Hey Liberal Dead-heads, it’s Ryne from The Moon is a Dead World. This week on DEADtime TV we’re covering all of Rosemary’s Baby in two installments, plus the premiere of Penny Dreadful covered by Shawn! He’s also continuing his review of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, and I’ve got my hands full with the rest. Enjoy!
Rosemary’s Baby: “Night One” – Sunday, May 11 at 9 PM
Let’s get this right out in the open: it doesn’t matter if a remake of Rosemary’s Baby is necessary or warranted, doesn’t matter in comparison to Roman Polanski’s original. This NBC miniseries is its own program and should be treated as such, not likened to what came before it. A remake should stand or fall on its own merits, not be treated as the ugly little brother. So in reviewing “Night One” and “Night Two,” there will be no question of whether Polanski’s original factors in – it doesn’t.
This two-part miniseries, at around 3 hours in length when cutting out commercials, stars Patrick J. Adams of Suits as the husband Guy Woodhouse and Zoe Saldana as Rosemary Woodhouse, a couple who lost a baby once and have given up on that dream in order to accomplish the other things they want in life. Guy gets a contract as an English professor in France, and he’s also set to write a new book. Rosemary takes up cooking lessons, and quickly makes friends with the prestigious Castevets, who allow the couple to stay in their swanky apartment after a freak fire damages the Woodhouse abode.
After they move into the Castevet estate, all kinds of strange things start to happen. First of all, they’re given a weird meowing cat, and there’s some guy who keeps stalking them through the streets of France. Rosemary begins to see visions of people having crazy sex, and she dreams of throwing herself from the balcony of the apartment like the previous tenant did. And yet she still trusts in the Castevets, and allows them to perform a ritual on her for making a baby.
Though this NBC adaptation is somewhat competent, the most startlingly bad thing about it is how completely obvious “Night One” plays everything. Ominous stares abound; when we first meet the Castevets, Rosemary’s Baby practically puts a sign on their heads that says “Don’t trust these people.” While most people watching the miniseries probably know the main conceit of the film, the show unnecessarily destroys all sense of mystery by repeatedly slamming the viewer’s head into the table. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a subliminal message hidden behind the video saying “THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG GOING ON HERE!”
And the obviousness of the situation makes everything seem very forced. When Rosemary first meets Margaux Castevet to return her wallet, she magically appears out of thin air, saying, “My ears are ringing.” Yes, because everyone always knows when people are talking about them in a different room. The amount of freak incidents would be enough to turn anyone off from the Castevets’ apartment, but Rosemary and Guy decide to stay anyway. Not only that, but they also strangely allow the Castevets to dictate when the couple have sex to make a baby. I’d be all, “We might be friends but how about you don’t tell me when to fuck my wife, and don’t feed her some weird chicken pomegranate pith soup. Oh yeah, and why does the cat’s purring sound like hot tub bubbles?”
The other cringeworthy portion of “Night One” is that it takes an entire hour and a half to show that the Castevets are weird. I think we got that about fifteen minutes in, so it’s absolutely egregious to take an entire episode to make sure that the viewer feels the oddness. Ultimately, “Night One” is about characterizing the couple and their weird friends, but it makes for a fairly boring and predictable first half.
While there will undoubtedly be people who enjoy Rosemary’s Baby‘s penchant for telling the viewer exactly how they should feel, “Night One” is almost wholly unnecessary. It’s 90 minutes that could have been cut down considerably; although I haven’t seen the second part yet, I would venture a guess that this could have easily been reduced to three hour-long episodes. We’ll see how the second half concludes, but so far Rosemary’s Baby is a half-baked slog.
Salem: “Survivors” – Sunday, May 11 at 10 PM
As Mary Sibley continues her reign of terror as a witch, working to curse her last innocent souls before the Harvest Moon, Salem has become a bit more attuned to the characters’ suspicions and the methods required to deceive. Before, there was really no one who could stop Mary’s behavior: she cast a spell on a woman, that woman would point the finger at someone who could possibly be a witch, and then they were executed. In “Survivors,” that power Mary had over the afflicted woman is gone, leaving her vulnerable to all sorts of accusations.
