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Tag Archives: Best of 2014

Best of TV Costuming 2014 and The Shows I Finally Watched

29 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2014″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

2014 was the year I finally started watching Game of Thrones and it was the one gaping hole in my “shows that are huge that everyone talks about” list. However, what I want to focus on today is a pair of shows from the “cancelled too soon” brigade that have long been on my “why haven’t I watched these yet?” list (I have a lot of lists).

Pushing Daisies and The Hour are tonally different with one inhabiting a heightened reality with the other being very much grounded in this world; Pushing Daises is heavily influenced in its visuals by the period The Hour is set in with a playful twist on 1950s style. The costume design of both is something I was instantly drawn to and vibrant color is a strong feature on Pushing Daisies with both sets and wardrobe dripping in Technicolor. This isn’t to say The Hour is a dreary palette of greys and beige as Marnie’s sweet pastel frocks and Bel’s block color suits dismiss this notion.

Bel the hour Marnie The HourWhen you come to a show late and one that has been recommended countless times there is a worry it won’t live up to expectation and you just won’t get it. Fear not as the only reaction I had to these two shows was devastation there isn’t more than two seasons of each and joy to finally see what everyone has been raving about. There is an unearned feeling of sadness that comes from watching something which had an early cancellation as I don’t necessarily believe I have the same right to be angry that there is no more when I didn’t watch it when it aired. Instead I will be both mad at myself for not getting to it when it was originally on and still lament this premature end.

It is easy to romanticize the 1950s thanks to the styling; the costuming of The Hour and the influence of this period on Pushing Daisies has me clamoring for pretty frocks with nipped in waists. And hats. So many great lady hats in both shows.* There is also a lot of bad things about this post-war period and The Hour covers various panics from this period including the spy and nuclear war variety. Racism and sexism are prevalent throughout and homophobia extends to being criminally prosecuted if you are caught in a homosexual act. So while I love 50s fashion and costume designer Suzanne Cave did an excellent job of recreating this period, it is good to be reminded of the horror beyond the hooped skirts.

*Still dreaming of the day I get a Janet Snakehole pillbox hat

Chuck Pushing DaisiesDrawing comparisons between the two aside from finally watching them both this year and a shared 50s style isn’t as hard as you may think when it comes to discussing FEELINGS. Yep I’m talking about shipping and the obstacles for the main couples at play. Pushing Daisies takes the central pairing and gets them together in the first episode; this is no will they/won’t they. Instead they face an entirely different challenge as they can say exactly how they feel, but can’t physically touch each other without a barrier between them. Ah the perils of bringing people back to life with one touch and killing them all over again with another one. The Hour is a more traditional unrequited love deal as Freddie’s love for Bel is apparent from episode 1 and she takes a little longer to get there.

But hey look how great they look at the Christmas party from season 2 and this amazing shade of blue on Bel:

Bel and Freddie S2Unlike The Hour which is actually set in the 1950s, Pushing Daisies takes its costuming cues from a variety of periods with Chuck’s attire leaning towards a hippie vibe at points. Basically anything from the mid portion of the twentieth century and it takes on the visual richness you would expect from the mind of Bryan Fuller.

And look how adorable they are:

Pushing Daisies Chuck and NedSometimes once is enough but another thing these shows share is they are now part of my not so long list of DVDs I like to stick on at bedtime and fall asleep to. The sleep part sounds like a disservice, however it reveals how much comfort they bring and I’m always glad to add something to my rotation because otherwise my Rear Window DVD is going to get burnt out.

Now to figure out what to add to the 2015 rewind project. All suggestions welcome. Otherwise I will start my much thought over Gossip Girl rewatch and I’m not sure I am ready for that.

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Best of TV Costuming 2014: Will Graham’s Hannibal Makeover

16 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2014″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

Will Graham went to some dark, dark places in season 2 of Hannibal as he crossed a very big line in an attempt to reveal Hannibal’s true self. Will Graham started the year in prison as a result of being framed for Abigail’s death and several other murders, which meant a whole lot of jumpsuits. Will’s brain is no longer on fire and he is relatively lucid (the stags still appears to him in various terrifying and non terrifying forms), which means he is far more equipped to deal with Hannibal. I would say the playing field has been leveled but this is never the case when facing off against Hannibal. Even when you kind of dress like him.

