Saturday, January 11, 2014

SYFY Q&A for Bitten with Laura Vandervoort and Kelley Armstrong

We have another SYFY Q&A that we wish we could have taken part in (curse the weather), this time for Bitten. Having read Kelly Armstrong’s books, we’re certainly eager to see how this translates to the TV screen. Bitten begins on Monday.

Operator:               Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Syfy Conference Call, Bitten. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded Monday, January 6th of 2014. I would now like to turn the conference over to Gary Morganstein. Please go ahead.

Gary Morgenstein:      Welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us. On Monday, January 13th at 10:00 pm Syfy's delighted to premiere the new series Bitten starring Laura Vandervoort—who's here—the series based on the bestselling author Kelley Armstrong's novels. So, welcome both of you.

Operator:               Our first question comes from the line of Tim Holquinn from ScreenFad. Please go ahead.

Tim Holquinn:       I'm a big fan. First to Kelley. I wondered - I noticed that the show runner, Daegon Frynklind -- she wrote the pilot. I thought she did a really good job. I probably murdered her name there. But IMDB also gives you writing credits. I wondered if could confirm that and perhaps tell us how many and which episodes coming up that you wrote -- if any.

Kelley Armstrong:      And no. I have not written any. There was talk of that early on. They had asked if I wanted to. And I definitely did. Nothing came of it, but maybe at some point in the future.

Tim Holquinn:       Okay. Great. Just a quick follow up. Let me thank you for the inclusion of the martial arts aspect. I really enjoyed the sparring scene with Elena, Nick, and Clay. I thought that was great.

Laura Vandervoort:    Oh, great. Yes.

Tim Holquinn:       For Laura, I know you have a background in martial arts. Are you glad to be able to exercise that skill in this role? And was it part of your audition process in any way?

Laura Vandervoort:    Yes. I grew up doing martial arts. So Elena feels like, you know, the other part of me. I relate to so much about her. Obviously, not the werewolf part, but the fact that she can take care of herself physically.

                              And I think it was great that the writers wrote in some extra hand-to-hand combat scenes. And especially in the finale -- we have this epic fight that I just had a great time doing. And we had great stunt coordinators that help us so as incorporate the animalistic side to the fighting.

                              It wasn't a part of the audition, but, you know, I think it definitely benefits the character. The fact that most of the actors on the show are physically able to do the fight scene sequences.

Tim Holquinn:       I agree. I also found them really enjoyable. Well, I have more questions, but I'll get back in line. Thanks.

Kelley Armstrong:      Thank you.

Operator:               Our next question comes from the line of Erin Willard with SciFi Mafia. Please go ahead.

Erin Willard:         Hi. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today. I hope you both really for a good long run with this show because it is really terrific. And my husband enjoys it as well -- which is not true of every supernatural show I watch. So it's great and I really love it. Thanks so much. But my question is for both of you and would like to know how you each began your involvement with Bitten. So for Kelley, what was your inspiration for the book series? And for Laura, how did you first get involved in the TV series?

Kelley Armstrong:      Okay. For the books, Bitten actually came out of an X-files episode. I was in a writing group. And as part of a writing group you're expected to actually write new stuff. I was trying to come up with an idea, sat down and watched X-files.

                              It was way back in their first season. Their one and only werewolf episode. It was your typical big guy who changes into some beast like thing and goes around slaughtering people under the full moon. And I said that's not how I would do werewolves.

                              And for a writer, that then sparks how would I do them? And I wrote a short story with this character named Elena and I loved that world so much that I wrote a book.

Erin Willard:         Great.

Laura Vandervoort:    I had no idea it was the X-files. That's really cool for me to know as well.

Kelley Armstrong:      Which goes to show you how long ago I started writing Bitten. It was the first season of the show; it is old stuff.

Laura Vandervoort:    I actually - yes, I love the X-files. Like I was watching that as well. So that's cool to know.

Erin Willard:         And Laura, how did you get involved?

Laura Vandervoort:    I actually received an offer for the role -- which was amazing, first of all. And ended up speaking to J.B. on the phone just to get an idea of the premise of the show and how it would look and how the wolves would be done.

                              And so we spoke for about an hour. And I heard how passionate he was about the project – he's our executive producer. And it just sounded like something I'd really been looking to do—such a layered thing—and the character who is both flawed and strong.

                              And so I read the books. I read Women of the Otherworld and Bitten and did a bit of research. And as soon as I realized the amazing quality of what was there I jumped on. And we did some auditions and chemistry reads with the guys and we just sort of hit the ground running—no pun intended.

                              And I mean it was the most challenging six months I've had thanks to Kelley and the writers. Every day was a challenge for me. And there were days where I didn't know if I'd be able to handle the emotional side of it or the physical side of it or just being in every scene. And I did. And I'm so grateful for the experience.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mistworld (Twilight of the Empire #1) by Simon R Green

Mistworld is a planet under siege. The only thing preventing them falling to utter destruction at the hands of the empire is a psychic shield and some rusting, cobbled together technology. But the empire is patient and resourceful and is constantly looking at ways round Mistworld’s defences – and sometimes, one of their weapons gets through.

The inhabitants of Mistworld already have a hard time surviving on the chaotic world, with little law, few resources, bleak conditions and technology that dwindles with every harsh year, life is already a struggle. The empire’s machinations could drive them over the edge.

