True Blood – Season 1, Episode 2

March 26, 2009 at 12:25 am | Posted in TV Review | Leave a comment
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Episode 2 of True Blood air-ed in New Zealand – on Prime last night; I saw it in the Listner’s TV programmes listing and managed to schedule my evening to watch it. Warning: plot revealed.

March 25, 2009 by Show_Hanger

2009 True Blood Episode 2 (season 1).

Another great lead-in: we see our heroine – Sookie – getting the heck kicked out of her – continuing the beating she got at the end of Episode 1. But even in the midst of terrible adversity, Sookie is able to spare some effort into stopping a dog from getting shot. Bill – the hero ? and vampire – eventually steps, as expected, and dispatches the baddies and restores Sookie to full health – by getting her to drink his blood.

The series appears to be exploring intermacy – and by drinking a vampire’s blood the drinker creates a form of intermacy. Bill will always be able to find Sookie – quickly; perhaps setting up a plot device to be used later. Sookie has her senses hightened – she finds a crumb when her grandmother is vacuuming.

There seems to be lots of sex when vampires are around, and the producers are not afraid to show the audience. Really not a programme for the not-so-old ones.

Episode 2 is early days in the Sookie-Bon-Temps universe. Some of the inhabitants of Bon Temps, that were introduced get a bit more flesh put on the bone: Adele Stackhouse (played by Lois Smith) is Sookie’s grandmother – a women who raised sookie, and who has a great interest in the history of Bon Temps; Jason Stackhouse (played by Ryan Kwanten) is Sookie’s brother – a rather simple young man, who lets his libido do all of his thinking; and Tara Thornton (played by Rutina Wesley) who appears to be Sookie’s childhood friend of colour, and who has a chip on her shoulder so large that it is amazing that she does not walk on a permanent slant.

Jason’s current plot role is to allow the audience to see, close up, attractive young women: all so that we can see the odd vampire bite on their otherwise unblemished skin. Jason is horrified; no doubt, post coitus, he fears what Sookie might be up to.

We are also introduced to the nature of the relationship between humans and vampires: they must be invited into you house, otherwise they cannot come in; they can exert a mental control on humans (has no affect on Sookie); they are very very strong; they can move very fast; there is a wider political aspect of them ‘coming out of the coffin’.

Sookie is attracted to Bill because she can’t hear his thoughts and can relax and let her mental guards down. He has a certain ruggedness and an old world set of manners – which sets him well above the young men of Jason’s generation.

At the end Sookie encounters three very unmannered vampires. For now the trend of leave-the-heroine-in-a-bad-situation ending is touchingly quaint.

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True Blood – Season 1, Episode 1

March 19, 2009 at 2:46 am | Posted in TV Review | 1 Comment
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Episode 1 of True Blood finally air-ed in New Zealand – on Prime . Warning: plot revealed.

March 18, 2009 by Show_Hanger

2009 True Blood Episode 1 (season 1).

The storyline, directing (Alan Ball) and acting is just great. Within half an hour, the main character – Sookie Stackhouse, brilliantly played by Anna Paquin – and the general come-out-of-the-coffin of vampires is introduced. The treatment of Sookie’s telepathy is very effective. The other main character – Bill Compton, played by Stephen Moyer – has also been introduced: Stookie has to save him from vampire blood traders.

By the end of the episode, Sookie’s world has been built up – its underlying currents hinted at, and the supporting characters introduced. Sookie has also been beaten half to death – a classic ‘come back next week’.

Paquin of course won a Golden Globe for her portrayl of Sookie – and it is well deserved. Paquin, who is a brunette New Zealander, brings the blond southern Sookie to life. Sookie appears to be a person with principles and prepared to stand up for them. There is a hint that Sookie would like to get out of Bon Temps, Louisiana, but can’t at the moment.

I was surprised by the amount and explicitness of sexual content.

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Worth the wait.

Tutus on Tour – 2009

March 4, 2009 at 2:14 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Show Review | 1 Comment
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I went to the last performance in Wellington of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2009 season of Tutus on Tour at the Opera House. Warning: plot revealed.

February 28, 2009 by Show_Hanger

Every other year, the Company divides itself onto two troupes; each half tours one of the two main islands of New Zealand. Each tutus tour is different – typically a number of short works that will work in some of New Zealand’s smaller theatres. Wellington, as well as being the capital, is at the southern tip of the North Island. So this night was danced by the North Island troupe.

Play bill:

I found Saltarello and Holberg Suite just a bit intellectual; I was unable to engage with the works emotionally. I admired the dancing, but I found my mind wander off to think about the events of my day etc.

At times Saltarello seemed like an exhibition piece to show case the skills of the male dancers – 5 dancers take off at once, complete a turn and land at once, smoothly transitioning into the next sequence. Saltarello featured an unusual move in a pas de deux, where the lady leaps past her partner and grasps his outstretched arm with both her hands and glides along with her toes above the floor, and just before she would kip to avoid touching the floor, with some unseen assistance from her partner, she pikes around her partner’s torso and ends up cradled in his arms, against his chest! They did this several times with effortless ease.

I found the choreography in the Holberg Suite very similar to that in Saltarello and so found my attention wandering. Still well executed and enjoyed by al, at times, vocal audience – members of the South Island Troupe.

In Through to You, I found the pas de duex between Michael Braun and Katie Hurst-Saxton captivating. It was like watching the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliette

I had previously seen Currently Under Investigation a few years ago at the New Zealand School of Dance’s Graduation Season. I preferred the Company’s execution – it seemed slightly more polished and graceful. True this took the hard emotional edge off the work – especially when compared to the Graduation Season (where I think the majority of dancers were contemporary specialist). Another member of my party preferred the edgier graduates version. Still – for me – it partially settles the question around classically trained dancers verses dancers trained with a strong classical base – the classical dancers are ‘smoother’.

Catherine Eddy and Brendan Bradshaw are current members of the Company. Their use of Beatles music, for Koo Koo ka Choo, was inspired, and the audience was taken along for a wonderful journey – made perhaps more enjoyable by the fact that they were at a subconcious level familiar with it – such has the influence of the Beatles on contemporary music. This was a very accessible work – the re-recorded music (so that it could be danced to) retained the original lyrics. Rory Fairweather-Neylan (I think – at times it is hard to identify individual dancers) did a superb job of dancing what was effectively the overture to the work.

A nice innovation was to project short film clips in between some of the pieces. Most of the clips were of the Company and its support crew (without which it would not be possible) giving the audience a glimpse behind the scenes. Then the tilt to Abbey Road – projection of a pedestrian crossing – at the end of Koo Koo Ka Choo was just on the right side of corny. It did set up the march/walk-off by the dancers.

Overall, a well executed production with something for everyone.

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Two annoying points: the sound system – at times it could not cope; and the heat – the Opera House still has not solved the heat build-up issue up in the Gallery (aka ‘The Gods’) that caused people so much discomfort during Tutandot in the mid-90’s.

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