Hannibal - Season 2When Will is released from prison he doesn’t go straight to the mall or a seller of fine outerwear and scarves. Nor does he venture to a barber of procure contact lenses. First he must lend some clothes to Dr Chilton because Hannibal has framed yet another person for his various criminal misdeeds. Dr Chilton is on the receiving end of Hannibal’s framing gift and Chilton’s costuming has gone to greater lengths this season to mimic his benefactor. Chilton’s suits are bolder than Hannibal’s because he wants to stand out and it is why he continues to use a decadent cane he no longer really needs

Three-piece suits are Hannibal’s signature and Will doesn’t go for a mirror image of this style choice; instead he switches out his fly fishing vests and rumpled jackets for beautiful tailored wool coats and sweaters. I’m still sad there was no shopping montage – like this one – or at least a trip to Hannibal’s tailor.

Hannibal 2.08His hair has been trimmed and while he is still a little stubbly, this is definitely a more polished version of Will. Gone are the glasses as his barrier to shield his eyes from others and this suggests his willingness to embrace whatever has to be done to stop Hannibal.

There are points where he looks more like the season 1 version of Will including this confrontation with Mason in “Ko No Mono” which also happens to be the same episode where we (and Alana) find out for sure that Will did not kill Freddie and this is all part of the grand Hannibal lure.

Hannibal 2.10When Will comes to Hannibal to serve up some (not) Freddie he’s all fancy scarf/tailored wool coat and this is a look he maintains at the start of the next episode as he continues the ruse with a very pissed off Alana. He accidentally mirrors her look, but it’s cold so I’m not going to read too much into their scarf/coat choice of attire. Ah the polar vortex and spotting which shows shot in these conditions.

Will and AlanaSpeaking of the cold, I couldn’t do a best of Hannibal costuming post without mentioning this magical moment:

Hannibal 2.09Back to Will and at this point last year we knew that prison overalls would be the predominant Will Graham look when we returned for the next season. The picture is unclear at this moment for what state he will be in when season 3 kicks off and even though time has passed that is one hell of a wound so hospital garb might be on the menu. In this brand new phase of the ongoing ensnaring Hannibal saga, this event is going to have a huge impact on everyone who was left bloody and broken including how they present themselves to the world.

Best of TV 2014: The Music Monday Edition – Transparent

15 Dec

A slightly different Best of TV 2014 edition today as we’re shifting the focus off costuming and onto music. It is Music Monday after all. One of this year’s best shows is Amazon’s Transparent and a lot of the posts on TV Ate My Wardrobe from the last few months have been written with the Transparent soundtrack playing in the background. This has been via Spotify and one of my favorite things about this site is the number of playlists that pop up from a TV or movie soundtrack. When I look at my most played tracks of the year they are all either from a TV show/movie or it is an artist I first heard via a soundtrack (Girls is a big source of new music for me) with “Mayla” from Transparent featuring in my top 10.

501B9172.CR2Now the album has been released by Amazon and it is a 17-track wonder. Sure there are some vital tracks missing and while I am beyond thrilled to see the full length Glitterish cover of Jim Croce’s “Operator” featured (along with the original version), it is shame that neither version “Dreamboat Annie” makes the cut (I’m guessing this is a licensing issue). I’ve been listening to a whole lot of Heart over the past few months thanks to Transparent (coupled with Virgin Suicides flashes) and while it is disappointing each of the other 17 tracks is an auditory beauty. 

This soundtrack is special for a number of reasons and nostalgia is part of this. The opening theme sets the tone for each episode and the piano accompanying scenes from home movies is sad, haunting and beautiful all at once; even though the scenes in those videos are not specific to me they manage to capture something familiar. The rest of the soundtrack also operates in this way at times with certain songs elevating feelings of joy and pain.

“Oh Sister” by Bob Dylan replaces the usual theme on “Best New Girl” which indicates that there will be something different about this episode, which there is as it all takes place in 1994 (the year they have flashbacked to on several other occasions). This is nostalgia of another kind as Maura gets to be free for the first time although Camp Camellia doesn’t turn out to be the welcoming safe space Maura hoped it would be.

