Posts Tagged ‘fire’

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!

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Before you get confused – I said Foxfire not Firefox. Thankfully no one has become that creatively barren that they feel the need to document the history of the web browser. There is hope for us all.

I’m going back in time just a smidge today in order to review Angelina Jolie’s seriously intense Foxfire. Never heard of it? Well you wouldn’t be alone. It is one of the first films she ever made, and isn’t even available on DVD in Europe much to my pain. The film follows four teen girls who would normally not associate with each other, brought together by the transient Legs (Jolie) who inspires them to stand up for themselves. The group learn a lot about life and friendship along the way, and also about their sexualities. And it is a story of female love and friendship.

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Angelina Jolie has played several intense characters over her long career. But none are more intense than Legs. It isn’t just Legs blatant lesbianism, which inevitably initially intimidates members of the group, that makes her intense. But it is also her fearless attitude intertwined with her fragile vulnerability. It’s a match up few could play convincingly, but it oozes out of Jolie’s pours with ease.

Legs is the catalyst in the chain reaction. She spends most of the middle of the film pretty silent, riding the wave of anarchy and teenage destruction that she started. You get the feeling that that is what Legs lives for in a way. She brings people out of their normal selves and then watches them. But her intentions are definitely not negative. While she may have gone to the school initially looking for trouble, when she found her group of girls – she cared about each one of them intently. And was even willing to kill for them.

After the group overcome a common foe, a bond is formed. It is a bond that is unbreakable once it had started. The girls were ‘running with foxes’ – a note made by their principal – and it meant they were a pact, loyal and protective until the end. But with the foxes comes the carnage. The girls, once they felt persecuted for righting a wrong, set about doing increasingly more reckless things. With the notion of “why not…?” they had free reign on what they could achieve together, and a lengthy suspension to experiment.

Possibly the most intense scene of the film involves Legs, semi-nude, tattooing a fire into her right breast in order to remember the night forever. Jolie’s effortless acting means there is a extremely believable transition from feisty transient to vulnerable young woman, who has been brave enough to expose herself to these virtual strangers. The girls reaction is of shock, awe and then agreement as they all get matching tattoos too. And despite Legs lesbianism, the scene isn’t sexual – just sensual and gives a real feel of sisterhood.

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Like all the best teen films, Foxfire is funny and warm when it wants to be, and it will make you laugh out loud. The chemistry between the five leads makes the film and I often found myself longing for my own teenage pals.

The end of the film ends with a choice for Maddy, the girl closest to Legs. She is forced to choose between her old life and the unknown adventure she could have. At first glance it could be seen as a choice between her love of Legs, and playing it safe, but really that’s only half the story. It’s the classic tale of youth. We’ve all sat back and wondered about what would happen if we ran away somewhere. If we had an adventure that never ended and surrendered the up and coming responsibilities of adulthood. Really, Legs was that reality. But I ultimately think it was the realisation that Legs was running from herself and her own life that made Maddy choose…

Overall it is a classic 90s movie with a lot of messages, a big heart and buckets full of coolness even after all these years. A definite must watch for any Jolie fan.

8.5/10