Archive for the ‘My two cents…’ Category

TV is a strange place. That little box (although it’s more like a piece of paper these days…) in your living room brings you a cocktail with more ingredients in it than a long island ice tea – and just as much booze. Only on TV can you see a man make a gigantic fondant covered hogwarts cake, and then switch to a chick standing in a plastic cube while trying to blow a ball-bearing into a hole with a straw. Only on TV can you have bad singing and then bad dancing, laced with bad sob stories… and then flick over to the other side and OH MY GOD there’s a man on a desert island giving himself an enema (seriously channel 4? We did not need to see that). We have TV shows were we watch people watching TV, we have shows with dancing ‘celebrity’ dogs… we even have a show were we sexualize toddlers (?!) and make them compete with each other in order to vicariously fulfil some lady’s self esteem issues.

TV can be messed up. But it is the purest form of social commentary and can occasionally be the greatest form of entertainment the world has ever seen. Sometimes though, it takes a lot of delving through the mud and sludge to find those rare tiny gems that are worth switching on the box and delving in.

This is three of the most underrated, underwritten or unknown show’s you’ve never watched – that you definitely should. And with netflix you have no excuse not to.

1) Nikita 

Nikita is unusual in that it isn’t unknown – it is just totally written off. From pretty much the pilot, Nikita got a bad rep. Being on the CW network meant it was never taken seriously by anybody, and totally missed it’s target audience – and likewise, as it wasn’t a teen TV show, no one who ever watched the CW ever gave it a look in. Marketing for the show also ruined its chances, the network wanted us to think this was a show about sexy women wearing revealing outfits yet being super spies and kicking butt. People said it was shallow and against feminism. When in reality, Nikita couldn’t be further away from that. Three of the lead characters are strong, complex women with dark, traumatic pasts. There is no skimpy outfits or overtly sexual scenes unless they have to for a mission, and even then it is rare. Nikita’s bad rep is totally and utterly unfounded, and here’s why.

nikita gifFirstly, it takes a hell of a lot to make an action show. Especially an action show with a full weekly roster of hand to hand combat like Nikita. I don’t think people appreciate just how difficult it is to choreograph it, get the actors to learn it – as well as their lines – and then bring in the explosions, gun work and stunts. Hell – Maggie Q did all her own stunts. And she got hurt a lot because of that. But Nikita never faltered, from start to finish the action scenes, especially the fight scenes, were always impressive and as good as any you would see in an action movie. I guess that’s what happens when you hire an action star. 

alex cage gifSecondly, the strength of the characters meant that it transcended being just an action show. It wasn’t just about a fight against Division, it was about these characters and their lives before, and then after, Division. It was about learning what made them who they are, and what got them on the dark path that led them to end up in prison. Each major character was deeply complex. And in a way, we were probing them all just as Amanda obsessively did over the four seasons. For me, Alex’s story was most interesting. When do we ever have a lead character of a TV show who has a past that involves drug addiction, abduction and sex trafficking? We don’t. These issues are skirted around on a lot of shows, and maybe looked at in depth for an episode or two, but never do we see the soul of a character like we saw Alex. We knew her, and we saw her pain and then we saw her evolve past it and even, in the end, use it. Nikita similarly had a dark past with drugs and abuse, and interestingly we saw how she was moulded by Division into this person who was now so fiercely trying to tear them down. Throughout the series, Amanda goads Nikita by saying Division made her – and in truth they did.

And finally, the writing. It is really tough to write any serial drama, but spy shows have to be complex and they have to keep surprising you. Most of all, the spine of the show has to be the series ark – for a show like Nikita, a mission of the week premise was never going to work without a boatload of story development. Nikita, despite the occasional derailment, did that. The dialogue was great and to cap that, the cast had a great chemistry. Lyndsy Fonsecca – despite her parents having spelt her name wrong – is going to have a long and fruitful career ahead of her. Maggie Q – well, she’s already an action star, but I think she proved she can do drama as well. And that she actually doesn’t need to be wielding her fists to delve some killer blows. Melinda Clarke, as always, plays the slightly odd and manipulative villain fantastically. She’s almost pantomime, and it works. Xander Berkley actually manages to get me to hate him as Percy, even though my heart still aches a little after his (spoiler!) martyrdom in season 2 of 24. Shane West is Nikita’s Romeo, but he also has a painful past and does the tortured soul well. And finally massive kudos goes to Aaron Stanford as Birkhoff who provides some brilliant one liners and at times, some much needed comic relief.

amanda gif

Nikita ran for three seasons, with six farewell episodes added on after it was cancelled to wrap things up. So we thankfully got some closure, and thanks to the great writing you couldn’t tell there was any kind of rushed ending. While it sort of went out without a whimper, with not a lot of people discussing it, and no real fuss – it was sort of fitting. Nikita did the spy thing – pulled off an impossible feat in that it brought three years of possibly the greatest spy show ever on a network usually dominated with teen angst, and with that brought all that badassery (not a word – should be) and then faded into the background. Unseen. Unheard. Untraceable. Sound familiar?

Yes, Alex is drinking milk.

Yes, Alex is drinking milk.

