Sunday, 31 March 2013

MSN TV: BBC1's THE VOICE (series 2); BBC2's LIFE'S TOO SHORT special; Channel 4's LABYRINTH

Today over at MSN TV: there's an apt trinity of reviews for Easter, as I cover the series 2 premiere of THE VOICE on BBC1; cast an eye over the hour-long return of spoof documentary LIFE'S TOO SHORT; and assess the first part of Channel 4's fantasy adaptation LABYRINTH.
The Voice is the Netherlands television format phenomenon, once tipped to usurp X Factor as the UK's premiere reality talent show. However, while the BBC1 series premiered to critical acclaim and a ratings bonanza last year, audiences fell away once its signature Blind Auditions ended and The Voice UK's live shows could only offer tweaks on the illustrious X Factor formula. This didn't stop The Voice UK becoming the BBC's most successful entertainment series launch for a decade (with a consolidated average of 9.2 million viewers), but it was clearly a show with kinks to iron out.

Continue reading 'The Voice' at MSN TV...

I didn't particularly like Life's Too Short when it aired in late 2011, so I didn't expect to enjoy this special episode (potentially) concluding the show. However, against expectations, this Easter special was one of Life's Too Short's better episodes and provided enough laughs and fun to please most viewers. It hasn't made me reconsider the weak and dawdling first series in hindsight, but it felt like an improved pilot that fixed a few problems.

Continue reading 'Life's too Short' at MSN TV...

Labyrinth splits its story between two time periods. In the present day, ostensible heroine Dr Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby) is helping with an archaeological dig at the Pit De Soularac in France. Inside a cave, Alice discovers two skeletons and a strange ring engraved with a labyrinth symbol, before experiencing a frighteningly vivid hallucination of being stabbed in the abdomen. She leaves the cave to witness a mound of bodies being burned by 13th-century knights.

Continue reading 'Labyrinth' at MSN TV...

DOCTOR WHO, 7.6 - 'The Bells of Saint John'

Doctor Who's 50th years kicks off with the concluding half of series 7 (which was frustratingly put on hiatus since late-September, not including the excellent Christmas Special). Unusually, "The Bells of Saint John" was an introductory episode for a new companion, who's already been seen in two incarnations beforehand--as futuristic omelette-maker Oswin in "Asylum of the Daleks" and Victorian governess Clara in "The Snowmen".

Here, Clara's (Jenna-Louise Coleman) properly introduced in her present-day form, given another of showrunner Steven Moffat's Harry Potter-style nicknames ('The Girl Twice Dead'), but oblivious to her former adventures with The Doctor (Matt Smith). She's essentially another River Song-style intellectual puzzle for The Doctor to solve, which will most likely have a convoluted and only half-satisfying explanation come the finale. Still, at least Clara's a spirited and smart-talking companion--similar to Amy, but far less reverential of The Doctor, and more intelligent (although her computer skills come courtesy of a plot contortion, not through education). Moffat does seem to have some boneheaded ideas about women's roles--so Amy the kissogram and would-be perfume model has been replaced by a sexy nanny? I suppose that's progress, of sorts...

Saturday, 30 March 2013

DOCTOR WHO: 50th Anniversary casting

Doctor Who returns tonight for the last half of series 7 (BBC1, 6.15pm), and Blogtor Who have reported casting news confirmed by Doctor Who Magazine.

DON'T continue reading if you don't want to know, although God knows how you're going to avoid this news for the next eight months...

Three famous actors will be joining Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman in the 50th Anniversary special (which is now confirmed as being 90-minutes long and filmed in 3D).

And they are...