Music is used as performance on multiple occasions from Maura and Davina’s rendition of “Somebody That I Used to Know” that is meant to be triumphant and instead turns sad as each of Maura’s children leave before the piece has even finished; their empty seats are a stark reminder of how selfish her children are. The piano version that is used later in the episode takes this song to a haunting place that I didn’t know was possible.

Transparent recordsIt’s funny that I talk about how great Spotify is in terms of soundtrack playlists and the easiest way to procure the Transparent album is on digital download when vinyl plays an important part in the show. There is an everything old is new again vibe to this show in how memory plays an important part in the Pfefferman family dynamic and Josh’s record collection works on several aesthetic and narrative levels. It is what prompts the Glitterish “Operator” cover (further complicated by his intimate relationship with one of the band members he is working with) and there is a romanticism attached to his music collection, which I’m sure a lot of us can identify with. Josh is the ultimate romantic in that he falls in love so easily and his copy of “Dreamboat Annie” disrupts Ali’s relationship with her best friend Syd as it spills several secrets both old and new. It also impacts Josh’s new relationship as Ali reveals Josh’s predication for falling in love at the drop of the hat to Raquel. This record causes a whole lot of damage so here is a live version of the title track to make up for it not being on the digital version of the soundtrack.

Transparent makes my heart ache and sing all at once; the soundtrack does the same by capturing these feelings and adding another layer to an already incredible production.

Best of TV Costuming 2014: The Good Wife and Grieving

9 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2014″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

One of the biggest TV moments for me this year was the death of Will Gardner on The Good Wife and how this took what was already a thrilling season and upped the ante to new levels as everyone dealt with the aftermath of this tragedy. This story resonated for a number of reasons and the unexpected and sudden nature put us in the same position as Alicia as they somehow managed to keep this story under wraps; this was not an expected departure – even if it was common knowledge that Josh Charles’ contract was up at the end of the season – and because Will and Alicia’s relationship was unresolved this death hit hard. It is definitely the first time I have ever cried while writing a review.

The Good Wife 5.17 AliciaThe education of Alicia Florrick is at the center of The Good Wife and Will’s death is a stab to that heart. Even when they were fighting for the majority of the fifth season there was still a spark and the reconciliation of sorts in a New York City diner hinted at the next phase of their relationship. This was not to be the case as Will was gunned down by his own client at the end of the next episode. The wardrobe of grieving can be many things but when Alicia finds out that Will has been killed she is in appropriately somber clothing and she spends the episode with her zip done all the way up and shrouded in her black coat. As I said it is appropriately somber. This is followed by more black clothing for the funeral (and post funeral drinks with Diane) but color isn’t completely lacking in these episodes as you can see in this shot of Alicia with Grace’s old tutor Jennifer.

It’s after the funeral in “A Material World” where there is a shift in Alicia’s attire as she goes from her usual well put together fancy suits and reverts to sweats. Climbing beneath the sheets – initially while still wearing her court clothes – and contemplating only the heavy handed drama on Darkness at Noon is pretty much where Alicia is at. This move is not surprising as she needs to escape the pain of her own world by watching manpain on her favorite show. Alicia is all about control (it is why she likes the law so much) and this experience allows her to let go of everything she has known to be true for as long as we have known her. On one hand there was Will – the real love of her life where bad timing played its part in keeping them apart – and then there is Peter. Peter is the disappointment, the facade of a marriage that has always been broken since we entered Alicia’s life.

Alicia ending things with Peter when she looks at her least put together is entirely appropriate and this is a conversation that has been a long time coming. It is a rehash of the same argument we have heard countless times as both Alicia and Peter use their past indiscretions to hurt the other. The main difference now is that Alicia doesn’t hold back screaming that her affair meant something and we’ve reached the point of no return for the broken Florrick union. Now she is acknowledging how their coupling is a benefit professionally to both of them, but anything else is completely off the cards. They are done. No going back this time and Peter doesn’t get a say.

