9 reasons to watch Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is back and it’s as magnificent as ever.

Continuing two years after we last saw the Shelby family, the period gangster drama will follow Thomas and the rest of the gang as they expand onto the perilous streets of London and, as expected, things don’t run quite as smoothly as they’d hoped.

Here’s why you should tune in as the drama returns:

1. Welcome to the 1920s

The second series picks up two years since we last saw the gang and their business continues to boom. As they look to expand both their legal and illegal operations the Peaky Blinders head to London, but they aren’t welcomed upon arrival.

2. Gangster development

As the Peaky Blinders develop as a gang in series two expect lots of action and plenty of gore as they discover that as you gain more power your actions have bigger consequences (and your enemies become much more brutal).

3. What happened to Inspector Campbell and Grace?

The dramatic series one finale ended with a cliff-hanger that left viewers wondering what became of Inspector Campbell and Grace. Our questions will finally be answered as the show returns.

4. Strong female presence

Women played a key role in the first series of Peaky Blinders and they’re set to be even more prominent as the show returns.

The fantastic Helen McCrory returns as Aunt Polly who will be contending with her own problems as she faces up to issues from her past. Natasha O’Keeffe, Sophie Rundle and Aimee-Ffion Edwards are also back as Lizzie, Ada and Esme.

5. Cillian Murphy

There’s no denying that Cillian Murphy is an extraordinary actor. His portrayal of the complex anti-hero Tommy Shelby is completely compelling and he steals the show.

We can’t wait to see what he does with the character next.

6. Tom Hardy

The brilliant Tom Hardy will appear in the second series as a charismatic leader who’s set to square up against the Shelbys.

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that Tom Hardy makes a mean gangster.

7. More casting coups

Noah Taylor will play the head of an organisation that stands in the way of the Peaky Blinders while Charlotte Riley joins as an aristocrat who crosses paths with Thomas, adding to the already impressive casting line-up.

8. Sleek style

The cast all went under some big transformations to replicate the style of the Peaky Blinders. Not only do they wear suave herringbone tweed jackets and flat caps, the male members of the cast also had to have a directional haircut.

Apparently Cillian Murphy wasn’t too keen on the look, but we think he pulls it off.

9. Stylish cinematography

The show continues to be filmed on a grand scale and looks amazing on screen.

We can expect to see more large-scale sets, explosions and a fair few fights in series two.

It’s going to be amazing…

8 reasons why How I Met Your Mother should’ve used its alternative ending

As a HUGE ‘How I Met Your Mother’ fan I felt so many emotions following the airing of the sitcom’s final episode earlier this year.

It’s painful to admit, but I was hugely disappointed as the credits rolled for the final time.

I’d stuck with the show through thick and thin, celebrating the brilliant storylines and gimmicks (Robin Sparkles, the pineapple, Slapbet – it was all great) and also persevered through the last few seasons where the comedy seemed forced and over the top.

The last 10 minutes of the finale came as a huge disappointment. It belittled everything that the final season seemed to create and encourage and it didn’t feel like the characters got the happy ending that they deserved.

That’s why I was over the moon to discover the alternative ending that features on the complete box set DVD release of the show.

I’ve written a little bit about the finale for Metro.co.uk, sharing my opinion that the alternative ending should’ve been used instead of the original one.

Check out my article – 8 reasons why How I Met Your Mother should’ve used its alternative ending – and feel free to share!

Who were the real winners and losers of the 2014 MTV VMAs?

MTV VMAs

If there’s one award show that guarantees drama each year it’s the MTV Video Music Awards.

The celebration has been the host of a number of infamous incidents in the past – Madonna controversially kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on stage in 2007, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009 and last year Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke shocked audiences with their risqué performance of Blurred Lines.

Lorde, Ed Sheeran and 5 Seconds of Summer were amongst those to walk away with a moon man trophy this year, but who were the real winners and losers of the night?

