Reviews: Continuum, House of Cards and Girls

Monday, August 12, 2013 Permalink

I recently wrote about my newfound love for HBO’s The Newsroom. It’d been a while since I’d gushed about TV on DVD as I’ve struggled to find a video (DVD) library in my new hometown. In fact I seem to be jinxed with my local Blockbuster closing down just before I moved town (they must have heard I was leaving?!) and the library I joined here closed shortly after my arrival.

I’m yet to scout out for a new source of viewing fodder, but as I joined my mother up to her local Video Ezy several years ago I took advantage of their offerings during my recent (post hip-replacement) mother-sitting stint. I knew for a fact that they had HEAPS of TV on DVD and when I borrowed The Newsroom, I salivated about what would come next. As I absorb a lot of trash in print and online about TV shows, I already knew where I wanted to start. And, I was both pleasantly surprised and depressingly disappointed at my choices.

Continuum – a big THUMBS UP
I follow some people on Twitter who LOVE this show. It’s a Sci Fi offering so the same people love Buffy, Fringe and the like. I’m not hugely into science fiction (in general, having never been converted to Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek or Stargate etc) but was keen to suss this out as the premise sounded interesting.

It’s essentially a show about a cop from the future (2077) who inadvertently time-travels back to 2012 with (Liber8) terrorists attempting to avoid the death penalty. It’s intriguing as the future is essentially a ‘police-state’ controlled by just a few corporations. The terrorists are attempting to go back in time to change history. The goodies and baddies aren’t overtly obvious, although it’s a good lesson in the means actually being as important as the ends. Adding another layer, we come across some of the same ‘players’ and families in both time zones.

Bizarrely I previously disliked lead actress and future cop Rachel Nichols for no other reason than she felt like an interloper when she appeared for a season in Criminal Minds. At the time I was missing some other regulars so was understandably bitter at her intrusion. However, I love her in Continuum and can now appreciate her fresh-faced beauty and steely resolution (as we’re not starting off on the wrong foot).

I’d heard that the first season started well, with an interesting plot, but disintegrated into just another cop drama. I actually disagree now that I’ve seen it. I loved the future-world gadgets that travelled in time with Nichols’ Keira Cameron and the complexity of the supporting characters. In 2012 Cameron is essentially reliant on a teenage boy who goes on to develop the technology of the future; and already his role in everything that happens between 2012 and 2077 is a mystery.

Verdict – it’s a bit like a cross between Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Fringe. It gets a big thumbs up from me and I’m eagerly awaiting season 2!

House of Cards – okay, but not AMAZING
So, I know this isn’t exactly TV on DVD, as the show’s not actually on television – rather it was streamed via Netflix (which I don’t entirely understand!). But, it’s been nominated for heaps of Emmys and people RAVE about it. I can see why: Kevin Spacey is amazing; Robyn Wright is amazing.

The show is centred around Spacey’s Francis Underwood and his wife, Claire (Wright). It begins just after an election when Underwood is expected to be named Secretary of State. We learn that he deserves the role and has essentially been promised the role, but some back-room dealings thwart the plan.

The President and his ‘faceless men’ (as oft-discussed here in Oz) expect Underwood to return to his House Majority Whip role and play nicely.

Underwood has other ideas and, supported by his wife and staff, he sets about a course of events that are impossible to predict.

It’s the back-room stuff I love about politics – the deals being done and players needing to be 15 steps ahead of others and knowing how the cards (!!!) will fall.

Spacey’s Underwood is more conniving than many-a-politician in the real world – well hopefully at least those in Oz. Our politicians aren’t yet as beholden (owned) by big business and ridiculously powerful lobby groups – although given the current state of perceived media bias and use of mining industry and unions to sway voters – I’d say we’re getting there!

Journalist Zoe Barnes (played by Kate Mara) is the perfect protagonist / lackey to Spacey’s Underwood. Desperately ambitious, her naiveté (or otherwise) keeps her interesting and I’m keen to follow her increasing consciousness of politics’ seedy underbelly to see what she does with the knowledge.

Interestingly Underwood (well, Spacey) often talks directly to the camera (audience). Occasionally it’s to explain something that’s happening, or to offer an editorial comment. It can be enlightening but it does take a bit of getting used to.

Verdict – I enjoyed the show and watched it in a couple of days. I’m not sure why but Kevin Spacey’s (apparent) South Carolinian accent irks at times, though I do note he turned it on when he needed to ‘up’ the charm. I’ll watch the next season because I’m interested to know if Underwood’s wheeling and dealing has paid off. And of course, I’m keen to follow Zoe’s progression. I cannot help but think that Underwood’s influence (below) might have rubbed off.

“Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power – in this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries.”
Francis Underwood in Episode 2

Girls – WTF?!
I’ve heard that Lena Dunham is a genius. I’ve been wanting to see Girls since it first aired in the US. I’m constantly reading about the show being smart and sassy. Etcetera.

So I was gobsmacked to discover that I bloody well hated the show.

Sorry fans, but… I. Don’t. Get. The. Fuss.

I don’t like any of the characters. I know Dunham’s Hannah is supposed to be awkward and gauche, but friggin’ hell. Unlikeable much?!

And as for Hannah’s friends, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna, I get nothing. Their characters feel really underdeveloped and the only character I find I can stand (which is weird because I’ve disliked the actress, Zosia Mamet, in other stuff) is Shoshanna, for whom I feel some pity.

Essentially the plot is centred around wannabe writer Hannah, who has been cut-off financially by her long-suffering parents. She’s in a relationship (of sorts) with a guy (Adam) who seemingly has minimal interest in her, other than sex – which she usually initiates anyway. I’m not sure how else to describe the plot other than that it follows Hannah’s relationships with her friends, Adam and her parents.

I know a show can essentially be about nothing (Seinfeld) or relationships (Sex and the City) but in my little mind, they worked and this doesn’t. It’s not funny enough, the characters aren’t interesting or likeable. I kept asking myself, “Why should I care?”

I do apologise to fans and I know we all have different tastes for a reason but I usually ‘get’ the popular stuff. Even if they’re not my ‘cup of tea’ (like Game of Thrones) I can see what others like about it; but that’s not the case with Girls. I gave it a chance. I watched episode after episode waiting for it to improve or for me to ‘get’ it. But I didn’t. I’m usually far more polite in my reviews or posts, but Girls gets enough good press that I figure my measly little review will have minimal impact. Perhaps it’s the kind of show you love or hate. And sadly, well….

Verdict – huh? I don’t think I’ll bother with Season two.

Do you watch any of these shows? Do you agree, or do you think I’m entirely crazy?
Have I tempted you to try one of them?

  • Jo Tracey
    August 12, 2013

    House of Cards appeals. I noticed they have the whole season playing on the flight on the way over- so it could be my sleepless at altitude choice for the way home.

    • Debbish
      August 13, 2013

      There are quite a few episodes and it took me a couple of days to watch it, but I did watch it back-to-back which is why I love TV on DVD. I watch other shows and really cannot remember exactly what happened in the last episode (particularly if there are small nuances). I need a good ‘recap’ or I need to watch them one after the other! And yes, I’d recommend House of Cards!

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