Gay Thursday

If you were a fan of ‘Queer is Folk’ and have been bemoaning the lack of gay-centric TV since we waved goodbye to ‘Will & Grace’, then no more drama please. Because Thursdays just got gay! Way gay.

Although the past decade in film and TV has witnessed a major shift in how gay characters are portrayed on screen, with great writers recognising there are as many shades of gay as there are grey, the Thursday night double bill of ‘Cucumber’ and ‘Looking’ is still a coup for anyone seeking contemporary – and quality – stories that explore gay lifestyles.

Russell T Davies’s new show – along with its ‘Skins’-esque ‘yoof’ spin-off ‘Banana’ – has got over the initial shock tactics to settle into a nice groove, displaying a wicked sense of humour and some truly offbeat characters amongst all the filthy chatter. Meanwhile, Andrew Haigh’s post-‘Weekend’ HBO project ‘Looking’ returns to Sky Atlantic tonight with a second season opening double bill; although it shares the same frankness of ‘Cucumber’, if the neurotic characters and indie vibe of the first season continue then we can expect something dryly funny, emotionally compelling and entirely different to the British eccentricities of ‘Cucumber’. It’s just too bad ‘Looking’ seems to have been shafted with the graveyard post-11pm slot and no longer follows the ‘Girls’ it did back in 2014 – paired with that zeitgeist comedy drama, ‘Looking’ provided a refreshingly honest look at twentysomething gay life alongside Lena Dunham’s own snapshot of a generation.

looking cucumber

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Slayer vs Scream

Knockdown dragout time! ‘Celebrity Deathmatch’ WHOM?! Thunderdome ain’t got nothing on this fight of the century…

Yep, as I dip once more into the dangerously addictive world of Funko Pop! Vinyl figures, I end up with a bloody fight to the death on my hands.

buffy vs ghostface
In one corner, we have the homicidal maniac known as ‘Ghostface’, a killer of teens who enjoys scary movies and offing Drew Barrymore in the first 10 minutes. And his nemesis? Sunnydale’s saviour and everybody’s favourite blonde Slayer (Faith was pretty cool, no?), Buffy Summers and her trusty Mr Pointy.

Who will win? It’s gotta be the Buffster right? The girl power is strong in this one – plus payback’s a bitch and SMG already suffered at the hands of the scary masked serial slasher in ‘Scream 2’. Remember?

RIP Cici 'Scream 2'
Place yer bets! I feel like this could become a weekly thing – if only I had enough money for more cute but pointless figures, hmm?

Back of the Net(flix)

24 hours after the release of the trailer for its exclusive ‘Breaking Bad’ spin-off ‘Better Call Saul’, it’s clear that Netflix is the future of TV. Sure, Sky has ‘Fortitude’ coming up and all the HBO shows, not to mention Amazon coming up from behind with their own streaming service (and a commitment to movie production with their new film studio plans), but Netflix’s 2015 schedule of new and returning shows is a reminder that  we are in safe hands. For a small fee, of course.

better call saul

As well as ‘Saul’, which seems set to be a wisecracking companion piece to Heisenberg’s straight-up crack, there is a slew of streamable telly treats coming our way. New ‘House of Cards’ in Feb and ‘Orange is the New Black’ in summer have come to be expected now, but no less cherished; meanwhile, the increasingly eclectic mix of genres looks set to continue with dark US family drama ‘Bloodlines’ approaching in March, mere weeks after ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, Tina Fey’s irrepressibly bouncy-looking new NY sitcom.

Fey’s new show looks unashamedly girly (more ‘Mean Girls’ than ’30 Rock’ perhaps?) and Netflix’s penchant for girl power shows looks set to continue with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in ‘Grace and Frankie’, which may be a gamble but a potential surprise hit if NF’s track record is anything to go by. And, of course, there’s movie-inspired mayhem from ‘Matrix’ minds, the Wachowskis, with their new original series ‘Sense8’ and the first in a promised run of Marvel off-shoots with a ‘Daredevil’ reboot come April. And I get the sense this is still just scratching the surface of a potent TV revolution – bring it on, Netflix!

