Midweek Geekiness: Back on Track

Downton Zombie Night

**Spoiler Alert in Case I put in Spoilers**

For a little while Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead find themselves simultaneously recorded on my PVR.  It pretty much represents my two sides of geekiness.  On one hand we have Downton Abbey in all its period, soapy glory.  I love English costume dramas.  I love the drama, the sets, the clothes, even its tart humour.  (The last part depends on the author.)  The Walking Dead represents getting a little existential about an end-of-the-world scenario plus a need to get good and scared.  There’s also the sets, the costumes, and make up.  One liners usually come from Daryl Dixon, kind of like a Dowager Countess except with a cross bow.

While the last sentence sounds like an outlandish comparison, Downton Abbey has found itself lumped in with a lot of shows.  (The latest I saw concerned Entourage.  I have no clue why.)  In fact the Los Angeles Times has this infographic how the two shows have an ‘eerily similar construct.’  I wrote in an earlier post how Downton took a page or two out of Spooks/MI-5‘s playbook.  (The show went up against Downton during its final season.)  Now I can say they killed off not one, but two regular characters in season 3.  Sheesh!  Julian Fellowes is ruthless!  Will they turn into zombies?  As in fast-moving English zombies a la 28 Days Later? you ask.  Downton Abbey has done some pretty ridiculous stuff, season 2 pretty much wallowed in the outlandish, but no that’s not my point.

American television never really kills off their characters.  They still don’t to some extent.  24 had Jack Bauer still saying ‘Dammit’ no matter what happened to him over the course of a day.  Sometimes I wondered if he’s Wylie Coyote with security clearance.  Spooks/MI-5 on the other hand killed with impunity.  Tom Quinn pretty much was the last man standing among the leading men, while the same couldn’t be said for Adam Carter or Lucas North.  (Aside:  Lucas North will always be Lucas North to me.)  With the wave of a pen, the latter characters faced their demise in a heartbreaking, and spectacular, fashion.

The Walking Dead, thanks to its source material, pretty much guarantees nobody is safe.  Much like Lady Sybil on Downton, Lori Grimes died in childbirth.  Their deaths left their husbands destroyed in disbelief.  No matter what their fans would say, both scenes had me reaching for the Kleenex.  Why?  Growing up my mom watched her soaps.  Me?  I traded in General Hospital for zombies and Dowager zingers.  I ask for nothing except for a well written story, good actors,  plus an arc to keep me going.

One more thing about this rambling Downton/Walking Dead comparison.  Between The Governor and Rick the English are still in charge.  Think about it.

Norse Gods in New Zealand

I heard about The Almighty Johnsons during the recast for Killi in The Hobbit.  I knew nothing about Dean O’Gorman except he will get enough time to contribute to the Kiwi comedy/drama.

Remember Being Human?  A vampire, a ghost, and a werewolf shared a flat in Bristol grabbing fans along the way.  It knew its premise and made it believable.  We basically had three damaged individuals trying to live in their new normal.  In The Almighty Johnsons we get three brothers, plus their slow-aging grandfather, trying to live like normal blokes in New Zealand while trying to find the goddess Frigg and regain their full god-like powers.  Axl, the embodiment of Odin, is as far from the all-father as one could get.  Truth be told he’s a typical, twenty-some dweeb, plus a little bit of a jerk to Gaia his flatmate.  However he reminds me of a puppy, awkwardly flopping around in big limbs, slowly growing into them.

Get it?

It’s a show to be watched to be believed.  The show reminds a little bit of early Canadian television, but done just a touch better.  In short it’s doesn’t have the kind of production values that The Walking Dead or Downton have.  What it does have is a wicked, at times raunchy, sense of humour.  It keeps it from taking veering off into melodrama, but at its core is the relationship between the brothers.  In a way I wonder if The Almighty Johnsons explores masculinity in a new century?  Axl/Odin learns in order for him to be a god, he must first learn to be a man.  It sets the tone for the second season, currently shown on SPACE, as Axl learns some hard truths about himself in addition to his quest for Frigg.

A word of warning.  Besides swearing and nudity, I have a friend who nicknamed this show ‘The Almighty Good-Looking Men’, the New Zealand accent makes Downton Midwestern by comparison.  My ear picks up a variety of enunciation and pronunciation from around the world, but a Kiwi accent takes it to a whole new level.

Just don’t ever confuse them with Australians.  Ever.

5 Replies to “Midweek Geekiness: Back on Track”

  1. I too was distraught by the Downton deaths this season! But Julian Fellowes isn’t to blame – Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens both wanted to leave the show to pursue other opportunities, so he was forced to write them out.

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    1. I joked about blaming Julian Fellowes. I heard about these actors leaving, and their respective character deaths, from the online UK papers.

      It’s the side effect of having a successful show that people sense talent and what to cast the actors. I always respected UK productions for their shorter production schedules and three year contracts for actors. (US productions sign actors to 7 years even if they get killed off in episode 7 of season 1)

      Next season should prove interesting.

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      1. Gotcha 🙂

        Yes, next season should certainly have an interesting dynamic, plus new cast members always change things up a bit. Wonder how many more seasons they will do? I do appreciate quality over quantity in UK shows, even though only getting three episodes of Sherlock at a time is agonizing.

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      2. This should put a spring in your step….

        Martin Free was just interviewed at the BAFTAs last week…they start filming next month.

        Commence happy dance.

        Wonder if any of his Hobbit mates will get guest shots.

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  2. Zombies give me nightmares so I haven’t been watching the Walking Dead and I’ve only caught one episode of Downtown Abbey, so far, although rather peripherally (We were playing Yahtzee at the mother-in-law’s while the an episode was playing – and I must say, I think I’ll be asking for the first season on DVD for my birthday!)

    I think it’s very interesting how you compared the two shows, despite the disparity in storylines. I might just have to watch them both to see how it all works! 🙂

    I loved MI5, but have missed the last few seasons because we didn’t subscribe to the BBC station and can never figure out if/when the episodes are on or where. Did they change the title to ‘Spooks’?

    I have enjoyed watching the Mighty Johnsons, though, and you’re right about the raunchiness. It’s not what I can normally get Hubby to watch but when my friend recommended it, I had to check it out and got hooked! 🙂

    I think I definitely prefer the British/Aussie/New Zealand shows to some of the American series. Maybe it’s because 3/4 of my family have British ancestors that I can appreciate their humour – or maybe it’s just me. Great post, Fatima! 🙂

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