Today over at MSN TV: I've reviewed the double-bill premiere of Sky1's new US sci-fi import REVOLUTION, which concerns a near-future society living without electricity. (Long-time readers of DMD perhaps don't need to click through, as this is an amalgamation of reviews written during its US airings.)
Whenever a TV show (invariably American) arrives with an attention-grabbing high concept, there's a feeling it won't be able to ration its story over the desired five years or more. Revolution, airing on NBC in the US and Sky1 here in the UK, follows in the footsteps of 'big idea' shows like FlashForward and The Event. Its premise easily sustains a cinematic-like TV pilot (here directed by Iron Man's Jon Favreau), but it leaves you uncertain as to whether there's enough material for multiple seasons on telly. Revolution's pilot hit the ground running, as Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee) and his wife Rachel (Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell) comfort their young daughter as the world's power turns off. City lights wink out, radio and television stop broadcasting, batteries become useless (huh?), planes fall from the sky, and vehicles coast to a standstill.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

I've been watching ARROW, have you?

I'm not doing as many episodic reviews as I used to, and to be honest I haven't watched more than a few episodes of most new shows lately. My TiVo is full of whole series it's been diligently recording weeks after I saw a premiere, then realised I didn't care enough to make return visits. I always think I'll get around to things in good time, but most shows eventually get deleted after three or four months.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the double-bill premiere of ITV2's new historical sitcom PLEBS, about three young men trying to climb the social ladder in Ancient Rome...
While the idea of an ITV2 sitcom set in Ancient Rome triggers a negative gut reaction in many people, Plebs wasn't the unmitigated disaster some may have been expecting. Much of this was down to its surprisingly good production values, which capture the feeling of sun-kissed Rome circa 27 A.D very effectively. A few props and backgrounds looked cartoonish, but this added to the show's quasi-theatrical vibe, and for the most part, Plebs looked wonderful. Things have clearly moved on from the days of Frankie Howerd's Up Pompeii!, even for a non-mainstream channel like ITV2. The decision to score the sitcom with 20th century ska tracks was also a crackpot idea that somehow worked very well.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Monday, 25 March 2013


Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed BBC1's feature-length single drama OUR GIRL, starring EastEnders' Lacey Turner as a London teenager who decides to join the Army...
I wasn't expecting to enjoy Our Girl based on the first 20 minutes in which Lacey Turner effectively reprised her impudent EastEnders character, Stacey Slater. In addition, there were so many clichéd elements about her working class family - pregnant mum Belinda (Derek's Kerry Godliman), benefit-cheating racist dad Sean (Dave Dawes) - you felt the writer's rather heavy hand. And, to an extent, this drama never quite managed to surprise, despite threatening to end on a courageously downbeat note (wisely avoided from the perspective of promoting the armed forces). However, Molly's transformation from cheeky party-goer to a soldier with self-respect and discipline, still managed to be entertaining and occasionally quite moving.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Easter TV Picks: 25-31 March 2013 (Doctor Who, Labyrinth, Life's Too Short, Mindy Project, New Girl, Plebs, Revolution, The Village, The Voice, etc.)

Below are my picks of the most notable TV shows premiering/returning to UK screens this week, which includes the Easter weekend...

Sunday, 24 March 2013


My occasional live-tweeting of bad movies continues with supernatural sequel THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 2, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and lots of other people who should have known better...

Saturday, 23 March 2013

ARGUMENTELLY: television adverts

Last week's inaugural edition of Argumentelly offered two opposing views on Comic Relief's Red Nose Day telethon. Journalist Iain Hepburn argued against the popular fundraising event, while I argued for it.

The result of the reader vote was clear: 72.5% agreed that Red Nose Day doesn't offer much entertainment nowadays, and only 27.5% of readers think it's still a fantastic evening of television. I concede defeat.

This week's Argumentelly tackles the pro's and con's of television advertising, with Rob D Webster first to put forward his positive thoughts on commercial breaks...

