So, I’ve been sitting on this one for a little bit just to give myself more time to think about what I liked and didn’t like about this season as much. But, I probably should start some what the show is about. Umbrella Academy is …
At the start of working from home, due to Covid-19, I watched through the first season of The Order and I wrote up my thoughts on that season, which can be found here. Thankfully, because I was a bit late to the party for the first season of The Order, season two came along quite quickly, but does it hold up to season one?
Season One Spoilers To Follow
Season Two picks up fairly quickly from season where, where the Knights of Saint Christopher have had their memories erased and various acolytes of the Order of the Blue Rose have been tasked with keeping an eye on them. There’s one issue, though, they keep on getting their memories back as the werewolves keep healing them. To add to that, the werewolves keep on almost escaping because someone is doing magic, and the Knights, without their memories can’t stop them from coming out. Things go from bad to worse when a new magical organization shows up, this one with the plan of bringing magic to the masses, but what is the cost of that going to be. Meanwhile, Alyssa Drake is struggling to control her own magic for some unknown reason.
I think a good starting point for talking about this is that season two is probably more absurd than season one. There are some cameos in it that are just hilarious and extremely well done. And a lot of the situations are completely out there. That said, this has always been a show about secret magic, werewolves, and college, so it was never a show that took itself too seriously. They do a good job of setting the tone for that early in the first episode of season one. So I like that this has continued down a pretty cheesy path as that’s one of my favorite things, cheesy monsters. And I don’t feel like it’s too overbearing though, there are some real moments that happen in it with the characters, and there are real stakes so it’s not just about the goofiness, though that was a highlight of season two.
In terms of the acting, it’s on par with the previous season. Basically all the main players who survived season one are back again and play large roles. They do a good job of giving Randall more to do as well as Gabrielle this season, though both did a fair amount in season one. But they become very important characters in season two. And the new characters introduced are fine, I think that the sect of magic users who want to bring magic to the masses are okay. Their acting is not always the best, nor is their motivation properly defined. I think this added group muddies the waters a bit too much, and they really are trying to lean into everything being grey, but not in a way that really works all that well. And I feel like the character development of Jack Morton and Alyssa Drake kind of takes a bit of a step backwards. Now, I know the rules that characters shouldn’t get together because once the ones you are pulling for do, they become more boring. However, they had ways to keep them apart, and they used them quite well early on in the season, but later, especially Jack’s motivations are messed up with what we have known his personality to be.
With that said, I have to go back to this being a cheesy show about monsters, werewolves, and magical secret societies, 90% of which takes place on a college campus. It doesn’t take itself seriously, the writing isn’t high quality, so I don’t expect it to be handled perfectly. When I watch The Order, I’m doing so because I want to have fun, and this season hands out a ton of fun. If you enjoyed the first season, it’s more of the same, just with a less well defined bad guy. If you didn’t, this season won’t change anything for you. And if you haven’t watched it but like cheesy monster college shows, it’s a very specific genre, you’ll enjoy this show. I’m hoping the numbers will do well enough for season three, because I think there’s ways to go with the story that will be interesting, but if not, it ends in a solid spot.
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As I’ve talked about before, part of my work from home has given me a chance to thrown on some television shows in the background while I work. This might be distracting for some, but I always have a YouTube video or audio book playing while I’m working in the office. I used that time to catch up on some anime, but then I decide to checkout some science fiction, and the first one I picked was Nightflyers, the show based off of a novella by George RR Martin.
Earth is in need of help, as is pretty common in sci-fi. So a group of scientist, colonists, and others head out into deep space to find a mysterious object, the volcryn, that seems to be giving off the same energy signature as telepaths on Earth do. Yes, there are telepaths on earth, and there is even one on the ship, Thale, who is dangerous, but also might be their only way to contact the volcryn. However, from the get go, things are not going like they should on the ship, the Captain Royd Eris is hidden away only showing up as a hologram, things are breaking down, and for this mission, everyone is on edge. As they go further into space and get closer to the volcryn, more things go poorly and it is clear that someone on the ship does not want them to reach the volcryn, all while the main character, Karoly d’Branin becomes more and more obsessed with finding reaching their end goal. Will they survive all the way to the end?
This show reminded me a lot of Helix, another SyFy channel show, set in space. It’s about who you can trust, or who you shouldn’t trust on the ship. And if what you’re going after is going to be worth the cost. I think that it Nightflyers, without delving into too much plot detail, is fairly standard in a lot of it’s handling of sci-fi tropes. I don’t think that’s always a bad thing, because there are a lot of interesting story elements, but for the most part, it feels fairly typical to stuff that I’ve already seen and stuff that has been a part of sci-fi for a long time. It does delve into some interesting areas about grief and humanity, but for the most part it leans into the horror and sci-fi elements in ways that you’d expect.
So while the sci-fi elements might not always be the most unique, I thought that it did a good job blending the elements of sci-fi and horror. And in the horror you actually get some more unique things, which tie back into the sci-fi nature of the show. With horror, I do believe that it is a bit all over the place at times. You some where it’s very psychological and other times where people are being frozen or jump scares or a pathogen loose in the air. But I have a soft spot for the blend of horror and sci-fi in my heart, because both of them can really dig into issues that would be too abstracted in a more realistic setting.
