Show Review: Castlevania (2017)

‘Killing you was the point. Living through it was just a luxury.’

This show was never on my radar until the other night when someone used it to describe a book. I looked it up and found out that Richard Armitage, one of my favourite actors, is the lead voice actor. SOLD. For those who don’t know, Armitage is known for his voice work and narrates loads of books. So far I’ve listened to his audiobooks of The Velveteen Rabbit, Their Lost Daughters (need to finish this one), and Sylvester; and I’ve got The Chimes waiting for me. He’s also done David Copperfield, plus more besides. So you know he’s a great narrator!

But I totally ended up falling for the show. It’s a great addition to vampire television. (And I have seen a lot of vampire television shows!) The storyline is imaginative and original, and the artwork is mind-bogglingly good. The look is like a blend of anime and vintage 90s styles. It really reminds me of the 90s animated movies that I grew up with, actually. Kind of makes me nostalgic, yanno? But the storyline is also really great. The show follows Trevor Belmont, the last of his family, fighting against Dracula in ancient Wallachia. Trevor is such a great character. He’s weary and sarcastic and not in the mood for anybody’s shit. His dry humour is such a fantastic addition to the show. He kind of reminds me of Raylan Givens in Justified! (An amazing show, too.)

If you like vampire shows, witty characters and animation, this one is for you! It’s a great historical fantasy action series that reminds me of the 90s in a great way!

Show Review: The Resident (2018)

The Resident is the perfect show for romance lovers, although it definitely isn’t for the faint of heart! The drama and gritty depictions can be super intense!

The show follows a core series of doctors and nurses at the fictional Chastain Hospital. The show spends as much time on the behind-the-scenes drama as it does on the medical cases that follow each episode, but what I really like is how the cast isn’t so big that the stories are spread across a dozen people. There’s only a handful of central characters, however, the guest stars are frequently around for several episodes, so when a patient comes in, you get to see their storyline develop alongside the doctors and nurses, rather than just having new patients/cases every episode. Most medical shows I’ve watched only have the guest stars around for two episodes at most, so the fact that The Resident has the patients’ storylines get as much development as the doctors’ romances is a really great change in storytelling.

The show also spends a lot of time focusing on the ethical side of medicine and the cost of medical care in the US. Many of the plotlines revolve around this, actually, with the doctors in the show often butting heads with a system they feel isn’t fair to the patients.

There’s a few main characters, but so far (I’m two seasons in) there’s really only one super front and central couple, Nic and Conrad. I feel like they are the heart and soul of the show and I’ve been rooting for them since episode one. I don’t just mean they have engrossing storylines, I don’t just mean they have amazing build up and development, I mean: they are supportive of each other from minute one and I really appreciate that.

They start the show as exes who still have feelings for each other. Conrad is the kind of male lead we don’t get a lot of in television. He’s not a womaniser, he’s not a jerk to Nic, he’s not looking around for other love interests, there isn’t a love triangle. It’s actually so refreshing. He loves her and has personal issues that kept them from being more, but he works episode by episode to get her back. THIS IS THE KIND OF RELATIONSHIP WE NEED ON TELEVISION, DARN IT.

For those who like romance and medical dramas, this one is definitely worth checking out. I’m excited to see seasons three and four!

Show Review: Santa Clarita Diet (2017)

I’m so bummed that this show didn’t get a fourth season. It really deserves one. Few pairings have made me laugh as much as Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore. Liv Hewson and Skyler Gisondo are such a good complement duo, too. For a show about a zombie, this show is so darn cheerful and sunny.

For anyone who hasn’t encountered this glorious horror-comedy, it’s a half-hour show that follows a California family after the mother becomes a zombie. \o/

Zombies in this universe are different than in The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later or Shaun of the Dead. Zombies in this still have their awareness and personality, they’re just alive and rotting away if they don’t eat. (It gets really, really gross, fair warning.) I’d say the zombies in this are most like the zombies in iZombie. But the comedy is probably more Shaun of the Dead, if we’re comparing zombie works.

Joel, the dad, is probably my favourite character. He’s desperate to be a good husband to his undead wife and his comedy is so perfectly timed by Timothy Olyphant. He had me laughing at pretty much every scene. Sheila, the wife, is wonderful. Drew Barrymore is an absolute gem and I love her so much. She’s been one of my favourite actresses since Ever After (BEST CINDERLLA, DON’T @ ME.) Abby and Eric, the younger characters, who are trying to figure out zombies and high school at the same time, are fantastic characters.

