Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Ep. 1 (TV) Review

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Ep. 1 (TV) Review

Magic is returning to England…  Thanks to the BBC.

The first of seven episodes based on the book by Susanna Clarke premiered Sunday, and reactions so far are pretty positive.

The story follows two magicians, the titular Mr. Norrell and his soon-to-be pupil Mr. Strange, as they attempt to return to England the very real magic she has somehow lost over the years. In Clarke’s Regency era England, magic is real…or rather, was real, and the theoretical study of sorcery is a respectable and gentlemanly pastime. Unfortunately for those who study it, real, practical magic hasn’t been done in over 300 years. That is, until Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange make an appearance.

Programme Name: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - TX: n/a - Episode: Ep1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Vinculus (PAUL KAYE) - (C) JSMN Ltd - Photographer: Matt Squire
Vinculus (PAUL KAYE) – (C) JSMN Ltd – Photographer: Matt Squire

While on first glance one might write this series off as simply Harry Potter for adults, it’s better to think of it as Blackadder meets Jane Austen with a splash of Gormenghast. There are plenty of powdered wigs, flowery dialogue and uncomfortable clothing, but there is a wit and humour to be found underneath the stuffy atmosphere and constricting corsets. Director Toby Haynes brings with him some experience with the supernatural, having directed episodes of Doctor Who and Being Human, so far the show seems to be right up his alley.

The casting so far seems to be fantastic, all the main characters come equipped with thick, Northern accents or posh and snarky London inflections. Eddie Marsan perfectly blends shy, introvert with the miserly egoism of Mr. Norrell, and from what little we’ve seen so far of Bertie Cavel’s Mr. Strange, he’s captured the charming but aimless high society rich boy with a heart of gold that audiences will quickly warm to. The supporting cast has really stepped up as well; Vincent Franklin’s Mr. Drawlight is exactly the foppish, flamboyant social sleazebag he’s written to be, and while we haven’t had time yet to really experience his partner in crime, John Heffernan’s Mr. Lascelles, his few lines are dripping with sarcasm and his facial expressions scream boredom and condescension.  Rounding out the major players are Charlotte Riley as Strange’s beautiful, intelligent take-no-shit wife Arabella, and Marc Warren as the sinister Gentleman with the thistledown hair- who’s hair, I might add, isn’t quite what is described in the book, but his menacing attitude makes up for it. There are a few other characters who make brief appearances, but haven’t really been introduced in full yet.

 The Gentleman (MARC WARREN), Lady Pole (ALICE ENGLERT) - (C) JSMN Ltd - Photographer: Matt Squire
The Gentleman (MARC WARREN), Lady Pole (ALICE ENGLERT) – (C) JSMN Ltd – Photographer: Matt Squire

The sets are gorgeous, which isn’t a huge surprise considering the BBC’s history of excellent period dramas. They must have entire warehouses filled with wigs, candles and spare carriage equipment. We get a brief look at Mr. Norrell’s famous library, with its walls of dusty leather-bound books lit by endless candles and dreary English twilight, and the London of 1807 is both elegant and filthy depending on the scene.

For a series that is focused on magic, that is also constrained by the budget of a television show, there is a big risk that many of the spells may be hampered by cheesy special effects or cheap CGI. However, the very first spell cast in the show is one that brings a whole cathedral full of stone statues to life, and the team behind the scenes nailed it. The statues moved like you would expect them to without looking obviously animated and out of place. This bodes well for later on in the series as Mr. Norrell and Mr. Strange start to really up their magic game with some large-scale sorcery.

It is, after all, only the first episode, but as a massive fan of the book and an obnoxious “I won’t watch a show based on a book because books are always better” pretentious snob, I’m loving what I’ve seen so far. My only real complaint is that a lot of the dialogue seems overly expository.  Many lines feel unnatural and forced, only serving to enlighten the audience to the history of Clarke’s alternate universe England. But that’s to be expected when translating a 1,000-page book (with a plethora of footnotes) into a hour-long television show. I’m interested to see just how much of the fascinating world building Clarke has done can be shown in only seven episodes, but so far, so good.

Next Assassin’s Creed Title Leaked

Next Assassin’s Creed Title Leaked

The next Assassin’s Creed game is set in Victorian London and is titled or code-named Victory. This is according to an article published on Kotaku that shows leaked screenshots of the game.

In the shots we see an assassin fighting atop a stage coach, walking and free-running through the streets of London and perched on top of a building with big ben and billowing smoke stacks off in the distance.

Fans might be glad to hear that this game is being led by Ubisoft’s Quebec Studio and not Ubisoft Montreal, who was the lead developer on all the game’s previous main installments. All the Assassin’s Creed games are created by hundreds of people in studios all over the world, but after the poorly received release of Unity it might not be a bad thing that fans already have something new to look forward to with a new group at the helm.

Following the games annual release schedule, Victory is currently expected to be released in the fall of 2015 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Ubisoft released this statement in regards to the leaked images and information:

Ubisoft’s statement 

It is always unfortunate when internal assets, not intended for public consumption, are leaked. And, while we certainly welcome anticipation for all of our upcoming titles, we’re disappointed for our fans, and our development team, that this conceptual asset is now public. The team in our Quebec studio has been hard at work on the particular game in question for the past few years, and we’re excited to officially unveil what the studio has been working on at a later date. In the meantime, our number one priority is enhancing the experience of Assassin’s Creed Unity for players.

Original story posted by: Kotaku

Pikachu Joins London’s “Year Of The Bus”

Pikachu Joins London's "Year Of The Bus"

London, England’s “Year Of The Bus” continues with the inclusion of Pikachu (everyone’s favourite electric yellow mouse). The famous Pokémon teamed up with Transport For London to answer a simple query: just how do you get a Pikachu on a bus?

The answer seems to be lots and lots of pushing as these London children are trying their best to get the rodent to board. We can’t blame the kids though because that is one big Pikachu.

Transport for London and Pikachu teamed up to answer the question: How do you get Pikachu on a bus?. London. Britain

The “Year Of The Bus” program is all about reconnecting the people of London with their renowned bus system. Events, exhibitions and more are taking place throughout the year to help accomplish this feat.

It seems that Pikachu is directed at the younger bus users. You can read more about the “Year Of The Bus” 2014 here.

Be sure to stay tuned to CGM for all your Pikachu bus related news!

C&G Monthly Video Preview – The Darkness 2

C&G Monthly Video Preview - The Darkness 2

The C&G Monthly Crew got a chance to go down to London Ontario and see The Darkness 2, currently in development at Digital Extremes. We are now here to share out thoughts on the game. We talk about how it all looks, the overall experience and if this is a game you should look out for come May.

Read moreC&G Monthly Video Preview – The Darkness 2