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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Just when I thought I couldn't love "The Newsroom" any more.... Two great actresses strutting their stuff

Just when I thought I couldn't love "The Newsroom" any more ... you get Episode 7, "Red Team III".
Two awesome actresses chewing up the scenery - Marcia Gay Harden playing the take-no-prisoners legal eagle, Rebecca, and Jane Fonda as media boss, Leona, wearing a kickass cocktail dress, pissed off (and a little pissed) because she missed out on Daniel Craig.
Calling Mac "Twiggy" and telling Charlie, Will and "Mc Mac": "You will resign when I fire you out of petty malice and not before!"
Adam Sorkin, rant maestro.
Fonda's last line in the episode will have you cheering.

Monday, 26 August 2013

What to do when your favourite TV series finish...

Having withdrawal symptoms, now my favourite TV series have finished their seasons. Have to wait until 2014 for new seasons of "Banshee", "Orphan Black", "Da Vinci's Demons", "Elementary", "House of Cards" and the French "Les Revenants".
At least I still have "The Newsroom", but not for long.
Consolation: "Boardwalk Empire" starts this month.
Going to turn to a good book in the hammock, now Melbourne's Spring is here.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Can "Orphan Black" get any better?

How can you top the chop-the-tail-off-the-human scene in Episode 7? (Why would you want a tail, anyway? When would you get the chance to wag it? Kinky, Olivier)
Can this show get any better?
  • Tatiana Maslany's tour de force performances - streetwise Sarah, manic but loyal Alison, intellectual hipster Cosima, "pro-clone" Rachel, tortured spoon-sucking psycho Helena .....
  • The imaginative art direction, photography
  • Cool, atmospheric musical score.
  • The crap-I-didn't-see-that-one-coming plot twists.
  • Stalwart hustler Felix (Jordan Gavaris) playing every woman's dream camp friend. Seeing him have to dress "suburban" to visit Alison was a hoot.
  • Maria ("The Tudors", "Dexter") Doyle Kennedy's passionate, gutsy foster mum with a secret.
  • sinister Dr Leekie (Matt Frewer, I remember him from eighties cult TV "Max Headroom")
How can Season 2 top this? Or just maintain the quality?
Best guilty pleasure TV series of 2013?

PS Hope Tatiana's agent negotiated appropriate salary for her multiple roles.

Friday, 23 August 2013

"Time After Time" (1979 film) When H.G. Wells Meets Jack the Ripper

Don't you love 'time travel' movies?
What about the meeting of two famous or fictional characters? Take Nicholas Meyer's "The Seven Per Cent Solution" (1976) when Sherlock Holmes meets Sigmund Freud? How about a film that combines the two ideas?

Three years later Nicholas Meyer (mainly known for directing 3 early "Star Trek" films) made "Time After Time". Sci fi author H.G.Wells follows Jack the Ripper to present day San Francisco. This movie is delicious fun.
The time machine looks quite different to George Pal's 1960 version of "The Time Machine". Looks more like a helicopter cabin. The special effects reflect the meagre budget. Apparently director Meyer insisted on veteran Miklos Rozsa to compose the musical score. it's very overwrought and 40's syrupy but beautiful to listen to. The disco scenes in San Francisco, with lots of vile suits and polyester shorts are quite jarring, but I'm quibbling.
Meyer originally wanted Derek Jacobi as H. G. and Mick Jagger as Jack. Wow. A shame.
They settled on Malcolm McDowell as Wells and David Warner for the ripper, who was later typecast as baddies in fantasy films - "Tron" (1982), "The Golden Child" (1986).
Mary Steenburgen is great at H.G.'s love interest. She is sort of channelling Cyndi Lauper - Queens accent - but still cute as a button. McDowell and Steenburgen met on set and were married from 1980-1990.
The final explanation of H.G.'s real fate and personal life is quite touching (no spoilers from me here).
Update: Nicholas Meyer wrote the biopic two parter "Houdini" for The History Channel in 2014. Adrien Brody came out of this cheesy opus unscathed.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The best episode of "Ray Donovan" so far, "Bridget" Episode 8 review

Ann Biderman wrote this beautifully structured episode. A lot to like this week - revolving around the brothers' yearly toasting ceremony for Bridget's birthday. Loved:

  • Lesbian Lena (Katherine Moennig, from "The L Word", is she being typecast?) getting love advice from Ray's Israeli henchman, Avi.
  • Mickey (Jon Voight) asking Rosanna Arquette (David's sis, remember her?) whether she would twerk for him.
  • The piercing episode with young Bridget (as a parent of a teenage daughter, I can empathise)
  • Learning a new way to negotiate price with a real estate agent (using a tazer)
  • Bridget and dad ending the ep with a cuddle and a singalong.
More please (oh and some more James Woods, also).


