Friday, October 30, 2020

Nancy Drew

If last fall, after I'd watched a few episodes of the "dark reboot" of Nancy Drew, you'd tell me it would end up being my favorite adaptation of the year I would have laughed at you. Yes, I admit I'm all about the "dark reboot" having devoured the first season of Riverdale over a harsh weekend in 2017, but a dark Nancy Drew? Sure I was interested, but not sure I'd be hooked. I viewed it as a nice Wednesday night paring with Riverdale. But as Riverdale's quality continued to tank I looked more and more at Nancy Drew to be my Wednesday fix to get me through the rest of the week. Though I do applaud Riverdale for the nice twist of fate in that they were doing their own Hardy Boys tribute with this season's Baxter Brothers. A coincidence? Hell no. Do I care? Not as long as it entertained me. So what changed? What made me push aside an old favorite and choose a mildly diverting show about the residents of Horseshoe Bay, Maine, and the recent high school grads working at The Bayside Claw, a perennially failing restaurant? Much like Perry Mason, this isn't your parent's Nancy Drew, but I think that's why it works. And aside from the fact that it grows on you, I loved that the mysteries they tackled each week made all the characters personally involved. Their history, their backstory, their past relationships, everything tied into the narrative to make this bay side community rife with crime and more importantly the supernatural. The fact that the supernatural is real here still makes me giddy. It's not just hinted at or intimated, ghosts are REAL! And I love me some ghosts and ghouls. What's more, Nancy is being haunted by the ghost of Dead Lucy, the local urban legend which is very much based in truth and very much important to Nancy's backstory. Yet, my favorite character, hand's down, is George's mother, Victoria Fan, played by Liza Lapira. George was Nancy's former nemesis and now boss and George's mother knows everything there is to know about the supernatural. She's usually drunk and hostile because she's trying to shut herself off from the supernatural goings-on, but when she strolls into the Claw, you know it's going to be a kick ass episode. I would watch a show just about her! Until that day I at least have Nancy Drew.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

I Am Not Okay With This

Earlier this year when I Am Not Okay With This debuted I admit I was suffering superhero fatigue. I mean, seriously, why do we need so many films and shows churning out the same story over and over again? So a story about a young girl, Sydney Novak, dealing with sudden powers did not feel like something I wanted to watch. Again. Enter my book club, and the fact that almost every single member started harassing me to watch this superhero origin story. I think they might have even threatened me, which I of course forgave as soon as I watched the show. I Am Not Okay With This reinvents the superhero origin story for those with superhero fatigue. It's a coming of age tale that just happens to have supernatural elements. I have since become a spokesperson for this show demanding everyone I know to watch it. The way I catch them is by saying it's as if John Hughes and David Lynch decided to make a show together. Because that is seriously the vibe. The teen angst, the music, the mysteries, the full out Carrie dance! What makes it even more special is that it's about not just Sydney struggling with her new powers, it's her struggling with who she is, and in particular her sexual orientation as she realizes she has feelings for her best friend Dina. This show is just unabashedly fun and inclusive and wonderful and Netflix I am still BEYOND pissed with you for cancelling this delightful series. Yes, I have the graphic novel to still read, but that isn't enough. I want more teen angst, I want to know who that stranger at the end offering to help Sydney was, and most importantly, I want more Stanley Barber. Stanley Barber has entered my pantheon of great geeky boys. He joins such luminaries as Duckie and Bill Haverchuck. Keep on being you Stanley. Keep on being you.   

Monday, October 26, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong
Published by: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Thorne Manor has always been haunted...and it has always haunted Bronwyn Dale. As a young girl, Bronwyn could pass through a time slip in her great-aunt's house, where she visited William Thorne, a boy her own age, born two centuries earlier. After a family tragedy, the house was shuttered and Bronwyn was convinced that William existed only in her imagination.

Now, twenty years later Bronwyn inherits Thorne Manor. And when she returns, William is waiting.

William Thorne is no longer the boy she remembers. He’s a difficult and tempestuous man, his own life marred by tragedy and a scandal that had him retreating to self-imposed exile in his beloved moors. He’s also none too pleased with Bronwyn for abandoning him all those years ago.

