N0S4A2: Season 1, Episode 2 Recap and Review

Hello, I see you are back for more shenanigans from your favorite Not Floridian!

Not much has changed here is Not Florida

In other words, still hotter than H-E-Double Hockey Stick!

Luckily, I now have a way to cool down…

In other words, a visit to Christmasland is just what the soul sucking vampire (who is not actually my ex) ordered!

So, yeah, I am watching N0S4A2.

Again, we are only two episodes in.

But (unlike my ex) it has not disappointed.

In fact, I am warming to it (hashtag irony, yanno?)

As a self proclaimed book douche, I can be pretty picky about adaptations.

There is a right way to do them, and then there are the torture porn films that we know as Joel Schumacher Batman movies.

And so far, N0S4A2 is not a Joel Schumacher Batman movie.

I am not quite sure if it is the Marvel movie equivalent, but it may be gaining that status.

I am starting to get this feeling that this is the hot (hashtag irony again, amirite?) new series of the summer.

So, buckle up in your Rolls Royce Wraith, and let’s take a ride into Christmasland, shall we, and dissect and review episode 2, titled The Graveyard of What Might Be.

And, as always:

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Castle Rock: Episode 2 Recap and Review

Occasionally, writers and film makers gift us with a fictional universe.

Actually, this practice is becoming more common.  Marvel has pretty well established theirs.  DC is right behind them, and well, we can give DC a participation trophy for trying.

Joss Whedon created one, when he created Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Kurt Sutter is on his way to creating one, as we had Sons of Anarchy, and we will have The Mayans this fall.

There is something neat in seeing that one or more books (or movies or television shows) are connected and share characters.

Sometimes, however, these works of fiction share more than just characters, as what happens in one book, movie or show has a direct affect on another work of fiction.  Marvel has spent years building up to this, in the form of Avengers: Infinity War.

Finally, we got Rocket Raccoon in the same movie as Iron Man!  How cool is that?!

However, The King (cough, cough) of a shared universe is…

None other than The Master himself!

Over forty years ago, it began with the publication of Carrie, King’s first novel.

It grew to include that crazy number one fan, that gang of meddling kids, a guy who enjoys time travel, and many, many other novels.

Most importantly, it includes that story of your friendly neighborhood gunslinger.  King himself has referred to his Dark Tower novels as the Jupiter of solar system, with several seemingly unrelated novels that have some sort of impact on our friendly neighborhood gunslinger and his quest.

And most recently, the Hulu TV series Castle Rock joins that universe.  Even though King may not have “officially” written this JJ Abrams creation himself, I will be damned if I can tell (well, other than checking the credits on the internet.)

Castle Rock takes place in what could probably be King’s most notorious fictional setting (other than the unnamed town known as Pennywise the Clown’s personal buffet.)

Needful Things, The Body, The Dark Half, The Dead Zone and several other stories take place in Castle Rock.

I am always up for a visit to Castle Rock.  In fact, it is one of my favorite King hangouts.

And so far, even though I have only watched two episodes, the show is reinforcing that feeling, making me feel like I am paying a  visit to an old friend, where we chat as though we have never been apart.

So join me this week for my recap and review of my visit!

As always:

 

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Every Gunslinger Needs a Companion: An Interview With Bev Vincent

In life, sometimes you take journeys.  Sometimes these are physical journeys (I have had a few myself).

Sometimes, there are other kinds of journeys as well…

super bowl 50 1

Well, I am sure most of us (me included) don’t take a journey like that often ever but that game last night sure was was ride, at any rate…whew!  And this little old blog sends you love, Ser Peyton!

Or, if you are more like me, you take literary journeys.  Oh, too nerdy for you!  Well, sorry, guess someone forgot what blog this was again!

And I have traveled alone, and I have traveled with others.  Now traveling alone is not a bad thing.  But sometimes, having a companion has its advantages.  A Sam Gamgee, maybe.  Or if you are Peyton Manning, a Von Miller (and it doesn’t hurt to perhaps throw in a Chris Harris, or maybe an Aquib Talib or two, for that matter).

Peyton Manning 1

In other words, great journeys are not usually accomplished alone, whether they are to destroy a pesky ring, or to obtain a pesky second (Super Bowl) ring.  Even this guy can testify to that!

Roland 1

Yes, you are definitely reading this blog and forgot to heed all the previous warnings!

Reading the Dark Tower series is a journey.  And I have taken that journey on my own.  And it was great, of course.

But I have taken it with friends, too.

Ka_tet_by_Cordania

Well, I wasn’t talking about these guys, per se.  If I was relying on them for friendship, well that is a recipe for guaranteed heartbreak, and I will leave it at that.

Nor am I talking about the followers on my blog and social media account, who were with me every step of the way in my latest re-read and review of the entire series.  I do appreciate both all of you very much though, and much love to everyone!

