In the Flesh: Series 2, Episode 2

“To hell with the living, mate. Undead and proud.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

As this second series of In the Flesh continues, it’s clear that this is a very different show to its shorter first series incarnation. Then, its genesis as a personal, intimate character drama was very clear even under the supernatural fantasy trappings; but rather than clashing, each element neatly complemented the other. One of the benefits of this approach was that the fantasy element was very subtly played, conveyed in hints of dialogue and direction rather than heavy handed exposition. It also meant that, while the drama had a supernatural setting, it was still all about the characters and their journeys, their plots cleverly juxtaposed with the fantasy concepts of a zombie apocalypse.

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Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 4–The Monolith

“You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what went wrong here.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

This week saw an episode of Mad Men that took the often fruitful approach of focusing on just a few of the characters, and juxtaposing plotlines both professional and personal. On the personal level, we had Roger Sterling’s family crisis with his disappearing daughter. And while last week delved more successfully into the pit of Betty’s soul than Don’s, this week had more insight into Sterling Cooper & Partners’ former alpha male. As is often the case, it wasn’t pretty.

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Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 5–First of His Name

What good is power if you cannot protect the ones you love?”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

Game of Thrones episodes seem to fall into two distinct styles. There are the ones which focus very strongly on one or two of the major plotlines, perhaps paying lip service to a couple of the others, which are usually very strong. Then there are the more scattershot ones which take in so many (though rarely all) of the ongoing plots that we see little more than a tantalising vignette from each.

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In the Flesh: Series 2, Episode 1

“Round here, folk like to pretend everything’s all right. But it’s not. Something’s got to be done about those… those THINGS.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

I was very impressed by the first, short series of BBC3’s In the Flesh, an interesting take on the zombie genre mixed with dour, subtle North of England drama. After that initial three episode run, it did seem very much as though the story was told, at least from the perspectives of the characters who were dealt with so intimately in the plot. But I thought the world created by writer Dominic Mitchell was so intriguing that there was definitely potential for a second run, with another set of characters in the same new world.

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Mad Men: Season 7, Episode 3–The Field Trip

“All I can say is that Don is a very talented man – but how does he fit into things right now?”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

For all that it’s a subtle, nuanced drama dissecting a time and a society long vanished, Mad Men is still, at its heart, also a soap opera. Some episodes feel that way more than others, and this week’s was definitely one of them, with twin plots following the developing travails of Don and Betty. For Don, there was the challenge of rescuing his marriage and his career; for Betty, salving her remaining family life, now she’s averted the challenge of bringing up Sally by packing her off to boarding school. This being Mad Men, the results for both were not entirely happy.

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