Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Television’

Hannibal is cancelled, and you-know-who is not dead.

July 03, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television No Comments →

Gillian Anderson as Hannibal’s psychiatrist and Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter

Critics have long come to terms with the fact that reviews have little impact on audience numbers: it may even be argued that lousy reviews translate to stupendous box-office, as demonstrated most recently by Jurassic World. A couple of weeks ago, Hannibal returned for its third season of exquisite butchery; shortly after that, NBC announced that the series created by Bryan Fuller was cancelled.

The cancellation of Hannibal wasn’t a big surprise, even to viewers who went into raptures over the cannibal’s culinary and interior design skills. Fuller’s adaptation of the Hannibal Lecter books by Thomas Harris constantly tested network standards and practices by showing us cadavers in artistic arrangements, like a Venice Biennale of Death. More that that, its ratings were very low. The Hannibal cult—you are few, but you know what goes with fava beans and a good Chianti—need not worry as the show will certainly find a new home on cable or on the increasing number of online media providers

I thought of Hannibal last week when I came home to find blood splatter on the floor. My cat housemates, who have been play-fighting for years, miscalculated their posing and made actual contact, leaving one of them with a bloody nose. As I scrubbed away at the dried stains, I wondered how the fastidious Dr. Lecter cleaned up his post-murder messes, and so quickly, too. Did he always carry plastic sheets and bleach? Pop culture has mythologized serial killers as geniuses, but perhaps their most amazing quality is their housecleaning acumen.

Read our TV column The Binge at BusinessWorld.

Plus: What Hannibal’s cancellation—and possible renewal—tells us about the future of TV.

Silicon Valley: The geeks have still not inherited the earth.

June 26, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Television 1 Comment →


Created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, Silicon Valley was reportedly inspired by Judge’s stint as a software engineer in the 1980s. It was, by his account, a soul-crushing experience. “The people I met were like Stepford Wives,” he said in an interview. “They were true believers in something, and I don’t know what it was.” He ended up on television, writing, directing, producing, starring and doing the music for Beavis and Butt-head. He also did the cartoon King of the Hill and the film Office Space, the classic on the banality of corporate evil.

“Every day it feels like I’ve died and gone to hell,” Gilfoyle declares.

“He’s a Satanist,” Dinesh explains. “It’s a good thing.”

Mike Judge knows better than anyone that highly intelligent people can behave like complete morons, and in that IQ gulf live the big laughs. Silicon Valley takes Office Space’s penetrating criticism of corporate culture, and delivers it with the off-color, juvenile humor of Beavis and Butt-head.

Read our review of Silicon Valley at our TV column The Binge in BusinessWorld.

Watch Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency. Language will offend some. There’s also a bit about Filipinos in season 2, but it’s a spoiler.

See you at the Cebu Literary Festival

June 19, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Television, Traveling No Comments →


We’re in Cebu from lunchtime till Sunday morning for the Cebu Literary Festival at the Ayala Center Cebu. We’re giving a talk, signing books, doing an interview with historian Resil Mojares, and visiting the Iron Throne at Happy Garaje.

Read our Season 5 review in our TV column The Binge at BusinessWorld. Spoilers.

If you’re not in Cebu, you could go to Fete de la Musique. Click on the image to enlarge.

fete de la musique 2015

The Game of Thrones Support Group is in session.

June 16, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Television 3 Comments →

We like the samurai influence on Jon’s armor.

If you have not finished watching season 5 of Game of Thrones, step away from this page right now.

Another season, another stack of obituaries from the TV series that delights in putting its audience through the emotional wringer. In reviewing each season, the question that should be asked is: Was it worth the pain of watching (name the late character you’d grown fond of) die and (other characters you root for) suffer? The answer is always No, but for some reason we keep on watching.

Our review of Season 5 appears on Friday at BusinessWorld.

Distraught? Need to talk? See you in Comments.

* * * * *

Our Season 5 Awards:

Worst Performances

Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand: Full-on Bella Flores.

Rosabell Laurenti Sellers as Tyene Sand: It didn’t help that she had to recite the single worst line in the entire series.

The kid who plays Olly: Every single time he appeared, he had a look of “Papatayin kita!” Yeah, we got it the first ten times.

Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton: A one-note monster, uses the same wide-eyed tricks on Vicious.

Best Performances

Lena Headey as Cersei: Actually made us feel bad for Cersei. At her lowest, was most queenly.

Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon: Actually made us feel bad for Stannis, even when he allowed that horror.

Drogon says the Best Actor of Season 5 is Drogon.