As their friendship rekindles and sparks into something more, Bronwyn must also deal with ghosts in the present version of the house. Soon she realizes they are linked to William and the secret scandal that drove him back to Thorne Manor. To build a future, Bronwyn must confront the past."

A Gothic timeslip in a beautiful edition by Subterranean Press! 

Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 208 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Bone Witch meets Sherlock Holmes in this thrilling historical fantasy about a girl with the ability to raise the dead who must delve into her city’s dangerous magical underworld to stop a series of murders.

Catherine Daly has an unusual talent. By day she works for a printer. But by night, she awakens the dead for a few precious moments with loved ones seeking a final goodbye. But this magic comes with a price: for every hour that a ghost is brought back, Catherine loses an hour from her own life.

When Catherine is given the unusual task of collecting a timepiece from an old grave, she is sure that the mysterious item must contain some kind of enchantment. So she enlists Guy Nolan, the watchmaker’s son, to help her dig it up. But instead of a timepiece, they find a surprise: the body of a teenage boy. And as they watch, he comes back to life - not as the pale imitation that Catherine can conjure, but as a living, breathing boy. A boy with no memory of his past.

This magic is more powerful than any Catherine has ever encountered, and revealing it brings dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. For this mysterious magic could mean the difference between life and death - for all of them."

Is it wrong I'm just as interested in Catherine working in a print shop as her being a necromancer?

The Magpie Society by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch
Published by: Penguin
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Kindle, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Seven for a secret, never to be told...

Illumen Hall is a boarding school of tradition and achievement.

But tragedy strikes when the body of a girl, a student, is discovered - on her back is an elaborate tattoo of a magpie.

For new student Audrey, it is just another strange and unsettling thing about her new surroundings. And for her roommate Ivy, well, she's just annoyed she has to share with the new girl from America.

As an unlikely friendship develops, the two are drawn deeper into the mystery of this strange and terrible murder. They will discover that something dangerous is at the heart of their school.

Welcome to The Magpie Society.

Told from two alternating view-points, this is the first book in a modern gothic thriller series that will have you gripped like no other book this year. Get ready for your new YA obsession..."

GOTHIC!!! 

The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A shocking murder in an affluent Helsinki suburb has ties to witchcraft and the occult in this thrilling U.S. debut from Finnish author Max Seeck.

A bestselling author’s wife has been found dead in a gorgeous black evening gown, sitting at the head of an empty dining table. Her most chilling feature - her face is frozen in a ghastly smile.

At first it seems as though a deranged psychopath is reenacting the gruesome murders from the Witch Hunt trilogy, bestsellers written by the victim’s husband. But investigator Jessica Niemi soon realizes she’s not looking for a single killer but rather for dozens of believers in a sinister form of witchcraft who know her every move and are always one step ahead.

As the bodies start piling up, Jessica knows they won’t stop until they get what they want. And when her dark past comes to light, Jessica finds herself battling her own demons while desperately trying to catch a coven of killers before they claim their next victim."

I'm all about hints of the occult in my killings!

Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg
Published by: 47north
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A world of enchanted injustice needs a disenchanting woman in an all-new fantasy series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.

The orphaned Elsie Camden learned as a girl that there were two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those, like her, born with the ability to break them. But as an unlicensed magic user, her gift is a crime. Commissioned by an underground group known as the Cowls, Elsie uses her spellbreaking to push back against the aristocrats and help the common man. She always did love the tale of Robin Hood.

Elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey is one elusive spell away from his mastership when he catches Elsie breaking an enchantment. To protect her secret, Elsie strikes a bargain. She'll help Bacchus fix unruly spells around his estate if he doesn't turn her in. Working together, Elsie's trust in - and fondness for - the handsome stranger grows. So does her trepidation about the rise in the murders of wizards and the theft of the spellbooks their bodies leave behind.

For a rogue spellbreaker like Elsie, there's so much to learn about her powers, her family, the intriguing Bacchus, and the untold dangers shadowing every step of a journey she's destined to complete. But will she uncover the mystery before it's too late to save everything she loves?"

