Tag Archive: Colin Morgan


Review by C.J. Bunce

The three 90-minute episode television series is one of those staples of the BBC that is both refreshing and infuriating.  It’s refreshing because it avoids all the padding that is so commonplace among those direct-to-binge, 10-episode shows premiering regularly now on Netflix and other streaming providers.  But it’s infuriating to find a series that is so well written and produced, you love the characters and wish there was more.  Much like another great 4.5 hour series we loved, BBC’s 2011 series Zen starring Rufus Sewell (reviewed here at borg), in BBC’s Quirke, Gabriel Byrne inhabits his lead character in one of his best performances, leaving viewers wishing the series would have continued for a few more seasons.  First airing in the UK in 2014, Quirke is now available on the BritBox streaming service, along with Zen.

Byrne (Vikings, Assault on Precinct 13, The Usual Suspects) plays Dr. Quirke, the chief pathologist of the Dublin city morgue in the 1950s.  He has an affinity for alcohol, his brother’s wife, and solving murders, partnering on- and off-the-books with the local police inspector played by Stanley Townsend (Ashes to Ashes, Sherlock, Zen, Galavant).  In what feels like three gritty Irish noir movies, we learn about the doctor’s family struggles as his past and future collide, as he investigates an orphanage siphoning babies from Ireland to Boston, as he connects the deaths of two women found dead from suicides, and as he tracks down the whereabouts of a missing friend of his daughter.

The focus of Dr. Quirke’s life is the well-being of his niece, played by Aisling Franciosi (Game of Thrones, Vera), who is really his biological daughter, raised by his step-brother and his wife when the girl’s birth resulted in the death of Quirke’s wife 20 years ago.  Quirke was adopted into his family, and years later his father (played by Michael Gambon (Harry Potter series, Doctor Who, Cranford)) continues to treat him with disdain, but he hides his own secrets.  Along with the Professor Dumbledore actor, look for the actress behind Harry Potter’s mother (Geraldine Somerville) as Quirke’s sister-in-law, and the actress behind Batman’s mother in Batman Begins (Sara Stewart).  Other genre actors include Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story’s General Dodonna (Ian McElhinney) as an influential politico, Ella Enchanted and Mr. Selfridge’s Aidan McArdle as the politico’s nephew, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Life on Mars, and Master and Commander’s Lee Ingleby as one of the men attracted to Quirke’s daughter, and Merlin, Doctor Who, and Humans’ Colin Morgan as a journalist.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If the third season of AMC’s/UK Channel 4’s sci-fi series Humans had a single theme this year it was sacrifice and heroism.  After Lucy Carless’s Mattie set off the course of events to give sentience to the show’s thousands of cyborg servants, who knew what direction showrunners Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley would take us?  Mattie had the series’ greatest crisis of conscience–her actions resulted in the deaths of thousands of humans and synths–yet she brought freedom to her friends and so many others.  With the shocking events at season’s end, she became poised to have an even more significant role next season.  As the lawyer and sole voice for synth rights among the humans, her mother, Katherine Parkinson’s Laura Hawkins, became a symbol for the oppressed and a metaphor for civil rights struggles beyond the television screen.

The cyborg characters were no less powerful, coupling strong acting with a talented group of writers, to create what may be the most thought-provoking look at the “life” of borgs yet–showing a sympathetic and dramatic view through their eyes.  Gemma Chan’s Mia stepped forward to be the target of hatred among those trying to eliminate all the “damaged” green-eyed synths.  Defying all sense she became the figurehead for synth rights and brought on attack after personal attack.  From another approach, Ivanno Jeremiah’s Max stepped forward as leader of a gated community of synths, clinging to the vision that peaceful cooperation was the only solution to bridging the gap with humans.  This left Emily Berrington’s Niska in the role again as vengeance seeker, and more violent means to assist both synths and her human lover (Bella Dayne’s Astrid) harmed by ant-synth activity.  With these three characters the writers provided a mirror of society from different approaches, only to introduce other levels of modern reality: terrorism via new synth Holly Earl’s troubled Agnes and the covert acts of Laura’s newly assigned orange-eyed synth, Dino Fetscher’s Stanley.

But the writers didn’t leave out the impact on humans of a society divided, and that was most poignantly revealed through Laura’s flawed ex-husband, Tom Goodman-Hill’s Joe and his encounters with a familiar synth in hiding, Ruth Bradley’s Karen Voss.  Karen discovers a young boy synth (Billy Jenkins’ Sam), an experiment left behind by the synth inventor, and she chooses to live in the open as human with the boy as her son in the heart of the anti-synth area of town.  Her performance and her character’s choices result in the most powerful and gut-wrenching segments of the season.

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hum

HUMᗄNS–The award-winning British science fiction television series exploring humans living with cyborg technology and living as borg is finally returning next month to AMC.  Viewers in the States have not seen an episode of the series since the first season finale in August 2015.  The eight-episode second season just aired in the UK.

Below is a video segment featuring the new characters introduced in season two, including a new artificial intelligence scientist played by Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix, Jessica Jones, Chuck).

Season two picks up several months after the first season.  Synth Niska (Emily Berrington) has not yet been found, and her synth circle of friends Mia (Gemma Chan), Leo (Colin Morgan), and Max (Ivanno Jeremiah) struggle to fit into human society.  Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) return in season two, as do first season actors Will Tudor, Pixie Davies, Neil Maskell, Lucy Carless, Ruth Bradley, and Theo Stephenson.  New regulars include Moss, Sam Palladino, Marshall Allman, Sonya Cassidy, Bella Dayne, and Letitia Wright.

humans-art

Check out these previews for season two of HUMᗄNS:

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Persona Synthetics ad

Our Sci-Fi Summer previews seem like they are just getting started.  We’re previewing eight new sci-fi series this week, saving our pick for what looks like the best for last.  Next up: Humans, a new series coming soon from AMC, is the next take on The Stepford Wives.  As with 2013-14’s brilliant but short-lived Fox TV series about a world with borgs fully integrated into society called Almost Human, this latest look at cybernetic organisms of the future focuses on the problems with these new servants living among humans.  Eight episodes of Humans are coming our way this summer on AMC.

AMC (and England’s Channel 4) are having some great fun marketing the series.  Below you’ll find several previews for the series (both U.S. and British versions) as well as spots from the company that creates the new technology within the series (much like we saw from RoboCop with Omnicorp here, and from Prometheus, the David 8 ad from Weyland Corp, discussed here).  Just see the Persona Synthetics website here.  Set in London, where every family wants the latest gadget for the home, a Synth, a highly-developed, artificially intelligent human look-alike.

Humans AMC line

What stands out immediately is the lack of special effects in comparison to a similar genre series idea like Almost Human.  Almost Human was not able to survive with an expertly told story, a movie star lead in Karl Urban, and dazzling futuristic effects.  The Synths are humans, seemingly unmodified except for contact lenses.  It’s understandable that brilliant technology makes them look so real, and adds to the creepiness in the look of the show, but there’s definitely an element missing here.  And the fact that each Synth is different, instead of several duplicates seems to point more to production budgets than a clever sci-fi story device.

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