TV Shows That Took Me By Surprise

TV Shows That Took Me By Surprise

Like many of the others I too enjoy watching a good TV show when I have time. What I look for in a TV show is mainly entertainment and a good plot. I cannot be happy with a story which has multiple plot holes.

Since I do not have much time to spare to watch TV shows I am very picky about my choices. However, once in a while, there have been TV shows which have proven to be better than I expected and took me by surprise. They were able to make me their fan.

Teen Wolf

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Up to Teen Wolf every werewolf story I had seen was too much blood and gore. So, naturally, my notion of Teen Wolf was that it was also one of those werewolf stories where there is only blood and gore and no plot. However, when I got to see the first episode of the story, I was truly surprised. Sure, there was blood, but there was also a real story. There is Stiles and his all the sarcastic lines and I love them. Jeff Davis has managed to tell this serious story about a teenager, Scott McCall who gets turned into a werewolf since he was bitten by one in the woods. The story shows how he adjusts to the new life with the help of his best friend Stiles and the unusual wolf pack he creates as the story grows. There is always some interesting supernatural enemy to face. The storytelling is amazing. It also contains one of the best death scenes I have seen on a movie or a TV show which was put there because the actress who played the part wanted to quit the show to try new things. However, that death does not seemed forced in any way and it does not harm the story in anyway too. So, it was a perfect part to a really good story.

iZombie

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Like with the werewolf stories I was not that interested in watching a zombie story. Normally, all the zombies you see generally on any kind of story has a lifestyle of mindlessly looking for brains and killing people. However, iZombie is the first time I have seen a zombie keeping her urges under control and trying to figure out what is going on. Liv Moore, the protagonist of the story, gets infected with a zombie virus. However, once she turns into a living dead creature she wants to never kill a person to eat brains, but she knows without brains she would degenerate. She finds a job at a coroner’s office, so she gets a natural supply of brains without killing anyone. Since eating brains gives her a chance to have visions about the person whose brain she ate, she starts helping to solve murders. Every episode offers Liv to be a different character as she gets the qualities of the brain she ate until that power lasts. So, you get to see a different story every day. It is actually quite fun. The zombie problem in the story is what keeps each episode connected.

Jane the Virgin

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When I heard the name Jane the Virgin and saw some clips of it I was first convinced it was going to be too much of a soap opera for my taste. However, since the drama kept coming my way as I got to see many pictures of it and people talking about it, I wanted to give it a try. So, I watched the first episode and then got hooked. Jane Villanueva is a wonderful character who faces everything that happens to her with a lot of courage. She wants to stay a virgin until she marries and ends up getting artificially inseminated. The story deals with what happens from there and how she and everyone connected to her life reacts to that problem. Unlike most of the other shows I watch this show talks about normal people and problems that can happen in a normal life. It takes you from laughing at something to crying your eyes out the next moment. In season 03, there was couple of episodes which were really emotional that I could not help crying. They presented the story of a very special character in those episodes and Jane’s own emotions with regard to that character in such a good way that I had to cry with Jane.

In my eyes, none of these stories can be known as bad ones because they provide entertainment and a good story. They are actually a few shows I enjoy the most at the moment.

Movies and You

Movies and You

After finding some time to watch some interesting movies which I actually loved, I thought to talk about movies. Movies are one of those entertainment modes which is there with you when you grow up. As for me, I grew up with Hindi movies. One of my earliest memories of movies is seeing Sridevi dancing to “Me thera dushman” in Naagini movie. Though I do not watch as many Hindi movies now, I still love listening to Hindi movie songs. For me they are the best songs with beautiful music, lyrics and amazingly good choreography.

The first ever English movie I watched at a movie theater was Jurassic Park (1993). I was three years old and so terrified that I kept my face turned away from the screen until the whole movie finished. Yes, I did not watch it. However, as I had the luck of getting an opportunity to explore more English movies as I grew up by now T-Rex has become my favourite dinosaur and I absolutely love those movies.

Movies have this way of letting us explore other people’s imagination in colourful images. A good movie can satisfy you in a special way. It can have a massive impact on the way you see the world. That is why every decision we take about the movies we watch have to be carefully made too.

