Category Archives: TV Genre

“The Strain” and a Shrug

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Fox Network

After the return from my Virginia City internship, a fleet of DVRed episodes awaited me. So how else to celebrate my return than binge-watching a ton of episodes and work on a crochet project? Well, probably unpacking… But where’s the fun in that? I won’t be able to immerse myself in B-movie creatures and crazy subplots in my suitcase. One would hope.

I won’t go into full-summary territory as I usually do, but rather comment on aspects of the episodes as they appear. This will hopefully be followable for watchers/readers, or it will be totally confusing and I’ll be kicked off WordPress for my audacity. Let’s find out! So here’s the pattern: ( file:///C:/Users/Elise/Downloads/Hot_Blue_Shrug2.pdf ) and off we go!

Note: Spoilers for the books and series abound. Be warned, dear readers.

1: Night Zero

It’s been quite some time since I read Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s book series The Strain. I mostly remember loving the dark, body-horror reviving of the vampire, taking the creature back to its roots – before Bram Stoker gave it the romanticized edge we know so well today. And I don’t think I’ve gone into it much, but book-to-film adaptations make me nervous. Luckily, I had almost forgotten that this was in the works for a series, so it didn’t give me much time to fret until it actually came out. This also gave me very little time for a re-read. Thus, I’m remembering things about the books, yet not remembering them. Some things are familiar as they appear in the series, and some leave me questioning my sanity.

The Strain opens much as I remember. The description of the “dead airplane” was in fact the bit of writing that stuck with me the most, even after so many years. The heaviness and mystery that was almost palpable in the books is done somewhat of a disservice already, as it is being investigated by airline personnel shuffling their feet and muttering clunky dialogue.

Also, it seems like they’re laying the foreshadowing on pretty thick already.  I don’t think we found out who was responsible for the outbreak of vampirism until much later in the books. But I wonder if they are trying to do the entire three-book series in one sort of miniseries/extended seasons event, so the shuffling makes some sense. I don’t agree with it from a storytelling perspective, but it makes sense.

Can I just say how much I love the multi-racial and multi-lingual cast in del Toro’s works?  The only thing that would make it completely unique would be if our main protagonist (Ephriam Goodweather) wasn’t a white American male, but he has a strange enough name that I kind of give him a pass. Speaking of characters and casting – Sean Astin is here, y’all! I don’t actually remember his character much, but he’s now played by Sean Astin, so my day is a little brighter.

The introduction of Abraham Setrakian, Elderly Vampire Hunter Extrordinaire, is very well done. As is the intro of Gus. Most of our Scoobies are coming together, some earlier than others.

Meanwhile, it’s my mother’s birthday as I write and watch, so I’m belatedly making her a present from the previously mentioned  pattern she chose off Ravelry, and from some a pile of yarn she bought because she liked the color… and it was on sale. So I’ve got a light grey shrug being worked up, and here’s my progress at the end of the first episode:

Shrug 1I would have been farther, I think, but I unraveled a bit to add more stitches to the base chain. It’s going to be pretty interesting, methinks!

2: The Box

Rat guy is here! I freakin’ love Vasily Fet. Besides Abraham Setrakian, the gigantic exterminator is my favorite character in the books.

For real, they seem to be moving the Palmer plot along rather quickly. And Vampire Nazi seems to be given a bit more character development than in the books already. Well, maybe development is the wrong word. Character backstory?

The misleading of the media is very well portrayed, as well as the public reaction. Everyone wants immediate answers. Often, the public will not accept a “we do not know, but we will keep researching” when there is a far easier target for blame. It’s a fascinating commentary, and shows how easily facts can be turned and obscured with falsehoods. It’s been done before, but I enjoy the way it plays out as the insidiousness of the virus parallels that of certain corporations.

Favorite quote: “I’m passive-aggressive and actively aggressive, which I’m told is a rare combination.” – Eph. Who is also awful at understanding people. And is kind of an idiot sometimes.

Progress!

Shrug 2

3: Gone Smooth

We’re going all Phantom of the Opera at the beginning of this episode with a prolonged makeup scene. In fact, our favorite resident Nazi Guy bears a striking resemblance to Lon Chaney. But in all seriousness, there are some pretty great practical effects for this part.

