Thursday, 31 January 2013

TV Review: Channel 4's DEREK


Last year's pilot was given a mixed reception by audiences and critics alike, but Derek's back for a six-part series written, directed and starring Ricky Gervais as the eponymous care home worker. It's easy to see why people are having trouble parsing their thoughts about a show like this; partly because it touches on subject matter many are uncomfortable with (the mentally infirm and social outcasts). But I think the bigger issue is having Ricky Gervais play the lead role, when it would have been more interesting to give it to someone closer to a genuine Derek Noakes—given how the show endeavours to appear realistic, yet has its reality burst every time you see "David Brent with an underbite" or An Idiot Abroad's Karl Pilkington dressed as a character from the Guess Who? board game.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

MSN TV: Channel 5's DALLAS (season 2)


Over at MSN today: I've reviewed the second season premiere of DALLAS, which started on Channel 5 last night (a day after its US premiere on TNT). The cast are all back for another year of backstabbing, intricate cons and cruel deceptions... although the cloud of legendary Larry Hagman's demise looms...
Season one only ended in the UK last December, but Dallas is back already for a second run. I can comfortably say this revival has been an unexpected success, mainly because showrunner Cynthia Cidre quickly established a fantastic balance between old and new. The new, glossier Dallas has reverence for the original characters and its long history, but it never feels like a closed door to newcomers. The decision to have the show focus on the Ewing children - eco-warrior Christopher (Jesse Metcale) and his deceitful cousin John Ross (Josh Henderson) - was a masterstroke. It still allows for excellent support from the elders of their tribe - equable Bobby and power-hungry tycoon JR...

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

ITV buy FX's THE AMERICANS


ITV will broadcast FX's political thriller The Americans, bringing the 1980s-set drama to a wider terrestrial audience in the UK. The show concerns two KGB agents (Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys) living in New York during the Cold War, whose own children aren't aware they're Soviet spies working deep undercover. It's created by Joe Weisberg (Falling Skies) and executive-produced by Graham Yost (Justified), Joel Fields (Rizzoli & Isles), Darryl Frank (Smash) and Justin Falvey (The Borgias).

Monday, 28 January 2013

TV Picks: 28 January – 3 February 2013 (Being Human, Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe, Mary Berry Story, Dallas, Derek, etc.)


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

Friday, 25 January 2013

Geek godhead JJ Abrams directing STAR WARS EPISODE VII


It's official. JJ Abrams has been chosen to direct Star Wars Episode VII for Disney; the first in a new trilogy schedules for release in summer 2016. This news come despite the fact Abrams appeared to rule himself out of the running recently, saying that he wouldn't want to be involved because of his "loyalty to Star Trek" and fact he's "rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them." I guess something changed; most likely the money on offer.

Twitter'd: TOTAL RECALL (2012)


Below are some quips about the TOTAL RECALL remake, starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston. This is all I have to say on the matter.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

UTOPIA – episode two


I reviewed the feature-length premiere of this six-part thriller last week for MSN, and enjoyed it a great deal. The second episode was less engrossing, which tends to be the case for shows of this nature. It couldn't impress us in the same way, but still managed to maintain a dazzling level of technical proficiency. The direction by Marc Munden is frankly superb, with gorgeous wide angle shots and an almost luminescent colour palette at times. Stylistically you really can't fault this show, and it envelops you with a strange tone you don't tend to experience outside of the movies.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 3.15 & 3.16 – 'Consequences' & 'Doppelgangland'

Mayor: Well, this is exciting: a Slayer up for Murder One. That's sunshine and roses to me. It really is.

I occasionally bemoan how episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer always involve a supernatural element, so the appeal of "CONSEQUENCES" was seeing an entire episode that didn't. Instead, it explored the character of Faith (Eliza Dushku), her relationship with "adopted sister" Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), how she's perceived by the wider group, and the real-world ramifications of killing a normal man in "Bad Girls". It felt fresh and interesting to have story that didn't morph into monster-of-the-week hokum, and wasn't augmented by the search for an occult antiquity... so, on that conceptual level, this episode clicked for me.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

MSN TV: Sky Atlantic's THE FOLLOWING


Over at MSN today: I've reviewed Sky Atlantic's premiere of Fox's new crime thriller THE FOLLOWING, starring Kevin Bacon as a former FBI agent brought out of retirement to recapture a notorious serial killer...
The reasons to give The Following a chance stems from the lead actors they've cast—James Purefoy (Rome) and movie star Kevin Bacon (Footloose, Apollo 13)—and, for some, writer Kevin Williamson's involvement, seeing as he revitalized slasher movies with 1996's Scream and has been masterminding the feverishly fast-paced Vampire Diaries. For those three reasons, I was poised to enjoy The Following despite its contrived premise, but it struggled to overcome the trappings and clichés of its genre.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Movie Review: DREDD (2012)


Anderson: Sir, helmets interfere with my psychic abilities.
Judge Dredd: Think a bullet in the head might interfere with them more.