Rather, I am talking about works such as this one:

Road to DT 1

And this one:

DT Concordance 1

Well, they may be books, but to any Constant Reader who is also obsessed with the Dark Tower series, they are almost as invaluable as a Sam Gamgee or Vonn Miller.  They aid in the journey, so that journey becomes that much richer.  These books have also made me become a much better reader, as I have picked out some details I missed on previous re-reads, which made me feel like the kid who found the Easter Egg that everyone else missed because everyone else did not know where to look.

easter eggs 1

Recently, I have the please of talking to one of the creators of my companions, aka Bev Vincent.  I was curious as to what goes on when creating works like these to aid in this journey that I have taken so many times.  And Mr. Vincent was gracious enough to talk to me, and given me a little more insight into his work, the Stephen King universe in general and the world of our friendly neighborhood gunslinger.  So, read below for the complete interview.

cuthbert and alain

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


 

 

Please, tell us a little about yourself. This can be anything, including education, background, etc. Also, when did you first become a Stephen King fan and why?

I come from eastern Canada. I grew up in a small community in northern New Brunswick, where I lived until I was eighteen. I then went to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I studied chemistry. I got a B.Sc in 1983 and finished my PhD in X-ray crystallography in the fall of 1987. I did a postdoc at the ETH in Zurich and worked as a staff crystallographer until 1989, at which time I moved to Texas, where I’ve lived ever since.

crystallography 1

I started writing seriously at the end of the previous millennium and it has been part of my daily routine ever since, although I still have a day job.

Bev Vincent 1

I discovered Stephen King when I was living in Halifax. I picked up a copy of ‘Salem’s Lot in a used bookstore and I’ve been hooked ever since. I sought out his other books (there weren’t many in 1979!) and have followed along with him for over 35 years. I read a lot, and far more than just King’s books, but he’s been one of the constants. I guess you could call me a Constant Reader.

'Salem's Lot 1


 

What is your favorite Stephen King book, and why is it your favorite?

I have a hard time picking absolute favorites — I have affinities for certain books at different times for different reasons. I have a particular fondness for ‘Salem’s Lot because it was the first, the one that got me hooked. The book has a lot going for it, for a “second” novel (of course, we know it was not his second written book), and it stands up quite well.

Salem's lot 2

Bag of Bones is one that would appear in my top five list. It was the first of his books that I read in first draft manuscript long before it was published. That was a fascinating experience, and I especially appreciated the way he subsequently rewrote the book, layering in things that weren’t present in the first draft.

bag of bones 1

I used to like to tell people about The Gunslinger for a long time, when people didn’t know much about it. It was my entry point into the Dark Tower series, but for a long time it was the only book in the series for me. I loved its mood. I had no idea where the series was headed — or even that it was headed somewhere, but I reread that one a number of times. I could list others that are high on my list. But I’d have an easier time picking my two least favorites. No trouble there at all!

Roland 2


 

Oh, what is your least favorite SK book?

I have two: Needful Things and The Tommyknockers. I didn’t like any of the characters in the former and I liked Bobbi and Gard a lot in the latter and hated that King abandoned them for a huge chunk of the book when all I wanted to do was to get back and find out how they were doing.

Needful things 3


 

I am really excited about the upcoming Hulu adaptation for 11/22/63, and I have high hopes for the series. However, I know that movie adaptations of King’s books are mixed, at best. Some work, some don’t. Out of all the King movies, which one do you feel works the best, and why? Which one do you think does not work, and why?

I’ve already seen the entire miniseries of 11.22.63 and I think people are going to like it a lot. It is significantly different from the novel in many ways, yet it captures the sense of the book perfectly. The actress who plays Sadie is wonderful and it is her more than James Franco who gives this adaptation its heart. The production values are extremely high and the cast is terrific.

card-1963

I’ve never been someone who saw the adaptation as a necessary part of the life cycle of a book. Slavish adaptations aren’t always the best. The problem with Dreamcatcher, in my opinion, is that it tried to cram too much of a very big book into the movie, which made it almost incomprehensible to people to people unfamiliar with the novel.

Quality: Original. Film Title: Dreamcatcher (2003). Pictured: (L to R) DAMIAN LEWIS, THOMAS JANE, TIMOTHY OLYPHANT and JASON LEE in Castle Rock Entertainment's and Village Roadshow Pictures' science fiction/horror film Dreamcatcher distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory. Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures 2002. For further information: please contact The Warner Bros. Press Office on 020 7984 5000.

On the other hand, the adaptation of Dolores Claiborne took significant liberties with the book, deleting characters, changing the emphasis on others, but it absolutely captured the novel.

Dolores C

A lot of the adaptations are forgettable or laughable. I have no use for The Mangler or Children of the Corn (I through XII) or any number of other B grade films.

Disney SK

I did like The Mist, despite the controversial change to the story–and I was thrilled to get to visit the set during production.

the-mist-mons__big

I also visited (the set of) Haven for a day with my daughter, which was great fun. There’s a case of an adaptation that took a core idea and then ran off in a vastly different direction from the source. The same people did the same thing with The Dead Zone TV series.

Haven TV series starring Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour, Richard Donat, John Dunsworth, Adam Copeland, Glenn Lefchak, Nicholas Campbell, Kate Kelton, Emma Lahana, Bree Williamson, Christopher Shore and Colin Ferguson - dvdbash.com

There are some great ones — Shawshank, Stand By Me — and some surprisingly effective ones, like 1408 — and a whole lot of turkeys.

ka caw


 

I have read your book, The Dark Tower Companion, and wow! Can you tell us how this book came to be, and exactly what went in to writing it and putting it together?

