Sunday, 14 August 2016

‘DYNASTY’, SEASON SIX (1985-86)




After witnessing the infamous Moldavian Massacre at the end of the fifth season of DYNASTY, you’d think there’d be more on-screen fatalities with all that shooting and screaming. Turns out the real victims were the 28.1 million TV viewers who had fallen for such far-fetched but highly-entertaining crap. Handing them only two deaths (Billy Campbell’s Luke and Ali McGraw’s Lady Ashley) kind of made a sham out of the whole thing. But who am I to judge, I, who spew all this filth for your enjoyment on this little blog. It’s not like I’m an expert in the field or anything. Though in my head I believe I am. Like I believe the actor who plays Dexter is really this macho don’t-bend-for-anyone kind of a dude who would break me if he ever got close. It’s all an illusion, folks. And judging by what we got from that cliff-hanger, a very bad one at that.  

But let’s move on. After being held captive by the bad guys for a couple of episodes, one of which actress Joan Collins is a no-show on account of a salary dispute, the Carringtons finally fly back to Denver to bury Luke (but not Lady Ashley who seems completely forgotten by then). Soon afterwards Blake receives the visit from his cousin Jason Colby (the so-lovable Republican Charlton Heston) who wants to merge their businesses but Blake wants none of that. When he changes his mind later on we bid adieu to Jeff who moves to California with Jason to star in his own series THE COLBYS (more on that one in an eventual blog entry).   

Krystle finds herself in a bind when she’s kidnapped by Sammy Jo’s posse which really consists only of debonair Joel played by a much tanned George Hamilton. The other member is none other than Evans herself portraying Krystle’s doppelganger Rita; so we have a solo act here if not counting Sammy Jo. The plan is for Rita to impersonate Krystle who’s the executor of the will from which Sammy Jo has inherited tons of cash left by her late dad Rock Hudson. Of course the plan goes awry and we are treated to a final showdown of the two Krystles going at it in a catfight. My reaction to this overall storyline: I’m sure it was better on paper than what we got on screen.   

Ever since Amanda got hitched to prince Michael of Moldovia (“Amannndaaa!”) everything else is all sunshine and roses—not. She’s still as gloomy and wooden as ever and still holds a torch for Dex whom she finally beds. When Mama Alexis catches them in action, well, let’s just say that a three way is out of the question. Besides, it just gives her more reasons to focus on destroying Blake, with the help this time from his little brother Ben who despises him as much as she does.

Speaking of love-hate relationship, Steven is stuck between a rock and a hard face when he meets rugged but oh-so dull Bart, a senatorial candidate who secretly has the hots for him. It takes a few more episodes for Bart to finally admit his attraction. Those hoping for a man on man action between the two (besides a rumble) will be highly disappointed however since the producers of DYNASTY still refuse to make Steven a total ‘mo. Instead the storyline goes kind of nowhere and we are left with a boring subplot involving politics and the many schemes of one Adam Carrington 

Now that Dominique Devereaux is truly accepted as a Carrington (she is Blake and Ben’s illegitimate sis) she is rarely seen until the writers make her fall for Garrett, Jason Colby’s lawyer. The two had a fling back in the day and now that he’s a widower they’re more than ready to rekindle their relationship. When he finds out he’s also a dad to Dominique’s teen daughter he proposes, but on the night of their engagement party Dominique breaks off with him when she learns (from Alexis whom she gladly slaps) that he has lied about being married before. To that I say, boohoo, but frankly, we don’t need him. Not when someone else is just right around the corner, someone who has little to do with Dominique but is ten times the show-stopper. I give you…

Caress Morell. She’s Alexis’ younger sister and she’s the best thing to happen to season six. Her presence is like hearing angels singing. In fact, I would have had no problem had they changed the series name to The Alexis and Caress Show because they’re the only ones in this season who make it all worthwhile. As is, however, her addition to the cast is solely on destroying Alexis who of course has made her life a living hell.
 