Winners…

Beyonce

The verdict from Twitter was that Beyonce ruled the night with her extravaganza of a performance and emotional acceptance of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. However, she may have been slightly overshadowed by her adorable daughter…

Blue Ivy Carter

After announcing her pregnancy at the 2011 VMAs, Beyonce brought Blue Ivy along to this year’s awards. The toddler stole the show with her adorable dancing and even Katy Perry tweeted that her “life is over” because the child waved at her.

Miley Cyrus

Following last year’s catastrophic performance of Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke, all eyes were on Miley Cyrus at the 2014 VMAs.

After winning the Video of the Year award the singer sent a homeless teenager named Jesse onto the stage to collect the moon man trophy. Jesse then directed viewers to Cyrus’s Facebook page, where the star encouraged people to donate to My Friend’s Place, a homeless shelter in Hollywood.

Sam Smith

Sam Smith’s incredible stripped-back rendition of Stay With Me wowed the VMA audience, who could be heard singing along with him during the captivating performance.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry decided to channel Britney Spears with her VMA outfit by rocking double denim alongside Riff Raff, her collaborator on This Is How We Do. She admitted that her look was inspired by ‘nostalgia’ and her ‘Tumblr addiction’ and Britney even tweeted that she thought Katy looked great.

Losers…

Amber Rose

Amber Rose’s outfit was inspired by another VMA trendsetter, Rose McGowan, but she turned heads at this year’s awards for all of the wrong reasons. There’s having fun with a throwback outfit and then there’s being nearly nude.

The Kardashians

When rapper Common requested that the audience should have a minute’s silence as a tribute to the Ferguson conflict, Kim, Kylie and Kendall appeared to be looking at their phones. In fact, the sisters were frequently on their phones throughout the night and viewers were unimpressed by their lack of respect.

Nicki Minaj

After it was revealed that her backing dancer had been bitten by a snake during rehearsals it was clear that Nicki Minaj had grand plans for the VMAs. However, many were unimpressed with her suggestive dancing when performing Anaconda and then she had that dress malfunction on-stage with Jessie J and Ariana Grande.

Pretty Little Liars – A Pretty Little Television Adaptation

 

Pretty Little Liars has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the US. The show’s third season has just finished and is going from strength to strength with ABC picking it up for another two seasons. There’s also a spin-off show, Ravenswood, in the works.

Based on the captivating book series by Sara Shepard, the show follows four girls who are tormented by the disappearance of their best friend Alison. Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) are all stereotypical teenagers with different interests. The girls are fundamentally different yet pulled together by Alison, the glue of the group. They share secrets like all best friends do, but Alison seems to have dirt on everyone in town so when she disappears and is never seen again there are many suspects who could have been involved.

Alison’s disappearance causes the girls to drift apart and they believe their secrets are buried with her… until a mysterious person starts sending them intimidating messages revealing things only Alison knew, signing off the messages with “-A.” Initially the girls think Alison is still alive but when her body is found buried under the gazebo of her old house, the girls regroup to find the perpetrator.

The original book series has proved to be extremely popular, with twelve novels published as well as a companion novel. Two more books are planned for release by the end of this year.

Due to the loyal fan base of the novels, there has been a lot of controversy about the production of the television adaptation. Whilst certain elements remain the same, such as the characters names and the general plotline, some viewers have complained about more major differences. For example, some truly sinister characters in the book series have been transformed into love interests and well-received characters are still featured in the television series despite being killed off or leaving in the novels.

Whilst it’s fair that dedicated fans get frustrated about the differences in the adaptation, it’s clear to see why the production of the show doesn’t follow the same narrative as the original series. Most of the novels only span a timeline of a few days, which wouldn’t transfer easily onto a weekly television show of 20 or so episodes a series. New plotlines need to be introduced, or drawn out, to have enough material. The pilot episode, for example, was based entirely on the first book. If the show continued at this pace, there wouldn’t be enough material to make one series.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The issue with television adaptation is that suspense needs to be built in every episode, which usually only focuses on a few plot points. In the case of Pretty Little Liars, with four main characters, it is essential to address a number of different plotlines in each episode. Due to the amount of content that needs to be addressed, fans often become frustrated when questions remain unanswered and sub-plots are forgotten about.

