Has It Been That Long?

Somehow we’ve managed to miss several weeks of blogs again, but life is a bit overwhelming. We finished moving things out of my mom’s old house and closed the sale, but now we’re about to move from our house into a new one we hope to close on this week, so life it nuts. But it hasn’t been All Packing, All the Time at Unicorn HQ, although to be blunt, when we aren’t packing, there’s been a lot of staring at stuff and not much writing. At the least, we can take a minute and tell you what we’ve been staring at, though.

Babylon Berlin

aneclipsedhabitue

(from tumblr)

I think of all the shows we’ve been watching when we decide to sit down and stop working for the night, this is the one we like best. It’s a grand conspiracy and crime mystery set in Berlin in 1929. There’s lots of music, great clothes, and fantastic characters, particularly the leads, Gereon Rath and Charlotte Ritter. He’s the vice cop in town from Cologne trying to find blackmail porn, and she’s the secretary with aspirations of becoming a homicide detective who is a sex worker on the side in order to make ends meet. Depending on if you’re going by Netflix or IMDB, it’s either two seasons of eight episodes each, or one season of sixteen episodes, but however you split it, it’s fantastic television. I’ve heard rumors about a terrible dubbed version, so makes sure you watch with the subtitles on Netflix. There are more books in the series upon which the show is based, and I have my fingers crossed for more.

Marcella

But that isn’t our only cops and bad guys show. We also watched the first season of Marcella, starring Anna Friel, a detective who’s taken some time off from work to raise a family and deal with mental health problems she’s desperate to keep to herself. But it looks like a serial killer she didn’t catch years ago is at it again, and she needs to jump back into the job, whatever that might mean for her own well-being. Twisty with a great supporting cast of some of our favorite actors, including Jamie Bamber and Harry Lloyd, we like this one a ton. Season 2 is airing in the UK, and we’re trying to patiently wait for word on when it will make its way to Netflix.

The Good Place

(from tumblr)

Yeah, we’re late to this party, but the important thing is we got to this hilarious, high-concept show before we knew anything about it other than several people whose opinions we admire said we should watch. We’re very glad we did. So if you haven’t watched, get on this sooner rather than later. But I’m saying no more, because the less you know going in, the better. However, if the above is at all your sense of humor, check it out.

Turn

This is the current show we’re making our way through, and we’re still on the first season. We’ve both heard that it improves in Season 2, which is exciting since we like Season 1 pretty darn well already. So what’s is about? Generally, it’s about the American Revolution, but specifically it’s about spying during that war. The Brits have their spymaster, John Andre, played by JJ Field, one of my very favorite actors. And the Colonists are trying to get their act together on this front as well, led by Benjamin Tallmadge, played by Seth Numrich. (Numrich is an actor we just saw for the first time in a little indy film called Private Romeo. Is a modern day gay Romeo and Juliet set in a military school. Numrich is Romeo, and his performance is really fantastic.) We like the show a lot, and it’s leading to quality time with Wikipedia where I can be embarrassed at just how much I don’t know about the American Revolution.

And that’s what we’re doing when we’re not packing and ignoring (but never forgetting) our dear readers.

~S

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Relationships Matter

tak and rei

A scene from the new Netflix show Altered Carbon.

As always, Unicorn HQ is a hopping place with house hunting and packing. And when that and our day jobs aren’t intruding, I have been squeezing in some TV. Specifically, this weekend I binged the new Netflix series Altered Carbon. I enjoyed the first six episodes well enough, but it was the final four that really sold me on the show and made me keep watching, explaining in part why this blog is a day late. And, of course, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why, which eats up its own fair share of time.

When 1+1 is > 2

Earlier this week, I was chatting with someone on Tumblr about what we find most engaging in the media we consume and the fiction (fanfic and original) we write. At the end of the day, we agreed that what draws us in are the relationships. When I was younger, I remember thinking that what makes good stories, well, good, are the characters. But as I get older, what I find most compelling are the relationships, not the individual characters. Now, these can be great romances, like say, Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley, but it can be any two characters whose interactions make the story more interesting.

For instance, what changes in episode 7 of Altered Carbon is the introduction of the hero’s sister. (Well, our hero, Kovacs, has flashbacks to his sister, Rei, throughout the first six episodes, but Episode 7 is when their backstory becomes the main story and Rei becomes a character on the show for the remainder of the season.) This sibling relationship got me far more invested in the universe, plot, and protagonist of the show than the whodunit driving the first six episodes. Their childhood, their complicated adult relationship, which I won’t spoil by saying any more about, is the kind of intense connection between characters that keeps me going straight into the next episode.

When 1-1 < 0

What Altered Carbon plans to do in Season 2 will be interesting to see. Given the universe, Kovacs and Rei could easily be or not be in the next season, played either by actors who have already played them or by other actors. (In the Altered Carbon universe, consciousness can be transferred from one body to another body or clone, so for all we know, I could show up playing Kovacs in Season 2.) But I hope the showrunner remembers how exciting the episodes with Kovacs and Rei are. (And frankly, both actors playing Kovacs have great chemistry with Dichen Lachman, so I hope the casting folks keep that in mind, too.)

It’s similar to the hope I also have for Versailles. I think I’ve mentioned before (and if I haven’t, that’s an oversight I’ll fix right now) that Versailles is best when focusing on Louis XIV and his brother, Philippe. I know shows like to mix things up from one season to the next to prevent staleness, but that often leads to getting rid of what works. For instance, Justified is a show that is strong to the end, because no matter what else is going on, that show never forgets that Raylan and Boyd and their antagonistic relationship is the heart of the show. Unlike, say Vikings, which as far as I’m concerned, ended with Season 3 when the relationship that made the show worthwhile, Ragnar and Athelstan, ended.

So, if you’re looking for a quick review of Altered Carbon, I like it. (Maybe some time if I’m bored and/or masochistic, I’ll discuss the whitewashing and violence against women complaints that have been leveled against the show. Or maybe J will; I’ll probably make him watch it at some point.) And why did I like it? All the futuristic, Blade Runner-esque visuals? Meh. Not really. (Although it does look great.) Nope, I like it for Kovacs and Rei, the orphaned brother and sister who I’m far more invested in than I am in knowing who killed some rich dude who can’t really die.

~S