The horror is really starting to kick in, and the show remains in good form in the hammy acting department: “I’m home now. I’m fine. We’re going to be fine.” Haha! Nope.

Meanwhile, parts fall off. Captain gets head bashed in. Seems to be a theme.  Soooo many brain spatters.

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4: It’s Not for Everyone

What you need to take away from this episode: Errbody’s genitals be gone.

One of the things I appreciated about the book was the scientific aspects. Not that I know much about science, but I like at least the attempt to explain the transformation from human to vampire.

Just.. the whole autopsy scene is great. Do I just really like dissections, either of prose or of bodies? Maybe. Don’t judge.

The close up of the vampire stinger looks awfully similar to another campy horror appendage… Tremors, anyone?

Following the surviving passengers again, I like how you wouldn’t expect Ansel to take the heroic route once he realized what was happening to him. It was a sort of fascinating character progression, and the secret badassness of his wife doesn’t hurt either. This progression is even more strange when they are really just super-secondary characters.

It was storming during the end of this episode on my DVR, so bits and pieces are missing. But I gathered that the plot thickens as Palmer throws yet another veil over the eyes of those in power. Those guys will be able to take part-time jobs as gypsies with all of the veils they’ve got over their eyes.

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5: Runaways

Plane Survivor Gabe has gone off the deep end and bloodily kills a couple of people. Haven’t seen the lawyer survivor in a while…

Op! There she is! But by the end of the episode she’s off to crazyville and poor Nanny Eva is now saddled with two kids who can’t cook.

During flashback: Does the master really have to be so frickin’ noisy while he’s eating? How has no one else in that tiny, confined place woken up from his slurping racket?

Meanwhile, the secretly badass religious lady could only last so long. With the addition of her death, there are now two sets of brother-and-sister orphan teams with very few lines of dialogue running around, and it’s only the fifth episode.

6: Occultation

Aww hell, an eclipse is coming! Not the crappy book/movie, but rather the solar event. And you know what that means!  That’s right – The un(?)dead walk the earth and do the bidding of The Master! Whee!

Also, there’s a random guy in his underwear chained up in Nazi Lon Chaney’s basement. He doesn’t serve any purpose other than to remind us that Nazi Lon Chaney is a vampire… But at least it’s not a nubile young lady trapped in a basement for once.

Clueless Boyfriend goes into straight-up asshole territory as he calls the authorities on Eph.

I quite like the scene of Abraham reaching out to the cab driver – he knows he can’t keep working alone. They don’t pile on his elderliness too much – in fact, I remember times in the books where he’s swinging away with the sword and you completely forget how old he is. But every once in a while, his fragility wins out, and David Bradley plays it with just the right amount of pathos.

I love that with the cell phone problems, people are using the increasingly rare public telephones. And telephone books! And Nora even tore a page out of one! Hooray tropes!

Fet’s boss has the distinction of the first critter to have death by sunlight! His fiery, crackling demise is followed by my favorite line of the episode: “Okay then…”

It would have been nice to see more of the extent of the damage the strain has caused, but I suppose it’s still gradual. But we’re losing observers from outside the Scooby group left and right, narrowing our focus on the scope of events. That’s a bummer, but maybe that will help the writers focus on developing the main characters a bit more.

As for the project, I’ve attached 2nd skein of yarn, and am trundling away at the shrug. This is a pretty neat pattern, but I’m worried about the length…

7: For Services Rendered

Poor Husband-of-Lawyer didn’t last long. Neither did the nanny’s nurse/daughter. It’s a rough time to be a newly introduced secondary character; you’re pretty much guaranteed to be vamp fodder.

Flashback: Abraham is crafting the infamous box, and it looks fabulous. This particular episode is heavy on the flashbacks, which I am okay with. In many ways, I prefer it to the modern day (Not the least reason is because Abraham is the main focus instead of Eph.)

Later, Nazi Guy jumps on the side of a train like a Third Reich Spider-Man.

Random vampire vigilantes? Not sure I remember them…

Favorite line: “This is New York City. Weird shit goes down out there all the time.”

8: Creatures of the Night

Finally, they’ve run into Fet! The dream team is almost complete.

Sean Astin has rotten luck and is infected.