Marlene King, the executive producer for the show, constantly comes under fire on social networking websites for the show’s direction. Fans either criticise her for digressing away from the books or for leaving too many unanswered questions. But that’s surely what good television is all about – Intrigue, suspense, shocks and debate.

Fidelity to the source text is important to some extent, but with television adaptations, you never know how long the show is going to run for. To remain popular, producers will respond to what audiences want.

It can be frustrating as a viewer when questions remain unanswered and characters disappear for a number of episodes and it can be annoying when promos are edited to suggest viewers will receive answers when they don’t – but is fidelity in adaptation as important when it comes to television?

With Pretty Little Liars’ incredible fan base, and the go-ahead for at least two more seasons, it’s likely that producers will be able to plan ahead for what needs to be revealed and when. They have many hours of content they need to fill with plots so it is clear they will need to bring in new ideas rather than remaining entirely faithful to the books.

After all, if the show followed the exact plot of the book series surely we’d all be passive viewers, never excited about character developments and never intrigued about what would be happening in the next episode. It’s far more exciting to be an active viewer, continually being shocked by characters and wondering what will be revealed next. Pretty Little Liars is, in my opinion, a great example of how adaptation should be done for a continuing series.

What is your opinion on adaptation for television? Is fidelity less important for a continuing series?

 

Preview: Gavin and Stacey’s US Remake – Us and Them

Cast of 'Us and Them' [Image: Independent]

Cast of ‘Us and Them’ [Image: Independent]

The pilot of the American Gavin and Stacey adaptation, Us and Them, has officially been picked up by Fox TV.

I previously wrote about the remake, originally under the working title of Friends and Family, over on Yuppee Magazine but the trailer for the pilot has finally arrived:

Some things are clear from the trailer, there are new jokes but the general plot remains the same – a pair of young lovers start a relationship whilst dealing with their eccentric families. Gavin (Jason Ritter) is now a city slicker from New York and Stacey (Alexis Bledel) is from small town Pennsylvania.

Whilst adaptations are always exciting to watch, part of the beauty of Gavin and Stacey was the simplicity of its scripting. Catchphrases from the show weaseled their way into common phrasing and whilst the representations of characters were stereotypical, they were always relateable.

I think the main contribution to the success of the remake in America will be how viewers warm to the characters. In the original version of the show all of the characters were likeable and hilarious so hopefully with Ruth Jones and James Corden on board as executive producers this will be the case with the remake.

I’m excited to see the show when it airs but as a huge fan of the original I can’t help but be dubious about how it will translate on American television and whether it will do the show justice. I know that this has been the general feeling amongst UK viewers (and even American fans who have watched the original series) but others have expressed their excitement on social media at seeing the show being reinvigorated, stating it will fill the void left when Gavin and Stacey finished.

What are your thoughts based on the trailer? Will it be a tidy remake or a big mistake?

Why the world is going gaga for Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga features creative levels and challenges building on the traditional match-three formula

There has been an invasion of games on Facebook in recent years. From Farmville to Bejeweled, the inclusion of game apps on the social networking site has had a Marmite effect – you love them or hate them.

The game of the moment is undoubtedly Candy Crush Saga. Following months of resisting signing up, I am now hooked.

Candy Crush Saga is just like Bejeweled before it but with added twists. To advance each level, the player is tasked with different challenges. Not only do you have to get high scores, but you need to unblock certain squares or drop certain tokens to the bottom of the grid.

Interaction is important in Candy Crush Saga – you need to engage with your Facebook friends in order to advance or pay a small fee to unlock more levels. Whilst there was once a sense of “oh god another game request” when you logged into Facebook, now people are writing statuses asking for help and it’s incredible to see the amount of people playing via the on-screen map.

There are a number of reasons why Candy Crush Saga has remained one of the top played games virally over the last few months:

It’s Goal Orientated

Candy Crush Saga has its own narrative and doesn’t follow the same formula with every level. Whilst you might be against the clock on one level, the next will challenge you to break chained blocks of ice to free candy pieces. These differences stop the game from becoming monotonous and intrigues the player to wonder what challenges will appear next.

