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Graceless 3.3

Once upon a time there were two sisters. They were created by beings called the Grace. Both sisters had magic powers. When they were together, they could do anything. Go anywhere and when. Reach into people's minds, even influence their thoughts.

They tried to be good. They tried to do what was right. But even when they tried their hardest to help people there were unintended conseq... (more)

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Rated 8/10 on 5/10/15 12:33 pm
Rated 7/10 on 5/10/15 11:02 am
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Review By Eiphel 8/9/12 6:27 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
One of my main problems with the (nonetheless superb) first season of Graceless was the lack of defined capabilities of the girls' powers. I felt that it was hard to judge the level of conflict and peril in situations where the girls were faced with non-personal problems because it was never clear to what extent and in what ways the girls' powers could manifest. It was never a huge issue as the primary focus was always on the interpersonal conflicts that arose, but it did weaken the narrative strength of the stories.

The Line serves to address this issue directly, by focussing specifically on the question of what the girls can and cannot fix with their powers; where the line is and what happens when it's crossed. With the series' usual deftness, the titular line is thus a literal plot device (the terminator of the planet), and a figurative one (a boundary on the girls' powers). Without miring itself in pseudoscience or telling too much, the Line allows us to proceed with a better notion of how far the girls can go, lending greater immediacy to the drama from here on out.

The Graceless Universe continues to be well defined and immersive - perhaps due to being entirely written by Simon Guerrier according to his own clear vision of the show - with another setting that blends a pleasingly traditional hard SF backdrop with the more magical foreground action. A setting all the more interesting for being Marek's hometown. I'm still fond of Marek as a character, but I do feel he's been softened since last season. He obviously has a very sympathetic role this story, but I feel that in season one his sympathetic moments were always tempered by a little dark prickle. Manchu Golding is another character in the mould of Uncle Lindsay and Kreekpolt. He's very good, well rounded and human, played well by Derek Griffiths, but it would be nice to meet an acquaintance of Marek who was a bit more different (though I understand that to some extent the point is that in Marek's world, everyone is like this).

This is the first time I've felt a story was repetitious, with the high level of consistency in the series verging into slightly homogenous characters and settings. Not that it's a big issue, and narratively, the story goes somewhere that's new - somewhere that's also new thematically, and strengthens one of the few flaws in the series. 8/10
Review By Eiphel 8/3/12 7:40 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
The Sphere was a decent introductory story. It demonstrated all the key points of the series - the innocence, the power, the atmosphere of lurking corruption, the hidden dangers in the world and in the girls. I felt it could have more organically worked in the backstory than simply having an expository narration open the episode, but I can understand a desire to clear the decks so the episode can focus on pushing the girls onwards, not revisiting their past. The series only had three stories to work with, after all, and the theme of onward movement and development is fairly defining.

The corrupt leisure world setting isn't anything new to sci-fi, but like the above, I think that helped by throwing out a backdrop which immediately hits key themes of the series without crowding the narrative space. Certainly I thought the setting was well realised - the universe of the series in general seems to be - and really the focus is more on character drama than high-concept SF. That's where the Sphere is succesful: It's a stage for some really good characters. Marek feels like a character who could easily have gone wrong, being too sleasy or too annoying or too cute, and hanging around undermining the sisters' scenes. He's not, though; he's very good. There's a careful balance of caring, sympathetic, and victimised with selfish, unpleasant and manipulative. Fraser James has particularly good rapport with the leads. Meanwhile Colin Spaull's Uncle Lindsay is a delicious 'villain'. Not that he's really a villain, that's just the role he's playing in these circumstance, this context... That's a recurring theme across all of these stories. No villains and no heroes. The Graceless universe isn't that simple. There's people being antagonistic, and people being honourable. Sometimes there's people being downright monstrous. But it's always a matter of circumstance, and it's never the whole of their nature. I love that. 7/10
Review By Eiphel 8/3/12 7:39 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
The Fog is probably my favourite story of season one. It's very self contained and I think that makes it feel the most substantial. Quite different in tone to the Sphere, it takes us from a flashy Sci-Fi space world full of sleaze and fast-talk to a quaint rustic village of earthy farming types. Instead of weakening the portrayal of the universe with such a large shift, the Sphere/Compton contrast only serves to strengthen the series' MO by keeping its defining elements constant in the new context. Still no heroes, still no villains. Still darkness and goodness in equal measure, and still a strong sense of danger and threat. Finally, the big jump in setting literally reinforces the thematic way the series is always moving forward.

I'm rather fond of stories that deal in paranoia and fear of the other, and I thought the Fog handled that very nicely. Things felt sinister and unpleasant, and the townsfolk legitimately very intimidating, but it wasn't overdone. Once again, the potential for goodness amid darkness and vice versa is strongly evident, and gives us two fantastic characters. Patricia Brake's Nan is a delightfully formidable old woman who shows a lot of compassion and a lot of strength, whilst David Warner's Daniel is the series' defining character. A witty, weary fellow full of character, whose motives and beliefs are subtle and complex. One of the most real characters I've heard in a show. The plot itself is a bit Sapphire and Steel on the one hand, and a shade Jago and Litefoot on the other. Paranormal mysteries and creepiness afoot, and if the resolution of the thing is not resoundingly unexpected, that's really no flaw. At the risk of repeating myself, the show prefers to pursue a concept for the most character drama it can, not the wildest SF. The Fog's an 8/10.
Recent Reviews...
Review By: Eiphel
Submitted 8/3/12 7:39 pm
Review By: jolyon
Submitted 11/12/11 3:06 pm