I’m pretty sure this Walking Dead scenario did not happen in the books. However, the pacing is good, and it’s kind of nice for the gang to be out and about, rather than skulking in the basement. I could have done without the broad racial stereotype of the Indian guy, though. But at least the show acknowledges Indian people exist…?

Side Note: Computer Lady looks like Ke$ha. But in a slightly less bedraggled/hungover way.

9: The Disappeared

The gang finds Clueless Boyfriend as a zombie, kill him, light his body on fire. Eph and Nora then have a sex scene. NOW IS NOT THE TIME.

Best line, as everyone arrives back at Setrakian’s, Nora’s mother pops up behind the counter. “Who are these people? I’m not cooking for them!”

Everyone is always saved at the last minute in this show… well, in almost every show. It’s kind of trite and clichéd, but boy is it entertaining. That’s a pretty apt description of the entire series so far –

Tying off:

The writing and dialogue of The Strain has several struggle spots, and a few of the characters are awful people who are difficult to root for. But the effects and design of the creatures, as well as the fight sequences and flashbacks are entertaining enough to (mostly) bypass the rough stuff. The rough can be distracting, but not every series has to be Avatar: The Last Airbender (as an example of TV done right). As long as it is entertaining without insulting the intelligence of the viewer, I can get behind it. The Strain has succeeded in that respect.

So here is the crochet project so far! I have a quite a few rows to go yet, and hopefully it will turn into something usable by that time… Its size is making me nervous.

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Hook Case & The Twilight Zone

(Originally posted January 6, 2013 on scenesandstitches.blogspot.com by Elise Dukart)

Happy New Year, all!

I hope yours was wonderful and full of much counting.

As for me, New Years means one thing and one thing only – The Twilight Zone Marathon. Every year, SyFy (formerly Sci-Fi) has a two-day marathon of Rod Serling’s fantastical television series that ran from 1959 to 1964. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite shows, and I get exceptionally crabby if I miss the New Years Marathon. Seriously, any remote-grabbers are at risk of losing their fingers. Thus, I parked myself in front of the television with a ball of yarn this year and finished up a few projects while unlocking a door with the key of imagination.

While Rod Serling gave his schpeel for the first of the episodes, Long Live Walter Jameson (don’t worry -I won’t take you through all of them, much as I’d like to) I finished up Karen’s hat. It ended up pretty snazzy methinks.

I had never seen the episode before, which is always a nice surprise. It wasn’t a particularly memorable one as far asThe Twilight Zone goes, but I’m a weirdly thorough person, and if I haven’t seen an episode of a particular show, I’ll most likely hunt it down to watch.

Then, despite having one more Christmas present to finish, I decided to be selfish and make something for myself. For Christmas, I received a passel of lovely bamboo crochet hooks from my mother, and decided to whip up a case for them. For this, I modified the pattern created by the lovely lady at Alli Crafts (I used sock yarn instead of sport, and did dcs instead of hdcs on the upper rows). Here’s how it looked by the time I finished the episode It’s a Good Life.

Incidentally, It’s a Good Life scares the ever-loving kaka out of me. Billy Mumy is far too good at playing a terrifying child, and you could cut the tension in that episode, but you’d need a hatchet in lieu of a knife… Due to the thickness of the tension. That analogy got away from me. Anyway, if you’ve never seen the episode, I highly suggest you watch it. In fact, that goes for all  The Twilight Zone episodes. They’re all on Netflix, and you have my permission to go watch all five seasons right now. I’ll wait.

Back already? Well, then you’ll know all about a few of my other favorites that showed up whilst I crocheted, including The Monsters Are Due on Maple StreetMr. Denton on DoomsdayA Game of Pool, and Two. The latter I’m particularly fond of, since it was one of the first episodes I saw. It stars the lovely Elizabeth Montgomery and beefykins Charles Bronson, and they throw canned chicken. It’s fantastic.

The thing about The Twilight Zone is that each episode gives the feeling of watching a particularly well-done short film. There’s an entire story crammed into a 25-min span of time, yet it manages to capture your imagination as well as your heart, whether it be through the story or the characters or the atmosphere. They range from heartwarming to dramatic to intellectual to outright horror, so there really is an episode for any film taste. My favorites are mainly dark and depressing – take from that what you will. Most of the episodes are filmed beautifully (See The Obsolete Man or The Midnight Sun for starters), and they tell stories that are relevant and thought-provoking to this day.

