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Amazon gets its Game of Thrones on with Britanniaand it works

Charmaine Blake

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If you’re desperately seeking a Game of Thrones fix while enduring the long wait for the HBO fantasy epic’s 2019 return, you could do a lot worse than Britannia. The new historical drama from Amazon Studios and Sky has much in common with the world of Westeros, even though it’s set in our own world, tracing the conflicts between the native Celts and the invading Romans in 43 AD. But while Britannia is clearly inspired by Game of Thrones—and probably wouldn’t exist without that show’s success—Britannia still feels very much like its own beast. A beast filled with treachery, terrifying druids, and a whole mess of hallucinogens.

Britannia plants its flag early on, and that flag has “freak” emblazoned boldly across it. Within the first few minutes of Britannia, you’ll see the British Office’s Mackenzie Crook appear as the most unsettling druid you’d ever care to meet, watch a man dive off a cliff and into a nightmare dreamscape fueled by every psychotropic plant he could find, and then discover that this period drama has chosen as its theme song the trippy 1968 Donovan joint “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” And, for some inexplicable reason, it works.

Prime Video/YouTube

The show doesn’t maintain quite that level of WTF, setting into the more familiar “hyperviolent historical/fantasy drama” beats established by shows like Game of Thrones and Starz’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand. But even when the sea of swords, trees, and peasants starts to look overly familiar, Britannia still finds moments to embrace its eccentricity. Pretty much everything Varen (Crook) and his druids do on-screen is either gruesome or disquieting—and sometimes both. The show’s freak flag is best personified, however, by Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Divis, an outcast druid who is possibly insane, most definitely an asshole, and one of my favorite new TV characters.

Divis snakes along underneath the larger storylines of warring factions and byzantine treachery, trying his best to save his land but never quite sure what he’s doing. Divis is Merlin if Merlin hadn’t bathed in several years and was an unapologetic dick. Actually, that’s not fair—“unapologetic” implies the person realizes they’ve done something wrong, but doesn’t feel bad about it. After Divis promises to guide a traumatized orphan “as far as the river,” he then instead drops her 10 miles away from the river, because the rest of the journey is out of his way and full of wolves. If you’d suggested to Divis that this was rude bordering on criminal, he likely wouldn’t understand what the hell you were talking about. Like he tells the girl at one point, in an ill-conceived attempt at comfort, “This isn’t about you. It’s about me.”

The rest of the Britannia cast is a talented and solid mix, including some familiar faces such as the aforementioned Crook and The Walking Dead’s David Morrissey as General Aulus Plautius, the commander of the invading Roman legions. As Plautius, Morrissey is in familiar form as the charismatic leader who, as one character describes, is most talented at getting inside his opponents’ heads and soon having their “right arm fighting their left.” Most of the arc of Britannia sees him trying to do just that, with Plautius gaming the various warring factions of Celts toward whatever end best suits his needs at that moment. Plautius is never as well realized a character as Morrissey’s turn as the Governor on The Walking Dead—say what you will about the show, Morrissey’s performance was excellent—but he’s in familiar territory playing an utter bastard, so this is basically a paid vacation for the guy.

Prime Video/YouTube

However, some of the show’s strongest characters are Britannia’s women. Kelly Reilly shines as Kerra, the daughter of a Celtic king who will do whatever she must to protect her people, even if that means going against the will of her father. And Eleanor Worthington Cox is marvelous as Cait, a young woman whose ceremonial transition into adulthood becomes all too literal when a Roman army swarms over her Solstice ceremony, robbing her of her family and the only life she’s ever known in a rush of flame and blood. If we’re continuing the Game of Thrones comparisons here, Cait is definitely this show’s Aria, but she’s still very much her own character, brutalized but unbroken.

All nine episodes of Britannia are streaming on Amazon Prime Instant Video, and you’ll have too much fun to stop.

Still not sure what to watch on Amazon? Here are the best Amazon originals, the best documentaries on Amazon Prime, what’s new on Amazon, the best movies you can watch in stunning 4K Ultra HD, and the sexiest movies you can stream right now.  

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/upstream/britannia-review/

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The British reality dating show that you need to start watching immediately

Charmaine Blake

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Image: ITV

“At precisely 9 p.m. every night for the next three months, just as the sun is setting over the United Kingdom, Twitter comes alive.

There’s nothing in the water and we certainly can’t blame it on the weather. It’s all because of Love Island, a British reality dating show that currently has the nation transfixed. Brits are gripped by the action unfolding on their television screens, and they begin flooding Twitter with their feelings using the #LoveIsland hashtag.

So, what the hell is Love Island? Well, in a nutshell, it’s Britain’s answer to the U.S.’s Bachelor In Paradise. The only difference is that the show airs every single night for three drama-packed months.

The new season of Love Island — which began one week ago — kicked off with the arrival of 11 strangers comprising six men and five women. The women arrive first and exchange hugs with their fellow contestants. Then, as the men arrive one-by-one, the ladies step forward when they see someone they like the look of.

Much like Bachelor in Paradise, the power alternates between the male and female contestants each week. Now, if that sentence….”

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Game of Thrones prequel series ordered from George RR Martin and Jane Goldman

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HBO has given a pilot order to a series set thousands of years before the hit show with Kick-Ass and Kingsman screenwriter Jane Goldman as showrunner

“HBO has given an official pilot order to their first Game of Thrones prequel series.

The as-yet-untitled show will be co-created by original author George RR Martin and Jane Goldman who will act as showrunner. Goldmans screenwriting credits include Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The series will be set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones and will chronicle the worlds descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. HBO has released the following logline: Only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend its not the story we think we know….”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jun/08/game-of-thrones-prequel-series-ordered-from-george-rr-martin-and-jane-goldman

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Kenan Thompson explains why he ‘fears’ leaving ‘Saturday Night Live’

Charmaine Blake

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Kenan Thompson is afraid of what comes after Saturday Night Live for him, and we get it.

Image: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagi

“The length of Kenan Thompson’s tenure on Saturday Night Live has become a running joke on Saturday Night Live. And he knows it.

During Donald Glover’s recent monologue, Thompson acknowledged just how long it’s been since he first auditioned in 2003. After entering his 15th season in 2017, he became the longest-serving cast member, dethroning previous record holder Darrell Hammond.

The fact that he’s stayed on is impressive — but the consensus is that if you’re not leaving SNL, you probably don’t have anywhere better to go. Or something else is holding you back

In a Hollywood Reporter interview, Thompson explained….”

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/06/07/kenan-thompson-fears-leaving-snl/

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