2) American Gothic

The 90s was a revolutionary period in terms of TV. We were gifted with strongly written feminist shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena. The face of procedural and medical dramas changed forever with the beginning of Law and Order and the brilliant ER. Comedy got two of the greats with Friends and Frasier, and science fiction changed forever when Captain Janeway took the bridge and Mulder and Scully opened their first X File. But one revolution that never took off was in the horror genre with the highly underrated American Gothic.

Before there was American Horror Story – the 90s gave us American Gothic. Sam Raimi – before he made us all hate him with Spiderman 3 – had quite the repertoire. Evil Dead, Darkman and this extremely underrated series. CBS are the idiots in this story, after cancelling American Gothic after one season. Ahead of its time, and therefore still watchable now, American Gothic revolves around Caleb Temple (Lucas Black) and the town’s corrupt sheriff, Lucas Buck (Gary Cole). Though appearing affable and charismatic, Sheriff Buck is a murderous rapist whose powerbase is backed by apparent supernatural powers, which he generally uses to manipulate people to “fulfill their potential” and make life-changing choices (usually for evil). Gary Cole plays a villain so well in this show that he literally ruined himself for me in anything else he is in. A very young Lucas Black is fantastic as Caleb, making himself the anchor for this wierd, anything goes series.

American Gothic was basically American Horror Story, but it was the 90’s and the world wasn’t ready for it yet. Hell – it even had Sarah Paulson in it to boot just in case you weren’t sure. The show was the epitome of strange, dark and disturbing all rolled into one. Had CBS had a backbone, no doubt it would have become a cult classic like the X-Files.

Despite its short run, it is still worth a look, and it really is a timeless hidden classic. I first saw this show when I was a teenager, about ten years after it first aired. And I remember being astounded when I discovered it was made in 1996. You really couldn’t tell.

If you get a chance, give this one a look.

3) Vikings

Vikings may be an Emmy nominated show, but I don’t know anyone but me who watches it. Where did this show come from? I didn’t even realise the History Channel made dramas, never mind dramas so breathtakingly shot, wonderfully acted and superbly written that it makes you want to sell all your worldly possessions, grow a beard (I’m a chick and I want one that includes a rather dashing mohawk), live off the land and kill a bunch of English people – a problem when you are actually English.

Vikings follows Ragnor Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) an actual 9th century notorious Viking famous for exploring the west and visiting all parts of Europe and fathering some very famous Viking sons. More notable however, at least in my eyes, is Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Ragnor’s shield maden wife who strides into battle even more fiercely than her husband, and is by far the strongest female lead on any TV, in any country at this current time. Winnick, who had a part in the hit show Bones, was otherwise a relatively unknown actress before getting this part. However, she shines as Lagertha, really bringing the character to life and managing to portray a character both ferocious and fragile at the same time. The supporting cast is also flawless. Special mentions go to Gustaf Skarsgard – another Skarsgard, just what the hell was Stellan feeding these kids? What ever it was, keep doing it! – who plays the eccentric Floki, and Jessalyn Gilsig who plays the manipulative Siggy. Fimmel, meanwhile, leads from the front. He gives a solid performance as Ragnor, bringing a light shade to a character that could potentially have been all dark. He does the misunderstood, persecuted farmer well, while always eluding to an arrogance that eventually leads him to lead.
But it isn’t that acting or the weaving storylines that makes Vikings a stand out show. Instead, it is just how breathtaking the show is visually. Week in, week out, we the viewers are treated to shots that surely belong in a photography exhibit or on the big screen. But it isn’t just the lovely scenery gifted to us by it’s Irish location, it’s the vision created by the cast and crew, and the impeccable direction and care given to each and every episode. It makes Game of Thrones look visually unstimulating, and when you can say that about a show as fantastic as Game of Thrones, you know Vikings is bringing something very special to the screen.

It should be noted however, this is a show about Vikings, so expect a lot of violence and sex, tons of Norse mythology and a general distaste for morals. The Viking women were strong, merciless and often rode into battle alongside their male counterparts. They were still looked down upon, but were seen as much fiercer individuals that could earn respect on the battlefield. In their own way, the Vikings were more advanced than any of their Western counterparts – and despite being reviled as bloodthirsty barbarians, it took the rest of us a thousand years to catch up (and in a lot of places in terms of combat – we still haven’t).

Overall, Vikings is brilliant and refreshing and needs to be your newest show.

What is your most underrated show?

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Well here we are, another movie that is loaded with controversy. I must admit, when I first saw the trailer for The Impossible, I myself did think, “Um… it’s a movie about white people… when hundreds of thousands of Asian people died.” It is pretty hard not to think that when you see what they did with the trailer. But I still wasn’t exactly surprised. I figured this for a Hollywood movie – where the American people always get the centre of attention. I was wrong. There, I said it. Don’t make me say it again. 

