Monday, October 24, 2011

American Horror Story (FX)

Just when you get pissed off at Netflix and cancel, it turns out not to matter anyway.

Because right now television is brimming with good shows.

Which last happened....oh, I can't even remember.

I just enjoyed the teaser of an opener for Once Upon a Time (only one hour--really?).

This new synthesis of beloved fairy tales (and some Disney characters--WTF?) was enjoyable but it looked like television.

And Robert Carlyle went more than a little bit over the top with his role. I kind of wanted Begbie back.

But what did not look like television was FX's new series American Horror Story.

This is an amazingly good (and frightening!) addition to the haunted house of horrors genre.

It really looks like film and it's impeccably designed.

I've never seen so many nods to the Vienna Secessionists by the show's designers. Right down to the font of the credits.

Everything Brian Falchuk (one of the most important designing minds behind Glee) touches turns to gold.

And this is no exception.

What Glee did for the musical sitcom (an erstwhile joke: think Bochco's botched job with Cop Rock) An American Horror Story does for the Gothic serial--you have to think way back to something like Dark Shadows to find something which generated the sort of ravenous fanbase this show is sure to attract.

Jessica Lange is perhaps following in the Hollywood tradition of "too young to be beautiful, perfect for the evil crazy crone!" But she's clearly relishing it every bit as much as Bette Davis did when it was her time to be put out to the horror film pasture and take up crazy as the new vocation.

When you have guest appearances of the calibre of Frances Conroy, you know you got a show that's smokin.

Dylan McDermott is still very hot. Well his body is. His face looks remarkably free of plastic surgery (hence unnatural in Hollywood terms). His Siberian blue eyes will probably never lose their appeal. But I'm thinking an agent has had to have prodded him by now with scary words like "facial lipodystrophy." Because the pecs and body tone seem at war with the actor's facial sunkenness. I act as though this offends me, which is ridiculous. We are just seeing the real aging of a natural body--which is of course Verboten according to the telegenic mandate. He must be very strong-willed. That he's not gone that direction. And he's got a great job here, so kudos.

He's a great actor. His performance in Almereyda's Twister is still my favorite by far.

I won't try to describe the show.

Just check it out. If you liked The Shining, and if you're a fan of the haunted house of horrors genre, you'll love it.

But bring a strong stomach.

There's a strong component of interpersonal violence (not just committed by the ax murderers but often the good guys) and the psychological complexity of the situations crafted is nearly at that Hitchcock level. The show is interested in exploring the concept of moral queasiness, which is almost a completely alien concept to the medium in which it's taking place.

It's much nastier than anything that will appear on the major networks. In fact, it really rivals the best stuff premium cable can offer, series-wise.

This thing is so gonna have a cult following after it's done.

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