Blue Monday, Little Green Men

Ah, January. Part of me feels you get a bad rap, part of me feels your detractors are fully justified in their hatred. Today is unofficially known as ‘Blue Monday’, the flip to Black Friday’s intoxicating blend of impulse sale buys and retail-based violence; what that means is we’re all poor, we’re all housebound, and we can’t see the impending summer through the SAD-inflicting pitch blackness of 2015’s cold snap start and bare, bare trees. Heck, if you were to look at this very blog, you’d guess Blue Monday got an early start, such is the lazy fugue state I’ve been occupying since the bell tolled midnight on Jan 1st. Write for pleasure? Pfft, there’s boxsets and leftover chocolates to gorge on. Chance is I might have been confused as one of these Smurf wannabes in the past coupla weeks.

blue myself january

But it’s not all bad. The Starks and co. would have you believe winter is coming (and that overblown fantasy saga happens to be back in April if that’s your bag o’ dragons) but the sun will shine on us once again. Case in point? On this very blue day, mere months after the Lynch legion were given an early Xmas prezzie in the shape of promised new ‘Twin Peaks’ episodes, Fox have confirmed they are intent on opening up ‘The X-Files’ once again.

mulder and scully

OMG!! That stands for Oh My Gillian btw, seeing as this tentative announcement is not merely pointing to a rebooted recast remake, but has creative minds hoping for a reunion between Duchovny and Anderson as the original. Now, the second movie in 2008 was lacklustre – and, before we start seeking the truth that is out there all over again, remember this is still rumour mill stage – but this could be up there with new ‘Jurassic Park’ and aforementioned ‘Twin Peaks’ (still never seen ‘Star Wars’ so can’t comment there) as a nostalgia nuke to get excited about. Push the button, Chris Carter and TV-land people!

All together now…

Bow Ties? Cool. Scarves? Cooler.

It’s December, so the Christmas countdown has started – and, speaking of time, here’s a nifty gift idea for the Doctor Who fan in your family or circle of friends.

Take a TARDIS and flash forward to December 25th, to the moment when that special Whovian in your life opens their perfectly wrapped Christmas prezzy to uncover a replica Doc Who scarf to keep them warm throughout the rest of winter. Sure, bow ties are cool but a lovingly crafted replica of your fave Time Lord’s nifty neckwear? Geronimo!

The kind folk over at Lovarzi, accessory specialists who’ve pretty much nailed a range of geek-chic Doctor Who knitwear (not to mention a Sherlock collection that Cumberbatch himself would be happy to investigate), were generous enough to send me my very own 4th Doctor replica scarf, which dedicated fans may recognise as the type worn by DW legend Tom Baker.

It’s priced at £49.99 but, given that it’s a pretty substantial size (opening up to 13ft/4m long), it’s worth every penny. The officially licensed scarf is a perfect treat for hardcore fans and cosplayers, but even occasional Who watchers (or even complete newbies) may find themselves enamoured by the blend of warm autumnal colours: yellow, purple, green, burgundy red. So, while it may be recognised as an iconic scarf to Who fans passing by, you could just as happily wear it for comfort and style regardless of your allegiance (or non-allegiance) – the only thing giving its true identity away is a label inside, which you’d have to get pretty up close to in order to clarify its official Who status.

lovarzi doctor whodoctor who 4th dr scarf

To buy your very own decorative scarf, or to browse the official BBC Doctor Who and Sherlock collections, head over to the Lovarzi website and keep up-to-date on Twitter. After all, it’s pretty cold out there in space and time – best to wrap up!

Going Down to the Bayou

So, I’m officially going to New Orleans next year – EEEEEK!

the princess and the frog

‘Excited’ is a word that doesn’t really do justice to my anticipation about tripping to what is a pretty mythical place for someone who has watched too many movies and read too many books. I’m aware of the historical and cultural significance of the place, and can’t wait to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi whilst sipping on some Hurricanes and listening to jazz. ARGH!