As for me, when it comes to movies I follow one simple rule. I only watch the movies I want to watch. People can advertise all they want and friends can tell me all they want that I should watch this movie and that, but I will only watch it if I want to. This mainly happened because some movies recommended by other people ended up being horribly dissatisfying to me and also because now I only have a limited time to watch anything so I would like to invest it in watching something I want to watch. However, taking the recommendation of someone who has a similar taste to you is always fine.

Every one of us expect different things from movies and also experience them in different ways. Sure, there are always times when a movie you are expecting to watch ends up being really bad. However, after a while, when you have watched enough movies you develop a certain instinct which lets you know what kind of a movie to expect by watching the trailer.That is as long as it is clear to you trailers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Therefore, as a movie fan, make your own decisions. Read a review or two from sources you trust if you are unclear about a movie before going into see it. Also, when someone asks you if a certain movie was good or not, tell them what you think making it clear it is your idea.Their reaction to the movie can be completely different from yours.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

We live in a digital age where ideas that seemed far away some time ago is now actually closer than ever. We see a lot of people taking initiatives to create  real life A.Is in the real world though the entertainment industry has been exploring this option since a long time.

My first experience with the idea of A.I was with the 2001 Steven Spielberg movie, A.I, Artificial Intelligence. Though the first time I watched it I did not fully understand the concept behind the movie I was deeply disturbed by David’s fate. As I grew older, I understood that the story was speaking about the possibility of humans taking it upon themselves to act like gods and create these artificial beings who have feelings. However, the point there was that though people are interested in the idea of creating sentient beings they were not ready to protect the trust these beings have in their hearts about the humans to whom they belong. That is why in the end, David’s hopes are shattered and he lives a miserable life.

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Haley Joel Osment as David in A.I (2001)

The second experience of mine that dealt with the same topic at the same time about the way we could end up treating our creations in the worst possible way was the 2004 movie, I, Robot, which was based on a story by Isaac Asimov under the same name. Asimov’s three laws of robotics haunted me.

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

  • A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

True, they are necessary to protect humans from an angered robot but that does put the robot or the artificial intelligence at a very unfortunate situation. That can be the reason behind the robot rebellion suggested at the end of the movie.

May be we are not supposed to feel sorry for such nonliving things.  However, when you create something that looks exactly like a real human being and behaves in the same way how can you not feel a certain sympathy towards them? This is something we get to experience with the Westworld TV series that started telecasting in October,2016 on HBO.

In Westworld, we have a new definition for treating A.Is cruelly as people have created an amusement park that is populated with A.Is or as they are known in the show “hosts” under the wild west theme. Humans who would like to try something that they can never try in the real world can visit the park at any time, given that they have money and enjoy as they may. They can kill, rape, mutilate, do whatever they want to the hosts. Since we live in a world where people do unspeakable things to fellow human beings imagining them doing such horrible things to A.Is is not at all impossible. That is what is disturbing.

If we can show a great care to our phone cannot we show at least that much kindness towards a machine that is an exact replica of a human being? This is something that bothers me when I see the way most of the people treat these A.I. If we are human we should be able to treat anyone, especially if that thing is like a human, with kindness and understanding.

Sure, there is always the possibility of these creations finding freedom away from the codes that decide the way they should behave and start becoming a threat to our human race. However, would not us treating them well be a way to avoid such a catastrophe?

While waiting to see how Westworld goes on and enjoying the TV show these questions will still be there hanging at the far end of my mind. May be I am not the only one who will be feeling the same way.

Falling in Love with the Villain

Falling in Love with the Villain

There was a time in story telling, whether is was a movie, book, TV series, where everything was either black or white. The hero would always be the good guy. He would always do the right thing and get the girl in the end. Then, there was the villain. The villain would normally be a scumbag, who would most of the time even be less handsome than the hero, whose goal in life would be destroying other people’s lives. Whether it is to become more rich or get the girl, the villain would always employ the most hateful ways to obtain that goal making us hate him.

However, times have changed. Nowadays, a story teller likes to portray things as they are. We all know that in real life people are not completely black or completely white. People are grey. The white and black mixed in that greyness can vary. Those with more black are deemed bad while those with more white are deemed good. Using this true theory in stories have let us witness some amazingly good stories in the recent times.

