Show Recommendation: Chernobyl

Did someone say a five part miniseries about a historical disaster and Russians during the cold war? Count me in. I love miniseries’ because they’re not too long and you don’t need much of a commitment. I’m basically a completionist, so if I get invested into something I need to know how it ends. If it’s terrible at least I’m not committed to 5 or more seasons of crap. And I love historical documentaries, books, comics, video games, etc so HBO’s Chernobyl easily piqued my curiosity. You may have heard of this as it’s fairly new and was quite popular due to its critical acclaim, but I feel if you’ve simply heard of it but never gave it a shot, maybe my write up might be enough for you to give it a try.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Chernobyl catastrophe here’s the rundown: in 1986 a nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded and left a reactor core exposed. It proceeded to spew vast amounts of radiation into the air which was taken by the wind and swept west,affecting the majority of countries in Europe. During this time Ukraine was under the Soviet umbrella, so naturally they denied the accident and it’s severity due to keeping up appearances for the sake of the cold war. HBO’s show, which is ultimately a drama and not a documentary, covers the lives of many characters involved from the beginning of the explosion, to the containment and cleanup efforts, evacuations, and the trials of those deemed to be responsible for the accident. There are plenty of reasons this show is truly a top notch miniseries.

For starters, the show has a great selection of actors who execute their roles beautifully. They deliver many of their dramatic lines with power and emotion. The Soviet people are fairly direct and blunt which adds to this effect and knocks up the intensity of each critical scene and leads to fairly tense moments. The videography is excellent too, there are plenty of great shots through the show especially ones where they show the scenery of Eastern Europe. Also the use of a less intense colour palette really seem to capture the bleakness of living behind the iron curtain.

Lastly, the accuracy is fairly good though not 100% spot on. As mentioned, this is ultimately a drama and not a documentary. The writers did take some creative liberties, especially near the end of the series, though this is noted at the end credits and looks to be solely done for the dramatic affect rather than to blur the facts. The differences don’t seem to change any plot points or hinder the truth behind the events. I did find myself going down a rabbit hole after I watched the series. I found myself reading articles, watching interviews, listening to podcasts and going through documentaries on the event for a few weeks after I finished watching it. I must say that many of the events depicted in the shows are extremely close to what actually happened back in 86. I also think I’m now basically qualified to run a nuclear reactor myself. At least I think so anyways.

One of the biggest takeaways from the show was the behavior of both the Soviet government and the Soviet people. The show did depict a clichéd style Soviet government, as in they tried to really hide the reality of the accident and contain information of the scale of the disaster. The clandestine operations of the KGB and the bureaucracy riddled with lies to pass blame was true to form. More importantly though, the show also captured the determination of the Soviet citizens. The endurance, sacrifice and resilience of the people during the disaster and cleanup was inspiring, the show captured the collective ‘we have a duty’ attitude. However, it can be argued that this ‘duty’ was not inspiring, but rather that the Soviet government forcefully put their citizens to work during this time.

All in all, it’s a great show and I recommend watching it if you like historical stuff during the Cold War era.

As a little side note that pertains specifically to me, I was about 6 months old during the Chernobyl incident and was living only 900km to the south west of Kiev. I’m positive I got a bit of radiation from the leak during that time. Having many relatives and friends in the area recant their experiences and how the news traveled and what precautions local authorities provided also gave me a bit of interest in the subject and when I heard about this show I knew I had to watch it.

Show Recommendation: Preacher



Normally when I tend to do a write up on a piece of media that I’d like to recommend to my readers, I like to stray from the often travelled path. There’s not much of a point to recommending Game of Thrones for a TV show, Gladiator for a movie, 1984 for a book, or London Calling for an album. These are already cultural icons praised by millions and those without an interest in them are still aware of their existence. This one is a TV recommendation, and while TV is one of the most popular forms of media consumed, the show itself is a little less known and is based off a comicbook. Though the comicbook is highly regarded amongst avid readers, the majority of TV viewers are not aware of it so I thought I’d recommend the TV adaptation of Garth Ennis’ Preacher. I finished off binging season three not too long ago and was more than happy with how the show has been adapted to the silver screen, especially with this season, which prompted me to write this.

As you read this recommendation, you’ll notice the show and comicbookare definitely not for everyone. It can be fairly disgusting and disturbing at times. Besides that it is highly unbelievable at times, a little ludicrous or absurd, and even has a dark comedic side. If that doesn’t bother you, or perhaps it’s your thing, then Preacher makes for a highly entertaining ride.