DT companion 1

I previously wrote The Road to the Dark Tower around the time King was finishing up the last three books in the series. People had frequently asked me when I was going to write a book about King and his work, but I had resisted the idea because it seemed like such a huge project.

the road to the DT 1

Then when I heard that King was going to write the final three Dark Tower books all at once, I had the idea that I could explore the series and, in doing so, say something about all of King’s work in general. King gave me the manuscripts for the final books a couple of years before they were published, which allowed me to have my book ready around the same time as Book 7 was published.

never just a book

The Road to the Dark Tower was written for people who had already read the entire series and wanted to revisit it with me. I would be the tour guide, and I would point out the things I had noticed while reading and rereading and studying the series.

Dark Tower 3

Then, a number of years later, the first serious indications that there would be a film adaptation emerged, with Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman. I thought it was time to update my book with all the things that had happened in the Dark Tower Universe since my first book was published. However, my publisher suggested that I do a new book, completely different from the first. So, The Dark Tower Companion was written for people who haven’t necessarily read the series. I thought there would be people who came to the Dark Tower via the movies or the Marvel graphic novels. People who might want to know more about something — a reference book. I had to read the series several times for each book, with different things in mind on each reading. My copies are marked up with so many different colored highlighters that they look like the Bends o’ the Rainbow!

Maerlyn's rainbow

I especially enjoyed getting to interview all these great people for the book, from King himself to Ron Howard (from the set of RUSH) and Akiva Goldsman, and then all of the creative people involved in the Marvel series. That was a series of terrific experiences. I also had a great time coming up with the two maps — the one that showed the known region of Mid-World, especially when certain details came together, and the one of the Dark Tower locations in Manhattan.

DT movie 3


 

It looks like we may finally get our Dark Tower movie(s). I know that if Roland doesn’t do the finger twirl in the movie, I will not watch it…at all! (Joking, joking.) All kidding aside, what do you need to see in the movie(s) from the books (since we all know that there will be changes, which are necessary) to make sure that the movie does not stray too far from the source material?

I’m open to a complete re-imagination of the series. If you’ve read my interviews with Howard and Goldsman, you’ll see that their ideas for the first movie are quite radical, and I was fine with that. I’m also fine with possibly having Idris Elba as Roland — in fact, I think that would be terrific.

Idris Elba 1

A movie isn’t made first and foremost for the readers of the source material, I believe. They are made for a movie-going audience, so a lot of accommodations have to be made, and can be made.

Some people have suggested that the movies should feature Roland’s NEXT version of his quest, the one where he starts of with the Horn of Eld. To my mind, that means that anything could happen. Anything. If Roland is a different person (arguably a slightly better one), then maybe he needs different companions to get the job done. I’m not saying I want to see that happen, but once that suggestion is made, it shows that people are open to change.

Roland and horn 1

I don’t know if the movie can work if it is too literal an adaptation. A lot of people were upset by how the series ended on the page — can you imagine going to see a handful of movies over a span of years only to end up back at the beginning again?

DT ending

I’m perfectly content for them to do whatever they see fit with the adaptation. There are some pretty smart people in the movie business. And if they end up making a hash of it, oh well.

Roland 1


So many thanks to Bev Vincent for this interview.  And remember, if you need a companion to help guide you on the Path of the Beam, whether it be be your first journey or your 19th journey, please check out The Road to the Dark Tower, The Dark Tower Companion and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance (written by the lovely Robin Furth).  These friends  works are available wherever books are sold.

And, as always, happy reading!

RoaldDahl

A Little Shameless Self Promotion…

So, I have hobbies (shock…a blog?  Who would have thought?)

breaking bad

But I also do various kinds of artwork.  Surprisingly (or not), much of this artwork is fan art…

And here’s the kicker:  much of this artwork is related to Stephen King and his Dark Tower series!

Roland and David

I know, something related to the Dark Tower on this blog? Such a shock, right?

Anyway, all kidding aside, I am trying to sell some of my work and make a little change on the side.  After all, life is ruff, and dog food is not getting any cheaper…

candy bar pie 010

 

So I have opened up an Etsy shop.  And I have sold one item, which has given me the guts to try to sell more items!  Who knows, it could work, right?

Here is the link to my humble little shop…stop by and check out when you have a minute.  I have a few woodburning pieces up for sale now, and there will be more listings to come!  A perfect gift for yourself, or the Dark Tower fanatic in your life!  After all, who doesn’t want one of these creations on display in his/her home?

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Artof19

The link is listed above, so check out it when you can!  Long days and pleasant nights, gunslingers!

Rose

 

Penny Dreadful Recap and Review: Season 2, Episode 2

Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to this week’s trip to the sundae bar, aka my review and recap of Penny Dreadful!

sundae 2

And this week’s trip to the sundae bar was interesting, to say the least.  In fact, the flavors this week were…well…odd to say the least.  In fact, I don’t know if it could even be properly called a sundae, as opposed to a very mixed, confused batch of ingredients randomly thrown into a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and called a sundae.  But the flavors were indeed interesting, even if they didn’t make any sense after being thrown together.

sundae 1

With that being said, here is my recap and review of Penny Dreadful, season 2, episode 2.