The Good Wife 5.17Seeing Alicia take control in this manner all while wearing her sweats is a fist pump eliciting moment and something I have been longing to see. Okay maybe transfer super swanky red gown for the sweats in how I envisioned it, but the lounge wear is actually far better because this look is so unexpected. Peter has no patience or empathy for Alicia’s pain, he thinks his wife is being dramatic and maybe she is, however this is what happens when your heart gets ripped from your chest. Peter belittles her loss by inferring that Will’s death isn’t like losing a child or a husband; this is the point where she realizes she is done with his BS and passive aggressive comments about the political function she has missed. He is now free to screw around with whomever he wants to, as long as it doesn’t hurt either of them professionally.

While Peter has indeed invoked the ‘sleep with whoever you want’ clause (and by the sounds of it with someone who he has previously cheated on Alicia with), Alicia is yet to do anything beyond flirtation (with Lost’s Nestor Carbonell and Finn). One thing that is worth noting about Finn is that he saw her in her most vulnerable state and it is not just because he saw her in sweats over her well put together wardrobe. Rather than avoiding Finn, which would have been easy to do as Grace was about to turn him away, Alicia says it is okay for him to come into her bedroom. Her inner sanctum of hiding away from the world. This conversation reinforces not only how much Will meant to Alicia, but also creates this connection between Finn and Alicia that goes way beyond the insane chemistry they share.

Will’s death is a shocking moment and what could have been a cheap twist has been used to propel the characters forward in unexpected ways as well as exposing Alicia’s vulnerability and strength in equal measure. These days away from work allow Alicia to respond to this event in the privacy of her own home, but when she becomes aware of how little privacy there is thanks to the NSA surveillance it gives her a reason to get back out there and kick some ass. The comfy home clothes are discarded for now and the sharp suits are back; the wine cardigan will return but this renewed focus and sense of determination means the sweats have been banished for now.

Best of TV Costuming 2014: The Marriage Disguise on The Americans

4 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2014” costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

The Americans returned at the start of the year building on the strengths of its first season and serving up a tighter narrative delivering on both the nerve shredding tension of the spy world and as a story about marriage. The wigs and multiple disguises continue to thrill (I wrote about the best covers of season 2 earlier this year) and instead of focusing on the spy attire as I did last year, I want to take a look at the mask they wear daily and the blurring of who they were/are. This marriage is no longer one of cover convenience and the complex emotional web is evolving as they get deeper in this thing called love. They are performing the roles of wife/mother and husband/father as part of their job, but they are also very much Philip and Elizabeth Jennings at this point even if between making dinner they steal government secrets. I will be discussing season 2 in some detail so there will be spoilers.

The Americans plaid and spotsLike most regular non-spies Elizabeth and Philip have clothes they wear for work and a more relaxed selection for at home. In the office Philip isn’t afraid to pattern clash – yes I am in love with the plaid/polka dot mix – and Elizabeth tends to stick with silk neck tie blouses, long gold chains and variety of smart pants and skirts. Nothing too fancy or showy, but what you might expect small business owners to wear. They want to blend in rather than call any attention to themselves but when you look like Keri Russell and have all that magnificent hair it is difficult to not stand out. Elizabeth is a cool mom, but not a cool mom in her style; she is on trend (particularly with her boots collection) but there is no element of try.

At home sweaters of the turtle/roll neck variety are very popular and come in both his and hers. Cue knitwear parade:

The Americans 2.01 The Americans 2.06 washing up the americans 2.09 spotlight The Americans 2.13 ElizabethCan a spy have it all? Balancing work and family can be hard in any profession and throwing espionage into the mix increases the difficulty and threat levels. Danger came in a whole new form with an unknown assassin who killed their spy co-workers along with their daughter in a motel room. Okay that turned out to be more of a domestic issue, a reveal that didn’t come until the finale and up to that point Philip and Elizabeth couldn’t be sure they weren’t on a hit list somewhere. Normally they have just themselves to worry about, but Paige and Henry became potential targets this season and The Americans expanded its focus this year looking at the wider family dynamic.

The marriage is at the heart of the show and as Philip and Elizabeth embraced the idea of real love – sometimes in a manner that no child should see their parents engage in, which is why you ALWAYS knock – the whole system they have been working in became more precarious. Feelings equal higher stakes and with each mission something seemed to go against them at every stage so Philip’s kill number increased dramatically and spy woes impacted their behavior around the kids.

