‘Glow’

Good tv title sequences must grab your attention and sum up a show’s theme, and GLOW is a perfect example. The shiny disco Day-Glo neon titles scream “80s nostalgia here we come!” It’s all there, running throughout the series – the music, the outfits, the big hair. And a central scene in episode 1 takes place in an aerobics class which makes me, and everyone else of a certain age, think of Flashdance. We’ll be seeing a lot more women in leotards before this series is done. GLOW is the new Netflix comedy-drama from Orange Is The New Black executive producer Jenji Kohan, and the theme of strong unconventional women and their struggles is familiar to both.

We start out with aspiring actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) and her fight against sexism in Hollywood. She’s delivering the audition of her life when her misunderstanding is revealed – “You’re reading the man’s part”. The women’s part is a secretary and she gets one line. Ruth is very determined, badgering the casting director (also a tough woman) who eventually offers her a crumb of sympathy – an open casting call for “unconventional women”.

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‘Modus’

Modus is familiar even before it begins. It’s an eight part Swedish crime drama shown on BBC4 in the Saturday 9pm slot usually reserved for foreign langauge drama. The credits are familiar again – a nod to the skyline of The Bridge and the grizzly but striking black and white body parts of Trapped. It’s a new tradition that dramas especially must have stylish opening credits, extra points for slow motion and an air of chilly bleakness.

So this is Christmas, in a snow-covered pine forest. A delightful Christmas card scene but it’s cold, lonely and frightening. Euro horror merchants the Brothers Grimm taught us from an early age that monsters live in the forest and they were right. In this case, in a caravan.

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I Have Been Watching… Game of Thrones (spoiler free!)

In which guest blogger Susie Sue tells us about her love for a dark and brutal drama, and shows off her holiday snaps!

 

Last summer I was lucky enough to go to the beautiful city of Seville in southern Spain. I visited the Alcázar,  better known as the seat of House Martell.

Alcazar
Sunspear, aka Seville

I mention this mainly to show off but also because there was nearly an hour wait to get in and also airport style security when you did get through. It was that popular.

With the new season of Game of Thrones  (Sky Atlantic, 9pm Mondays – or before that if you have Sky Go or Now etc) upon us I have asked myself why – why? – is such a brutal show so appealing to me – to us? 

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‘The Island with Bear Grylls’ – In Defence

Guest blogger Modulor Dave; in defence of Channel 4 reality TV. Very grrr. All the turkey. Much win.

Last night at 9pm unlike the other 64.099 million humans in the UK, I switched over from the red button snooker to catch up with the scantily clad starvation antics of the inhabitants of Bear Grylls’ The Island (Mondays 9pm Channel 4)

I know…  I can almost hear you screaming in the comment section… “WHAT ABOUT GAME OF THRONES???”  Well, I will catch up with that, at my own pace.  I won’t be rushed. There are others who I’m sure pay closer attention to the horrors and intrigue of Westeros, and they will write about it with great humour and verve.  But for me, I’m wrapped up in the human horror-drama on Isla Gibraleón (a suitably Westerosian name!) in the Pacific ocean.

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‘The Night Manager’ – On the Box

A few words about The Night Manager, the excellent John Le Carre adaptation that has been wowing drama fans on BBC1- the last episode is this weekend. Like the majority of critics I’ve been hooked on exciting times in exotic locations with handsome actors.

The all-star cast features so many versatile, award-winning actors who have serious comedy chops. It feels like these funny charming characters are having to tone it down a bit, or indeed turn up the angry flashing stares and gritty malevolence – Hugh Laurie and Tom Hollander are amazingly sinister. Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar ( who I recognised from the film Four Lions) are shaking up the British Intelligence Services from the inside and old boys club seems to have had something of a makeover.

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‘Chewing Gum’ – On the Box

I took a risk last week on a new comedy. It sounded like something I might not really get, a life too far removed from mine, so I wondered would the jokes make sense to me? Documentaries are different – that’s information presented as learning. Comedy needs to sit on some mutual ground, a shared understanding, a reference we’re all in on – otherwise it’s a series of in-jokes interspersed by apologies “You had to be there”.

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‘Inside Amy Schumer’ – On the Box

I’m coming late to the party on the hottest name in American comedy. Amy Schumer is a household name in the States and with Comedy Central UK advertising her stuff every two minutes she’ll soon be well-known here.

And she totally deserves it.

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