Firstly, this is a true story, based on a Spanish family. Secondly, it is actually a Spanish made film. And thirdly, the family are actually portrayed as British. Although it is never actually said in the film. I figured they attached the actors and then cast the kids so it made sense. The real Maria – portrayed by Naomi Watts – was actually adamant that they were seen as people, not as any nationality. Still, I can’t help but thinking there was a million stories to be told, and they told this one. About a family of Westerners. There is barely any references to the native population that was killed. In fact, all we really see of the locals is them briefly helping people – all unscathed themselves like it was some sort of isolated event to only effect white people. Don’t get me wrong, The Impossible is a very moving film. I just feel as though it isn’t a true and fair portrayal of the Tsunami. I guess it isn’t supposed to be – it is about one family’s struggle. But there is no reason that family couldn’t have been Thai. I get that they wanted to market the film to an English speaking audience, hence the Britishness, but still – they could have just made the family speak English. Simple. People have been making Ancient Romans, Musketeers and Aliens speak English for years in movies when it didn’t make sense. It would have been overlooked. Also, I can’t help thinking that yes the family were obviously scarred about their ordeal. But they get to go home. The Asian people don’t. Their plight was only just starting. What about the clean up? The hunting for dead? Rebuilding homes?

Anyway… rant over. I suppose I should review the film. I will try to be unbiased! If you look at The Impossible without prejudice and just see it as a story of one family, then it is a good film. I pretty much cried from start to finish. The direction really helped to bring a sense of hopelessness and panic to an already good script. And I was highly impressed by all the actors involved. Special mention goes to the young Tom Holland who played the eldest son Lucas. Wow. What a job he did. When you steal scenes from Naomi Watts, you know you’re a talented lad. Ewan McGregor was, as usual, fantastic – surely one of the most underrated actors working today. Naomi Watts gave every bit the performance you would expect from her, and the casting of the family overall was spot on. They gelled as a unit, and despite little screen time altogether, you really believed they were a family.

For what The Impossible sets out to do – move you – it succeeds. But I stress that, although you do get a view of the Tsunami itself, it isn’t really a retelling of the disaster. I hope that a film properly portraying the Boxing Day Tsunami will follow shortly. Overall, this is a quality, well made film. But ethically, I feel they should have waited to make it. The first movie about the Tsunami should have represented the main people effected by the tragedy.

7.5/10

Five minutes into this movie, and I was struck by something – not the saliva dripping lollipop that the guy behind me had just chucked – but rather that, in order to truly enjoy this film – you need a brain. I’m not saying that any grey matter will do, monkeys for example – probably not a fan. But if you go into this film with misconceptions about what to expect, then you are already destined to fail. Zero Dark Thirty charters the years spent after 9/11 by various CIA operatives to track down Osama Bin Laden. Before this film even hit theatres, people were calling it nothing but ‘Liberal propaganda’ and ‘biased junk’. I can see why people would assume that was what Zero Dark Thirty is, but on closer inspection you can clearly see that neither the Bush regime, nor Obama’s time in office is particularly looked upon well.

Firstly, we’re shown the darker side of the USA’s war on terror… the side that made the papers and outraged millions – torture. Watching the prisoners suffer made me uncomfortable – and after all, what kind of world would we live in if it didn’t. They may be terrorists, or at least suspected terrorists, but seeing anyone scream in pain, especially when based on real events, made me uneasy. After Obama came in, the torture went out and was replaced with a slow moving system – that possibly cost lives. Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, pushed and pushed to get the intelligence she’d gathered taken seriously. But the people above her were often more worried about looking bad politically if it was the wrong call. And so yes, the torture portrayed did make Bush look bad. But at the same time, throughout the movie they make the point that they wouldn’t have the lead which led to Osama without it.

Now, with all the controversy out of the way, let’s get to the actual film. Zero Dark Thirty is at times hard to follow, but so it should be. If the average Joe could understand the plot easily, well then it wouldn’t be a true representation of the obstacles overcome by these extraordinary individuals. The film basically follows Maya, as she is dropped into Pakistan having been recruited to the agency straight from High School. She’s committed, and you see that from day one. Unsurprisingly she gets ridiculed for her age and her looks, and finds it difficult for people to take her seriously. This toughens her up and by the end of the film she is very much a woman I wouldn’t want to mess with. The sass she had at the beginning of the film, very much morphs into a hardened shell. Chastain is probably at her best. While I haven’t always rated her highly, I definitely feel she stepped up to the plate in what must have been a huge daunting task. Her performance as Maya is likeable but not enough to deter you from the main premise of the movie – the hunt for Osama. Kathryn Bigelow allows just enough of Maya’s personality to shine through to endear her, but doesn’t allow the movie to become all about ‘Maya’s hunt for Osama’; because it is very much a team effort.

Director Kathryn Bigelow also managed to bring home the reality that these are real people. We live in a society glamorised by Hollywood, and it is easy to forget sometimes that the CIA aren’t the really like ‘Borne’ or ‘Bond’. They are real people, with real families who are trying to keep the world safe. I found that a little unsettling. It was a dim reality that showed how vulnerable we are, that there isn’t some great power out there to save us. Because, they don’t always succeed.

But Zero Dark Thirty is ultimately about when they did succeed. And by the end of the film, we are shown the assault on Osama’s compound in Pakistan. The use of night vision goggles, interchanging with the dark made the whole scenario seem more unsettling. And while the men who went into that compound seemed ultimately bad ass, you also had the same sense of realism. They weren’t superheroes. They were just doing a job.

Overall, there is a good performances all round for the ensemble cast. I was particularly impressed with Jason Clarke and Jessica Chastain. And I think, with all things considered – and how wrong this movie could have easily gone – this is a solid film that fairly and accurately portrays the hunt for Osama. An engrossing watch.