Magic and murders? YAS!

The Lost Spells by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris
Published by: Anansi International
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 120 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Since its publication in 2017, The Lost Words has enchanted readers with its poetry and illustrations of the natural world. Now, The Lost Spells, a book kindred in spirit and tone, continues to re-wild the lives of children and adults.

The Lost Spells evokes the wonder of everyday nature, conjuring up red foxes, birch trees, jackdaws, and more in poems and illustrations that flow between the pages and into readers' minds. Robert Macfarlane's spell-poems and Jackie Morris's watercolour illustrations are musical and magical: these are summoning spells, words of recollection, charms of protection. To read The Lost Spells is to see anew the natural world within our grasp and to be reminded of what happens when we allow it to slip away."

I've had a signed copy of this book ordered for what seems like forever now!

The Key to Tarot by A.E. White
Published by: Rider
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 176 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"First published in 1910, The Key to the Tarot is the essential guide to unlocking the secrets of tarot from the legendary creator of the Rider Waite Tarot Deck and renowned scholar of occultism, A. E. Waite. This practical book explains the history and symbolism of the tarot deck as well as providing a step-by-step guide to using the cards for divination practices. From mapping out your next career move to discovering your true passion in life, this is your key to harnessing the power of the tarot."

I have the deck and a friend of mine keeps saying I'd be good at this, perhaps I should give it a go?

Outlander Knitting by Kate Atherley
Published by: Clarkson Potter
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 192 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Feel the magic of Outlander at your fingertips with this officially licensed book of knitting: twenty patterns inspired by the hit series from STARZ and Sony Pictures Television, based on Diana Gabaldon's bestselling novels.

From the Scottish Highlands to the courts of Versailles to the eastern shores of North America, the TV show Outlander brings to life in gorgeous detail the epic love story of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser. But beyond the drama and passion, what has captured fans’ imagination the most are the rustic knits worn on the show.

Now knitters of all skill levels can recreate them with twenty projects for apparel, accessories, and home d├ęcor that take inspiration from memorable episodes. Knit the capelet cowl that Mrs. Fitz gives to Claire at Castle Leoch, warm your feet with Clan Mackenzie Boot Socks, swaddle your bairn with the Mo Chridhe Baby Blanket, and dress your Jamie in a warm waistcoat. From chunky knits to Celtic cables, each project includes a clearly written pattern, gorgeous photography, and scenes from the set.

A love letter to the fans, Outlander Knitting will have you wishing you could time travel to the Highlands."

People think I'm joking when I say I watch Outlander for the knitwear. I'm totally serious.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O'Neill
Published by: Oni Press
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 128 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng's care, Greta still can't chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth."

My addiction to this series is such that I now have Tea Dragons...

Sue and Tai-chan by Konami Kanata
Published by: Kodansha Comics
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Paperback
To Buy

The official patter:
"The adorable new odd-couple cat comedy manga from the creator of the beloved Chi's Sweet Home and Chi's Sweet Adventures, in full color and formatted for English readers, just like Chi!

Sue is an aging housecat who's looking forward to living out her life in peace...but her plans change when the mischievous black tomcat Tai-chan enters the picture! Hey! Sue never signed up to be a catsitter! Sue and Tai-chan is the latest from the reigning meow-narch of cute kitty comics, Kanata Konami."

More cats from Konami Kanata!!!

Vagrant Queen by Magdalene Visaggio and Jason Smith
Published by: Vault Comics
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 144 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Get ready - Vagrant Queen is BACK! Elida Al-feyr has finally managed to build a happy life...until a mysterious man in an ancient white ship shows up and takes it all away. And hey, where the hell is Isaac?"

If you're still pissed the show was cancelled... 

Little Bones by N.V. Peacock
Published by: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"I have three names: I was born Leigh-Ann. I became Cherrie. When I was a child, they called me Little Bones...
My father was Mr Bones - the notorious serial killer of 25 years ago.
As a child I witnessed his crimes.
Everything is different now. I have a new identity. I’m a mother. I am finally free.
Until that podcast. I should never have listened.
They’re linking a recent disappearance to the crimes of the past.
They know who I am. They’re calling me Little Bones again.
They say I’m a villain but I’m not. I’m a victim.
You believe me, don’t you?"