My first note has to be on the genre of this book. When I was emailed and asked to review this it was heavily implied that the book was dark fantasy… I had my doubts but I’ve read and liked the author before so didn’t need much convincing. It’s not an accurate genre description – this leans more sci-fi than anything else: with strong dystopian elements and a dash of the mystical in the form of psychics (or espers).

I think this book is a perfect example of “gritty”. Actual gritty – not Grimdark. So this means that we have some very real characters, they’re not perfect or shiny or super special, but they’re very human. And they’ve been put in a very hard situation, it’s not a fluffy story, it’s not a friendly world setting, life is hard and they know it and act accordingly. But it doesn’t cross the line to throwing in endless gore and rape and random horrors just to convince us how DARK AND HORRIBLE it all is.

So we have Mistworld. A world that is independent from the huge and dictatorial empire, though the empire is not very happy about the fact and does have a pretty extreme response to anyone who makes them unhappy. Mistworld maintains its independence in part by having a large number espers – people with special powers – who have flocked to Mistworld because the empire isn’t very accepting of them.

Of course, they’re under permanent blockade and Mistworld itself isn’t exactly hospital or brimming with resources and what little they have requires smugglers to bring it in; their technology is obsolete and held together with duct tape and chewing gum. This is all shown very well – there’s some telling, but it’s more their daily experiences and views, like being unable to afford to pave roads any more, to plastic being seen as an incredible luxury, to characters being unused to the glare of electric lights

This alone would create a fascinating setting, but on top of that we have a large cast of characters that are very real and very realised – all of these characters bringing extremely different viewpoint from the different structures of the society. We have the aging hero who helped build the society from its independence, we have the corrupt – but not TOO corrupt – councillor working hard to do his best (though a little lining his pocket). The on-the-edge fence who just wants to get by and all these life-or-death-the-planet-is-at-risk are a little beyond her. Or there’s the dedicated and lethal Inquisitor suffering a major identity crisis and beset with pressures of the past while still trying to do her very best in the present.

Revolution, Season 2, Episode 10: The Three Amigos

Some rather worried Patriot people look at the aftermath of what happens when Aaron gets really really angry and the nanites listen to him. It’s messy and probably smells really bad.

Monroe and Charlie save Gene – no I don’t know either, it makes about as much sense as Charlie being pally with her brother’s killer, just run with it. They take him back to the precious Rachel so we can have apologies and hugs (“sorry I aided and abetted murderers and torturers honey!” “oh it’s ok, we’re with Monroe, we’re totally fine with murdering and torture these days!” “yay! TORTURE HUG!”)

Aaron has no interest in torture-hugs. He is now working on his new super power: killing people with his glare. On a more practical standpoint, they want Gene to treat the infected Miles before he dies horribly. Gross but effective primitive doctoring follows.

Aaron continues riding the angst train and we have a flashback reminder of some place in Oklahoma the Nanitechild mentioned in case you forgot (I did). No-one’s heard it but Rachel is very kind and careful about the hallucinations-experienced-by-the-man-who-can-burn-things-with-his-mind. Gene arrives with one of his magic apologies but given Gene turning Aaron and Cynthia in led to Cynthia getting killed, Aaron isn’t feeling the love.

Miles wakes up demanding whiskey (not a bad idea, many past societies used weak booze as the staple drink since the water was often full of gribbly diseases. And life as a medieval peasant is probably more pleasant if you’re slightly buzzed) and Monroe wants to know where his hidden son since he’s filled in his side of the bargain – Miles agrees to show him

Who bets that his son, Connor, is in Oklahoma?

Rachel tries to talk Miles out of it – but if Miles shows him he hopes he can keep Monroe around because a murdering torturer (who can fight) can be a nifty tool. He always wants Rachel around to stop them doing anything stupid. HA! Oh that’s a classic! I never knew this was a com- oh my gods he’s actually serious. Rachel as the voice of reason…

On the road Miles keeps distance between himself and Monroe and wants to know exactly what Monroe hopes to achieve meeting the 25 year old son he’s never seen before. Monroe just wants to see his son because it’s special and important and Rachel gives him dagger eyes – hearing the man who killed her son wax on about how special it will be to see his son does not make her happy.

While they’re gone Aaron also leaves on his own with the electricity pendant, presumably heading to Oklahoma. Naturally, Gene and Charlie decide to chase him (though apparently he hasn’t told them where he’s going and they don’t track him so how they hope to follow him I do not know – pick a direction at random?) On the way, Gene decides to follow and watch a patriot supply train head into Willoughby because… because… I dunno, low attention span?

Charlie apparently did try to track him following Aaron’s trail but Aaron cleverly covered his tracks. Charlie hasn’t yelled at her grandfather for being a colossal screw up and traitor because yelling at old people is ineffective (cross reference: Rachel) and Gene wants them to sleuth out the wagons in Willoughby because they haven’t put themselves in enough danger yet.

American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 10: The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks

Marie Laveau is a guest at the Academy after the horrendous events of last episode – Fiona offers comfort including a hefty jolt of alcohol and a sleeping spell. Marie confesses that she’s ashamed for Fiona to see her weakness though Fiona replies that she would have cried had she lost everyone she loved; but Marie doesn’t cry for the dead, she’s 300 years old. What shames her and “touches her soul” is Fiona’s kindness. And she’s relieved to have found an equal

But that night Marie is woken by… oh gods, a loa, there is no way this is going to be good. He is there for his price, something she agreed to pay every year. She is most pissed off by the loa’s awful timing and has to get up in the middle of the night – to go to a maternity hospital (or possibly orphanage). Using her magic to get past any obstacles, she takes a baby, using more magic to kill the police who try to stop her.

