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Chat with Magda Apanowicz

So, maintaining my tradition (of a year ago *ahem*), I am officially calling in 2015 with a Canadian.

Last year it was the delightful Leah Cairns (who I will absolutely be bringing back for a chat!)…this year, Culturally Fixated  is joined by the equally fabulous and hilarious

Magda Apanowicz

Magda - Kyle xy

Andy Jenson – Kyle XY

Where to start!! There’s something about Magda that made it just *IMPOSSIBLE* for me to stay in interview mode – she’s that sort of person that I immediately started chatting to as though we were life long friends!

We discuss Christmas and her two Christmas TVM for Scifi (I refuse to call them siffy) – Snowmageddon and the 12 Disasters of Christmas.

Then we took a meander down ‘genera’ lane and chat about the appeal of Sci Fi and the huge emotions and stories that can be told. Kyle XY, Caprica, Caontinuum, Battlestar Galactica – it’s so wonderful to find an actor that loves ‘my’ shows as much as I do.

Magda - Caprica

Lacy Rand – Caprica

 

Oh, and did I mention she’s a Buffy fan. There’s a point where you can almost hear us swoon across two different continents over Spike…that is to say James Masters.

We cast a quick eye over two of her recent (released if not shot recently) films – A Reason and The Green Inferno and Magda compares the mediums of TV and film to  come round to a favourite medium for telling stories.

We briefly touch upon some of her hobbies outside of acting – including travelling and both her Canadian and Polish roots. Finally we chat about the upcoming year!

magda - continuum - gif

Kicking ass as Emily – Continuum

 

***LANGUAGE***

We swear. No two ways about it. I mean, we’ve not vulgar, heaven forfend…just passionate people with expressive vocabularies…
***SPOILERS***
We *RUIN* practically every show that we mention – especially Caprica, Continuum (up to season 3) and discuss in detail the atrocious ending of Kyle XY. Aspects of Battlestar Galactica.
[audio http://culturallyfixated.podbean.com/mf/web/hkb3wx/CultFixS04EP05-InterviewwithMagdaApanowicz.mp3]

Some of the music that we both love!

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Fancy more of our inane chatter? You’ll find us on twitter as @SteveCult and @Drneevil 
Find our previous episodes HERE
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What *was* that show?

So, many many (many many many) moons ago, I was a youngling. One obsessed with tv and film.

It’s a shock, I know, but try to imagine it. Without the internet I had to rely on my memory for the good stuff.  And if you’ve ever met me, you’ll understand that while some people are bad at remembering names, I have some sort of pathological inability to place names on people (like my best friend…or my brother) let alone something as intangible as a tv series that I watched many years ago!

Over the years, I’ve managed to track down most of the tv or films that stayed with me via the t’nterweb, twitter and friends of similar age (and obsession). Three in particular have eluded me.

This evening, I shouted out on twitter with a very vague description and lo and behold…I have answers!!

 

Vague Description the 1st 

Siblings. Magic. TV. Glowing red and blue balls. Richard O’Brien type mentor.

Result

Two friends took up the challenge.

One – @WatcherMark – suggested Wail of the Banshee – and I was almost convinced this was it – mostly because there was very little information available on the net and nothing on youtube (how rare is that nowadays). For certain, I have seen at least an episode or two.

However, it was @hopenlesmyth that actually hit the nail on the head with The Ink Thief (which actually stars Richard O’Brien – note to self, trust instincts…check imdb). The VHS on amazon is approximately £80…so I’ve picked up a copy of the book instead…for a more reasonable 1p (before p&p).  Sadly the actual episodes can’t be embedded but here’s a song from Ro’B that featured in the show!

 

Vague Description the 2nd

For the second, I was vague to the point of not being entirely sure if I was actually remembering a tv show or a bit of a dream. Obviously I didn’t mention that to the pair above who had proven so fan-tab-u-lis-tic earlier!

3 sisters. Youngest was smart and wild. Punished by being put in a well. Possibly magic. Swords. Had to marry 1 of 3 brothers? Never saw the end.

Result

A private twitter user recommended that I have a look at some lists on imdb.

I said thanks and mentally resolved to unfollow at some point in the future.

Then they sent a link to a specific list  and I mentally resolved not to be such a cow in the future. Because, halfway down the page – there it was!

Fantaghiro –  an Italian fantasy film, split into two parts and dubbed into English and renamed The Cave of the Golden Rose.