8/10

Something occurred to me today, while I was laughing away to the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory. Being a geek… has definitely become a lot cooler. When I was a kid, if you so much as mentioned something about ‘Comic Books’ or ‘Star Wars’ you were either immediately ostracised, forced to spend the day undergoing a make over (actually happened) or compulsory left to get picked last in P.E. class. It was never a positive experience. And so I found myself – especially because I am a girl – purposefully hiding the real me.

“Oh… what music do I like? Erm… Oh what’s that new song they were playing on Juice FM… yeah I listen to Juice.” When in reality I had a room with head to toe pictures of Jimi Hendrix and I liked listening to metal when I did my homework. I know this isn’t unusual – the whole hiding your true self, I mean – pretty much every teen in history has experienced this at some point in their lives. But there is definitely much more acceptance for someone with more geekier tendencies these days than there were, say ten years ago. Take this for instance…

Source: weknowmemes.com

^That, right there, pretty much summarises what I mean. People are actually buying glasses with no glass in them, to simulate the fact that they look slightly nerdy! Why? Do you think it makes you look smarter? …I’m pretty sure it achieves the opposite. Then you get the people on facebook who are actually pretending to like ‘so-called’ geeky stuff. Holding up x-box controllers, or writing statuses like – “Just watching Star Wars… wow I’m so geeky.” …Erm, I have news for you girly. Watching a sci-fi flick doesn’t automatically make you geeky. Being like me and owning a replica light saber, a life size R2-D2 and spending your nights questing on The Old Republic… yes, then you could possibly be a nerd. But you’re not doing those things to be geeky. You’re doing them because you God damn genuinely love them.

I honestly think The Big Bang Theory has kind of added to this trend. People who know absolutely nothing about half the things the guys of the show are into still watch the show. Which, I am not ridiculing. It’s a great show and I don’t care who watches it as long as they keep it on the air. But, my boyfriend is prime example of what is wrong with this. He is not a nerd. He hates Star Wars, comics, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, MMORPGs, Star Trek… etc. He despises it all. Yet he loves The Big Bang Theory. Again, nothing wrong with that, I love it too and we have it in common. The only problem I have with it – is this – He doesn’t get half the jokes. In the beginning, especially, The Big Bang Theory had more geeky references than comicon. Sheldon would say a joke about both Star Wars and Star Trek that would only make sense to you if you’d seen either of them. But still… my boyfriend laughs. I don’t get it… on what level is he watching the show on? Because there is no way he understood that joke.

THESE are geeks! And FYI, I hope sincerely that if you watch TBBT you can at least name all the characters/species they’re imitating! Too much to ask for? Damn. Source: TV Fanatic

So this is my point. People watch a hit show about geeky guys and now, suddenly, they think they’re geeky. It doesn’t work like that people. I mean, in a way, I applaud The Big Bang Theory, for making it mainstream and essentially okay to like Star Trek, and to go to comicon and dress up as a Hobbit. The ridiculing has definitely decreased. I once went to a screening of Star Wars episode I with a face painted like Darth Maul. I was 8. But still I was ostracised for it. I got called names at school. And it was then that I started hiding the real things that interested me. Just for an easier life.

Okay, so I can kind of see why I was bullied. This isn’t exactly normal. But it’s what I wanted to do, so I did it. And I don’t regret it. I just regret hiding my love of all things Star Wars all through my teens.

Things like that seem easier now. At least on the surface. Maybe if you pretend  to be a geek you are cool. It’s a strange phenomenon. I definitely like that you can seem to be more yourself now. That kid with the Star Trek lunch box isn’t going to end up eating its contents in a bath room stall, hiding from bullies. Or at least, he’s less likely to.

I think the true moral of the story it this. Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something your not. This cuts both ways. Don’t hide what you truly like, and don’t pretend to be a nerd so you look cool. It’s a hell of a lot more admirable to be yourself, and be self confident and comfortable in your own skin. Because at the end of the day, no body wants to really end up lying to themselves. Life’s too short.

…And on that note, I’m off to go play with my lego star wars set. Because I’m an adult and I can damn well do what I please!

“Look sir… Droids!”

Hello there – friends, enemies, cyborgs… The ‘You better abide by my TV guide’ series is back this week. And boy… have I got some quality TV picks for you. To get us going, I thought I would just start by saying a jolly old Happy New Year to you all – yes, I realise I am 10 whole days late, but it’s the thought that counts. I hope you had a good one, and that your Christmas was filled with family fun – because after all, that is what it’s all about.

Anyway, that’s enough jibber-jabber. Let’s kick 2013 off in style and get this show on the road.