Synopsis

The episode begins with Vanessa in a state of shock, presumably after the disturbing visit from the witch’s coven.  She seeks comfort with Malcolm.  Vanessa then accompanies Malcolm to a soup kitchen for cholera victims, and meets Caliban.  Caliban introduces himself as John Clare, and he and Vanessa speak of religion and poetry.

Inspector Rusk finds the sole survivor of the Mariner’s Inn massacre.  The man’s face is mutilated beyond recognition, but Rusk intends to question him anyone to find those responsible for the massacre.

Dorian Gray makes another appearance.  He is propositioned by a woman who turns out to be hiding a big secret:  she is actually a man.  However, this does not seem to bother Dorian at all.

Dorian Gray 1

Ferdinand Lyle makes another appearance in this episode, ostensibly to help Malcolm, Vanessa and Ethan to make sense of the strange words uttered by Vanessa and the witches in the previous episode.  Dr. Lyle tells Vanessa that an 11th century monk wrote these words on whatever materials he had available for writing, until the other monks learned of his possession and burned him at the stake.  These words are Verbis Diablo, or Words of the Devil.  Ethan accompanies Dr. Lyle to retrieve these artifacts from a museum.  Ethan sees artwork depicting wolves, and begins reminiscing about the wolves he encountered during his time in the New Mexico territories, stating that those wolves simply fed and did not protect anything.

Malcolm encounters Evelyn Poole, who is the head of the coven of witches that has been terrorizing Vanessa.  Evelyn and Malcolm go on a date of sorts to the shooting range.  Evelyn impresses Malcolm with her shooting skills.  Malcolm reminds Evelyn that he cannot divorce his wife, but this does not seem to bother Evelyn, as she still attempts to seduce Malcolm with her magic.

Evelyn Poole 1

Victor Frankenstein and Caliban are successful in resurrecting Brona, but begin to argue over Brona’s “upbringing” and re-assimilation into society.  Caliban wants to read poetry to her, but Victor states that she needs to regain her language skills.  Victor works with Brona, and her language skills return quickly.  Victor tells her that she is his cousin and provides her with fictional details of her previous life, telling her that she suffers from amnesia.  Victor also cuts and dyes Brona’s hair, and renames her Lilly (which is also the flower of resurrection).

Brona 1

Evelyn Poole convenes with her coven, and Ferdinand Lyle is included in the meeting.  It turns out that Evelyn is blackmailing Dr. Lyle, and attempting to force him to help her and the coven terrorize Vanessa.

Evelyn Poole 2

Hecate, Evelyn’s daughter, follows a young couple into the London Underground.  Hecate murders the couple and their infant.  Hecate then removes the heart from the infant, and the camera shows doll versions of Malcolm and his friends.  The last doll shown is one that bears a likeness to Vanessa, and the episode ends with the camera panning to Vanessa, who takes a sharp breath.

Vanessa Ivers 2

 


 

My Thoughts

Oh, my thoughts.  Aka the jumbled mess that they became after this particular episode…

However, I will try.  I will even give it the old college try.

old college try

And I felt like I needed a doctoral degree to comprehend this episode.  I still enjoyed, but man oh man…just so much stuff crammed into a tiny suitcase!

I think this sums up the expression on my face:

breaking bad

Or maybe I felt more like this:

Hurr

Well, I’m exaggerating (at least a little).  But boy, did I feel a bit confused at times while watching this episode!

First of all, Dorian Gray made another appearance.  Not that this a bad thing.  Not a bad thing at all, actually.

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives and Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray in Penny Dreadful (season 1, episode 2). - Photo: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: PennyDreadful_102_2151

But sheeeeesssshhh!!!!  Where on earth does he fit in?  And when are we going to get more salacious details?  All we know so far is that he is a tri-sexual (nothing is off limits, in other words) and he is a good looking guy that seems to want to play the field (I know, and I want more salacious details?  Yikes!)  But really nothing on this background, and we haven’t really seen the painting (although he does appear to be obsessed with pictures).  And just where does he fit in on the show?  With Vanessa?  With Ethan?  Maybe with both (that tri sexual thing, after all)?  Or is he just a pretty face thrown in to confuse us?  Come on, writers…little help here!

And then there was Dorian’s love interest on this episode.  Well, maybe hook up would be a better word, but I will be nice.

First, my mind went here

Crying Game 1

And then I remembered:  think horror movies, self!  So naturally, my mind went here:

camp sleepaway

Although Dorian’s new friend did at least seem a little happier than the dude in the pic above.  And yes, I searched Google for this specific image.  You are welcome, my friend!

In all seriousness, I was left scratching my head.  What is going on with Dorian Gray?  Really, just throw me a bone, even if its a small one…give me something I can work with!

Per usual, this episode was a tease about the wolf

Wolf 2

Well, the werewolf that is actually masquerading as the other pretty boy, aka Ethan Chandler.  Again, this episode teased, but still gave us no real information about the werewolf.  Although there has to be an episode coming soon that will do more than tease, as the murder investigation for that horrible slaughter at a certain inn apparently has not been closed (in other words, Ethan’s hulking er wolfing out may come back to haunt him).  And I am all for a slow build up, but this is getting ridiculous…again, throw me a bone (see what I did there).

