Colony: New/Old Dystopian Dictatorship (Review)

USA network has gone for a new “old” story of occupation by a mysterious superior force that plunges residents into a dystopian society in Colony.

Colony - Pilot

USA network has gone for a new “old” story of occupation by a mysterious superior force that plunges residents into a dystopian society in Colony. Show creators Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Ryan Condal (Hercules) looked at occupied Paris during the second world war and asked how modern families and the average person would react to a new version of Nazi control.  In this instance, the controlling faction are mysterious in origin, the viewer has no idea where the “hosts’ come from or who, or what, they are.

The pilot takes place after the new hosts have taken over. Los Angeles is surrounded by an insurmountable wall and we meet the series protagonist, Will “Sullivan” aka Bowman, who  was an FBI agent before the occupation.  Like other law enforcement officials, Bowman changed his name and went “off the grid” after the new government was put into place by the suppressors.

Like the people of France, or indeed like the oppressed people from the director’s pervious home of Argentina in the 1970s, the show asks a number of questions. How far would you go to protect your family? Would you put your family’s safety over that of your fellow man? More importantly, would you be a collaborator or join the resistance?

Colony, in the pilot makes it pretty clear that modern man in the greater Los Angeles is pretty resilient. The blackmarket is alive and well. The barter system is used to purchase many things, including substandard insulin, which the new hosts deem unnecessary in an attempt to weed out the weak.

Will Bowman (Sullivan) is played by another Lost alumnus, Josh Holloway.  Working as a mechanic, Josh’s character is struggling to maintain an air of normalcy for his segmented family. He risks it all to find the son that was caught outside the city when the new hosts invaded and took over. 

Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead) is Will’s wife Katie, who appears to be equally capable and as tough as her ex-cop husband. The two have a splendid chemistry together, as do the two child actors who play their children.

The walled in city is patrolled by drones and a militaristic police force called “red hats.” Colony’s denizens face a life of fear, control, curfews, and being sent to “the factory.” Collaborators enjoy special privileges, in a way quite similar to the “elite” in “Soylent Green, just not quite so extreme.

The pilot looks interesting enough to warrant a longer look, i.e. checking out further episodes to see where this story will go. Colony could be seen as a modern morality tale based upon historical fact.

Colony - pilot
Josh Holloway – Will Bowman

A strong cast, along with a disturbing present day feel, makes this an interesting offering.  LA looks no different from what one might see while driving down to the local shop. Except, fences are topped with razor wire and the city itself is surrounded by a huge, shiny wall. Movement between blocs is strictly controlled and the new regime are hunting constantly to find members of the resistance.

The series will premiere January 14, 2016 on USA. Tune in and see what the world could be like under a non-benevolent dictatorship of mysterious hosts.

 

Stephen King’s Under the Dome Mini-series starts Monday.

Stephen King’s Under the Dome Mini-series starts Monday.

Lost to Lost (2004 – 2010)

Lost season one

I never watched Lost when it was running on the telly. I watched the ‘pilot’ episode and saw that the survivors of the plane crash were on an island and they were, for the most part, immaculate. That sort of put me right out of the moment.

A couple of critics mentioned the “unreality” of the series and I just ‘lost’ interest before the series got started. I did catch the odd program now and then, usually when I was channel hopping, but it never really caught my interest for very long. I also tuned in for the ‘big finish’ but I really couldn’t tell you what it entailed or why everyone was so miffed at the ending.

Just recently, after reading a few articles on the web, my daughter’s and my interest was piqued enough about the long running show to watch a few episodes via a rental shop, but never got around to watching any of the episodes.

Then Netflix added them and we decided to take a break from our ritualistic viewing of Come Dine With Me and watch season one.

We were  hooked from episode one of season one.

Watching the show now, I cannot help but wonder, what the hell was I thinking? The show is, quite simply, amazing. The creators managed to create a verse where rules were not only broken, but re-written as well. The Lost ‘verse’ is a serendipitous maze where everyone, it seems, on the island have crossed paths and interacted with their fellow ‘inmates’ well before their incarceration on the island.

