American Horror Story: Coven

American Horror Story:





So, apparently I’m a witch.  It runs in my family.  It doesn’t show up in every generation or in every girl.  Like my cousin, Amanda—she’s just bulimic.  We read about the Salem witch trials in my 5th grade.  Guess I should have paid more attention.”

Yep, American Horror Story returned for a third season and I finally caught up with it.  You can read a review of Season One– Murder House—elsewhere on this blog and that will tell you everything you need to know about how much I love this show.  In fact, I thought that the second season—Asylum–was even better, if anything.

One of the novel approaches that American Horror Story takes is that each season is complete in itself. [Now that True Detective has aired, perhaps no longer so novel.]  Yet, even though there will be a different story each time, many of the cast stays the same, just changing roles.  In that respect it’s a lot like a modern-day Orson Welles Mercury Theatre.  I love that idea, almost like an old-time travelling troupe.  Yeah, I’m a bit of a corny romantic like that.

The most notable regular for a big fan like me is Jessica Lange, who has now been nominated for a Golden Globe for every season; and in fact at this point it’s hard to imagine AHS without her.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the role of the head witch in Coven was written with Lange in mind; and by God does she look good in black!  We even get to see her in the traditional witch’s pointed hat and hear her delivering deliciously dry lines like:  “Don’t make me drop a house on you.”  Geddit?  Wicked Witch?  Ah, never mind.

Anyway, almost like a group of X-Men without the men, the setting is Miss Robichaux’s Academy (for talented descendants of Salem Witches) and standing in for Professor Xavier is Headmistress Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson).  She seems a well-meaning sort, genuinely watching out for the girls who have come to her, but unfortunately her mother Fiona (Lange) has just returned on the scene and trouble tends to follow her around.  She is the ‘Supreme’ of her generation, embodying all of the major powers that witches are capable of.  With age, however, she believes that she is fading and is attempting to find out who the flame is to be passed to.

And she has quite a few to choose from:  there’s the resident walking bitch, a  young and full-of-herself movie star called Madison (Emma Roberts);  an overweight African-American voodoo witch—bet you didn’t know there were many of them in New England—by the name of Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe); and so on.

It’s always nice to see Kathy Bates, here cast as a racist immortal by the name of Delphine LaLaurie; and I just have to say that Angela Bassett as rival sorceress Marie Laveau is scarily beautiful.  I’ve always loved Angela for her looks and her talent but by God she looks as if she has found the real-life Elixir of Youth.

Coven is enjoyable in its way but is definitely my least favourite season so far.  It’s just too cute for its own good.   Does anyone out there remember E.C Comics?  Very gory illustrations but played for laughs.  Well, that’s fine for a short while but trying to sustain that ‘feel’ over so many episodes just doesn’t work for me.  And quite honestly, how do you fit in the brutal gang rape of Madison in the very first episode with comedy?  Not very successfully, in my less-than-humble opinion.

The slim story line also relies far too much on the characters coming back to life.  After a while, one of them dies and it’s just so-what?  They’ll be back in bit.

It is very gory, but again, so what?  As Boris Karloff once said, with that great lisp of his:  “That doesn’t make it a story.”

Quite so, Boris; quite so.  Yet, even sounding as negative as I do, I look forward keenly to Season Four.  I do hope that the wonderful Angela Bassett will be back!


And just very quickly…

Game of Thrones Season Four managed to keep up the incredibly high standard that it has set for itself.

Yes, like most people I hear, I enjoyed True Detective immensely; and one that might have gone under your radar is a fine cop show set on the Texas-Chihuahua border called The Bridge (and talking of cop shows I can’t wait until the next outing of Sarah and Stephen in The Killing) but my favourite show at the moment is the frankly quite brilliant The Americans, which has just finished its second season.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a series that so seemingly without effort combines good solid storytelling, excellent characterization and edge-of-the-seat thrills.  It’s also morally challenging in that we find ourselves rooting for two people who are not only enemies of our Western way of life but extremely ruthless killers into the bargain.

The Americans is an absolute winner of a show; if you haven’t heard of it then please…check it out.

Author: Charley Brady

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