Friday, 22 March 2013

TV Review: BATES MOTEL, 1.1 – 'First You Dream, Then You Die'

There have been previous attempts to recapture the magic of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, the master of suspense's esteemed 1960 film adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel: three direct sequels of fading quality, a failed TV pilot from 1987, and 1998's controversial shot-for-shot colour remake by Gus Van Sant. You can now add A&E's psychological drama Bates Motel to that inglorious list, which has the peculiarity of being a prequel to the original story set in its future. It can't be a true prequel if Norman Bates (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory's Freddie Highmore) is seen using an iPhone, so it's perhaps best to see Bates Motel as something new exploiting Psycho's untold back-story and brand cachet.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the first episode of E4's new pre-watershed drama YOUNGERS, about two south-east London rappers hoping to break into the urban music industry...
E4's The Inbetweeners was partly about an unremarkable foursome trying to be considered cool by their peers, whereas E4's Youngers is all about cool kids trying to break out of their unremarkable surroundings. The first episode sets up a very simple concept; two wannabe London rappers get their GCSE exams results, but discover only one of them has done well enough to go to college. However, their friendship is so strong, they decide to stick together and make their dreams come true by getting a foot in the door of the urban music industry. While the drama wasn't particularly gripping and the vibe carried a preaching tone (you could imagine this being played in tough schools to promote the importance of exams), Youngers at least felt authentic and avoided being a depressing insight into teenage inner-city life. This was mostly due to the directing of Anthony Philipson and use of grim metropolitan locations, but I also liked how Ade Oyefeso and Calvin Demba came across on camera.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Competition result: ARGO Blu-rays!

Last week I hosted a competition to win two copies of the Oscar-winning movie Argo on Blu-ray.

To win one, I asked: which of director Ben Affleck's co-stars did he later marry? The answer was Jennifer Garner from Daredevil, which not everyone got right.

But of those who did answer correctly, the following two randomly-chosen entrants each win a copy of Argo on Blu-ray:
Freddie Lee - California, USA
Dean Gerstel - Barnsley, England

Congratulations, Freddie and Dean! I will get in touch with Appliances Online, who will send your prizes. Thanks to everyone who entered this Argo competition, especially if you were kind enough to spread the word via a social platform.

Channel 4 import French zombie drama LES REVENANTS

While reviewing BBC Three's new zombie drama In the Flesh for MSN, I made reference to a 2004 French movie called Les Revenants (They Came Back) that it partly resembles. That award-winning film concerned dead people returning to life and having to re-join society, with the obvious complications that ensue because life has moved on without them...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Channel 4 request more UTOPIA

Utopia was another UK drama that felt like a self-contained miniseries, before ending on an unexpected cliffhanger. Luckily, Channel 4 has agreed to a second series of this conspiracy drama, despite seeing ratings drop to a low of 1.15m over its six-week run.

Piers Wenger, Channel 4's Head of Drama, nevertheless praised the "... extraordinary creativity of [creator] Dennis Kelly, [director] Marc Munden and the team at Kudos", adding how Channel 4 is "... thrilled to announce the further adventures for Utopia's eclectic cast of characters which are already shaping up to be more imaginative, outrageous and brilliantly intriguing than the first."

Monday, 18 March 2013


Today over at MSN TV: there's a double-bill of reviews, covering BBC1's new adaptation of THE LADY VANISHES, and BBC3's new zombie drama IN THE FLESH...
I'm glad to see the BBC adapting books that aren't written by Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. Ethel Lina White's The Wheel Spins is best-known as an early Alfred Hitchcock movie starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave (celebrating its 75th anniversary this year), so this version faced an uphill struggle from the start. The Lady Vanishes tells the simple (and silly) story of a rich and impetuous woman called Iris Carr, travelling home from a holiday in the Balkans by train. Once aboard, and while suffering from sunstroke, she gets acquainted with amiable governess Miss Froy (Selena Cadell), who later vanishes after Iris falls asleep in her private carriage.

Continue reading 'The Lady Vanishes' at MSN TV...