A legacy of murder and an unreliable narrator, a perfect Halloween read!

Friday, October 23, 2020

You

Back in 2018 when I first heard about You I was instantly hooked by the idea that Dan Humphrey had finally reached the pinnacle of his evolution. He was nothing more than a stalker on Gossip Girl, so to actually end up killing the object of his affection, well, that was logical wasn't it? I applaud Penn Badgley for being willing to not just rewrite the history of what made him a teenage heartthrob, but to lean into the creepier aspects of Dan to become Joe. Season one of You was a powerhouse of stalking and bookish New York with Joe's bookstore and Beck's delusions of being an author, just throw in a rare L. Frank Baum book and a Salinger, and the book geek in me was as obsessed with this show as Joe was with Beck. Therefore I was a little hesitant as to how I'd like season two. Joe was being yanked out of his New York intelligentsia bubble and being transplanted in Los Angeles, the least Joe place I can think of. And yet... it worked. It REALLY worked. Joe meant to kept his head down and just survive and here he is being drawn into the world of Love Quinn and her co-dependent brother Forty. The stalking of Love is on a much more equal footing than with Beck. She herself has dark secrets and a past and somehow like calls to like and you find yourself rooting for these two crazy people to succeed. At the same time as this there's a part of Joe trying to be a social justice warrior. We saw this in season one with his care of the neighbor kid Paco and here he embraces his landlord's little sister Ellie. Because of these he gets pulled into the world of comedian and friend of Forty, Henderson, who is just as creepy on screen as off. So in barely no time at all Joe has forged new connections and a new life for himself, this time with people who are willing to back up his murderous inclinations. But we know that a happily ever after couldn't be on the cards for a killer... so the story continues and who knows who will be his next obsession. Could it be you?    

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Belgravia

Ah Belgravia, Julian Fellowes's followup to Downton Abbey. So it's a neighborhood and not a house, that didn't make me any less interested. In fact, because of being exposed to Upstairs Downstairs at a young age I think setting the series in the newly built neighborhood of Belgravia made me even more excited to watch it, for years it was my dream address after all. What really struck me about this series is it was what Fellowes is known for but on a condensed scale. Six episodes for all the ups and downs, all the betrayals and misunderstandings. Only six episodes to make you fall for characters you were indifferent to in the first episode and make you pity those you despised at the start when the end credits rolled. And he did it all! All the beats, all the ups and downs, this is Regency and Early Victorian Downton Abbey! I think what really made it work was perfect casting. Philip Glenister, Tamsin Greig, Saskia Reeves, Bronagh Gallagher, Harriet Walter, Tom Wilkinson, James Fleet, Tara Fitzgerald, and Nicholas Rowe! What a cast! But there were two standouts, Tamsin Greig as Anne Trenchard and Alice Eve as Anne's daughter-in-law Susan. Alice Eve surprised me because I really have never thought she could act until now. Tamsin Greig surprised me because I know her as a comedic actress and here she brought the drama! As a mother who lost her daughter and gave up her daughter's child to be raised by someone else, her pain is palpable. Then when she decides to bare her soul to that child's other grandparent, Harriet Walter as Caroline Bellasis, Countess of Brockenhurst, because she knows the pain of losing a child, well, so many tears. But there was also so much humor arising out of gamesmanship and one-upping in social circles. Seriously, this series has it all, heart and humor. I think it got overshadowed by Fellowes's previous fame and the chaotic state of the world, but if you need a good period drama that will make you feel all warm and cozy inside, look no further than Belgravia.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Tuesday Tomorrow

Shirley Jackson: Four Novels of the 1940s and 1950s by Shirley Jackson
Published by: Library of America
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 850 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the author of The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, four classic novels of subtle psychological horror.

