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The first episode of ‘Hannibal’ premieres here in Norway in just a moment. I’m tremendously excited! The series is a sort of prequel to ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991), showing the life of serial killer Hannibal Lecter before his dark deeds were revealed to the world.

'Hannibal' (2013-)

Bringing horror classics to the TV screen seems to be the thing this year. Another show has just aired which does the same thing: in ‘Bates Motel’ they introduce us to an adolescent Norman Bates (played by a near-adult and impressive Freddie Highmore) living with his mother (portrayed by Vera Farmiga) in a healthier – or should I say marginally less bleak – manner than we know he ends up doing in the legendary ‘Psycho’ (1960).

Taking on some of the biggest and most memorable horror movies of all time is a risky move, but with the increase in interesting projects and ever more impressive cast lists in recent TV productions, as admirably demonstrated with the recent Netflix success ‘House of Cards’ starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, I’m optimistic. With Mads Mikkelsen in the title role as notorious Dr Hannibal Lecter, how wrong can things possibly go? With him are actors Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne, as respectively serial killer expert agent Will Graham and agent Jack Crawford (the latter name should ring a bell if you’ve seen the movie).

Bring out the Chianti and let the fun begin!

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Last week I watched BBC’s ‘The Hollow Crown‘, which has (re)kindled a keen interest in both Shakespeare and English Royal history.

The Hollow Crown‘ is a series of four movies based on Shakespeare’s plays ‘Richard II’, ‘Henry IV part 1’, ‘Henry IV part 2’ and ‘Henry V’, collectively known as the ‘Henriad’. As much as I usually enjoy historical dramas, and Shakespeare’s stories, I find that film adaptations of his plays in the original verse forms and old language are difficult to follow. With that in mind, it was really my interest in the outrageously talented Tom Hiddleston that initially caused me to watch them – and as such, I began by watching ‘Henry IV part 1’, which is the second film in the series.

After watching the three Henry titles, I can only maintain that Hiddleston, as you will (or should) have seen as Loki in ‘Thor‘ and ‘The Avengers‘ (and should see in ‘The Deep Blue Sea‘),who here portrays Henry V (the son of Henry IV), is pure talent. He has, as far as I’m aware, been trained in the classics at Eton, and somebody did something right in training him, because he completely owns the genre. As impressive and acknowledged as Jeremy Irons (Henry IV) is, there’s something about the way Hiddleston delivers an expired language and occasionally pompous speeches in a remarkably natural way. I was absolutely blown away, and recommend the Henry films heartily. I watched ‘Richard II‘ last, and whether because it lacks Hiddleston, because it’s in rhyming verse (and therefore more difficult to deliver naturalistically) or simply because there is another director, I found this to be the least engaging of the four films.

Since finishing the series, I’ve decided to make an attempt to read some of Shakespeare’s plays. I know several of them through various theatre or movie adaptations, and I’ve always enjoyed his stories, but I’ve rarely attempted reading them. As proficient as I may be at reading English, I have to admit that I find it difficult to read Shakespearian English, and I lose my concentration easily while attempting to grasp it. However, hearing the dialogue performed as it was in the Henry films has encouraged me to think that it doesn’t have to feel all distant and difficult. Thanks, Mr Hiddleston!

The other consequence of watching ‘The Hollow Crown‘ is that I have frequently found myself spending considerable amounts of time on Wikipedia reading up on English medieval kings and queens. When you have real stories like these, really, who needs to make stuff up. Whilst reading I came across the name Tudor, which I was previously unfamiliar with except as a title of a TV series. It turns out that five (disputedly six) rulers of the English throne, from Henry VII through to Elizabeth I, were of the Tudor family. Needless to say, I got hold of the TV series and have now watched through the first of in all four seasons.

The Tudors‘ (2007-2010) is based on historical events and follows Henry VIII (played by an excellent Jonathan Rhys Meyers), the charismatic king notorious for his many wives and their unfortunate fates. Season one deals with the king’s introduction to miss Anne Boleyn and his persistent struggle with the Roman church to force through a divorce with his wife Queen Catherine in order to be with her. All the while there are intrigues and conspiracies on all sides, as the people of the royal courts struggle for power and influence.

