-books -dates -Lists -Movies -Music -musicals and broadway 24 30 Rock 666 Park Avenue Alcatraz Alias America's Next Top Model American Horror Story American Idol Americans Are You There Chelsea? Arrested Development Arrow Awake Awkward Bates Motel Being Human Ben and Kate Bent Best Friends Forever Better with You Big Bang Theory Big Brother Big C Big Love Blue Bloods Boardwalk Empire Body of Proof Bones Borgias Boss Breaking Bad Breaking In Breaking Pointe Bridge Bunheads Camelot Carrie Diaries Charlie's Angels Chicago Code Chicago Fire Chuck Community Continuum Copper Cougar Town Cult Dark Tower Deception Defenders Degrassi Dexter Doctor Who Dollhouse Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 Downton Abbey Elementary Emily Owens MD Enlightened Episodes Event Fall Falling Skies Family Tree Felicity Finder Firefly Following Fosters Freaks and Geeks Friday Night Lights Friends Fringe Game of Thrones GCB Gifted Man Gilmore GIrls Girls Glee Glee Project Good Wife Gossip Girl Grey's Anatomy Grimm Hannibal Happy Endings Harry Potter Hart of Dixie Hawaii Five-O Hell on Wheels Hellcats Hemlock Grove Heroes Homeland House House of Cards House of Lies How I Met Your Mother How to Be a Gentleman How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) I Hate My Teenage Daughter In Treatment Intervention Jane by Design Jersey Shore Justified Last Man Standing Last Resort Life Unexpected Lone Star Longmire LOST Louie Lying Game Mad Men Make it or Break it Man Up Mindy Project Missing Mockingbird Lane Modern Family Mr Selfridge Napoleon Dynamite Nashville New Girl New Normal Nikita Nine Lives of Chloe King No Ordinary Family Off the Map Office Once Upon a Time Originals Outlaw Outsourced Pan Am Parenthood Parks and Recreation Perfect Couples Person of Interest Playboy Club Pretty Little Liars Prime Suspect Psych Raising Hope Real Housewives of New Jersey Revenge Revolution Ringer Rob Rookie Blue Running Wilde Saving Hope Scandal Scrubs Secret Circle Secret Life of the American Teenager Sex and the City Shameless Sherlock Smash So You Think You Can Dance Sons of Anarchy South Park Southland Suburgatory Supernatural Switched at Birth Teen Wolf Terra Nova The Fall The Fosters The Killing The River The Voice Touch true blood Twisted Two and a Half Men Two Broke Girls Under the Dome Unforgettable United States of Tara Up All Night V Vampire Diaries Veep Vegas Veronica Mars Walking Dead Web Therapy Weeds White Collar Whitney Whole Truth Wilfred Work It X-Factor X-Files Zero Hour

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Netflix's Hemlock Grove: Season 1

This show got generally negative reviews from critics, so we almost didn't check it out. But then we scanned a few of the reviews and found that most of these people only watched three episodes. Which would be fine if this were a regular TV show. But it's not. It's a Netflix show. Netflix releases whole seasons at once and therefore would greenlight a show with slow build, because audiences don't have a week in between slower episodes to forget about the mystery. Watching three and writing a review just isn't fair.

So we watched it all in the last two days.

It took us a long time to decide whether we liked it. We never hated or loved it. We warbled between "this is okay" and "this is pretty good." We almost certainly would have dropped out were it a week-to-week cable program. But it's not. It's a whole season of a horror show.

The premise is that a rich kid, Roman, who doesn't know much about himself or the world meets a drifter, Peter, who has more of a grasp of the supernatural. Both teens are fatherless and live in a small town. Around this time, a girl is brutally murdered in what looks like an animal attack. The murderer must be found and the secrets of the town must be unearthed.

Here are the good things:
  • The mysteries keep you coming back for more. We kept watching because we wanted answers. 
  • If you like gore, the gore is pretty fantastic. The werewolf scene we mentioned in the last post about this show remains bad ass. Great transformations.
  • Interesting characters, interesting creatures, interesting backstories.
  • We liked Bill Skarsgard as Roman. 
  • We liked the music at the end of the episodes.
  • This show feels like True Blood in tone. Campy, a little slow, scary, gross, messed up, and interesting. and is not afraid to go to weird places...or kill some characters
  • We like how the show struggled with themes of "the darkness within" and self-loathing. 
  • One of the twists genuinely surprised us.
  • It respects the lore that came before it. 
  • There are two strong female characters, and they are even complex to boot.
  • We were able to watch it in two days and not get sick of it, and that says something.
  • We appreciated that the show was available in Spanish and had Spanish subtitles. One of us is trying to learn that language and it was less of a waste of time if Spanish words were running at the bottom :-)
There are a few problems (at least to us):
  • Famke Janssen should never have attempted a British accent because a) her character isn't from Britain and b) she sucks at British accents.
  • Some of the acting was lame (although it really might have been the writing making them look bad; some of the stuff was hard to work with).
  • A lot of the dialogue was lame.
  • Rape and the way the show handles rape. It's almost exploitative the way the first attack is filmed to look like a rape. The author of the original book strikes us as an obvious douchebag. He once said, "You can pry my rape scene out of my cold, dead hands" or something like that. He wanted this show to be a "hard R," and clearly thinks that this will make it edgier. But smut for smut's sake doesn't automatically make something quality. Just ask Starz. We don't want to spoil anything for you, but one of the rapes was really disappointing for viewers. 
  • Most of the violence is against women and there are women getting jealous of other women. Most of the women are portrayed as either Madonnas or whores. 
  • It's hard to find a character to like or root for. It's kind of cool that nearly every person on this show could be the murderer and you don't find out for a long time, but if you don't have a main character to hang your hat on, it's hard to get attached. Even after a whole season, we don't love any of the characters (even if a few of them are interesting).
  • This story could have been told in ten, 40-minute episodes, rather than dragged out to make 13, 50-minute episodes. There were some slow bits and it came from padding, not an uninteresting story.
  • The motivations of a few characters were muddy or unbelievable. One villain was pure, one-dimensional eeeeevil.
  • One of the "twists" was so easy to call that Ern called it immediately after the question was raised, and you will too. Ern can usually never predict anything.
  • It definitely qualifies as garbage to one of us. It's not gonna enrich your mind or soul or anything like that. You're not gonna feel good after you watch it.
If this show is successful enough for Netflix, there will probably be more to come. The writer of the original book has a sequel ready and a third book outlined. We'll chum on up to our couches and watch the second season when it's one. That's the final proof that we liked this show, overall. But we wouldn't be back if it weren't on Netflix, a whole season ready to stream. It wouldn't be worth following weekly. But we love a binge.

Season Grade: B-


  1. I don't like the whole "Release at once" model. I think it's cool but I prefer to watch it weekly. (I know I can do weekly but since I know that all the episodes are available it makes me want to watch each episode asap and I have a habit of multitasking while watching multiple shows in a day.)

    1. I multitask while watching too.

      And, of course, sometimes a model boils down to what you are used to. I actually got into TV through DVD binges. Before that, I didn't really watch much TV at all.

    2. (Same person as above) Same here. I currently have about like 100 shows thanks to my bad behavior (4-7 hours of watching TV each night basically.) Blah....Sooo many shows. I love it. I hate it. It sometimes sucks and it sometimes awesome...oh well. TV is amazing. :)