Ethan Chandler 3

But this episode was not all bad.  Far from it, in fact…

The witches’ coven.  Yes, the very same one that seems intent on torturing Vanessa like a cat would torture a mouse (or a lizard, in the  case of my cats).  This episode did deliver on the witch action.  And dolls…shudder.  Hey, dolls are scary, ummm-kay!

In fact, my mind went here when I saw those dolls:

Chinga 1

Tres creepy, no?  And of course, that particular episode was written by the master himself, so I have to pay homage!

But the dolls in this episode…again, shudder.  And of course, the writers had to incorporate voodoo (I am assuming that’s what they were trying for, due to the likeness of the dolls of Malcolm and his friends).  And voodoo, don’t get me started!  And the end, with Vanessa drawing a sharp breath, and the end credits rolling and leaving a bit of a cliffhanger…that is how its done, friends!

But I have saved the best part for last:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
-William Blake
I need this engraved on my tombstone.  Or at least quoted at my funeral.  I love William Blake!
And Caliban quoted William Blake!  I have always been sympathetic to The Monster in Mary Shelley’s work, and thought he got an unfair rap.  And apparently, at least one writer on Penny Dreadful agrees with me, as Caliban (he will never be just The Monster to me) is turning out to be one of the most sympathetic characters on the show.  There will never be enough love for him (at least on my part).  His conversation with Vanessa at the soup kitchen was simply beautiful.  A so-called “monster” telling a woman being hunted down by demons that his focus is what good he can do in this life, as opposed to the “after-life”…just priceless.  And that is the only word that describes it!
Proteus 1
And he quoted my favorite poet of all time.  Way to go, Caliban!  Now no matter what terrible thing you may do (although I am sure it will be justified), I will be forced to root for you!  After all, how can I root against someone who QUOTES WILLIAM BLAKE????!!!!!
Caliban 1

So that’s it for this week’s trip into literary Avengers.  Or the adult version of a sundae bar.  Or Penny Dreadful.  And whatever you want to call it, there was never a dull moment.  Tune in next week for my review of the next episode…same bat time, same bat channel!

adam west

 

Penny Dreadful Recap and Review: Season 2, Episode 1

I am a nerd (I know, in other news water is wet, the sun sets in the west, etc).  But since I am a nerd, I have a few things that I am fan of…

Well, maybe more than a few.  Maybe I have quite a few, actually.  So, I guess that makes me a fan girl…

I also remember the sundae bar at restaurants when I was a kid (and I may still visit the sundae bar in my adulthood, but that can be our little secret).

Now, there is nothing better than an ice cream sundae…for dessert, at least.  Ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, maybe some sprinkles…now is that pure awesomeness or what?!

sundae 1

 

But there is something extra special about a sundae that you make at the sundae bar at some un-named buffet restaurant (really, is there any other reason for visiting those places?)  You get to choose what you put on it, and mix it up!  Gummy bears, crushed oreo cookies and maraschino cherries?  Sure, why not?  Live dangerously, I say!

sundae 2

I think the reason why the sundae bar is so appealing to kids (and us adults who never really fell into the trap of growing up) is because they can take their favorite things, and put them into one bowl of delicious.  Your favorite things are special when they are not together (when are gummy bears not special?  I dare you challenge me on that one!), but when they are together, they are…well…magic.  That’s the only word I can think of.  A sundae made up chocolate sauce, maraschino cherries, crushed oreo cookies, gummy bears and maybe some other candies randomly thrown in (M&M’s are the bomb diggity on sundaes) is an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.  In other words, you now have something made up of the familiar, but its a brand new product (with a guarantee of a major sugar hangover, but like I said, live dangerously).

And the ice cream sundae bar analogy can also apply to fandoms.  We love, love, love our fandoms (whoever said nerds are not passionate needs to log on to any website that discusses Batman, for example, and that notion that we are not passionate will be almost immediately disproved) but when seemingly separate universe converge, it turns into something beyond love.  Luv, perhaps?  Or if the convergence is done really well, maybe “multiple orgasms” would be a better word than “love” or even “luv”…

And the notion of converging seemingly separate fandoms is not new.  Marvel is perhaps the most famous for it, as they have given us the Avengers movies, and we have been told that everything, from billionaire Tony Stark, to the green monster no one wants to piss off, to the raccoon with the foul mouth, is all interconnected (and now you can’t leave a Marvel movie without staying past the opening credits to get a sneak peek at the next movie and start puzzling out how that relates to that movie you just saw).  And this has been quite the clever move by Marvel, as the fact that their universe is tied together has likely made their franchise even more popular.

rocket-raccoon

And this guy…this guy is probably the master at weaving together a universe, and I will just leave it at that!

stephen-king-cover-ftr

So we have all these cool, fictional universes and super hero mash up movies…you know what would be really cool?  To have a TV show where all these fictional characters are in one universe!  Maybe Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula and Dorian Gray?  And have it take place in turn of the century London, which is just a great setting, period?  Sounds cool, yo!

Well, we actually do have such a TV show and it called Penny Dreadful.  So far, Penny Dreadful is a mash up of Frankenstein, Dracula and Dorian Gray.  And it has a beautiful woman who is prone to becoming possessed by unknown forces.  And it has a werewolf!  A really, really hot werewolf, in fact!  And yes, it takes place in one of favorite historical places and time periods:  turn of the century London!

