Contemporary Classics

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Untitled 131 Contemporary Classics

Grimm Brothers Who? And Sir Arthur Conan What?

The stories are pretty much familiar to us, considering we grew up reading them, or probably watching them in black and white. Some of them count as fairytales and others as the best examples of literary fiction. And now, they’ve been revamped, contemporized, even distorted, to suit the tastes of a younger generation –don’t know if you count in the old Disney movies.

So, to the yet uninitiated, here’s a list of TV shows that are currently running, mostly in their first season, which borrow heavily on tried and tested themes.

Arrow

Even though it took me about three episodes to make the connection, turns out that this isn’t based on Robin Hood, as much as I’d want it to be. If your first visual cue for Robin Hood is the animated movie where Hood is an orange fox, this show provides a refreshing look. However, what it is really based on is a comic book called, Green Arrow, which wasn’t there in India when I was in my comic-book-phase, so on that, I can’t really comment. But he’s basically a derivative of Robin Hood, sort of like an arrow wielding Batman –from what I gather.

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So, here’s how the story goes. Spoilt billionaire’s son Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns home after being presumed dead five years ago, thanks to a massive shipwreck. He’s been on a mysterious island –intrigued yet? –the whole time, and has come home an obviously changed man, which obviously no one notices. Queen’s got mysterious scars on his body, the agility of a jungle cat and a bucket list of people ruining the city. He comes home to find his sister, Thea Queen (Willa Holland), following his bad footsteps, Mommy Queen shacking up with some random dude, and a very pissed off ex-girlfriend (played by the beautiful Katie Cassidy). Why she’s so pissed off with him is something I’m dying to, but won’t, reveal.

So, Arrow works for the action and the stunts, the beautiful ladies (Stephen Amell is there for the girls to ogle at) and of course, the thrill of being a rich jerk by day and a masked vigilante by night. Does he get caught? Tune in to find out.

Beauty And The Beast

No points for guessing what this show is based on. With the concept so perfectly destroyed in the Alex Pettyfer-Vanessa Hudgens starrer, Beastly, this new show promises to bring something new to the table. At the centre of the story is the whole concept of finding the beauty in the beast, in a very modern setting. No puffy dresses and hairy monsters in this story.

Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan) is our “beast”, a former resident MD who was enlisted in a special military experiment which went horribly wrong and left him with superhuman strength and almost Hulk-like anger issues. Our beauty is Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk), a cop who knows how to kick ass –she really puts those big bad boys out, almost unrealistically. It’s a perfect blend with Vincent’s soft side and dark interiors, and Chandler’s tough, intimidating exterior with moments of fragility.

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They’re just about to start falling in love but, of course when is it just that easy?

However, there is a very real risk of this turning into a sloppy, boring romance, but for now, I suggest we all give it time and let things unfold as they’re intended to. Till now, Beauty And The Beast hasn’t disappointed.

Sherlock and Elementary

The BBC version, Sherlock, made more than just waves with the same plot in a 21st century setting. A fairly young Afghanistan war veteran for Dr. Watson, and Sherlock himself as a slightly deranged, manipulative and almost serpentine character, this show immediately set itself apart from its contemporaries with the smooth graphics, effects (the way Sherlock’s texts show up in the very first episode) and fast paced plotline.

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A Study In Scarlet became A Study In Pink, but A Scandal in Belgravia is what really entices the audience, when we meet Irene Adler, a dominatrix.

Yes.

Dominatrix.

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However, Adler’s revamp did not have the same impact as the maniacal Moriarty –he’s nothing like the disappointment Jared Harris was –as he walks in, dressed in a suit and plans so devious, it’ll rock that popcorn right out of your hands.

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Then came the CBS version, Elementary. What’s different you ask?

Well, it still is a modern day version of it, and this Sherlock isn’t too far removed from Cumberbatch’s persona, but he still represents a very different side. Johnny Lee Miller’s portrayal of Holmes is different in that he is a more awkward, apologetic, detached (even more so than usual) man, quite far from the smooth-talking, charismatic Sherlocks we’re so used to seeing.

However, Watson’s a girl, and who better to play the role than Lucy Liu. Sherlock, interestingly so, is a recovering drug addict. What attracts me most, and the reason why Elementary made it into this list, is that the crimes are not derivatives of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work. I love how Moriarty and Adler haven’t yet made an appearance, and I really wish they stay out of this storyline; it’s going great as of now! The opening credits and overall cinematography are also worth mentioning. I suggest you don’t write this one off too soon.

An interesting fact, if you please.

Both Benedict Cumberbatch (who seems to have recently gone blond) and Johnny Lee Miller were cast in Danny Boyle’s National Theatre production of Frankenstein, playing both the creator and monster on alternative nights.

Once Upon A Time

Now, this is one TV show you should watch from the very first episode if you intend to make head or tail of it. Why? Well, everything is connected. From the story of Snow White, to Rumplestiltskin, to Pinocchio, to Captain Hook, every fairytale under the sun lives and breathes in the town of Storybrooke (I wince a little at the cheesy name).

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What sets the plot rolling is Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), a bad-ass bounty hunter (who is not a Disney princess reincarnation), who gets a surprise visit by her ten-year-old son, Henry, whom she’d given up when he was born. Returning Henry home gets complicated when his adoptive mother turns out to be the Evil Queen, she’s the mayor of Storybrooke, who set off the curse that had sent the residents into the real world to begin with. Once she’s caught up in the town, we get to know that Emma is Snow White’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) daughter.

Oh, did I mention that the whole town’s amnesiac; nobody remembers being a fairytale character. Intrigued yet?

Check out the first few episodes; it’s fun, after a while, to make the connections between real life characters and who they really are from the fairytales.

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So that brings us to the end of our list as of now. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that we never have to see a Beastly, Red Riding Hood (Amanda Seyfried’s movie) or a Snow White And The Huntsman rendition in the face of TV shows like these. And if you think you’re too old for them, well, one day you’ll be old enough to read fairytales again.

Stay Tuned.

Rohan Dahiya

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