A week in film – 2016, week 44

I love October. Everything, all of a sudden, is back on TV. The main joy of this season is the return of Yonderland, which I’m not sure I ever thought was going to come back. As ever, Sky’s family fantasy is smart and bonkers and completely amazing. Honestly, it’s hard to talk about the plot of Yonderland because while there is plot – of the larger arc and story-of-the-week varieties – it’s the jokes that stick more. The heist in the second episode is fantastic. Individual characters who show up for a scene are usually brilliant – a newsreader called Huey Lewis, a spider which feeds off applause but only knows one dreadful song. If you’ve never seen Yonderland, it’s something which needs to be watched to be believed.

The UK airdates of Supergirl and The Flash have rocked around a lot quicker than I anticipated – feeling especially nice as it kind of only feels like about a month since I finished watching The Flash last (which is probably accurate). Supergirl seems to have benefitted from its move over to The CW in the States – it’s clearly had a little more budget thrown into it (there are a couple of jokes about the DAO’s new, shinier base) and, while it’s still a little on the cheesier side, it seems to have landed on its feet. I am also the first to admit that I was really worried about the introduction of Superman, too, feeling slightly concerned that the iconic figure of that character would overwhelm the less well-known Supergirl and sort of get in the way of how awesome it is to have a female hero lead a show. Fortunately, Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman is there to play nicely off Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl, creating a nice, easy rapport which makes both of them more entertaining, rather than diminishing everyone. The plot was possibly a little throwaway – it’s really an excuse to get them saving the world together – but they’ve also got the opportunity to discuss the secret identity vs hero identity dynamic, which works well, and as ever in Supergirl there are quite a few fun, cheerful moments dotted about the place. Basically, I really liked this.

The Flash, because it’s The Flash, was typically as insane as expected. Although, as for the storyline itself, I didn’t necessarily see that coming. With the alternate, Flashpoint timeline, Barry’s universe was super happy until, suddenly, it really really wasn’t. Eobard Thorne was locked in a cage being mean, Kid Flash (oh I love Kid Flash) was in peril, and his friends were all slightly odd versions of themselves (although not as different as the trailers for the season promised). The end felt like a bit of a gut-punch – although again, not quite as punchy as I feared when that scene started – but on the whole, it all felt concluded very, very quickly. What timeline are we even in now?

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is also back on Netflix for series two, which works out well seeing as I finished all of the first series this week. While I’m still not sure I could say I like any of the characters, they’re all so interesting – and the songs are so catchy – that it’s really hard to stop watching it. In fact, by the time I got to the end of the series and had finished the first episode of the second, I felt a bit lost. And then I started listening to the soundtrack on a loop.

Then there’s the old faithfuls who have clawed their way back into my week. I had to take a sick day from work (for the first time in my life, so it feels more like a defeat), giving my time to watch some episodes of Gilmore Girls (series four, just as Rory goes off to Yale), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (the beginning of series three, which for some reason I can just never get past), and The West Wing (also series three, and complete magic). Of all of these shows, Gilmore Girls is undoubtedly the best thing to watch when you’re ill – the characters are wonderful, there’s not really a whole lot of drama, and the music and location is so soft and comforting that it’s impossible to feel too down when you’re watching it.

Oh, and The Martian. I’ve seen The Martian so many times, and written about it so many times, that it almost isn’t worth mentioning – but my God, I love that film. One of the things worth mentioning is that the opening sequence, when the storm hits, is perfect. Actually perfect. The visual storytelling, the score, the script – the film establishes the personalities of every single one of the Ares III crew, the situation, and the horror of losing Watney in the opening ten minutes. The rest of the film is fantastic too, but it’s this opening sequence that really, properly sticks in my mind. Worth watching for that alone (but of course, stick around for all the other reasons because it is completely great).


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