And since this blog is really nerdy (in case you haven’t figured that out yet), the show Penny Dreadful fits right in.  And will be subject to a recap and review by yours truly!

Penny Dreadful 3

So buckle up, and let’s take a ride to the literary Avengers universe aka the show Penny Dreadful!


Synopsis

Season 2, episode 1 of Penny Dreadful begins with Vanessa Ivers experiencing some disturbing visions while walking in the snow.  In the meantime, Ethan Chandler awakes, and discovers blood and dead bodies that he was likely responsible for.  Vanessa and Ethan meet up, and take a carriage ride together.  Ethan begins to tell Vanessa that he will probably leave town and possibly take up residence in Spain, as he feels running away will prevent him from hurting anyone else.  However, the discussion is interrupted when the pair are attacked by what appears to be a band of female demons.    Vanessa is able to speak Latin and fend them off, but the driver of the carriage and the horses are killed in the battle.

Eva Green as Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (season 1, episode 7). - Photo:  Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  PennyDreadful_107_1048

Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Caliban (The Creature) anxiously look after the corpse of Brona, who was dying of consumption but had her death sped up by the good doctor, in his desire to create Caliban a “bride.”  Caliban wanders the streets of London and happens upon a wax museum that rivals a certain famous wax museum, and finds employment at the museum.  The business is a family run business, and Caliban seems taken with a female employee.  Caliban also gives a false name of John Claire, and agrees to start work right away, even though the salary is low.

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Malcolm Murray and his wife bury their daughter, Mina Murray Harker.   Gladys blames her husband, as the couple is now childless.  Malcolm attempts to convince Gladys to sell their home in the country, but Gladys refuses, stating that she will remain married to Malcolm in name only.

Malcolm, Victor, Sembene, Ethan and Vanessa meet in Malcolm’s house in London.  The group argues over the nature of the demons who attacked Vanessa and Ethan, with Victor proclaiming their existence to be impossible, as they are speaking what he calls a “dead language.”  The group is unable to come to a consensus on how to best deal with the threat.  Vanessa agrees to stay with Malcolm, and Ethan states that he will not leave London and will stay with Malcolm and Vanessa, at least for the present.

Malcolm 1

A group of women is seen gathering at an undisclosed location in London.  It becomes clear that these women were responsible for the attack on Vanessa and Ethan.  Their leader is seen bathing in the blood of a young woman.  The creatures discuss Vanessa and Ethan, and their leader kills one of the group for speaking out of turn.

Vanessa appears to begin praying in front of a cross in Malcolm’s house, and mutters an incantation in Latin.  The group of women also begin an incantation.  Vanessa spills her blood on the floor and continues with the incantation.  The demons encountered earlier appear behind Vanessa, but they do not attack her.  Instead, the creatures seem intent on tormenting her.

Vanessa Ivers 2

Victor has returned to his lab, and there is a thunderstorm.  Victor and Caliban realize that their chance to resurrect Brona has now arrived, and rush to complete the task.  Their efforts pay off, and the episode ends with the corpse of Brona coming to life.

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My Thoughts

Last season, Penny Dreadful ended on some cliffhangers.  It appeared that Ethan was indeed a werewolf, and we would see more of that this season.  It also appeared that Brona was headed for a major change (being dead and being resurrected tends to do that to a person).  And lots more questions were raised about Vanessa:  just what was possessing her and why?  And what can she do to fight it?

Well, this episode of Penny Dreadful was…wait for it…a cliffhanger!  Yes, I still had questions.  Just why the heck is Vanessa being pursued by these really, really bad folks?  What on earth did she do to warrant that?  And where is the un-dead bride aka Brona?  And most, importantly, where is the wolf?  I wanna see the wolf!!!

Wolf 2

Well, wrong wolf there…sorry, got a little carried away.

No, I want to see Ethan’s werewolf side.  We had been teased about it all last season, and the writers are still teasing about it…just go ahead and go full werewolf already, Ethan!  Don’t worry, I won’t judge as I will still think you are hot!

Ethan Chandler 3

Another thing I noticed about this episode was that the demons were actually visible.  In many of the episodes last season, the enemy (may be Dracula, may be Lucifer himself, maybe something else entirely that we are not familiar with) was not actually visible.  And believe it or not, the show still managed to be creepy, largely due to the efforts of Eva Green, Josh Hartnett and Timothy Dalton.  And when the evil did become visible (which was actually rare), the payoff was pretty great.

Demon 1

However, this episode went another route:  we could actually put names and faces to at least one of the enemies.  They appeared to be a coven of witches who worshiped Satan himself.  And these women were nasty, as they appear to be able shapeshift and are also pretty mean fighters.  So that was a change of pace, and it made me wonder just what direction the show is going take in season 2:  is it going to focus more heavily on the bad guys, perhaps show some more gore?  I tend to think that answer is yes, but we shall see…pun intended!

Poor, poor Vanessa.  Apparently, she pissed someone (or perhaps something) and its not good enough for that creature to kill her.  No sir, whatever it is seems to want to toy with her and just outright torture poor Vanessa.  And whatever it is means…yes sir, it sure does!  And it also seems to go by the saying:  If you can’t beat them, join them.  Well, actually whatever it is wants to apply that to Vanessa, as it appears that Uncle Evil wants Vanessa to serve it!  However, Vanessa is a fighter, and has some friends willing to fight for her as well.

