Archive for March 26, 2023

By John Ruberry

Two years ago here at Da Tech Guy, I had this to say about the first season of Shadow and Bone, a Netflix fantasy series.

If you like elaborate clothes, eye-catching special effects, and being transported to an alternative yet familiar civilization, then Shadow and Bone could be for you. But if you expect fully-developed characters and a coherent plot line, then stay away.

With the second season, which began streaming mid-month, we have more of the same.

Shadow and Bone is based on a young adult fiction series of books, set-in an alternative universe centered mostly on the nation of Ravka, which in turn is based on circa–1880s Russia. The costumes are Emmy-worthy, as is the CG art direction. The acting? Not so much.

The central character of Shadow and Bone is a Grisha, Alina Starkova (Jessie Mei Li), a practitioner, although this term isn’t used much in the show, of magic. She’s a Chosen One character, an orphan like Harry Potter, who is dubbed the Sun Summoner. Alina is reluctantly placed in the position to heal the world of many ills, including disposing of “The Fold,” a smoke wall of sorts, inhabited by pterodactyl-like beasts that divides Ravka–kind of how the Ural Mountains separate European and Asian Russia.

The Fold is the creation of an evil Grisha, General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), also known as the Darkling. His dream is–along the lines of Darth Vader’s recruitment of his son, Luke Skywalker–to combine their talents and create a dark version of Utopia. 

Season Two begins as Alina, accompanied by her love interest who she met in an orphanage years earlier, Mal Oretsev (Archie Renaux), are headed to Noyvi Zem, an African-like nation. They are internationally known fugitives and…well really now, do you think they’ll go unnoticed? It is in Noyvi Zem where they connect with a key figure, Sturmhond (Patrick Gibson), a pirate, or as he calls himself, a privateer. 

Also back for the second season are the Crows, a midlevel trio of organized crime schemers: Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), and Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman). They were hired by an underworld figure to kidnap Alina. The Crows have returned to their base of Ketterdam, a thriving city of vice based on Amsterdam. The Crows have two new members, another Grisha, Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan), and an explosives expert, Wylan Van Eck (Jack Wolfe).

If there are midlevel hoodlums in Ketterdam, then of course there must be a Big Boss. That man is Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly).

I observed in my Season One review that the Crows are much more interesting characters than Alina and Mal–and apparently, I’m not the only person who believes that, because a spinoff series centered around the Crows may be in the works. But if viewership of the second season tails off and the show is cancelled, we probably won’t see a Crows series.

As of today, Shadow and Bone is ranked fourth in viewership on Netflix.

There are many more Shadow and Bone characters–too many of them. And too many subplots. 

What about those Grisha? Even they are confusing.

There are three levels, I think, of Grishas. They are the Summoners who have power of wind, water and fire, Alina is one of those, the Heartrenders, whose powers are over the body, and Durasts, whose domain is chemicals, rocks, and the like. But the Grishas are not explicitly defined in Shadow and Bone, unless I missed something. A vintage-era Hollywood scriptwriter could have solved that head-scratcher by adding a one-minute conversation between Alina and a random passenger on the ship to Noyvi Zem, who could ask her, “Tell me about all of the Grishas?”

One of my criticisms of Season One is that maps showing the different countries were needed for coherency. This season has them.

Are there monsters? Yes, some ho-hum smoke beasts who are impervious to gunfire. And as I’ve seen too many times in bad mid-20th century science-fiction serials, of course that doesn’t stop characters here from shooting at them again and again.

While the universe of Shadow and Bone is of the late 19th century, there are some 21st century flavors. Ravka (Russia) is predominately white but multiracial. Nearly all of the romantic pairings are interracial–and there is nothing wrong with that.

But rather than focusing on check-box casting, Shadow and Bone needs to present viewers plotlines that are easy to follow, stronger performances from lead actors, and more frightening monsters.

Shadow and Bone is rated TV-14 for violence.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

when, not if, the SJW affirmative action Doctor fails what then? If the ratings don’t improve and the audience doesn’t return do you DARE kill off the 1st woman doctor after one season? After two? Do you risk the wrath of the SJW community if you don’t replace the 1st woman doctor with the 2nd woman doctor or the first openly gay doctor hitting on every man in history or the first transgender doctor or the first cisnormative but sexually confused asian crossdressing doctor? You get the idea. Once you start down this path you’ll have a tough time getting out of it without facing a backlash and we’ve already seen how very nice the SJW community reacts?