BBC Three's In the Flesh has been touted as the successor to their esteemed supernatural drama Being Human. It has inherited the latter's timeslot, but I think comparisons to The Fades are more accurate. Having said that, three-part drama In The Flesh already feels more serious than either, which could frustrate viewers expecting something more fun. The Walking Dead this ain't. Naturally this opening hour had to lay out In the Flesh's unusual concept and introduce all of the characters, but writer Dominic Mitchell managed this extremely well. In a nutshell, several years after thousands of zombies started killing people, the government has managed to reverse the symptoms using medication and rehabilitation.

Continue reading 'In the Flesh' at MSN TV...

TV Picks: 18-24 March 2013 (Boss, The Challenger, Goodbye Television Centre, James Nesbitt's Ireland, Our Girl, The Syndicate, Youngers, etc.)

Below are my picks of the week's most notable premieres and returning shows to UK screens...

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Trailers: DOCTOR WHO - Series 7b & 50th Anniversary

Doctor Who returns in just a few weeks, so the BBC have released a trailer for series 7b (embedded above). It promises more mystery with new companion Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman), Warwick Davis in a flying ace helmet, a perilous space walk across asteroids, scarier Cybermen, lots of new baddies in helmets, pale eyeless creatures in top hats, a city plane crash, the return of Strax the Sontaran, and much more.

David Brent does Comic Relief

The highlight of last night's Red Nose Day telethon was undoubtedly Ricky Gervais reprising his breakthrough role as The Office's David Brent, for a ten-minute sketch revealing what the character's been doing over the 10 years he's been off-screen (ignoring a few cameos in the US Office). The sketch itself was perhaps a bit underwhelming, as it started to bore me after a few minutes, but it was nevertheless fun to see Brent again. I was pleased to see Gervais can still play the character, because after an extended break there's often a danger of a performer copying everyone else's impression. So even if the actual sketch wasn't laugh-out-loud stuff, it felt like a fair catchup with one of my favourite sitcom characters.


It's been rumoured for over a decade, but Alan Partridge is finally getting his own movie. Steve Coogan is currently filming in and around Norfolk, as part of a feature-length adventure that allegedly revolves around his North Norfolk Digital radio station being overtaken by an American conglomerate called Shape. I'm sure there must be more to it than that, but plotting is probably not too high on the agenda. You just need plenty of comical scenarios for Alan to get involved in, then keep the fantastic dialogue and witty wordplay flowing.

Friday, 15 March 2013


Over at MSN today: I've reviewed the series 2 premiere of BBC1 drama PRISONERS' WIVES, about four women coping with the absence of important men in their lives who are in prison...
The title provokes expectations of a trivial Footballers' Wives-style romp, while the concept sounds like Birds of a Feather without the laughter. However, Prisoners' Wives is a better drama than newcomers may be expecting. Never judge a book by its cover, or a TV show by its title. For this follow-up series, reduced from six to four episodes, only two of the original Sheffield wives remain: lovely middle-aged mum Harriet (Pippa Haywood), whose imprisoned son Gavin (Adam Gillen) is trying to convert to Islam is one. The other is gangster's moll Francesca, who has to contend with a violent turf war that's putting her children and elderly father (David Bradley) in danger, while her criminal husband Paul (Iain Glen) is locked away in HMP High Cross.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Competition: win ARGO on Blu-ray!

With Ben Affleck's Argo having been released on Blu-ray/DVD and celebrating an Academy Award win for Best Picture, Appliances Online have offered two Blu-ray copies of the film for a competition.

'Depicting the true story of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret rescue mission to extract six American diplomats held as fugitives in Iran, Argo sees Affleck return to the director's chair for his third feature. Critically acclaimed and the recipient of three Oscars and three BAFTAs, it's further proof that there's a lot more to Ben Affleck than his roles in Hollywood blockbusters Armageddon and Pearl Harbor.'

To be entered into the draw to win one of two Blu-ray copies of Argo, answer the following question:

Ben Affleck married his co-star of which movie?

