The 2013-2014 TV Season is well underway. Fantasy and horror themed shows seem to be well represented, which isn’t surprising given the cult-like following of shows such as: Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and many others. Here is what I think about a few of the new shows.
Hoping to cash in on the popularity of this genre, as well as its predecessor, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, finds us following the story of Alice. We first meet Alice as she is climbing out of the rabbit hole, unaware of the length of time she has been away. When her father answers the door, he at first does not say anything to her, as she began to prattle on about her fantastical journey through Wonderland. His silence during her narration made her question him. He answered her, letting her know that she had been gone so long that they assumed her dead. With her tales of Wonderland being her only explanation of her absence, it was decided she would be committed for her own good. Upon overhearing this decision, Alice decides to return to Wonderland to bring back proof of its existence. It was during this journey that she met and fell in love with a Genie by the name of Cyrus. Of course, being a fairy tale story, the road to their ‘True Love’ was not going to be easy as they found themselves being pursued by the Red Queen, who seemed to have thrown Cyrus to his death. Alice returns home after she witnessed Cyrus’s death and finds herself committed where Alice seemed to have accepted her fate. Then in walks the Knave of Hearts, who, upon insistence from the white rabbit, goes to help Alice escape with the message that Cyrus is still alive. Hearing the words that her love, Cyrus was still alive, Alice steels herself and returns to Wonderland. Obstacles meet her every move as it is discovered the Red Queen is working with Jafar who are searching for Alice to retrieve the 3 wishes Cyrus bestowed upon her.
I was looking forward to this show, in particular, since I love the original and the glimpses into Wonderland we saw was enough to pique my interest. I really wanted to like this show, but unfortunately, all that I love about the first is not present in this spin-off. Where I feel it is the strength of the actors that keep OUAT from becoming campy and clichéd, Wonderland cannot say the same. Alice (Sophie Lowe) is likeable enough, but somehow I do not feel invested in her love to Cyrus (Peter Gadiot). The Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha), in my opinion, is the only character that I enjoy watching but is not enough to hold my interest. Naveen Andrews’ Jafar seems more cartoonish in his evilness when compared to Robert Carlyle’s Rumplestilskin, and maybe I’ve been spoiled by the talent of Lana Parilla as she plays the Evil Queen, but Emma Rigby’s Red Queen seems more churlish and bratty than evil. I also feel that just concentrating on the love story that is Alice and Cyrus does not hold the same effect as seeing the love stories on OUAT unfold, as I quickly became bored with Alice and Cyrus. I prefer watching the myriad of fairy tales stories unfold with the rich tapestry of characters that get turned on its head than just being immersed in the singular world of Wonderland. I think it would’ve served the story better if Alice and her storyline was just another one of the many chapters and worlds that make up the original Once Upon a Time. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland air Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
The opposite can be said of Sleepy Hollow, when I first saw the previews and commercials of this show, I was not interested in another retelling of the Washington Irving classic. I could not imagine how different they could spin it. But after the airing of the season premiere, there was a buzz about this show among my friends, enough that it made me decide to watch it. I must say that I do not regret doing so. The previews and ads did not do this show justice. I was happily surprised with the premiere and subsequent episodes of Sleepy Hollow. The premiere sets the story up nicely. In 1781, during the Revolutionary War, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), faces and decapitates, the Horseman, but not before he notices a brand on the Horseman’s hand. Crane, though the victor, was mortally wounded and collapsed on the battlefield. Forward to 2013, the Headless Horseman awakens and quickly goes about lopping people’s heads off and as that is going on, Ichabod Crane rises from his own grave. Unaware he has woken up 250 years in the future, Crane makes his way out of his burial tomb. Confused and lost, he is quickly picked up and arrested for the murders of the headless victims when he is found wandering around town. For Crane, it goes from bad to worse when he is interrogated and claims he was a soldier in the Revolutionary War under General Washington’s command. After much laughter at Crane’s expense, he is thrown behind bars. Meanwhile, another beheading takes place and being that Crane was incarcerated at the time, it was implausible for Crane to be the killer, but because of what the police deemed to be delusional ramblings, the new chief (Orlnado Jones) decided to have Crane committed and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Behrie) would be the one to transfer him. On the drive, a connection between the pair is established and the Lt. defies orders instead bringing him to his burial site, where he learns the Headless Horseman was Death of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. A short time later, as Crane slept, he was visited by his dead wife, who he finds out was put to death for being a witch and who told him the Headless Horsemen, upon his awakening, was trying to locate his head which would return his powers and bring forth the Apocalypse.
