Tag Archives: Television

Once Upon A Time

With the arrival of Phoebe, I haven’t been able to do a huge amount of reading. She strongly prefers sleeping on me to anywhere else, especially if she’s going through a growth spurt or a developmental leap, but flinches at the sound of a page turning so my tablet and Netflix subscriptions have been life savers for long feeds.

I’m typically late to the party again, but The current series I’m watching on Netflix is ABC’s Once Upon A Time which aired on Channel 5 a few years ago in the UK. To be honest, I wouldn’t normally have given it a chance but needed something to keep me awake during sleep deprived nights breastfeeding and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it.

Set in a town called Storybrooke, characters from popular fairy tales have been ripped from the Enchanted Forest and sent to modern-day Maine where they have been robbed of their identities by the Evil Queen, Regina, who having failed to kill or destroy Snow White decides to curse everyone and tear away their happy endings. However, as in many good stories, there is someone who can defeat the curse and save them all, but our heroine is a somewhat dysfunctional 28-year old who doesn’t believe in fairies and has been lured back to the town by the son she gave up for adoption when he was born, who, as luck would have it, was taken in by the Evil Queen.

Everyone knows that I love a fairytale and Once Upon a Time is a pretty impressive mash-up of fairy tales , novels and films. True, the fairy tales nod a little too strongly to Disney at times (Sleeping Beauty is Princess Aurora, the Little Mermaid is Ariel and Snow White’s dwarves have the names of the characters from the film- I would love to know what licensing they have agreed with Disney) but I suppose that is what the majority of viewers would expect and it doesn’t stop the programme subverting our expectations of the stories to create new character origins, redeem traditional villains (or at least inject a little more complexity into their characters)and blacken the names of a few storybook heroes.

Far and away the best thing about the series is Robert Carlyle’s Rumpelstiltskin who is by turns demented, monstrous, hilarious, human and touching. (Dis)Honourable mention also has to go to Captain Hook, played by Colin O’Donoghue who since his arrival has balanced out some of Snow White and Prince Charming’s irritating insipidness in the present day scenes. In her flashbacks, Snow White is kick ass… it’s a pity that she couldn’t stay that way after remembering her happy ever after. Good may always win, but it’s not nearly as much fun as mild evil.

4 Bread Recipes you won’t see on The Great British Bake Off…

So, on Tuesday night we lost Lucy from The Great British Bake Off because her showstopper bread wasn’t zany or imaginative enough (though personally I liked the sound of her heritage apple sourdough starter, anyone know how to start one of those off?). Even the more “creative” ideas like the Paul the Octopus Tribute Loaf were frowned upon for lacking originality in the actual make-up of the loaf. To help any would-be bakers avoid making such white bread faux-pas in future series, I’ve come up with some suggestions for loaves inspired by stuff I’ve read in books and, while I can’t promise they’ll taste all that great, I can promise that Paul and Mary will never have seen the like of it.

The Metaphysical Muffin

Right up Ruby’s street as a Philosophy student, the key to a good metaphysical loaf is to assemble your most fundamental particles. To some, this may mean flour, water and yeast but you have four hours to consider whether these are the most fundamental particles that you could assemble or could they be reduced even further to a sort of universal matter? When this is done, arrange the particles in a breadwise fashion. Or don’t. Because really, what is the difference between the components of bread and the loaf itself? To extend this concept for a show stopper, you should exemplify the Lumpl and Goliath problem by serving a lump of dough, half a loaf and a soggy mush where you’ve tried to turn the other half of the loaf back into dough. You could even claim the half-baked loaf was your contingent-cy plan.

Jack and The Giant’s Bone-crusher Bloomer

The competition is hotting up in the Great British Bake Off Kitchen and you can’t count on talent alone to carry you through to the next round. What kind of idiot steps into the tent without a decent game plan? This loaf takes a little extra planning, but with a little effort, you can eliminate your closest rival from the competition. Fee, fie, foe, fum; I won’t bore you with the details, but you’re going to have to spend quite a bit of time with a pestle and mortar grinding their bones to flour. Now, something to consider here is that flour made from human bones is lacking in gluten, so you may have to adjust your other ingredients accordingly and knead extra hard to ensure that the bread proves properly. Even then, Hollywood is bound to complain of issues with your crumb structure but it’ll be worth it to watch Mary Berry’s queasy face as she brings out the conciliatory, “But it has a lovely flavour.”