The second attempt to launch Judge Dredd as a bonafide franchise, after 1996's box-office flop with Sylvester Stallone unforgivably removing the title character's helmet, Dredd is unquestionably a better effort in terms of style, tone and spirited execution. It's unfortunate the earlier failure was likely responsible for forcing the film-makers to narrow the scope with small-scale mission, but it's not unreasonable to aim for a Pitch Black-style hit that will convince a studio to greenlight a Chronicles of Riddick-sized sequel. Trouble is, 2012's Dredd had the opposite luck to David Twohy's Riddick franchise—failing to make its $45m budget back during its theatrical release, so the chances of a follow-up with the fiscal clout to better explore Mega-City One are low.

Amazon remaking ZOMBIELAND

The times, they are a-changin'. Online rental service Netflix has started creating its own content (Lillyhammer, House of Cards, Arrested Development), and now Amazon are jumping on the bandwagon with a remake of hit horror-comedy Zombieland.

The project was being developed for Fox, and originally started life as a TV show idea for CBS back in 2005. It hasn't been confirmed, but one assumes the show will recast the film's four leads (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin)—survivors of an apocalypse who strike up a dysfunctional friendship during a road trip across zombie-infested America. Amazon's expected to release half-hour episodes via their Instant Video service.

Taking a wider view; what do you make of non-TV broadcasters making scripted entertainment like this? At the moment they're primarily remaking existing properties (a wise safety net to avoid failure, often with a passionate fan-base already attached), but will a company like Netflix or Amazon inevitably end up making a huge online hit that's entirely original? If so, will it be something TV simply couldn't make because it wouldn't make economic sense, or will web-exclusive content always be stuck in TV's shadow?

Monday, 21 January 2013

ARROW star Jessica De Gouw gets bitten by Sky/NBC's DRACULA

The Sky/NBC co-production of Dracula has cast Mina Murray, who will be played by the beautiful Australian actress Jessica De Gouw—currently starring as the leather-clad Huntress in The CW's superhero drama Arrow.

The ten-part supernatural series has already cast Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) as the famous Count, who in this interpretation will be posing as an American entrepreneur intent on bringing modern science to Victorian London... but hides has ulterior motives. Mina will be an Englishwoman whom Dracula believes is the modern-day reincarnation of his long dead wife.

DRACULA will air on NBC in the US and Sky Living in the UK.

TV Picks: 21-27 January 2013 (Comic Relief Bake Off, The Following, Good Wife, Last Leg, Louie, Suits, Top Gear, Wonders of Life, etc.)


Below are my week's picks of notable TV shows premiering/returning to UK screens this week...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

20/01/13: That Was The Week That Was

Another fun week in blogging and social media. There was lots more MSN reviews this week, only the second full-star review in my Buffy catch-ups, my last ever review of Fringe (which came to an end simultaneously in the US and UK), I exchanged pleasantries with the director of Channel 4's Utopia on Twitter, and noted that the American writer of BBC3's abysmal Way to Go favourited some of my disparaging tweets about it. Great to see he can take a joke; shame he can't seem to write any now.

I also watched Cinemax's drama Banshee and FX's comedy Legit, but didn't feel compelled to review them anywhere. I did feel compelled to write about The Carrie Diaries, unforgivably. Suffice to say: I thought Banshee was diverting silliness that didn't scream to become regular viewing, kept alive by Anthony Starr's performance and some great stunts/visuals; while Legit was a poor-man's Louie dealing in "shock comedy" tropes that bored me. The pilot concerned getting a terminally-ill disabled virgin laid in a brothel. Oh, puh-leeze. Jim Jefferies could do so much better. At least there's plenty of time for it to improve, of course, but I don't think this kind of comedy holds much appeal to me now.

