Fellow Liberal Dead-heads, this is Ryne from The Moon is a Dead World. I’ve signed on to do a sort of recap/review of each week’s horror hits, so welcome to DEADtime TV. Again, Kevin Lovell helps out with a review of The Following.
In case you missed it:
Flowers in the Attic (Lifetime Original Movie) – Saturday, January 18, 8 PM
Lifetime struck gold with their remake/adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ classic Gothic story Flowers in the Attic, bringing the plot to the silver screen with a young but talented cast of characters that includes Heather Graham in a role that actually allows her to be wooden!
It’s a competently written and directed event that highlights most of the plot of the original; however, it does also feel slightly outdated thanks to the more ridiculous aspects of Andrews’ story. Still, Lifetime accomplished what it set out to do with the film, and it drew in a huge number of viewers with moderate critical success. Chalk it up to a good cast, including Kiernan Shipka of Mad Men, and a generally faithful adaptation.
Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (Lifetime Original Movie) – Saturday, January 25, 8 PM
Christina Ricci plays the titular character with the big eyes and the bigger ax in Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, a docudrama about the murderess who committed patricide and got off free thanks to a very lenient jury. Lifetime plays it fairly low-key; there’s none of the outrageous cheese of the similar films the channel puts out, nor does it sensationalize the historical events too much.
In fact, it sticks so closely to the factual that some viewers might find themselves bored with the film. Part mystery, part courtroom drama, Lizzie Borden doesn’t have the polished sheen of its murder weapon, but it also doesn’t stoop to exploitative lows. Ricci plays her part well, and the film has some fun with the crime scene in numerous flashbacks to the killings. It adds a sexual nature thanks to Ricci’s persona as well.
It’s a good representation of Borden for a contemporary audience, but it’s not as eerie as the trailers for the film might suggest. If you want to see the (generally) true story about Lizzie, this TV movie is commendable; if you want grisly murders, look elsewhere.
The Following: “For Joe” – Monday, January 27, 9 PM
This previous Monday, ‘The Following’ debuted in its normal timeslot for the first time this season and to an unfortunate series low as far as ratings go. Let’s hope those ratings increase to some degree at least with next week’s new episode which will follow an all new episode of ‘Almost Human’ wherein last week it followed an encore presentation of ‘The Following’ season premiere that aired the previous Sunday.
Now as far as the second episode in the sophomore season of ‘The Following’ goes, I personally didn’t think it was nearly as good as the first, though it was still an entertaining episode that featured some of the great disturbing and eerie sequences that make this show so fun and unique.
The episode featured an adequate amount of time with Ryan Hardy (Bacon) but far less than usual, but I personally found this to be a welcome change to the formula as it allowed us some additional time to focus on the current goings on of Joe Carroll (Purfoy) who we only saw for the briefest of moments in the previous episode. This episode focuses most prominently on events revolving around Carroll and his new home in hiding so to speak, and also to these new brothers who are appropriately eerie individuals and who appear to be (at least so far) a very integral part of this season, themselves now contacting Hardy and toying with him in their own twisted ways.
So far the series’ sophomore season is off to a fair start. While the second episode wasn’t quite as impressive and intense as the first, it was still a very unsettling and well done episode, and we really should expect some character development with all of the new characters being introduced into the fold this season. That is going to be required for a show that isn’t afraid to start eliminating their cast at a pretty alarming rate. The only element I am at all disappointed with this season, is the minimal use of Shawn Ashmore’s character Mike Weston, who is personally one of my favorite characters on the show and one I feel they are unfortunately underutilizing a bit this season so far. Yet, in all fairness, we are only two episodes into the second season’s fifteen episode order, so who knows what could happen in the seasons subsequent 13 episodes. I’ll certainly be tuning in every week to see what happens next and I sincerely hope all of you will continue to do so as well so that the show can hopefully maintain at least some semblance of it’s fairly impressive ratings during season one.