(a) Kate Beckinsale in Pearl Harbor?
(b) Minnie Driver in Good Will Hunting?
(c) Jennifer Garner in Daredevil?

To enter, e-mail me your answer with 'Argo' in the subject header and your delivery address. The competition closes on 19 March @5PM (GMT) and the two randomly-chosen winners will be announced on 20 March.

Entry details: This competition is only open to residents of the UK/US and Canada. The correct region-coded Blu-ray disc will be sent to a winner from one of those locations. Unfortunately entries made by those living in any other countries will have to be discounted. The usual Terms & Conditions also apply.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

TV Review: THE MIMIC (Channel 4)

One of the more unusual offerings of late, The Mimic is a five-part comedy-drama starring impressionist Terry Mynott (VIP) as a seemingly unexceptional maintenance man called Martin Hurdle, who actually has the eerie ability to imitate voices. You'd think he'd try writing some jokes and taking a risk during an open mic evening at a local comedy club, but it's instead a relatively private party trick. The only person he tends to do impressions around in best-friend Jean (Jo Hartley), although in the first episode he befriends a paranoid newsagent called Neil (Neil Maskell) with an Al Pacino impression.


Welcome to a new recurring feature called ARGUMENTELLY. It's a portmanteau of "argument" and "telly", geddit? The concept is simple: each edition showcases an argument for and against something relating to television. I will invite guest bloggers to write one side of any chosen argument, but the longevity of this feature depends on the level of response and quality of submissions.

Having read each opinion on a topic, you can then vote for the one you most agree with. The results will be made available in an embedded poll, which will close after six days to decide the winner. I also encourage continued debate in the comments area below each article, but please keep it civilised.

So, without further ado, here's journalist Iain Hepburn blowing a big raspberry in the general direction of Comic Relief:

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Cumberbatch and Freeman signed to a fourth series of SHERLOCK

Benedict Cumberbatch recently attended the South Bank Show Awards, where he let slip he's signed to a fourth series of Sherlock, saying both he and co-star Martin Freeman have "... agreed to two more series but I'm probably going to get into trouble for saying that. All I know at the moment is I'm doing these three and another three."

When asked about the show's future beyond another six episodes, Cumberbatch said "it just depends on Martin and I's availability, how long we can keep it going. It depends on [co-creator] Steven [Moffat]'s ability. I'd love to keep it going. We only do three at a time, so I think the normal fear of over-stretching the mark and just doing too many [doesn't apply]. I'd like to see [Sherlock Holmes] getting older. We're starting quite young. It's rare to see Holmes and Watson at the beginning of their relationship; we usually join them in their mid-to-late 40s or 50s. I've got a way to go. I mean, I'm only 35."

Cumberbatch's words suggest he's open to returning as the modern-day Sherlock Holmes for a great many years to come, if he's keen to see the character into middle-age. Maybe fans should start thinking of Sherlock along the same lines as ITV's Poirot, where David Suchet has kept returning to the role of Hercule Poirot fairly regularly since 1989. Indeed, Suchet's almost filmed all of Agatha Christie's Poirot novels and short stories over this 23-year commitment.

The third series of Sherlock begins filming on 18 March, with a read-through of the first episode having taken place on 12 March. Those three episodes are likely to air in autumn/winter on the BBC, before we most likely face another agonizing wait for a fourth series.

[Sources: Radio Times, Digital Spy]

BEING HUMAN, 5.6 - 'The Last Broadcast'

There were a few wobbles along the way and a climax that didn't make complete sense to me, but Being Human's last ever episode was a triumph on most levels. The Devil is a difficult character to portray (especially regarding the limits of his powers), but I liked this show's take on an old idea with Captain Hatch (Phil Davis) in his sharp suit, cane, and yellow tie. It gave the show some uncharacteristic scope having a whole town becoming a disaster zone, after Hatch caused mass suicide by willing it on the population (in scenes wisely left to the imagination), and Old Nick's goal of amplifying his ability via television was mad yet logical. I especially enjoyed his televised speech from a local TV studio operated by a crew of "zombies", complete with a 1950s-style interlude when he was interrupted.