MSN TV: ITV1's SPLASH! Week Three


Over at MSN today: there's still an appetite for SPLASH! reviews, so I've obliged with some thoughts on the surprisingly popular ITV show's third heat...
Last week, Tom Daley's Splash! unquestionably improved from its horrendous opening episode; this week maintained that same quality. The trouble now is that the format and timetable of each 90-minute episode has taken firm root, so the show as a whole is starting to go stale. At least when it was outright bad, you didn't know where things were going. But now Splash! just floats along and we know it's heading for a pointless finale in a fortnight's time.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Saturday, 19 January 2013

FRINGE, 5.12 & 5.13 – 'Liberty' & 'The Enemy of Fate'


Liberty
Enemy of Fate
If you think season finales are hard to pull off, try series finales. The weight of expectation's almost crushing, particularly for science fiction shows that have passionate and demanding audiences who'll nit-pick something to death. It's almost impossible to please everyone, but ones hopes the majority of fans will be emotionally satisfied as the story concludes. After five seasons, Fringe reached its end with two-part story "Liberty" and "Enemy of the State"—although it felt strange to me, in that it felt more like the conclusion of season 5 than the overall end of things. I guess that's because this final season's felt more like a diversion, as it was the fourth season's finale that closed the curtain on Fringe mainstays like the alternate-Earth and William Bell.

Friday, 18 January 2013

TV Review: The CW's THE CARRIE DIARIES

Carrie: The pain of love is what truly changes us. It's the losing of love that makes us who we are. The loss of a parent. Of your virginity. Of who you thought you might be. Of your innocence. Those losses are perhaps our first steps into adulthood. Life gets more complicated. But it's also filled with promise. And the possibility of opening your heart to new beginnings.

(*vomit*)

Based on Candace Bushnell's 2010 book (a prequel to her anthology of 'Sex & The City' essays famously adapted into a 1998 HBO series), The Carrie Diaries stars AnnaSophia Robb as a 16-year-old version of Sarah Jessica Parker's character. It's set in 1984, and is a very typical coming-of-age story aimed squarely at young girls, with precocious Carrie Bradshaw escaping her quiet suburb to work as a law firm's intern in glamorous Manhattan. Coping with the recent death of her mother (SJP should play Mrs Bradshaw in flashbacks, no?), Carrie has a rebellious younger sister called Dorritt (Stefania Owen), a bland father (Matt Letscher) doing his best as a single dad of two daughters, a clique of great friends, and the prospect of first love when hunky Sebastian Kydd (Austin Butler) arrives in town.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 3.13 & 3.14 - 'The Zeppo' & 'Bad Girls'

Cordelia: (to Xander) Boy, of all the humiliations you've had I've witnessed, that was the latest.

It's strange "THE ZEPPO" aired after "Helpless", because the previous climax where Giles (Anthony Head) is fired as a Watcher and Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) reassesses their relationship had little bearing here—despite an irrelevant "previously on..." preface. Besides that scheduling oddity, almost everything else about this Xander (Nicholas Brendon) showcase was excellent. Maybe this is to be expected because Dan Vebber's script purposefully upended the show's formulas and patterns, but there still plenty to recommend even without its format-breaking structure and peculiar tone.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Showtime order PENNY DREADFUL from John Logan and Sam Mendes

Screenwriter John Logan
The cable network is really trying to boost its original programming just now, perhaps because it knows Dexter's reaching the end of its lifetime (and Homeland could easily crash-and-burn if it's not too careful?) They've just ordered a brand new series from well-known screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, Aviator) and director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall) that sounds like a version of Alan Moore's comic-book League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Penny Dreadful is billed as a "psychosexual horror" set in Victorian London, and will bring together several famous fictional characters: vampire Count Dracula, his archenemy Van Helsing, genius Dr Frankenstein and his reanimated monster, immortal Dorian Gray, and maybe even Jack the Ripper. Logan will write all of the episodes and be the executive-producer alongside Mendes, who may direct the pilot. They previously worked together on the recent James Bond movie Skyfall.

Showtime President David Nevins commented that "John Logan and Sam Mendes are two of the great storytellers of our time. The visual spectacle combined with the psychological insight in their re-imagining of these iconic literary characters seems totally mesmerizing to me. This promises to be a wholly original television show. [John Logan] has been obsessed with monsters in literature since childhood. It's a show he’s always wanted to do and I've been wooing him to Showtime for a long time. It's very realistic, it's very grounded; the characters are in very human form in turn of the century London. There will be one central view point, but it's a fairly ensemble series in the way Downton Abbey is an ensemble."