If you look at Klaus Mikaelson, who was introduced to the TV audience through The Vampire Diaries, you can see this change in character portrayal very well. He was introduced to us as this villain who was determined to have his way no matter what. He did not care who died in the process as long as he could have what he wants. However, now and then, we are given a glimpse of humanity in him. We see his love for his family, which suggests even he has some goodness in him.

There is another plus point towards villains. We already know they are villains. They are the bad guys. Therefore, we cannot be disappointed with them. However, the hero is expected to be the champion of goodness. He is always supposed to make the right decision. Therefore, whenever a hero does something stupid and takes the wrong path being disappointed in him becomes inevitable. Though this has actually been the case from the beginning of time, the recent true depiction of villains where we get to see at least the smallest goodness in them, is what makes some of us fall in love with the villain. Personally, I think it is a good change. It helps to create a better story. At the same time, it lets you see people as they are. Moreover, falling in love with a villain knowing who he or she really is, is not a bad thing, as long as you see the truth as it is.

Prophecy : A Great Tool for Storytelling

Prophecy : A Great Tool for Storytelling

In a world full of curious people, who like to know what will happen in the future, prophecy has always played an important role. Though prophecies had a huge power over people’s lives in the past, nowadays, prophecy seems to be loosing its power as people who think logically seem to outnumber the ones who believe in fortune telling. No matter how we interpret this concept of a prophecy, we all have to agree it has become on of the greatest tools that arouse curiosity and mystery in stories.

The first great prophecy in storytelling that completely changed the plot of the story, for me, was the prophecy of the three witches in Macbeth. Three old women appear and tell Macbeth prophecies, which leads him to betray his king and assassinate him. He even go as far as killing his best friend, Banquo, because the witches’ prophecies for Banquo states that his children would be kings. The greed for power created by these prophecies are very powerful that Macbeth, the hero of the people until then, becomes a usurper,a traitor and man of no honour. The whole story revolves around how Macbeth reacts to his prophecies and the reactions of other people. As a result, this drama by Shakespeare becomes one of the greatest dramas that explore human flaws.

In Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series both of the stories are based on prophecies uttered by the Greek oracle. Since all god related stories seems to come with prophecies it is not unrealistic in that genre of storytelling. The prophecy lets us, as the reader, at one time suspect our own favourite characters. In each story, a prophecy sets out the goals for the demi-gods. They follow it and face a lot of challenges in an attempt to save the world. In Percy Jackson, the demi-gods fight against Titans. In Heroes of Olympus, they fight against the giants.

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Currently, there is one more prophecy that is winning a lot of attention. This prophecy belong to A Song of Ice and Fire. There are several prophecies. However, the most intriguing one is that of Azor Ahai, the prince that was promised to fight against the darkness. Azor Ahai is supposed to be leading the battle against the darkness using light. Some fans believe Jon Snow is Azor Ahai and some believe it is Daenerys Targaryen. We will be able to find an answer to that question soon as the TV series, Game of Thrones will soon conclude. However, the books may have a different interpretation of this particular prophecy of Azor Ahai.

Based on all these facts, it is safe to say that prophecy, however improbable it is in a real world, can add mystery and intrigue to a story. That is why prophecy has been used as a tool of storytelling since time immemorial.

Superheroes and Villains: What do They Have in Common?

Superheroes and Villains: What do They Have in Common?

In an age of superhero movies, the stories of multiple superheroes are thrown in our way. While some of the movies are as original and less complicated as Deadpool, some movies such as Captain America: Civil War make us ponder a lot about the way different people look at the same problem. I am not a comic book fan. However, I am a great fan of comic book movies.

A hero is always someone who rises above the rest because he wants to do the right thing. When it comes to a superhero, that same heroic qualities are assisted by some kind of power. A villain, on the other hand, is a perfectly selfish individual who uses whatever resources and powers he or she has to achieve his or her own selfish goals. It is clear that these two individuals are different in their judgement. Then, do they have anything in common? Actually, they do. In my opinion, what they do have in common is their struggle.

Specially, in an era, where heroes are not white characters and villains are not black characters, but both have become grey characters, this struggle is evident. Their struggle may be different but they are all in a constant internal and external struggle. Let me explain.

