Category Archives: Carolina’s TV Corner

Lilyhammer

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Lilyhammer was an Norwegian-American television series, starring Steven Van Zandt, about a New York gangster, Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano, trying to start a new life in isolated Lillehammer, Norway.

Frank is placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program after testifying in a trial against Aldo Delucci (Thomas Grube), the new Mafia head who had ordered a hit on him after succeeding his recently deceased brother, Sally Boy Delucci… It’s all very serious and all very mafia but the Scandinavian rawness mixed with the humane struggle that the characters face are truly fascinating to watch.

Yes, the series is rather unique indeed…

Frank requests that he would be relocated to Lillehammer, where he believes no one will look for him and from then on calls himself Jonny. He chooses this location as he once watched the winter Olympics as a child and the impressions of great achievements and peaceful snowy landscapes never left his memory. And so it begins…

Many of us know Steven Van Zandt still from his work with the Sopranos, where he played Silvio Dante, the grumpy mafia concierge, a role not unlike this one.

Noteworthy here, is that his wife in the Sopranos is also his wife in real life. Maureen Van Zandt. They married in New York City on December 31, 1982. Bruce Springsteen was the best man at their wedding. This is not just a random fact but rooted in Van Zandt’s past, as he grew up in the New Jersey music scene and was a pivotal member of Bruce Springsteen’s band E-Street. He played the guitar and accompanied the band on numerous tours. Later on in life he became a producer and co-wrote various songs with Springsteen. To mention just one of their collaboration; Van Zandt produced the bands’ most-acclaimed records Hearts of Stone. By that time he has became a key contributor to the Jersey Shore sound.

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band in concert, Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - 15 Jun 2013

His musical inclination came in handy as he set to work on the Lylihammer, as he not only plays the lead role but also coproduced, co-written AND as you can imagine, got heavily involved in the writing of the music for the show. It is therefore needless to mention, how marvellous the musical underpinnings are. Truly pleasurable! Van Zandt mentioned that most of the music for the show has been written in his own studio at the Jersey Shore, where also most of the music for E-Street was written.

But why stop at that, dear sheep…?! Springsteen, makes an actual guest appearance in the show! He plays Giuseppe ‘The Undertaker’ Tagliano, the older brother of Van Zandt’s character, in the season three finale. Nice touch, I must say! springsteen_guest app

As mentioned before, the show is set in Norway and portrays a man who lives and breaths Jersey shore and has little Italy running through his veins. But what is somewhat surprising, he is not fighting his destiny of being away from home and interjects himself mercilessly into his new environment. Much to the bewilderment of his new countrymen. This is absolutely hilarious and well, at times, a bit cringe worthy as it always is when different cultures clash and misunderstandings unfold. The show builds on these cultural integration mishaps brilliantly and very charmingly.

Having had to leave NYC and his old life he is adapting to a certain degree to his new culture but still remaining true to who he is. Hence, building his brand new and shiny mafia empire from scratch. He is doing so in cleverly recruiting people according to character traits and skill set – not according to birth right as it is traditionally done. An interesting notion and this meritocracy system seems to work for Jonny – how very Scandinavian of him. He rewards loyalty, creates a sticky family like bond and in the process offers hope and a dash of the the unmistakable New York glamour in little Lillehammer. He opens a booming night club in the middle of town, which in turn creates employment and Jonny takes on the roles of benevolent advisor for the town people and in true god father style.

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Crucially, he does not cross that fine line of going “that bit too far”. For example, he does not sell drugs and he has a sense of some kind of right and wrong (although of course there is a lot of beating people up and the occasional killing…) but he is a very likeable guy overall. Furthermore, the show does take it upon itself to take the mickey out of the bureaucracy in general and how ludicrous certain procedures seem to be. Our main character takes on many government officials, from town clerk to kindergarten pedagogue, all with the same relentless understanding that nothing stands in his way regardless – no matter of the obstacle being in business or of a private nature. It’s truly great to watch and the obscurity and the disproportion of force he uses to get what he wants, hilarious.