Honestly, for a show about zombies, this one is wholesome and lovely. The family aspect is so wonderful and they’re all easy to root for. The humour and jokes are top notch, and I especially love it for not being mean comedy. I like comedy that underscores being kind and supporting each other. Like Bob’s Burgers! Another excellent show, I might add.

Anyways, watch this one. Despite the fact that it was cancelled, it’s well worth a go and the three seasons we got are great!

Show Review: ¿Quién mató a Sara? (2021)

¿Quién mató a Sara? takes chaotic family mysteries to a whole new level. The show follows Álex after he’s wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of his sister, Sara. Eighteen years later, Álex is let out and determined to get revenge for Sara’s death, his imprisonment and what his mother endured all the while.

The story flashes back and forth between before Sara’s death, when the characters are all teenagers, and the present, where Álex is going after Rodolfo and Chema, his former friends. Rodolfo was dating Sara when she died and Álex is convinced that he and his father are responsible. Elisa, Rodolfo and Chema’s little sister who was too young to remember Sara, befriends Álex out of curiosity and suspicion – she’s not fooled by all the half-answers her brothers and father are giving her.

SPOILER WARNING

Álex and Elisa were definitely what made me fall in love with this show. I wasn’t sure at first, but as soon as this pair met up, it tied everything together perfectly. And you know what’s so refreshing?? Everyone gets to the point in this storyline! Everyone’s straight forward about where they stand by episode two (except the dad, who’s the WORST, and the mother, for that matter). So, really, the core four are pretty honest, which I appreciated. Álex keeps Elisa apprised of his plans, or at least tells her when he can’t tell her things. They’re a solid couple and they work together so well and it was just refreshing that their storyline didn’t have the drama it otherwise could have.

Chema and his boyfriend Lorenzo had a good overall storyline, although I’m a bit worried about them for season two. I want everything to work out! Lorenzo is such a supportive partner, I love him.

The dad was the absolute worst, I’m sure we can all agree on that. Argh! THE WORST.

This is definitely a binge-worthy show filled with drama, mystery, romance, angst and more. I totally suggest checking it out!

Show Review: Barbaren (2020)

For all the fans of Centurion (2010), King Arthur (2004), The Last Kingdom (2015) and Vikings (2013), Barbaren (‘Barbarians’) is the show for you. Set in 9th century Roman-occupied Germania, the tribes and villages are struggling to stay alive under the repressive, brutal rule of the Romans. To keep the peace, one chief trades his sons to the Romans – years later, ‘Ari’, now Arminius, is a respected Roman soldier who has little in common with his childhood best friends, Folkwin and Thusnelda.

The show is based on the real life figures of Arminius and Thusnelda. Arminius was a German-born, Roman-raised, eventual Germanic Cherusci chief after the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. It’s not an area of military history I’m very familiar with, but apparently it’s one of the most decisive military victories in history and considered a huge failure for the Roman Empire.

The show begins with a Roman delegation arriving in a Cherusci village and demanding more tribute than the village could possibly produce or survive without. In retaliation, one of the Roman soldiers beats Thusnelda’s brother, permanently injuring him and leaving him brain damaged. Folkwin and Thusnelda swear revenge immediately and decide they’re going to steal the Romans’ eagle standard. You know, the gold-tipped eagle spear that Roman troops brought everywhere. Thusnelda and Folkwin are successful, but their victory is short lived when the Romans return to their village to enact their revenge. Very quickly, lines are drawn between the sides and Folkwin and Thusnelda’s friendship with Ari is put to the ultimate test.

This show is every bit as bloody, violent, painful, sad and tense as Vikings and The Last Kingdom. That said, this show really does bring something new to the table. It’s entirely in German and Latin. Thusnelda is front and centre, and I’m really loving her characterisation so far. She’s a wonderful lady/fighter/sister/advocate and so far my favourite of the main three. Her love for her brother and Folkwin and Ari is just amazing to watch. Ari is very sympathetic, and it’s clear he struggles with his allegiances, just like Uhtred in The Last Kingdom. He gets a bit frustrating at points, but you can see where he’s coming from. Folkwin is fantastic and full of fire, and sometimes I’m just like no, Folkwin, don’t do the thing! And then he does the thing. Oh, Folkwin.

I haven’t finished season one yet, but the show’s already been renewed for season two and I can’t wait to see how it will end.