Shirley Jackson - the beloved author of The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle - is more and more being recognized as one of the finest writers of the American gothic tradition, a true heir of Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James. Now, Jackson's award-winning biographer Ruth Franklin gathers the subtle, chilling, hypnotic novels with which she began her unique career. Her haunting debut tale The Road Through the Wall (1948) explores the secret desires, petty hatreds, and ultimate terrors that lurk beneath the picture-perfect domesticities of a suburban California neighborhood. In Hangsaman (1951) - inspired by the real-life disappearance of a Bennington College sophomore - the precocious but lonely Natalie Waite grows increasingly dependent on an imaginary friend. The Bird's Nest (1954) has not one but four protagonists: the shy, demure young Elizabeth and, revealed with a series of surprising twists, her other, multiple personalities. At the beginning of The Sundial (1958), the eccentric Halloran clan, gathered at the family manse for a funeral, becomes convinced that the world is about to end and that only those who remain in the house shall be saved. In what is perhaps her most unsettling novel, Jackson follows their crazed, violent preparations for the afterlife. Here is the perfect companion to Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories, Library of America's edition of Jackson's landmark story collection, The Lottery, and her brilliant late novels The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle."

Since their first collection I have been desperate for Library of America to FINALLY release another volume of Shirley Jackson's work, and now it's here at last!

Dying is Easy by Joe Hill and Martin Simmonds
Published by: IDW Publishing
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 128 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Comedy is hard...but dying is easy! From New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill (Locke and Key) comes this new graphic novel mystery.

Meet Syd "Sh*t-Talk" Homes, a disgraced ex-cop turned bitter stand-up comic turned... possible felon? Carl Dixon is on the verge of comedy superstardom and he got there the dirty way: by stealing jokes. He's got a killer act, an ugly past, and more enemies than punchlines. So when someone asks Syd Homes how much it would cost to have Dixon killed, Syd isn't surprised in the slightest. But, once he's accused, he's on the run and it's going to take all of his investigative chops to suss out the real killer before he gets caught.

This crime thriller by writer Joe Hill and artist Martin Simmonds follows in the tradition of fair-play mysteries inviting readers to solve the murder before Syd does!"

It's the year and particularly the month of Joe Hill, so need some more, here you go!

Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
""Reading a perfectly plotted Agatha Christie is like crunching into a perfect apple: that pure, crisp, absolute satisfaction.”  - Tana French, New York Times bestselling author of the Dublin Murder Squad novels.

An all-new collection of winter-themed stories from the Queen of Mystery, just in time for the holidays - including the original version of “Christmas Adventure,” never before released in the United States!

There’s a chill in the air and the days are growing shorter...It’s the perfect time to curl up in front of a crackling fire with these wintry whodunits from the legendary Agatha Christie. But beware of deadly snowdrifts and dangerous gifts, poisoned meals and mysterious guests. This chilling compendium of short stories - some featuring beloved detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple - is an essential omnibus for Christie fans and the perfect holiday gift for mystery lovers."

There's nothing that says winter to me like a good murder mystery and nothing is better than tales hand picked for the occasion! 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Published by: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 8368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A dazzling new edition of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, fully illustrated in brilliant color and featuring exclusive interactive paper craft elements, including a foldout Hogwarts letter and more!

In this stunning new edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, experience the story as never before. J.K. Rowling's complete and unabridged text is accompanied by full-color illustrations on nearly every page and eight exclusive, interactive paper craft elements: Readers will open Harry's Hogwarts letter, reveal the magical entryway to Diagon Alley, make a sumptuous feast appear in the Great Hall, and more.

Designed and illustrated by award-winning design studio MinaLima - best known for establishing the visual graphic style of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films - this edition is sure to be a keepsake for Harry Potter fans, a beautiful addition to any collector's bookshelf, and an enchanting way to introduce the first book in this beloved series to a new generation of readers."

While I have issues with the Harry Potter adaptations with regard to certain narrative choices, the visual look never fails to impress me and hence this book is high on my list of things I'm looking forward to this fall. MinaLima, the design team behind the films brings us this lavishly illustrated edition of Harry's first adventure.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
Published by: Crown
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges - how to get relative with the inevitable - you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It’s a love letter. To life.

It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights - and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.

Good luck."