Besides a mud wrestling bit between Alexis and Krystle, an in-pool wrestling bit between Sammy Jo and Amanda, a hall and stairs wrestling bit between Stephen and Adam, and Fallon who wrestles quite a bit with her amnesia (yeah she’s back and she’s got a different accent), this uneven season concludes with cuckoo Claudia playing FIRESTARTER with La Mirage hotel, Alexis taking over Blake’s mansion and getting her neck squeezed by him, and nothing else worth mentioning really except the possible return of Caress in season seven if the producers play their cards right. They better if they know what’s good for them.

 
 

Until next post—Martin
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

‘THE GIRL FROM LACE ISLAND’ BY JOANNA REES



One of my favorite things to do each year as winter approaches is to get cozy with Shirley Conran’s LACE, whether in a book form or as a spectacular miniseries on TV. It doesn’t really matter which avenue I choose, just as long as I get the high I need to go on with my fabulous life (did I tell you that I got hitched last October?!  No? Well, I did and I’m super buzzed about it). Call me crazy, but the minute I heard that Joanna Rees’ latest was going to be called THE GIRL FROM LACE ISLAND (Pan Macmillan)  I knew that we would connect, the novel and I. OK, the author has already proven her worth with titles such as A TWIST OF FATE and THE KEY TO IT ALL (not to mention her pseudonym’s) but it barely takes away the fact that I was positive that with the word Lace, the novel would turn out to be an enjoyable ride. How right I was. 


In a jiff, THE GIRL FROM LACE ISLAND tells the story of two distinct women, decades apart, who meet years later under strenuous circumstances. First we have Leila, who at the tender age of 15 in 1989 is whisked away from her cherished island to a posh English boarding school where she is used and abused to say the least. Upon her return she soon discovers that something odd is going on. Her mother has become strangely distant. So has her stepdad. And among the wealthy guests who flock the retreat are those seedy types who act as if they own the island. But do they really? She is about to find out. 

Then we have Jess. It is 2016, and this twenty-something beauty, who’s had a real hard time in life, wants to make something of herself by becoming a flight attendant. There up in the sky is where she meets Blaise, a charismatic, sexy, rich gent who is everything she desires in a man. When the two lovebirds decide to get married, our little airline stewardess suddenly gets cold feet, and with good reasons. Two worlds are about to collide: hers and Leila’s.

Set around the globe but mostly in this fictitious treasure of an island near India, THE GIRL FROM LACE ISLAND brings you everything you need in a beach read: love, romance, adventure, glitz… Her two central characters are likeable ones who go out of their ways to grab some form of happiness. The author definitely has a knack for keeping the reader entranced as we follow their struggles and situations to a satisfying conclusion. Some scenes are probably harder to digest than others on account of their violent ways but overall this is a fun and compelling read you’ll want to add to your own library.  

 

Thanks to Pan MacMillan for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Until next post—Martin


 
 
 
 

‘THE NIGHT PARADE’ BY RONALD MALFI


 
Ever since the publication of SNOW in 2010 Ronald Malfi has been churning out edge of your seat horror fares to the delight of his growing fan base. His newest novel is no different. Set in a post-apocalyptic America a father and his eight year-old daughter are on the run from the CDC who wants to use his immune little one to cure a fatal disease. A sort of a road trip gone bad where more than half of the population is dead and what’s left has either one foot in the grave or has taken the law into its own hands. In between many encounters with the bad guys you get flashbacks, impressive dialogue, emotional moments, and a dozy of an ending that will leave no reader unfazed. 

THE NIGHT PARADE (Kensington) is a cross between King’s THE STAND, FIRESTARTER and even the less-compelling DREAMCATCHER.  But don’t let the comparison fool you. This is a highly-effective horror/drama/thriller that never loses steam and is as rewarding as any work from the Maine man. Malfi is comfortable behind his plume and it shows.  His narrative, as his characterization, feels fresh, secure, but most importantly, addictive. Literary even comes to mind; so much so that the action almost becomes secondary; but not quite since everything is so well-paced.  

