Monday, December 28, 2020

GIFs by Wednesday: Season 2 premiere of "A Discovery Of Witches"

The GIFs below are by this blog's author, and were created using PowerPoint animation tools; made as part of a countdown to celebrate the upcoming premiere of season 2 of "A Discovery of Witches" -- posted on the facebook discussion group.

Counting down from 23 December

Counting down from 21 December

Counting down from 19 December

In the U.S., stream it using AMC+ (consists of Sundance Now, Shudder, AMC, and IFC Films), or the individual apps Sundance Now, and Shudder. A new episode is available on each Saturday beginning January 9. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Take Notice of The Little Princess

A few posts back, I mentioned that for preparing to watch S2 of "A Discovery of Witches," airing this January on AMC+, that I've sought films and TV series of new cast members. There are several films and TV series I could spend hours watching in order to get a sense of Steven Cree as an actor. He has been posting photos of himself on social media about his character, Gallowglass, appearing in the second season. Steven Cree is well known to fans of Outlander in his portraying of the character Ian Murray for, so far, two seasons. Unfortunately, seeing I'd need some hours to invest each day in a new series, or that some film titles couldn't be accessed immediately, the choice was obvious. Outlander is such a popular show and it helped him get the funding to complete his own project. Watch the quick, 10-1/2 minute film, The Little Princess, for which he not only starred, but also wrote and produced in 2018.

Watch this before reading the next section. The Little Princess:
The film demonstrates that there is always a way out of that tunnel vision of doom thinking. A child character appears from out of nowhere to the man on the platform appearing sad, and she breathes some happiness into the space that they share. It'd be cruel of him to ignore her. Newly occupied with her presence, how could he actually still follow through with his plan to end his life, and have this innocent child be a witness? She's there to act like a vessel delivering a new thinking pattern; jarring him out of this stuck state of mind. It's brilliant with its simple workaround because of their language differences. Kindness is universal. Amazing and beautiful, thought-provoking and hopeful, this is all I needed to understand who and what makes Steven Cree someone to look forward to watching in S2 of "A Discovery of Witches."

An afterthought: 

For this writer, that same stuck thought process the man has at the beginning, indeed, happens to those dealing with the loss of someone they love to suicide. A friend's life ended too abruptly 18 years ago on Christmas. They were unable to wrangle themselves out of the deep abyss, which was rooted in depression and masked with irrational anger. The emotions never cease to resurface and did again with the viewing of this short film. The photographic memories along with recalling the sensation of my friend's hands pressing into the back of my shoulders; their fingertips firmer and different than anytime we hugged before that night. The timeline hovers over me, from the last time we shared an evening together, and every extraordinary minutia of detail revealed about what happened next. Closure is impossible, but accepting this fact is helping each year's holiday season become less daunting. This film reinforces the message of not giving into ruminating -- shaking one's self out of spiraling despair. When something wonderfully special happens, I'll grant myself five minutes of joy and I try to remember it when I need it again later. Christmas and New Year's are now treated as a regular day, but often to seek out peace and self-care. The end of the year definitely can feel like I'm arriving at the end of an endurance test.

Please reach out, if depressed or lonely, and call this number 800-273-8255 and do not be alone, stuck in your thoughts. No judging; always a person who understands and listens.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Season 2 of "A Discovery of Witches" - Escape to Elizabethan England

 "A Discovery of Witches" returns January 8 (UK), January 9 (US) for Season 2. Season 1 "A Discovery of Witches" is available now on AMC Plus. Or purchase it on DVD/Blu-Ray. View Season 1's trailer.
Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop
(IMDB) (Instagram)

Matthew Goode as Matthew Clairmont/Matthew de Clermont

Based on the All Souls Trilogy novels by Deborah Harkness, season two should follow closely the second book, Shadow of Night.

Is this the unaltered Ashmole 782?

James Purefoy as Philippe de Clermont,
Matthew's father, a vampire, and lord of Sept-Tours

Steven Cree as Gallowglass, a vampire and Matthew's nephew 
(Twitter) (Instagram)

This may or may not be the
vampire king of London.

(links below were added courtesy of Wednesday's Korner)


The highly anticipated supernatural thriller returns

Exclusive North American Premiere on Sundance Now and Shudder on Saturday, January 9, 2021 — one day after the UK Premiere, with a new episode premiering every following Saturday.

