Have you been watching…Redesign My Brain

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

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Redesign My Brain is a documentary produced by the ABC here in Australia, our government funded national broadcaster. The show postulates if it is possible to retrain your brain to improve memory, thinking time, creativity and a host of other skills redesign my brain– basically improving your brain. The show is hosted by Todd Sampson,who is one third of the Gruen Transfer/ Planet/Nation/ OrWhateverThey’reCallingItThisWeek, a show about media and marketing. To me, it seemed strange the ABC chose Todd to host, but he makes a focused and game for anything conduit into the world of improving your brain.

I watched the first episode last night and it was fascinating. It seems with a little training each day you can improve your memory and attention exponentially. Todd puts himself to the test and it’s amazing seeing how he improved his brain’s capabilities in such a short time, even going so far as to competing in the World Memory Championships in London. He memorises the order of a deck of cards, peeps. A WHOLE DECK OF CARDS.

The website has links to the exercises Todd undertakes so you can test your own abilities. I tried it. Yeah. Um. Not so good. I’m going to blame it on the fact that I’m tired? Heh.

Anyhoo, check out Redesign My Brain. It will get you thinking about your own capabilities and maybe even encourage you to exercise your mind a bit 🙂

 

You can check out Redesign My Brain at:
ABC website ~ Watch on iView ~ Purchase from ABC Online store

 
 
 

Have you been watching…Haven

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

 
Haven, Maine suffers from troubles. Every 27 years, the inhabitants are struck by troubles, strange powers that cause havoc with their lives. It could be a woman can cause people to spontaneous combust, a man could turn people to ice with his touch, or a family of selkies can finally wear their skins. Haven-on-the-Syfy-Channel More often than not, though, these troubles turn dark, causing destruction and despair for the inflicted.

Into this town comes Audrey Parker, an FBI agent assigned to investigate Haven. Upon her arrival, she discovers a knack for helping those who are troubled and also her uncanny resemblance to a woman who was involved in a 27 year old mystery – Who Killed the Colorado Kid

Based on a short story by Stephen King, The Colorado Kid, Haven has involved into an intriguing urban fantasy procedural with serial elements. I love it so much, I’m not even sure why. Let me see if I can discover Teh Reasons. A strong female character as the protagonist. A tortured gentleman love interest. A shifty criminal-lite secondary love interest. A town full of misfits. An ongoing mythology that grows with each season. An initial intriguing premise – Who is Audrey, really? Who is the Colorado Kid? Why was he killed? And what does it have to do with the troubles? – that has evolved and become something new and exciting. *sigh* I just love it.
 

You can check out Haven at:
the Website ~ Amazon.com ~ IMDb

 
 
 

Have you been watching…Anticipated TV shows

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

Anticipated TV Shows

 
This week, in honour of the upcoming Autumn/Fall Schedules of the US and the UK, I thought I’d chat about the new shows I’m looking forward to:
 
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
It’s Joss. JOSS. Enough said.
Oh, all right, I’ll say a little more. A TV spin-off of the Marvel Universe currently dominating the moofies (Iron Man 1, 2 & 3; Thor and Thor: The Dark World; Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier; The Avengers), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will follow the adventures of Agent Phil Coulson (He’s not dead. LIKE I SAID FROM THE BEGINNING) and the crack team of superspies he’s assembled (Heh. See what I did there?) It will be brilliant, I’m sure, and give Joss even more leverage to do whatever the hell he wants. I am more than okay with this.
 
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
A spin off from Once Upon A Time, I have moderate hopes this show might build upon the initial promise I saw in its parent series. While Once Upon A Time went off the rails for me, I have hopes …Wonderland will be better. If nothing else, it’s got a decidedly Victorian feel, an interesting heroine and Michael Socha (beloved from Being Human). I’ll give it a red hot go, that’s for sure.
 
The Michael J Fox Show
A single camera comedy which has all the hallmarks of the three-camera sitcom, it shouldn’t work…and yet from the promo, fingers and toes it will. This show looks like it will be heartwarming and funny…and it has the amazing Michael J Fox at its centre. I admire greatly how Michael J Fox has taken his Parkinsons in his stride, still working and being amazing. His recurring role in The Good Wife is outstanding, showing that people with chronic illness or disabilities are inherently no different from those who are able-bodied – they can scheme and connive and be just as devious 😉 I’m sure this show will do something similar and I can’t wait to see what it’s all about.
 
Dracula
Hmm. I…Hmm. Could be good, could be…not good. Meh. Will give it a go!
 
Sleepy Hollow
Yeah. I don’t know. I’m hopeful, but…I don’t know.
 
