Galavant were also renewed, and I'm pretty sure they were also originally promoted as miniseries? At least I mostly liked both of them, though, and can hope the second seasons will be better about the things I didn't

2. Madam Secretary's first season also ended, and was a much better ending. I've seen some people call it anticlimactic, but I don't think it really was. I think we're just conditioned to expect cliffhangers, and for parts of the BIg Mystery to carry over into the second season, not leave things resolved, especially when another season is already a done thing. Fandom seems to have skipped over this one for the most part, which makes me sad, but at least it apparently has decent enough ratings.

3. Hwajung is probably my favorite thing I'm watching right now. For those who don't like to start sageuks until the leads have grown up, they grow up at the end of episode 7. I am pleased to report that the crossdressing exiled princess heroine who wants revenge is also a conartist who braves volcanoes and Edo era checkpoints (hey, those things were scary!) I can see some of the things I liked best about Queen Seon Deok as influence here (well, the 51 episodes of QSD that I acknowledge exist), particularly in regards to character dynamics and how Jungmyung thinks and plots, but not to a really obvious degree. I made a few picspams for tumblr for it.  Two general ones for the first episode, and one for episode 8 that's more character specific.
cut for spoilers and caps )
4. Interesting article about the influence of Nancy Drew.

5. I took a break from Murder She Wrote because the narrative POV of Jessica's writing and adventuring in it really, really irked me, but I'm watching season 6 now. An interesting thing about watching older shows is that they're prone to reusing the same guest actors in multiple roles. Today, with DVDs and streaming services being the norm, it's really noticeable. But 20+ years ago, the episodes wouldn't be spaced far enough apart that you wouldn't immediately go 'this producer was the lady in prison back in X episode of season 1, and this guy was the cheating husband in Y episode, the hapless cop in Z episode, and the evil brother in T episode."

Also, people's hair looks they they could have conceivably done it themselves. I mean, you know wardrobe got their hands on them, but it LOOKS like they could have done it themselves, as opposed to completely broke people's "disheveled" look making them look like they just spent 3 hours at the salon.

6. While they don't have much in common besides being historical mysteries with a civilian female lead solving crime with a police officer who initially doesn't care for their butting in, I think fans of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries might like Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mysteries.
meganbmoore: (covert affairs: gimme tv)
1. Galavant decided that instead of the miniseries it advertised itself as, it wanted to be an ongoing series instead, and ended with multiple cliffhangers that resulted in it going out with a sizzle instead of a bang. It had a rough start and some bad patches, but overall, I enjoyed it and hope that it does get a second season.

2. The Librarians OTOH, had an excellent end to the first season, and it ends in a way where we aren't left with dangling plotlines and too many unanswered questions if it doesn't get renewed, but that also doesn't make a second season difficult. Anyone who missed that this is by a lot of the same people who did Leverage.

3. How to Get Away With murder, The 100 and Jane the Virgin have all returned from hiatus, and all remain excellent. Empire is also getting better with every episode, and keeps reassuring me that it knows that Cookie winning (either directly or through Jamal) is the only way this can end in a satisfying way.

4. State of Affairs remains awful, but I keep watching it. Katherine Heigl sometimes looks like she's in actual pain while saying her lines, while Alfre Woodard is sitting there all "I am strong. I am talented. I AM POTUS. I shall conquer this script..."

5. Star Wars: Rebels is still good and is fleshing out the non-Ezra and Kanan characters more. I just grow increasingly fearful that, despite being more kid friendly than The Clone Wars, it's all going to end in blood and tears.

6. Sleepy Hollow is...around, I guess. Aside from the appropriation involved in the Villain of the Week, I enjoyed the latest episode more than I have a number of the episodes this season, but still not as much as I enjoyed season one.

7. Netflix has season 2 of Beauty and the Beast streaming, so i've started watching that from where I left off a while back (Episodes 2.9-onward). I'm really enjoying it, so far, despite the fact that it has the first female character who I've actively disliked in years.
meganbmoore: (covert affairs: gimme tv)
1. The new anime season is...not dire, but nothing new jumps out at me? There are a couple series I'll check out later as long as friends keep liking them, but it looks like I'm mostly just sticking with Akatsuki no Yona and Shirobako, both of which are carryovers from last season, and then the new season of Kamisama Kiss (which has been very good so far).
2. I have watched all the available episodes of BBC's The Musketeers. When I first read the book as a kid, I was convinced that having sex with/being in love with D'Artagnan meant women died. Not convinced I was wrong about that, but I never have liked the book, though I watch most adaptations that I come across. I like the show? I have problems with some things in it, but when I compare it to the book and my problems with it (particularly the treatment of Milady and Constance) it pretty much comes out golden. I have very mixed feelings about not hating D'Artagnan and Athos, but I can deal with that. i'm also apparently very susceptible to the narrative wanting me to ship things. it goes "you should ship this" and I go "ok" without really thinking it out, and I think I'm ok with it, though I do keep getting distracted by the fact that D'Artagnan's head is almost literally twice the size of Constance's. (That "ok with it" bit might be reconsidered if they start wanting me to ship de Rochefort/Anne.)I also kind of miss the bit in the first season where Constance is the most long suffering woman in existence.
3. On the flipside, I haven't talked about it much here, but I've been watching Queen Seon Deok off and on since April. The first 51 episodes are great and largely consistently improve until the plotline that drove the series comes to it's natural conclusion. And then there's a timeskip, and a lot of characters get personality transplants that rob them of the bulk of their intelligence along the way, and the whole thing is like some horribly OOC fanfic that completely loses everything that gave its OTP any appeal in the first place. I actually put off watching the series for years because, even though a lot of fandom seemed to love the final arc, I could tell from the way they were talking about it that I wouldn't like it, and I was right. Anyway, great series and reaches a natural conclusion with episode 51. Skip the rest and avoid ending up like me, with the last 4 episodes waiting for you for weeks, but unable to force yourself to finish it.
4. Jane the Virgin and The 100 and Madam Secretary were renewed, and Gina Rodriguez rightly won the Golden Globe for Best Actress. Her acceptance speech and its implied criticism of Hollywood and its treatment of latin@s was great.
5. Other celebrities making boobs jokes, rape jokes, North Korea jokes and whatnot were not great.
6. Happyland was cancelled, which makes me very sad, even though I'm still a bit amazed that it ever got made in the first place.
7. State of Affairs really needs to be cancelled, because that's the only thing that will save me from watching it. I keep watching it. It's awful. I can't stop. Help.
8. Galavant and Empire started. Galavant is...I enjoying it, but there's also so much wrong with it, starting with "awareness that something isn't acceptable and assuming your audience knows it does NOT make doing it acceptable, thankyouverymuch" but the latest episode gives me hope that the second half will live up to my expectations. Empire is also good, but I'm watching it almost entirely for Taraji Henson, and with the assumption that the narrative realizes that the only natural conclusion is that her character wins, so I'm not really engaging with it yet in a way where I can formulate thoughts.
9. The 100 comes back next week. I should try to finally post on it? (I talk about it so much on other journals and on twitter that I just...keep not getting to it. It doesn't help that I have a bunch of other posts written that I keep forgetting to actually post.)
10. The Librarians has almost wrapped up its first season (For whatever reason, they're airing the last 4 episodes with 2 episode per Sunday night. I hope the reason doesn't have to do with cancelation.) which has been pretty good. The episodes aired out of order, and while that's made some character arcs inconsistent (but very consistent IN THE RIGHT ORDER) it hasn't affected the quality of the show that much overall. It's very much the Leverage people making a show for people who like things like Warehouse 13, but that's certainly not a bad thing.


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