1) American Horror Story

Jessica Lange in one of her two roles – as Sister Jude. Source: Collider.com

Wow. How this one stayed so low on my radar for so long, I do not know? American Horror Story starts off as a show that follows the Harmon family as they move into an house that has one hell of a famous history. American Horror Story is as much horror as it is mystery, and the plot is surprising and intricate throughout. Every single character is layered – from the occasionally seen ghost to the outstandingly played Constance (Jessica Lange… you most certainly still have it). As season one progresses, the house itself is nurtured into a character all of its own, and by the climax, you can only really guarantee one thing – anything can happen. We travel through time each episode, and are treated to all the previous tenants of the aptly named ‘Murder House’, and at the core of it all, is the Harmon’s who are so desperately trying to regain some sort of control and normality where there is none. What makes American Horror Story so compelling though, is the writing. Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk stated from the beginning that each season would feature a new story and a new cast. The brilliance of this, is every season is like an outstanding well written and complex movie. There is no expectation to peak the series into having some sort of a cliff hanger… the whole show, after all is surprising enough in itself week in week out. Instead you expect this well crafted story to come to some conclusion, and then you – as a viewer, turn a page and eagerly await what new Hell the writers will dream up in the next season. It’s such an interesting way to do a show. And highlights to me that good writing is the backbone to any successful program. Season Two centres on ‘Briarcliff’ – an institute for the criminally insane run by nuns. Just the very premise of that is scary, especially, if like me, you’re Catholic. Thankfully, we have the amazing Jessica Lange back as Sister Jude – the care taker of the institute, and we are led through the complicated definition of ‘insanity’, not just through the patients, but through those tasked with housing them. Once again, I am surprised, week in week out, and with actors such as Joseph Fiennes and James Cromwell hopping on board, American Horror Story manages to not only maintain the successes of the first series – but perhaps even surpass them. But it doesn’t stop there, Evan Peters proves how utterly versatile he is, having taken two lead roles in both seasons, and Zachary Quinto reminds us all how easily he can play both the hero and the foe. A special mention also goes to Sarah Paulson, who plays journalist Lana – as it is essentially her journey we follow through the Mental system as she finds herself held at Briarcliff against her will when she gets too close for comfort.

Ahhh… the Rubber Man. Just one of MANY terrifying characters.

Essentially, American Horror Story can be shocking and repulsive – as most Horror’s often are – but when it isn’t being genuinely terrifying, it is wielding itself into a masterpiece of modern television. If you like your frights big and your drama raw – then I couldn’t recommend American Horror Story more. …And given it’s structure, there’s no need to watch the seasons in any sort of order. Enjoy!

You can catch American Horror Story on FX and Season 1 is on DVD now. Or if you’re naughty (hehe) check out TV Links. 

2) Chicago Fire

Beautiful peopleeeeee…. Beautiful peopleeee… Uh ohhhhhhhhhhh

Okay, so never have two shows been more different! Don’t ever accuse me of not giving you variety at Rather Be Mental…! Now to a show by NBC… meaning it could essentially get canned at any time so enjoy it while you can. I’m surprised a show like this took so long to get onto a major network, after the hugely successful E.R. and the totally underrated Third Watch, I thought for sure we’d have a totally focused fire department show. But it took a while for the idiots over at the network to catch up. Thankfully – they did.

Did I also mention I am in love with Taylor Kinney… Yeah, prettttyyy BIG factor! Source: Shayson (Tumblr)

Chicago Fire follows a Chicago fire department, meaning we get a lovely action packed insight into both muscly fire men and kick ass female Paramedic’s. A little slow getting off the ground at first, Chicago Fire is finding its feet half way through the season. The writers seemed to have realised that, like so many NBC shows before it, the characters are what is most important. Therefore, we are treated to many a layered soul, with many a complicated relationship. There is a chance occasionally that Chicago Fire falls into the ‘soapy’ trap from time to time, but when ever that seems to be happen, there’s a huge explosion or a plane crash to avert us back on course. While I am not raving over this show like I was American Horror Story, I can definitely see it has potential. What I would like to see more of is – a) more time on the street; and b) a little more of that smart humour that made shows like Third Watch so God damn good.

While it certainly ain’t perfect, I would say that Chicago Fire deserves a look if you are prone to a hospital/cop drama. Even if it’s not your thing, the whole show is full of beautiful people – who can act – which, makes a refreshing change. I am sure, as the season progresses, the show will just keep getting into its stride.

Like I said, Chicago Fire can be found on NBC or Sky Atlantic. Or online. Again. Hehe. 

3) Miranda

Oh look at that face… how could you dislike her?!

Ah… Miranda Hart. Every time I say her name I feel a rising urge to shout… “For Prime Minister!”. She encompasses everything I could ever want in a female British comedian. It’s hard to believe that I took so long to watch her sitcom, I just kept seeing her on TV wondering, “Who is that woman?” Then one day, my cousin told me that I absolutely must be watching Miranda as it was

“Move along…!” Miranda slightly illegally impersonating a police officer.

totally hilaire! (A word you’d understand if you saw the show). The reason I love Miranda so much, is she is basically every normal thirty something woman if you stripped away all their inhibitions and made them 12 again. I’m only 22, but how I longggg to be bold enough to ‘gallop’ down the street – because, after all it is such a more efficient form of transport!  Watching Miranda, I find myself thinking, “Oh dear… I’ve done that too.” Not exactly great when she’s constantly acting insane and humiliating herself. Because, as Miranda Hart so puts it in her book, ‘Is it just me?’, she always gets stuck at the little moments in life. The big ones – weddings, deaths, births etc. She can do fine. There is a mandatory guide book for how to behave for each and every one of those moments. But it’s the little moments – like accidentally losing your skirt at a job interview and passing it off as a deliberate move to show how smooth your legs are – that she gets so so wrong (genuinely happened to her… ). The sitcom can be ridiculously silly at times, but I think we all need that in our lives. Not afraid to use the odd catch phrase, and most certainly not afraid to let the world know her biggest, cringiest moments, Miranda is a breath of fresh air and a hark back to the silly comedy we would at times get from the likes of Morecambe and Wise. Except that, Miranda is a lot truer to life and definitely makes the odd ‘misfit’ like myself feel a lot better about themselves. Just for clarity Miranda… No, it isn’t just you. 

