Tag Archives: Accents

David Bowie crosses the ocean with panache

20 Mar

I just finished watching the US version of Life on Mars (starting off my Spring Break by marathonning old shows) and ohmygod that was such a better resolution than the UK version!

Life on Mars is a little obscure, so I’ll summarise: The premise of the show is that a detective in present day (2008ish) gets hit by a car and winds up in 1973. . Hi s name is Sam Tyler. He doesn’t know why or how or how to get back or if he’s dreaming or in a coma or just insane. He works as a detective in the past, dealing with the differences in the time periods. He has weird interactions with himself as a little boy. He uses the best aliases (Tom Cruise, Luke Skywalker, etc). And he deals with time travel in the tongue-in-cheek/Marty McFly way, making references to things he probably shouldn’t, which makes the show fun!


I love the many things they kept the same about the US remake: Sam’s goody-two-shoes, by-the-book personality doesn’t jive with the way they do things in 1973; he wears the same clothes: that shirt with the ridiculous 70’s collar and a leather jacket; he has an adorable, but weird romance with Annie; he has an adorable but weird father-son/bromance with his boss; he’s really really confused about why he’s in 1973; he has awkward interactions with his family; he uses police techniques from the future…

But they also added so many little things that made the show different and more American: for instance, one of the first differences Sam notices about the 1973 world is that the Twin Towers are still standing; you also get all these tantalising references to politics of the time, with references to how honest Nixon is when you know that Watergate is lurking.

In the end, like US The Office remake, the US version of Life on Mars went in its own direction and emerged as a show that was good on its own merits, rather than just coasting on the waves of the original’s success.

Where the UK version was this super-surreal experience, where the viewer was just as confused as the main character, if not moreso, the US version toned it down quite a bit. Not to say that you didn’t understand US!Sam’s confusion and disorientation and wonder about the mystery of his apparent time travel, but you weren’t immersed in the experience as much as in the UK version. I actually liked it better this way because the viewer got to do just that, observe and empathise, but wasn’t necessarily forcibly perplexed and befuddled by the weird of the show.

And, without massive spoilers, let me just say that the US version’s ending was so much more satisfying than the UK one. After two seasons of confusing and contradictory theories about why Sam was in the past, the UK series finale is bittersweet and only sorta resolves the issues. You never really know if he was dreaming or actually in a coma and if he can go back to 1973 or if he’s dead or what. The season finale of the US version, on the other hand, gives an explanation and conclusion that actually explains everything and ties all the weird and confusing elements of the show up in a neat little sci-fi bundle. It’s satisfying and was (at least to me) unexpected and clever!


It’s only 17 episodes, and is on DVD and Netflix. Watch it when  you need a quick time-travel fix.

Being Human on Two Continents

8 Feb

I find that my appreciation of TV shows depends a lot on how they’re marketed to me. If I expect something from a TV show, it takes a bit of effort in order to get past that expectation and appreciate it for what it is.

That being said, I think it’s important that people know what they’re getting into when they start a new TV show, so here’s your prep:

Being Human is not a comedy.

The BBC/British version was sometimes described as a comedy, at least according to Wikipedia and some of the TV ads I’ve seen.  (I think it probably started when some ad exec heard the premise: “A werewolf, ghost and vampire in a flat together? That sounds like the start of a joke. Must be a comedy!”)

It’s really not though. It’s a supernatural drama with the occasional humorous moment. As the seasons go on, the show’s been focussing more and more on the dramatic aspect of interaction between George (werewolf), Mitchell (vampire) and Annie (ghost) and their various acquaintances…so much drama that there’s hardly any comedy anymore.

It is well written, and, if you like watching supernatural dramas, it’s interesting without being a soap opera, which I definitely appreciate. It’s a drama with just enough traces of comedy to make watching it enjoyable.


The SyFy/American version, on the other hand, makes no claim to be a comedy. It’s pure drama through and through. Somehow, (at least so far) it’s managed to stay away from the soap opera tendency of other supernatural shows, like Vampire Diaries or True Blood or The Gates, but it’s not nearly as witty as its counterpart..

The people are prettier in the US version, because apparently Hollywood’s influence in inescapable. In the UK version, while the main characters are nice to look at, everyone else is remarkable only in how normal and sometimes fugly they look.

Character names have changed, even though most of the plot points have stayed the same. Mitchell’s Aidan, Annie is Sally and George is Josh. It shouldn’t matter, but the name changes mess up my connective brain just enough that it’s like I’m watching a whole new show…but that’s probably just me.

The only change I don’t like is that Sally’s outfit isn’t nearly as cool as Annie’s was. (Yeah, I’m going to talk about clothes now. I’m a girl. Deal with it.) Annie was wearing layers, and she managed to vary the way she wore them so that it seemed like she was changing her clothes. But she wasn’t! It’s brilliant. I think it took me seven episodes to notice that although her outfit had changed every week, it really was just the same five pieces worn in different ways. Sally’s only got three layers, and no way to change her look, which makes me sad; I think the creativity of Annie’s outfit is one of the best parts of the Brit show.

The Cape: Campy Champion-y

25 Jan

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer (which I don’t think shows how good the show actually is, but will still give you an idea of what you’re in for):


Reasons I like this show so far:

It’s fun! The entire show, from the basic premise of superhero with magical cape powers to execution of the plotline, edges on the ridiculous. But it’s just on the edge. As of the three episodes I’ve seen, it walks the fine line of enjoyable goofiness and has yet to fall into the trap of being an absurd farce. I think it’s the perfect level of campy, as long as you approach it with that in mind.