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The show does not, in true Netflix manner, take into account that the audience may not speak Norwegian. After all, Jonny doesn’t speak it either in the beginning. So we understand exactly what he does. Very little. As the show goes on we are given more and more subtitles to show that Jonny has learned bits and bobs of the local language. What a brave thing to do. And again, it works. Lilyhammer is full of oddities like this. It is strange and quirky and full-on but considering that it is combining little Italy and Scandinavian culture what would you expect.

Sheeptastic.

Lilyhammer was promoted as Netflix’s first “exclusive content offer”. The series has been sold to over 130 countries worldwide and celebrated a great success. Nevertheless, in July 2015 the series had been cancelled by Netflix. NRK (Norwegian TV network), who owns the rights to the series, remained optimistic however, that a deal could be made with another company for a fourth series.

We here at the sheep think it is a great series. Very unusual, well put together and well worth a watch. Especially the intercultural clashes and the unapologetic honesty in that portrayal are very special. Thank you Netflix. Hopefully it will get picked up and redeveloped.

It is definitely unique.

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The Knick – dark and intriguing

The show plays around the 1900s in New York City and centres around a hospital called the Knickerbocker. Clive Owen stars in the main role of the ill-tempered surgeon Dr. John Thackery, who revolutionises surgery on the forefront of science.

The series is brilliantly filmed, visually stunning and is tied in with highly unusual music. One cannot help but feeling emotionally exposed and vulnerable at times when watching. It touches on racial issues, racism and sexism of the era, which seem uncannily contemporary at times, and deals with drug abuse and class dived. Its’ tone is dark and moody and does not leave much room for romance and comfort. Certainly not a light watch.

All hospitals of the time have moved uptown only the Knickerbocker has stayed behind caring for the poor, struggling to keep the doors open in tough financial times while simultaneously, trying to compete at the scientific front. The Knicks’ leading surgeon Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) is committed to the art of surgical science but is also tragically entangled in a dark web of drug addiction, which forces the storyline to erupt as the city’s opium and cocaine supplies run dry. (During those times cocaine was freely available in pharmacies, prescription free and widely used in medical procedures.)

Although there is to say that the series could have done more with the character of Dr. Thackery who basically is a 1900’s version of Dr. House, Clive Owen does play his character brilliantly. Especially as the season comes to conclusion his talent becomes intensely apparent.

Bono’s daughter (Eve Hewson) gives an excellent performance in the role of nurse Lucy Elkins, Dr. Thackery’s dewy eyed love interest. Her presence adds substance to the show and the relationship with the doctor is subtle and seems precious in a world where tenderness is far and few between.

Lucy Elkins

 

The Knick is a series that does not ease you into things. You need a good stomach to endure all the blood, racism and sexism that are constantly on display. But this in combination with the astounding artistic visual flavour makes it very unique and worth a watch.

What also makes a compelling argument for giving the Knick a try is its focus on two men’s relationship: Owen’s Dr. Thackery, and the African-American Andre Holland’s Dr. Algernon Edward. The latter comes to the Knick at the behest of Cornelia Robertson played by Juliet Rylance, the daughter of a progressive shipping magnate. The Robertson’s want Edwards to succeed and as the main donors of the hospital funds have the last word. This creates tension in the Knick and as the story unfolds and social unrests in New York take their toll.

Thack and Al

The director, Steven Soderbergh who is responsible for movies such as “Oceans 11” and “Traffic” has once famously announced that he would retire after the end of shooting in 2012 of his hitherto last film “Behind the Candelabra” but later down played the comments and said that a sabbatical from filming would be more realist. His words would ring true as he reemerged with the Knick on the creative scene. He takes fantastic close up shots, let’s his actors speak volumes without words, plays with light and shade and has created an art work which no doubt is worth contemplating. However, it is dark and a bit depressing, it is thought provoking and rather gory at times.