Laced with horror, mythology, conspiracy theories and a little bit of comedy, this show has quickly become one of my favorite new shows. The cast is quite likeable and seem capable enough of handling the writing without taking themselves too seriously. Nicole Behrie’s Abbie seemed a bit too stiff in the premiere episode but since has relaxed and embraced the situation she finds herself in. I’m not too sure if her stiffness was due in part of her character or her acting, but either way she seems to have gotten more comfortable in her skin. Tom Mison is thoroughly enjoyable to watch as he portrays Crane with equal parts confidence and wonder. The chemistry that has formed between Crane and Lt. Mills works, though I’m hoping that it doesn’t turn into a romantic relationship. I see their chemistry growing out of teacher/student relationship they have with one another with Crane instructing the Lt. in the arcane and, in turn, the Lt. teaching Crane about the modern world and how to blend in. My one gripe would be why the Lt. has yet to take Crane shopping to update his attire. I’m enjoying the mythology being created for the show and each new demon we have run into makes me want to tune in for the next. I wonder where the show will go if good prevails and the Apocalypse is thwarted. The good news is I can safely get hooked and not fear cancellation since, on October 3rd, 2013, less than a month after its premiere FOX, renewed Sleepy Hollow for its second season. It’s hard to believe I almost didn’t watch it. Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX.
Technically, American Horror Story is in its third season but being that each season has no connection to each other, with the exception of repeating stars and theme song, I decided to treat it as a brand new show. American Horror Story: Coven brings us to New Orleans, both in the 1830s and in present day, where we first meet Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) and her three daughters. While putting on haughty airs to maintain her high society standing, LaLaurie was keeping a number of her slaves imprisoned in her attic and tortured beyond belief. Her latest addition was a slave who was caught having sex with one of her daughters. In her anger, she orders him to be taken to the attic and hung up. When she confronts him, she tells him that since he enjoyed rutting like a beast, she would turn him into one. She made another one of her slaves behead a bull and cover the slave’s head with the bull’s head, turning him into a pseudo-minotaur. Unbeknownst to LaLaurie, the slave she has recently taken a morbid liking to, was the lover of a Voodoo High Priestess/Queen, Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). When hearing the fate that has befallen her love, she decides to bestow the gift of immortality to LaLaurie and bury her in an undisclosed location. In the present day, we meet Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) who we learn is the Supreme of a coven of witches. As she feels her own mortality weighing heavily upon her, she becomes obsessed with immortality. Her daughter, Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulsen) runs a private school for young witches to learn how to use their powers wisely and survive in the modern world. Fiona arrives at the school to oversee her daughter’s teaching, unhappy with the way she is running the school, and takes it upon herself to instruct and discipline the girls as she sees fit. Her search for immortality is always first in her mind. Fiona learns about the tales of Delphine LaLaurie and finds, digs up and returns with her to the school. And from LaLaurie, Fiona learns that she was tricked into drinking an elixir created by Laveau which caused her immortality, which she has seen more as a curse than a gift since all that she knew and loved has been long since buried.
AHS: Coven is entertaining with enough creepiness weaved through the tale. Though this may not be of a popular opinion, I feel at times the show tries too hard, but honestly, that is how I felt with all three seasons. I’m not sure whether the fault lies with the writers or the cast. The cast is more than capable enough. Jessica Lange, as usual, is a joy to watch. Kathy Bates’ Delphine LaLaurie makes her character in Misery seem sweet. Angela Bassett seems to be enjoying herself as she plays Marie Laveau. At times I feel they rely too much on clichés. In the first episode alone I saw glimpses of Harry Potter (a student is taken from their home, to go on a train ride to enroll in a school for witchcraft), and Carrie (a girl uses her telekinetic powers to flip over a vehicle filled with those who have wronged her). The second episode dealt with a Frankenstein’s Monster theme (body parts were stitched together to create the perfect ‘boyfriend’). Even with the clichés, the show is still enjoyable to watch and continues to keep me tuning in. I’m looking forward to where the show will go. American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.