TV Binge: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

Creator: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Amelia Eve, T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, Tahirah Sharif, Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, Alex Essoe, Roby Attal, Kate Siegel, Katie Parker, Martn McCreadie

After an au pair’s tragic death, Henry hires a young American nanny to care for his orphaned niece and nephew who reside at Bly Manor with the chef Owen, groundskeeper Jamie and housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. – IMDB

After the success of The Haunting of Hill House (review), Mike Flanagan helms his next mini- series with another haunted house story called The Haunting of Bly Manor. The Haunting of Bly Manor takes some of the execution style of Hill House but is essentially its own story. After the Hill House experience, its hard to go into this one with a little more alertness and always on the lookout for whats hidden in the background (at least for us, it had that effect for at least a few episodes). Its unfair to compare the two even if there are a similar cast returning from Hill House in mostly supporting roles and being helmed by Flanagan as a creator but less this time as director. In fact, Bly Manor is a different beast in itself with Bly Manor being a new haunted house that comes to life with new characters and backstories and some new ghosts to discover which makes Bly Manor a creepily fun time and its has children so add in a little of the unsettling creepy children element.

Using the same execution of breaking down the episodes to discover the backstory of each of the characters on the past and present is a clever way to do this. In some ways, it gives it this feeling of peeling layers of an onion before every piece fits together and one twist/ secret gets revealed after the next while also getting to know each of the characters more to give them greater connection. Other than that Flanagan takes on the main role of writing which is what gives this piece a lot of style and atmosphere. He only takes the director’s seat for the first episode which sets off the story in a great direction in terms of setting up the proper atmosphere however, even in the hands of other directors, the TV series does still manage to keep a certain atmosphere that is always rather unsettling and creepy but in this one, its definitely more about the mystery and suspense built from what is actually happening.

With that said, the characters are the true star as each of their story comes to life. Victoria Pedretti plays a great role as the American au pair Dani who brings on some change to Bly Manor as she tries to dig into what is causing those abnormal things to happen whether with the children or the inexplicable things she sees or experiences. At the same time, the baggage she carries does brings on a few twists as well. The cook Owen (Rahul Kohli) is also a really fun character especially with some hilarious puns like Al-Cohol You Later (one that we have a lot of fun right now saying randomly). One of the best characters and possibly the one with one of the best episode is for the housekeeper Mrs. Grose (T’Nia Miller) who delivers a hell of a performance. Not to mention the kids deliver some great performances by Amelie Bea Smith and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Flora and Miles respectively. Then you have some comeback roles with one or two episodes as some decent characters with Henry Thomas as the uncle, Carla Gugino who is the narrator and Kate Siegel as a key character to the past of Bly Manor to just name a few. There’s a whole lore of how the ghosts and spirits work that becomes a very nice twist.

Bly Manor brings its own setting by itself. The grounds and the manor itself all comes to life with all the stories that slowly comes to surface. The cast brings quite a lot to the story just like the first one as they all have a great deal of depth and its never solely a ghost story but much more than that which is what makes The Haunting of Bly Manor so good. Its something of a love, revenge, family, drama with supernatural elements. There’s some heartwarming moments and some comedy and then there’s a lot of creepiness and fantastic eerie atmosphere at times that’s pretty well balances. Its the not the same as Hill House but different in an equally good way.

Christmas 2018 & TV Binge: Nailed It! Holiday! (Mini-series, 2018)

You can see reviews for the main seasons here:

Season 1
Season 2

Nailed It! Holiday! (2018)

nailed it holiday

Host: Nicole Byer & Jacques Torres

There are shows that talk about refined baking competitions and such but there is also a great joy in watching amateurs bake because its a learning curve and everyone has to start somewhere. Nailed It! has taken that concept and really excelled with it. Sure, Season 2 had its odd moments where it forgot what it was trying to do but overall, it still brought a lot of joy and laughter to some of the odd baking things that came out of some of these episodes. With that said, I was excited to see that Nailed It Holiday is now a thing. It keeps the same format, very much like the first one which focuses its first round on Baker’s Choice and its making smaller baking things like cookies, cake pops and cupcakes while its second round is the money maker, literally, because you can win $10,000 with  making a cake creation. This time we also see a hint of what might be potential new extension or a new direction for the show in the 7th episode as it escapes the baking realm and jumps into the DIY crafts realm. I’ll talk about that a little later as a final wrap-up discussion point.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It! Holiday! definitely did do exactly that. Its hilarious and a ton of fun. It themes itself around the different holidays during this winter season from a good few Christmas to simply winter themes to Hanukkah and takes us straight to a countdown to New Year’s. I’m guessing if you do watch this one or two episodes a week, you might actually reach New Year’s Eve to watch the countdown. The creations themselves are super nice. Its still very much difficulty but its always the how the choice of candidates in the competition that brings a lot of fun because of just how ridiculous some times these things turn out to be. At the same time, they add on a different special button in each one episode themed also around the holidays from unwrapping presents or untangling lights which also makes it fair because if they finish it during the 3 minutes, they can get back to their baking right away. Its a nice twist to the freeze button in the second round.