In the kitchen the next morning, Cordelia blames herself, thinking that her divorcing Hank has driven him over the edge to prove himself to her. To which Marie reveals she hired Hank, that he was a witch hunter. Fiona walks away, takes deep breaths – then storms back and slaps Cordiela for bringing Hank into this “sacred house”. Marie intervenes – what’s past is past, and helps Cordelia back into her chair. Fiona warns them that witchunters work in packs before going to answer the door (everyone kind of just accepts all the servants have disappeared) while Marie turns off the news when it turns to the kidnapping of a baby.

Fiona visits Misty who is her usual Stevie Nicks obsessed self – but smart enough to be suspicious of Fiona’s intentions. But Fiona’s here to tell her how wonderful being Supreme is, why everyone wants to know you! Including a white witch she knows who she’ll now introduce to Misty: Stevie Nicks.

Misty faints. Fiona finds this almost as funny as I do. She and Stevie are good friends it seems

The three younger witches wonder whether Queenie is dead or not – even in her absence Madison throws in some fat insults before entering the house to find Stevie singing to Misty and Fiona. Madison, of course, tries to deflect the circle of awed worship by telling Fiona she’s an Eminem fan so when does he show up. Fiona: “Marshall? You’re not his type.” Also she’s not the next Supreme. Forget magic, this is why Fiona is Supreme.

After the song Misty gushes with endless praises and hero worship (and checking to make sure she got the shawl twirl right) before Stevie showing her and giving Misty her shawl. Twirling is apparently a thing

Of course, Madison is furious that Misty is getting the attention – Nan suggests she could be Supreme, much to Madison’s derision, but Nan shows her her powers are growing by mind controlling her – into sticking a cigarette in her vagina (stopped by Zoe). Madison dying and living again apparently cured her heart murmur which makes Madison think she’s back in the running

Syfy Q&A: Kyra Zagorsky and Executive Producer Steve Maeda from Helix

Just when we’re ready to get back working on Fangs after the holiday, in comes the polar apocalypse of frigid doom to disrupt things. One of the shows we’re definitely looking forward to watching tonight is Helix on Syfy. We were excited to be invited to a Q&A with Syfy but then, alas, the weather rather disrupted our plans.

Still here is the transcript of the press call to whet your appetite until Monday (and have something to distract you from the sky declaring war).

Operator:               Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Helix conference call. I would now like to turn the conference over to Stephen Cox. Please go ahead sir.

Stephen Cox:        Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. We’re really excited to have a call with you regarding Helix, our new scripted series which premieres Friday, January 10th at 10:00 pm ET with two back-to-back episodes with limited commercial interruption.

                              We have the series star, Kyra Zagorsky on the line for you as well as our executive producer, Steve Maeda. And so without further ado, we’ll hand it over to your questions.

Operator:               And our first question comes from the line of TV America. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Mike Hughes:        Yes, Steve, the setting of being up in the Arctic really seems to work well for this kind of thing. It makes you think of, like, “The Thing,” and stuff like that. Kind of talk philosophically about why a setting like this works so well visually and emotionally for this kind of story.

Steve Maeda:        Sure. It’s a setting that is great for us because it’s not the newest setting under the sun. It seems familiar enough, but I think we’re doing a pretty interesting spin on it.

                              And what works for us really well is that it lends itself to a very claustrophobic environment because you can go outside but only for brief periods of time. It’s really dangerous. The weather is horrible, as I’m sure people who are in the Midwest and the East Coast right now can relate to.

                              And what it does is it forces you to be inside most of the time and that’s how we really saw this. That’s how Cameron, who wrote the pilot script, really envisioned the thing to begin with, which was a contained environment, someplace, you know, it’s almost like being set on a spaceship where you’re trapped inside with, you know, unseen horrors and then there’re all sorts of human problems as well that develop from that. So it really lends itself to the series as a whole.

Mike Hughes:        Okay, cool. And I sympathize with you there. I’ve got 14 inches of new snow outside right now, so I’m never going to get out of my house again.

Steve Maeda:        Yes, you’re trapped.

Mike Hughes:        Yes. Hey, just one other thing. And it looks like this is maybe an entirely studio show. In other words, I was thinking that even the outdoor scenes you probably shot in a studio. Is it entirely a studio shot are you shooting in Montreal, or where are you shooting at?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Peacemaker (Arcane West #1) by K. A. Stewart

Caleb is a travelling law man, following his patrol route through towns in the west; and he’s not too happy about it. But there’s not much place for him in the east, not after the war when most of his power was burned out of him, his old skill reduced to a fraction of what he was. Now almost an embarrassment, he is shunted off to the edge of the country.

But things are not peaceful on the outskirts, tensions are rising between the Cheyenne and the local town, there’s a rash of children with strangely weakened magic, towns being destroyed an a local land owner almost ruling the town. Something is up and it’s Caleb’s job to find out what.

I’m rapidly developing a love for paranormal westerns – which is odd, because I Ioathe westerns generally – but if they keep being this good then I’m hooked.

The world building of this book is fascinating and incredibly different. This isn’t a world where some people have magic – this is a world where everyone has magic. Everyone has powers within them and those powers in turn are used near constantly to power the world around them. From the arcane mechanical horses, to electric fences to basic smithing and most certainly in war. The way the arcane ability is integrated into just about every aspect of society is fascinating and really smoothly done – creating a world that is so very like our own but with this constant thread of difference that twists everything. It’s an excellent, rich, fun world that I just desperately want to explore more. Especially since the world building was excellently written with all the information we need to be fully immersed but no long, dry explanations and lectures to tell us exactly how it works. I can see the framework of it but desperately want to know more – but it was and it’s going to be given in increments – after all, if everyone in society knows how to use magic, why would we need lectures on how to use that magic? It would be like random characters deciding to lecture us on how to read.

