As if there’s not enough great stuff on TV at the moment, I watched the first episode of Breaking Bad this week, and it was great. Goodbye, social life…
This Week I Have Been Mostly Watching…
Series one of Homeland was the big hit of last year, picking up Emmys for everything from acting to catering (or at least it would if such as Emmy existed). But series two was greeted with more apprehension than excitement. Shouldn’t it have just ended after series one rather than dragging the plot out? And how on Earth would they get around the fact that Carrie is no longer working for the CIA?
As for the latter point, Homeland just did a 24 and bypassed all accuracy and believability in favour of whatever plot contrivances were needed to get Carrie back on the job. But who cares when the drama is still so good?! Rather than pottering about and slowly building the tension over a few episodes, Homeland did what no-one expected at hit the ground running. By the end of episode two, the CIA had proof that Brody was a terrorist. By the end of episode five, he’d apparently broken and turned double-agent (or is that triple agent?). Half way through the series, and Homeland has a whole new dynamic. The sexual tension between Carrie and Brody is still there, but frankly, by this point, who knows if it’s real or if they’re playing each other? And has Brody really turned?
Walking The Line
Homeland treads a very fine line between excellent drama and overblown ridiculousness. Dana Brody seems to be trapped in The New Adventures of Kim Bauer and the showrunners’ grasp of geography is tenuous at best, but Homeland can coast along for the rest of this series, and possibly one other, on the strength of its Emmy-winning leads. And with that electric interrogation scene, Claire Danes and Damien Lewis have a fair chance of doing the double and picking the gongs up two years’ running.
The other thing that keeps it going is that blistering pace. The audience barely have time to grasp one status quo before another one supplants it. Which means that if one plot is getting boring, or is just too unlikely to stomach, then no worries – you’ll soon be swept along to the next one. The trick lies in not making the audience feel rushed – good pacing should feel exhilarating, not confusing, and Homeland has it down to a tee.
The Warmed Up Dead
The Walking Dead is another one that has struck the perfect pace this season, after their much-criticised meandering series two. By the end of episode four they were in the prison, we’d been introduced to Woodbury (and the clearly unhinged Governor), and T-Dog and Lori were dead. No-one could accuse series three of being slow (although the Woodbury plot seems to be moving at a more leisurely pace than the prison one), but what I find most impressive is that the showrunners aren’t neglecting character in favour of pace. In fact, every single character is stronger this series, with nice character beats woven in amongst the (many) zombie attacks. Lori was even becoming likeable, and her death scene was truly moving.
A show, however, that is being a bit to pacy for its own good is Arrow. In the UK we’ve only just seen episode four, and Olllie’s already been arrested for being Arrow. It’s moving forward way too quickly for its own good. Laurel has already forgiven Oliver for sleeping with her sister (and getting her killed), Dig has already discovered Oliver’s secret identity (sadly ending their enjoyably spiky banter), and Deadshot’s been killed (and don’t get me started on how Green Arrow could in no way kill Deadshot). Arrow could have done with letting us get to know their characters before beginning to dramatically move them around the board. I know the CW network isn’t exactly known for its introspective shows, but I’d like to have seen more of Oliver adjusting to life back in civilisation. Also, more Dig. There can’t be enough Dig. He’s brilliant.
On The Horizon
Children in Need this year revealed not only a short prequel to Doctor Who’s Christmas Special The Snowmen, but also the first proper trailer for the episode. We now know that the Victorian-set episode will feature Madame Vastra, Jenny and the Sontaran Strax, all introduced in A Good Man Goes to War (in which Strax died – it’s that timey-wimey thing again), and will introduce Jenna Louise-Coleman (properly this time) as Clara Oswin. Who of course must be completely different to Oswin Oswald, the character she played in Asylum of the Daleks…
The Doctor has retired, donned some Victorian togs (top hats are apparently cool now) and lives in the clouds. Possibly. Richard E Grant looks like he’s having a fine old time as a supervillain, and this year Moffat has decided to make kids scared of snow. Merry Christmas, everyone!Tags: arrow, doctor who, doctor who christmas special the snowmen, homeland season 2, the walking dead season 3