MSN TV: Channel 4's UTOPIA


Today over at MSN: I've reviewed the premiere of Channel 4's unnerving six-part conspiracy thriller UTOPIA, starring Alexandra Roach, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Adeel Akhtar and Neil Maskell...
Utopia is a slow-burn thriller that aims to establish a mood and draw the viewer in, which it did to impressive effect thanks to the cinematic direction of Marc Munden (The Devil's Whore), who filled the screen with smart, colourful and sophisticated visuals. The cinematography was stunning, and I particularly liked the use of a background howl of wind to unsettle viewers. The only frustration was how Utopia's spell was frequently broken by commercial breaks; which convinced me to record and fast-forward the ads next time.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

MSN TV: Sky Atlantic's GIRLS, 2.1 - 'It's About Time'


Today over at MSN: I've reviewed the season 2 premiere of HBO's Golden Globe-winning GIRLS, which had its next-day premiere on Sky Atlantic last night...
Girls is notable for bringing a higher level of functional reality to a character-based drama focusing on women. Lena Dunham (creator, head writer, director, lead actor) must be congratulated for creating something that stands out from the crowd in the US. In addition, HBO deserve plaudits for taking a risk on a young writer-director who only had independent movie Tiny Furniture as a calling card. However, from a British perspective, it's tougher to appreciate Girls as something that's expanding its genre's borders. UK dramas are typically grittier and most already approach stories with stark realism in writing and acting, whereas US shows tends to prefer using the medium for fun escapism.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Monday, 14 January 2013

MSN TV: BBC1's BLANDINGS


Today over at MSN: I've reviewed BBC1's Sunday comedy-drama BLANDINGS, based on the short stories by P.G Wodehouse...
Screenwriter Guy Andrews gave us the brilliant 2008 ITV miniseries Lost in Austen, but his adaptation of renowned English author P.G Wodehouse's Blandings Castle short stories left much to be desired. It's easy to see why the BBC would attempt to bring Blandings to our screens; it's a perfect fit for Sundays - period setting, genteel Englishness, bucolic scenery, recognisable actors, source material from a celebrated author...

Continue reading at MSN TV...

TV Picks: 14-20 January 2013 (8 Out of 10 Cats, American Idol, Call the Midwife, Girls, Paddy's TV Show, Utopia, Yes Prime Minister, etc.)


This is the week where ITV1 drop a digit, having realized nobody's ever referred to them as "ITV1" in conversation. The UK version of FX also retitles itself to Fox, which just moves the global confusion elsewhere (I'll be calling it Fox UK). More importantly, it's another seven days of brand new shows hitting UK airwaves, so below is my list of the notable upcoming content...

Sunday, 13 January 2013

13/01/13: That Was The Week That Was

It's been a productive and interesting week in blogging and social media. My live-tweets of ITV's absurd Splash! got me multiple mentions in the day's GoodTVeets, and my subsequent MSN review nearly landed me a radio interview on Radio 5 Live (I was just too late getting their message); I had fun live-tweeting #snowwhitehuntsman on Sunday afternoon, which became my first attempt at a Storify the next day; I reviewed Glee and Mr Selfridge for MSN, and the latter show's Aisling Loftus followed me on Twitter after I impressed her with a Latin interpretation of her unusual name (this stuff could never have happened pre-internet).

MSN TV: ITV1's SPLASH! Week Two


Today over at MSN: owing to the astonishing popularity of my SPLASH! review last weekend, MSN invited me back to critique the second week's episode. It was an offer I couldn't refuse, naturally...
ITV's light entertainment spectacle Splash! launched to a tidal wave of animosity last weekend, most notably on Twitter. I was part of the baying crowd, but also aware that (generally) viewers don't enjoy "hating" something unless it's entertaining them on some inexplicable level. The idea of a competitive celebrity diving show isn't necessarily a bad one; it just depends on how well it's executed. I was pleased to see an improvement in week two of Splash!, although there are still many problems that prevent it being anything other than a harmless travesty.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Showtime move DEXTER to 30 June, keep HOMELAND for 29 September

Showtime are splitting their successful pairing of Dexter and Homeland this year. Dexter's eighth and (presumed) final season will now begin on 30 June, helping to launch the network's new drama Ray Donovan (starring Liev Schreiber as a fixer to the rich and famous). Homeland will retain an autumn premiere on 29 September for its third season, to support new drama Masters of Sex (which stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as sex researchers).

This is great news for fans of Dexter, who will be seeing new episodes three months earlier than usual. Happy?