Also, some magic users have familiars. And Caleb has a jackalope and he’s cute and funny and I love the addition to the world, he lightens things without being ridiculous, is amusing without being slapstick and fits into the world rather than being an odd add-on

This is all really helped by a wonderful writing style. Detailed and evocative when necessary – such as Caleb’s reminiscing of the war – with some excellently written action scenes (with magic and some really novel uses of that power and integrating it with the weapons of the time) that cross the line into amazingly epic at times. The pacing is perfect, that balance between development and action, between moving the story forwards while preserving the mystery really works.

Then we have those people who have, either from birth or with an accident with their magic, been drained of their ability. They’re burned out and nulled and, in a society where everyone else does have magic, they’re considered disabled. Now, we do have a bad record in fiction of marginalised issues being appropriated poorly for fiction, but this is an excellent example of it being done. If magical ability is considered the default state of humanity, if the majority of jobs regularly use magical ability then those without magical ability are very much disabled and disenfranchised. The way they are regarded by the other characters is an extremely good representation of how the disabled are treated in general – pitied, a kind of fawning, horrified pity mixed with a cautionary tale (since it could happen to them as well), but at the same time condescended too and assumed to be lesser and weaker – there’s an inherent superiority assumed by anyone with magic over them. Caleb also talks about the lack of opportunities for them, of the magic-less being forced to become homeless beggars and everyone assumes they cannot work. The blacksmith in the town has no magic, but with simple accommodations he does apparently good work – yet people still hesitate to rely on, assuming that his in-world disability means he cannot do his job properly.

Misfits, Season 5, Episode 3

Greg, the super-creepy probation officer, is breaking into the gang’s lockers to search them – finding white powder in Abbey’s locker – he decides this explains why she isn’t around and makes some absolutely terrible noises which I think is supposed to represent a rave or possibly that a weasel has crawled up his trousers and bitten him somewhere sensitive. Finn points out it’s actually sherbet and Greg takes the weirdness to all new creepy levels that don’t even begin to make sense

Greg’s weirdness does emphasise that Abbey is missing and the gang goes searching for her – at Laura (girl who smells good) flat; where they hear screams. They burst in and charge to the source of the noise and find the two in bed together.

At the community centre Abbey describes how sleeping with guys made her feel empty but Laura completes her to which Jess announces the answer to all of Abbey’s identity problems – she’s a lesbian.

Cut to Greg, who has been creepily stalking Finn and crying over his rape, questioning Finn on whether he’s involved with Alex, generally terrifying Finn and shares half a kit-kat with him.

Meanwhile, Abbey and Laure are enjoying some sweet sensual camera work that does a really good job of hiding that they’re not actually kissing, when Laura’s ex-boyfriend shows up, only no-one told him about the ex-part. That’s ok, Abbey, who introduces herself as “Abbey the Lesbian” is happy to tell him (though Laura makes it clear she’s not a lesbian, it’s just Abbey who is special. She can’t be lesbian or bisexual, it just has to be one special woman, really?). He grabs Laura and calls her a stupid bitch – and Abbey leaps on him, drives him to the floor and beats 8 kinds of hell out of him before Laura pulls her off him.

In Laura’s flat, Abbey sees a small stuffed monkey and we see two little girls (a flashback?) in bed, with the monkey. One of them is worried about “scary” being there, under the bed. Back in the present Abbey worries what Laura thinks of her – but Laura felt safe and liked it – and they kiss (for real this time). As they start to have sex we have another flashback to the two little girls; one (Laura by the monkey) is afraid of Scary coming to get her, while the other reassures her, causing a dark shadow to retreat. Abbey delays proceedings to say that Scary is coming – and explains her memories to Laura. But Laura doesn’t understand it, only one other person knew about her childhood boogeyman – her imaginary friend, Abbey. Yes, Laura was caught out in the storm of weird powers and manifested her imaginary friend. Time to stop all sex and clutch the covers to themselves.

She explains this to the gang (who have, to be honest, seem weirder) and Rudy grabs her breast because, of course he does. He then angsts with Rudy 2 over his endlessly infuriating behaviour and the fact he likes Jess (run Jess, run!)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Blood Bond (Anna Strong Chronicles #9) by Jeanne C. Stein

Having finally realised that Frey is the one for her, Anna and Frey begin to dream of a life together.  For the first time, Anna is not only deliriously in love but happy.  Unfortunately, this doesn't last for long and Anna is informed her mother is dying.  Now she must make the decision whether or not to reveal her true nature in order to save her mother or watch helplessly as she dies.  

In order to make her mother happy, Anna and Frey decide to move up their wedding day.  It promises to be the happiest day in Anna's life.  Once again however vampire politics intrude and Anna finds herself meeting Vlad the Impaler and dealing with the European Council who not only do not recognize her position but have a completely different plan for how to deal with the humans.

Blood Bond is very different from every single novel in this series.  Rather than dealing with vampire politics, it is largely focused on Anna's human life.  Being immortal sounds great, especially when you factor in the things one will be witness to until the reality of the fact that at some point everyone you love is going to die and leave you behind sinks in.  Anna has love and happiness but the reality is that even though she and Frey promise each other forever, it can only really be temporary.  It gives the book a tinge of sadness, even as it allows Anna to experience the most growth she ever has.