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And then there is Victor Frankenstein.  Victor is…well…he’s a douchebag.  And he ranks up there (or is it down there?) on that list of literary and film douchebags I have been compiling for all of these years.

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Nor did Victor disappoint in this episode.  There is one constant in Penny Dreadful: Victor Frankenstein can be counted on to be a douchebag.  And conniving and arrogant.  And manipulative.  And I shudder to think of what will happen when Ethan finds out that Victor helped Brona along to her death to serve his own purposes.  That fight scene may actually rival a wedding of a certain unnamed shades of red   color…

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All in all, the season opener to the second season of Penny Dreadful was expected:  it had some interesting moments, and managed to raise even more questions.  But that’s all the reason to keep watching, my dear!


 

So tune back in next week, where we will revisit the grown up person’s sundae bar, aka Penny Dreadful, and talk more about our favorite literary Avengers, extremely handsome werewolf and poor hapless demon magnet!  And have a dreadfully good time doing it!

Penny Dreadful 2

Conversations with RF: A conduit to Mid-World

If you had told me 5 years ago that Stephen King and the Dark Tower books would make me tons of new friends, I would have laughed at you.  I mean, his books are awesome, but are they are really that awesome to bring a nerd like me out of her shell, causing her to spend tons of time talking about this somewhat niche topic online, and finding her bee people in the process?Well, that’s apparently a silly questions.  The answer is of course!  Thanks to the internet and some chance searches on Facebook, I am now part of several groups of people that do not tire from talking about the niche topic and have (in part) inspired me to start this blog.  And in the process, I have even met some famous folk…Famous folk like RF..

.man in black

No, not that RF, silly…I would be lucky to survive that meeting, wouldn’t I?

No, none other than this RF.  None other than the lovely Robin Furth herself!  Robin Furth is the writer of Dark Tower: Concordance and is also the writer of the Dark Tower comics, which are a spin off to King’s novels of the same name.  Ms. Furth is also Stephen King’s research assistant.  In other words, she is the eyes and ears to Mid-World and all its intricacies and probably knows more about Dark Tower, Mid-World and all the characters than even the master himself.

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And I was fortunate enough to be able to speak to Ms. Furth and gain a little insight to the world that has held me captive for so many years.  Here is my interview below.  RF is Robin Furth.  COFG is Crazy Obsessed Fan Girl.  That’s me, in case you were confused.


 

COFG:  Can you tell us a little about yourself?  This can be anything (personal, professional, etc).

RF:  I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and spent most of my childhood in Upper Darby, a township which lies a few miles outside of the city.  However my summers were spent at my grandparents’ house in Surry, Maine, which is about an hour’s drive from Bangor where Stephen King’s famous house is located.   I think my love affair with Stephen King’s work began the summer I read Salem’s Lot and realized that the Lot was located only a couple of hours drive from where my grandparents lived.  Boy did I give myself the shivers!

salem's lot

After I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania I won a scholarship to do a Masters Degree in English Literature at the University of York in England.  While there I met and fell in love with my husband, the British poet Mark Rutter.  Mark and I stayed in York for about three years but then we decided to move back to Maine.  We both enrolled at the University of Maine at Orono (Steve King’s Alma Matter). Mark was a grad student in Creative Writing and I was a candidate for a state teaching certificate.

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Until the late 1990’s we supported ourselves by teaching, but then both decided that it was time for a change and enrolled in UMO’s individualized PhD program.  At the time I was writing a vampire novel and decided to focus my studies on supernatural fiction.  Luckily for me, one of my advisers was Burt Hatlen–one of Steve King’s undergraduate advisers and one of his close friends.  Hence when Steve decided he needed to find an assistant to do some occasional work and wanted to hire a starving grad student, Burt recommended me.  I am in Burt’s debt, since that recommendation completely transformed my life.

burt hatlen

COFG:  How did you come to read Stephen King and then write about him, write the comics and so forth?

RF: As I mentioned before, I’ve been a King fan since I read ’Salem’s Lot when I was about fourteen, but my first taste of the King universe was when I saw Carrie, when I was about eleven. (My mom wanted to see it and so she took me and my two older sisters to see it at the cinema.) I was probably a little young for the film, but I LOVED it.  I was amazed that other people were interested in psi powers, and that people actually wrote books about such things. I felt a tremendous sense of relief and joy at such an amazing discovery. My feeling was, “WOW, I’m not alone!” After that, my childhood dream was to work for Stephen King. I didn’t think it would ever come true.

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I started working for Steve King back in 2000—the year after his terrible accident.  By that time Steve had already published On Writing and needed somebody to sort through the thousands of responses he’d received for the On Writing story competition.  He wanted to help out a UMO grad student so he contacted Burt Hatlen, as I said earlier.  Burt knew that I was a writer, that I loved fantasy, horror, and sci-fi, and that I was a fan of Steve’s work, so he recommended me for the job. That original project lasted about a month. I did some of my work from home, some from the King office, but most of my contact with Steve at that point was through email.  (Most of my interactions were actually with Steve’s assistant, the wonderful Marsha DeFilippo).