I don’t know why I was so against watching the show when it first came out in 2004 or why I shunned it afterwards. I only know that if I had watched it during it’s initial run, it would have driven me crazy waiting for the next episode and what questions and answers it would bring.

It appears that J.J. Abrams and co. captured that elusive ‘lightning in a bottle’ that so many film and television creators dream of but never find. I can’t think of many television programs that have managed to so effectively and regularly knock the metaphorical ball out of the park  on a regular basis.

Dallas may fall in this category, the lightning in a bottle category, as it was wildly popular in much the same way as Lost. And even though the stories and plot devices for each show was different they do both boil down to the same type of show.

Soap opera.

Not the simple everyday Soaps like As the World Turns, All my Children, or The Days of our Lives, but a sort of Grand Guignol version of a soap opera. Dallas was definitely a soap opera for everyone, not just bored housewives or unemployed members of society trying to escape for a couple of hours each day. Dallas was soap opera for the masses.

And so was Lost.

I can only shake my head in amazement and confusion at my stubborn refusal to watch the show when it originally aired from 2004 to 2010. My biorhythms must have been completely out of whack. But thanks to Netflix, my daughter and I can get caught up in the trials and tribulations of Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Locke, and all the others on their voyage on the island.

They are like a twisted version of Gilligan’s Island. With Hurley as the mega-rich Mr Howell. Jack could be the professor, but I’m still working on who the others would be in this allegorical mishmash idea. So I’ll continue to watch and marvel at the wonders that Lost brings to the viewing table.

I guess in a way, I’m glad I didn’t watch Lost during it’s heyday, waiting anxiously each week for the next episode.

The suspense would have killed me.

Pin (1988) Overlooked and Unloved

With no less than eighty-six horror films released in 1988, it is no wonder that Pin got lost in the shuffle. This quiet psychological horror film had to compete with the likes of Phantasm II, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Maniac Cop, and a slew of “Slasher” films, sequels and the re-make of The Blob.
 Sandor Stern directed and wrote the screenplay for Pin. Adapted from a novel byAndrew Neiderman and if you’ve never heard of him, I’ll just point out that he was the ‘ghost-writer’ for V.C. Andrews from 1986.
Pin aka  Pin a Plastic Nightmare – Is about  a family that is just about as dysfunctional as you could want. Pin is an anatomically correct plastic dummy. He is life sized and covered in clear plastic (all the better to see his muscles, bones and organs). He sits in a chair in Doctor Linden’s office, naked save for a towel over his lap. Dr Linden it turns out is a ventriloquist. He provides the voice for Pin, who he uses to ‘break the ice’ with his younger patients. He needs Pin because he is not a very communicative person. He has such a problem that he uses Pin to teach his own children about sex. Doc Linden is played with icy aloofness byTerry O’Quinn, fresh from his top notch perfomance in The Stepfather (1987). O’Quinn would go on to more impressive roles culminating in his pivitol role as John Locke in Lost (2004 – 2010).  In Pin O’Quinn’s portrayal of Linden is spot on. This is a man who expects much from his children, especially his son, and yet does not know how to communicate with them.
Mrs Linden as played by actress  Bronwen Mantel, obviously suffers from OCD so badly that she has plastic covers on all the family’s furniture. She even tells her son Leon that he can no longer play with a friend, because he looks diseased. Leon answers back and gets a slap for his angry retort. Unfortunately we are not able to read a lot into Mrs Linden’s character. She is there to provide a somewhat two dimensional version of a cleaning obsessed woman, who is also a good cook. But like her husband, she cannot communicate with the children either.
David Hewlett and Cynthia Preston play Leon and Ursula Linden with confidence and an impressive ease.  The fact that they had worked together the previous year on the feature The Darkside obviously helped them to bond as the on-screen brother and sister. Hewlett especially impresses as the psychotic Leon who has believed since childhood that plastic man Pin is alive. Ursula has known since their first meeting that Dad was providing the voice for Pin, but she has never tried to convince Leon of it.
Once Doc Linden realises that Leon has developed an unhealthy fixation on Pin, he decides that Pin must go. He loads Pin into the family car with Mrs Linden and then speeds  off to a convention where the good doctor decides that Pin must stay. Unfortunately, the fact that Doc has been a bit “weirded out” by Pin means that besides speeding on wet roads, he spends too much time looking at Pin in the rear view mirror. The combination of speed and inattention causes the car to crash and sic transit Doctor and Mrs Linden.
With the departure of Mom and Dad, Leon descends even further into the belief that Pin is real.  And at this point we the audience start harbouring the belief that Leon might just be right.
This film deals with sexuality and the growing pains of becoming sexually aware. Yet for all the heavy sexual overtones, there is very little sex in the film. We get one glance of sister Ursula’s feet against the backseat window of a car and one flash of topless nudity when Leon  unsuccessfully tries his first bid at sex.
The film has a bit in common with the South Korean film The Tale of Two Sisters. Like Two Sisters there are scenes in Pin that are absolutely, one hundred percent cringe worthy. Yet we as the audience cannot help but watch. The director does not hesitate to ”lose the music” in these excruciating scenes and it helps to sell the film.
The film has been likened to Psycho and I don’t really get the link. The only thing that it has in common is that it does indeed feel like a Hitchcock film. It is brilliantly paced, moody, creepy, and sometimes downright sad. Although I do suppose the end of the film could be linked to Psycho’s ending.
So If you get a chance see this film. You will not regret it. And if it doesn’t become a firm favourite…I’ll eat my plastic covered man.