Blood Bond is the last in the Anna Strong Chronicles and it is all very fitting.  For the first time, we see Anna really begin to accept what has happened to her and what it really means. I found myself embracing this series in a way that I never have.  The Anna Strong Chronicles essentially falls into the ass kicking protagonist trope were strength and spunky agency are meant to suffice for the purposes of character development and personality.  If one is a fan of copious fight scenes, I suppose this is a plus; however, it's not something that never really worked for me.

The Anna Strong Chronicles had many problems from the beginning chief among them Anna's relationship with women.  Anna is not able to get along with women who are not related to her.  I thought that we were going to get a reprieve when Tracey entered the story but all they ever did was talk about the men in their lives. This series does not even come close to passing the bechdel test. A book is not simply pro woman because it has a female protagonist who defies gender stereotypes and is written by a woman.  The female characters need to be developed, engaged and not constantly snarking at each other.

Almost Human, Season 1, Episode 7: Simon Says

Opening exposition – Detective Richard Paul (the arsehole detective) tells us all there has been a solar flare that has knocked out all power and there’s going to be rolling black outs. Since they’re going to auxiliary power for a while, that means energy is rationed – which means androids only get charged if they’re prioritised. John snarks away because he doesn’t like Richard really. Richard snarks about about John’s cybernetics – and Dorian punches him. Dorian is pissed because Richard has decides the MXs get charging priority.

Richard threatens to write Dorian up (what? Why would that even be a thing with 99.9% of androids being emotionless MXs? Follow your world building through, Almost Human!) and Dorian apologises – though it’s Richard’s fault; Dorian is only half a charge which makes him emotionally unstable.

Uh-huh, y’know when things like this are revealed we can see why the DRNs were maybe, just maybe, not the ideal androids for police work.

While he’s an arsehole, he’s also right when he points out the randomly giggling Dorian is not really fit for duty – but John takes him anyway. Richard takes his anger out on his MS (who he also treats as a servant).

In the car Dorian is definitely angry at the MX getting priority, especially since a DRN’s personality matrix is always the first thing to go. He repeats again that he needs his own space, as he complained about before: but Maldonado nixed it because Dorian is city property and needs to be supervised at all times. Dorian has a great idea – what about John’s place! His back room; John objects, that’s his trophy room thank you very much! While Dorian isn’t very impressed with the man keeping his high school trophies, John quickly recites his achievements and is so lost in them he almost doesn’t even notice Dorian falling asleep

On to this week’s crime – a man, Ramon driving home, happily talking to his wife when he’s interrupted by a man washing his window, despite his protest. While looking for money to pay him, the man sprays him in the face, knocking him out. He wakes up with a big metal collar round his neck with an ominous timer on it – counting down.

That’s never ever a good thing.

He looks around and sees teeny tiny cameras everywhere as his new bulky fashion accessory tells him to follow the rules of the game – oh, Saw without the gore. Wait, was there any real point to Saw without the gore? Damn it, first Dorian is too angry to be witty and now we get a gore-less Saw.

Anyway, the guy behind the game is watching remotely from a screen that also keeps track of the number of viewers (do I even need to say the collar is a bomb?) – he is live streaming it. Aha! Reality TV! Well, seeing a man follow orders or be blown up is a lot classier than 21st century reality TV.

Ramon is instructed to take a gun out of the briefcase that has been left for him and go to the bank where he works – and to hold it up for a whole lot of money. He takes the money (loaded up onto a flashdrive… yeah this futuristic style of money is ridiculous and only exists because they need to be able to steal it) and runs.

Dorian and John pursue his car, alerted by the bank alarm (Dorian uses his megaphone voice in the car), but, of course, Ramon is not allowed to pull over until he is stopped when John EMPs his car. Dorian quickly confirms the collar is a bomb; and he doesn’t have enough time to disarm it. All they can do is put up a shield so no-one else is hurt.

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 13: Anchors

After the ominous recap – in which we see Scott is the new shiny alpha and all of them have activated a supernatural beacon with the Nemeton as well as causing all kind of darkness inside themselves  - we return to the second half of season 3 with Stiles in bed, having a bad dream. Of the school at night all empty, very spooky and very atmospheric (well done director) school – and the Nemeton in the middle of the classroom. Which grabs him with a vine

He wakes up – next to Lydia. It takes him a moment to realise that is odd – then the door creaks. As is the way of dreams, he feels the need to close it. He opens the door while Lydia begs him not to – which leads to the Nemeton again, this time lit by floodlights.

This time he wakes up for real – no Lydia present, but his father chivvying him to school. Hey the dreams may have had spooky dead trees all round but they’re better in some ways at least, Stiles.

At school, Stiles tells Scott about the dream and they worry if the whole Nemeton sacrifice could have effected them. Um, what part of “there will be a darkness in you forever” made you think there wouldn’t be long term consequences?

And he wakes up YET AGAIN, screaming and panicking until his dad rushes in to hold him and calm him down. Ouch, poor Stiles

Over to Scott and he seems to be awake – but his shadow has claws. Not his actual hand, just his shadow. Poor, insecure Isaac is still his houseguest and all kinds of worried that maybe maybe Scott is angry with him after the whole Isaac/Allison thing. Scott assures him that he’s totally maybe possibly not totally almost maybe angry? Yeah, even he doesn’t know. But it’s ok he totally doesn’t want to hit Isaac. No. Not at all, not even if Isaac says he can – wait, Isaac wants to kiss her? That’s it, you’re bouncing off the far wall. Melissa McCall, being awesome, makes it clear she’s not having supernatural teenaged boys test her supernatural levels of patience.