Nailed It Holiday

Nailed It has always seemed to want to divert away from its baking competition formula. And doing the DIY crafts route is a good one for sure. It might eventually also run out of topics at some point but it has its potential also. The one episode we had was definitely just a taste or maybe a market test in their own right to see how well received it is. I thought it was a fairly fun episode. I like to do DIY crafts as well so this was right up my alley. Crafts have the potential to go horribly wrong and they can also be pretty entertaining to watch as well. I would be down to see if they do a season of this especially of Nicole Byer continues to host.

Talking about that, the reason that Nailed It works despite whatever content they have is in part all the good creative things they do and finding the right type of participants and having a good angle, like this Holiday theme mini series. But the biggest reason is Nicole Byer. She is just the heart and life of this show. While Jacques Torres is a fun match for her, the crafts episode proves that she really can have the same dynamic with another host as well. Its her personality that makes it so fun to watch. Nailed It Holiday is a really fun season and I hope that they continue with this show, whether it be in baking (which I probably would prefer as it works well) or even if they expand to crafts.

Halloween Marathon: Residue (TV mini-series, 2015)

As a little break in between the two featured franchises, I managed to finally check out TV mini-series Residue. I’ve been meaning to since I saw it on Netflix a few months ago but never actually got around to it. Residue is only 3 episodes long and each episode is about 40-45 minutes long. It is completely doable to do in one sitting. I took it as a movie which is generally the length of any movie now.

Let’s check it out!

Residue (Mini-series, 2015)

Residue

Director: Alex Garcia Lopez

Cast: Natalia Tena, Iwan Rheon, Jamie Draven, Danny Webb, Franz Drameh, Adrian Schiller, Eleanor Matsuura

The government cover-up of the causes behind a massive explosion in a futuristic UK metropolis spur photo journalist Jennifer Preston on to search for the truth and in the process blow open a paranormal phenomenon haunting the city.-IMDB

I’m not one to watch mini series frequently but Residue looks to have a well-crafted atmosphere or the poster shows it like that. On top of that, Residue has Natalia Tena and I absolutely loved her in Harry Potter as Tonks and even more in ….. There is something about her that makes her really fun to watch in her roles. Maybe it is because she shows off characters that are more of a tough and brave girl. Her roles show off a lot of personality and that is always nice to see. That is no differerent for Residue.

Residue

Residue is an incredibly atmospheric mini series. Plus, it has a rather unique take. The production setting itself attributes to it a lot. The mostly evacuated city and the quarantined zone both hold a strong contrast. There is a strewn of characters aside from Jennifer, Natalia Tena’s character, that take us to look at how people from different backgrounds and sectors of this new dystopian future world is reacting and adapting. A lot of the amusement of the series goes to this factor as we see the political side, the underground gang and even the police force and also the unnoticed that sneak around. No one knows everything but everyone seems to know a little as they each seem to be intrigued to find out more. And it is because of these range of characters that make us also want to learn more about what is actually going on after the explosion.

Residue

While Residue has a great production set and story premise and even really great cast in each of the roles, the one thing that lacks a little is the relationships between the characters. It is hard to care too much about a character when we don’t quite understand the importance of their roles to the people they are linked to. The mini series dumps you into the story rather quickly. We know that our main character Jennifer and her boyfriend Jonas are very much in love however we lose a sense of where it all lost track months later and its hard to pinpoint where they are in their relationship anymore. This has a lot to do with the fact that the mini series is only three episodes. If there was more time, probably more care would be place into building the characters more. At the same time, possibly the role that gets the most lost in the equation is the cop Mathis who we know has some sort of addiction or problem and ends up losing his daughter in the explosion. He looks like a rather young character so its hard to imagine that he did lose a daughter and we don’t have any pretext as to what went on and how he turned out to be like that. The devastation is expected but he seems to be the less developed character that may have gotten more especially with his turnout.

Residue

It is hard for me to look at Residue and not question whether it would have been a fantastic full series. There could be so many angles to take this especially with everything in place. At three episodes, there just isn’t enough to justify a lot of what is going on and many times, especially the ending, there is a sinking feeling of wanting it to be more. However, for some, perhaps this is the brilliance as it will leave the audience guessing the outcome in a rather open ending. Honestly, I like Residue a lot despite the minor faults here. In some ways, while I didn’t connect to the characters as much as I’d like to, the atmosphere resounded with me and got me a little creeped out and some genuinely chilling moments. And if this ever did turn into something with more length, I would be totally on board to see it built more. It would be fun creepy ride that just doesn’t seem to be in the TV market right now.

Have you seen Residue? What are some mini series that you like?