If there's anyone out there that seems to be thriving and putting out positivity during this pandemic it's Matthew McConaughey, and I am here for it!

Friday, October 16, 2020

His Dark Materials

Back in 2017 when Philip Pullman released Volume One of The Book of Dust, La Belle Sauvage, I did a deep dive into the world of His Dark Materials, re-reading all the classics and hunting down all the short stories I had missed. I even went so far as the re-watch the much maligned film. It was nowhere near as bad as I remembered, but nowhere near what these beloved books deserved, especially that sanitized ending. Therefore I was looking forward to this series with bated breath. Obviously it had to be better! On the one hand they had the time to fully explore the world, on the other hand, television series don't get the budgets of blockbusters, especially when there had been a previous and costly prior attempt. Still, the casting made my heart jump, Ruth Wilson!?! Ruth 'Alice' Wilson as Mrs. Coulter!?! That right there was enough. They could mess up everything else but I was spared the most complicated character being given to someone not up to the challenge. While this adaptation as a whole wasn't perfect, I think it was as close to perfect as we're ever going to get. The three main points of contention are the expansion of the roles of the adults, the daemon problem, and the introduction of plot points from The Subtle Knife. Well, more Ruth Wilson just made me happy and made me finally understand Mrs. Coulter, and this was done to deepen the world as well as to get around how many hours child actors can work. The daemon problem, well, yes, I understand that there is a problem, but I think it was the explanation versus the execution. Daemons needed to be better explained as our other halves versus more camera time, because I don't think we will ever get to a point where we'll have realistic CGI animals. The final issue I will fight you tooth and claw over. The Subtle Knife has plot points that take place concurrently with The Golden Compass, so one, it made sense to include them in season one because then we don't have half a season with no Lyra, and two, the big reveal of Lord Boreal and Sir Charles Latrom being the same person doesn't work in television! You'd go, hey, that's the same actor in five seconds. So it was a logical change. Plus, it made me more invested in Will from the start. What I do find entertaining though is that not one review mentioned the one major gripe I had, which was there just wasn't enough snow!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Stargirl

There's nothing nicer than a pleasant surprise and that's exactly what Stargirl turned out to be. Ever since the end of Smallville I haven't been a fan of the direction all the DC series have taken on the CW. I swear I tried to like them, but after I think only three episodes of Arrow I was done. That was it with me and DC. I declared myself a Marvel girl and moved on. That is until this most recent "Crisis on Infinite Earths." Yes, they lured me back in with bringing back Tom Welling! Damn you CW! But add to that Brandon Routh returning as Superman, Wil Wheaton as a doomsday protestor, Russell Tovey, Kevin Conroy as the bleakest Batman you could imagine, Ezra Miller, and Lucifer Morningstar himself, Tom Ellis, and I couldn't NOT watch! While the cameos were fantastic, the episodes were lackluster, reinforcing my opinion of the DC universe on the CW. Yet the Crisis Aftermath show hosted by Kevin Smith dissecting the episodes and seriously geeking out were wonderful. It was during this that I first heard of Stargirl. Geoff Johns, the creator of Stargirl, was on discussing his work on everything DC from Smallville to Doom Patrol. I was interested because he talked about how he turned a personal tragedy, the death of his sister Courtney on TWA Flight 800, into creating a new brand of superhero with Courtney Whitmore, AKA Stargirl. Now this could be something I could get into I said to myself. He might have also mentioned Luke Wilson... I'm hazy on that part. Mmm, Luke Wilson. Anyway when the show came around my DVR was ready and yet it took me a few weeks to finally bite the bullet. What if the CW let me down, again? Then oddly my rewatching of Upstairs, Downstairs forced my hand, how could I resist the chauffeur becoming the villain? I was delightfully surprised. This show reminds me of Smallville at it's best. It's earnest without being cloying. It's dark without being bleak. It's a light in the darkness that we're all facing right now. Even if I'm a little shaken that I'm now the age of the parents on this type of show, Stargirl is a show I'm very glad will be coming back to the small screen with a second season and MORE Joel McHale! Joel's the original Starman, FYI.        

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