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Friday, June 28, 2019

Comic Cuts - 28 June 2019

I seem to have spent the week wading through gore as I stumbled across a few boxes of old horror magazines. I'd forgotten how many of these I used to read. Lots of Hammer related magazines and fanzines celebrating "Hammer glamour" ranging from House of Hammer/Halls of Horror and various issues of The Dark Side and Femme Fatales to fanzines like Dark Terror and The House That Hammer Built.

A lot of the magazines celebrated the gorier side of horror, which I've never been a huge fan of. Ditto for horror in book form. I'm happy to dip into horror occasionally – I'm a lifelong fan of Ramsey Campbell, for instance – but nothing compared to how many I was reading back in the days of The Rats and Night of the Crabs...

I did meet a handful of the women who kick-started puberty for me, including Maddy Smith, Madeline Collinson, but not her twin sister Mary, and Caroline Munroe. I remember interviewing Caroline in a noisy cafe in London back in the Nineties only to later discover that the dictaphone I was using wasn't working properly. But Caroline was delightful and was probably the most famous person I'd interviewed, eventually trumped when I interviewed an Apollo astronaut a few years later.

Spoiler alert... we're talking Killing Eve after the pic.

I've read a few snotty reviews of the second season of Killing Eve which seem to imply that losing Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a writer has damaged the show beyond repair. I don't think this is the case, but there are one or two problems with the show that made it stumble.

At its heart, the first season of the show was a cat and mouse adventure played out over a kitchen sink drama. Eve Polastri is in a loving yet dull relationship, but works too hard to compensate for the boredom and routine of her home life. Villanelle, the psychopathic assassin whom Eve begins to fixate, is also complaining of boredom in her relationship with her handler, Konstantin, and her unpredictability is becoming a problem for him – the last thing he needs is for her flamboyant outfits and behaviour to attract attention.

The killer and her hunter fascinate each other and the question of what would they do should they ever meet looms quickly over the show. Well, they did meet and it's only half-way through the first series. So that question is answered and the central premise of the show fades away because Villanelle is not going to kill Eve. That, I suspect, is what led to the final scene of season one... resetting the premise that Eve has done something so bad to Villanelle that the assassin will want payback. The title makes sense again.

Season two picks up the plot and Villanelle has survived. But rather than treat her as the great threat she should be, another female assassin is introduced as a rival and antithesis to Villanelle. Eve and Villanelle have to work together to track down The Ghost (as she is known).

While I didn't think the second series deserved the drubbing it got, it suffered from the same problems that I think were generously overlooked in the first series. Cat and mouse stories work better when the cat and the mouse are enemies, one stalking the other, the other smartly evading its stalker. Killing Eve works best when Eve and Villanelle are kept apart, when Villanelle's unpredictable, manipulative nature can lead to surprises. The shocks this season are provided not in the relationship between Eve and Villanelle but by the relationships of Villanelle and her new handler and between Villanelle and Eve's husband, Niko. The ending is attention-grabbing, but give it a second or two and you realise it's just the end of season one in reverse. And the question of whether Eve will die is a moot one. She won't. I mean, it's not the first time Villanelle has left someone for dead who turns out later to be alive as we're averaging one a season (Nadia, Konstantin).

So, high marks, but could still do better. Keep Eve and Villanelle apart in Season three. The jeopardy might not be there (it will be revealed that Villanelle didn't want to kill Eve... either that or she's a lousy shot and unprofessional for not double-tapping Eve) but the characters and dialogue still sparkled in season two and there's no reason to think they can't for a third outing.

One of the best things on the TV at the moment, but sadly about to come to an end (we're watching the last episode tonight), is Brian Cox's five-part series on The Planets, which has been an eye-opener, not only for the gorgeousness of the swirling storms on the gas giants in the outer solar system, but for the latest developments in theories about the formation of the planets. Who knew that Jupiter was such a wanderer? Or that the rings of Saturn are crystal clear because they only formed within the past 100 million years?

Educating as it entertains. Gotta love Auntie Beeb.

1 comment:

  1. Something I read about Femme Fatales that has long amused me is that when it was pointed out to the editor that, to be grammatically correct, the title should have been Femmes Fatale he said he knew that, but the publisher had insisted on calling it Femme Fatales.