Time to re-watch ‘The Princess & the Frog’, flick through some dog-eared Anne Rice books, and start dreaming bad dreams starring Robert DeNiro as the Devil. Might order the entire boxset of ‘Treme’ too!

Anyone got any good tips for New Orleans movies, shows, books and music? I’ll devour it all!

Top 5 Bogeymen

In honour of things that go bump in the night – and the holiday that embraces them in a big bloody hug – I’ve compiled a list of the bogeymen that haven’t had their due. Sure, these creepy creatures may have spooked a fair few of us but the likes of Michael Myers, the Blair Witch, Leatherface, Pennywise (of course, frickin’ Pennywise) and even bloomin’ Jaws have stolen their thunder as the nightmarish monsters that haunt the collective dreams of a generation or two who have seen way too many movies and TV shows.

So, here they are, the scary monsters and super creeps I really hope I don’t run in to tomorrow.

(Honorary mentions: Pyramid Head, Eugene Tooms, Mrs Massey from ‘The Shining’ and, erm, the Sanderson sisters?)

5. Alley Man
Is it a man? Is it a woman? Is it a malevolent monster metaphor sent from the warped mind of David Lynch’s brain to screw with us and set the tone for the rest of his psycho-thriller puzzle pic ‘Mulholland Drive’? Definitely the latter.

alley monster

In this unforgettable early scene from the director’s 2001 masterpiece, an anxious man who has just described a troubling nightmare takes his companion into the alley behind the diner from his dream – and out pops the dark and disturbing hobo-like horror he described as being confronted with in his night terrors. The sequence can almost be appreciated as a short film that stands on its own within the framework of the epic enigma that surrounds it – and it’s definitely the freakiest five or so minutes from a fascinatingly freaky whole.

4. The Peacock Family

x files home

‘The X Files’ threw up a fair few shady characters, extra-terrestrial or otherwise, but Mulder and Scully’s most terrifying foes were a twisted take on the family unit, bringing the horrors of the Peacocks home. Receiving a viewer discretion warning for graphic content, the episode ‘Home’ centred on three severely deformed brothers living on an isolated farm who keep their mother (and lover – ick) under the bed and routinely kill anyone whose snooping threatens their existence – not to mention the barely-born babies that are a product of their maternal incest. Gross but memorably horrific, ‘Home’ freaked me the F out when I was about 11 – I stayed up too late and remember the home-invasion scene, where the boys pay the sheriff and his wife a visit, ruined my sleep for a week.

3. The Pale Man

pan's labyrinth

Grimm fairytales were never so grim! Guillermo del Toro outdid himself with ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, a dark fable he is yet to better, but the crowning achievement was surely the intensely scary Pale Man. Referencing Goya, this awful bogeyman is an artistic achievement despite being grotesque – and the baby-eating backstory and eyes-in-hands look only add to the terror. When he wakes up… well, I was awake for a while after that.

2. Tristana Medeiros

tristana medeiros

Those last five minutes of the first ‘REC’? CRAP STEAKS! Little girls shouldn’t look like that – but little girls possessed by demons and twisted into a crazy-scary fiend lurking in the highest reaches of a forsaken hotel? I want my mommy.

1. The Gentlemen

hush

The highlight of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s ghoulish creature canon also provided, arguably, its best ever episode ‘Hush’. Tim Burton’s visual aesthetic is referenced heavily but the Gentlemen are scarier than anything offered up by ‘Sleepy Hollow’ or even the creepy stylings of ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’. Despite the influences though, the Gentlemen are a unique creation – sunken-eyed, suited, knife-wielding baldies with metallic grins – only rendered more scream-worthy thanks to the genius Whedon concept of them being fairytale monsters who steal the voices of their victims so there’s none of that pesky screaming business when they get down to the business of stealing hearts. Can’t even shout, can’t even cry… TURN THE LIGHTS ON!!!