This applies particularly to Philip and it all came to an explosive head in “Martial Eagle” with yet another operation gone bad and a very awkwardly timed trip to church with Paige. Paige has gone and given away all of the money she has been saving for a Europe trip and fun dad Philip turns into a terrifying Bible ripping version of himself as he berates Paige for “respecting Jesus” and not her parents. It is as if someone has flipped a switch and Philip briefly loses the ability to compartmentalize. We are used to seeing a scary but calm Philip in the field, not in this unbridled way in his own kitchen and I want to stress how incredible Matthew Rhys’ performance is across the entire season. The same can be said for Keri Russell who shows Elizabeth’s more vulnerable side this year along with her usually steely determination. Basically I want all the awards for this show.

Look at how hard it is for the pair who lie for a living to look happy when they meet the pastor at Paige’s church; Elizabeth is at least attempting to smile, whereas Philip is beyond being able to fake the grin and bear it approach. They at least put on their Sunday best for the occasion and look the part as they always manage to do.

The americans 2.09 Philip and ElizabethStacks and stacks of deceit are part of their world with cover on top of cover reaching breaking point and while they might be expert spies the emotional toil isn’t something Philip and Elizabeth excel in. Sex is one way they come back together and in the episode that follows “Martial Eagle” Elizabeth offers comfort to Philip in the form of food and an embrace. This leads to a very intimate exchange (thankfully Paige or Henry didn’t need a drink in the middle of the night) and this shared desire in a moment of despair reveals how in tune they can be in this new stage of their relationship. Earlier in the season this is not always the case and when Elizabeth wants to sleep with the wild animal that is Philip’s Clark persona (which is such a weird sentence to write) it ends up being an incredibly distressing experience which highlights how emotionally stunted they can be as a couple.

The Americans 2.05 E and PThe “Honey, how was your day at work?” conversation exists in an entirely different stratosphere on The Americans and in what is probably my favorite scene of the season Philip returns from a particularly difficult operation to a dozing Elizabeth on the sofa. Elizabeth has been running interference with Philip’s fake real wife Martha and their conversation covers all of these aspects. The noise Philip makes when he lies down is one of pure exhaustion and they get this brief moment before the kids’ alarm clocks go off and the day has begun again. In this spell between work chat and the world of their kids waking up they talk about their Russian past.

Discussing anything of who they were pre Elizabeth/Philip is forbidden and it is something they have mostly adhered to with a few notable exceptions such as Elizabeth revealing her real name in the pilot as a signal that their relationship could become more than a facade or when she asked him to ‘come home’ in Russian in the season finale. This is just a small moment discussing icicles that has been prompted by the Mossad agent niggling him about identity and where home really is. Sexual intimacy is one thing, however this scene from “The Deal” points to a much deeper connection as they cover everything from work, home and their past in a close embrace. Layers on layers on layers and it is surprising they don’t emotionally spiral at rapid intervals no matter how much training they have undertaken.

The Americans 2.13 picnicThe grand lie they have been living could all come crashing down with news that the KGB is interested in training Paige to be a spy who will have the ability as a US born citizen to really infiltrate the system. The threat comes from within and has the potential to fracture what has become a very stable relationship as Philip is on the ‘no fucking way’ end of the spectrum whereas Elizabeth sits at ‘maybe it won’t be so bad.’ It has been increasingly difficult to keep their personal and professional lives separate prior to this even though their personal life is a construction of the professional; now the lines are blurring even further and the family/espionage divide is on a collision course. Loyalty to the flag or loyalty to family?

Last year The Americans was a Top 10 show for me and after season 2 it is easily Top 3, if not the No. 1 (The Good WifeTransparent and Hannibal jostle it out for that spot) as it took the framework from the first season and upped the ante on every level. From a costume point of view this is a very fun show to watch with disguises aplenty, but the detail of their everyday attire should also be commended as Jenny Gering and her team don’t go crazy 80s; enhancing the real world quality of the production. Costume helps inform who these characters are and because we get so many versions of Philip and Elizabeth items such as comfy looking sweaters or Philip’s attempt to look like a cool dad act in conflict with the dark violence we know they are both capable of. There is no one point where their personal life ends and their work begins and no matter how hard they try to keep them separate this notion is an illusion wrapped up waiting to be exposed. Going from fake love to this real connection is just going to make the big Paige decision even harder. Roll on January 28 and season 3.

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