The Handmaid’s Tale – Anyone for a cheeky Scrabble?

Based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale has now come to our screens in the UK – Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4, you’re welcome – and so far it’s been a really intriguing watch.

The central conceit of the show is that humanity has all but decimated the US as we know it, and this has resulted in a “plague of infertility” among the women of the country. Under the rule of their new uber-religious, totalitarian government, those few women who are fertile become Handmaids to the rich and powerful in the militant society, whose only purpose is to provide children for the man and wife the Handmaid is assigned to. This is where we find our heroine, Offred (whose name literally means Of-Fred, the property of Fred, the Commander).

With a mass beating, secret scrabble, and quite possibly the most uncomfortable sex scenes you will ever watch, The Handmaid’s Tale lands us right in the middle of a poignant, ‘what if,’ dystopia.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

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Legion – Not your average superhero story

Legion is a show with a tantalising premise: David Haller is confronted with a reality check when he is informed that the voices he’s heard in his head his whole life are in fact, not a symptom of schizophrenia, but the inner voices of those around him. He is a telepath.

And though it’s based on a Marvel comic, it’s not like your regular I’m-an-all-powerful-mutant-discovering-my-powers-and-saving-the-world story, the FX production handles things very differently. It’s intelligent, sometimes understated, and (fittingly) completely insane. And I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a story of uncovering David’s power, but also the true form of them. David discovers this for himself, along with the team helping him out, and let’s just say things aren’t quite as they at first seem.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Legion is set in the same universe as the familiar X-Men stories, but it seems to fit into a place where mutants are perhaps only just being discovered by the people in high places – the government’s ‘Division 3’ are the antagonistic organisation of the show, and they are researching mutants. There are no direct crossovers that I could find between Legion and X-Men, but I’m sure there will be some somewhere.

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Black Mirror – Nothing you see can harm you

Maybe I’m the only one left who hasn’t binge watched all 6 episodes of the new season of Black Mirror, but I watched episode 2 last night. The new season is on Netflix, after moving from its original home on Channel 4, (where currently only the Christmas episode is available to watch).

Episode 2 is titled ‘Playtest’ and follows Cooper, a globetrotting American currently in London, who takes a job testing a new game when he finds himself low on cash. The thrills in store are more than he believed possible, but things start to unravel when Cooper’s mind begins to work against him.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

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Westworld – Cowboys and Aliens done right

Now we all remember when Daniel Craig starred in the hybrid-that-should-never-have-been Cowboys and Aliens (Favreau:2011), don’t we? And surely we also remember how well it was received, or rather, how badly it was received? Well, now there’s a new Western/Sci-Fi mash-up on the block, only this time it’s on the small screen.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

Westworld is the latest high spec drama from HBO, combining these two well known and opposing genres in a new 10-part series (showing on SkyAtlantic every Tuesday at 21:00). I only managed to watch the first episode two days ago, so I’m a little late to the party, but boy am I glad I watched it.

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Victoria – Move over Lord M

ITV’s Victoria aired its fourth episode last night at 21:00. The drama follows the young Queen Victoria in her rise to the throne, and how the 18-year-old adjusts to life as Queen of England. The first three episodes I thought were marvellous. The writing was compelling, the acting phenomenal, the sets and costumes enchanting – it was doing everything right. I even heard musings that ITV had successfully found a replacement for the Sunday night slot that had been occupied by Downton Abbey.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Last week’s episode was simply brilliant. The mystery of Miss Skerrett continued and there was plenty more drama between Victoria and Lord M. The young queen was heartbreakingly turned down when she expressed her feelings, but we saw a depth to Lord Melbourne’s character when he gave her orchids to wear, and he proved himself to be a kind man. Perhaps circumstance prevents he and Victoria being together, and perhaps he really doesn’t have the feelings for her, but he certainly cares about her. Props to the writer for that development – it was handled with sensitivity and emotion.

But this week, I give no such credits.

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Game of Thrones – When TV does something incredible

I think pretty much everyone who knows me well, knows that I am huge follower of HBO’s Game of Thrones. And they know that I dedicate my Monday nights to watching it (almost) without fail. Tonight, we saw episode 9 of season 6, ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ and there was plenty of excitement building up to it, especially when the show’s track record has been consistent with huge moments and turning points that happen in the, often epic, 9th episode. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty hyped about this one.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

After having successfully avoided spoilers all day (which I might add, I’m getting quite good at), all I’d heard about the upcoming episode was that it was a big one, and plenty of the cast were singing its praises too. But all of this I’d gathered myself from the teaser shown on last week’s Thronecast. So, I settled down to watch with great anticipation. And then something happened which only happens every once in a while, when TV does something incredible.

Game of Thrones proved to me why it’s my favourite show on television.

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The Shannara Chronicles – Game of Thrones’s younger sibling

The MTV (I know, I know, just get past it) fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles first came to my attention via social media, and while the series has been broadcasted in its entirety in America, here in the UK, we’re six episodes in and I can’t get enough of it!

So let me give you a basic run-down before we get into the details and, ahem, spoilers. The series is based on the book The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, which is the second book in his original Shannara trilogy. He has since written a mind-blowing 22 other novels set within his world of Shannara, and was heavily involved with the creation of the TV series – always a good sign. Also, a little trivia, the series stars John Rhys-Davies, Manu Bennett and Jed Brophy, who all had places in Peter Jackson’s films set in Middle Earth.

The story goes something like this. Wil Ohmsford is a young half-human, half-elf who inherits the magical elfstones from his deceased father. Meanwhile, Amberle Elessedil is an elven princess who is selected in an annual ritual as one of the seven Chosen, tasked with protecting the ancient Ellcrys tree, however, for the first time in history the Ellcrys is showing signs of sickness. Enter the druid, Allanon; he reveals that the Ellcrys actually harbours magic that protects the Four Lands from a demon uprising, and with the dying of the tree, the magic is failing. So Wil and Amberle set out with Eretria – a human girl of questionable motives and loyalty – to a place known as Safehold, where they hope to unriddle the mystery of restoring the Ellcrys. But there is danger at every turn, for as the Ellcrys’s health wanes, the Dagda Mor creates an army of demons to cover the Four Lands in darkness, and sends out his pawns to destroy anyone who opposes him.

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