The second season of ‘The Following’ is currently airing Monday’s at 9/8c on Fox, following all new episodes of ‘Almost Human’ so make sure you tune into both! -Kevin
Bitten: “Trespass” – Monday, January 27, 10 PM
The characters of Bitten have been having a hard time figuring out how to catch a mutt who threatens their existence in Bear County at Stonehaven; the human-turned-wolf has been killing humans on their property, and the latest is a young boy who happens to be right next to the pack’s den.
They’re outraged – not only did the mutt kill someone and put the body on their property, he also, as Elena murmurs to us as if we didn’t know, killed a child! That’s bad mojo, and now Jeremy (the pack leader, if you haven’t really been following) can’t simply say that the mutt doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s an intentional action that forces the pack to take action in order to preserve their own well-being within the community. Elena and Clay set out to sniff out the mutt, while Nick, Logan, and Pete interview a known, very rich, mutt who might be able to help them with some information.
Their side of the storyline is kind for naught, though, because Elena and Clay happen to stumble upon a flyer that leads them to a secret nightclub in a warehouse where a rager’s happening. The scent of the mutt is there, and Elena confronts him to find that actually likes killing things and the power that he’s amassed.
“Trespass” brings to end the storyline about the mutt, which is a good thing because it’s been sort of a dud from the beginning of the series. One would think that, with six capable werewolves hunting down one solitary mutt, they could have prevented at least one or two of the murders. Elena seems to be a defining part of finding mutts, and yet the show doesn’t really explain why that is. Clay hints at it, Jeremy hopes she’ll stay at Stonehaven because of her power, but Bitten never provides reason for this.
There’s also a strange but tenuous connection between the Stonehaven pack and the rest of the town. No one trusts Jeremy and the others, and when hunters stumble upon the body of the boy with the Stonehaven guys around him, they immediately jump to conclusions about what they’ve done. Yet these episodes have made it clear the whole town thinks a normal wolf is doing the killings, so the town should have no reason to suspect Jeremy and the others, right?
That part of it just doesn’t sit right. Are there people that know Bitten’s characters are werewolves? If so, we haven’t been given evidence of how they’ve come to find out that knowledge (besides a quick shot of some guy catching Elena’s fight with a coyote on camera, and even then, that’s quickly been forgotten).
The show’s still got a lot of work to do with its secondary characters. Nick and Pete are on the outskirts of the group; generally I just refer to Nick as skinny other dude, and Pete’s the semi-punk guy who plays in a band that does the Warped Tour. It turns out we won’t get to know any more about Pete other than hearsay anyway; in the last scene of “Trespass,” the dude gets killed by some other werewolf, leading Elena to have to come back to Stonehaven again.
As it stands, Bitten still hasn’t turned me yet. It’s a competent enough show but there are some major flaws running throughout. I’m not sure how much more I can take of Elena and Clayton’s annoying flirtations; part of that is because I just can’t take Greyston Holt seriously in the slightest, and his consistent growlings and angry faces would probably make good memes. But I am excited to see where the promised serial killer storyline takes the story; Bitten needs to figure out why Elena is so important to the Stonehaven family, however.
American Horror Story: Coven: “The Seven Wonders” – Wednesday, January 29, 10 PM
Hey Stevie Nicks, you came back for us after all! One wonders (and by one I mean me) if this season of American Horror Story wasn’t just a lead-up to a music video reshoot of Stevie singing “Seven Wonders.” I can see the writing room now; Ryan Murphy makes his pitch, saying, “Yeah yeah, we said we’d do witches and everything. We’ll get to all that stuff later. But what we really need to figure out – RIGHT NOW – is how Stevie Nicks can perform ‘Seven Wonders’ because goddam do I love that song. And if we can work in ‘Rhiannon,’ lunch is on me.”
It’s because Coven has been so all over the place that I bring this up, because it’s hard to argue that this season has effectively wrapped up any one of its million plot strands. Marie Laveau and Madame LaLaurie? They get what’s coming to them, but they also changed barely at all throughout even when the show hinted they did. Axeman? Not even relevant. Zombies? Clever aside, as was Papa Legba.