I know that’s kind of meant to be funny and it is in a way, until you remember that Isaac with his “do you want to hit me? You’ll feel better if you do…” has had a lifetime of physical child abuse… Isaac’s history makes this joke fall very flat (and it’s not like they forgot, because they’re randomly bringing it up later on).

Stiles is still having trouble, the title of his books changing to become gibberish – when his dad distracts him he looks back and it has turned back to English (the gibberish was an anagram). His dad is worried about him, but also wants the eternally curious Stiles not to notice the box of files he’s taken from work.

Allison has her own side effects – becoming freezing cold in the lift from her flat – and it opening to a disused and wrecked hospital corridor. The director who is really good at spooky atmospheres comes back. Aie and she ends up in the morgue with doors opening by themselves. The label on the door is “Kate Argent” her dead evil, murderous aunt. She opens the door and sees an incredibly long tunnel – and then down it scrabbles the body of her aunt all rage and flashing cameras. Yes, I nearly fell out of my chair, I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Allison turns and runs – and is suddenly in school, surrounded by people and Lydia

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chosen By Blood (Para-Ops, #1) by Virna DePaul

Chosen by Blood takes place in an alternate world where humans and supernatural creatures live side by side in an uneasy peace.  In an effort to reduce the threat of vampires during the second American civil war, humans created a vaccine which deprived human blood of the nourishment that vampires need to survive.  Vampires have a hard time reproducing and with their members now dying of starvation, it is imperative that a cure be found.

When dharmie (half human/half vamire) Knox Devereaux the leader of a small group of vampires is contacted by the FBI to join a an otherworld military group created specifically to hunt down a cure, he simply cannot resist participating.  The job comes with the added bonus of finally getting close to his soul mate Special Agent Felicia Locke.  As much as Knox wants to be with Felicia, he is driven to protect her.  With various supernatural creatures having a different idea of how human and otherworld relations should be, this mission might just bring an end to their love before it has a chance to grow. 

Lost Girl, Season 4, Episode 8: Groundhog Fae

Aaargh, you know what film I truly despise, perhaps above all others? Groundhog Day. Do you know what’s even worse than the film? The fact that every TV series that can get away with it simply has to have a Groundhog Day episode.

That said, on to the episode where the gang is in a garage and we have more eye candy (is it just me or has the eye candy levels been really high this season?) with Bo sexily cleaning a car while Lauren looks on then is joined by Dyson who also stares at her (this lasts a full 2 minutes by my fast-forwarded scale).

This is apparently the Christmas episode, judging by the music and Dyson and Hale talking Yule traditions (Krampus) and lots of poking between Dyson and Lauren to get closest to Bo. As they drive off, 2 guys in the garage drop a man under the bonnet of a car – which seems to have no engine since he fits.

At Bo’s house, Kenzi and Trick are decorating for Yule – well Kenzi is, Trick is chuntering on about the real meaning of Yule as a ceremony of contrition (mentioning Krampus again) in his Rudolph (Eikthyrni! Even if he does have a red nose!) jumper. The rest of the gang return and resolve to party hard to show Bo that she’s still special to them.

Seriously? Is there an episode that goes by without someone telling Bo how special she is? Her alarm clock probably wakes her up in a morning with an ode to her shiny specialness.

And then Bo wakes up in the car where they left her and apparently forgot about her (hah, no. Don’t buy it – certainly not with Dyson and Lauren vying for her attention). The party is in full swing (including a Choga, apparently someone with narcotic secretions you’re supposed to lick). And Dyson and Lauren plotting upstairs – Lauren’s found a box in the dark archives addressed to Bo in Bo’s handwriting – and no, we don’t get to see what’s in it but Dyson thinks they shouldn’t show her it. Wow, is that not the ultimate agency cross? Refusing to let Bo give herself a gift!

And Vex drops in to… well, be Vex. And Bo goes down to the party to throw her own little pity party because everyone is not basking in her glory (as she unloads to an old man for some reason) before Tamsin arrives, apologises to Bo then kisses her (there you go Bo, one of your worshippers are back) before telling Bo she’s not going to remember anything in 2 seconds

And she wakes up in the car again, gasping “what the f...” (no, that’s the TV show’s prudishness not me. Seriously, we can see Vex cut his hand off but “fuck” is too racy?)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH btw for the inevitable groundhogness

We go back into the party and everything is how it was before (of course) except Tamsin cuts it a little short, pointing out what everyone is going to do (throwing in a transphobic “ladyboy” in there for no damn good reason) showing that Tamsin has been riding the groundhog loop a few times and we were mercifully spared it. Bo protests that Tamsin should have told someone – a suggestion she treats with the contempt it deserves since no-one remembers what she said when the night resets – until Bo anyway.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tempest Unleashed (Tempest Series #2) by Tracy Deebs

Tempest is not setting in well as the merfolk’s saviour. She misses her home, she misses her family and, most guilt causing of all, she misses Matt, her human ex-boyfriend. Something she hopes to keep from Kona, her Selkie current boyfriend – and a prince no less.

To make matters worse, she and Hailaine, merQueen, keep butting heads and can’t seem to agree with anything, least of all the many many things that Hailaine thinks she needs to learn.