This was only available for £25 on amazon so I had a quick look on youtube and discovered that some person had – rather wonderfully – uploaded a really poor version with English subs just for me to verify and watch with a gless that borders on the unattractive!

I’m so excited to watch the full thing (and it turns out that there are 4 sequels – at least 1 of which stars Brigitte Nielsen!!)

Just one of my childhood shows left to track down. I haven’t mentioned this one on twitter as it’s literally only a snippet of a memory of perhaps a dream.

Vague Description the 3rd 

Fairy prince. Advisers are trying to steal his kingdom. Needs human boy to help him. Very…green? Magic?

Penny Dreadful – a 2 Line Review

penny dreadful

Penny Dreadful 08

Mr Gray

noun

noun: penny dreadful; plural noun: penny dreadfuls
  1. a cheap, sensational comic or storybook.
    “penny dreadful comics”
Origin
late 19th century: so named because the original cost was one penny.
Example
Sweeney Todd – the Butcher of Barber Street
The title refers to the penny dreadfuls, a type of 19th-century cheap British fiction publication with lurid and sensational subject matter. The series draws upon many public domain characters from 19th-century Irish and British fiction, including Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mina Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Victor Frankenstein and his monster from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
It’s nonsense. It’s very well made, ridiculously pretty, literary based supernatural nonsense.
So it’s a given that I’m smitten.
Penny Dreadful 05 Penny Dreadful 04
Eva Green (Vanessa Ives) and Timothy Dalton (Sir Malcolm Murray – father of Dracula’s beloved Mina Harker) –  lead a stellar cast that seem determined to revisit every myth, monster and mystery of the Victorian era. Vanessa Ives is utterly bonkers – controlled and mysterious one moment, climbing up walls the next. True to form, Vanessa is another Green creation that views every problem as an opportunity to get naked and have sex with it.
It’s great.
Reeve Carney also stars as Wilde’s fantastically shallow Dorian Gray – a character that exists thus far purely for two reasons – the first is to have sex with the prettier cast members; followed up by ponderously gazing at a portrait – presumably *that* portrait.
Penny Dreadful 03 Penny Dreadful 06
To add to international appeal, Billie Piper – proving that she can convince as a hooker in any time period – plays the tragic Brona Croft. She is dying of TB and an over wrought Irish accent. But it’s not all doom and gloom – the charismatic Josh Hartnett portrays an enigmatic gunslinger and love interest. Gotta take the bad with the good yeah?
For me – without a shadow of a doubt – the true humanity of the series has been best realised in the development of Frankenstein’s monster Caliban – ably brought to half-life by the wonderful Rory Kinnear. His anguish at the rejection of his creator – Harry Treadaway as Doctor Victor Frankenstein – a cold, cruel and curious man with flashes of vulnerability – makes for a sympathetic if horrifying character.
The set pieces are beautiful, even if everything is shot with such heavy Gothic overtones that it gets tricky to see. There is an equal investment in exploring the time period as well as a variety of supernatural beliefs prevalent at the time. While the demonic possessions are fun and the monsters wonderfully bleak; the scariest elements so far have been based in the scientific – the Doctor’s horrible experiments and the stark reality of health provision for Vanessa when she was institutionalized.

Shades of grey…

Cop shows have changed.  I don’t think that comes as a surprise to anyone.  Where the change happened however, is something I can’t decide upon.  was it ‘The Sweeney’ taking the focus away from ‘proper’ police procedurals? Or was it ‘The Wire’ making us care as deeply about the criminals as the cops? In many cases, we care more for the criminals.  Certainly with The Wire, most of the cops are deeply flawed individuals, and some of the criminals are highly moral characters.  Either way, the police procedural of 2011 is very different even to the procedural of 2002.  Back in the late 90’s we had shows such as ‘A Touch of Frost’ and ‘Dalziel & Pascoe’ here in the UK while America was being treated to the tail end of ‘Diagnosis: Murder’ and the burgeoning ‘Law & Order’ franchise.

I grew up on ‘A Touch Of Frost’ and many a Sunday evening were spent in front of a warm fire watching the legendary David Jason solve crimes in his own unique way, having a lovely cup of tea and a chocolate digestive (the king of biscuits!).  It wasn’t until Warren Clarke rolled up as Andy Dalziel, based on Reginald Hill’s series of novels, that I really got gripped by a detective show.  The easy going nature of the show, combined with the classic contrast between gruff, old school Dalziel and his new, rookie partner Pascoe made for essential viewing in my house.  We were on the verge of a whole new generation of cops, fresh from university, armed with cell phones and the internet.Pascoe was one of these, leading him to clash with Dalziel on a regular basis.
As is often the case, these mismatched investigations combined the old school tactics of gut feelings, hunches and ‘knowing a wrong ‘un’ tended to combine with new science, DNA profiling and other technological advancements, to solve the crime and put the bad guy away.