Watch Miranda on Tuesday nights on BBC1. I have no clue whatsoever if your treated to it in the USA (although it’s so British I’m not sure you’d get it…) but if not, again – ONLINE.

Special mention

Also, if you happen to be British, and are checking out Miranda, keep the tele on BBC1, as Mrs Brown’s Boys is an Irish sitcom that definitely gets a good few laughs.

That’s all from me now folks. Wow, definitely covered the spectrum of TV fiction. Give us a like on facebook to keep yourself well in the loop for any more of my recommended shows. Chow!

Oh paranoid humans. Thousands of years ago, some people who were way too fond of pyramid-style architecture decided that rather than pointlessly writing in dates thousands of years from now… they’d stop. And go eat a toblerone instead. Now, all these years later – the paranoid world as we know it, now thinks that this day, of no particular importance, will be the end of the world. The rapture. The end of days. It has a lot of names, not all of which have been made into slightly disturbing Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks. Point is, on the 21st December 2012 – the world is going to end. Well, at least some people believe it will end. Me? Well, I think if it was going to end, we would have seen some sort of sign by now. Locusts. River’s running red. We’d have a Tory government and the global economy would continue to plummet… oh wait…

But I haven’t come here to argue the in’s and out’s of an event that may or may not even happen. Instead I thought I would be useful. If some big, cataclysmic event occurs, I am here to help. More specifically, I am here to help you survive.

I know what you’re thinking. How could I possibly be able to help you survive a nuclear holocaust, or a zombie army… or maybe even everybody on the planet suddenly turning into Liverpool supporters (“Oh dear God… NO!”)? You’re right – I can’t. I am pretty sure no one can. But, what I can do, is give you help, advice and tips that may help keep you alive if you do in fact survive this world altering event.

Quick thinking

Now, this may sound pretty lame. But I am guessing that stupidity, hesitation and down right YOLOness will get you killed in this new world faster than you can say ‘Nicki Minaj’. Be smart and trust your instincts. Before any of us were skyping our friends and online shopping, we were animals. Remember that. Ever see a dog get the willies? Or a cat stare at some unknown object for no reason? That’s because animals are much more in tune with their senses. Hunting and sensing danger comes naturally to them. And it will for us again, if the situation calls for it. Listen to your gut, because as well as telling you that you haven’t eaten anything but a protein bar for three days, it will save your life.

Be careful who you trust

Undoubtedly, no matter what the catastrophe, if society falls – so does the socially acceptable code of morals. Be careful of other people, especially strangers. The world as you know it is over – therefore there are no laws any more. All people have to guide them is their conscience, and that can get pretty wacky when people are trying to feed themselves. The animalistic nature I mentioned before? Yeah, well it cuts both ways. People will get violent and dangerous fast. And eventually that will become as normal as your current morning Starbucks. Also, the psycho’s that seem so rare now? Well they won’t be so rare anymore. The vicious ones are undoubtedly the ones who are more likely to survive a post-apocalyptic world because they will do just about anything to anyone to survive.  Even more than that, they will likely want some degree of power over people. They don’t have any rules any more. Therefore in their eyes anything goes.  Avoid these kinds of people at all costs.

Fly under the radar

This sounds pretty obvious, but unless you actively go out of your way to hide yourself everyday, you could get a little lax. If no one notices you, you won’t get murdered. It is that simple. If you have to, move at night to avoid detection. And don’t start fights you know you can’t win.

Move on

This one is a lot easier said than done. But it is likely you will lose a loved one in the ‘event’. It is important that you come to terms with not only that, but the collapse of society quickly. No one will come and rescue you. Be realistic. The sooner you realise that the stronger you will be emotionally. Save your hope for anyone who has been left behind with you, and for the coming new world.

Don’t abuse substances

I mentioned a few posts ago about how ridiculous it is that people in movies have sex in a crisis and inevitably die. The same concept exists here. Drugs are not a good idea once the world ends. Yes, it may seem like you need that stiff drink more than ever, but it could get you killed. You’re living in a world that needs you to be alert as much as humanly possible. Drinking, taking drugs, or even smoking, could avert your attention. Smoking – I hear you ask? Well, inevitably you will have to give it up eventually. Withdrawal from nicotine can cause severe irritability, difficulty focusing, headaches and drowsiness – to name a few symptoms. In order to survive, you need to be at the top of your game.

Don’t eat mushrooms

“I don’t feel bad at all for giving you bloody diarrhoea and respiratory failure!!”

Not as broad as the others, but important none the less. Mushrooms are often seen as a good food to gather. In fact, this couldn’t be more wrong. Low in protein – therefore often not worth the effort – never eat a mushroom unless you are 100% certain of its type. There are so few edible types, that it is far more likely you will end up poisoning yourself. Put your efforts into gathering food you know to be safe.