Squirrel Nutkin’s Soda Bread Surprise

Soda bread is a nice, versatile recipe which you can add a number of ingredients to, making it an ideal medium to experiment with a bread version of the “magic in the middle” surprise that seems to be very in vogue with cakes in the bake-off. Dip some nuts in sleeping powder, and lay them out in the grounds of the Bake Off tent until you have caught that pesky squirrel who seems intent upon stealing the limelight from the bakers with his collection of nuts. Do the necessaries (we’ve all seen Master Chef) and lightly spatchcook his carcass to ensure that your final loaf has an even bake before kneading him into the final loaf and using his tail as an embellishment. That’ll teach the fluffy little b*****d to try upstaging you.

 Dr Gonzo’s Herby Breadsticks

Sure to add some snap and crackle to your day, Dr Gonzo’s cannabis and mescaline infused breadsticks, are not strictly speaking legal… well, they’re not legal at all in fact, though yummy mummies on the show and viewing at home may be relieved to hear that they are derived from entirely natural sources. But try telling that to the judges as they rampage through the tent, running from the anthropomorphized squirrels or hiding borrow style in a contestant’s lovingly constructed matchbox prop. Be it a custodial sentence or total anarchy, one way or another, this recipe will stop the show.

 

Labyrinth TV Series

Promo image for Labyrinth TV series 2012

Did anyone else watch the mini-series adaptation of Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth starring Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Felton and Vanessa Kirby? And if you did, were you really disappointed in it?

I’m not sure who wrote the script, or whether it received a hard edit, but I thought that the character progression sucked to the point where characters in the books were totally transformed. Sajhe is played by a twenty something all the way through, so instead of seeing a boy growing up in love with Alais and doing everything he can to protect her, you get a (slightly gormless) brooding young man who stares at her in a creepily perverted way throughout. Audric wasn’t old or frail enough and was far, far too smug, thus enhancing this weirdness. Likewise, there’s no chance for a relationship/reconciliation to develop between Alais and Guillame or Alice and Will, so Alais looks weak and insipid in the formed and creepy spontaneous face sucking breaks out between the latter.

The typecasting didn’t help either. I’m not sure that it’s bad acting per se, but Jessica Findlay Brown pouted her way through the series in a poor repetition of her portrayal of Lady Sibyl in Downton Abbey to the point where she looked a little concussed as though she was waiting for Carson to come in and explain what the heck was going on. Oriane was played by Morgana from BBC’s Merlin, who occasionally plays the part of Irish actress Katie McGrath, but fortunately, she didn’t need to act in this role, just stride around cackling madly (as in Merlin) while trying to maintain a constant accent and simulating bad sex with Alais’ husband.

Oh and the sex was bad. If you’re going to do it, do it properly. Oriane and Guillame looked as though they were doing some weird form of aerobics, lined up in their respective positions ensuring that there was at least two feet of air between their persons at all time. And I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m not sure what exactly lingering shots of Jessica Findlay Brown’s naked arse added to the telling of the story. It’s a lovely bum, don’t get me wrong, but it just felt a bit creepy, as if I were POV of the newly perverted Sajhe. In fact, the concept of the Grail seemed to be secondary to the weird sex/tangled relationships element of it.

It’s a pity that this hadn’t been made into a bigger budget film, or at least a proper TV series and actors who weren’t playing stock types from other popular series. All in all a real let down for me.

What did you think?

Dr Who on Libraries

You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have – arm yourselves!

I’m home for Easter and spent a pleasant day reading in the sun (without burning, whooo hoo, not easy with my colouring) before coming inside to settle down to a new series of Dr Who. Call me a geek (my boyfriend does on a daily basis) but I can’t help but love the Dr with his love of knowledge and adventure. Plus I love the quote about libraries from the David Tennant era.

Ancient Books and Library Closures

If you tolerate this…

I’m sure that any keen readers out there are following the campaigns against library closures which are going on across Britain, as library users desperately try to highlight the vital role their libraries play in their communities before it is too late. I live in Oxfordshire where the closure of 20 public libraries is threatened, and have been following the UK wide proceedings with some interest. I think my favourite campaign so far has been the library in Stony Stratford, outside of Milton Keynes, which simply invited the users of the library to take out their entitled allocation of books in protest – with over 24 hours to go to the date of the protest the entire library had been emptied. Not that it’s just books that libraries provide.

Have a look at what the author Phillip Pullman and Nicky Wire of The Manic Street Preachers had to say on the subject, they say it better than I can, but I think we should all be vocal about this important subject.

I watched The Beauty of Books on BBC 4 last night. There were copies of ancient bibles which had been safely held in churches and libraries for over a thousand years. Image that, a thousand years. Empires have risen and fallen, worlds been discovered, space travel invented and these books have quietly existed alongside all of that telling the story explicitly or implicitly of the people who made them. Who will look after these resources and this knowledge if we close our libraries?

What will happen to the millions of books they contain?