I admit it.
I am highly prone to addictive behaviour. Especially when it comes to entertainment.
When I have found a book or TV series that I like, I have to read/see all of it, end-to-end.
I am probably a bit of a nerd, too.
The kind of nerd that read The Lord of the Rings six times and then went to the screenings, to watch all the sequels in a row, that means spending three, then six and then nine hours in the cinema, plus breaks. (Recommended if you want to feel as if you actually were in the Shire.)
I also played computer games when I was little (Diablo II, Command and Conquer, etc), that’s because of my big brother, and I have an affection for well done TV series.
Like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, of which I saw every single episode. (Except for the very last one, because my granny didn’t record it on VHS, back in the days. I still haven’t seen it, because I decided it would be too intense to bear, emotionally.) Actually, that feels like some kind of coming-out now.
Because even my friends roll their eyes when I tell them about this (best) series (ever).
I have faible for vampirism.
Always had, even as a kid. When the moon was full I would sit on the window-sill and watch it and wish for a vampire to come and take me away, even though I was scared to death. I suppose, if you don’t live up to your darker side, you find for an equivalent in the outside, to compensate. So, ten years ago, when Twilight and the likes didn’t exist (thankfully), I read Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (Interview with a Vampire) as well as her The Lives of the Mayfair Witches.
We never had a TV set (parenting style), but my granny did, who lived on the first floor. I think what I always enjoyed about books and TV is the sort of relaxation they provide, that they are a means of escapism. Somehow to relish them feels like a catharsis. It was so exciting to sit in front of that screen (my first memory is the one of Bugs Bunny) and dive into fictional worlds and stories and be taken away by them, at least for moments. I can still feel that exaltation when I discover a really good TV show.
Today, the standards of some TV shows are extremely high, their quality is phenomenal, the stories are smart and the characters well thought-through. Brilliant entertaining is happening on the screen at home, while cinema – at least a part of it – is steering towards 3D and even more spectacular special effects. Don’t get me wrong, cinema still is creation’s crowning glory for me. Nothing can replace sitting in a dark movie theatre watching a film, let’s say, by Terrence Malik or Godard or any other great director. It’s not the same when you watch it on a little screen. But for to-go entertainment, at home, after a long day, there is nothing better than a really good book or show. And of course this evolution is part of our global inter-connectedness. We can enjoy everything everwhere whenever we want to.
I was blown away – for instance – when I saw the first episodes of Breaking Bad. I mean literally. Actually, Breaking Bad was a bit too bad for me, although I wouldn’t call myself catechumen when it comes to suspense. Its style reminded me very much of the film Requiem for a Dream (by D. Aronofsky), which is brilliant. But both, the film and the TV-show, left me devasted for weeks. So I stopped watching it. At the end of 2012, I was in need of some good relaxation and started looking for good entertainment. Unconsciously. That was, when I discovered True Blood and Game of Thrones. I found my salvation.
True Blood is the best vampire-show I have seen in years (right after Buffy, might become neck-and-neck-race). Defined by the NY Times as a “Southern gothic supernatural soap opera”, is a virtuoso show for grown-ups. It is situated in the Southern USA, which is a beautiful bountiful lush sweaty environment. True Blood has excessive sex, nudity, violence, humor, drama and romance (yes, that, too). Its main character is Sookie Stackhouse (what a name), a waitress with telepathic abilities.
Because a Japanese scientist has invented synthetic blood, sold in four-packs as “Tru Blood,” vampires have been able to come out of the coffin, as they say, and want to assume a place in normal society. The ripple effect of this grand entrance includes “fang-banging,” wherein nonvampires crave sex with vampires. But the more abstract issue of an outcast group seeking mainstream acceptance, with the obvious metaphoric implications, is a central theme in the “Southern Vampire” novels of Charlaine Harris, on which “True Blood” is based. (short overview of the plot, by the NY Daily News)
Sookie meets Vampire Bill (!), and as he is the only one, whose thoughts she cannot hear, she is attracted to him. The reason, why he falls in love with her – except for she’s a beauty in a really short waitress-uniform – I do not explain here (spoiler-alert).
The core characters, including Sookie’s best friend Tara, Sookie’s brother Jason and bartender Sam, who has a thing for Sookie, all have interesting features and are well-played. The rest of the locals don’t come off so well, mostly having few brains and a big shortage of couth. (NY Daily News)
I have to add that a good deal the rest of the cast is briliant, too. The show continues with heroine Sookie’s search for her golden grail, answers to her many questions, most of which culminate in the ever-potent: Who or What am I?
Game of Thrones however, is something completey different.
George R.R. Martin’s popular fantasy novels were adapted for screen, turned into one of the most opulent, elaborate TV shows ever made, in my opinion. (Here’s a link for you with a short summary to get familiar with the story.)
A critic said, GoT is “inaccessible” but “worth the effort.” And about that I agree.
The opening sequence turned me off instantly. Twice. It is set in a winter landscape, night-time. You see medieval men on horses, riding through a forest. A haunted forest. And then these men are slaughtered by something horrible, which you cannot see. However, after a few weeks and some more articles, I gave it another try. I fast-forwarded the horrible scene and there it was: a brilliant story. Amazing characters. A unique world of its own. And that brings me back to the critic who said it was inaccessible.
After two seasons, I craved to have more information, on the characters, on how it would proceed, on the background-stories, how the country is designed, its history.
Which brings me back to the novels. I bought them all, five pieces, each about a thousand pages. And I read my way through them. I think it took me about two months. And it was most brilliant: I felt like a child again. Each night I would go to bed early, nestle down in the blankets, and read until my eyes closed and I fell asleep.
The show I now watch additionally. The story is altered quite a lot, but it is made so beautifully, that I can ignore that fact.
And it helps me to wait: For the next novel to come out.
While waiting six days a week for the next episode, I had a new discovery.
It is called Fringe.