Damages, Breaking Bad, Wallander

April 7th, 2010

Ploughed my way through a few series of late and thought I would air my views because … well, that’s what a blog’s for, right?

Damages, Season 1 was really very good, I thought.  You can tell from the title sequence it’s going to be well put together and it really is, from plotting to editing to acting.  I like the way the murder-mystery framing story is used to add great drive to what might otherwise be somewhat plodding courtroom antics in the early episodes, and the drama ratchets up nicely with a plot that keeps on a-twisting right to the end.  And Glenn Close is suitably scary, of course, though it’s a great cast all round.  Big fan of Zeljko Ivanec.  He’s nuanced, man.

Breaking Bad, Season 1 was good, if slightly disappointing for me, since I’d heard such great things.  Bit like the Hurt Locker in that respect, I guess.  Interesting in that the main problem I had with it early on was a lack of sympathy for the central characters.  Ha.  Me.  It got a lot better as it went along, though, but it was over before it really felt like it was going.  Bryan Cranston is great, as everyone says he is, but overall it feels like a foreword.  Remains to be seen whether they can do something really interesting with it.

Wallander, some episodes of.  Hmmm.  Beautifully shot, what with the defocus round the edges and the strong colours and the endless emptiness of the swedish countryside.  Acting masterclass from Kenneth Brannagh, who can achieve more with one dishevelled eyebrow than many TV detectives do in a whole career.  And I like that Wallander isn’t particularly a mass of character ticks as detectives can often be.  You know, no crosswords, real ale, classical music, that kind of thing.  He’s just a lonely, depressive curmudgeon.  But the plots are kind of rubbish, to be honest, managing to be both banal and unrealistic at once.  And apart from David Warner doing a great turn as Wallander’s increasingly senile dad, Brannagh’s incandescent drabness makes everyone else seem like watery non-people.

Other than that, just starting the fifth season of Lost.  Pretty, sweaty people looking scared in a jungle?  Never gets old.

Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on April 7th, 2010.

22 comments so far

  • Chris Upton says:

    Shared a urinal in Woodstock with Branagh once. Apparently his Hamlet brought tears to Kate Winslets eyes.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    You shared the same urinal?

    That’s progressive of you. And him.

  • Rachel says:

    @ Chris – for some reason, your second sentence, read in context after your first, made me think it was some kind of oblique innuendo. (Yes, thank you. I do enjoy my home in the gutter.)

    I felt the same about Breaking Bad. Actually, I never got past the first episode. If I’d been able to give two hoots about the main character, it would have been a really interesting premise.

    Just watched the first episode of Pacific. Actually seems like it might be OK – which is good – I need a fix of grim, gritty war stuff and general f*cked-upness after the disappointing Green Zone left me pining for Generation Kill.

  • Pink Ink says:

    What the F***??

  • Chris Upton says:

    Heard that Pacific wasn’t that good when compared to Band of Brothers but I always look forward to HBO. So I’ll enjoy it anyway I’m sure. Boardwalk Empire (Pilot directed by Scorsese!)looks fun as well.
    Have to catch up with Wallender as well. Loved the first two episodes last year.

  • Tim says:

    Me and the wife have been watching Spartacus, Blood and Sand, which is best described as the bastard love child of 300, Caligula and Zena Warrior Princess. The first episode may have been one of the most ridiculously awful things I’ve ever watched but it did make us laugh so we watched it again. We’re now up to episode 11 and I have no idea how they’ve turned it into something to utterly entertaining. There is nothing else on right now that we look forward to quite so much.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I’m guessing that was his intention.

    Your query is difficult to respond to without more context.

    Loved Band of Brothers. Like to see Specific.

    Spartacus sounds like what you’d end up with if you made a show specifically for me. Got to see that.

  • Phil says:

    See now HBO would do The First Law well, sort of Deadwood meets Rome.

    “Welcome to Adua you f***ers” (in best Al Swearengen voice)

  • Tim says:

    I think Bravo have picked it up for the summer for the UK, amidst much grumbling from the Daily Mail. It should be renamed ‘Blood, Tits and Swearing’ though.