But Tiamat is still out there and still plotting to take down both Kingdoms and dominate the Pacific – and Tempest doesn’t feel even close to ready to face her.

I protest most strongly to the name of this book.

Tempest Unleashed is a terrible description of the events recounted within. I propose a better title: Tempest Mopes. Or maybe Tempest Monologues. Or Tempest Naval Gazes.

For much of this book not much happens and there isn’t much pretence of a plot. We open with Tempest worrying about her human family (somewhat reasonable) who she had to abandon. Which quickly turns into worrying about Matt, which turns into worrying about Kona because blah blah love triangle, blah. She doesn’t get on with the merQueen because REASONS (more on this later) and this causes more musings. Then musings about whether she and Kona can ever be together.

New character Sabyn shows up to train her, he flirts with Tempest, he and Kona don’t get on, Tempest spends pages talking about this. There’s lots and lots of conflict with Kona over boyfriend issues.

Tiamat is in the background doing bad evil stuff which everyone talks about… but doesn’t do anything about.

An event eventually drives Tempest back to land where she… sits around and has lots of angsty arguments and discussions. I don’t think there’s much else she could have done in the situation, but it adds on to the general inaction that permeates this book to be incredibly frustrating. It would have probably helped a lot to see Tempest more deeply involved in training, seeing what she learned etc. Or maybe her spending more time with the merQueen, learning what’s happening in the realm, how they’re resisting Tiamat, training, making plans etc – at least then there would have been some actual concrete action taken by Tempest in the face of the overwhelming threat

Instead we had pages and pages of discussion, arguments and moping, discussion argument moping over and over again – I reached over half way and realised that absolutely nothing had actually happened in the book.

Finally the action hits, Tempest swims off, pulls a super power out of her arse and TA-DA day is saved. Does that count as a spoiler? Because, really, it’s pretty weak.

Lost Girl, Season 4, Episode 7: La Fae Époque

After Dyson was taken by the Una Mens last episode for the terrible crime of sleeping with Bo (therefore fraternising across Light/Dark lines), Bo and Kenzie kidnap a monk and drag him to Hale at the police station to question

Questioning is normally pretty easy for Bo, a little succubus zing and it’s all done. Except this monk is immune – he’s a eunuch. Thankfully, he also folds really easily when Hale threatens to use his siren-ness on him. There’s not going to be a trial – Dyson is going to be executed for treason since in 1899 he killed humans and fae in cold blood.

1899? Wow, and I thought out local courts had a backlog.

Kenzi and Bo are convinced it’s all a terrible lie and the monk commits magical suicide (what? After he’s told them everything that’s useful? Convenient little prisoner isn’t he?)

At the Una Mens, they execute the scavenger who was helping Bo find Vex, while Dyson looks on all grim. That’s just in case you forgot how scary they are. Are we reminded? Yes? Good.

Bo calls in Lauren to help and is a little surprised that Lauren agrees – though Lauren sharply points out Dyson is family and being Dark doesn’t change that, also she gets cool toys for being Dark (she doesn’t ask, or explain, she takes unlike with the Light).Anyway, Lauren’s wiring Bo up to an oracle, Cassie (Casandra the oracle? Really?) so they can look into Dyson’s memory and prove his innocence. Cassie throws in some snark about the hole in Bo’s memory and how she once thought Bo, the unaligned succubus, would save them all – apparently not. One scary red string of fate later (which is supposed to be risky) and Bo will be transported into Dyson’s mind, though characters form his past will be replaced by people Bo knows because of subconscious and so they don’t have to get a whole new cast of actors. When Cassie appears, it’s time to leave or be brain fried. Simples!

Meanwhile, Kenzi, masquerading as  someone cleaning Dyson, ties the other end of the string around his ankle, creating the connection.

Bo wakes in Dyson’s memories, in a French speaking place, naked between 2 women with an angry man banging on the door. Since she’s filling in as Dyson, she shifts to a wolf and escapes through the wall. Checking herself in the reflection in a mirror, Bo sees Dyson staring back at her – just in case the wolf shifting hadn’t made it clear she’s playing Dyson in his memories. No more time for gazing at herself as she’s chased down by the man (the father of the two women she was with) and is cornered and held at gun point before Trick (or whoever Trick is playing) saves her with a staff.

She follows him to sanctuary but is quite happy to play the rogue and has no real wish to play good and turns to leave but he brings up the Hellscore (I’ve rewound it a thousand times and I’m sure he calls them hell shoes… anyway, satanic footwear or not, it’s a special Macguffin sought by all, including the Wanderer). They can only be worn by a worthy hero (hey, maybe they are demon footwear!) and rumour has it they’ve been found and they’re going to be sold and Dyson/Bo (I’m just going to go with Bo because it’s shorter) has to get them back. Also, this person doesn’t just look like Trick but apparently is Trick. Or her subconscious is translating names as well (which means the writers didn’t bother to make up actual names which would be really sloppy).

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dracula, Season 1, Episode 7: Servant to Two Masters

Grayson, Kowalski and their minions fiddle with engineer electric stuff – but Van Helsing has a more fleshy concern – exactly how long has it been since Grayson actually fed? Grayson dodges the question and refuses to answer so I’m going to put that down as “faaar too long.” The experiment appears to be a success and Grayson is confident the Ordo Draco will be well and truly screwed.