I think that the concept of the show works, I think while it is fairly standard, the story of the show works. I feel like they mess up some pacing in the show, there’s a large time jump for no good reason at one point in time, just to set-up the next horrific thing happening. I think the time jump is confusing as well, because it’s a slow burn show. Most of the elements are played out slowly over a long period of time and it works well in the show. You can tell the story is based off of George RR Martin, the Song of Ice and Fire series has a slow burn as well, and this matches it where a lot of the horror is based things and confusion moving slowly and building tension versus jump scares.
Would I recommend this show? It was pretty enjoyable and because it’s one season only, I think there are enough interesting horror and sci-fi elements in it that makes it worth checking out. The world building for something that basically only takes place on a spaceship is done really well. There’s a good amount of depth there, and that depth builds throughout the whole of the show, not just the the start with an info dump, but you never feel like they are info dumping on you and that you don’t have the information that you need. If you enjoy fairly heavy sci-fi with a good dose of horror thrown in, it’s definitely a show that is worth watching.
Have you seen the show, read the novella? How do they compare, is the novella worth reading if you’ve seen the show?
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It might be kind of the wrong time to talk about this, we’re in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, however, I think with that, for some, comes more time to delve into more story, including that of the Apocalypse/Post-Apocalyptic in nature. This is one …
While working form home I’ve had the chance to binge and watch a number of TV shows. One of them was Locke and Key that I wrote about already, but another one, in somewhat of a similar vein was The Order, another Netflix original show that is just one season in thus far but has a second season coming out.
The Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose is a secret organization that operates at least partly out of Belgrave University. That’s where Jack Morton’s mother went, that’s where she fell in love with Edward Coventry and became pregnant with Jack, unknown to Coventry. She killed herself after Jack was born and Coventry and abandoned her. So now Jack and his Grandfather want him to get into the school and join the order so that he can take it down and take down Coventry. But in Belgrave University, there’s more going on than just a shady magical order that might threaten all of Jack and his Grandfather’s plans.
There are a lot of shows out there in this vein, as I mentioned, Locke and Key feels similar but beyond that you have shows like Grimm, Haven, Supernatural, The Magicians, Lost Girl and more. So is there room in the genre for even more? Personally, this magical, somewhat comedic, monsters of the week sort of show is one that I really love. I love when there’s a bit of camp, a bit of drama, a bit of horror, and an interesting plot and bad guy. And while I don’t know that The Order is particularly shocking in what it does or turns the genre on it’s head, it does a good job of being the type of show that you expect it to be, and in my case, that I want it to be.
What I think works well is how you end up with multiple factions happening, both in the Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, but also in other parts of the college campus. I think that’s something that you see at times in other shows, but they do a good job of drawing the main character in multiple different directions because of that. There’s definitely a message to the show about growing up and taking responsibility for yourself and not just living based off of what others tell you to do. It’s played out most obviously with Jack and his grandfather, but the multiple factions piece helps solidify it as kind of the drive of the main story, beyond trying to get into the order and get to Edward Coventry.
I think that one other thing for these shows that you want to pay attention to is how well they do with the monsters. Obviously, the older you go the poorer they’re going to loo, Haven looks real bad in comparison, but I don’t think that The Order leans so much on having the best looking monsters. The story has comedy in it and leans into that bit campier nature, so it doesn’t need the best looking monsters and it doesn’t need to be hyper realistic. Instead, it can look a bit cheesy because the show is a bit cheesy. That helps keep the cost of the show down, but also gives it a feel that’s different from a few of the other shows in the genre that really take themselves seriously and consider themselves to be more important than they are.
Acting wise, I think that the acting is just okay. I love the actor who play Jack’s Grandpa, Matt Frewer, and I knew him previously from having played Taggert in Eureka. This show even has a bit of a Eureka vibe, just more adult. Jake Manley who plays Jack Morton does a good job as well. There’s an earnestness to his performance that comes across. There are plenty of other characters that I like as well. When I say the acting is just okay, I don’t mean that it takes away from the story or from the show, because again, it’s meant to be a little bit campy. And so we get some campy or sillier performances, Jack’s RA (resident assistant) in college is a funny character, though does have some moments of depth. They do a good job of sprinkling those moments in and generally I think that they work well and they act them out well.
Overall, The Order is a show that from the trailer looks like it takes itself more seriously than it does. It has a nice blend of comedy and monsters and offers some interesting thinking points. For me, that’s what I want in a show like this, it can’t just be heavy otherwise I have trouble wanting to stick with it, and if it’s just silly, I have to be in a particular mood for that. Would I recommend the show, I would say that it’s meant for adults, there’s swearing, murders, and plenty of things that aren’t appropriate for younger children, but yes, I do recommend the show. Just know that it’s going to be campy and it’s going to have some absurd moments to it, but overall, it’s a fun show that’s worth checking out, and a fast watch as there are only 10 episodes in season 1.
Let me know what you think of it below? Is it the type of show that you enjoy or was it too campy for you?
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