Nevertheless, it has been already renews for a second season and it remains to be seen if all that passion will translate to the audience.

The Sheep will stay tuned.

Game of Thrones – Did you know?

What is there to say…no introduction needed, no comments have to be added, the words: Winter is coming & You don’t know nothing, Jon Snow stand synonymously for great entertainment where no one is save from being killed off!

Just in time for the NEW SEASON’S kick off (and in preparation for “Winter”) The Dreaming Sheep has compiled a list of some rather interesting little snippets.

Here we go:

  • Alfie Allon (Theon Greyjoy) is the brother of pop singer Lily Allen.

Alfie Allon

And was engaged to Jaime Winstone, who’s the daughter of Ray Winstone (they broke off their engagement after two years though).

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  • Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) adopted Lady

The Northern Inuit Dog who played her Dire Wolf on the show called Zunni in real life and lives with her and her family.

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The dire wolfs went of course extinct about 10’000 years ago. They were about the size of a grey wolf but were much heavier in built. Now, the dire wolf project is attempting to resurrect the species from their grave. Well, almost. The breed is actually called American Alsatians. The dogs have little genetic material in common with the real dire wolf and are not as big, which is just as well as the real deal was extremely big and heavy and may not be suited to snuggle up with you on the sofa to watch GoT. They look rather similar though and the breeding association claims that they are much calmer in temperament than many other wolfhound species. With USD3’000 a puppy the association is cashing in on the hype and you might be better off training your poodle to look grim and fierce.

American Alsatians

 

 

  • GoT is the most pirated show in the world

According to the file sharing website TorrentFreak, more people are illegally downloading GoT than any other show in the world.

 

  • Westeros has quite the wine list

Even after the massacre at the red wedding (which led to Joffrey’s death by poison) there is a culinary guide available to a GoT inspired Menu including wine suggestions. The Inn at the Crossroads features the official GoT cookbook “a Feast of Ice and Fire” detailing meals such as “Dothraki goat roasted with sweetgrass, firepods, and honey” and “Tywin’s Rack of Venison” (“Theon’s sausage” is not on the list, luckily). The menu even includes a vegetarian section. Meanwhile, wine blog Vinepair have created a fictional guide to the wines of Westeros. (The blog recommends the “Tempranillo-driven dry red blends” of Dorne, and the “underappreciated Cabernets” of House Lannister.)

 

  • Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is the kid from Love, Actually.

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  • Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) is the great-great-great grandson of Charles Dickens.

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  • Peter Dinklage is vegetarian

Any time you see him eating “meat” on screen, it’s actually tofu.

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  • Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is dating Ygritte (Rose Leslie) in real life.

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  • Mother of Dragons? How about Mother of Sea Slugs?!

In 2013, researchers discovered a new species of sea slugs off the coast of Brazil. The marine biologists who discovered the species, were struck by the similarity of the creatures’ skin colour and it’s resemblance of the hair and skin tones to the famous mother of dragons; Daenerys Targaryen, otherwise known as ‘the Khaleesi’. In honour of the warrior queen, (Emilia Clarke), the team decided to name their new find Tritonia khaleesi. The researchers have stated that the sea slug has a silver strand on its back, which “is especially reminiscent of the Khaleesi’s hair”… that is truly SciFi for Science. 🙂

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Elementary – Sherlock Holmes goes West

 

Elementary is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic tale of Sherlock Holmes. The series stars Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson and plays in the contrary to the original story, not in London but in America. However, it is not robbed of all its British brilliance, as Jonny Lee Miller is himself a marvellous export of the good old empire. He plays a modern day recovering addict/Londoner living in New York, teaming up with the NYPD as a consultant to (you may have guessed) solve crimes.

Before I continue, let me mention that I am deliberately posting this in sequence to the previous Dexter – Part Three Entry – where I have mentioned Jonny Lee Miller and his role in Elementary. I am not totally hooked on it, and I do find Elementary, elementary flawed (sorry the bad word game but I couldn’t resist) but there are two components that make it worthwhile.

