The New Northern Exposure: Fortitude and 30 Degrees in February

Zombie polar bears. Just putting it out there…

If you’re not watching Fortitude and 30 Degrees in February, start now. They’re both really good. You can thank us later. (Warning: spoilers ahoy.)

Both dramas are centred on the long, bleak winters up north (that’s Arctic Circle north, not Macclesfield), and how people deal with them.

30-Degrees-In-February-01-16x9-1

Sky

In 30 Degrees, urban Swedes, fed up with the incessant snow and cold and looking to kick-start their miserable lives, head to Thailand in search of happiness. In Fortitude, a multinational community stays put and staves off polar bears and the effects of the grim Norwegian winter with copious amounts of booze, cigarettes and sex.

As they have progressed, both shows have steadily become darker and taken viewers down several unexpected rabbit holes.

The Swedes in 30 Degrees soon discover that Thailand is not the promised land they thought it was. It’s as full  of violence, misery, poverty and exploitation as anywhere else.

Those girlie bars and topless massage joints? They’re built on the twin foundations of grinding poverty and sexual abuse.  Something that schlubby Glenn (Kjell Wilhelmsen) finds out to his cost when his bar girl fiancée empties his bank account and runs off. Only after she’s arrested does he find out that she’s got three children to support, but does he care?

We’re never really sure what Glenn thinks as he moves from girl to girl via a botched suicide attempt in search of a wife and children of his own. But just as we start feeling sorry for him he lets slip that he’s a homophobic bigot, so no more Mr Nice Glenn for Oh, the sympathetic kathoey trying to help him.

Turns out that Bengt (Kjell Bergqvist) was always an unrepentant bastard to his cowed wife Majlis. He didn’t turn to the dark side after he was tragically confined to a wheelchair, he was always like that. Watching Majlis blossom in the sunshine after she escapes from Bengt has been brilliant. Subtly played by the excellent Lotta Tejle, Majlis tentatively stretches out her hand towards independence and decides to stay in Thailand and become a dive master.

Just don’t mention the fact that she’s using Bengt as a towel rail in the hotel bathroom.

Fellow escapee Kajsa (Maria Lundqvist) is recovering from divorce and a stress-induced stroke by building a holiday bungalow empire on the beach with her two daughters. Teenager Joy (Hanna Ardéhn) is miserable and anxious, and little Wilda (Viola Weidemann) does nothing but play on her DS. It looks like a disaster waiting to happen but Kajsa is oblivious. She’s too focussed on beating Chan (Thomas Chaanhing), her competitor next door. In turn, he is most definitely not Mr Nice Guy any more.

Fortitude-KeyArt-FINAL-LB-1

Sky

Fortitude is Cicely, Alaska as reimagined by  Edgar Allen Poe and Irving Welsh.

Stanley Tucci plays DCI Morton, the Joel Fleischman of the show, initially sliding around the icy streets in his lace-up dress shoes clutching his notes. Only after he’s convinced the locals that he’s a buffoon does Morton reveal himself to be something of an ace detective.

Although Tucci’s brilliant in this it still feels odd to have him there. The plot contrivance that explains why Morton of the Met is an American ex-FBI officer is not terribly convincing.

Murder most foul occurs in the first episode but since then what seemed initially like a rather self-important, dreary Scandi crime drama has careered straight into left field. What lies beneath the ice? Why are people murdering each other with cutlery?

For a place where it’s actually illegal to die, the body count is really starting to rack up. Does creepy science teacher Markus (Darren Boyd) have anything to do with it?

And are the victims going to stay dead?

Zombie polar bears. Just putting that out there… Again.

Holding the town together (just) are Sheriff Dan (Richard Dormer) and Governor Hilde (Sofie Gråbøl minus the sour face and woolly jumpers, but with some killer accessories and an interior design scheme to die for). With fingers in just about every pie, and hopefully not in any people, together they are the Maurice Dubois of Fortitude.

But why is Dan always on the verge of hysteria? And just how corrupt is Hilde?

Tavrani (Ferdy Ramon Tikaram) and Henry (Michael Gambon) are this show’s Ed Chigliak and Holling Vincoeur. Turns out that the laid-back taxidermist is also a shaman. He knows something wicked their way comes and has agreed to help Henry protect a suspected killer against… well, what remains unclear. But their plan so far involves a lot of blood and string.