  • Pink Ink says:

    Actually i think that would be a fascinating idea
    the first law as a serie.
    There would be plenty enough time for introducing the chars
    and running the whole plot (without any cuts^^)
    Sorry for the query.
    (I was just really astonished about Mr. upton sharing a urinal with branagh)

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    In all seriousness I always thought a TV series would make a better format for my stuff than a film, and HBO obviously would be the dream people to pull that off. Then they decided to make this unknown Song of Ice and Fire thingy…

    No, Blood, Tits and Swearing is the title of my forthcoming autobiography. It should be noted that the eponymous tits are apocryphal, however.

    Aaaaah, I thought you were responding to the post in general, rather than Mr. Upton’s comment.

  • Phil says:

    I was being serious. I think The First Law would slot into an episodic series well. The way it’s laid out with pretty much every chapter concentrating on one character/set of events is pretty much like reading a screenplay scene by scene.

    As films I think too much would be lost or have to be omitted and you’d have to get someone committed to a trilogy of films which in todays climate would be hard I feel.

  • Rachel says:

    Ah, my mind’s a lot healthier than I thought it was.

    The First Law TV show … mmm, that could be so many kinds of awesome. If they did it right.

  • Jon says:

    I’m loving Fringe and Justified right now. And Lost, of course

  • Mike says:

    Trying desperately to catch up on all the tv I miss when working and my Sky box was almost full yesterday so had to catch up! Haven’t seen Pacific yet and got a stack of epsiodes of Fringe to catch up on. I agree that The First Law would be best as a series if we were to see it have justice done to it. The only way to get a full length film trilogy out at the cinema would need an effort of Peter Jackson type proportions with extended director’s cut being the only cut available but I think he’s involved in something by someone called J.R. Hartley…

  • Matt says:

    Is it just me or does Jacob on Lost look like Mr. Abercrombie?

    Oh, sorry mate, I forgot you’re only on season five and you’ve no idea that Jacob is in season 6…Or is he?

  • Jon says:

    Yeah, forget movies, you’d have to give up too much. Instead, hope that George r.r. Martin’s TV show does well, because that’ll open up the fantasy TV market for shows with a better level of quality than Xena.

  • DRFP says:

    I recently read the first two Wallander books. I wanted something different and crime is a genre I usually steer well clear of. However, Wallander and that whole Scandinavian crime scene has become pretty popular over the last couple of years so I thought I’d dip my toe in the water.

    The first one, “Faceless Killers”, was quite okay. I read through it quickly and enjoyed the main character (though the way certain events zoomed by in the conclusion was a little surprising). The second one, “Dogs of Riga”, was rather trashy. Maybe it’s of its time but it seemed ridiculous to me that Wallander would allow himself to be caught up in that sort of Cold War conspiracy.

    I might get back into them but DoR has cooled my enthusiasm for the time being (even if it looks to be the black ship of the series). Right now I’ve got to get back to “Stranger in a Strange Land” to see if that gets any better.

  • William says:

    Keep at Breaking Bad. The first season was hit by the writers strike and got condensed. The second season kicks it into high gear and the third has been great so far!

  • Timo says:

    Hmmm… I have not watched one second of Damages yet, but looks like DVD box including seasons 1 and 2 is under 10 quid in The Hut now. Propably worth the money. I am in a serious need of some new fascinating serious series to grab me again. Shame that nothing hardly feels like anything after The Wire.

    Oh btw, based on the little I have seen Spartacus I think it’s rubbish. Then again, I didn’t like the movie 300 either. It was like watching some RTS videogame cut-scene. Good for 20 seconds.

  • fish says:

    Second series of Breaking Bad contains some of the most addictive(!) painful and funny (peering through your fingers at the rawness of it all) telly I have seen. Cranston is magnificent and the supporting cast esp Jessie are just totaly believable and the end explaining the recurring teddy in the swimming pool image is shattering. Brilliant brilliant telly….almost as good as True Blood series two!!

  • enjai says:

    I felt exactly the same way as Joe after watching the first season of Breaking Bad and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about – it’s good but isn’t THAT good. Then I watched season two and was blown away. Every episode was better than the last and the lead characters made difficult decisions. None of that cop-out bullshit where other characters make the tough decisions for them that usually happens in shows. From what I’ve seen of season 3 it’s still riding high.
    It’s definitely worth checking out more.

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