Almost Human
I really like Karl Urban. I am not at all sure about this. From the promo, it seems a bit cliched, but hey, I’m happy to be proven wrong. Prove me wrong, Almost Human.
 
Rake (US)
This show is based upon the Australian version I LOVE. I’m not sure how the translation to American will work, but I’m interested to check it out. If nothing else, I reckon Greg Kinnear will be great to watch.
 
The Originals
I do like and admire The Vampire Diaries immensely. If you ever want to know how to structure a breakneck pace believably and with pathos, The Vampire Diaries is your example. It will be interesting to see if they can translate the success of the parent show to this darker, more adult tale about the Original Vampires. Plus, if we can get Klaus and Caroline in some sort of awesome tortured love arc, that would just be brill.
 
The Blacklist
The main reason I’m including The Blacklist is because I love James Spader. He’s a brill actor who I’m convinced he wears a fat suit (ask Lucy Clark about this particular delusion of mine). I’m not sure about the premise of the show, but I’m willing to give it the first six episodes* to convince me.
 
Family Tree
It’s from Christopher Guest, it will be on HBO and it stars Chris O’Dowd. It’s going to be hilariousnessness. I feel it in my waters.
 
 
While I was looking up the shows that were coming in September, I found these gems that might just show up on our screens next year:
 
Black Sails (2014)
It’s airing on Starz, so it might just fill the dark and encompassing void left by my beloved Spartacus being no more. Or it might not. I am hopeful, but two words fill me with dread – Michael Bay.
 
Penny Dreadful (2014)
I don’t know what this is, but the premise sounds awesome. Great literary creations stalking the streets of Victorian London, causing murder and mayhem and held at bay by a team of misfits? Sound grand. Plus, it has Billie Piper. How can you not want to watch Rose run around the streets of Victorian London fighting supernatural crime?
 
Bitten (2014)
Based upon Kelley Armstrong’s awesome book, I hope the makers do the source material justice. I heart the Otherworld series a lot and it will just be the bees knees if they get the TV show right.
 
American Gods (2014)
NEIL GAIMAN IS WRITING THE SCRIPT OF HIS OWN BOOK AND IT WILL AIR ON HBO AND OH MY GOD I THINK I’M GOING TO FAINT.
 
Outlander (2014)
Ronald D Moore is adapting this from Diana Gabaldon’s novel. Yes, that Ronald D Moore. If he does as good a job as he did with the early seasons of Battlestar Galactica, this could be super awesome indeed.
 
 
So that’s it, peeps. What do you think of my choices? What shows are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments.
xx
 
 
* The first six episodes of a show are traditionally a bit rocky. After that time, the writers mostly figure out what works and what doesn’t and the show settles into what it’s likely to be for the rest of its run.
 
 
 

Have you been watching…Breaking Bad

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

 
This week saw the premiere of the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad. Massive sad face, peeps. Breaking Bad is an outstanding Breaking_Bad_logo.svgshow and, much like Game of Thrones, I’m sure you must have heard of it. It’s been all over the Culture of Pop, the Internets, the tvs, and rightly so. It’s an amazing piece of writing, acting, photography and directing.

In case you aren’t sure of what it’s all about, here’s a brief run-down: Walter White is a high school science teacher who has just been told he has terminal cancer and his prognosis is dire. With very little money, a pregnant wife and a teenage son, he turns in desperation to what he knows best – science – and to what will make him a metric ton of money – cooking methamphetamine. So begins his downward spiral into criminality. Breaking Bad is one man’s descent into a truly despicable monster, a ruthless, sociopath who believes his own hubris. The trailer for the final season depicts sparse and stunning New Mexico vistas with Walter White’s voice reciting the Shelley sonnet, Ozymandias.

There is just so much to love about this show. It grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. Each episode leaves you on the edge of your seat, breathless and tense. For a show to do this consistently for five seasons is unheard of, however Breaking Bad manages it with each episode. The writing is impeccable, with season 2 being a standout. I’ve never seen a tighter plotted season of television, with a stunning bookend motif in the opening and closing episodes of the season.

Vince Gilligan, who created the series, is an alumni of The X Files (one of my personal faves) and I can’t praise him and his writer’s room enough. What they’ve done is a true accomplishment and I doff my hat to them, as I do to Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, the two leads who bring such commitment, depth and believability to their roles of Walter White (Cranston) and his lackey and whipping boy Jesse Pinkman (Paul).

If you haven’t checked this show out, I recommend you do so now. Seriously. I’ll wait.

 

You can check out Breaking Bad at:
the Website ~ Amazon US ~ IMDb

 
 
 

Have you been watching…The Returned

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

 
A brilliant French series, The Returned (Les Revenants) is a thoughtful and endlessly intriguing addition to the Not-Zombie genre*. “It’s a stylishly shot eight-part French series (a second run is being written as we speak) that poses a simple supernatural question: what would happen if, years after their deaths, our loved ones returned to us? Would it be a miracle, or a curse?” This quote describes The Returned Les Revenantsit quite well, totally stolen from Den of Geek.

