QuickTakes: Arne Dahl S2, The Walking Dead S6, Fargo S2, Arrow S4, The Flash S2, Empire S2, American Horror Story Hotel, The Last Kingdom

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It’s that time of year when the television schedules burst back into life and are packed with new series of shows, both old favourites returning for a new run and a few unfamiliar faces trying to make their initial mark. In fact there are so many such shows cascading onto the networks at the moment that just trying to watch them all is a practical impossibility, let alone trying to keep up with in terms of penning reviews.

All of which means it’s time for one of those bumper ‘combo’ posts of QuickTakes wherein a selection of the new shows I’ve been watching in the last week get a single paragraph before we have to move on to the next. Hopefully that’s still long enough to get the gist of things. Well, they are long paragraphs after all! Read the rest of this entry »

Fargo S1 (DVD)

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It was always pretty obvious to me that as far as 2014 was concerned, the television event of the year was going to be True Detective. Not only was it the sort of show that I loved, it was universally lauded by critics and viewers alike all of whom praised the performances of the two lead actors, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The fact that the show didn’t quite live up to the hype when I finally watched it didn’t change the fact that it was undeniably landmark TV and without question the best thing on the screen all year. Certainly it wasn’t going to be knocked off that pedestal by the likes of Fargo.

fargo-dvdI should state up front at this point that I am not a Coen brothers fan. It’s not that I dislike them at all, merely that their work has always seemed to have a somewhat exclusive quality – their films are for those people who ‘get it’, and I’ve simply never felt that I have had the keycode to gain entry to their clubhouse despite the fact that much of their work has been firmly positioned within the sort of suspense, thriller, noir or gangster genres that normally would attract me like a bee to nectar. Only very recently, as their films have opened up and become more mainstream and accessible, have I finally got into watching No Country For Old Men and True Grit which I generally rated although not without some reservations. Even so, I’ve never felt the inclination to go back to their earlier works and so I’ve still not seen films which I know are acknowledged classics like Miller’s Crossing, The Big Lebowski, The Man Who Wasn’t There or indeed even 1996’s Fargo.

No surprise then that I was utterly indifferent to the prospect of a miniseries follow-up to the latter when it aired on More 4. Nor was I remotely inclined to pick up the DVD boxset of the season when it was released. That is, not until December when I noticed it was on heavy discount at HMV; together with another burst of praise in the press for Martin Freeman’s role in it as hapless, henpecked insurance salesman Lester Nygaard and there was a moment of weakness where I thought “Aww, heck, why not get it, it’s hardly a risk at that price.” Even so, when I sat down to give the first episode a try just before Christmas I can’t say that I expected to stick with it for more than an episode or two before my expectations were sure to be confirmed and I would decide that it just wasn’t for me. Read the rest of this entry »