DaTechGuy Why The Doctor should not be Tilda Swinton (or any woman for that matter) 2017

Yesterday while I was at the Catholic Men’s Conference and away from the net Ladd Ehlinger sent me a heads up on a video he made called “Doctor Who is Doomed”.

When I saw the title this morning I expected a post about how the series even with the temporary return of David Tennant and the less temporary return of Russell T Davies was not going to be enough to save the series from the self inflicted wounds it gave itself in 2017

Instead it was about a trailer the BBC put out for it’s Doctor Who Doom cross platform series.

I had heard of this from Big Finish which is one of the platforms this story is going to be on which says this about it on the pre-order page.

Someone has sent literal Death after Doom. She can only outrun it for 24 hours. Unless she can find the Doctor…

Doom’s Day is a multi-platform Doctor Who story to celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary by introducing a brand-new character on a 24-hour pursuit of the Doctor.

Further story details to follow.

And this on the backstage Tab of the preorder page

Russell T Davies says: “Doom’s Day is a huge new adventure for the whole Doctor Who universe – starring the brilliant and hilarious Sooz Kempner as an intergalactic assassin. Her adventures will span comics, audio, a novel, video games stories and more, expanding the world of Doctor Who into brand new territories. Beware the Doom’s Day, it’s coming for us all.”

Sooz Kempner says: “To be part of the Doctor Who universe, a British institution up there with cups of tea and James Bond, is surreal and amazing! I love everything about Doom and can’t believe I get to travel across time and space with her.”

Now in fairness I don’t know anything about Sooz Kempner. To my knowledge I’ve never seen any of her work and I have no idea if she is funny or how funny she was, but let me tell you this. If I were her agent and saw the preview that Ladd Ehlinger showed me in his video I would have given her this advice:

I don’t want to steal Ladd’s Thunder so here is his video Doctor Who is Doomed which incorporates the BBC promo for the Doom cross platform series.

Ok let’s forget for a moment the point Ladd was making concerning the history of breaking the 4th wall and filmmaking which is interesting but doesn’t include my favorite example of such namely the Bob Hope, Bing Crosby Dorthey Lamour Road Pictures…

…and ask yourself this:

You’re the BBC. You’ve just finished a five year disaster that has cratered the ratings of not only a British institution but of what once was a cash cow for the network for decades. A crater so bad that you needed to bring back multiple doctors and companions from the original series run (Including William Russell who was in the very first episode of Doctor Who setting the record by returning to a TV series 57 years later to play the same character at age of 97) in order to sell a regeneration story.

You’ve then instead of instead of introducing the announced new Doctor Ncuti Gatwa who will be both the first black doctor and reportedly the first gay doctor brought back the very popular David Tennant who was the 10th doctor his popular companion Catherine Tate and even showrunner Russell T Davies to try to salvage something for the 60th anniversary of the show (while sneaking in the first transgender companion) in the hopes of drawing back the millions who have not only stopped watching but stopped buying all the licensed stuff that filled your coffers.

You’ve even created a clever gimmick of having a cross platform story over comic books, video games, a book, a Big Finish audio and the TV show to try and get people who have dropped all things Doctor to buy all those side items that they have abandoned.

You’ve done all this with hope that the series returns to the ratingsy that it had during those pre-Cibinal years…:

Apparently this strategy has not been all that productive when it came to the new “festive” special:

Whereas the Christmas Special used to get ratings in the 12 million, 13 million range, the latest “Festive Special” got… 4.69 million.

The absolute lowest of the rebooted Doctor Who.

…And the Quality of the those years:

The irony being that according to my oldest who actually watched it the episode was one best of the Jodie Whitaker series, in that it was better than the absolute worst episodes (like Fear Her and Oxygen) of the revived series but not as good as what could be considered a standard vanilla episode like The Curse of the Black Spot or even Thin Ice.

And you produce a promo that is so bad, so unappealing and so amateurish that any fan making a trailer of their own would be ashamed to put it out.

Moreover Russell T Davies is the showrunner for the series. He has been given the ultimate task of selling this to a reluctant audience skittish about returning. Let he allows (or even worse) creates this promo to be the gateway to his tenure on the series?


If this is a signal of the days to come under RTD part 2 let me repeat the warning given in the Big Bang clip above to those who are considering investing their time and money in this Doom special:

Run away Dude! Run Fast, Run Far!