Anytime I’m discussing Preacher with someone unfamiliar with it, they tend to ask the traditional ‘what is it about’ question. This is a somewhat tricky answer given some of the absurdity in the Preacher universe so I usually bellow out a long winded summary that goes like this:

A long time ago, a demon and angel got it on and the angel gave birth to an abomination called Genesis, which is basically a floating ball of light. It’s imprisoned in Heaven but eventually breaks free and heads to Earth. There Genesis begins to inhabit the body of our protagonist Jesse Custer, a hard drinking, bar fighting, ex-con trying to redeem himself by becoming a preacher in a small town in Texas. Genesis essentially sits dormant in Jesse, the only difference in Jesse is that when he uses a specific voice he commands the word of God and no being can refuse his command. After trying to contact God to ask why he was given this power, he finds out God has basically checked out of Heaven and is having fun on Earth. And so the long quest to find God begins and is the general overarching plot to the story. Heavily entwined with the main plot is an organization called The Grail, which essentially controls most governments and corporations giving it unlimited resources. The Grail protects the bloodline of Christ, who’s only descendant is a mentally challenged man (thanks to generations of inbreeding) known as Humperdoo. This organization is headed by a morbidly obese glutton called the Allfather who is bent of capturing Jesse to transfer Genesis into Humperdoo and show the messiah to the world.

Since Preacher is a bit of a lengthy comicbook, there are several story arcs and a large cast of colorful characters. Besides Jesse, the main cast includes his badass girlfriend Tulip and his Irish junkie friend Cassidy, who also happens to be a vampire because why not. There’s Arseface, who tried to kill himself by putting a shotgun in his mouth, but missed and now his mouth looks like a sphincter. You’ll meet the Saint of Killers, a tortured soul of a cowboy who lost his family and took his revenge on a town. He was later gifted with revolvers that can kill any being in existence and is tasked with capturing Jesse. Herr Starr is a ruthless and no nonsense German commander in The Grail who has a ridiculous amount of nonsense happen to him.You’ll see Jesse’s grandmother, who has sort of voodoo like powers she uses to steal the souls of others for her possible immortality. There’s an owner of a slaughterhouse who has an extremely odd love for meat. A hillbilly who likes animals a little too much, a pair of idiotic angels who try to capture Jesse, and of course Satan. He happens to be surprisingly funny and charismatic despite being a stereotypical bodybuilding red demon with massive horns.Let’s not forget Hitler, who breaks out of Hell and begins working in a diner. I can’t cover all the characters in a short write up but that should give you enough to think about.

While the comicbook is great, I’m quite impressed with how the creative team adapted it to the small screen which is why I chose to go with the show for my recommendation. Besides adapting and following story arcs, the show has stayed true to form when compared to the comicbook in other ways. A couple of examples I can think of off the top of my head would be that the TV show is not afraid to use plenty of violence and some gore, although it doesn’t go too overboard. Also, as I mentioned earlier, there is a comedic sense to the show that comes directly from the source material. Given the absurdity of the show it’ll make you give out a guilty chuckle from time to time. In short, the atmosphere of the show feels as the comicbook reads.

Like almost all TV adaptations, the show runners have naturally made some changes. This can be a hit or miss, but in my opinion so far it’s been pretty win winwith Preacher. Some notable changes were shuffling up some of the arcs from the comic, suchas the slaughterhouse owner arc was in season one of the show while it’s fairly later in the comicbook. The visual depiction of some places created for just the show are fairly entertaining and creative as well such as purgatory. Again, all done with a bit of interesting absurdity.

So in summation, if you’re looking for a hell of an entertaining show I highly suggest Preacher, even if you’re not a fan of comicbooks this one is a unique gem. Again, it’s not for everyone, but if you enjoy larger than life stories and characters mixed with some comical absurdity and violence you’re in for a treat.

As a side note, after rereading this write up I can see it’s not written particularly well. These write ups are supposed to be both a recommendation to the reader also an exercise in writing for myself. However, there is a reason this one just sounds like rambling. I actually wrote a different recommendation for Preacher a couple of weeks ago, though the general idea of it was the same, the wording and grammar were polished a few times over. Unfortunately the file of my USB drive became corrupted and I couldn’t recover it and got frustrated. So I decided I didn’t want to write it up again, but after thinking about it again, I just decided to just write it quickly even if it’s poorly worded. Sorry.

Twin Peaks S03E08 Aesthetics

Recently I finished watching Twin Peaks The Return (also known as season three). I won’t be doing a recommendation/review on season three as I’ve already got a general Twin Peaks recommendation, though I admit that was before The Return aired. But I will throw my two cents about it into a short blurb here and file it under Miscellaneous.

First you’ve really got to understand David Lynch’s work or at least his style. Though I admit I’m not overly familiar with all of his titles, from what I have seen he definitely shoots for the abstract and sometimes down right weird. While it’s not for everyone, his unique combination of stories, audio effects, memorable characters (for better or worse), and visuals give an interesting ride that you won’t really find in anyone else’s work and most people will find at least interesting. With that said, it’s no shocker that he wasn’t really basic cable friendly and always stuck to the big screen to have free reign with his creative process. So when Twin Peaks was aired on the mainstream airwaves, it seemed that Lynch was asked (or possibly forced) to dumb down the weird and appeal to a wider crowd.

However, this did not result in Lynch putting out a very simple murder mystery tailored for the basic cable viewer. He still managed to insert quirky characters, paranormal elements, confusing imagery and unsettling audio and visual effects. He kept all the elements that make his works unique, but tamed them down to be acceptable for the network. Because much of the story of Twin Peaks is hidden behind this curtain, it really did leave the typical viewer intrigued which I believe was a large factor to the popularity it achieved when it originally aired.