Happy Halloween, peeps. Avoid dark alleys. :-/

Telly Terrors

With only a week to go until Halloween, it’s time to sit in a dark room with some popcorn and get suitably terrified. Only, with the glut of premier TV horror available to fans of guts ‘n’ gore, that dark room doesn’t necessarily have to be a cinema anymore.

Sure, with ‘The Babadook’ and Joe Hill adap ‘Horns’ treating scary movie fans in the run-up to All Hallows’ Eve, the state of horror cinema isn’t looking too shabby – this week anyway. But with UK fans having been treated to the first outing to ‘American Horror Story’s suitably freaky ‘Freak Show’ this week, there’s as much chance – if not more – of being wigged out by the terrors in the tellybox.

american horror story

^ That guy is obviously nightmare-worthy, and will haunt the dreams of any sensible adult – let alone any unfortunate kiddies who tune in after bedtime, in a similar way Pennywise all but ruined my formative years after I stayed up too late one Sunday night in the ’90s.

Even so, if you haven’t caught the awesomely alarming anthology antics of Jessica Lange and co. (and Lange’s singing is sure to give you night terrors even if the homicidal clown doesn’t), you’ll be able to find some top quality horror without leaving the house thanks to TV’s recent embrace of entrails and entropy.

tv terror

‘The Walking Dead’ may be one of the biggest shows of the moment (and rightly so) but there is plenty more gore for TV fans to gorge on. ‘Sleepy Hollow’ adds a fantastical spin, ‘Bates Motel’ riffs on Hitchcock for a noir-ish serial killer origin story, while Bryan Fuller’s deliciously stylish ‘Hannibal’ is an all-the-trimmings feast for Lecter fans.

The genre has even carved a bloody niche on Netflix, with ‘Hostel’ man Eli Roth guaranteed a final third season for his hit-and-miss ‘Hemlock Grove’. Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro’s vampire saga ‘The Strain’ is already proving infectious, whilst Eva Green lent a magnetic malevolence to Sky’s ‘Penny Dreadful’ which will hopefully deliver on its promise second time around. Even this year’s critical darling ‘True Detective’s crime saga was spun with Southern gothic, its denouement a descent into Hell itself.

Why all the post-watershed horror, why now? I don’t care, basically. Not since ‘The X Files’ followed in ‘The Twilight Zone’s bloody footsteps 20 years ago, keeping us up all night with classic episodes like ‘Squeeze’ and ‘Home’, has TV been in such a fantastically frightening state.

Halloween countdown starts here!

Doc Who Dalek Scarf Offer

Winter is coming…

Wrong genre show, but the oncoming dark nights and cold snaps are an inevitability as we approach November. So it’s time to dig out your dusty old scarves in an effort to keep warm on the daily commute, or for when you’re on patrol in a graveyard with a trusty stake at your side. Oops, wrong show again.

doctor who scarf

Thanks to the folk over at Lovarzi though, you’ll be able to keep warm in true geek style this winter with their dastardly decorated Dalek scarf – a must-have for any Whovian, surely? And even better, for TODAY ONLY, you’ll receive an extra 15% off this officially licensed product when you use code DALEK15D at checkout.

Whether you’re the big fan in your household, or you know a Doc Who devotee who’d love to find this in their Christmas stocking, the time has come for Time Lord accessorising. Stay warm across space and time, kids!

Welcome (Back) to Twin Peaks

Fancy some damn good coffee? Well, get the car loaded and logs at the ready because David Lynch’s seminal TV show (and pretty much the blueprint for all influential cult telly) is only getting the revival treatment.

return of twin peaks

^^^ That’s my excited face right now.

So yeah, after some cryptic tweets over the last few days, it has been officially announced that ‘Twin Peaks’ will return for a ‘limited series’ on Showtime in 2016, 25 years after the show ended after two seasons in 1991. Nine new episodes will be written by Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost, with Lynch directing all nine episodes – can I get a WOW or ten?!

All Mondays need news like this from now on – okay, TV gods??