Lost

English: Title of the tv-series LOST. Français...
English: Title of the tv-series LOST. Français : Lettres Lost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We have all lost something in our lives. Whether the thing lost is as mundane as a favourite ring or as vital as our will to live, we have all suffered the loss of something we needed.

Most people’s lives are filled with loss. As we shuffle through this mortal coil, we constantly misplace things. Some of these things are corporeal, like car keys, others are ethereal . I say ethereal  because they deal with things that are part of us. Things that are part of our very essence.

Like most folks I have lost my fair share of things, both corporeal and  ethereal. As people we lose: loved ones, prized possessions and parts of us. I have lost all these things. Some I miss. Others I have never spared a single thought on apart from the initial befuddlement at losing the item.

I am focusing on the ethereal things we lose.

I am pretty sure we all remember losing our innocence. It is generally a traumatic event, one that stays in our memory for years. The memory stays with us long after we’ve lost it. Like a sour after-taste with a slightly bitter edge to it. Some people can forget the trauma, but only in their concious mind. Subconsciously it lives on, dancing in our dreams and flitting through our day-dreams, like a noxious fairy.

Sometimes we lose our self-confidence. This can happen at the same time as the loss of innocence. These two things are not always as traumatic as each other, but both events change you. When you’ve lost both these “essences” you can still live your life. You just have to make allowances. You have to realize that the innocence can never be regained. The self confidence can with a lot of hard work and determination…and luck.

The other thing we can lose is our way. Our purpose in life.  In other words, our goal in life. We are all born with certain innate talents and skills that make us unique as a person. When we are young, it seems crystal clear to us that we should use these talents and skills to make our way forward in life. But life is a series of road-blocks and compromises. Sometimes in avoiding the road-blocks and enduring the compromises we get lost.

I can’t remember when I lost my way. I also can’t really remember when I lost confidence in my skill and talents. I do know that both occurred about the same time.

Years ago, when I still had an agent, I wound up losing him. At the time, it seemed the most devastating thing in the world. I felt that I had lost the will to live. I want to tell you friends and neighbours it was a close thing. I decided that living was the more important thing to do. I had a family and I wanted to be there for them.

My belief in myself, my self confidence, also went the way of my agent. For the first time in my life, I felt that the creative essence that made me who I was “had left the building.”

Now I am slowly finding my “lost” self confidence. I’m also discovering lost skills and talents that I thought were gone forever. All is not lost. It was just misplaced and now I am earnestly trying to find my way in life again.

So take heart, just because you’ve lost something doesn’t mean it is gone forever. You might just find it again. Unless, of course, it is the lost innocence thing. But if you find yours could you keep an eye out for mine as well.