Monday, 11 March 2013


Today over at MSN TV: I've reviewed BBC1's two-part crime drama SHETLAND, and ITV's finale of Edwardian department store drama MR SELFRIDGE.
The influx of Nordic Noir programming appears to be having an effect on British drama suddenly, as bleak two-part crime thriller Shetland arrives clinging to the coattails of Mayday and Broadchurch. Inspired by author Anne Cleeves's 2009 novel Red Bones - the third of her Shetland quartet - this drama stars Douglas Henshall (Primeval) as D.I Jimmy Perez, who's investigating the murder of an old woman called Mima Wilson (Sandra Voe) near the site of an archaeological dig. I desperately wanted Shetland to work because the choice of lead actor in Douglas Henshall is one I can get behind. In addition, the windswept location offers an immediate feeling of isolation a good crime drama can capitalise on; Shetland did a decent job making you feel island solitude.

Continue reading 'Shetland' at MSN TV...

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't been watching Mr Selfridge with enough regularity to understand everything that was happening in this finale. I knew the show was well-produced and frothily entertaining in its first two episodes. But it also felt incredibly inessential and I wasn't a fan of Jeremy Piven's hammy performance among a cast of Brits playing their own roles with a great deal more subtlety. However, that wasn't a barrier to enjoying the majority of the current series' finale. There's a breezily enjoyable tone to Mr Selfridge that sweeps you along rather nicely, even when you're not terribly gripped by what's happening, or care about many of the characters.

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

TV Picks: 11-17 March 2013 (Comic Relief, In the Flesh, It's Kevin, Lady Vanishes, Masterchef, The Mimic, Prisoner's Wives, etc.)

Below are my picks of the week's most notable TV shows, returning or premiering in the UK...

Sunday, 10 March 2013

DEREK, series 1 finale

Ricky Gervais' sitcom Derek ended this week and Channel 4 have ordered a second series, but I'm sorry to say my thoughts haven't changed a great deal since episode 1. It's a show where Gervais can eulogize his world-view through the eponymous simpleton he plays—a softer take on the ugly sketch incarnation of autograph-hunter Derek Noakes, elevated to holiness by those around him because of his intrinsic kindness. Even characters that never appeared to care too much about Derek were moved to tears when interviewed about him during the last episode, which itself came packaged as a double-whammy of easy emotion: a funeral for one of the residents (whom we barely knew), and the arrival of Derek's estranged father (whom we never knew existed until now).

Saturday, 9 March 2013

COMMUNITY, 4.5 – 'Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations'

I've been reviewing every episode of Community partly because there isn't much else that's demanding my interest just now, but also because the departure of Dan Harmon means it has added interest as a sitcom that's lost its creator. This season has done a good assuring most people the show is still worth watching, and for my money the storylines have been stronger, but it's nowhere near as funny or clever. Some lines are amusing and a few of the ideas are decent, but it never really seems to coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Where Are They Now? The cast of AMERICAN GOTHIC

