Dark: Mind-twisting TV

Everything is connected
A map linking the characters and timelines. More questions than answers.

We’ve recently finished season 2 of the excellent Netflix series ‘Dark’. It’s mind-bendingly fantastic. We were looking for something to watch after finishing Stranger Things, and my partner in crime and awesome TV series finder suggested this. It really fit the bill. Set in the fictional German town of Winden, it follows the stories of several local families as one of the children (Mikkel) goes missing.

Warning: Here be spoilers, tldr; just watch it.

What starts off as an engaging whodunnit about a missing boy, Mikkel, rapidly descends into brain twisting confusion as you start to realise that the key isn’t where he has gone, but when. Patterns emerge relating to a previous disappearance 33 years before, when another boy, Mads Neilsen, vanished. The story starts to revolve around another teenager, Jonas, who’s father recently took his own life. You start to see the same people at different ages and stages of their lives, influencing their future and past selves, until you’re no longer sure if the story even has a beginning “Der Anfang ist das Ende und das Ende ist der Anfang (the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning)”.

Then it gets really mind bending when Jonas discovers that Mikkel had gone back in time and grew up to become Jonas’ father.

We’re just as confused as Jonas.

Yes, Jonas realises that to put the course of time back to normal he’d end up not exisiting.

Then, in Season 2, not only are we dealing with two timelines (1986 and 2019), but it extends to 1952, 1921 and 2052. We get to see several characters at different ages, dealing with other characters (and themselves) from the future and the past. For example, Egon Tiedermann (Sebastian Hülk 1952/1953 & Christian Pätzold 2018/2019) meets Ulrich Neilsen (Ludger Bökelmann 1986 / Oliver Masucci 2018 / Winfried Glatzeder 1987) who is the father of the missing Mikkel and bother of the missing Mads from 2018 in 2018, from 2018 in 1952, and from 2018 in 1986. He then meets Ulrich again in 2019, but it’s the Ulrich who got stuck in 1952 and is now an old man, having been arrested for the murder of another two missing children in 1952. Brain melt.

(Yes, that’s us, we’ve no idea what’s going on, but we love it)

The cast is great, I enjoyed watching Sylvester Groth in Deutschland ’83, and he appears here as Clausen, an enigmatic detective brought in to solve the missing children cases but who also has an agenda of his own. Also, Michael Mendl who starred in Der Untergang (Downfall) appears as the older Bernd Doppler in 1986.

The setting, especially the 1986 scenes, remind me of being in Germany back in ’92, going to the Gesamtschule in Schlitz, Hesse. Wurst and schwartzbrot, beautifully cold autumn mornings and bad hairstyles (although we were obviously totally cool at the time).

Oh, and watch it in German. With subtitles. I can’t stand dubbing at the best of times, but the voice re-dub here isn’t great either. Change the sound track in Netflix for your listening pleasure.

Everyone asks this question sooner or later. Not just the viewers.

We trust that time is linear. That it proceeds eternally, uniformly. Into infinity. But the distinction between past, present and future is nothing but an illusion. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are not consecutive, they are connected in a never-ending circle. Everything is connected.

 The StrangerDarkSeason 1Secrets
Who even wrote this book? The author doesn’t even know, he was given a copy from the future. EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED. BRAIN EXPLODES.

Unguarded Insight

Fascinating, unguarded comments from Kenneth Clarke and Michael Rifkind on camera in Sky’s studios. Very unfair, and a serious breach of trust, if they weren’t informed that the cameras were rolling.

Update: Apparently, they were just off air from an interview, and the cameras and mics were still live. Doesn’t make it more fair, I think.

I’m going to have to make time for Game of Thrones

I’ve still not started watching GoT, but I admit I’m running out of reasons not to, and Laurie Penny has added a few more in the Statesman:


What sets it apart is not the monsters, the nudity or the festering gallons of gratuitous gore, but the overwhelming sense that the plot got run off the rails three books ago and is being steered towards a terrible precipice by a bunch of bickering, power-mad maniacs. This, coincidentally, happens to be the plot of the entire 21st century so far.

It feels like aversion therapy for the brutal randomness of modern politics, with a side order of CGI monsters and a lot of shagging.

Right then, let’s get started…

Mind the (pay) Gap

Although Anderson eventually received salary parity with Duchovny, she told The Hollywood Reporter she was once again offered “half” of what her male co-star was being courted with when she was first approached about Fox’s “X-Files” revival. (Sources told THR that the two actors ended up being paid the same amount for the event series.)

She added, “Even in interviews in the last few years, people have said to me, ‘I can’t believe that happened, how did you feel about it, that is insane.’ And my response always was, ‘That was then, this is now.’ And then it happened again! I don’t even know what to say about it.”

Mind boggling that this still goes on.

Source: Gillian Anderson on X-Files Pay Gap: Offered Less Than David Duchovny | Variety

I am loving Deutschland 83

Very much. Cast, soundtrack, storylines, all great so far. It’s all vaguely familiar in some ways, my early childhood was lived through the cold war. I remember the wall coming down, news stories of spy swaps at checkpoint charlie, Regan and Ghorbachev.

It’s the little things that make it interesting too:

Waitress: “Roundsteak or Rib-eye?”
Stamm: “One that comes from a cow, please?”

Let’s not do anything hasty…

Digital Spy shows that any ‘ratings’ issues are pretty much rubbish, but ponders what might need to happen to get the ‘headlines’ back. I’m not sure why it needs to be getting big media coverage every week, but I’m sure I don’t like this idea!

If it wants to makes headlines again – not just when a Doctor is cast, or a companion leaves, but every single week, maybe the best thing for Doctor Who is to go away for a while. Then, when it returns, the appetite for new episodes will be at all-time high.

There just needs to be a concrete plan in place for the show to return, and from the moment it disappears. The last thing anyone wants is a repeat of ’89, when the original show went out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Doctor Who is not in serious trouble. It’s a massive international phenomenon, and makes so much money for BBC Worldwide that overnight ratings are almost irrelevant. But resting the show certainly couldn’t hurt. There’s nothing that makes us appreciate something like threatening to take it away.



The secret lives of the priests in Father Ted

Fascinating. A potted biography of the miscellaneous other priests that populated life on Craggy Island.

I’m guessing that everybody knows about the back stories of the famous actors who played Bishop Jim Brennan (Jim Norton) and Frs Fintan Stack (Brendan Grace), Noel Furlong (Graham Norton) and Todd Unctious (Gerard McSorley). And that Clare Grogan from Altered Images played Niamh Connolly, the Sinead O’Connor parody. And pretty much every Irish comedian of the period had a walk-on part, from Pat Shortt to Jon Kenny, Joe Rooney to Kevin Gildea, Mark Doherty to Paul Tylak. (Did you know, though, that Ed Byrne played a teenager in A Christmassy Ted?) But this goes a lot deeper.

Readers, I give you … the secret lives of the priests in Father Ted.

1. Father Fitzgerald

This is the 24-carat nugget of trivia that got me started. Seán Barrett, who plays Fr Fitzgerald, the priest with the most boring voice in the world, whose dreary drone over a department store’s PA system enables the priests to escape undetected from the lingerie department in the episode, A Christmassy Ted, also appears on the cover of How Soon Is Now?, the classic single by The Smiths.

Read on: The secret lives of the priests in Father Ted

A Nation held its’ breath…

Twenty-five years ago, on the 25th of June, 1990, Packie Bonner made that momentous save that brought Ireland to the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup.

We really did hold our breath for that moment. It was incredible, I’ll never forget watching it. A moment when you thought we could do anything.