Show Review: New Worlds (2014)

Okay, why did no one tell me that The Devil’s Whore had a sequel miniseries? I remember loving that series so much when it first aired. Historical madness, lucious costumes, great storyline, and a cast that was so, so good: Andrea Riseborough, John Simm, Michael Fassbender, Dominic West – AMAZING. The cast of New Worlds is equally as awesome: Freya Mavor, Jamie Dornan, Jeremy Northam, Joe Dempsie – ahhhhh. So good! I’m so annoyed at myself for not finding this miniseries sooner!

For anyone who didn’t see The Devil’s Whore, it does not a happy storyline. It’s one of those painful storylines where everything that can go wrong for the characters will go wrong. The first series followed Angelica Fanshawe throughout the 1600s, under the reign of King Charles I. The other central characters are historical figures like Edward Sexby, Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Rainsborough.

New Worlds takes place years later and follows Angelica’s daughter Beth under the reign of King Charles II and spans from Oxfordshire to the colonies in Massachusetts. Like its predecessor, it’s bleak and violent and sad and frustrating. But for those who like historical costume dramas that are well acted and beautifully shot, these shows are definitely worth your time! Freya Mavor steals every scene she’s in – she’s so wonderful and captivating! I’ve loved Mavor since Skins, and she was so good in Il était une seconde fois with Gaspard Ulliel. Jamie Dornan is great as always, as is Joe Dempsie!

Show Review: 그 남자의 기억법 (Find Me in Your Memory) [2020]

It seems that I’m chronically incapable of watching one kdrama at a time. I must watch many at a time. Every time. My Netflix recommendations become entirely Korean television every time I start a new one. So of course when I started Lovestruck in the City, I also started Find Me in Your Memory (I’m also finishing up It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, because I still haven’t finished that one yet, oops). But FMIYM is just piling on the angst and romance and I’m here for it in every way possible. Totally distracted by this fabulous show now.

The series follows Lee Jung-hoon, a news anchor with hyperthymesia, who lost his girlfriend years ago. During an interview on his show, he meets Yeo Ha-jin, a famous actress with a bad memory and a huge online following. She throws him through a loop when she quotes his dead girlfriend’s favourite saying at him on live television, not realising how she remembers it. Freaking out, Jung-hoon instantly tries to distance himself from Ha-jin, but the news – and all her social media followers – clamp on to their encounter and rumours instantly spread that the pair are dating. Ha-jin is delighted by the rumour, but Jung-hoon is anything but pleased and tells her that they can’t see each other again.

Yeah, cos that’s going to last long. They make it, like, half an episode? (/◕ヮ◕)/

Everything gets even more tense when it’s revealed that Ha-jin has a stalker who wants Jung-hoon out of the picture. (And sends lots of creepy pictures to him. Like, whoa.) Despite wanting distance between them, Jung-hoon immediately becomes protective of Ha-jin (yus) and frets about her safety as the storyline unfolds and the drama ramps up. Protective boyfriends for the win!

I’m not too familiar with Kim Dong-wook, but he’s a great actor and I’m totally sold on Jung-hoon. Moon Ga-young is absolutely stunning and steals every scene she’s in. Seriously, she’s amazing. And the chemistry between Jung-hoon and Ha-jin is off the charts! I also love the relationship between Ha-jin and Yeo Ha-kyung, her little sister/manager. They’re adorable together! And Ha-kyung is so protective of her sister. Gotta love the sisterhood in this one!

Show Review: 도시남녀의 사랑법 (Lovestruck in the City) [2021]

Ji Chang-wook has been one of my favourite actors for a while now, so I was absolutely delighted when 도시남녀의 사랑법 (Lovestruck in the City) appeared on Netflix. The K2 is one of my tippy toppy I-love-it-so-much action/bodyguard shows (seriously WATCH ITTTTTTTTTTTT) and Ji Chang-wook is honestly phenomenal in everything I’ve seen him in thus far. (Suspicious Partner gave me ALL THE FEELS, M’KAY?!) I wasn’t wholly sold on the interview/documentary style format that LITC opened with, but it grew on me after a couple of episodes and the show really picks up with every episode. The interviews are mostly at the start of the episodes, so if that’s not your thing, don’t worry. Most of the show isn’t centred on the interviews. They’re more like prompts for the flashbacks or for setting the scenes. The show goes back and forth between the present and past, with the central characters being interviewed about love, relationships, sex, etc. Some of their answers are seriously hilarious.

The main character, Park Jae-won, is a surfer and architect, who fell in love with ‘Yoon Seon-a’ years ago, but after a whirlwind romance of two months by the seaside surfing and cooking and exchanging rings, she disappears, leaving Jae-won heartbroken and bewildered. You quickly learn that ‘Seon-a’ is actually Lee Eun-oh, who was lying about her name the entire time she was with Jae-won. You find out why slowly, while their friends’ relationships are interwoven into the storyline.

