I Want My MTV.
Today is Media Monday – I review:
Orange is The New Black
L. Taylor Artsing
Title image – all the media being reviewed.
Title song – Dire Straits – Money For Nothing
So lets get straight into it.
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (TV show – netflix)
There will be no spoilers for the new season in this review.
The 4th season, of this wonderful example of Netflix production, is under way. With it comes a show clearly in the comfort zone. I mean this as a serious compliment. Not many shows can achieve the level where the characters and writing seems so effortless.
3 years ago when this show began the concept of a Netflix original was new, but now it is commonplace and I would say the brilliance of this show is a shining example of that. The creator Jenji Kohan, was also the creator of another fun series called Weeds. Weeds sadly trailed of slightly towards the end. It felt like a show written on momentum, but with no real end in sight or planned. I don’t think Orange is The New Black will suffer the same fate as it is written more like a hybrid of a soap opera and sitcom. The wealth of characters stands out immediately. They have drifted away from having a main protagonist, to the benefit of this highly skilled ensemble cast.
All the characters you see can have their story developed. And they never seem to overwhelm you with new characters. They seem to subtly move into leading roles and the slip back to the background with equal ease. I’m also amazed at how the show doesn’t leave you annoyed because you don’t know what a favourite characters is doing. The benefit of not having a strict over arching plot line becomes evident, many characters and sub plots can be given justice and screen time.
There is a great mixture of drama, comedy and everything in between. One thing I love about the Netflix original model is that, without time slots and advertising, writers aren’t catering to any demographic other than Netflix subscribers. You either want to watch it or you don’t. One of my frustrations when I wrote scripts was the constant juggling act of writing to audience limitations. In film you wrote for a rating and a target audience. While in TV we had to think about when it would be aired and what network. This was merely hypothetical in my study, but it made writing extremely formulaic and limited. Freedom is clearly given in the production of the Netflix Original.
This freedom isn’t afforded to the prisoners of Litchfield. The story of their day to day lives in captivity is captivating and treads a fine line between realistic and slightly exaggerated. Moments give shocks, some bring tears, but mostly this is a show watched with a smile upon my face.
If you are looking for a good binge or even a nice show to take your time with, 4 seasons gives this show plenty of content and I thoroughly recommend it.
BLACK SAILS (TV show – starz)
It’s a pirate show
…oh you need more than that
It’s a fucking kick ass pirate show!
OK, Black Sails is set in the pirate golden age in the Caribbean. The show is set in a combination of reality and the world of ‘Treasure Island’. Set 40 years before the events of the book we begin the show meeting a Younger John Silver. I must say I believe him to be the true protagonist of the show, but for the majority of the first 2 seasons we do focus of the actions and life of his captain Flint. This leaves silver’s character to slowly build and it also keeps him somewhat mysterious as we know little of his history.
The show does have a slight feel of Game of Thrones does piracy. I think it works, we see many characters viewpoints and separate stories being told. While as I mentioned it does feel to have a direction and an intended protagonist, it does not rely on a protagonist to move the story forward.
The stories of some real world pirates like Jack Rackham, Anne Boney and Charles Vance. These characters give brilliant embellishment to some of Treasure Islands cast. I had never read Treasure Island until watching this show and am now happily reading and enjoying it. I do love the way TV can introduce you to other media you might not have tried otherwise. This also is a feature of Game of Thrones.
The show is all filmed in South Africa and I think it shows. It doesn’t have the normal American style show feel to it. Clearly it wasn’t a massive budget show and I think they really make the most of what they have. For something as vast as a seafaring drama, it manages to hold its quality with studio shot scenes shot brilliantly to give the illusion of location. The set building is a testament, but in the first season I mostly found myself mesmerised by the actors eyes. Later I realised that it was because of the quality of the lighting in scenes. In some ways the eyes revealed the studio, but in the moment of watching I believed the locations were genuine.
To my knowledge the show aired originally on youtube for free. Currently in production for the 4th season, Black Sails look like they have a real project. With the events of Treasure island already written, the show knows it’s direction and is hastily making its way there.
I look forward to everything to come with this show. I would however be remiss not to mention Billy, he is the Boson in the show. His arms are like tree trunks. Clearly the producers of the show are lovers of the bicep, because there is wonderful moments of utter arm porn. If big arms aren’t to your taste there is many a beautiful face, amazing hygiene really considering the era. Dental hygiene is surprisingly good and beard grooming products were much more prevalent than I had realised.
I definitely recommend this show as worth a watch, and my first point stands…it’s about pirates! What more could you want?
GONE HOME (Game – Ps4)
Free this month with my playstation plus subscription, I had read mixed reviews of this point and click style adventure. Although adventure would probably be giving a bit too much hype. This is a very slow and relaxed game. I can imagine it won’t suit many people as there is no real action. For me the game plays a little like a movie. It took 3/4 hours to complete fully. It has pretty much zero replay value. Which is why for free I would recommend this game, also for anything under a fiver you will feel satisfied.
Without wanting to spoil events as the discovery of the story is mostly the purpose of the game. We start the game as our main character Kaitlin who has just arrived home from her gap year abroad. She has arrived home early so when she got home her parents are still on holiday and the house seems empty. With no instruction we are left in the porch with our bags.
The game then becomes that of discovery. You realise quickly to start looking at everything and pick everything up. With a mixture of the items you find and some lovely audio logs we realise that the story isn’t ours but the tale of our sister. The further you progress the more of the story is revealed in a very fluid and intriguing way to keep you wanting to play.
This was a great game to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon playing to completion. It does end quite abruptly and leaves you with a bit of a sense of “oh, is that it?”
I would recommend this as a great game for a disabled gamer or a first time gamer. There is no difficult mechanics to learn. It is mostly moving around and interacting with objects and reading items.
It weaves a lovely and touching yarn. Letting you feel a real connection to the sister and giving you a sense of self characterisation in your mind. Telltale games are some of my favourite of recent times (the walking dead, the Wolf among us and game of thrones) and they have returned gaming to that of storytelling. This doesn’t have the depth of a telltale series, but as mentioned it does feel like a nice movie. A quick dip of the toe in the world of Kaitlin and her sister.
If you have a ps4 definitely grab it on ps+. I think it’s perfect to sit an play with a cup of tea and a nice biscuit. Luz sat in the room and sort of half watched as I played. She seem to be more and more into the story as it progressed, which was the same for me playing.
L. Taylor Artsing (Artist, Facebook)
Of course I have a slight bias, as this is Luz art project. Seeing the creation process does make me appreciate the hard work that goes into it. Luz has recently begun work on a new style of illustration. Cutely named ‘Smols’ these are small images created with so much love that the radiate a grandeur that exceeds their tiny scale.
Taking in suggestions via Tumblr, Luz made this project as a little bit of fun, but after getting some really positive feedback at the quality, decided to push it further.
The art so far varies from Smol galaxy to pizza, no subject matter seems to be off limits and these little creations make brilliant cards, but also have the quality to stand alone as independant art.
As of yesterday, Luz created a facebook page to promote her work, so please click the link above and have a look, and if you like, please follow or give her page a share.