It’s all due to an exorcism that drives the literal snake out from the woman’s stomach; when Mary tries to force her to accuse the blacksmith of witchcraft, it fails and she knows something’s up. Mary’s own accomplices, including Magistrate Hale and a hag who lives in the woods and presumably has something to do with the Grand Rites, turn on her, at least temporarily after Mary cursed Hale’s daughter Anne. Things aren’t looking good for Mary, but that’s important for Salem; for too long it has felt like Mary is near-unstoppable, and since she’s so close to those Rites, who knows what she could do once she achieves them.
John and Cotton Mather are also suspicious of witches in town, but Mary doesn’t really cross their minds. It is Hale that John is concerned with, and even when Hale throws John a party to try to gain his trust, John rebukes it thinking that Hale is full of shit. He is, and it seems Hale will be the avenue to get to Mary.
A newcomer to town, an old acquaintance of John’s in the war named Hooke, comes to do some business in Salem as well, and he learns of Mary’s witchy powers thanks to a letter provided him, in blood, by George Sibley. Unfortunately his effort is for naught, because Hooke would rather blackmail Mary than take it to someone who could do something about it. This moment is a bit strange, although I would guess not outside of Hooke’s character; still, the opportunity is squandered when John, egged on by Tituba, murders Hooke and brings a special Pandora’s Box back to Mary.
The secret workings of Mary and Tituba are a nice addition to Salem‘s usual plots about witch accusations, and “Survivors” is a different sort of episode aided by the necessity to fool and turn many of the characters to different sides. I’d like to see more of this squabbling about, because it makes for a more exciting episode and also brings more of the characters into the show; how long it can last, however, depends on how good the writers are at thinking up new ways for Mary to avoid detection.
Penny Dreadful: “Night Work” – Sunday, May 11 at 10 PM
What a way to introduce a new series! Penny Dreadful’s first episode was made available for free by Showtime on their youtube channel, weeks ago. I knew I had to write this new series up for DEADtime TV, since I’ve been somewhat of a nomad after the conclusion of this season of The Walking Dead. I took over coverage of From Dusk Till Dawn from Kevin for the past several weeks, but that show is coming to an end as well, so I told Ryne I’d tackle Penny Dreadful. I was apprehensive, for whatever reason, but man, I wish I had watched the show weeks ago. I knew almost nothing about this show going in, so my level of excitement was practically non-existent, but after taking the pilot episode in last night, this is one I’m going to look forward to with great anticipation each week.
Some had described this as an anthology series, but it really isn’t. It’s more of an interconnected story, sort of like Crash, but for classic gothic horror characters and stories. Jack The Ripper, Frankenstein, Van Helsing, etc, are all part of the show, and all connected to the same seedy underworld. It’s really quite impressive, and actually made me jump in my seat a couple of times, which if you know anything about me, is quite an accomplishment. The fact that the show is airing on Showtime, and can be as gory and risque as it wants to, definitely lends to the quality of the overall experience, but even if it weren’t as gory and as sexy as it is, it would still be an amazing show, filled with interesting characters, played aptly by talented, recognizable actors. Josh Hartnett, Eva Green and Timothy Dalton are just a few recognizable faces that you’ll be treated to in the pilot episode, with more to come.
