Monthly Archives: October 2017

TV Review – Westworld


Westworld is just awesome. Review done!

Alright, yes maybe I should talk about it a bit more than that. I’ve recently re-watched season one of Westworld. I have to admit it is one of those shows that is better the second time around, because you have a better understanding of what on earth is going on.

To help with understanding it even better, I recommend only watching one episode a day. Delayed gratification massively improves watching this show. It gives you a chance to absorb the plot, absorb the character development, and organise in your head what you think is going on. Then come the next episode you’re better prepared for the glut of new information.

I absolutely love Westworld because it is one of the few shows that makes me have to sit and concentrate. Normally, unless a plot has a twist that isn’t foreshadowed, I can figure out the ending. Westworld I had to watch to find out the ending and I was never once bored.

Let’s start with what I love the most; it is a combination of western and science fiction. The last time I watched a show with that combination was Firefly, a TV show ahead of its time and my all-time favourite. The other similarity I enjoyed being reminded of was Bicentennial Man, because like that film this is a journey of synthetic beings becoming more than what they were built to be. 

And then there is the element of repetition for the residents of Sweetwater. It isn’t a time loop as such, but I do love time loops, and this is a much more sinister variation on that idea, with brilliant music acting as the finishing touch.

Westworld took these elements, and just takes it to a completely new level. When I first watched it, and saw the cast list I just knew that this was something special, because the ensemble attracted to take part in this project is just outstanding.

And I know why they wanted to be involved? Because all they will have had is the writing to base their decision on when they joined up. The production, the direction, the cinematography etc. cannot be faulted. It is one of the highest quality TV productions I’ve seen.

The writing though is what is key to making it all work. The concept is interesting and complex; the plot while not straightforward makes you want more; not a single word of dialogue is wasted; the character development, especially Dolores’ makes you want to know what happens next, which makes resisting binge watching difficult.

The level of complexity is what makes the show so compelling, because like with the Westworld park itself, the layers of story are so subtle, it makes it feel real. It makes it feel like every time the can of paint falls to the floor, it feels like it is genuine and real, and possible. The reactions are grounded in reality, not in fantasy which is in truth what Westworld is all about.

It is a fantasy, you’re just not meant to know it.

It is truly immersive, and I couldn’t pay a TV show or a film a higher compliment.


The Strange Thing about Stress


I’ve suffered from depression before, and as many of my readers will know, I’m quite candid about discussing it. Many of my problems with depression stem from grief and a lack of self-esteem.

Depression caused by stress though is a beast of a different nature. Something to fight with a different arsenal of weapons and defences that I hadn’t equipped myself with because I’ve usually been able to handle stress. Not this time; I found my devil, and all I can say is how thankful I am of the people who had my back when I was struggling to watch it for myself.  

As hard as it is to grieve for someone, somehow fighting depression caused by stress is worse, quite possibly because there isn’t a tangible source of pain. None of the people I have grieved for would want me to be in pain, and focusing on good memories helps you to overcome your loss, at least it does for me.

Stress though is entirely in your own head. Stress takes everything you love away from you, and leaves you only with the thing stressing you out in the the first place, which is the strange thing about it. I would have thought you would run from it rather than everything else first. Apparently not. After a while your physical health is destroyed, and as I discovered the next step is just being left with not even the thing stressing you out. 

Quite possibly the best thing that happened was the ration part of my mind finally saying ‘Enough you stubborn moron; I’m not going to let you try to keep doing this anymore’, and it just stopped letting me do anything at all. It shut down, and only started to take notice again when I tempted it with something I love doing.

Writing stories. Escapism yes, but we all need a bit of that, and for me that is the best form it takes, and it was a massive part of my healing process in the last couple of months.

I’m thankfully not stressed anymore, and little by little everything I love is starting to come back. Turns out on having a quick look, I haven’t blogged since June, and the last thing I did blog was a review about a book that had disappointed me. 

I’d read other books at that time though, including Mark Gatiss’s final Lucifer Box book, which I could have blogged to complete the trilogy of reviews. But I didn’t. My blog, twitter, Pinterest; they all fell away because my brain told me that they were not important because I had to focus on my job, when in truth I use them as part of my mental well-being and my work-life balance.

Writing a blog is a release of thoughts from my head; twitter a way that I check in with the wider world, and Pinterest? Yeah well I will admit that last one is more for finding puppy photos and pretty examples of crochet than for more serious and insightful moments, but that is important too.

And that is what I have learn from having come out of the other end of being stressed – no matter how silly something is, if it is is important for a person’s mental well being, then it isn’t silly. However that wasn’t what my brain was telling me; I can tell from looking at the glut of book reviews I did in the spring that I could sense something was wrong, because I was almost obsessively clinging to books. 

Reading for pleasure falling away from my routine has always been one of the first signs for me that depression is coming around for a visit. I’m wondering if I was trying to brick up the door with books to stop it getting in? Perhaps, it didn’t work, and I didn’t recognise the warning sign at the time, because obsession is not something that is healthy for me to let happen.

I have always believed myself to be quite a strong person, and it has certainly been quite a blow in learning that I can’t cope with everything. I am a moronically stubborn sometimes, but I have come out the other side of this stronger and with a greater understanding of how to focus on what is important to me.

Hence this blog post, because my blog is important to me, and in the coming weeks I am going to be returning gently to blogging, with a better balance than I had before. Thank you everyone who my stats tell me have been reading my posts in my absence. It is much appreciated.