Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Death and Ghosts in Czarist Russia: Detective Anna

Did you know you can watch Russian TV shows, subtitled in English, on Youtube? I did not, but yesterday a contact suggested to me a Russian series from 2016, called Detective Anna (or, alternatively, Anna the detective) , and by googling I found it all on Youtube, subtitled, for free.
So I watched the first two episodes, and it was quite fun.

As usual during periods of intensive writing I like to watch a TV series or a movie in the evenings (you may have noticed a lot of posts about serials, recently, on Karavansara), and it looks like Anna Mironova will keep me company in the next few years.

So, what are we talking about…

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One evening with Epifania Ognisanti di Parerga

Sometimes we need to get away from it all. From the writing and from genre fiction and everything else.
The fans, the other writers, the social networks.
Just get away from it all.
Maybe it’s the heat and the humidity, or the tiredness of too many months spent working full tilt, or the fact that I always get melancholic on the weekend.
Anyway, yesterday I went looking for something different, and found (again) Epifania Ognisanti di Perega, the main character in The Millionairess, a comedy written in 1936 by George Bernard Shaw that was, at the time 80 years old.

The plot in a nutshell, courtesy of the usual IMDB:

Epifania is the richest woman in England. She’s also strong-willed, highly intelligent, fiercely determined and an expert at Judo, which makes her hard to live with. She’s also married, but her husband is now in love with another woman. She’s also seeing another man socially, but he seems to be more interested in his food than her. Will or can this poor little rich girl ever find true happiness? A chance meeting with an Egyptian doctor may prove interesting…

So yes, it is basically a romantic comedy, featuring a formidable central character. The story was not new to me. There is an adaptation, filmed in 1960, starring Sophia Loren in the title role and Peter Sellers as the Egyptian Doctor.

I saw it many years ago, as part of a cycle of movies starring Sellers, and found it insufferable. I found it sad and downbeat, and particularly hated the main character portrayed by Loren.

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Blood & Treasure or, I am too old for this

Seven minutes into the pilot of Blood & Treasure, the new TV series by CBS, I stopped laughing and decided that life’s too short to waste time with such irritatingly cliched writing.
And it’s a pity, really, because there’s obviously money backing the series, that was shot on location in a number of places, including my hometown of Turin, but the writing is so abysmal, I really couldn’t make it.
I wanted to, because at one point I thought it might be fun to do a post on Karavansara. I went back and restarted it.
I stopped watching 11 minutes in.

Let’s see what we are talking about…

An antiquities expert teams up with an art thief to catch a terrorist who funds his attacks using stolen artifacts.

Oh, yes, fair warning: here be SPOILERS.
True, I’m gonna spoil only the first ten minutes of the pilot, and a lot of the things you already saw in the trailer, but…

S P O I L E R S!!

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Palace intrigue and zombies

I am not particularly fond of the zombie craze of these last few years. I watched the classics, I do enjoy the occasional recent movie, I even wrote a story set in a post-apocalyptic sorta-zombie story, a long time ago, as part of a shared universe a friend created, but I find it damn hard to do something new and cool and meaningful with zombies.
On the other hand, when I find someone that’s actually able to do something new and cool and meaningful, I like it a lot.

Case in point: Kingdom, a South Korean TV/Netflix TV series that pits its main characters against a horde of zombies in 15th century Korea.
And weirdly enough, it’s based on a true story.

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Nine TV shows that made me

My friend Jessica, over at her blog, is doing a series of posts about media that made her the writer she is. Books, movies, TV shows… I dunno, probably also videogames, LPs or whatever. After all we are the product of our experiences, and when it comes to stories, the stories we enjoyed reflect on the stories we write.
All of which simply means, I’m pilfering her idea, and I’ll do a few posts featuring stuff that had an influence on my writing.

Now Jessica’s done a post about her top five TV shows, and that got me thinking.
I grew up with more shows on the TV than films in the movie theater, and really my early years were spent between the telly and books with a few odd comics thrown in. As a consequence, I think like most from my generation I picked up some bits and pieces from the TV when I was putting together my writing language: ideas, characters, the way to handle dialog…

So I jotted down a list, that includes a lot more than five shows, and then distilled it to a handful of special shows, and I was surprised when I found out that, while unsurprisingly most shows date from between the ’60 and the ’80s, fantasy shows (including SF and horror) do not take the top positions. Curious, what?
In the end I reduced my list to nine titles. The rule of thumb for the selection: I must be able to trace at least some elements of my writing to the series, I must have watched it before I started seriously to write my stories, I can quote snippets of dialog from it at the slightest provocation.
Also, the list does not include animation and anime series.
Let’s see…

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Jack the Lass

I’ve just watched the first episode of Gentleman Jack, a British/American mini-series based (I don’t know how loosely) on the diaries of Anne Lister, a very fascinating woman from the early days of the Industrial Revolution, and a person that had a colossal influence on the development of Britain in the first half of the 19th century.

As far as historical entertainment goes, the series seems to be just perfect, and the fact that it steals a page from Alfie, allowing the main character (interpreted by Suranne Jones) to break the fourth wall, is really fun.

There’s eight episodes in the series, and apparently a second season’s already been confirmed. Now I’ll have to look for a book on miss Lister, because I am absolutely enamored of her. Silly me.
Truly and highly recommended if you like history and smart television.