It’s a comic book, no really. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about this show that makes it feel like watching a live-action comic book. It’s great! I think it’s the fact that everything’s just slightly overacted: enough so it’s thematic, but not so much that it’s annoying or too cheesy. And the background music is always perfect: slightly cartoony but subtle enough not to be noticed all the time.

It’s straightforward: Don’t know if it was my familiarity with the actor, or the fact that he’s the only British guy in the show, but I knew the identity of the ‘masked villain Chess’ (which is a cool name without being too ridiculous) within the first five minutes of the pilot. You were obviously meant to.

Honestly, I didn’t mind. After suffering through shows like The Event and Flash Forward, where the mystery and confusion of not knowing anything just blurs into tedium, I like having things laid out for me so openly. Plus, it adds to the feel that it’s an old-school comic, where bad guys were bad guys and good guys were good guys and you enjoyed watching them duke it out.
And, it’s not so predictable that it’s boring though, which is trap No Ordinary Family tends to fall into.

It’s got great names: Love that the Big Brother figure is Orwell. I’m sure everyone got the literary reference, but it makes the English major in me happy.

Also, Carnival of Crime! I mean, come on. It’s brilliant and alliterative and fun all in one title. And they robbed banks in circus costumes, with a dwarf and using an ice-cream truck and a raccoon. It’s hard not to love it.

It’s unexpectedly witty: Do we think the raccoon acted alone?”


2011: A Year of Geek Movies

8 Jan

There are a ridiculous amount of geeky movies coming out this year.

With superheroes, fairy tales, robots, gods, aliens, vampires, gnomes, zombies, genetically engineered apes, smurfs, pirates, spies, witches, wizards, pandas…the movie selection this year is a smörgåsbord of geek topics.


Season of the Witch: Jan 7th


The Green Hornet: Jan 14th


Gnomeo and Juliet: Feb 11


I am Number Four: Feb 18th


All Star Superman: Feb 22nd


The Adjustment Bureau: March 4th


Mars Needs Moms: March 11th


Battle: Los Angeles: March 11th


Beastly: March 18th


Paul: March 18th


Dylan Dog: Dead of Night: March (tentatively)


Sucker Punch: March 25


Super: April 1st

Starring Rainn Wilson as The Crimson Bolt, a powerless superhero who wields a wrench, it looks like it’s going to be Kick Ass level of good.


Source Code: April 1st


Your Highness: April 8th


Thor: May 6th


Priest: May 13th


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: May 20th


Kung Fu Panda 2: May 27th


X-Men First Class: June 3rd


Green Lantern: Emerald Knights: June 7th

Straight to DVD animated movie about Kyle Rayner and a time-travelling Hal Jordan as they team up with the JLA and Green Arrow to fight Sinestro and Parallax.


Super 8: June 10th


Rise of the Apes: June 24th

Planet of the Apes prequel which shows how the apes came to rule to world, starring James Franco.


Green Lantern: June 17th


Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon: July 1st


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: July 15th


Captain America: The First Avenger: July 22nd

If you don’t know what this is going to be about, shame on you.


Cowboys and Aliens: July 29th


The Smurfs: August 3rd


Conan the Barbarian: August 19th

Conan”s adventures on his quest to avenge the death of his father and the slaughter of his village.


Fright Night: August 19th


Johnny English Reborn: September 16th

Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) tries to stop a band of assassins from killing the Chinese Premier


Now: September 30th

A society where aging stops at 25 and the rich are immortal while the rest struggle to survive. Starring Justin Timberlake, who’s falsely accused of murder, on the run with his hostage Amanda Seyfried.


Real Steel: October 7th


The Thing: October 14th


Puss in Boots: November 4th

Origins of the swashbuckling cat from the Shrek movies.


Immortals: November 11th

3D movie where Theseus (Henry Cavill) must fight to save his people and the Greek gods from the mad King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke).


Arthur Christmas: November 23rd


Sherlock Holmes 2: December 16th

After how awesome the first one was, we all knew the sequel was inevitable.


The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn: December 28th

3D motion-capture film based on the comics: Tintin’s first encounter with Captain Haddock and their adventures trying to find his ancestor’s hidden treasure.


Tekken: Sometime in 2011


These are trailers for the ones I’m actually likely to go see. For even more, see this io9 post.

Bah, Humbug! And Tribbles too.

10 Dec

Christmas is a time when people get all dressed up and go to the theatre. Not just Chinese food and the cinema: the Theatre (with everything that the capitalisation implies).

After seeing The Nutcracker for the twentieth time in a row, shouldn’t you try something …a little more exciting?

I have the perfect solution: A Klingon Christmas Carol.
(You might think I’m making that up for alliteration’s sake, but I’m really not.)

Not just a pure translation of the Dickensian classic, this is an adaptation where Scrooge is a Klingon warrior who recovers his honour and courage when three spirits visit him, just in time to save Tiny Tim from a horrible fate.

In case you didn’t know, Klingon (tlhIngan Hol) is one of the most complete fictional languages out there. There are hundreds of people who are conversationally fluent in it. There’s a multi-day convention held by the Klingon Lanugage Institute dedicated solely to the study of the language. Works of Shakespeare have been translated into Klingon. Everything from novels to opera, poetry, greeting cards, songs…the list of original and translated Klingon works goes on and on.

For those of us who aren’t so good at pronouncing or deciphering the guttural sounds of the space warrior race, the play’s narration is in English and it comes with supertitles so that you can follow along.

The play runs until December 19th at the Greenhouse Theater in Chicago.

: for more info.

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