[source: USA Today]

FRINGE, 5.11 – 'The Boy Must Live'


The last episode before the two-part finale next Friday (which airs simultaneously in the UK, early Saturday morning), I don't have much to say about "The Boy Must Live". This hour very much an information dump, which I'm sure some people will be frustrated about. It's always best to impart information without simply having people sit around talking, but I guess certain TV shows just become so knotted there's no other option. And to be honest, I'm just glad we finally have a grasp of what Walter's (John Noble) plan to defeat The Observers is, and have been told the back-story of the boy Observer known as Michael.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Quentin Tarantino chats to Krishnan Guru-Murphy about DJANGO UNCHAINED


Writer-director Quentin Tarantino's in London to promote his new Western movie Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx as the eponymous freed slave who comes under the tutelage of Christoph Waltz's bounty hunter, and got quite upset about the line of questioning from Krishnan Guru-Murphy of Channel 4 News. A question about screen violence and its alleged links to real violence proved to be the catalyst. Watch the eight-minute interview for yourself (embedded above), which starts to grow heated about halfway through.

Oh well, it's all good publicity at the end of the day. Do you think Tarantino was right to object to the question, on the grounds that he's answered it before elsewhere? Was Guru-Murphy's question out of order, or too overstated to be of an value? Discuss below! The movie itself is released in UK cinemas on 18 January.

State of the Blog: 2013 – the year ahead

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new year! I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but I do like to make plans and assess matters. Last year saw a number of subtle changes to DMD, primarily being a reduction in output. I published 516 blog posts in 2012, down from 836 posts in 2011. That number makes last year the least productive annual period in DMD's lifetime since the year it began way back in 2006 (when I published a mere 212 posts).

Was it noticeable that I was blogging far less? That's for you to decide, dear reader, but from my perspective it didn't feel that way. I think my output just streamlined considerably, so there was less junk coming out. I didn't review a lot of shows I'd usually have covered, and there was less time to write news and features. If you're a fan of the news and features, chances are you found 2012 horrendous here, but I think DMD's reviews are valued above all else.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 3.11 & 3.12 – 'Gingerbread' & 'Helpless'

Joyce: This is not a good town. How many of us have-have lost someone who-who just disappeared... or-or got skinned, or suffered "neck rupture"? And how many of us have been too afraid to speak out? I-I was supposed to lead us in a moment of silence... but, silence is this town's disease. For too long we, we've been plagued by unnatural evils. This isn't our town any more. It belongs to the monsters, and the witches, and the Slayers.

I'd have liked "GINGERBREAD" to be braver, by following through with what began as a largely non-supernatural storyline with Joyce (Kristin Sutherland) taking action against a double child murder. It was a brilliant way to have that character introduced to the dangerous world her daughter's involved with as The Slayer, and I loved the idea that Joyce would become a community activist against Sunnydale's supernatural problems—even founding the Mothers Opposed to the Occult ("MOO") movement, alongside Willow's (Alyson Hannigan) hitherto unseen parent Sheila (Jordan Baker).

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

TV Review: TRANSPORTER – THE SERIES


There's something so hackneyed about Transporter: The Series that it's almost agreeable. Almost. Inspired by the Luc Besson-produced action trilogy of the same name, even the title's suffix 'The Series' begs you to see this as a throwback to the '80s. (Or maybe even the late-'70s, given a direct reference to Smokey & the Bandit.) This is a Franco-Canadian production with a distinctive flavour of something nobody else would contemplate making; because, really, who wants a TV version of The Transporter? And without its star Jason Statham's involvement (half the reason the movies appealed to people), you're left with Chris Vance as a physically competent but dull replacement. The British actor at least gets to keep his natural accent, fights well, and looks good in a well-tailored suit, but that's the only positives I can scrape together. But to be honest, steely gazes and snapping the odd bad guy's neck is all the show really wants from him.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Poll Result: which was the best Christmas/New Year TV treat this year?


Last week I asked you to vote for your THREE favourite Christmas/New Year TV shows/specials that aired in the UK. The full results of my poll are below, with quick comments from myself. After 103 votes, it's a fairly surprising result the further down the list you go...

