Daily Archives: May 7, 2010

True Blood 211: Oh hell, what now?

Thanks for seeing me, Sir Alan. I mean Queen Sophie-Ann.

I couldn’t understand why Bill shlepped all the way over to Queen Sophie-Ann’s pad to find out about maenads. He was forced to hang round for hours while she lazily teased him, breaking off from Greek mythology lessons to slag him off for his restricted diet of Sookie, and insisting – by far the cruellest touch – that he play Yahtzee, a game of mind-numbing tedium. My question to Bill is this: why didn’t you just look up ‘maenad’ on Wikipedia? It would have saved you a ton of trouble.

Meanwhile, Sam asked Eric for help with Maryann – this crazy situation is producing some weird bedfellows – and bizarrely, Eric also set off to see the Queen, the Wonderful Queen of Oz. Even if Eric, like your grandpa, is too old to get his head round the internet, surely Pam could help?

Any road up, the vampires all swanned about Sophie-Ann’s, which resembled the sort of house they put The Apprentice candidates in, to demonstrate the glitzy naff Essex lifestyle they won’t be enjoying any time soon. Meanwhile, Lafayette and Sookie were having to keep Tara locked up with Lafayette’s fluffy handcuffs. Lord knows I was happy to be on the porch with Sook and Laf, ready to face any kind of monster, rather than inside with the snivelling Lettie Mae. Why can’t she get eaten or de-hearted or just go on a nice long vacation? Spare me any more of her eye-rolling, god-bothering, lip-smacking nonsense. Anyway, Tara knew just how to manipulate her, and soon she was free and hightailing it off to find Eggs, while poor traumatised Lafayette cowered at the sight of Lettie Mae pointing a rifle at him. Or as Lafayette himself said, ‘Oh hell, what now?’ It was worth the price of admission to see Eric in a blouse and skirt.

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Ashes to Ashes (3.6): Braveheart in Paco Rabanne

With the end in sight the Ashes to Ashes team delivered a clenched fist of an episode tonight. Not even top-quality Huntisms (the rioting prisoners are “Scum de la scum – you name it, they raped it, robbed it, killed it.”; his riposte to Alex’s “I hope you’ve got a heart in there.” – “I’ve got two. Mine and some toerag’s I ate earlier.”) could pierce the darkness for more than a moment.

It was a clever move to have Viv taken hostage by the prisoners (as well as essential for the backstory to work) – he’s a sympathetic character, but one we don’t know well enough that we can second guess his reactions. So, we’re worried about him (and that football of his – I can’t help but admire the chutzpah of the writers chucking in random red herrings just to bait us – the bastards) and then there’s the mysterious Paul Thordy (the internet serves up dozens of anagrams for this – many of them faintly mucky-sounding – but none that scream out for attention. I suspect I’ve just had my chain yanked again…).

I had chills and tingles top to toe when Alex opened the cell window on Thordy (the escaped prisoner who apparently precipitated the prison riot) to be confronted by Steven Robinson doing his best Sam Tyler meets the Master impersonation… The mania was very Time Lord, but everything else – that classic Life on Mars intro (“Am I mad, in a coma….”), the intonation, the physical mannerisms, were close enough to conjure the tiniest drop of doubt. After all, we’re told Thordy is a conman and a fantasist – so he can’t be our beloved Sam, surely? When Ray and Chris go to pick him up and declare Alex would go nuts if she knew who he was, they’re alluding to the fact that Thordy was Sam’s last arrest before he died – right?

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Burn Notice: A weekly course in spycraft

Fiver started running Burn Notice and Archer within a couple of weeks of each other, and unable to resist the lure of hyped-up press releases and American spies I duly tuned in.

Eight weeks later only one of them is still set for series record. A burn notice is, apparently, the CIA’s equivalent of the P45. When a spy gets fired (or burned) it’s not just his job that goes. They are wiped off the grid – no access to money, prior influences, no job history, no identity. If you get burned, you’re a non-person.

Michael Westen (played by Jeffrey Donovan) is our reluctant ex-spy. Burned at the worst possible moment (mid-negotiation with Nigerian bad guys), he flees home to Miami where his only support comes from his ex-girlfriend Fi, his friend Sam and his mom (the fabulous Sharon Gless).

Michael is on a personal mission to find out why he’s been burned, but with his assets frozen he is forced to work with his slightly crazy ex and slightly hopeless friend A-Team stylee to pay his bills.

The premise does sound a bit cliched, but the execution has me hooked. Westen’s not my idea of eye candy, but he’s likeable and the first-person narration explaining tradecraft is superb. When I’m watching I honestly believe that I could make my own bugs (or a bug-sweeper), or turn someone’s laptop into a very expensive paperweight (you need a really big magnet, if you’re wondering).

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