Sure, the feeling of déjà vu regarding the plot is there but the author is more than talented enough to add another layer to the end-of-the-world sagas, one that will please many fans of the sub-genre. And who says one cannot dabble into already explored areas? As long as it’s well-made and rewarding and has a strong comeback flavour to it there’s definitely nothing wrong with it, is there? So go on, pick up THE NIGHT PARADE. You’ll thank me later.
 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
 

 

Until next post—Martin

 


 

 

Friday, 5 August 2016

‘THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN HAIR’ BY LESLIE DEANE




One of the biggest thrills I get from doing this blog is to find forgotten authors and put the spotlight on one of their books. This week it’s Leslie Deane’s THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN HAIR (Jove, 1978). Of course I know zilch about this novelist except the fact that she has penned a couple of other glitzy paperbacks before disappearing for good in 1983. A shame, since, based on this title alone, she is very good at what she does. 


The setup is ‘70s Hollywood. One is an up-and-coming beautiful actress, the other is her down on his luck famous hubby, and in between comes this loud-mouth agent from hell who uses her wit and connections to destroy what was once considered the happiest marriage in La-La land. Along with those three highly-entertaining players you also get glitz, glamour, sexual situations, romantic get-togethers, lies, tears, forgiveness… But most importantly you get a narratively-impressive offering worthy of any Judith Krantz novels.  

There have been tons of beach reads like this one since la Krantz made it big with SCRUPLES that same year. Most are forgotten by now (except by moi of course). This Leslie Deane’s piece shouldn’t be one of them. It is as compelling as any current best-seller on the market. In fact, the name Leslie Deane should be on everybody’s lips. She certainly has what it takes to be just as good if not better than any household name in this genre. Sure, her concocted plot may be heavily borrowed from the real-life Farrah Fawcett/Lee Majors’ union of the same era (Clueless? Google it), but its fast-paced delivery and its impressionable twists and turns make THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN HAIR an original effort on its own. Besides, who wouldn’t go for a gripping tale of ambition and revenge when it is done right? So do yourself a favor and get this vintage treat ASAP.  You’ll thank me later. 

 
 

Until next post—Martin

 
UK paperback edition

 

Monday, 1 August 2016

‘RUNAWAY’ BY STEPHEN GRESHAM





I know this horror writer is far from being everyone’s cup of tea.  Personally, I think he’s a talented bloke who deserves more respect than he has been given. He’s been at it for a long time, beginning in 1982 with MOONLAKE. Since then, he has written over 20 books, all horror-related and most with Zebra (which might be the reason why he still gets some tough love from the horror community). Sure, some are more effective than others, but none are boring. I’ve been hoping for a resurgence of his backlist going digital. A couple of his titles have made it so far, but not RUNAWAY (1988), one of my favorite novels of his.    

 


Chills and thrills dominate this tale of survival and friendship among a religious cult. 13-year-old Mark Blackwood is so dissatisfied with his family life that he runs away, encountering many people, one of whom being a recruiter for the Redemption House, a shelter for lost souls. Overjoyed, Mark thinks he finally found a place where he'll belong but quickly discovers how wrong... and right... he is.


Taking the HENSEL & GRETEL children story one step further and adding elements of LORD OF THE FLIES, Stephen Gresham creates a unique and effective boys-in-jeopardy tale with a ghostly undertone. His main character Mark is a strong, resourceful young man who soon becomes the leader of a bunch of colorful secondary characters. Among them is the solver of all problems Digger; physically challenged but very strong Ocie; bad-tempered and elusive Zack; and paternal Dealy who is the glue to this reconstructed family. It is through him that the boys will interact, expressing their most secret thoughts. This is where Gresham shines the most, in his ability to cut through the obvious and to go deeper into the psyche of his people. It is clearly evident that he knows a thing or two about teenage angst.
 
The adults, here, are mostly evil, with the exception of two "outsiders" who, like the teens themselves, are trapped in their own web of unhappiness. The sudden awareness of their inner strength helps move the plot to a highly satisfying conclusion. Suspenseful, scary, yet surprisingly touching, RUNAWAY will surely gather new fans while captivate current ones.

 


 Until next post—Martin