Monday, 7 January 2013

MSN TV: ITV1's MR SELFRIDGE & Sky1's GLEE - 'The New Rachel'


Over at MSN today: I've reviewed ITV1's expensive new period drama MR SELFRIDGE, starring Entourage's Jeremy Piven as the eponymous US retail magnate; and Sky1's season 4 premiere of GLEE entitled "The New Rachel".
The BBC weren't pleased when their remake of Upstairs, Downstairs was outshone by ITV's Downton Abbey a few years ago, so they got revenge by forcing ITV to delay Mr Selfridge in the wake of their outwardly similar period drama The Paradise. Or that's the popular theory. I'm not sure it worked, because The Paradise was only a moderate hit and didn't capture the public's imagination; whereas Mr Selfridge feels like it has a better chance to soar because of the channel's association with Downton and perfect Sunday night scheduling.

Continue reading "Mr Selfridge" at MSN TV...

I liked Glee when it began, but it's weakened over time, so I came to season 4's premiere with low expectations. "The New Rachel" was better than anticipated, given the challenges of replacing old characters while maintaining a separate storyline in New York. Nevertheless, it's easy to imagine it falling back into a rut once the juice of new characters has been squeezed a few times.

Continue reading "Glee" at MSN TV...

TV Picks: 7-13 January 2013 (American Dad!, Death in Paradise, New Normal, Primeval: New World, Revenge, Spies of Warsaw, Stargazing Live, Stella, World Without End, etc.)


Below are my picks of the most notable TV shows debuting on UK TV screens this week...

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Twitter'd: SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN


Some wry observations, quips, wisecracks and thoughts on the big-budget fairy tale movie, compiled from my Twitter feed using Storify...

MSN TV: ITV1's SPLASH!


Over on MSN today: I review the premiere of ITV1's celebrity diving show SPLASH!, which is their new light entertainment hope for Saturday nights. As I can't resist puns, do you think it sank or swam?
I can understand the thinking behind Splash! getting commissioned by ITV; in the wake of the sport's increased popularity thanks to Tom Daley's sex symbol status, the desire to extend the nation's athletic positivity post-Olympics (also a reason the BBC revived Superstars, also with Gabby Logan), and a format that doesn't taking itself seriously. The latter point is worth further thought, seeing as the show felt as throwaway and knowingly pointless as the BBC's Let's Dance for Comic Relief (which likewise has celebs doing something out of their comfort zone and receiving tongue-in-cheek analysis). The difference is that Let's Dance has the excuse of existing for charitable reasons, whereas ITV assumedly believe Splash! has potential to be an honest success. Bombing isn't allowed on the show, but tell that to the ratings.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Movie Review: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)


It's the superhero movie few people wanted, unlike when Marvel decided they should have another stab at The Incredible Hulk when Ang Lee's ill-advised psychodrama flopped at the 2003 box-office and they called in Louis Leterrier for 2008's quasi-sequel. What rankles more about The Amazing Spider-Man is how they don't even pretend Sam Raimi's still-warm trilogy existed, and ask audiences to just accept the change in cast and darker tone. So here comes the well-known origin story yet again, minus all excitement that we're seeing the character transposed from page to screen.

Friday, 4 January 2013

MERLIN: what was magic, what was tragic?


The dust has settled on the BBC's Smallville-inspired telefantasy Merlin, which drew a curtain on five series last Christmas Eve, so now we can reflect on its highs and lows as a completed work. To that end, I've compiled a list of my positive and negative thoughts below for you to read. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 3.9 & 3.10 – 'The Wish' & 'Amends'

Buffy: World is what it is. We fight, we die. Wishing doesn't change that.
Giles: I have to believe in a better world.
Buffy: Go ahead. I have to live in this one.


There have been hundreds of stories involving alternate universes, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was always going to tackle this sub-genre in some way or another. The result was "THE WISH" from Marti Noxon; a terrific episode that made up for in entertainment value what it lacked in originality. The "be careful what you wish for..." moral has been done to death, but I had a huge amount of fun watching this Sunnydale dystopia—which not only allowed the lead actors to act out of character (which is always great), but also turned Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) into the lead for awhile, and enabled the return of season 1 arch-villain The Master (Mark Metcalfe)...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Poll: which was the best Christmas/New Year TV treat this year?


The traditional British fortnight of Christmas specials and TV treats is practically over, but which shows were your favourite? Below is a list of the main shows vying for Briton's attention this year, and you can choose THREE that entertained you the most. You can also include ONE show of your own choosing.

(I'd appreciate people only vote if they were in a position to have watched most of these shows – i.e. you spent Christmas in the UK. Otherwise global Doctor Who and Downton Abbey votes may corrupt results...) Thank you!