At the end of that assignment I went into the office to pick up my final paycheck and met Steve King himself. I was really tongue-tied, but Steve was very relaxed and kind and asked me if I wanted more work.  He was about to return to the Dark Tower series and needed someone to create an index of characters and places.  (He wanted to be able to double-check for plot and character continuity—no small job for such a large body of work.)

Anyway, when Steve asked whether I was interested in the job I said yes.  (Of course!)  In the end, not only did I create a huge dictionary of characters and places and plot twists, but I recorded Mid-World games, Mid-World languages, Mid-World diseases, and pretty much everything else I could think of. I drew a door labeled THE AUTHOR which was supposed to help Steve reenter Mid-World. I placed the door at the front of the manuscript then I bound the whole thing in black and taped a key to the front. (The key was so Steve King could open the door.) I wasn’t certain how Steve would react to my wild enthusiasm, but he liked it enough to ask whether I wanted to continue working with his manuscripts.  After that, I received draft chapters as Steve wrote them so that I could continue building my Dark Tower Concordance. I’ve been lucky enough to live in Mid-World ever since.

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The collaboration between Stephen King and Marvel Comics really began when Joe Quesada, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, mentioned at a comic book convention that he really wanted to work with Stephen King.  Word eventually made it back to the King office and Chuck Verrill (Steve’s editor and agent) contacted Marvel.  After many discussions everyone decided that the best book to adapt would be Wizard and Glass, since it tells the story of Roland’s adventures in Hambry, when he and his friends are fourteen years old.

Roland and David

I was there at the original meeting between Steve, Chuck Verrill, and Marvel.  (Well, I wasn’t there in body.  I was there via phone link.)  I’d spent so long in the Dark Tower universe that Steve thought it would be a good idea to have me on board for the Marvel project.  I’d never worked in comics before but I loved graphic novels and illustrated books so was excited about the whole thing.  I also wanted to see Roland and his friends take on that extra dimension—to have faces and bodies which moved through space.  As you can imagine, my initial learning curve was INCREDIBLY steep.

Susan Delgado

But luckily for me, I was working with a terrific team of extremely experienced comic book folks.  Peter David, Jae Lee, Richard Isanove, Ralph Macchio, and all the other editors and artists who have worked on the series, have been great. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from all of them.

COFG:  What is your favorite Stephen King work, if any?
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Boy, that’s a tough one! Dark Tower is probably my absolute favorite, but I love many of Steve King’s works. The Dark Half would have to be high on the list, as would Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Bag of Bones, Insomnia, The Talisman (co-written with the wonderful Peter Straub) . . .  the list goes on!
wolf and jack

COFG:  And lastly, I consider the comics to be a great addition to the King universe.  I love the artwork and the additional story lines I am getting and consider them to be icing on the cake.  However, there are a few fans who would disagree with me, as they are purists and do not feel the comics are in step with the books.  What is your response, if any, to that?

RF: As a writer, I think you have to resign yourself to the fact that you can never please everyone. All you can do is your best. Many Dark Tower fans have images of the books in their heads and will never feel comfortable with a comic book adaptation or a film adaptation.

There are even DT fans who hate King’s ending to the series, but that’s the experience of being a writer. Ultimately, you have to try your best to remain true to yourself and to the imaginative world you are part of.  Adapting a novel to comic book form is a bit like altering a novel and making it into a film.  Everything has to be visual, and you have to tell your reader everything you can via action.

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Hence, my real goal has been to stay true to Steve’s vision—a vision recounted over the course of the seven (now eight) books of the series.(Plus “Little Sisters of Eluria.”  We can’t forget that one!)  I’ve tried hard to remember the face of my father, say thankya.  All stories and story cycles go through Steve and his agent Chuck Verrill, so not only is he the original author of the books but he’s also the final editor of the comics!

little sisters

I must add that this project has not been as straightforward an endeavor as it might seem when you read the comics, especially since both Stephen King and Marvel comics wanted the comics to add more to the books, not just recount the same tale.  (When I deliver straightforward adaptations, they are returned to me with the comment, “add more new stuff!”) I decided early on that the person I want to please most, and that ultimately I must please, is Stephen King himself, since the Dark Tower universe is his baby.

As you know, the story covered by the first seven comics is Steve’s story—the one he told in Wizard and Glassand I’m very proud of that piece of work. (I’m proud of all the Dark Tower comics, but that was the first.)

roland and susan 2

My job was to adapt that novel to a new format, which meant cutting some scenes and adapting others.  (Occasionally I ended up adding and adapting bits from other Dark Tower books, such as the scene in issue #1 when Roland and his friends attend a falconry class.)  When we first started this project, I wondered how on earth any artist would be able to take the pressure of creating faces and bodies for Stephen King’s beloved characters, but all of the artists involved have created spectacularly beautiful work—visuals that really live and breathe.

Roland and tet 1


And this world will continue to live and breathe for a long, long time, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Furth and her team.  Again, I feel fortunate to have made so many new friends who continue to educate me on my favorite fantasy series of all time.  And again, I thank Ms. Furth for taking the time to speak to little old me.  Thank ya big big, and long days and please nights!


The works of Robin Furth and her team are available in bookstores, comic book shops, Amazon.com and are also available in digital format on sites such as comixology.com.  I highly recommend them, as they add an entire new dimension to The Dark Tower experience.