It Allows Synced Platforms

The game doesn’t standalone on Facebook as it is also a downloadable app. One of the biggest problems with gaming apps on Facebook is that they don’t captivate users to a full extent – not everyone logs into Facebook everyday and if they do, they might not have time to play a game. By creating the app to connect with smartphones, users are able to sync their accounts so that they can engage with their Facebook friends without ever having to log into a computer. If they have a spare five minutes, they’re far more likely to play on their mobile.

The Game Map

Competitiveness is a natural aspect of life, so Candy Crush very cleverly includes a game map. Players will want to get further than their friends and will want to beat the high scores displayed, what better way to motivate them than including their friends profile picture over the level they’re on?

It’s Not Endless Gameplay

Most would see this as a fault, but I think it encourages a return to play. Each player only has five lives at a time. If they run out, they can pay for more or ask their Facebook friends to send some but if they want to wait an hour or so, the lives will return. This not only encourages competitiveness to advance but motivates yourself to progress in the next five lives.

What are your thoughts on Candy Crush Saga? Do you love the app or do you hate the influx of requests?

Crowd Funding: How Veronica Mars Could Change the Film Industry

Crowd Funding

Crowd funding is the process in which individuals can donate money to people and organisations to help them achieve their goals. It has long been associated with the arts, specifically with unsigned musicians or filmmakers, who ask their fans to help fund their projects.

These funding websites, such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, frequently reward donators with perks and rewards for their financial contributions.

In the past, these websites were predominantly used by those who were relatively unknown, but recently they have become a source of backing projects made by well known organisations and filmmakers.

Since the cancellation of television series Veronica Mars in 2007, fans have been campaigning for series creator Rob Thomas to make a film version of the show. Both Thomas and actress Kristen Bell had expressed their interest in doing so but Warner Brothers, the show’s production company, opted not to fund the project.

Following persistence from Thomas and Bell, Warner Brothers agreed that should they find a way to provide funding for the film, they would back it. The pair organised a profile on Kickstarter with an objective of raising $2,000,000, the highest ever goal on the website, to be reached by April 12th. At the time of writing this article, with 18 days left to go, they have surpassed their aim and $3,872,624 has been pledged.

Due to the Kickstarter funding campaign, a Veronica Mars film is going into production this summer [Image: Kickstarter]

Due to the Kickstarter funding campaign, a Veronica Mars film is going into production this summer [Image: Kickstarter]

With the target being reached, the production of the film will now happen, with contributors winning rewards including scripts, limited edition t-shirts, DVDs, signed posters, twitter follows, premiere tickets  and even a speaking role in the movie.

Due to the support of the Veronica Mars movie project, the rumour mill has been going wild with the possibility of other defunct television shows being able to make films through fan funding. Shows including Pushing Daisies, Chuck and Firefly are now all being rumoured for revival.

The biggest issue with the increased interest in fan funded films is the fact that, should these higher budget films be successful, it will be a more frequented method of covering production costs and smaller independent projects may get overlooked.

When big production companies are already involved with the film’s development, it does feel like an elaborate ploy for these corporations to earn extra money and it is a shame that people are likely to be more willing to contribute to these ventures than those with absolutely no means of funding their projects without extra support.

Furthermore, this method of funding changes the whole viewing experience for film fans. Rewards are there to ensure that financial contributors aren’t taken advantage of, but the process still holds great risk – what if the production doesn’t deliver with its promises and, more importantly, what if the fans who contribute towards the project aren’t happy with the final result?

Fans will be donating a lot of money to the film, what with the initial funding pledges, cinema trips and the purchase of dvds and merchandise, these contributors will therefore expect a lot from the final product and so they should.

I guess it comes down to Veronica Mars to set the precedent but, because of the media attention of the project and the persistence of fans, it seems likely to be a commercial success, which may mean film fans could soon have a more active role in the production of higher budget films, whether this is for the best or not.