So, I’m in the final leg of thesis work on my MA, working on last revisions and all that rigmarole. However, I do have some recommendations for those out there looking for something to watch, read, or listen to that they might had missed the first time around. Nothing ground breaking, but these are some of the series and songs that I have been really taken in by lately. Now, some of these are available on Netflix or iTunes, others require a bit of creativity to get, and yet others you will have to purchase, because that’s what the artistic teams and artists deserve. Check it out, and if there is something that had really caught your attention or imagination in the past while that you think needs more attention, leave a comment.
I was a bit skeptical about this one from the first episode, but I have to admit that it really grew on me, and I found myself unable to turn away. Maybe it’s these new short seasons, but I felt that the pace they set and work up was excellent. The re-imagining of Dracula as a classic love story, with its darker supernatural elements, really hit home. The production values were really amazing for the run-of-the-mill network. Jonathan Rhys Meyers fluid shift between ruthless killer and skillful manipulator to infatuated yet respectful lover is excellent. I really liked him in this show and don’t see myself getting tired of him in this role (which is more than I can say about the Tudors, where I had enough of him by the second season). They are keeping their lips tight about a second season, luckily they didn’t leave us with major cliff hangers; they left us with enough hints to keep us coming back, but did not place us in the infuriating place where there are a million things left unresolved and we might forget half of them before they can pick it back up again.
NBC has really been knocking it out of the park when it comes to dark mystery; picking up on everyone’s favorite cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal gives us more insight into the Hannibal before the mask. Of course, they do a weird time jump, setting Hannibal’s past in our present. However, it really works. This is another marvellous piece of television, with a short first season and an already airing second season. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what craziness Hannibal was going to get up to next. It brings in a lot of amazing actors, including the titular character being played by Mads Mikkelsen, who really breaths life into Dr. Lecter. There is a nuance tot he show, as well as an outward gore and terror factor that keep me coming back episode after episode. As Dr. Lector consults with the FBI and profilers to locate other serial killers, we really get a good chance to be inside his head. It’s made even more terrifying when, in every episode, we are given at least once lengthy scene of Hannibal showing off his culinary prowess, entertaining a variety of guests in his home with his unique take on the human palate.
Breathing life back into my childhood, this was a real joy to watch. Bringing back all the fun of the Scooby-Gang, but giving it a solid full arch plot was amazing. Voice talent is excellent, bringing on Grey DeLisle as Daphne, a role she has really breathed life back into. The inclusion of horror tropes, Cthulhu mythos, the sheer variety of supernatural and psuedo-supernatual disguises are all rolled up into the traditional Scooby style story; frightening bad guys are really just wronged individuals looking for their chance to get what they want. At only two seasons long, I think it ended a bit before its time, but then again it gives the chance for them to come back again with something new and exciting. Like the full-length movies that started actually including real supernatural elements, this series brings back everything we loved about Scooby as kids, with the same dual level intelligence that makes it entertaining for children and fun for adults.
Royal Pains – USA
A medical show where it’s not all about dramatic music, long ER scenes, and grumpy unrequited love? Yes! I was unsure about how I would feel going in to this show, seeing as I dislike Grey’s Anatomy, never got into ER, and avoiding Emily Owens MD and Hawthorne like the plague, and watch House MD only to laugh and sigh over Hugh Laurie. After half the first season, I can say I am enjoying it. The beauty and eccentricity of the Hamptons, the drama of an ambiguous post-doctorate environment, and the light-heartedness of a show that wants to show its audience another side of medical drama shows really drew me in. Like Greek, a show I was a bit iffy about until about halfway through the first season, I can say that I am exciting to catch up with this show and see where all the characters end up. You get all the fun of medical mysteries without the oppressive hospital setting! The characters feel like real people, dealing with slightly unrealistic problems (well, problems that most of us would likely never come up against, but that’s why we watch TV, right?).
Maybe I have a soft spot for monsters, or like to see those who play God get what they have coming to them (not for any religious satisfaction, but simply because cocky, narcissistic, jackass should have their asses handed to them every now and again). This series picks up on the tale of Dr. Frankenstein and his nameless (no longer) creation in modern-day New Orleans. Part cop drama, part supernatural thriller, and part mad-scientist loses his shit, this series is an indulgence. I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and though I am only on the second book, I already have the others lined up and waiting for me to get to them. If you enjoy a re-imagining of a classic which has been updates to fit the modern definition of science horror, this is the series for you.
This is the catch-all of horror manga; ghosts, demons, modified scientific monsters, serial killers . . . this manga has something for all those who enjoy horror. Additionally, it is a very interesting look into the role Buddhism plays in death and spirituality in Japan. Down on their luck and looking to earn their community service to finish at a Buddhist University, all of the main characters are somehow involved with various aspects of the death market; mediums, monks, morticians, and a screwed business manager. Each chapter investigates a new phenomenon of death, from human experimentation to self-sacrifice. I have really enjoyed reading this, as it is not only entertaining but enlightening and thought-provoking. I think it may be caught in the limbo of translation at the moment, but what you can get your hands on is well worth the time and effort. To top it off, it’s written by Eiji Otsuka, a well-known name in the fringe manga scene, an acclaimed author and critic, and founder of numerous other publications in the fringe manga market.
If you have not picked up Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key, you have been missing out. They just recently released the 6th, and final, trade issue, and it has been a hell of a ride. The story revolves around the Locke family, their familial home, Keyhouse, and the town of Lovecraft. Filled with great stories, amazing art, heart-wrenching emotion, and jaw dropping horror, this is a series that you should sit yourself down with. All of the characters are well written, the story and plot flow at a very nice pace, and each volume leaves you waiting on the edge of your seat for the next. This is what you should be reading, and if you are not you are really missing out on the comic of the decade. An Eisner award winner, this pulls ahead of Fables when it comes to how much I enjoyed reading every little bit of it.
Not much to say about this, save it is a beautiful album. Danish singer and songwriter Agnes Obel returns with some beautiful sounds and compelling lyrics, not overwrought with the tech and bass that seems to take over every other album that makes the chart, or the pouty pretty boys who all sound exactly alike. The amazing melodies and technical mastery of the musical arts really shine in Obel’s work. Give yourself a treat and set aside an hour to listen to this album from start to finish with no interruptions.
Hailing from Vancover, British Columbia, this trio of podcasters go above and beyond with their weekly endeavours to explore a single (usually heebie-jeebie) topic through science, history, and popular culture. Whether it is talking about killer crocs, bed bugs, syphilis, or Evil Dames in history, every episode is filled with a plethora of knowledge. Usually with the help of a guest-pert (a guest who has an intimate knowledge of their topic de jour), they give you 50+ minutes of gruesome knowledge. That being said, some episodes are not for everyone, as they deal with some very dark material usually with a voice of dark humour. I listen faithfully every week, as new episodes are tossed up on the site and iTunes every Monday. Already in their 5th season, there is a lot of material for you to pick and choose from.
Nightvale, a strange little city in the middle of the desert where nothing is as it seems; avoid the dog park, hail the glow cloud, and be mindful of those mischievous little ones seeking their eternal scout badge. Structured like a radio newscast, this little gem is posted every other week. Based on the unused story ideas of H.P. Lovecraft, it’s hard t go wrong when listening to this. From twisted tales and mysterious memory lapses, and to Cecil Baldwin’s love obsession with a certain scientist, it is impossible to get bored or to not pay attention with this playing. There is already a rather wide following, which is bringing much needed attention to this project, and it can only get better. Each episode is relatively short, usually clocking it at under half an hour.