The story hasn’t really developed yet, to the point that I feel comfortable in giving it a synopsis, but it is definitely interesting, and I can tell already that it’s going to go to some dark places. The first minute of the pilot episode alone was enough to rope me in for the duration of the show. This episode follows renowned explorer Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives, as well as their newly recruited sharpshooter, Ethan Chandler, as they tear the London underworld apart, in search of Murray’s daughter that has been taken by a creature of the night. The story is interesting, the makeup and effects are outstanding, and the presentation is really creepier than most horror movies I’ve seen lately. It’s good to see Showtime back in the horror game. While most would consider Dexter to have been a “Horror” show, I looked at it as just another TV drama. I liked it, and it had elements of horror, but that’s not horror. I was a fan of Masters of Horror, even episodes that other people despise. I was heartbroken to see it go. Penny Dreadful has the potential to fill that void. Tune in next week for a recap of the second episode of Penny Dreadful.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series: “Boxman” – Tuesday, May 13 at 9 PM
The penultimate episode of From Dusk Till Dawn was a strange one, to say the least. Some things are revealed, while bigger questions are posited. And, you want to know a secret? Not one, but TWO actual F-Bombs were dropped in the uncensored version of the show available on iTunes and other VOD platforms, including Netflix in regions outside of the US. Up until now, even in the uncut episodes the only major curse words were dropped in Spanish. I can’t understand why this couldn’t have been happening all throughout the show. Now it just feels random and out of place, because a precedence of avoiding that word has been set. Maybe the Blu-rays will be even more “uncut”? Who knows. In any event, I had to rewind the show, because I wasn’t even thinking about it at first. Then, I thought to myself “Did he just say fuck?” And yes, yes he did.
In this episode of From Dusk Till Dawn, Richie and Seth are forced to make their way through some spiritual labyrinth in order to free Santanico Pandemonium. It really gives us the first glimpse of the Gecko brothers on-the-job. I mean, we saw a flashback to the bank robbery, but it was a little half-assed, don’t you think? These are supposed to be the best crime team in the south, and we finally see them(somewhat) in that form here. The labyrinth works as sort of a conscience cleanser. Richie and Seth have to complete a job in order to free Santanico, but the labyrinth utilizes dark memories from both of the brother’s brains, in order to prevent their success. It’s not a new concept, by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel as if it was pulled off in an effective way. Also, it turns out that Sex Machine is a little TOO obsessed with they mythology behind the temple they’re making their way though in the dark, as he takes Kate hostage, and tries to turn her into a blood sacrifice. It is also finally revealed to the family that Scott has been killed and turned into a snakepire.
I’m not entirely sure how they’re going to close the season out. The departure from the source material is too huge to make any speculation that I feel comfortable with. The one thing I do know, though, is that a second season has already been announced and ordered, it’s highly doubtful that we’re going to get any real closure. Rodriguez promised us that the first season would consist of the one night in the movie, which is somewhat true, padded with unnecessary filler and flashbacks early on, but now we’ve deviated so far from the original story that it’s almost unrecognizable. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a thing, nonetheless. Tune in next week for the season finale, and my recap of the event here on DEADtime TV.
Rosemary’s Baby: “Night Two” – Thursday, May 15 at 9 PM
Well, “Night Two” is a bit better than “Night One,” and I say that reservedly, because Rosemary’s Baby as a whole is just not a good miniseries. If part one was boring, it’s because part two crams the entire meat of the plot into the concluding hour and a half. Though I see where the creators were going, the result is a very unequal two-parter that forces the last half to do all of the work.
In this concluding portion of the miniseries, Rosemary actually gets pregnant, and the show reveals that her husband Guy is actually in on the whole witch cult/devil baby plot. Guy transforms very quickly, from a loving and caring person who really seems to understand his wife to a man so distant from her that he doesn’t even notice her drastic haircut. And Rosemary’s once sort-of-creepy-but-in-a-helpful-way benefactors, the Castevets, now become so obnoxiously interested in Rosemary’s pregnancy that it’s hard to feel like Rosemary is being anything but naive when she gratefully accepts their gross herbal smoothies and “expert” obstetrician.
Unfortunately, Rosemary’s Baby‘s second half plays out about as predictably as the first. It starts off with a problematic conception – she gets sick a lot, cries a lot, then finds out that no one wants to help her – and then the paranoia sets in, aided by the kindly police investigator not in on the cult. But though “Night Two” puts Rosemary into a lot of uncomfortable situations as an expecting mother (and I can see many moms watching at home cringing at the pain she’s going through), it is an episode that is again lacking any sort of tension.