One of my favourite one-season wonders and supernatural dramas in general was 1995's American Gothic, created by Shaun Cassidy (the singer and star of The Hardy Boys who more recently made Roar and Invasion). The show concerned the fictional town of Trinity in South Carolina, which is in the grip of a dictatorial yet charming Lucas Buck—a Sheriff with supernatural abilities. The show portrayed an ongoing struggle for control of orphan Caleb Temple, the biological son of the demonic Sheriff, with the boy's dead sister Merlyn and cousin Gail trying to prevent him falling under the charismatic Sheriff's spell.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Over at MSN today: I've reviewed the premiere of Chris Chibnall's eight-part drama BROADCHURCH, starring Doctor Who's David Tennant as an out-of-town detective investigating the murder of a young boy in an idyllic coastal community.
The problems facing Broadchurch are obvious and anticipated in this overworked genre. There isn't a fundamentally fresh way of presenting a murder-mystery, which immediately sucked drama out of this opener. If you've seen The Killing's first season (original or remake) you probably felt particular twinges of déjà vu while viewing this new ITV series. Both shows concern detectives investigating a crime in a small town, where a family's torn apart by the death of a child. The key difference is perhaps the weather, as Broadchurch's balmy Dorset is a world away from the relentless rainfall of The Killing's Copenhagen.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Monday, 4 March 2013

BEING HUMAN, 5.5 - 'No Care, All Responsibility'

I haven't felt gripped by series 5 until this penultimate episode from Sarah Dollard, which gave us big events and character-based shock-waves in preparation for the finale. I have some criticisms about how well Being Human's handling its supporting characters this year: like Mr Rook (Steven Robertson), who was suddenly given an adopted daughter called Natasha (Skins' Kathryn Prescott) after an opening flashback of him rescuing her from the aftermath of a vampire attack; and that same character's unconvincing alliance with Captain Hatch (Phil Davis). Was Natasha even mentioned before now, in any subtle way, perhaps during Mr Rook's interrupted suicide bid?

TV Picks: 4-10 March 2013 (Anna & Katy, Broadchurch, The Crash, Parks & Recreation, Russell Brand's Give It Up Gig for Comic Relief, Shetland, etc.)

Below are my picks of the most notable TV shows airing in the UK this week, from new premieres to returning favourites...

Sunday, 3 March 2013


My occasional live-tweeting of bad movies continues with Paul W.S Anderson's zombie sequel RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION, starring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, and zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.


Over at MSN today: I've reviewed the second episode of ANT & DEC'S SATURDAY NIGHT TAKEAWAY, which has been revived on ITV after a four-year hiatus.
In all honesty, I find Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway occasionally wearisome because not all of the features work and unavoidable adverts interrupt the pacing. I often change channels towards the end, once it becomes clear the only thing left is the Win the Ads final game. Yes, it's the segment that does what it says on the tin; it offers a member of the studio audience a chance to win the contents of a commercial break. Nevertheless, after a four-year absence, Takeaway is something of a refreshing volte-face for Saturday TV which is usually swamped with lightweight drama, quizzes, and talent shows. Even during its original run it was something of a throwback to classic shows like Noel's Saturday Roadshow and House Party, which clearly made an impression on a younger Ant & Dec.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Saturday, 2 March 2013


Today over at MSN: I've reviewed Richard Curtis' one-off drama MARY AND MARTHA, starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn as mothers drawn together by tragedies involving malaria...
Mary and Martha is a 90-minute drama (also to be shown on HBO) that Richard Curtis wrote to increase awareness of malaria - a preventable disease that kills millions of children every year. As a figurehead for Comic Relief, Curtis has been involved with such issues for decades now, and this drama feels like a very clever idea. There are people who won't sit down to watch an evening's telethon or buy a Red Nose Day product, but maybe a fictional story tackling a real problem stands a better chance of reaching an untapped audience.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Friday, 1 March 2013

COMMUNITY, 4.4 – 'Alternative History of the German Invasion'

We're four episodes into Community's new season, and my disgruntlement about creator Dan Harmon's absence has dissolved to an extent. These four episodes haven't been brilliant, but they prove the show is still very watchable and the performances likeable. Is it missing a spark of genius that came from Harmon's atypical mind? Undoubtedly. But what remains is a show with a fun cast, trying its best to stay true to the spirit of what's come before. It hasn't been a washout, and in some ways "Alternative History of the German Invasion" was the most rounded episode of the season so far. I still think the Halloween special was the funniest, but the actual plot and theme of this week's half-hour was decent.