Of course, it did have its share of clunkers as well. The Bewitchin’ Pool springs immediately to mind (despite the involvement of the fabulous June Foray). And a handful of the episodes had to be filmed on a very low-quality camera due to budget constraints, and that in turn affects the entire episode negatively. But the great episodes drastically outweigh the poor ones, and are so consistently wonderful that its no wonder that SyFy airs a marathon of them twice a year.

By the time the marathon was over (of course I didn’t make it through it all – a girl has to sleep sometimes), I had a cool little case for my hooks and a dent in my forefinger from gripping the hook too hard when something spooky was happening onscreen. Such as mysterious phone calls late at night with no one on the other end, or dolls threatening to murder Telly Savalas, or stupidheads letting the devil out of his prison.

Meanwhile, this!

For realz, if you haven’t seen The Twilight Zone, I highly recommend it. It is definitely worth your time. Then you should comment and tell me what you think. 🙂 Happy New Year, all!


Shell Stitch Hat & Once Upon a Time

(Originally Posted December 30, 2012 on scenesandstitches.blogspot.com by Elise Dukart)

Hello all!

Since I am but a new squalling babe to this blogging thing (in 2012? For shame!), there will be a lot of trial-and-error happening in these early posts, so please bear with me. Not in the sense that you should give me bears, but rather in the sense of not hollering at me from the comments. Constructive criticism is welcome, however. 🙂 And I know that down the road, an older, wiser me will look back on these posts and laugh uproariously at my ineptitude.

Anywho, enough apologizing. Let’s get to it.

I’ve been a horrid follower of ABC’s Once Upon a Time since the second season began. What with school, friends, and my own preoccupation with British television, poor OUAT has been on the backburner of my to-watch list for quite some time. So, since it’s Christmas break and I have no more excuses, I grabbed yarn, a hook, some tea, and finally sat down to catch up on what’s going down in Storybrooke.

My procrastinatory tendencies have left me with quite a few Christmas presents to finish, so I started working up a hat for my friend Karen from a free pattern provided by the lovely lady at growcreative; a stinking cute shell stitch hat. Hook in one hand and remote in the other, I settled in for a fairy-tale-laden crochet session.

*Beware: some spoilers ahead*

So, while Emma & Co. tried to find a way back home (I started back up near the beginning of Season 2 with the episode Lady of the Lake), I was working up the circular top of the hat with a plethora of dcs, grumbling to myself about the lack of female badassery so far in the season, but I was pleasantly surprised when Snow started kicking major fairyland butt. I had forgotten how fun of a character she was, since she’s battling bad guys with an armor-clad Mulan, and the unflappable Emma and her trusty pistol. And Aurora’s got… a shawl? Well, whatever.

Partway through the episode The Doctor (whose title inevitably led me to thinking of this), I had to unravel back a few rows because I had messed up the fan pattern, so I could very well have finished the flippin’ hat had I been following the pattern closer, but multi-tasking comes with a price. If you take nothing else from this blog, remember that, dearies.

As for the episode itself, I was far more excited than any sane person should be when it was finally revealed who Dr. Whale was. Although, I find myself feeling that it’s a bit of a cheat to use a character from a novel written in the early 1800s among characters from fairy tales. But I digress. If they bring in Alice from Alice in Wonderland, I guess that’ll just complete the cycle. Anyway, the Lit Geek in me was ecstatic to find out his identity, even if they laid it on pretty thick at the end, what with the B&W shots and abundance of lightning effects.

By the time I finished the episode Child of the Moon (where the heck was Red’s dad? Did her mom eat him? *sigh* Probably…), I got as far as the last row of fans in the hat, with the end result looking a little something like this:

Blueberrytastic.

As for Once upon a Time, it was marvelous to get back to it. I feel like the writing has improved from the first season, since the fairy-tale flashbacks aren’t as tethered to the original stories anymore, so the writers can be a little more original. However, the abundance of new characters makes the whole thing feel rather scattered and stretched. When you’re in one world, you want to get back to the other one, or when you’re in a flashback, you want to get back to the real world and vice versa. It was still a hoot to watch, and I have two episodes left until I completely catch up. See you on the flip side, readers!


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