Thursday, 24 April 2014

MAD MEN, 7.2 – 'A Day's Work'

Valentine's Day, 1969. Peggy receives an unexpected bouquet of flowers, Pete grapples with new office politics, Joan handles a difficult decision at work, and Sally Draper realises the truth of her proud father's situation...

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 5.12 & 5.13 – 'Checkpoint' & 'Blood Ties'

QUENTIN: You used to respect us, Giles. You used to be one of us.
GILES: You used to pay me.

Along with the show's wishy-washy treatment of vampire culture, the other thing I've been disappointed with in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the Watchers Council. As a group, they've just never made much sense to me. What exactly do they do? And why don't they provide more support for Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Giles (Anthony Head), instead of being obstinate bookworms? I understand the show wanted to give "the good guys" some edge, but as a society I just don't understand them. I would actually make more sense if there was always a sole Watcher and they passed their knowledge onto a protégée, in order to help the next generation's Slayer.

Monday, 21 April 2014

MSN TV: Channel 4's FARGO, 1.1 - 'The Crocodile's Dilemma'

Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the excellent TV adaptation of the 1996 film FARGO, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, which had its UK premiere on Channel 4 last night...
We're seeing a good deal of big-screen properties transfer to the small-screen lately: Hannibal, Bates Motel, From Dusk till Dawn, the upcoming Rosemary's Baby, etc. The thinking appears to be that audiences are so consumed by TV, studios need to cut through this digital din by pitching remakes of stories with which people are already familiar, or else lean on brand recognition. On hearing about a Fargo mini-series, the very idea felt pointless. Fortunately, screenwriter Noah Hawley (Bones) knew there was no improving on the Coen's original production so he wisely decided to tell another "true crime" story with fresh characters.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Easter TV Picks: 21-27 April 2014 (Derek, Game Face, Jamaica Inn, Tommy Cooper, Trying Again, Vera, Warren United, etc.)

Below are my picks of the week's most notable shows, returning/premiering on UK screens...

Sunday, 20 April 2014


As everyone will tell you, BBC1's new Saturday night celebrity gameshow The Guess List is a blatant rip-off of Blankety Blank. It resembles that long-running show so much that I'm surprised they didn't just revive Blankety Blank once again, with a few tweaks to suit host Rob Brydon. Instead, they've gone with an inferior format that recycles the core Blankety Blank set-up (two contestants helped along by two tiers of seated celebrities). The result is, you guessed it, very underwhelming.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

HANNIBAL, 2.8 – 'Su-zakana'

written by Scott Nimerfo, Bryan Fuller & Steve Lightfoot | directed by Vincenzo Natali

After a very serialised and fast-paced run of episodes, it's reasonable for Hannibal to have a slower transitional episode in "Su-zakana"—which went back to the show's default 'killer-of-the-week' format, while slyly introducing a new storyline I assume's going to become a big factor in the remaining episodes.

Friday, 18 April 2014

COMMUNITY, 5.13 – 'Basic Sandwich' (Part 2)

written by Ryan Ridley | directed by Rob Schrab

This was potentially the last ever episode of Community; but that's been true of almost every season finale, so despite notably low ratings this year I'm optimistic it will return somehow and somewhere. "Basic Sandwich" was a much better episode than its predecessor, "Basic Story", and tapped into a style of writing I particularly enjoy about Community: where it's not only fun and amusing, but also creative, adventurous, and happy to take bizarre diversions.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

MSN TV: Sky Atlantic's MAD MEN, 7.1 - 'Time Zones'

Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the seventh and final season premiere of AMC's 1960s drama MAD MEN, which made its UK bow on Sky Atlantic last night...
I sometimes hear complaints that not much changes in Mad Men, but I think that's very unfair. I think the show's deliberate pacing, relatively few regular locations, and characters who are largely defined by an inability to break out of old habits, simply gives that impression to the casual viewer. In fact, every season has given us changes—although, admittedly, some were far bigger than others. But for its final season (picking up the story only a few months later, in January 1969), creator Matthew Weiner gives fans the biggest shake-up of Mad Men in quite some time...

Continue reading at MSN TV...

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 5.10 & 5.11 – 'Into the Woods' & 'Triangle'

XANDER: But you missed the point. You shut down, Buffy. And you've been treating Riley like the rebound guy. When he's the one that comes along once in a lifetime. He's never held back with you. He's risked everything. And you're about to let him fly because you don't like ultimatums?

I will admit I haven't been completely understanding of Riley's (Marc Blucas) state of mind this season, as his behaviour toward Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has struck me as odd and unwarranted... so perhaps my brain's wired more like the titular Slayer, who came to realise her relationship with her boyfriend's been slowly crumbling for awhile now. Marti Noxon's "INTO THE WOODS" was one of the better character studies this season, and certainly managed to explain the mindset of both Riley and Buffy.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

HANNIBAL, 2.7 – 'Yakimono'

written by Steve Lightfoot & Bryan Fuller | directed by Michael Rymer

The second phase of this season is most definitely under way, with the stunning "Yakimono" sending the narrative veering down another unexpected path. The discovery that FBI rookie Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) is alive was dealt with as expected, as she's suffering from the same memory loss Will (Hugh Dancy) is battling—only even more comprehensively because she's been under Lecter's (Mads Mikkelsen) control for two whole years—and yet there was so much more going on in this episode. Following the hour where Lecter took charge of a disintegrating situation, after Will hired an assassin to kill him, this was another episode that underscored just how difficult catching Lecter will be...