Starring Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge) and Emmy-nominated Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey)

Matthew (Matthew Goode) and Diana (Teresa Palmer) hiding in time in the fascinating and treacherous world of Elizabethan London – where they must find a powerful witch teacher to help Diana control her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life.

Featuring stunning lead performances from Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge) and Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey), the most successful series in Sundance Now’s history, supernatural thriller A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, Season 2 makes its highly-anticipated US and Canadian premiere on AMC Networks’ streaming services Sundance Now and Shudder. Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and one of Sky One’s biggest dramas, A Discovery of Witches, Season 2 will be available to stream exclusively on Sundance Now and Shudder, including their offerings within the AMC+ bundle, beginning Saturday, January 9, 2021, just one day after its UK Premiere, with a new episode available every following Saturday. Adapted from Deborah HarknessAll Souls trilogy, the 10-part second season finds Matthew (Matthew Goode) and Diana (Teresa Palmer) hiding in time in the fascinating and treacherous world of Elizabethan London – here they must find a powerful witch teacher to help Diana control her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life. Sundance Now is AMC Networks’ premiere streaming service for engrossing true crime, heart-stopping dramas, and fiercely intelligent thrillers from around the world. AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers, and the supernatural.

In Elizabethan London, Matthew and Diana’s romance faces a barrage of new threats. Diana’s unleashed magic takes a dark and frightening turn, while Matthew struggles to re-inhabit the dangerous life he led over four centuries ago. They must overcome deep personal fears and jealousies, baring their darkest secrets to one another if they are to stay alive, stay together and find a way back to present day.

While Matthew and Diana hideout in Elizabethan London, back in present day, Diana’s beloved aunts, Sarah (Alex Kingston, Doctor Who, ER) and Em (Valarie Pettiford, Half & Half), must take shelter with notorious witch hunter Ysabeau de Clermont (Lindsay Duncan, The Honourable Woman) at her ancestral home, Sept-Tours. Meanwhile, in Oxford, Marcus (Edward Bluemel, Killing Eve) and Miriam (Aiysha Hart, Line of Duty) take on Matthew’s mantle to protect daemons Nathaniel (Daniel Ezra, All American) and Sophie (Aisling Loftus, War & Peace), whose pregnancy is advancing. And Gerbert (Trevor Eve, Waking the Dead), Knox (Owen Teale, Game of Thrones), Satu (Malin Buska, The Girl King) and Domenico (Gregg Chillin, Da Vinci’s Demons) are determined to hunt down every clue they can to Diana’s and Matthew’s disappearance, and the secrets their allies are keeping from them.

Also starring James Purefoy (Rome, Pennyworth), Steven Cree (Outlander), and Adelle Leonce (Black Mirror) as new characters introduced in Season 2.

Made by Bad Wolf Productions, A Discovery of Witches has been adapted for the screen by Pete McTighe (Doctor Who) and Susie Conklin (The Musketeers), who are also executive producers. The co-founders of Bad Wolf, Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, and Lachlan MacKinnon are executive producers along with Deborah Harkness and Farren Blackburn. Farren Blackburn (The Innocents), Philippa Langdale (Harlots) and Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man) are the directors. Filming took place in South Wales and on location in Oxford and Venice.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Don't Panic About the Great Conjunction

We finally have someone admitting that they were behind the mysterious monoliths, but have you heard about the 2020 Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn? According to Graham Jones of, "Over a period of one thousand years, from 1600 to 2599, there are only six great conjunctions where the minimum separation between Jupiter and Saturn is less than 0.2 degrees: 1623, 1683, 2020, 2080, 2417, and 2477." However, noticed only from Earth in 1226. On December 21, you may need to find out if in your time zone you can see Jupiter and Saturn brightly and appearing to be touching one another in the night sky, only separated by 0.1 degrees. The visual below may help explain it. "If you wish, start watching a few days prior. On December 16, soon after sunset, look for the crescent Moon in the southwest sky. Right above the Moon are the two bright planets. You can’t miss it." (the Old Farmer's Almanac)

On December 21, 5 pm Pacific time, there will be a viewing event with Chabot Space & Science Center.

Don't panic, the planets are not remotely close to each other in reality.

Check out this video, which has an explanation from a Qabbalistic Astrology P.O.V. At about the 7:53 mark, there are other constellations being discussed in the context of current events with planets in the sign of Taurus (Earth sign), Capricorn (Earth sign), and Aries (Fire sign). At about 9:45, it covers the Winter Solstice. The solstice marks the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere and December 21 has the least amount of daylight. At 12 Noon, stand in the sun to see your shadow be the longest noontime shadow out of the entire year.