Preparation is key

It is likely you never know what will happen next, and therefore it is important to prepare. You will know when the seasons will change. Prepare yourself for them. It’s all well and good avoiding the violent people left behind, but if you are not well prepared for the climate, you could die of exposure long before you run into trouble. If winter is coming, prepare by finding somewhere suitable to spend it. Store food supplies and warm clothing (think layers), and get ready to wait it out. All it takes is one bad snowstorm and one bad winter – be ready.

Find a group

I know this may seem to contradict some of the other tips – but your everyday survival will be strengthened in numbers. Once you can find those people you trust, it will make every day activities like finding food and water, much easier.

Find a knife

…And I don’t mean for protection. A sturdy knife will become essential in the day to day – whether that be hunting, building a shelter or making a fire. A good knife is essential.

Make a survival kit

If you are serious about the world ending, then prepare beforehand. Think about all the things that are truly essential to your survival. Things to make a fire (flint, matches, tinder), first aid supplies and water sterilizing tablets are the first thing that should come to mind. Food isn’t that important in the immediate, but will be necessary later. So if you have space, think about items that could help you get food – like a fishing rod. Obviously it is likely you will be in an urban environment. In that case, stock piling non-perishable food might be a good idea. Also, some supplies for a make-shift shelter are a good idea so that you always have somewhere warm and dry to spend the night regardless of what happens. Carrying these things around with you (aside from the food, of course) will minimise the risk of you not being prepared for anything.

Learn to defend yourself

…Yet there are some people that we know will be okay. Maggie? Wanna be buddies?

Seems kind of obvious, I know. But sometimes no matter how careful you are, and how under the radar you fly – things happen that you cannot stop. If the world does end on Friday – well I guess it’s too late to go out and learn kick boxing, or karate. But there are still a few simple ways that you can try to protect yourself. Firstly – fight dirty. This is your life we’re talking about. There is no fighting dirty in this new world. There are no rules – remember? If your attacker is a man, go for the groin. Hell – if they’re a woman – this still hurts, but is less effective. Eye gauging – although it may be repulsive to think about, it could save your life. Once you have successfully immobilised the attacker – don’t hang about. Run the hell away. This isn’t about being tough. This is about survival. The initial blow is there to allow you to retreat. If possible use improvised weapons to fend off the attack. Like I said, there is no such thing as fighting dirty when its your life. Unfortunately, if you’re female, this section is extra important. The chances of sexual assault will increase. Therefore it is important to be ever the more self aware. Remember, however, your number one priority is to survive. If fighting back severely jeopardises that – be smart, and don’t.

Remember who you are

You will change. This huge traumatic event has happened – of course you will. But it is important to remember the person you were. In a world were black and white will be so blurred, you will need to remember the way the previous you approached things. Likely – if you were any kind of stand up person before – this will be a good gage at making sure you are doing the right thing. The last thing you want is for you to slowly turn into one of the crazy one’s without even realising you were.

Live every day as though its your last

…And no I don’t mean YOLO. It will be the small things that will become important. Do you have a meal in your belly and a warm fire to cosy up to? People you trust around you? Then it has been a good day. Learn to appreciate them.

Evaluate where you would be safest

In movies, often when something like this happens, people travel to some place they think they will be safe. It is a good idea to have in your head before hand possible safe places, each at furthering distance. For instance, if there was a zombie attack (hypothetically… I do know zombies don’t exist!) I would try and find an island to inhabit. Given I live in Britain, it would be one on a lake. But the nearest one is miles from me, so I would have to come up with back ups closer, and then closer again, to home. So, it is important to evaluate your threats (depending on the disaster), and find somewhere suitably safe.

…Yet if you’re a paranoid millionaire, you probably already have this covered.

Get fit

Fitness may not be fun, but it is essential in your survival. It will improve your overall health, efficiency, hunting and gathering, defence and mood. Do your best to keep active, as stamina will become very important.

Don’t go for weapons

Weapons are way down on your list of priorities. Unless there is a zombie apocalypse  you need other supplies way more. The people who head for the weapons are likely the one you would end up needing them against. Therefore, to at least prolong the chance of a confrontation, put finding  a weapon way down in your priorities. If you have one to hand – great. But if not, wait until you are at least partially settled. The food and water and much more important at this stage.

To conclude…

Finally, I just want to point something out – Don’t be afraid of death. It is the only certainty we have in life, and eventually mankind’s time will end. Dying in the cataclysmic event probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Being left behind? Well, that would be much worse. Surviving in a world with no structure, law or society, well needless to say it would be far from easy. If the world does end and you’re one of the lucky ones who goes, without so much as a whimper – count your chickens! If you survive and are left behind, well – good luck. You’re most definitely going to need it!

‘Cos the guys on the Walking Dead look like they’re having a riot… NOT!

…And I hope these tips did more than just terrify you about the impending apocalypse. Oh and remember, if you are worried about Friday – just remind yourself that you’re listening to a bunch of people who died thousands of years ago, and whose past times include painful body modifications and ritual human sacrifice.

10) Go caving; The Descent

In what possible way does this look FUN?!

The Descent is a pretty nifty British horror flick about a group of women who go caving and get a little more than they bargained for. Needless to say, I was God damn terrified before any monsters were introduced half way through. Just being trapped in a creepy, pitch black cave is enough for me to veto caving for good.

