Hemlock Grove Debrief

What just happened? Anyone watch this thing? I watched the whole first season this week, never sure if the thing was dreck or brilliant until the end (dreck, I’m pretty sure, yeah, I’m going with dreck). My excuse is that it had a consistently dreamlike quality that was very engaging; the first show I’ve seen that tries to be Twin Peaks and gets it at least half right. The music was very remeniscent of Badalamenti without feeling like a straight ripoff. And yeah, I liked the way it took its time with the plot and kept things mysterious.

Until it didn’t anymore. ALL the revelations in the plot came off as completely random, made up on a whim the day of the shoot. Nothing that seemed to be building ever got built and oh my god the big reveals at the end were sooooooo utterly meh. Such a strange, strange experience. I still like the dreamlike quality in retrospect and that may mean I check out the second season 'cause it’ll be free, but damn, what a sorry missed chance at something kinda grand. Anyone else suffer through this?

Just finished the season a bit ago. While I agree with the “What just happened?” remark and can see reasons for criticisms I wouldn’t say I “suffered through” it. Maybe I have a different tolerance level.

It starts on a slow burn. For the first episode I was wondering if anything would happen and was concerned it’d drag the mystery out by not ever telling us anything. So, for anyone who checks it out and feels similar I recommend at least bearing with it until the end of the second episode. You’ll know why I picked that point once you see it.

As for the revelations near the end, most of them were at least hinted at but it was pretty subtle. Some did come out of left field or maybe I didn’t notice the hints.

I might get around to making more of a spoiler post with more specifics and both strengths and weaknesses but for now my main point is if you like horror films at least give it a chance.

I watch it for one thing and one thing only: Famke Jannsen’s amazingly bad English accent. It seriously has to be heard to be believed. I find it hard to accept that Dougray Scott hasn’t put down his script at one point and told her, “Look, I’m a Scot so I’ve no love for the English, but what you’re doing is just cruel. Stop it, just stop it right now.”

It struck me as a Tween-Pandering Twilight parody. From what little I’ve seen of Twilight, anyway.

Actually, the thing it sort of reminded me of was the first season of The Tudors. Cardboard characters who you are mostly expected to believe are powerful just because they look menacing and tell you they are powerful. Plotlines that did not immediately engage. Hints of deep complication in relationships that are just left out there to be forgotten long before any reveal might have taken place later in the series–if indeed there really was any complication, and not just a far lazier “hint at it but never reveal anything” approach.

I only watched an episode and a half, which is where it seems a lot of people checked out. But in all fairness, after Lillyhammer and House of Cards, I’m surprised Netflix served this in the form it did. This show ain’t no House of Cards, or even a Lillyhammer (both of which I enjoyed in different ways).

I’m shocked at how many people hated this. While I didn’t think it was the best thing I’ve ever seen, I enjoyed it well enough. There wasn’t a moment I wished I hadn’t bothered watching, and quite a few parts that were genuinely entertaining. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

I watched the whole season, so I didn’t hate it. Midseason, I was very much onboard. It just fell apart for me in the last few eps with the silly reveal of the “killer” and the dopey flash-backs to some back-lot costume shop “old country” somewhere and the weaksauce “turning” methods. And the “reveal” of Ouroboros. And ohmygawd pretty much the entire Chasseur subplot–wtf. And, of course, there’s definitely room for it to settle down and have a much better second season plotwise. I did like the feel of the show. I liked seeing the more sober version of True Blood that it seemed to be going for at times.

What an ugly looking TV show!

I found this review quite accurate: http://www.avclub.com/articles/hemlock-grove,96734/

“it’s indicative of one of the show’s major structural problems. Developments happen throughout without any organic process to them. Stories are, at their most basic, a way of showing a connected series of events: once upon a time there was a boy who had a cow; he traded the cow for a magic bean; his mom threw the bean out the window in anger; the bean grew into a giant beanstalk; the boy climbs the beanstalk because they’re poor; and so on. But bad writing doesn’t recognize the in-between steps. On Hemlock Grove, a boy would just kind of have a bean at some point, and then maybe he’d glance out a window later and there’d be a beanstalk and he’d be like, “Shit, where’d that cunt of a bean go?” and then he’d be in the clouds. It’s writing with too many foregone conclusions, and watching it feels like having to suffer through someone else’s bad dream.”

And, good god, does it just keep getting worse as it goes on. It’s almost worth watching because it’s so aggressively bad. It’s delightful to watch a show where every single element is so thoroughly fucked, although eventually even that loses its charm as the show shambles along for far longer than necessary.*

*There’s actually one strong team on the show, and that’s the folks handling the special effects, or at least some of them. The first werewolf transformation is a rather interesting take on the process.

I am looking forward to watching this despite the negativity about the show.

Awise!

So I just bing-watched the first season. Key takeaways for me, following up on some comments in this thread:

(1) Agreed. That’s the worse English accent I’ve ever heard on a TV show.
(2) Werewolf special effects were very good.
(3) Chasseur/Order of the Dragon storyline needs to die in a fire or get developed a lot more.
(4) Writing was ridiculously rushed in the end. It’s as if they filmed the first five or so episodes thinking they were going to have 22 episodes and then found out they’d have only 13.
(5)

Awise!

So I just binge-watched the first season. Key takeaways for me, following up on some comments in this thread:

(1) Agreed. That’s the worse English accent I’ve ever heard on a TV show.
(2) Werewolf special effects were very good.
(3) Chasseur/Order of the Dragon storyline needs to die in a fire or get developed a lot more.
(4) Writing was ridiculously rushed in the end. It’s as if they filmed the first 10 or so episodes thinking they were going to have 22 episodes and then found out they’d have only 13.
(5) My god, how many actors are there in the Skarsgard family?!

On the plus side, I do like the general aesthetics of the show. I also like their choices in music-- I discovered the Superhumanoids due to this show.

I’m trying to decide whether I’m going to watch season 2.

I watched episode one of season 2, and I kid you not:

On the subject of Famke

[spoiler] They actually had her drop the accent completely and explained her new, American accent as the result of some form of trauma.

This show is comedy gold, people![/spoiler]

Oh, man, you’re going to make me watch it at least for that scene. The weird thing is that she’s Dutch. Presumably she can do at least a good Dutch-accented English. Why did they have to try and go with a bad UK English accent? Vaguely European accent would have done well enough for the story.

Hopefully they’ll have more good music.

It happens pretty early on.

I read that they fired the show creators after season one ended because of all the criticism. I’m not sure I want to keep watching it even with that knowledge though. I made it through season 1, but if you asked me what happened in that season, I’d simply blink a few times and then mention something about a big dog, a couple of out of work actors from Battlestar Galactica, and then tell you that I know the show happened…or at least I think I did.

I am suffering through it just because I like the mad science and frankenstein girl. Netflix’s worst show, but not totally awful.