Now 25 years later, The Return was aired on a network that didn’t restrict Lynch and he took advantage of it. So fans of the original Twin Peaks that may not have enjoyed his other work, may not really enjoy The Return since it’s very different. Fans of Lynch’s stranger works though most likely loved the ride. Either way, The Return is not the Twin Peaks of old but it does have its own merits.

Well this short blurb that was supposed say The Return is weirder than the original run, turned into me ranting on a bit. Sorry about that. Anyways the main point I wanted to hit on, was that when Lynch does non basic cable work and gets a little weird, he churns out some crazy work in the visual department. And The Return is not an exception. Specifically, Episode 8 caught viewers off guard with a bit of a back story that heavily focused on visual story telling rather than dialogue. So I decided to take some screenshots of this visual trip because I thought they’d be great wallpapers or source material/textures to be used in something else. Enjoy!

This last one doesn’t really make for a great wallpaper nor texture use, but I thought it looked really damned creepy and I decided to throw it in.

Show Recommendation: Twin Peaks



Though an older and widely known show, I’m still going to write a little review on the early 90s show Twin Peaks as I’ve just finished watching the last episode the other night. If you’re aware of David Lynch’s movies, you’ll somewhat know that his work tends to be very, for a lack of a polite word, weird. That’s definitely a big plus in my books though and not offsetting.Compared to some of his movies though, the bizarre aspect has been toned down. In that department, it is definitely not on par of something like Eraserhead. If you’re a fan of murder mysteries, quirky characters, seemingly unexplained paranormal events, and even cheesy soap opera dialogue then Twin Peaks is right up your alley.

In the sleepy mountain town of Twin Peaks, the community is rattled by the murder of home coming queen Laura Palmer. Suspecting a serial killer linked to another murder, FBI agent Dale Cooper rolls into town. After quickly concluding there is indeed a serial killer afoot, Dale works with the local sheriff and they begin an investigation by interviewing possible suspects linked to the murdered beauty. Little time passes before Dale realizes just how many peculiar characters inhabit this quiet little town. As if the quirky population in town isn’t enough, Dale begins to have bizarre dreams and visions that seem to give hints towards the killer’s identity.

Though the initial intrigue is the mystery of the original murder, Twin Peaks core focus seems to be on the characters and their individual tales. Even our protagonist Dale is a likeable eccentric with a tragic past. As more of the cast is introduced, it becomes clear that this seemingly uninteresting town has more than its share of secrets. Furthermore we learn how many of these colourful characters are connected to each other, unfortunately most of the time it’s due to an illicit reason. Drugs, affairs, shady business deals, prostitution, murder, coffee, and damn fine cherry pie are a few of the things that seem to keep Twin Peaks together. One thing almost everyone in town seems to have in common is that they all connected to the deceased Laura. A population where everyone has something to hide and knows the victim means Dale has his work cut out for him, and it also means the viewer will likely be guessing until the end.

Besides the wide array of odd characters, Twin Peaks does a wonderful job of setting both an eerie and uniquely odd tone. There are a few factors that contribute to the feeling the show conveys to the viewer. There are many paranormal events that happen throughout the show. A few characters have seemingly random visions from early on, Dale himself has bizarre dreams and visions throughout the entire show too. Sometimes a character’s dialogue (both actual and in paranormal events) seem to be fairly cryptic and don’t make much sense at times. Most of it gets explained near the finale of the show, but it will involve potentially another dimension, a demon or two, and more coffee and cherry pie. The show does use these things lightly though and sprinkles them throughout the episodes so it does not go all haywire for the viewer.

Another key piece to the overall atmosphere of Twin Peaks is the music. This kicks off right away with the recognizable introduction song. The song itself is used not only for the introduction, but in the show as well. This is usually around when some characters have some satirical soap opera style dialogue. The show also utilizes a lot of other synth music and atmospheric hums, but a fan favourite is definitely the cool jazz that plays from time to time. If the music isn’t enough to remind you that you’re watching a show from 1990 the videography will. Though I’m sure the cameras weren’t anything bad, the filming of the show does seem to reflect its age. However, this contributes to the overall feel of the show so it is definitely not a bad thing.

As the old organic theory goes, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. This is the case with Twin Peaks. Many murder mystery shows are out there, plenty of paranormal activity shows too. A boat load of soap operas and even more shows from the 90s with synth music. Oddball characters and cryptic messages are nothing new to TV either. Granted it’s not for everyone, Twin peaks does a wonderful job of putting all these aspects together to build an extremely unique experience.

In addition to the two seasons, there is a movie called Fire Walk With Me. Though this should be watched only after the TV show as it contains major spoilers. The movie tends to be more bizarre than the show, but it is great background information to the original story. Just don’t go in expecting a longer than usual episode of Twin Peaks, but rather a David Lynch movie. In May 2017, 26 years after the cancellation of the show, Twin Peaks will be back on the air for a third (and last) season. So if you’re interested, get caught up and tune in!