So many questions, such an unnervingly twisty unexpected drama that just keeps on getting better.

30 Degrees in February airs on Sky Arts 1 HD, Fridays at 9pm

Fortitude airs on Sky Atlantic, Wednesdays at 10pm

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Game of Thrones: The Exhibition Returns For 2015

Ever fancied standing on top of The Wall above Castle Black? If so, it’s time to dust off your Night’s Watch cloak and get ready: Westeros is coming. And it’s free!

HBO

HBO

HBO has announced that Game of Thrones: The Exhibition (#GOTExhibit) will be back for 2015 with even more fun stuff for fans to enjoy.

Right now, it’s been confirmed that the 2015 touring exhibition tour will stop off at seven cities — London, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris — but more cities may be added at a later date. Presented by HBO and its international partners, Game of Thrones: The Exhibition will feature all-new installations focusing on key places, characters and relationships from Season 4 of the worldwide hit.

New for 2015: fans can pledge their allegiance to their favourite Game of Thrones family by joining a House before entering the exhibition and having their photo taken on the Iron Throne.

Organisers promise an unprecedented, immersive Game of Thrones experience courtesy of the “Ascend the Wall” 4D Oculus Rift virtual reality experience. Back by popular demand this Night’s Watch experience allows fans to ascend the 700ft Wall by stepping into a physical recreation of the Castle Black winch elevator while wearing the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and a pair of headphones. From that moment on, they’ll find themselves inside a virtual version of the elevator — one that looks, sounds and feels extremely real.

Let’s hope there aren’t any White Walkers waiting for them at the top.

In addition, a new integrated web-based companion and photo stations will provide exciting new ways for fans to interact within the exhibition, placing them inside some of Game of Thrones’ most shocking and talked-about moments.

Game of Thrones: The Exhibition will also display original artefacts used on set from Seasons 1-4 plus some never-before-seen pieces from Season 5, which premieres in April 2015. Created by artisans whose extraordinary craftsmanship has lent authenticity to the show since its inception, the collection includes costumes, model dragons, House banners, armour, weapons and costumes.

Excited much? The 2015 tour kicks off at the O2 in London on 9-12 and 15-17 February. Tickets are up for grabs on 26 January from Sky: www.sky.com/gameofthrones.

For further dates and details on the exhibition, visit the official website: www.GOTExhibit.com

@TVClaw

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Hard Times

TVClaw:

A very thoughtful essay on what life is like in hard times. And how to make a difference. From the always interesting and interested Deborah Mason.

Originally posted on debdavemasondotcom:

Throughout September I stood on street corners in Peckham and handed out flyers for the Peckham Fun Palace.  Well I tried to.  The first set of flyers were designed to encourage people to come forward with ideas and suggestions, or just enthusiasm, to take part in the making of the Fun Palace, later on and nearer the date I had flyers with things that people could come to – a choir, a monster workshop, a flash-fry-Frankenstein.  Everything was free.  It was also supposed to be fun.  But for some reason the idea of ‘free fun’ or ‘free fun event’ or ‘Peckham Fun Palace’ seemed like anything but fun to the people of Peckham as they laboured along burdened by shopping, kids or just a scowl.  I mean, of course, some people did take the leaflet, some people even smiled and said thank you.  Some people even came.  But it puzzled…

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The Great British Bake Off: Apply Now For Series 6

Originally posted on Dining Society:

Calling all Nancy Birtwhistle wannabes: apply now for your chance to appear on The Great British Bake Off Series 6.

bake-offIf you yearn to unleash your show-stopping baked goods on the British public, you’re in luck. The lovely, floury people behind TV sensation The Great British Bake Off are looking for fantastic amateur bakers to take part in Series 6.

Can you bake a brilliant spiced bun, an exceptional celebration cake or a beautifully plaited bread? Do you think you could impress Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood with your baking skills? Or do you know someone who might? Aged 16+ and a UK resident? Scouts honour you’ve never, ever worked as a baker?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above then click here to download an application form. Producers promise that all applications will be read, but as they’re expecting thousands of applications we suggest you get yours in well…

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Lights Out

Photo: Courtesy of The Royal British Legion

Photo: Courtesy of The Royal British Legion

“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime” — Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, August 1914

Today, 4 August 2o14, is the 100th anniversary of the UK entering World War I, the so-called War to End All Wars.