Sure, Coven‘s been fun but it has also skirted around some of its main themes. Mothers and daughters was one of them, and that gets a potential ending in “The Seven Wonders” after Fiona fakes her death and returns to finish things up with Cordelia. She begs forgiveness even after attempting to kill every witch off to remain Supreme, and yet it’s an astonishingly weak attempt at final characterization. In fact, after Fiona dies she goes to Hell to exemplify the exact same character flaws she used to have.
If anything, Coven refused to allow its characters to change throughout the season. Stagnation set in; where the show was headed was anybody’s guess. “The Seven Wonders” sums up the season’s agenda by giving us a look at the actual wonders being performed, and thus crowning the new Supreme, who spoiler alert happens to be Cordelia. She’s the only fitting witch to become the new ruler of the coven, if only because it doesn’t make sense to have two really terrible Supremes in a row, but Coven has done a poor job of making the viewer feel like Cordelia has excelled at all. End spoiler
Despite being a rather incongruous mess, though, “The Seven Wonders” is more fun as an episode than I can say for many of the preceding ones. Subtle or smart it is not, but it has its moments of witchery. It’s just too bad Coven‘s prior episodes muddled the plot so much, because there is hope in the concluding scenes: witches gather at Mrs. Robichaux’s Academy, eager to explore a place where they finally fit in. It’s the same way American Horror Story attracts so many viewers: with flair and promise, but it’s always a gamble how it will turn out.
Helix: “The White Room” – Friday, January 31, 10 PM
The White Room is an inside joke at Arctic Biosystems; apparently these scientists working on super-advanced viruses and stuff have time to have a laugh or two as well. One scientist responds to Balleseros’ question of where Dr. Hvitt is by saying, “We’re all in the White Room.” It’s a cryptic message that would probably be more akin to something on Lost, but Helix runs with it and thankfully delivers more to that phrase than making the viewer wait a whole season to find out what it means.
This is part of the charm of Helix, because even though the show has quite a number of different ideas running throughout its core, it never fails to try to clear up some of the side-mysteries that come up. In “The White Room,” there’s more advancement made with characters because the show begins to mix up interactions between the people on the base. It also handles the death of Doreen rather well, forcing Alan to put aside his work on Peter to figure out who could be murdering his staff.
There is a certainly a sense of risk involved in Helix right now; the problems that the scientists are facing are nearly insurmountable, and you can feel the frustration of failure right on the horizon – as Alan says in this episode, his staff members are falling apart. Sarah is harboring a vector and using morphine; Julia’s stuck down in Level R trying to keep away from vectors; Doreen is dead. It’s not going well for all of them.
But Helix doesn’t fall into the habit of allowing things to escalate without end. Balleseros has been the mysterious enemy of the group while working as their friend, but Alan figures out that he’s actually the one that killed Doreen, and he also plans to get evacuated by the military after stealing Dr. Hvitt’s head from a weird circle out in the snow.
This is the weakest aspect of “The White Room” because the show fails to make this an important premise. It’s sprung on us this episode because Balleseros is tasked with bringing Dr. Hvitt back with them. We can surmise it’s either some cure for the disease, or perhaps a vector to spread the virus; whatever the case, though, the show will have to do more with this plot line in the next episode.
But the strongest area of the episode is the focus on characters who have not interacted much throughout the show. Alan and Sarah spend some time with each other, as do Julia and Dr. Hatake; that latter interaction is much darker than Julia knows at this time, because Hatake has inflicted his own wound in order to get closer to her. Since Helix hasn’t spent too much time on developing its characters, this is a much-needed break from the hectic pacing of trying to find a cure for the virus.
I hope we hear more about Dr. Hvitt for next episode, and Hatake’s advances toward Julia should soon come to light. Helix is starting to dive into that area of storytelling where there are too many problems to contend with, so I suspect we will start to see some things resolved as well. However, it’s still a quality show you should be watching.
That’s it for American Horror Story: Coven on DEADtime TV! Next week we’ll have more of The Following, Helix, Bitten, and, in a couple of weeks, the return of The Walking Dead!