Captain America is a good choice for a superhero. Captain America is an idealist. He believes in doing the right thing. He has no room for compromises, yet again and again he has to make some compromises to survive. He is a man with a great internal struggle as he is trying to fit into a world he does not belong. Due to his frozen slumber, he loses 70 years of his life. When he wakes up, the only people who he knows are the love of his life, now a very old woman and his best friend, now a trained assassin for the same organization (Hydra) he fought against. Then, he has to watch the organization he fought against devouring his home, S.H.I.E.L.D. His external struggle is trying to do the right thing in a world where lines between right and wrong are blurred. Sometimes he has to choose one friend over the other. That can be the worst kind of struggle.

We can all understand that every superhero faces a struggle. How can that be the same for villains?  Usually, the struggle a villain faces is simply the obstacles he or she has to face in achieving his or her goals. However, when it comes to Loki from Marvel Cinematic Universe, we see a villain, who has clearly become a villain due to his internal struggles. Loki from Norse mythology is someone with whom it is hard to sympathize. That is because that God of Mischief is ready to kill a person if that person annoys him. Who does that? However, Loki from Marvel Cinematic Universe makes it hard for us not to sympathize with him to some extent due to what happens to him. I am sure most of us would not try to destroy a world just to take revenge from a family that refused and betrayed us. Loki does exactly that when his father, or the person he thought as his father, finally reveals the truth about him and tells that he will never be accepted as one of the family. Amidst the conquering of Midgard and deceiving his brother, Thor and the whole of Asgard by ruling as Odin, we see glimpses of Loki’s humanity when he mourns his mother’s death and helps Thor to rescue his love and Asgard. Apart from a few villains who have no humanity in them such as Thanos and Ultron, most of the villains too have their own internal struggles.

It is quite clear then that at the core, what makes a superhero or a villain is how they deal with their internal struggles. A superhero would not lash out at the world for the his or her sufferings. But, a villain would.

The Evolution of Vampires

The Evolution of Vampires

Vampire, the mystical and mythical, blood sucking, immortal being, began its journey in the popular culture or rather in the world of literature and then in to the silver screen and the big screen, with Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” First published in 1897, it still is a very entertaining story; a timeless story.

I remember the first time I read Dracula. I think I was about 11 years old. The writing was so good that I could visualize every scene. As a result, I would not keep the book in my room at night, afraid of Dracula. Even when it was in my room, the front cover where Dracula is dripping blood, would be flipped over. Still, I kept reading the book even though I was terrified of Dracula. To this day, when the region Transylvania is mentioned somewhere, Dracula is the first thing that comes to my mind.

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Christopher Lee as Dracula

With “Interview with the Vampire” movie I got an opportunity to enter the world of vampire fiction by Anne Rice. Her vampire world is much similar to Bram Stoker’s dark world. She presents vampires as the dark creatures they should be, despite their attractive looks and powers.

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Then, in the recent years, vampires became more and more popular. The Twilight saga was another story about vampires. However, these vampires were seen more as sexy, love interests even though they were blood sucking, violent beings. I, myself was fascinated by Edward’s and Bella’s love story. However, I still think creating “sparkling” vampires was not a good idea.

As a result of hearing so much about “The Vampire Diaries” TV series, I thought about giving it a go. I watched the drama and got hooked. Who can resist Damon’s sarcastic remarks? Anyway, if I had not watched The Vampire Diaries, I would never have found Klaus Mikaelson. He is a very interesting character. Creation of his character was taking the vampire genre into a step farther as he is a vampire-werewolf hybrid. The TV series, however, has lost its original quality since they created their spin-off “The Originals” and shipped some of its valuable characters to this spin-off.

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Klaus Mikaelson

These are just a few of the vampire portrayals I have come across. However, there are some other TV shows, films and books that explore the same fantasy genre. I think they each have their own story to tell. Every story has its own fans. Most notably, vampires have evolved into these attractive creatures, who have dark souls, yet are much sought after. They are no longer the creatures that only give goose bumps.

I wonder what Bram Stoker would have thought if he could see all these creations based on his character? Would he be happy or not? Nevertheless,  I am eternally grateful  for him for creating this genre of fiction. He created an entire universe of fantasy. When more and more writers contribute to this genre, we will be able to see more and more stories. May be we will not agree with every story, yet we will be happy to explore each of those stories.