As heard in the latest episode of Culturally Fixated, one of my favourite shows, of any genre, is ‘Life On Mars’.  Such a unique and innovative take on the cop show is not easy to find.  Starring John Simm, one of my favourite actors since ‘Boston Kickout’ and ‘The Lakes’, meant that I was always going to watch it.  Enjoying it was a whole other experience.  It happened instantly, as soon as Sam Tyler woke up in the 70’s to the sound of David Bowie’s title song, I was with it, totally sucked into the world of Manchester in the 70’s.

One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy it’s sequel ‘Ashes To Ashes’ as much was because the lead character, Alex, was such an insufferable know all.  It also gave us a very distinct finish to the previous show.  One of the reasons people liked Life On Mars, was the uncertainty, as Sam said in the credit sequence ‘am I mad, in a coma, or back in time?’.  For the entire two series run it was not clear, and the ending was amazing.  Interspersed with all the time travel nonsense was the heart of a proper cop show, with proper crimes and one of the most charismatic characters of all time, Gene Hunt.  A proper, old fashioned, un-PC copper. If you haven’t seen it, look it up, or shout me, I’ll lend you my copy!

Speaking of old-fashioned coppers, that leads me onto ‘Luther’, something of a throwback to ‘old fashioned’ coppers, leading with their gut instincts.  John Luther is a whole different animal, although almost cut from the same mould as Hunt, he works very well with the internet generation of police work.

He is very much a man on the edge for most of the (all too brief) ten episodes we have seen thus far.  What he is, is a man who knows right from wrong, and walks the thin line very carefully.  He cares not for himself, or his own safety, but will punish those who hurt the innocent.  His is a more complex case given the relationship of sorts that Luther has with Alice, a sociopath he is tasked with arresting.  I do not want to spoil the show for anyone who has not yet seen it, so go find it, again, I have the DVD if you need! Needless to say, it is badass!!
I wanted to cover ‘The Wire’ in a bit more depth, but the level of the show means I need to cover it in a separate entry.
So, for now, go listen to us talk cop shows on ‘Culturally Fixated’ (link to the right) or go check out any of the shows mentioned, except the US remake of ‘Life On Mars’, which was poo.

Goodbye my Luther…

 

On Tuesday evening, British TV lost one of its heavyweights. I will admit to mostly being a viewer of American TV shows, with the odd notable exception, but I am and always will be a sucker for some of the great dramas produced by the BBC and ITV. Luther is one of these. I would go so far as to say that this BBC production has been my favourite show since Life On Mars (we don’t mention Ashes To Ashes).

When Idris Elba returned to Britain to play DCI John Luther it seemed a slight comedown for an actor who had been the magnificent Stringer Bell in The Wire. Not so.  Elba stepped into the red tie and grey overcoat of Luther, and instantly a classic show was born.  A British cop show that felt like all the great American ones, with a cop going above and beyond to ensure that justice was done, rules were bent, stretched and often broken to get his man.
When we first met Luther, he was hunting down a child kidnapper, and the first show started with Luther letting, no helping, the bad guy fall off a building.  Here is a man not to mess with.  Along the way he lost pretty much everyone he cared about, all in the pursuit of doing the right thing.  We saw him build a great chemistry/friendship with DS Justin Ripley (the underrated Justin Ellis) and alienate friends, allies, co-workers and pretty much anyone else who got in his way.  At the end of the day, justice was served, and damn the personal cost to himself.
What other show would be brave enough to have our ‘hero’ team up with a confirmed psychopath, Alice Morgan (an utterly beguiling Ruth Wilson) because she is more trustworthy than his fellow cops.  My favourite scenes from the three series of Luther have been the ones with Elba and Wilson, sparkling with chemistry and sexual tension.  Idris Elba as John Luther is an actor entirely right for the role, hunched over, hands in pockets, he inhabited a tortured character and made us care about him, gave him a humanity often lacking in these roles.  Can somebody please give him a good role in Hollywood now please? Or do I have to write one for him?  He can come and be in our film if he wants…
I didn’t want this to be a memorial for a TV show, that would be crazy, but creator Neil Cross and Elba have said they would like to continue the adventures of John Luther in a series of films. Can I buy a ticket now?
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