Firstly, Jonny Lee Miller and secondly, Lucy Liu. I have said it before and I say it again, this guy is GOOD. He manages to pull out an otherwise average crime series that in my opinion only lives from its’ famous name and saves it almost single handily from mere meritocracy (with a little help from his wing woman – Lucy Liu of course). I doubt that it would have been as successful without him and his uncanny wit. He portrays Sherlock in a way that we have not yet seen before. In comparison to his counterparts such as the phenomenal Benedict Cumberbatch (my absolute hero) or Robert Downie Jr, JLM plays a torn addict who taunts the audience constantly and hence creates great and entertaining tension. It is a fine line yet he always manages to pull it together just in time before conclusively breaking off all the bridges to the viewers` hearts and saves the day. Horray!

Lucy Liu, I was not sure what to make of her for a long time. What do you think of her? I mean, she is just there. She looks good. Certainly has her own style of fashion in the series, she plays the role of the right hand woman of our main character…but she seems to me a bit like a ghost. Never quite there, never quite not. As many things in the series, I suspected there for a second that she lived from her reputation and fame, rather than from actual substance. But then again, it works. She is like a great painting! She has those eyes that look at you and you get the feeling that there might be more to her.

Next to him you might need a calming force to balance out his yin. And she does play the perfect yang. Calm, soothing, peaceful to look at. Not only her appearance but also her voice seems to smoothen out edges effortlessly. Even if she just asks for the most mundane thing like a cup of coffee, is comforting the soul. (Next time listen out for it, dear Sheep.)

Opposites attract. A universal law? Although our goal seems to be to come to our middle, we seem to attract our mirror images, to complete us. We see this often in our social circles. The problem with those constructs however, is that these relationships are delicately interwoven. They can be rather unstable and rely on the status quo. As soon as one individual commits to change the intricate structure starts to unravel as the partners rely on each other. No villain without a victim, no weakness without strength no yin without yang and so forth.

This is nicely illustrated in the series and superbly played by JLM and Lucy!

Before resting my case on this brilliant UK export I would like to know a little more about Ms Liu. Who is she? So little is known about her really? She seems aloof and translates this air of mystery brilliantly to the TV screen.

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She is an American actress of Chinese decent who was discovered by an agent on the subway in NYC when she was 19 years old. She gained fame in the series Ally McBeal, which BTW was one of the first series that got me totally hooked – apart form Pinocchio etc. (No judgement please).

She is super private. Which makes her even more intriguing. And as it just so happens, rumours have just gone haywire in recent days that she might have just tied the knot.

Almost nothing is known about her private life although she was linked to Hollywood’s hunks such as George Clooney once upon a time. It is now being speculated that she has married her long time boyfriend and American Jewish billionaire, Noam Gottesman, in a very private ceremony on the weekend of the 22nd of February 2015. The couple has been dating for four years and has rarely been spotted out in public together. Now, this man is said to be worth 2 billion dollars (Beyonce’s and Jay Z’s combined estimated net worth is 1 billion). Just to give you perspective, Noam has sold his London mansion in 2008 for USD196 million making it the most expensive home in England at the time.

Lucy Liu partner

So, Ms Liu is a dark horse indeed and those deep calm eyes have caught my attention. I am curious to see what she does next. I have found great respect for how she brings presence through her tranquillity to the screen and if she really did get married…mazel tov!

 

Dexter – Part Three (Final) -The Villains

I would now like to direct your attention toward one particular actor: Ray Stevenson

Isaak Sirko

He plays the main antagonist named Isaak Sirko the head of an Ukrainian crime syndicate with which our favorite serial killer finds himself oh so dramatically entangled. Ray Stevenson has something quite exquisite about himself. The role he plays in Dexter certainly is a violent one but with a rather refined touch to it. He portrays a man who was UK educated which stings a cord with me for personal reasons. He dresses exceptionally and quite frankly his deliberate mannerisms do make me light up inside.