Returning to his office, Grayson finds a mopey Jonathon who is all angst ridden because he’s ruined the reputation of the innocent General Shaw (possibly all manipulated by Grayson because messing with Jonathon’s brain is funsies). Grayson says, not very convincingly “who would do such a thing?!” and even Jonathon realises that it was Grayson himself. Grayson stops trying to defend himself and just dismisses poor General Shaw as collateral damage while Jonathon is suitably outraged and intends to expose… himself… for doing it all on his own… with Grayson expressly forbidding him!

Well, damn.

Realising how trapped he is, Jonathon falls into line. Good boy.

Meanwhile the Ordo Draco are all huffy that Grayson is showing off his device again and have decided to go on the offensive rather than reacting all the time – which requires their man in Scotland Yard. And calling in Jonathon.

Back at Grayson’s, Renfield is sent to Budapest to acquire the triptych (apparently a family heirloom of Grayson’s family that means a lot to him) and we again see Grayson’s concern for Renfield – offering bodyguards though Renfield is confident he can protect himself. Grayson also tops up his sunlight immunity which Van Helsing has extended to 4 hours now; Van Helsing presses him about the whole not feeding thing. It seems Grayson has decided that the anti-sunlight treatment has removed his hunger as well! Yay! Van Helsing is less sure.

Grayson heads off on his happy sunlit stroll so he can stalk Mina some more – seriously his constantly just hanging out places he knows she will be (and even knowing her routine sufficiently to point out she is 5 minutes early) is so ridiculously creepy that it’s almost laughable that Grayson would consider it seductive. They talk oh-so-progressively about Bethlem and how the inmates would be much better off dancing before some heavy let’s-all-ignore-this flirting from Grayson. He’s not even subtle about it

On from one stalking victim to visiting Lady Jane, commenting on her butler’s performance with the cook (most vigorous) before getting down to some vigorous fun of their own. After which, Lady Jane shares her little quandary – her husband in the country is having an affair with his nurse. Not particularly concerning, given the givens, but he is claiming to love her and is being quite foolishly brazen about the whole thing – most unseemly. Grayson advises her to get back at him (since she can’t shame him directly without risking her own reputation) but targeting the woman he’s fallen in love with.

Grimm, Season 3, Episode 9: Red Menace

“To kill Koschei the Deathless,
first you must find his soul,
which is hidden in an egg
in a duck in a lead chest
buried beneath an oak tree”

And that sounds like waaaaay too much effort. Let’s just embed him in concrete instead. But that’s just me.

Starting with a bait and switch, a girl jogging things she’s being followed by someone sinister – but it’s just Nick out for his morning run – and his weird super-duper-zombie-fitness.

More grim, Juliette’s friend Alesha calls her, in tears. Her husband Joe is abusive and she has decided to leave him – Juliette tells her to come stay with them, to get in the car and come now, though Alesha is afraid of what he’ll do. They hang up as Nick comes in – Juliette noticing that despite him running he isn’t even sweating – behold the zombieness! Nick offers to help with Alesha, reporting the abuse to the police, but they wait for Alesha to make that decision and of course she can stay – though she really needs to ensure Joe doesn’t find out where she is. Good solid advice.

And in Vienna, Adalind meets with Renard – under the watchful eyes of Miesner. After some brief talk about Adalind being spied on (“who’s spying on me?” “Who’s paying your hotel bills?” he could have added “well DUH” on the end to make it really clear how silly the question is). He tells her he knows she’s pregnant with a royal child, but she refuses to answer whether Renard is the father or not. Renard leaves with a parting shot – she’s going to need a friend soon, because everyone is very interested in the baby. In Adalind? Not so much.

We switch to a man with glowing green eyes and wesen-clawed fingers holding his hands around the head of a young woman. She’s in pain and desperate – and her head wrap suggests maybe she’s lost her hair in chemotherapy. His eyes glow and he staggers back, exhausted, but he assures her that her pain will end in a few hours or days – she offers to pay but he just wants her to live a long life. A wesen healer it seems.

And switch to another new guy being melodramatic on a phone. He and his fellows are going to “pay someone back” and it doesn’t sound like debt collection.

The healer, Boris, is much recovered by the evening and he and his companions are partying happily (his wife, Olga, seems less than joyful), hosted the owner of a restaurant. There’s lots of praise for Boris that he’s all very modest and thankful for – but when he gets the chance he heads to the bathroom, clearly not feeling his best. There, he is attacked by the melodramatic revenge guy – and Boris can certainly look after himself. After disarming the attacker, he then woges, his face becoming desiccated and skull-like and covered in green energy, before throwing the attacker out of the window. The man survives the fall, but has Boris’s hand prints on his arms – he staggers away but the prints seem to grow – which, by his scream, I’m assuming is a bad thing.

He manages to make it home and start to call someone – but the nasty infection has now covered his hands and he collapses. Ewwww, I think I prefer Wesen who kill with claws. It’s less oozy.

Back to Nick and Juliette, Alesha eventually arrives at Juliette and Nick’s house, after Juliette panics because she doesn’t answer her phone. They invite her in and rally round her, offering comfort and strength. And as Alesha cries she woges – she’s a fuchsbau.

Catch up with Hank in physiotherapy (for his hurt leg) who is sad his sessions are coming to a close and asks his physiotherapist on a date. Alas, she’s too professional to date clients.

Check that whiplash – next scene, a woman finds a body in a giant restaurant freezer; and Nick goes to work to find Renard has returned. After some brief catch ups and Nick being semi-uncomfortable with Renard “handling indiscretions” over there, Hank brings them news of the iced body.