The series begins with a town in mourning. Four years previous, a school bus ran off the road and down a cliff, killing all aboard. The people affected by this tragedy are starting to move on, while still remembering their lost loved ones. But then, a victim, 14 year old Camille, walks into her mother’s kitchen as if nothing has happened…

Soon, others return – Simon, a musician who died the day of his wedding to Adele, who had just fallen pregnant with their now ten-year-old daughter. Madam Costa, whose return after forty years terrifies her husband so much he sets fire to their home. Serge, whose dark secret forced his brother to an unthinkable act eight years previous. And Victor, a mysterious little boy who attaches himself to nurse Julie, a victim of a horrendous attack.

The Returned is a fantastically affecting show. It’s creepy and atmospheric and just beautiful to watch. The alpine setting lends an other-worldliness to the proceedings, making the huge dam framed by majestic mountains foreboding and threatening. There’s a real sense of menace underlying the show, and what seems a miraculous return slowly reveals itself to be something not-right.

This show is a definite must watch and I can’t recommend it enough. A second season will begin filming in France soon and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

 
 
 
*Like the term? Totally just coined it.
 
 

Have you been watching…New Girl

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

 
New Girl is a nifty little hang out show that evolved from something I kinda thought I’d watch because hey, I had nothing better to do, to a show where I. Must. Know. What. Happens. Next!!! It also has the best will they/won’t they on TV at the moment, which has been built by showing the characters, gasp, getting to know each other! New GirlLiking each other as friends! Finding things to admire about each other! Letting the attraction grow naturally! My word, WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT SUCH A THING WOULD WORK?

It also features the best first kiss ever.

New Girl follows the antics of Jessica Day and her three roommates – Nick, Winston and Schmidt. Rounding out the regular cast is Jess’s best friend CeCe. It’s a hangout comedy, where we just hang out with these peeps and enjoy their fun times. The show brings a smile to myself with every single episode.

The characters are fantastic. Schmidt is super funny, and the way Max Greenfield pronounces his words is fantastic. Funny ha ha, my friends. CeCe is more than her extremely pretty face, a well rounded three dimensional character who is totally believable as Jess’s best friend and as one half of the other romantic relationship in the show. Winston is less well-rounded, but he still gets some very funny gags, especially when he puts on his deep, resonant voice. All characterisations are exceptional, with no one ever acting out of character. The show also deals with some darker subjects, such as the death of Nick’s father, CeCe learning her childbearing years are dwindling, and other big life issues.

And then there’s Nick and Jess.

The show did a fantastic job of gradually showing how these two grow closer. They talk and are there for each other and…and other super awesome ‘real life’ things that makes it extremely believable they would be good as a couple. I’ve recently rewatched both seasons and their gradual drawing together in season two is great. Seriously, peeps, check it out.

I’m not sure if I’ve adequately described how fun and heartwarming this show is, so perhaps you peeps should just check it out for yourselves!
 

You can check out New Girl at:
the Website ~ Amazon US ~ IMDb

 
 
 

Have you been watching…A Place To Call Home

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

 
A Place to Call Home is a new show on the Seven network here in Oz. Initially, I dismissed it as a Downton Abbey rip-off – big country house, check. Rich, privileged family, check. Upstairs, downstairs shenanigans, check. Finally, seven or eight weeks into its run, I finally checked it out.
A Place To Call Home

Peeps. I’m shocked. It’s actually good.

A Place to Call Home follows the adventures of Sarah Adams, a nurse returned from Europe to Australia’s shores. Set in the 1950s, Sarah works as a nurse on the ship transporting her from London to Sydney where she met the wealthy Blyth family. While employing her trade with the matriarch of the family, she intrigued the matriarch’s son, as well as his adult children. Quickly, she is extended an invitation of employment in the hospital of the Blyth family’s home town, and after quick scene or two where the show pretends she’s not going to accept, she rocks up in Wandin Valley Inverness. Shenanigans ensue, as they so often do.

What’s noteworthy about this show is how strong the female characters are. Sarah is a marvel, a self-possessed woman who takes crap from no one. The bitchy matriarch, Elizabeth, is bitchy, but you can clearly see what she does, she does for love of her family. The daughter, Anna, is less awesome, but she’s still far from the cliche most shows would portray her as. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the male characters, however half a cast of three-dimensional, well-rounded characters is a HUGE step up for Australian drama, so I’m happy.