I have seen him in different roles before and he has always left me with quite an impression. He rose to fame with his role of Titus Pullo in the BBC/HBO production Rome (also a very cool series btw) and was in the movie Arthur. (Just to mention a few of his many roles.)

The British/Irish actor has two children with his girlfriend Elisabetta Cariacca whom he met, wait for it, on the set while filming Rome. Gosh!

Born in 25 May 1964 in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, on a British army base where his father was a pilot and to an Irish mother. After moving to the UK he studied art. When he was 25 he quit his job as an interior designer and decided to go enroll in drama school. For which I am so grateful. Imagine he would have been timid and did not answer his calling. Oh the horror.

In season 7 he is a formidable antagonist to Dexter and turns out to become friendly towards him through a string of complicated events. I like that their relationship is connected through emotions (which is ironic for Dexter) and tied through Isaac’s sophistication. A component that was not yet seen in Dexter.

Please, faithful Sheep, do me the favor and watch out for this guy. He makes every thing better. He is like a good glass of red wine. Not that season 7 of Dexter needs much improvement but it certainly did benefit from Ray Stevenson’s exquisite appearance. He brought his unambiguous style and uncanny tenderness to the screen and yes, dear Sheep, I do have a little crush on him. Can you blame me?

This article is about villains and therefore would not be complete without mentioning the extraordinary JLM! In fact, he is so great that he then went off and got his own TV show. Jonny Lee Miller.

Jonny Lee Miller

He played in Dexter season five the murderous motivational speaker Jordan Chase. Again, a fellow British actor who first appeared in the iconic British TV series Dr Who and still ongoing Elementary along side Lucy Liu, the US adaption of Sherlock Holmes. He originally turned down the part (of Sherlock) as he was afraid it was too similar to the AMAZING BBC adaption (Staring the SUPERP Benedict Cumberbatch – Absolute MUST WATCH-REVIEW TO COME). Be that how it may, before all that he played Jordan Chase and he did well! Yes, he did. He certainly has a fable for slightly obsessive roles with a dark twist, which no doubt will have helped, land his future gig in Elementary.

One can only speculate but greatness as such must be interconnected with a touch of “nuts”. After all, he was once married to Angelina Jolie (28 March 1996) although only for 18 month but hey, I guess that qualifies him as slightly out of the ordinary.

I like out of the ordinary in general. That always gives me comfort that all of society does not fall concisely into the middle of the bell curve. How unravelling would that be?  So people like us and probably many of us sheep are allowed some wiggle room.

Dexter is only as good as his antagonist and these two are my favourite ones. Jordan Chase gives him a run for his money as the story behind him is so unexpected and reveals truly great writing which again makes the season just good TV.

I can thoroughly recommend Dexter. It is visually pleasing, slightly unusual and has subtle humours style and is littered with great actors (I have not even attempted to list a full register here). The series starts well, gets better and the last three seasons really just take the bloody cake.

Part two – Dexter’s love interest

Visually Dexter is stunning.

The bright Miami backdrop makes me feel warm and fuzzy and the locations are, even if sometimes gritty, shot to please the art deco heart. Pastel tones and palm trees really make you want to have a drink with a little umbrella in it.

Also pretty is the main love interest/villain from season seven and eight.

There are a few love interests through out the series but she is my favourite: The poison queen: Hannah McKay – Yvonne Strahovski an Australian actress of Polish decent. She seems Dexter’s equal from the beginning and she certainly has a special kind of appeal and natural beauty.

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Most and far most I credit her with not being the stereotypical female dim dim bimbo that Hollywood often creates. (Thank you Showtime.) Her character offers a good mix between beauty, perpetrator, victim and the woman in love.