9) Midnight swimming; Jaws

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this one. Jaws revolutionised the way we see the ocean. And the several similar copy cat films that have come since haven’t changed our minds. If you must go swimming in the ocean, do it with lots and lots of people around… rather them than you.

8) Pick up a hitchhiker; The Hitcher, Wolfcreek, Thelma & Louise, Freeway. 

I swear, nothing good ever came from Hitch-hiking. At least not in Hollywood. I’m pretty sure it isn’t as dangerous as we all think it is, but thanks to the people over at the studio’s, you’d be hard pushed to find someone who didn’t think Hitch hiking resulted in getting murdered, raped or mutilated. Or possibly all three.

At least the guy’s honest…

 

7) Have dinner with Lindsay Lohan; Every movie she’s ever made…

I kid. I kid. Seriously though, that is one woman I shall still be giving a wide berth to. Just saying.

6) Vacation at any cabin whatsoever; Cabin Fever, The Cabin in the Woods, The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th and like another million movies. 

Cabins to me either equal encounters with Bigfoot, getting murdered or some scenario that involves death and never seeing your loved ones again. As the recent flick The Cabin in the Woods so brilliantly illustrates, there are so many ways one can meet their end when staying in a cabin – at least in Hollywood’s eyes. With that in mind, I’m pretty sure I don’t want my last thought to be, “Damn… I knew I shouldn’t have come to this cabin.” No woody adventures for me. Wait… that came out wrong.

7) Go to the deep south; Texas chainsaw massacre, Deliverance, The Devil’s Rejects, The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn… 

If there is one thing that has set the Southern US’ tourist board back, its movies. Ask anyone who has never actually set foot there… The deep south has a reputation as being full of gun toting lunatics, inbred’s and mutants. Ain’t nobody got time for that…!

Thanks to this film, I can’t even look at a chainsaw. It makes chopping wood such a chore…

6) Listen to really loud music when wearing head phones; The Day After Tomorrow, Friday the 13th (2010), Sharks Tale

…And there just the films I can think of off the top of my head. In movies, bad shit goes down and the head phone wearer is always totally oblivious as they bop along to their nice little tunes. Hell… when even a kids film shows having loud music on while working can have disasterous consequences – well yeah, that pretty much puts this up in 6th place.

5) Drive; Too many movies to count (Duel, Joy ride, Final Destination, All the Hitchhiker movies)

This one isn’t strictly true; I probably will drive one day. With that being said, movies don’t exactly paint a good picture of driving. If people aren’t crashing, their being chased down, or being blown to Timbuktu in some sort of car explosion. Of course there are thousands of movies of people driving and nothing bad happens to them. But at the same time, think about all the horrible events in movies that people have driven to. None of this shit would have happened if y’all just got the train. Hell I’d even take the risk of flying… much less likely to end in disaster. Think about it, even your garden variety action movie always has someone’s car blowing up. Remember the cabin’s we talked about before…? Did you drive there? I rest my case. If its too remote to get to by train or plane… don’t go there.

4) Go on the Tube at night; Creep, 28 Weeks Later, Mimic, Stag Night

The tube is creepy of a day time. Believe me. I didn’t need to get brainwashed by movies to learn that. But, of a night? Well, films pretty much teach us that psychotic homicidal maniacs lurk down there, and somehow have been on a long and arduous killing spree without no one noticing or getting caught. Plus its underground… It’s bad enough fighting a deranged killer, but doing it in a confined space? Um… No thanks.

 

3) Go to prison; Shawshank Redemption, Escape from Alcatraz, The Green Mile, Das Experiment, Lock Up, Con Air, Brokedown Palace,

I know what you’re thinking. Of course no one wants to go to prison. It’s prison – it wouldn’t be a punishment if it was all sunshine and rainbows. However, they really try their hardest in movies to make prison look like a total corrupt shit house. So next time your thinking of downloading a few songs off the internet… just remind yourself of the laundry room scene in Shawshank.

2) Have sex during a crisis; Every slasher flick ever made.

Films teach us that not only will you die a horrible violent death if you’re a slut, but you will be also descend into having an IQ  below 50, meaning you will likely be killed first.

Really people? Really? Your in the middle of a crisis. One of your best friends has just been gutted like a fish, and you wanna get busy?! Oh yeah, ‘cos nothing says horny like a bloody massacre.

1) Sleep anywhere were there has been suggestions of ghosts; Every ghost story. 

If there is one thing that scares me, its ghosts. Real or not, the idea of the scares the bejesus out of me. I think it is because you can’t really fight a ghost. If someone attacks me, or if there’s aliens – or hell, even if a deadly virus breaks out – there are things within my control that I can do. If a ghost attacks me, what am I supposed to do? Call Ghostbusters? A good argument against me here is that ghost’s actually can’t really hurt me either – in theory. What do I say to that? Ever been so scared you felt your heart pumping in your chest like it was about to explode? …Then you will know, it is possible to be scared to death, by having a heart attack or heart failure.

Get away!

I’ve never understood people who would willingly go somewhere they would likely be terrified. I understand the buzz and the adrenaline, like going on a rollercoaster, but there is a pretty big jump from that to watching a scary Japanese girl walk out of your TV. No thanks. I’m out.