Since everything has been telegraphed in the first portion of this miniseries, the obvious plays out with barely any surprises. If the TV movie had been cut down to just three episodes, Rosemary’s Baby could have eliminated most of the unnecessary characterization and odd happenings of “Night One” so the creepy factor of the Castevets wasn’t so obvious. But “Night Two” often feels like a retread of the first part, just with an added pregnancy for good measure.
It all ends with a really lackluster conclusion that saps all energy and chills out of Rosemary’s resolution to raise a devil child. It’s played out so woodenly that it almost feels like this miniseries could be turned into a sitcom, with Rosemary the fun stay-at-home mom trying to deal with a demonic kid who just can’t stop getting into trouble and killing the neighbors. There’s not even a modicum of suspense – it’s just dropped on the viewer, and, like, deal with it.
Or just skip the miniseries entirely, because at three hours in length it’s both overly long and incredibly predictable. If there’s one thing Rosemary’s Baby isn’t pregnant with, it’s suspense.
Hannibal: “Tome-wan” – Friday, May 16 at 10 PM
Hannibal shows us its cards in “Tome-wan,” or it at least pretends to. This season, it’s been hard to tell when the show is bluffing and when it isn’t, sucking the viewer into the same psychological game of cat-and-mouse that Will has been forced to play with Hannibal to bring him down. This time, Will makes some big moves, and it seems like he may have the upper hand; but when Gillian Anderson comes back as Hannibal’s psychiatrist Dr. Du Maurier, she insists that even when Hannibal proclaims to be in the dark, he’s always one step ahead.
It’s a sinister reveal, along with the fact that Hannibal manipulated her into killing one of her own patients. Hannibal has been doing this all along, and she hints that it won’t end just because Will thinks he can out-maneuver him; there is something uncanny under the surface of Hannibal’s mind, and she knows that Hannibal knows Will better than he knows himself.
There’s a definite sense of danger, a goading from Will, every moment that Hannibal and Will get together. Hannibal knows that Will sicced Mason Verger on him; Mason knows that Hannibal knows, and he plays with him just as much as Will does. Everyone in “Tome-wan” is there to deceive, and sometimes even the viewer doesn’t know who is telling the truth and who is not. That is Hannibal‘s best improvement this season: even Will, who is meant to be our eyes to the injustice and incredible cruelty of Hannibal, has blurred to the point where it is difficult to tell where he ends and a killer begins. His fantasy, even, is to slit Hannibal’s throat and feed him to some pigs.
But “Tome-wan” has one of Hannibal‘s most surrealistic moments as well. Hannibal gives Mason a psychedelic drug and then proceeds to manipulate him into cutting his own face off and feeding it to Will’s dogs, an act that mimics his own life’s work. It is gruesome and somewhat overacted but entirely fun, and it also shows the depths that Will is willing to plumb – that he allows it, that he does not put Mason out of the misery sure to come, is a sign of Will’s dedication as well as how much Hannibal has, knowingly or unknowingly for Will, changed him.
Though I find it hard to believe that Jack would tolerate this sort of behavior simply to catch Hannibal, it is a step in the right direction. It is also a vengeful act that allows Margot Verger the chance to get the revenge she wants from Mason after he not only takes away her ability to give birth but also scars her. It’s all incredibly grim, but not without its own black humor.
We move on to the season finale of this year’s best show next week, and it seems apparent that Jack will not be returning in season three – if he’s not killed by Hannibal, he might be going to jail. Either way, it’s sure to be an incredibly eventful night of television that leaves everyone reeling; whether it will be Hannibal, or Will, or both, will be the question that drives us into season three.
Next week, the season finale of Hannibal! Other than that, we’ll be covering the same old stuff. Tune in!