Can it really be 100 years since the start of World War I? For my generation, whose parents were born in the 20 years between the twin cataclysms of World Wars I and II, the Great War has always been a looming presence. It’s always been part of our shared experience. However, for our children it is ancient history. It’s no closer to them than the Boer War was to us.

It’s hard for people my age to grasp that our children have no idea what we’re talking about when we joke, “I fought in two world wars for you!” at the bus stop.

The World War I veterans are all dead now. The grand old woman who skittered along the local shopping parade in her bath chair — an ancient relic of a vanished world even then — and the scarred old man with the metal plate in his head who used to shout at us for no reason, they’re both long gone.

Tonight, as a mark of respect and reflection everyone in the UK is invited to join in with LIGHTS OUT from 10pm to 11pm. Turn off all your lights except one. Light a solitary candle in your window, whether it be a wax candle, a torch or the light from your phone.

Bring World War I alive with modern technology: download the fantastic, free LIGHTS OUT app from Turner Prize-winning conceptual artist Jeremy Deller and watch his four short films. The culmination of the work happens at 10pm tonight when the final LIGHTS OUT film will be available for just one hour.

Search the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database by street name and postcode and see how your street was affected by the war. Did the women living in your house or the house next door receive one of the dreaded telegrams announcing that a cherished husband, father or son had been killed in action?

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Doctor Who 8: The Cybermen Are Back!

Peter Capaldi takes on the Cybermen in Doctor Who Series/Season 8

BBC Pictures

BBC Pictures

Panic not, shoppers of Cardiff: you’re not being invaded by cyborgs from another planet. Just a lot of Scots people and a camera crew. As this excellent photo gallery from Wales Online shows, Series/Season 8 of Doctor Who will see the new Doctor  surrounded by his ancient foes, the Cybermen.

Although the Doctor’s companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) is reportedly absent, the Doctor does have the assistance of plucky U.N.I.T. boffin Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) and the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere (Green Wing and Bad Education star Michelle Gomez, pictured).

The Cybermen first had children leaping behind the sofa in 1966 and have been through several changes of image and voice since then. Modern Cybermen are considerably bigger, buffer and more intimidating than their somewhat squishy progenitors. Sadly, due to the untimely demise of Head Cyborg Roger Lloyd-Pack these Cybermen will doubtless be in search of a new voice, but there’s been no word yet on who will provide it.

Check out the BBC’s new oh-so-short teaser trailer for Doctor Who Series/Season 8 below. Excited much?

@TVClaw

 

 

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William Shatner, Karl Urban, Bruce Greenwood To Headline Destination Star Trek 3 In London

DestinationStarTrek.com

DestinationStarTrek.com

Star Trek fans! It’s time to fluff up the Tribble and dig out the party pants.

It’s been announced that huge names from all the Star Trek franchises will be heading to London in October for Destination Star Trek 3. William Shatner, Karl Urban and Bruce Greenwood will be headlining the three-day Trek fest and a host of other stars will also be appearing.

But that’s not all. In news to melt your plastic pointy ears, Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy will be beaming down to chat to fans via a live video link.

Shatner, Urban and Greenwood will be appearing on stage and will be available for photograph and autograph opportunities throughout the weekend with fans.

The event will also host a special Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion moderated by William Shatner. Fans will get the chance to be photographed on the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D bridge with stars including Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden.

But that’s still not all. Sirtis and McFadden will be joined by some of the other leading women of Star Trek including Nichelle Nichols, Denise Crosby, Alice Krige and Jeri Ryan (form an orderly queue lycra fans).

And, if you’ve ever wanted to dance in the holodeck to the smooth sounds of Vegas crooner Vic Fontaine, you’re in luck. Sci fi god James Time Tunnel Darren will be performing in character at one of the after-parties.

Excited much? Stay tuned for updates. Click here to get the full line-up and book tickets.

My Day With the Trekkies: Destination Star Trek 1

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