Best Musical Performance

Jerome Flynn as Bronn: Relieved the tedium of the Dorne scenes.

Runner-up: Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Mace Tyrell, bursting into song in Braavos.

Worst Writing

All the scenes in Dorne

The recap in the Throne Room in Meereen

Varys reappears – But we’re glad to see him, so we’ll let that pass.


The assassination in Julius Caesar

The death of Richard III

Almost forgot: The Wire (Omar).

Chinatown. “You’re my uncle. And my father. And my uncle. And my father.” Nosebleed. End.

Punishment that should be instituted in the Philippines

Have corrupt politicians walk naked and barefoot from Congress to the Senate with a septa following them, ringing a bell and crying, “Shame! Shame!”

Your nominees in Comments.

Since there’s no release date for The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in A Song of Ice and Fire, we expect that everyone will reread A Dance With Dragons and even the previous books very closely for clues.

So the series has moved past the books, but continues to sell the earlier books. GRRM wins.

The Good Wife, or The dream life of Hillary Clinton

June 13, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Television No Comments →


The series created by Michelle and Robert King begins with a premise grabbed from the headlines. Alicia, who had been a full-time mom for 13 years, is forced to return to legal practice in order to support her family after her husband, Chicago State’s Attorney Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), is jailed on charges of corruption and having sex with prostitutes. Sex is the downfall of American politicians: they can get away with inventing reasons to declare war on foreign countries, but if they figure in a sex scandal it’s goodbye, career. After all, America was settled by Puritans who fled England because it was too licentious.

I’m more shocked by the fact that after six years, there hasn’t been a Filipino version of The Good Wife. Babaeng pinagtaksilan ng asawa, babangon at dudurugin ang mga kaaway (A woman betrayed by her husband, will rise up and crush her enemies.). Of course in a local version, the wife would not only return to the law but she would defend her husband herself, and it would turn out that the husband never touched another woman. Or if he did, he would get run over by a bus and she would find a better guy.

Read our TV column The Binge at BusinessWorld.

We now return to regular programming.

June 06, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Language, Pointless Anecdotes, Television 1 Comment →

Regulars may have noted that we have not been posting articles daily. This is because the last week of May always tries to kill us, so we took time off from writing columns and blogging. Also our ancient Mac and slow internet connection were sucking all the joy out of going online. The allergy (to prickly heat powder) is gone, the Mac is new, and the connection is fast, so we are back.

This is how we spent our “vacation”.

1. Defrosted the fridge. Why we do not do this regularly is a mystery, since all it entails is pushing a button. Maybe because we think of it as housework and we hate housework. We only remember to defrost the refrigerator when the icebox is sealed shut. When the ice has melted after a day or so, we expect to find The Thing in the freezer.

2. Thought of writing fake family history to claim relationship to the late billionaire Edmond Safra. There’s so much unsubstantiated information online, just posting a claim gives it traction. The only thing stopping us is the sheer weirdness of Edmond Safra’s story.

3. Read The Love Object by Edna O’Brien.

4. Shopped for feline overlords. We have found a regular source of Fancy Feast, which of course we will not reveal.

Sidebar: We’ve mentioned the cat epidemic in February which killed three of our outdoor ampon. We did not mention that Meriadoc disappeared on the day the outdoor cats started falling ill, because we could not accept the possibility that he had gotten infected.


Yesterday the guard reported that Meriadoc has been turning up very late at night, wearing a collar. He has found other humans. Traitor! Deserter! Then we realized that he did the smartest thing in order to avoid the epidemic. Humans get sentimental about cats; cats are not sentimental. They survive.

5. Watched 6 seasons of The Good Wife, which we had avoided seeing because everyone told us to. The full review in our column on Friday. We enjoyed the show, but cannot rein in our indignation: What is the point of casting Matthew Goode, possessor of the most adorable overbite on the screen, and then not giving him anything to do?

According to reports he won’t be back for the 7th season as he is joining the cast of Downton Abbey. So we’ll start watching Downton again, but not the two seasons we missed since Cousin Matthew died in the Xmas special. Here’s Matthew Goode in Stoker, which we missed for some reason or other but have to look up because it’s inspired by Hitchcock’s Shadow of A Doubt, which we love. Stoker was directed by Park Chan Wook (Old Boy) and written by Wentworth Miller (Prison Break).

6. Started listening to Basic Russian audiofiles. It’s supposed to be easier to learn Russian than Hungarian. It occurred to us while pronouncing common Russian names (Boris is “Ba-REES”) that world leaders have gotten Putin wrong. If you want anything from him, you challenge him to single combat.