Don’t start a blog series (or two) if you are in charge of cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas and are also moving between Christmas and your annual New Years party. Also: try harder to remember that you have three kids under five.
I am still hoping to wrap up the Westworld series (begun here, here, and here) at some point but in the meantime, thank you for your graciousness, gentle readers.
The happy news is that I’ll be contributing culture recommendations to the revamped Christianity Today Entertainment Newsletter and continuing to write essays there as while venting my other cultural ramblings here at the blog.
Not quite a “recap” of The Crown Episode 1
In one minute and thirty seconds, this is what you (not just Prince Phillip) need to know:
But watching TV on a need-to-know basis is not really the point.
- Netflix has typically written it’s binge-driven, drop-all-the-episodes-at-once dramas as though the chief goal of a pilot is to get you to stream the next hour almost reflexively. The Crown is compelling but lacks that tug. Like eating a slice of cake that you’ll gladly have another piece of tomorrow but, no thank you, a second bit just now is more than required.
- As with the above clip, foreshadowing is the overall flavor here–a work performed most often by King George (Jared Harris looking more like his father who originally played Albus Dumbledore). He gets to say things like, “A sick king is no good to anyone. There must be no weakness, no vulnerability.” Clearly this sort of dialogue is not just set-dressing for George’s demise…
- Yet for all its broadcasting that soon (soon!) things will change for Princess Elizabeth (and forever!), the pilot is strangely satisfying. I’m particularly impressed at how little dialogue Elizabeth is given and the lovely effect it has on her characterization: So far the princess is a blank slate upon which both the people around her and the viewers project our expectations. Well done.
Sidebar: Matt Smith blond and sometimes shirtless as Prince Phillip is conveying a jocular, mid-century, traditional masculinity that seems its own sort of fantastical detour into the past. No Don Draper misgivings here, not yet anyway. And to my happy surprised, The Doctor has not fettered Smith in the role, even when wearing bow ties–no small thing.
Last week, Psych got its viewers thinking about Clue. And then Clue got me thinking about William Castle‘s House on Haunted Hill. Made in 1959, House on Haunted Hill is arguably a template for Clue. On one of horror’s familiar “dark and stormy” nights, a handful of strangers arrive at a reputedly haunted house, a place where seven people have been murdered, 4 men and 3 women—the same make-up as the guest list. The party’s theme centers on a dare: those guests who make it through the night locked up the house with no electricity and no way to call for help will walk away with $10,000.
Is this movie high concept? No. It is an enjoyable trip back to the time of cheaply made exploitation double features that aimed to make you jump in your seat at least once? Absolutely. Continue reading House on Haunted Hill, the one without Taye Diggs