The Cutprice Guignol

The Ninth Year: The Haunting of Swill House

Tag: john noble

Doctor Who Fan? Console Yourself With Sleepy Hollow

So, I’ve been watching Sleepy Hollow recently. I was determined not to like it, as that would mean the consort had been right about a show and I would therefore never trick him into watching something like Suburgatory again (which is, by the way, utter, unparalleled genius).

But Gosh darn, if I didn’t really love Sleepy Hollow. My first attraction to the series was this;

I’d rather not say how long I spent looking for a Tom Mison picture, thanks.

That’s Tom Mison, who plays co-lead Ichabod Crane, a man transported from revolutionary American to modern-day Sleepy Hollow by witchery in order to stop evil. Ridiculous? Utterly. But Tom Mison, who pitches the comic scenes about his change in time-such as soliloquising down the phone about love to a phone operative- perfectly, is perfection. He’s at some times bumbling, at some times swashbuckling, at some times a little bit terse. He also happens to be second only to Norman Reedus in the “Men On TV I Would” list.

Then there’s this;

Well-developed, witty and consequential female characters really do it for me.

This is Nicole Beharie, who plays the police lieutenant who meets Crane soon after he arrives in Sleepy Hollow. Compassionate, intelligent, selfless, brave, and driven, Abbey Mills is one of the finest female characters on TV today and her partnership with Crane- devoid of Mulder-and-Scully style sexual tension, at least so far- is all the better for it. She also happens to be second only to Lauren Cohan in the “Women on TV I Would Do” list. Walking Dead really has the monopoly on impossibly good-looking characters facing an apocalypse.

Along with a cohort of fun regular characters- Lyndie Greenwood as Abbey’s troubled, more ruthless sister Jenny is my favourite, but Orlando Jones as a sceptic-turned-believer police chief is close behind- the duo run around trying to fight off the apocalypse predicted in the Book of Revelations. Occasionally John Noble, esteemed thesp, turns up to make dinner of the scenery and smile in an ambiguous way. And it’s as brilliantly silly as it sounds- the stories are brisk and uncomplicated, with a freak-of-the-week set up featuring some gloriously underused monster (Wendigos, Golems, Green Man etc) with some sensational real effects. It’s bright, delicious, clever fun, with a lightness of touch that stops the show ever getting bogged down in it’s own mythology.

And this got me thinking: why was it I loved this show so much? Then I realised: it’s my replacement Doctor Who. After a season in which I found DW stories too convoluted, found character tension to be forced, found the series dissapearing up it’s own arse, Sleepy Hollow is the embodiment of all the things I love about Doctor Who: the out-of-time man matched with a banterous audience surrogate, fighting monsters every week and leading everything up to a neat series finale. And so, for anyone else who’s soul was troubled by this series of Doctor Who, I cannot recommend Sleepy Hollow enough. Just don’t mess with the Horseman. Any of them.


Dark Matters: Terrible But “True”

It’s been a very, very busy few days. On Wednesday I finished my first year at university, moved into my beautiful, beautiful flat which everyone I know is absoloutley sick of hearing about or being dragged to so I can give them tea on the lawn, and generally done a lot of running back and forth and being a little nervous that my new roomate has an ice axe. I’ll just be doing the dishes then, will I? Yes. Thought so.

But you’ll be glad to hear that all these wonderful things have not gotten in the way of my overriding cynicism and general loathing for the world (although I imagine I’m the one at the centre of most powerful loath-storms in history, having selected the computer with the most clattery keys in the library and merrily tapping away as though there’s not eight people considering throwing me through a bookcase), so I’m here today to discuss the glorious magnificence that is Dark Matters: Twisted But True.

I actually watched this show back-to-back while studying for my exams, stunned into blogular silence by the sheer, crushing enormousness of everything that was wrong with the show, yet curiously unable to articulate it or curb my enthusiastic enjoyment of the absurdity. It’s a sublimely awful bit of television; narrated by the sonorous thesp John Noble, it tells ridiculous tales of scientific experiments gone wrong and the like. Think The Men Who Stare At Goats as realised by Hammer Horror.

Either Noble has completely given up on his career altogether or he understands how fucking insane most of what this show dredges up is. Some of it, I happen to know, being a conspiracy theory nut, comes with an element of moderate scientific background to it, while most of the stories are hilariously crass reconstructions of events that barely happened in the first place. Take thier representation of what happened in the French town of Point-Saint-Espirit (Noble getting his mouth around the French pronounciation is a delight, by the way), where a batch of bad bread, presumed now to have been contaminated with the hallucinogenic fungus Argot, poisoned 250 people and caused mass hallucinations all over town. But no: according to Dark Matters, it was for certain a CIA field experiment gone wrong, and here are the reconstructions to prove it: a woman being chased by poorly designed CGI wasps, a man screaming in weakly articulated horror as his hands appear to catch fire, the entire village overrun with terrifying visions of the Rapture. The Rapture, featuring confused actors doing crap French accents.

But I love it. I do. It’s completely silly and over-the-top, but it has managed to crawl into my head and peel back that disturbingly large part of me that secretly loves conspiracy theories and would happily spend several days gurgling with pleasure while an ex-Lord of the Rings actor told me about them. It’s a terrible, terrible, womderful programme; I’m more conflicted about it than I was about illustrating it by using a metaphor about losing my virginity. But that’s fine. Because it struck me watching the last few episodes that the whole thing probably only exists in my own head and therefore I’ve become a conspiracy theory myself, thus bringing he experiment to an end. Have to dash now as I’m getting some sideways glances from a suspicious-looking man sitting opposite me and I really don’t fancy my cha