Will Preston

Television

The most brutal of all season finales

by on Jul.17, 2012, under Review, Television

Anyone with a working knowledge of drop F guitar tuning and octuple bass drum pedals would have come across the fictional band Dethklok by now. Like Spinal Tap, they started off a music genre in-joke, but ultimately contributed to the cultural movement they set out to lampoon. The adult animated comedy Metalocalypse follows the brutal exploits of the worlds heaviest rock outfit since Strapping Young Lad tried to take it far beyond metal.

Death metal grocery shopping

The show has already garnered a large – yet cult – following despite only being broadcasted late night on satellite channel Adult Swim – a plethora of child-unfriendly cartoons that get thrown back to the late at night slot for a bloody good reason. When it comes to Metalocalypse, think Spinal Tap meets South Park – lots of heavy metal in-jokes and seemingly improvised dialogue spread across scenes of crass humour and ultra violence. Sounds so niche that you can’t imagine it getting through a fourth season, let alone one, right?

To bring you up to speed as fast as a Malmsteen lick, Dethklok are a 5-peice death metal act whose success has led them to a level of such unimaginable hedonism that they live in a remote dragon shaped castle (“Mordhaus”), employ an entire workforce of servants, bodyguards and sound engineers, and travel everywhere in ludicrously metal-themed vehicles from a 5-seater motorbike to a 2-storey helicopter.

Dethklok are:

  • Nathan Explosion – The bands hulking frontman with a voice ranging from grunting to death metal grunting. Possibly based on George “CorpseGrinder” Fisher from Cannibal Corpse
  • Skwisgaar Skwigelf – The world’s fastest (and tallest) guitarist. Alongside the other guitarist – Toki – Skwisgaar’s broken English and childlike intelligence is a constant source of hilarity. Possibly based on Eicca Toppinen from Apocalyptica
  • Toki Wartooth – An excited manchild from Finland who finds constant amazement at the simplest of things – usually uttering his catchphrase “Wowwee!” Possibly based on Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth
  • William Murderface – The typical ugly bass player. William’s self loathing and resentment of everyone around him tags him as the Eric Cartman of the band. Possibly based on Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath
  • Pickles – The drummer. Looks like Axl Rose with dreads and sports a Wisconsin accent. The only member of the band to have been in a previously successful band a la Dave Grohl. Was originally based on Devin Townsend.

The band finds fun with a defibrillator

The show follows the band and an Illuminati-style council – The Tribunal – that believes the successful career of Dethklok is part of an ancient prophecy that will bring the end of the world. This leads to a lot of cloak and dagger sub plots involving hired agents trying to bring down the band in order to stave off a heavy metal apocalypse (thus the show’s name). The members of this organisation are under command from a mysterious bearded wizard-like man called Mr. Selatcia – who slowly reveals his god-like powers.

After 3 series’ of plot twists, violent mass deaths and an episode where the band attempt to perform oral sex on themselves, Dethklok are set to finish recording their long awaited new album. However, Season 4 starts to show that maybe the prophecy isn’t the delusions of a paranoid mind. After a worldwide storm of nightmarish proportions, the copies of the new album never reach the market, causing worldwide panic and doubt over Dethklok’s future. Before the season reaches its shocking finale, a few questions are answered. What happened to the band’s previous guitarist? Who is Mr. Selatcia and what is he, exactly?

The Dethcycle

Series 4 included some hilarious moments, from the band’s ill-fated presentation on racial equality to Murderface’s brush with cheap plastic surgery. Even past its 60th episode, the show still riffs great chords of comedy and continues to unravel a fantastic ongoing storyline that reveals more about the prophecy itself. But just before every mystery is solved, it literally comes to an earth-shattering finish that leaves you wondering if series 5 is the last outing for Dethklok. Even if you’re not a fan of the many facets of heavy metal, the show is a great example of quick flowing dialogue in a comedy show and features some of the zaniest stage set ups seen outside of a KISS concert.

The last episode aired last Sunday with series 5 yet to be announced.

Series 1-3 are currently available on DVD and is regularly shown on Adult Swim.

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A chilling story of what could have been and what could still happen

by on Mar.02, 2011, under Review, Television

One thing I keep forgetting about is that I technically spent two years of my life in the Cold War. Technically. Fortunately, the wall came down before the bombs could blow up. During the eighties, along with the threat of dire pop music and fashion was the imminent threat that the world would end under a nuclear holocaust. Countless megatons decimating the global population, damaging the world environment beyond believe and tearing apart the threads of society. Shocking thought isn’t it?

First Def Leppard, now this...

In 1984, a British made drama about the effects of World War Three was released at a very apt time. Shot in the style of a documentary, Threads focuses on the city of Sheffield before and after it is hit by the bomb. We are introduced to two families, the Beckett’s and the Kemps, joined together by an unplanned pregnant Ruth Becket by Jimmy Kemp. As well as this little soap drama piece, the global situation involving Soviet Russia is getting more tense, with the threat of war getting closer. The first half of the film shows a society getting more prepared for the bomb every day, with the council preparing for the worse and citizen’s panic buying like scared ants in a tumble dryer.

News reports showing the Soviet situation getting worse seems to serve as a barometer of how bad things are going to get. It’s a feeling that makes your stomach sink. You know for sure that the bomb is going to go off, but the waiting is just torture. Sure enough, the air raid sirens start to whine and the rattled city of Sheffield panics like a cat in a bin. A nuclear cloud is spotted in the horizon and everyone has only minutes to spare. Up to this point, I felt I was preparing myself for the worst. Unfortunately, this was pretty tame to what was set for the second half. Without giving too much away, we are shown step by step what happens to a nuclear ravaged Sheffield. Aspects that you wouldn’t even think of threatening a society after an attack like this are brought to horrifying light.

For fans of Fallout

As well as the instant death of millions of innocent people, the survivors are trapped, burned, starved, infected with disease and forced to find shelter. Oh, and of course there’s highly radioactive fallout killing everyone slowly through radiation poisoning, but now I’m just rambling on. To put it bluntly, civilization is fucked. The second half spans 13 years after the blast showing the long term affects to society, industry and health. One of the frightening aspects of Threads is the way it has been filmed. The documentary approach almost convinces you that this actually happened.

Ok, so it happened in Japan in the Forties, but this is on a global scale. A serious voiced narrator details exactly what effects are happening whilst feeding harsh statistics like a news report. And it’s hard to take in. It’s hard to take in the image of an entire suburb in flames with fire services completely unable to help. It’s hard to take in the image of a shell-shocked mother nursing the burnt body of her baby. It’s also hard to take in that this isn’t fantasy, this could have happened.

There are no heroes, no villains. Just people trying to survive in a harsh new world. This is possibly the most depressingly bleak experience for me since watching Requiem for a Dream alone after a particularly boring afternoon. As a anti-nuclear statements, this is all that should be needed to win the argument. As a viewing experience, it’s like staring into a hopeless radioactive abyss.

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Breaking the rule of three. Series four of the IT Crowd on Channel Four.

by on Jun.23, 2010, under Review, Television

IT CROWD 4

I always thought a good subplot would be Moss getting the ability to tell the time with the wedge in his hair.

The rule of three hangs over the best British comedies that the terrestrial channels can offer. Rather than drag on for another ten barrel scrapping series, memorable British sit com’s get the hell out the room before they overstay their welcome and descend from their dizzying peak. Too soon in some cases.

 

Notable exceptions to this rule of course, include Blackadder, Peep Show and Men Behaving Badly.

Out of all the comedies in the past 20 years, the last one I would expect to be up for a fourth series was the IT Crowd. Tell a lie; the last one I expected was All About Me, but I feel sorry for Jasper Carrott every time I think about that show.

The reason for my doubt has nothing to do with actual show itself, but rather with the writer Graham Lineham. With his co-writer Arthur Matthews, they have worked together with some of the best comedy writers in the last couple of decades, their most well known being the outstanding Father Ted. Out of all contemporary comedy writers, I would expect either of them to respect the unwritten rule of three.

Respect it and fear it.

And out of nowhere comes the fourth series of the IT Crowd, a show that didn’t disappoint often, but still didn’t have a noticeable enough fanbase to suckle out more airtime from Channel Four’s alternative teet. As soon as news broke out about the impending series, my mind was cast with doubt that I would be witnessing something worth watching.

Well a couple of minutes in and I was already giggling. Something that The Inbetweeners had a hard time doing. The plot was set at the beginning with promise of semi-predictable farcical nonsense. What more can you ask from a sit-com.

By the third series, they had pretty much moulded the characters so well that there wouldn’t be anything to add to the regulars at all. The jokes would be sort of new, but the Moss, Roy and Jen would act in ways you could probably see coming a mile off. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Case in point being Matt Berry, who plays his character past the point of irony that he’s probably laughing at himself whilst sitting right behind as you watch him.

Berry’s Douglas Reynholm feels like he’s operating in a different show in another dimension. He’s less of a fish out of water, more of a chimp in a swamp. Every line he uttered was more or less waiting to happen, but you waited patiently because you knew you would laugh the moment he said it. He’s like a friend who you barely see who spends all of his time under the guise of a cartoon character, riffing well timed sly talk with little regard for his reputation.

I want one in my living room.

The plot of this weeks episode followed the simple ‘bite-off-more-than-they-can-chew task’ template adding in a climactic game of Dungeons and Dragons. Twelve sided dice jokes were made when necessary. After staying up late to catch this (It was on 4OD and on my things to do!), I was urging for the episode to finish more than I was urging it to crack out some witty water-cooler-quoting material.

A promising start, but it will take more than Godfather references to make me stay up late again.

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