I really love Jae-won’s character. He’s just such a decent bloke. He loves Seon-a/Eun-oh so much and is so endearingly earnest about it. I adore characters who are sincere and genuine. It’s impossible not to root for him throughout the series. Eun-oh’s a great character, too, but I definitely felt a bit miffed by her lies. Poor, poor Jae-won.

I don’t know how it all ends yet, as the show has a couple more episodes to go, but for anyone who likes contemporary romance, this one is definitely worth watching! It’s on Netflix, with episodes being added weekly! The soundtrack is great, too!

Show Review: Alias (2001)

Oh man, I’ve forgotten how much I love this show. It’s been years since I’ve watched it and it totally holds up. Sydney Bristow working as a double agent to avenge her fiancé and uncover the secrets that her father’s been working on unearthing for decades. Aaaaaaaaaaaaah. It’s so good!

This is the show that first introduced me to Jennifer Garner and Gina Torres and Merrin Dungey and Mía Maestro and Bradley Cooper and Michael Vartan and David Anders and just OH MY GOSH THE WHOLE CAST IS GREAT. I knew Victor Garber from Legally Blonde, but his character in this is EONS better. It’s also the show that first introduced me to J. J. Abrams’ work.

What I love about this show is how every episode takes place in a different part of the world, with Sydney getting to embody all different kinds of disguises. Sydney is really the heart and soul of this show and is such an icon, honestly. Her relationship with Vaughn is literal OTP material, too, and they were one of my first ships.

I’m only on season one of my rewatch, but I’m so excited to get to the drama that is season three and the fallout of the season two finale – if you watched it, you know what plotline I mean. I don’t think there’s been a show to fill this one’s shoes in all the years since. This one and Buffy are just enduringly fantastic.

Top Horror TV Shows

Hannibal (2013) – The show that prompted me to do this list. I wish it had a fourth season! Bryan Fuller’s television shows all need to be longer. (Justice for Pushing Daisies, anyone?!) The acting in this series is phenomenal. Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy have always been two of my favourite actors and getting them in the same show was just wonderful. I know there’s talk of a fourth season on going, so there’s still hope! This show is downright horrifying, but it’s so well done with the atmosphere and twists and music. All of it adds to the spooky factor.

Bates Motel (2013) – [longer review] – Hands down one of my all time favourites, even if it really does leave you feel disastrously blue by the end. These poor characters get put through the ringer again and again and again. Dylan is definitely my favourite of the characters, but the actors are all so fabulous even when the characters leave you reeling.

The Exorcist (2016) – [longer review] – TWO SEASONS IS NOT ENOUGH. There were so many things to like about this show. Again, the characters. I just loved the two priests who were the mains, but the side characters were all great, too.

Zone Blanche (2017) – [longer review] – The fact that this ends on more or less a cliffhanger drives me barmy. It’s just so good!! Still, even if the storylines aren’t wholly wrapped up, I still recommend giving it a whirl. A very ~misty small town noir~ type of horror.

The X-Files (1993) – A classic. An original. Perfection. I feel like X-Files straddles the line of sci-fi/horror well, but so many of the episodes are utterly disconcerting or scary that it just has to be on the list. Mulder and Scully are such heroes and, of course, totally meant for each other ♡♡♡

Supernatural (2005) – Very much the legacy of The X-Files and one of my favourite shows growing up. I have no doubt that Supernatural will become a classic, too. I think it’s also now the longest fantasy show? I could be wrong, but it’s up there! Now, I can’t speak for the later seasons, but I pretty much stopped watching after season five, which was the original planned ending, but the early seasons are so perfectly done. So spooky. Just fabulous.

Fear the Walking Dead (2015) – [longer review] – Yes, I liked it more than The Walking Dead. I never thought I would. But I like the multi-country focus of TWD. I liked the focus on family. There’s great diversity/rep. We see more of the world of TWD than we got to see in the original. While I think season one of TWD is phenomenal, it lost me somewhere along the way. Too many of my favourite characters died. I still like it, but I think FTWD is that little bit more my preference. I still have to catch up on this one, but so far it’s my favourite of the universe. I haven’t really tried World Beyond, but I’m sure I will eventually.

Slasher (2016) – [longer review] – Scared. The. Crap. Out. Of. Me. I originally gave it a go because of Katie McGrath, but it’s also very well written and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I haven’t watched the other seasons (it’s an anthology), but I’ve heard good things! It’s still on my list to be finished.