Furthermore, she is the kind of woman who has hair that looks accidentally amazing especially un-brushed. How is that possible? I am a blond myself and I know that our lack of pigment does not take kindly to humidity and the absence of carefully chosen product and attention. But for her the rules of hair do not seem to apply. Love it and also despise her for it of course. J

Besides good hair, Yvonne also has a good heart. She is a strong supporter of PETA and has gained notoriety with her campaign “always adopt, never buy” advocating the rescue of shelter dogs. (Here posing with her own adopted doggies.)

Yvonne Strahovski ‘Angel for Animals’ Adopt Ad

In 2011, her philanthropic heart and great hair has not gone unnoticed by FHM Magazine, as they have voted her number 50 of  “the 100 sexiest women in the world”. Although I am not sure these were the attributes that got her the award. Ahhh – and apparently she hates yoghurt. Fair enough.

On the show her character’s look is very low key, especially in season seven before brushing up eloquently for her comeback in season eight. Out of all Dexter’s women on the show, for me, she is the one who manages to make our killing hero look sexy (at times…with considerable effort). He does not usually strike me as the typical leading man of Hollywood but next to her he takes on a whole new dimension of  “I am the man”.

I guess Dexter found his sexy or shall we say, he found his poison?

And here it starts! Dexter Part One – The Killer

Dexter – I’m sure you know the series about the nice, next-door serial killer. I have started watching it again out of sheer lack of new and exciting stuff that grabbed my immediate attention and I got totally sucked into it again. Time after time it is a pleasure to watch, I must say.

Amongst all the blood and killing the nice colours and the witty dialogues create a rather soothing atmosphere. The show is certainly well written and has great story twists. It is all wrapped up in super witty dialogues, which surely is not going past me undetected and definitely not unappreciated.

Dexter: A beloved serial killer, abiding by his father code only to kill bad people. This allows him to escape police attention time after time, with a few near misses cleverly staged for TV drama effect.

In typical serial killer fashion, Dexter lacks empathy and therefore struggles to cope with basic human interaction. It gives an interesting insight into a mind, which lacks empathy and therefore is free from ego and the need to proof to the world his relevance. This is probably the most interesting undercurrent during the series and one of Dexter’s most faithful character traits. He plays a person who is lurking in the shadows, veiling as much of himself as possible and creating this Clark Kent persona with a devious twist.

I was wondering about that. Quite unusual – Most of us stride towards acknowledgement grasping for the limelight but what if we had no such desire? Humans are designed to crave acceptance from their peers. It is an evolutionary development that has helped us bond together in groups and master the challenges of our environment in order to survive as a species. It is probably at the heart of our human success story. To see an individual totally devoid of this need is rather interesting and opens up the question: What if we all were like that? Perhaps – total chaos?

Our killing hero is played by Michael Carlyle Hall (born February 1, 1971) who is also famous for his role in Six Feet Under, remember creepy series about burying people?

Unlike Dexter, Michael Hall could not avoid the spotlight, as he was responsible for a few headlines through his personal life. In 2008 he eloped with his Dexter costar Jennifer Carpenter who plays Dexter’s sister. I don’t know about you dear Sheep Readers, but after knowing this I never quite saw the two “siblings” the same way ever again… They divorced in 2010.

That was also the year when his spokes man revealed that Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He later stated that it was quite a shock to be diagnosed with this cancer at the age of 38 as his father died of the cancer with 39. In the same year a statement was released that he was in full remission and is looking forward to good health.

Another great touch is the uncanny head voice of Dexter Morgan. It let’s us in on what he is thinking which is often, (despite being murderously motivated) what all of us want to say out loud, characteristically spoken in a monotone manner. His struggle to get involved emotionally makes him extremely honest and likable and sometimes he reminds me of situations that I find myself in. Thinking that I should really pretend to care about other people’s drama and I just cannot bring myself to do so. Do you know that feeling, dear Sheep? When social convention dictates emotional involvement and you really don’t see the point why people make such a fuzz? Yes, sometimes I can relate to a fictional serial killer, not quite sure what that means. But fact is the show was very successful can only mean that others felt the same way. So we must all have a bit of sociopath in us.

Stay tuned for Part 2…