I dare you to try out some puns for your solstice/conjunction party; dad jokes, too.

Voice of Alan Rickman as Marvin in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Hap And Leonard (canceled too soon) - Adapted from Joe R. Lansdale's novels


In wanting to understand the versatility of James Purefoy's work as a lead up to his appearance as the character Phillipe de Clermont in the second season of "A Discovery of Witches," I've been watching some of the films and TV shows in which he stars or has some role. One of the films was Churchill (2017) as King George VI, a figure who was previously played by more than a dozen other performers. He doesn't have a significant amount of screentime, but his portrayal was so that one could easily believe he's been King George VI since he was born. He was portrayed with a vulnerability, yet nuanced with the kind of gentle authority to help us understand Churchill and him had experienced a mutual admiration.
Currently, I am nearing the end of the three brief seasons of "Hap and Leonard" (based on the novels by Joe R. Lansdale) -- streaming on Netflix. A-list directors and writers adapted the gritty action-filled drama preserving Lansdale's brutally honest, verbal tongue-in-cheek humor for the small screen, but almost every episode has a cinematic quality. They also try to make a difference while facing many obstacles over the course of three seasons. No sugarcoating and being able to tell it like it is may be what makes the show so different than the average formulaic drama.

It's also important to call attention to the excellent stunt performances. I once heard actor Nathan Fillion call stunts such as these the "Harrison Ford" style of fighting. They're actually really good at making it appear as if they feel every punch or kick. The choreography and expert editing obviously helped "Hap and Leonard" be the #1 rated drama on Sundance TV up until it was canceled after three seasons

Pairing James Purefoy (Hap) and Michael Kenneth Williams (Leonard) is brilliant because they are opposites on the surface, yet even if their banter tends to get argumentative, they're really working with each other to get through various life dilemmas. I'm enjoying this show for its quality writing and a deeper appreciation of the performances with only four remaining episodes of the 3rd season in my queue. 

Lansdale's novels reflect his own progressive values and his experience of living in one of the poorest areas of Texas. Life in those parts is about scheming for quick money and the struggle to stay out of trouble. In the series, Hap and Leonard have a scene in which Hap uses coupons and asks Leonard for 2 bucks. Lansdale sets up for us in CH. 1 how a money scheme develops starting with Trudy, Hap's wife (Christina Hendricks), who Leonard views as trouble as soon as she shows up. "Here comes trouble"... "Don't come crying over to my place if she does it to you again." Something went down in the 1960s that hurt Hap, which we soon find out. But Trudy is a character who wins our hearts and tries our patience so we, too, feel affected by every critical, heart-stopping moment just like Hap and Leonard.

The Vietnam War is a significant topic in CH. 2 of Lansdale's book Savage Season for which S1 is based, consisting of six episodes. While I could analyze several dozen well-executed scenes, I'm a little partial to one key moment in S1, when we are offered some insight into who Hap Collins is as a person and that he objected to the Vietnam War. We also learn that Leonard is a veteran having served in Vietnam, he's a Reaganite, and throughout S1, we learn about his homosexuality. We're shown the boundaries of this lifelong friendship while hearing the infamous song, "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," spontaneously coming through on a car radio. We watch Hap as he looks back on his experience with showing up at the U.S. Army's office, answering to being called to serve in the Vietnam War. He's holding the hand of wife Trudy. He chooses to be a conscientious objector and serves his time in jail. 

It wouldn't be a good drama without any villains. In S1 Jimmi Simpson plays Soldier, whose twisted humor is both gutsy and understated. He has varying levels of psychosis-with-a-smile; without hesitation will maim and kill to get what he wants. His partner in crime is Angel (Pollyanna McIntosh), described in the book as having "the constitution of a horse and a head like an iron skillet." Not wanting to spoil it further, there are more well-developed characters we meet such as Leonard's Uncle Chester, who does not accept Leonard's life choices, and we meet MeMaw, who lives across the street and is a significant figure in an unsolved mystery in S2. More gifted actors continue to join after S1 as guest starring roles. S2 is based on the book Mucho Mojo and S3 is based on the book Two-Bear Mambo.

It's a terrible shame that no one really talks about these underrated canceled shows. It's possible to watch "Hap and Leonard" in one weekend, but go back to the beginning and listen to the dialogue because it is too good to be rushed.

Links for further reading/viewing: