Review by C.J. Bunce
Despite its gratuitous gore and overall squalid setting and circumstances, the new television series Bastard Executioner pulled off a good opener last week. Bastard Executioner, in its two-hour pilot, pulls together every historical action drama archetype and bits of myths and legends to create a compelling drama in the midst of a struggle between the English and Welsh in not-so jolly old medieval England.
Fans of History Channel’s Vikings and Showtime’s Outlander as well as costume dramas like Braveheart, Rob Roy, and First Knight will all find something here of interest. Not yet as exciting as Vikings but likely to be better than Outlander, it may just be another twist on Robin Hood, but episode one gave us hope this new series will keep our interest for a while.
It would seem an entire season’s worth of activity transpired in the first two-hour episode with an entire story arc begun and ended already. A village is decimated and the avengers have sought–and gained–revenge on those that caused it. The man we first believe to be the “bastard executioner” of the title in fact isn’t, sending the viewer’s notions of what this series will be about into a tailspin. Instead, a mysterious Man With No Name type hero is thrust into the service of those that destroyed his wife, unborn child, and their village. The producers’ grasp of time and place, quick plotting, and surprising twists mean we will be back for more next week.
The brutality is every bit real even if it is a bit in-your-face. Yet as bloody and violent as you could imagine, graphic and at times gory, some sense of purpose comes through for the stories’ heroes. Loyalty, bravery, injustice, the faithful and the faithless, noble heroes and loathsome villains all can be found here. Look for Katey Sagal (Lost, Married With Children) as the elder, mystical, witch-healer Annora, in what could prove to be an Emmy-worthy role.
That is, if you’re in Scotland.
Census records estimate that more than twice as many people of Scottish ancestry live in the United States than in Scotland. Is it the destiny of Scotland to declare its independence from Great Britain? If not now, then when? At the beginning of the day everyone has been waiting for, polls show the likely outcome as a dead heat. We’ll soon learn the answer we’ve all been asking: Will they or won’t they?
Of course there are all sorts of implications to a yes vote, not the least of which is what kind of economic impact it will have on England, on the United States, and the world. If Scotland wants to make a statement to the world this could very well be Scotland’s day. So if you’re one of those Scots that are 16 years old or older and done voting or you’re in the States and can’t vote today, then what better than a brief celebration of all things Scottish? As Mike Myers’ character Stuart Rankin, proprietor of the store “All Things Scottish,” said on Saturday Night Live, “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.”
Scotland is well known for its inventors and their inventions. You wouldn’t be reading this website or surfing the Internet at all without the communications technologies that sprouted from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. John Logie Baird would invent the first television. Scots invented the refrigerator and the flush toilet, the kaleidoscope and the lawnmower. And–shazam–James Goodfellow invented ATMs so we can get money to buy stuff on nearly any street corner.
Our future is defined in part by the adventures of a Scot in space–James Doohan’s Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott from Star Trek, an engineering miracle worker who exemplifies Scottish ingenuity. And of course, there’s James Bond, the character, whose parents were Scottish, and Sir Sean Connery, the Scottish actor, the most famous Bond, and a supporter of today’s “yes” vote.
Review by C.J. Bunce
After the first few episodes of Vikings you will find yourself asking why this is only a nine-episode mini-series. The History Channel’s first historical fiction mini-series since the acclaimed Hatfields & McCoys, the new series Vikings takes stunning locations, a powerful score, and a good story steeped in Nordic mythology and creates an epic production on par with Braveheart, Rob Roy, 300, and Attila. And it’s even better than Game of Thrones.
Everyone has their own view of what Vikings should look like. We know from documentaries and books that these warriors in the late eighth century were plunderers and pillagers. They lived in a style as you’d find people roaming your local Renaissance Faire, clothing of wools and furs and hide. Weapons of steel, shields of oak and longboats whose appearance would strike fear in hearts of the enemy. Whether the History Channel has every historical detail down is beside the point. Vikings is completely believable and true enough to the ancient sagas of fierce warriors, gods of every stature, and clan intrigue.