The Borigas Season 1

The Borgias

I knew Jeremy Irons was in this series, but Derek Jackobi and Colm Feore too? That pushed me into watching and also seeing a snippet of some of the production values. Though, they aren’t the only reasons I stayed.

I don’t watch a lot of Showtime shows (Homeland was the other one I watched and liked recently), but I know they made this one to replace The Tudors essentially. I saw a few eps of The Tudors and while it its highs (James Frain, Natalie Dormer), it didn’t keep my focus and made me a bit bored by Jonathan Rhys Meyers whom I actually liked more before seeing him in The Tudors. I digress.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Jeremy Irons in anything. Whenever I think of him, my mind goes to Brideshead Revisited and The Man in the Iron Mask (a guilty pleasure film for me). For some reason, I keep thinking him as the men in those films so watching him play an aging Pope was surprising at first. I think his acting is solid for the most part, but there were some times when he seemed to be slurring and inconsistent. When he was good, he was good though. Derek Jackobi is only in the first episode which is a bit of a waste. As for Colm Feore, he’s in the whole series, but his character is quite dour and scared half the time. I do like Feore; he’s got a reputation in Canada. He has a full frontal nudity shot in this series which is a bit random and surprising. I didn’t expect to see that much of him.

All that said, the actor that I stayed for is Francois Arnaud who plays Cesare Boriga. He is perhaps the star of this series as he steals your attention even in scenes with the venerable Jeremy Irons. When I first saw him, he looked so familiar to me. Maybe I had seen him in some Quebec production or maybe he just looks so French-Canadian. He has a lot of chemistry with the rest of the cast and strangely enough, he huamnized his character too much. Cesare Borgia is a sociopath and in real life, probably was a psychopath. Jordan and Arnaud have portrayed him as less psycho than history has, making him more conflicted and a tad emo (in a good way). Usually, historical characters are made worse. In this case, he is a lot better, but still disconcerting knowing how Cesare will become worse and worse. Arnaud has a lot of chemistry with Holliday Grainger who plays his sister Lucrezia Borgia. She is also excellently cast and even looked 14 at the beginning of the series. Cesare/Arnaud has chemistry with everyone except perhaps his intended love interest Urusula. I blame this somewhat on the actress, but mostly on the bad writing of the relationship.

All in all, a well acted and well designed series. The writing is not the tightest, but it’s vastly better than The Tudors or the terrible Camelot (yes I saw and those are hours i will never get back; still love you Eva Green). One last thing, I love the opening credits of this series. It’s snippets of the show interlaced with Renaissance art. It’s gorgeous and done with really good music. It is also a bit funny because I always smile when the goat appears. Most shows nowadays don’t do proper opening credits and even when they do, they aren’t that good.

The opening credits for this show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOoVtI9x91U

Watched 27-29 February 2012.

Boardwalk Empire Seasons 1-2

Boardwalk Empire

Season 1 – I don’t watch a lot of HBO shows or have so in the past. I missed out on “The Sopranos”, “Deadwood”, “Rome”, “The Wire” and probably a couple others I can’t name now. I do plan on watching “Game of Thrones” (have season one since it aired) after I read the book(s). I know HBO shows are critically acclaimed, but I don’t always want to watch a lot of shows with violence, nudity and general darkness. I have been more open about TV dramas this year though. I have also taken on to watching more silly CW shows than ever so I guess I can even it out with serious stuff like Homeland and Boardwalk Empire.
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Monthly TV January 2012

This lists any series or seasonal shows I have watched in marathons during the month, but also whenever I want to write about shows I am watching. Smaller mini series will tend to go in Monthly movies.

Switched at BirthSwitched at Birth – Watched episodes S1x01 to S1x11 in a few days and the new episodes since. I haven’t watched any ABC Family shows since the 90s I think. I was quite surprised how much I liked this, but I really hand’t heard anything about it until the new half of the season started. I found it addictive. Yes, it has some cheesiness, but it also has some decent storytelling. I like all the characters and I think the teens on this show are better than on most other other teen/family shows. Definitely one of my regular shows now.

HomelandHomeland – The complete first season. All the critics are saying that this is one of the best new shows of Fall 2011 and I’m inclined to agree. The acting in this is stellar. I have been indifferent to Claire Danes in the past, but this drama demonstrates what an incredible actor she is. I particularly liked the chemistry she has with Demian Lewis in this; I’m still not sure what to think about the Brody character. Maybe that’s the point though. The ending of the season was depressing if only because Carrie is a Cassandra, and I hope she gets more recognition in season two. Also more scenes with her and Brody and her and Saul (ever charismatic and talented Mandy Patinkin). I love how technology has allowed it for me to easily one season of a show in a few settings. It’s actually quite intense and more satisfying since I’ll be able to see so quickly what happens next.

Sherlock S2Sherlock series 2 – I haven’t seen the new movie yet. I did set my mood by reading House of Silk first before starting this. Off the bat, I liked this more than the first series. In general, I have some issues with this modernization of the Holmes stories. The plots and some of the story characters are heavily adapted to suit the times. I do not like what they did with Moriarity for one thing. He is ridiculously petulant and over the top. The Irene Adler in this series is not in the spirit of the Adler of the books either. Though, I enjoyed Scandal in Belgravia for the most part. The thing I liked about Irene in the book was her actions were for protection and keep herself alive.This Irene’s actions were too over the top villainous. I am also not sure of what to make of the Hound of Baskerville adaptation either; I guess atmospherically it was similar? On a positive note, I do like Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. I think the adaptation of these characters and their friendship is the best thing about the series. I like that John Watson here is more or less the Watson in the books in spirit. Sherlock here is dry and insular, but not as much as the one in the books. The finale was good too. It made me excited for series 3 which is a good sign.

Emma (2009)

Emma 2009
How did I miss this BBC adaptation in 2009 I wonder? I watched curiously as I do with all adaptations. This is at least my fifth Emma adaptation. Discounting Clueless, the other two adaptations that one can compare this 2009 one too is the ITV one with Kate Beckinsale and the Gwyneth Paltrow version, both done in 90s.

Romola Garai can be gorgeous as seen in Amazing Grace, I Capture the Castle, and Vanity Fair, but the blonde hair doesn’t suit her here. Emma can be a really annoying character, but Romla’s Emma is the most annoying that I have seen. I think I felt this annoyed with Emma when reading the book too.

Jonny Lee Miller is Knightley. He was also Edmund in the Mansfield Park film. Actually, I think Miller was almost exactly the same age Knightley as described in the book when he made this movie, about 37. He doesn’t look it though. I think his Knightley may be the best I’ve seen.He really grew on me and the ending made me almost swoon when he admitted his love for her.

The length of the mini series means you can really see how much Knightley and Emma are suited to one another. I think Miller and Garai had decent chemistry. Also, this mini series allowed Knightley to pine more than in other adaptations I’ve seen. The romantic couple is probably the best thing about this series. I didn’t really need the attempts to make Frank Churchill sympathetic, but I did like the main shipper bits. Though it does remind me that Knightley may be too good for her. Still, I like the majority of the Austen adaptations I have seen and I will say this errs on the side of being one of the better ones.

Recommended for Austenites.

Watch 23-24 January 2012.