The costumes alone makes this show worth watching, but the show is clever and interesting and full of great acting performances. Sam Neill posesses a truly engaging role as the dubious Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, while Jeremy Northam is unnerving as Sir Thomas More, the idealist and adamant lawyer who is appointed Lord Chancellor and given the task to deal with the “blasphemous” religious uprising spurred on by Martin Luther.

Please ignore the horrible, cheesy voiceover; this really is a good show:

Which is your favourite film adaptation of a Shakespeare play?

Addictive Anatomy

12/09/2012 — 3 Comments

I’ve spent what most people would consider an unhealthy amount of time this summer catching up on one of my old, guilty viewing pleasures, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.

The original interns at Seattle Grace Hospital: George O’Malley, Izzie Stevens, Alex Karev, Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang.

It started out innocently, sometime back in July, with me coming across a random episode showing on TV one afternoon after work. I was spending the summer at mum and her boyfriend’s house, a consequence of having acquired a summer job in the area, while they were blissfully sailing along the coast of Denmark.

Only a short way into the episode, I realised that what I was watching was by some coincidence the very episode following the last episode I ever watched, before I decided to quit watching while the show could arguably have been said to still have some integrity, some years ago. Nostalgia welled up like it can only do in someone as ridiculously sentimental as myself, and this nostalgia, encouraged by the fact that I was spending the summer alone in a big, empty house, miles away from any of my friends, set off a rather over-indulging new pastime. Since then, I’ve spent a worrying amount of time catching up on the ever more far-fetched and clichĂ©d plots, the arguments and the sobfests through the seasons (yes, that’s a plural) previously unwatched of this melodramatic yet strangely entertaining show.

For those unfamiliar with the show, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ follows surgical intern Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and her colleagues through their trials and tribulations during their years of training at Seattle Grace Training Hospital.

First of all, this show has won its fair share of awards, and been nominated for a huge amount as well, including dozens of Emmys. Sandra Oh, who plays my favourite character on the show, Grey’s narcissistic and sarcastic best friend Cristina Yang, was Emmy-nominated for her role five years in a row. I sincerely enjoyed the show when it first aired in 2005. I’ve always been a sucker for dramas, even a dose of melodrama, and the show was witty and sassy, with sufficiently interesting characters to keep me hooked.

“The Twisted Sisters”, Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang.

Mark “McSteamy” Sloan and Derek “McDreamy” Sheperd.

There’s only so much that can realistically happen in a person’s life in the course of a few years. Obviously, this conflicts with the interests of TV show developers, as everyday drama on screen wears thin quickly, and writers have to come up with new and interesting plot lines to keep their viewers. A few shows make it through many seasons with their integrity (more or less) intact – i. e. ‘Sopranos’ (completed after 6 seasons) and ‘Six Feet Under’ (completed after 5 seasons, with arguably the most successful ending to a TV show ever). I wish more shows would quit while they’re ahead. However, more often than not, the show is watered out and features increasingly desperate and rather absurd measures (‘Lost’, anyone?) to try to keep viewer numbers up.

A plane crash is one of the many unfortunate things that befall the doctors.

If it were up to me, I would have pulled the plug at the end of season 4, which is when I originally stopped watching the show. All the original characters were there, and the season finale would have brought a nice conclusion to the series. Season 5 and 6 hold up reasonably well, but by season 7 and lastly 8, there’s not much left to be excited about or inspired by. All the couples have split up and gotten back together at least once – and often more -, and they’ve all been through more traumatic experiences individually and collectively than that of all their patients added up. Car crashes, cancer, Alzheimers, flooding, a hospital merging and a shooting are among the extremely unfortunate – not to mention unlikely – events that have befallen the doctors over the years. And this isn’t the end of it. Even though by the end of season 8 they have all completed their internships and residencies, passed their board exams and finally become attendings, putting an end to the original concept of the show, the season ends on a cliffhanger – more unbelievable than ever – and promises yet another season, which will start airing in the U.S. by the end of this month. Sigh.

Will I still end up watching the last season? Probably. Addictive personality, me?

Have you ever found yourself addicted to a series despite its lack in quality? Which one was it and what drew you in?