• Noughts + Crosses is based on Malorie Blackman’s award-winning novels
• It became the no. 1 show across all channels when it premiered on 5 March 2020 in Britain
• Largely shot in South Africa, with SA’s Masali Baduza in the lead role
• Also starring BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Born to Kill, Peaky Blinders)
• 82% critics rating, Rotten Tomatoes
“Over 700 years ago, the Aprican Empire invaded Europe. Aprica colonised the continent and reached as far as Albion. Albion has been under Aprican rule ever since.”
So begins Noughts + Crosses, a controversial six-part BBC One series that has just started screening on Showmax and M-Net, with new episodes every Thursday night from 23:30.
South African Masali Baduza (Trackers) and BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Born To Kill, Peaky Blinders) play Sephy and Callum, two star-crossed lovers in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet.
Sephy is the privileged daughter of the Home Secretary, Kamal Hadley, while Callum’s mother, Meggie, is the Hadleys’ housekeeper. While Sephy and Callum grew up together, they may as well have lived in different worlds.
Shot largely in Cape Town, the series also stars Paterson Joseph (Peep Show, The Leftovers) and South African actress Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Wallander) as Sephy’s parents, Kamal and Jasmine, with BAFTA nominee Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet, Emily in Friends) and Tribeca winner Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter) as Callum’s parents, as well as Josh Dylan (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The End of the F***ing World) as his brother Jude.
The alternate reality love story is based on the multi-award-winning 2001 novel by former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, which was included in both BBC’s list of the 100 Novels That Shaped The World and in The Guardian’s 100 Best Books of the 21st Century. Grime superstar Stormzy, who has a cameo in the series as newspaper editor Kolawale, calls the five-book series “my favourite books of all time.”
“What I wanted to do was have the black people in my story not as victims, but celebrating their own culture,” says Blackman. “I remember the first time I wore an afro at school, I was sent out of the class for being a troublemaker. It was this thing of black people being penalised for wearing our own natural hair. The celebration of African culture in myriad forms gives a different sensibility to what has been on TV before.”
“Prior to reading Malorie’s books, I had never heard of a world that existed where Africans were the ruling class,” says Baduza. “It was unique and it made me feel warm inside, to imagine a world where this could be a possibility.”
TV REVIEW: NETFLIX’s ‘QUEEN SONO’ DEBUTS!
“As a black African, I have never seen a television show that showcased our being or our ways, in a way that was given a place and was acceptable, until now,” says Mbuli. “It is quite a feeling to walk onto set and feel seen as a person, and feel like your hair and the way you wear it, or the way the people in your world wear their clothes or what they hold dear, is suddenly important and is being given a platform. It is shocking.
“Then you realise that you have spent your whole life without it, that you have never switched on a TV and seen that. That too is shocking. I sometimes walked onto set and started weeping.”
Visionary short film director Kibwe Tavares (Jonah, Robots of Brixton, Robot & Scarecrow) executive produced the series and steered the creation of its Afrocentric world, where everything has been rethought, from the language to the architecture, from beauty norms to the colour of plasters.
In one powerful scene, Callum cuts his finger and Sephy gets him a plaster, which is too dark for his skin. For context, South Africa has only had ‘skin tone’ plasters for black people since 2015, while in the UK, Tesco has just this year released multi tone plasters – and claims to be the first supermarket there to do so.
“There are so many small moments that a lot of people wouldn’t think about, like the fact that flesh coloured plasters are not the flesh colour of anyone but white people,” says Joseph. “It is an insidious, tiny, incremental knock to you as a citizen of any country to be told what normal is in those casual ways… Working on this drama has exercised all of our minds and made us super aware of everything.”
Noughts + Crosses was the number-one show across all channels when it premiered on 5 March 2020 in Britain. The series has a 82% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Guardian hailing it as “vital viewing”, The Telegraph as a “must-see”, NME as “must-watch TV”, RadioTimes as “a series on the cusp of greatness”, and The Evening Standard as “properly incendiary.”
Of course, the glowing reviews weren’t universal: The Independent predicted “this race reversal drama will induce hernias in right wing commentators” – and they weren’t wrong. Trolls took to Twitter to denounce it as “deeply racist”, “anti-white tripe” and “race-baiting.”
Blackman was having none of it. “Btw, to those accusing me of being anti-white or stating I must hate white people to create such a story as Noughts and Crosses, I’m not even going to dignify your absurd nonsense with a response,” she tweeted. “Go take a seat waaaay over there in the cold, dark and bitter haters’ corner.”
Noughts + Crosses was shot in South Africa with mostly local crew, including award-winning cinematographers Jamie Ramsay and Giulio Biccari, Emmy-nominated casting director Christa Schamberger, costume designer Dihantus Engelbrecht, hair and makeup designer Nadine Prigge, and production designer Shane Bunce.
The African links don’t stop there either – Screen International 2018 Star of Tomorrow Koby Adom, born in the Ivory Coast and raised in Ghana, is one of the two directors, while the soundtrack includes Ghana’s Kiki Gyan and Ebo Taylor; Mali’s Salif Keita; and South African artists Bongeziwe Mabandla, Mlindo The Vocalist, and Umlilo.
As Stormzy put it on Twitter, “This is 100% groundbreaking… I haven’t seen nothing like it on British telly ever.”
Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed
We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.
When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.
A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.
The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.
This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.
Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.
Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.
After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.
Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.
In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.
After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.
Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.
Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.
Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.
In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?
Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.
We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.
What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.
We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.
Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.
First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’
Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.
First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe, the world ready to let old baggage go.
The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.
Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it
‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.
The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.
While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.
When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.
With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.
It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.
We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.