What I’m Watching Now (continued)

I was planning to do the book list thing, but 1994 turned out to be a year regarding which my memory of who wrote the books I read is so poor that I was left fuming and with a wholly irrational desire to invent a time machine so that I could go back and tell my younger self to stop being an idiot and record author names as well as book titles, so instead you get this sequel to a post back in July detailing DVD series I’m watching in lieu of television.

And that was a horrendously clumsy opening sentence, but I’m too damn lazy to go back and rejig it.

(In parenthesis, anyone know the author of a book titled Echoes? It was 299pp if that’s any help. Anyone suggesting either Maeve Binchy or Danielle Steel obviously hasn’t been paying attention.)

Harper’s Island

Lots of beautiful young people and rich old people on an island for the wedding of the season between white bread Trish and fisherman Henry, which doesn’t quite have the blessing of her father. Many years ago the island was the scene of a series of horrendous murders committed by John Wakefield, and now it appears that JW has risen from the grave to once again terrorise the island’s population. There are subplots, the main one revolving round returned sheriff’s daughter Abby Mills, and others that take in stolen money, affairs, and issues of paternity. Basically it’s a slasher movie padded out to 13 episodes, and getting increasingly ludicrous as it goes on, with nobody seeming to notice all the people who go missing and the hundreds of people who must live on the island more or less ignored as the killer goes about cutting down the chosen few. The action seems to take place in a bubble, and the plot is top heavy with secrets and unlikely twists. Regardless, the cast are easy to get on with and most grow in stature as the story unfolds, while there are some inventive murders and a fearsome killer, so I guess that I enjoyed it more than not.

The 4400

I picked up the first series on DVD in Poundland and only two episodes in, so too early to draw any real conclusions, but I’m having a good time so far. 4400 people who have disappeared over the last eighty odd years are returned to Earth after the impact of what was initially thought to be a comet. They have no idea of where they have been or what has happened to them, but appear to have been changed in some ways, given greater capabilities than before. It strikes me as a variation on Heroes with a nice line in conspiracy theory and a fine blend of personal drama with the more out there elements. I like the way, at least in the first two episodes, we track the fate of an individual returnee, while keeping tabs on several recurring characters and the greater picture is sketched in. I suspect though, that like Lost it will eventually grow stale, as we are given the illusion of moving ever closer to a resolution that remains constantly out of reach.


Set in Victorian London, this show has Dracula allied with Van Helsing to bring down the secretive and powerful Order of the Dragon that uses its economic muscle to dictate the destiny of whole nations. Dracula poses as American businessman Alexander Grayson, who is pioneering a new source of energy that will undermine the Order’s oil driven wealth. And there is the added complication of Mina, the reincarnation of Dracula’s beloved, who is his Achilles heel. This one I am very pleased with, after watching eight episodes of the first series (and there wasn’t a second series, which I find very disappointing). It has a lot of mix and match fun with the various elements of Stoker’s story – e.g. Renfield is reinvented as a coloured lawyer who is Dracula’s right hand man, while Mina is training as a doctor and surgeon, facing the resistance of her male peers. Dracula himself is an enigmatic figure, prone to fits of temper when he is thwarted and with a continuing bloodlust, but also capable of great generosity and friendship to those who do not oppose him, and there is no doubt that the Order are bigger monsters than he ever was, which adds an element of redemption to the plot.

Xena: Warrior Princess

I used to watch this religiously when it was on Channel 5 every Saturday tea time back in the year dot, and so in a moment of nostalgia driven madness bought a box set containing all six seasons when Amazon tempted me with an offer. It is of course an entirely risible series, with no respect for history or credibility, just throwing whatever it wants at the screen as Lucy Lawless’ Xena and sidekick Gabriel tackle the warlord/monster of the week. Israelites with the Ark of the Covenant coexist with Greeks of the classical era and Romans under Julius Caesar, while gods from Greek mythology and several other pantheons wander in and out of the action at will. It doesn’t take itself seriously for a single moment and would probably drive a scholar of ancient history insane with the inconsistencies and liberties taken. Basically it’s bat shit crazy, and that’s kind of why I love it. Hey, don’t judge me.

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2 Responses to What I’m Watching Now (continued)

  1. Rolnikov says:

    It felt really weird when Hercules met the Viking gods in a later season.

    For Echoes, any chance you meant A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson? The only other candidate I came up with from Goodreads pre-1994 was Echoes in the Darkness by Joseph Wambaugh.

    • petertennant says:

      In case you missed my latest “Books Read” – I checked in one of my ‘review journals’ and mystery solved. “Echoes” was a very down market horror novel by American writer Jackie Hyman (she now goes by Jackie Diamond). An abysmal book, which is probably why I forgot it.

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