There is a distinct Australian-ness to the show which I love. I don’t watch many shows set in Australia and so it’s refreshing to be able to identify so clearly with the characters. They speak how I speak, drink beer from longnecks, listen to the cricket, and just generally be Australian. This is, as they say, bonza.
 

You can check out A Place to Call Home at:
the Website ~ JB Hi-Fi ~ IMDb

 
 
 

Have you been watching…Rake

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

 
Rake is an Australian TV show that aired on our national broadcaster, the ABC. Starring Richard Roxburgh as Cleaver Greene, a brilliant but self-destructive barrister, the show follows the misadventures of Cleaver as he stumbles through life, lurching from one disaster to another. 250px-Rake_titleLoosely based upon real-life barrister Charles Waterstreet and the cases he tried, the show takes really, really unusual cases and depicts them with a decidedly blackish shade of humour. Add in the ongoing political sagas and Cleaver’s attempts to destroy himself and every relationship he has and you have yourself one humdinger of a show!

Roxburgh is truly outstanding as Cleaver, and I spent many a show in awe of his talents. Ably supported by an outstanding cast, as well as the creme of Australian acting talent as guest stars, this show is a delight to watch actors doing what they do best.

This coming US TV season will see an American version hit the screens. I’m really curious to see how the tale has been adapted – the whole barrister/solicitor dynamic is so integral to how Cleaver and
Barney interact I’ll be interested to see how this is changed for the American market. Not to mention the intrinsic Sydney-ness of it all. Seriously, if the show was set in any other state in Australia, it would be completely different. NSW is believed to be a bit of a ‘police corruption’ state, so the deviousness and depravity of Rake is tied to its setting. How will it go transplanted to America, I’ve no clue…Let’s check it out and see, shall we? 🙂

As you can probably tell, I ADORE this show. I’ve also JUST discovered there will be a third series and I’m ecstatic! Can’t wait to see the shenanigans Cleaver and company get up to.

 

You can check out Rake at:
the Website ~ Amazon.com ~ IMDb

 
 
Trailer for original Rake

 
Trailer for US Rake

 
 
 

Have you been watching…Luther

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

 
Part detective show, part journey into the dark corners of a man’s heart, Luther is a magnificent piece of television. Starring Idris Elba as the titular Luther, a cop who isn’t adverse to a bit of violence to get the job done, he’s ably matched by his antagonist, Alice, a sociopathic killer played with gleeful menace by Ruth Wilson. Luther Idris Elba BBC Ruth Wilson Gritty, mired in shadow, Luther follows our tortured hero as he stumbles behind the debris left by killers, his own humanity dwindling as he falls further into the psyches of the murderers he pursues.

The visual style of Luther is arresting, with a lot of strange camera angles and non-traditional framing of the subject of the shot. Sorry to sound a bit technical, but I really loved how in the first season, Luther was often framed in the bottom right hand corner of the shot, the complete antithesis of the traditional framing of the main character of a show. From this, can we extrapolate that Luther is himself not a hero, instead a man worn down by the constant muck he must wade through? Or is it just the director thought it would be really cool to frame the shot that way? Who knows?? 😉

The third series is out soon and the BBC have just released a trailer – witness the cool:

 
 

You can check out Luther at:
the Website ~ Amazon.com ~ IMDb

 
 
 

Have you been watching…Silk

Have you been watching...Cassandra Dean shares her love of TV

My love of TV + my blog = Awesome fun sharing times.
Enjoy the shows I think are The Shizz

 

 
Silk is a BBC TV series about barristers in a law chamber vying for a chance to earn their ‘silk’, or become a Queens Counsel. Our heroine is Martha Costello, a barrister who has many a front to fight – being a woman in a predominantly male occupation, being from a working class background. 250px-Silk_(TV_series) Martha is a dedicated and extremely intelligent barrister and has gotten where she is through hard work and determination. The other candidate for silk – and Martha’s antogonist – is Clive Reeder, a barrister from a privileged background. He’s also a bit smarmy, and you just want Martha to pound him into the dirt, which she does. Heh.

I really, really enjoy Silk. It’s an intelligent, well-structured show with great characters and wonderful actors. Aside from Martha and Clive, there is the fantastic character of Billy, senior law clerk in their chambers. He’s an appropriately shady charcter, dedicated to his barristers and making sure they get the cases they need – in whatever way he can finangle.

The head writer, Peter Moffat (no relation to he of Doctor Who fame), was a law professional in a former life, and this shows clearly in the authenticity of the writing. In point of fact, I was so intrigued by Silk that I wrote a book featuring barristers, which then turned into a series!

Series 3 will be filmed later on this year and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans Martha and co get up to.
 
 

You can check out Silk at:
the Website ~ Amazon.com ~ IMDb