Monday, 19 August 2013

Why "Big School" was a big disappointment, BBC1, Episodes 1-4 review

I expected this to be great. Look at the cast, the premise, the writers. It was puerile, predictable and dull. Got a laugh with the principal (Frances de la Tour - last seen in the dreadful "Vicious") taking home the confiscated booze. As an retired teacher I thought I'd get a few more giggles. The opening bit with the David Walliams' spectacular science experiment - would a teacher sequence a lesson like that? I know this is a comedy, but it put me off to start with. Ogling and groping Catherine Tate and talk of erections, silly old duffers going to the toilet in the wrong place .... please... thought I was watching Benny Hill.
Hope later episodes improve.
UPDATE
Have now watched episodes 2-4. Still pretty awful. Frances de la Tour came out of it unscathed - had the best lines. Talent show had its moments - David Walliams' flute business.
David Arnold opening theme music - classy, as always. Episode 3 - more broad humour and one dimensional characters. The drugs theme was tired. Perhaps if more of the characters were vaguely likable, it might help.
The intro scene with Pat, the lab assistant, was "Little Britain" territory. Catherine Tate has not a lot to do,   with lines like,"Thank you for not fingering me." Oo-er, nurse.
The Principal having a joint in her office....lame. Luke, the pretentious Music teacher, reminds me of Mr G. from "Summer Heights High"
Episode 4 - the school play/Maasai warrior script was the pits. An embarrassment, had to look away at times, it was so cringe-worthy. The tossing off/overcoat reference by Walliams/Mr Church was a new low. Why am I still watching this dross? Going by the preview of Episode 5 (more dick jokes), I'm not bothering to watch anymore. This crap has been sold to Australian commercial television. It won't rate. Imagine this dross with edited to fit into a 30 minutes block (including 9 minutes of advertisements).
Just watched "Bad Education" (Series 2, first ep). Also terrible. A shame, as I like Jack Whitehall's work. Best thing was seeing the actor who played Kylie in "Beautiful People" again.

If you want to see a funny show about high schools - Chris Lilley's "Summer Heights High".
Bring back "Please Sir!" (1970). Or even U.S. remake: "Welcome Back, Kotter"

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

"Count Arthur Strong" BBC2 Episode 6 "The Seance" series final review

The series final was big on heart rather than laughs. A nice gag in the opening scene with Katya's stalled coffin. Arthur's line at the seance: "My mother was an extra large medium" and smooching in the dark with Michael and the lovely Sinem (Zahra Ahmadi) made me smile.
Katya's leg send off was a nice touch.
Michael's parting gift to Arthur with its poignant book dedication (which scored an honest reaction from the live, NOT 'canned' audience) rounded off this sweet little series.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Five cool things about "Ray Donovan" Episode 7 "New Birthday"

1. The recreation of the 90's action movie.
2. The stark Boston graveyard scene, little white dog tramping through the snow.
3. Ray meeting James Woods (Sully) in the chapel.
4. The boozy girls' lunch ("Ruth has a dick!") ending with a spot of impromptu Rodeo Drive shoplifting.
5. In the beauty parlour, Sully's mom (100 year old actress, Connie Sawyer) telling Ray to go f**k himself.

This show is getting better with each episode as Ray's past is slowly unravelling. Liked Lesli Linka Glatter's direction this week. She has directed "The Newsroom" episodes in both seasons.

Tony Abbott, obviously an Austin Powers fan

Yes, Australia's next likely PM is a "suppository of all wisdom". Not since Doctor Evil's "Preparation H" line have I laughed so much. Mr Abbott was a Rhodes Scholar?! As Scott Evil would say, "What an A-hole!"

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

"Count Arthur Strong" BBC2 "Doctor Two" Episode 5 review

Never work with animals or Count Arthur Strong.
A mixed bag, this time. A slow start. Some nice business with dog walking, "The Human League Convention" and monkey's bottoms. Michael (Rory Kinnear) under anaesthetic was riotous. Also liked the police sketch artist, "It's out of my expertise, I'M AFRAID!" and the Arthur (as doctor) montage. Things took a sharp right turn into pathos with Katya (Ruth Posner) and her "shadow of death" in the last few minutes.
Graham Linehan just got away with it in the final scene - lolly pops in the taxi. A brave, well structured balancing act.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Why I enjoyed "Ray Donovan" more than "Dexter"

By Episode 6 of "Ray Donovan" I was won over, after a few patchy earlier eps. My reasons:
  • Some great Bunchy scenes this week. Dash Mihok is a great actor - to upstage Jon Voight takes something.
  • Elliott Gould in a hospital johnny showing his tush on the L.A. streets
  • The acid scenes with OCD, "Star Wars" figurine-loving FBI Agent Miller were inspirational
  • The 5 star hotel sperm bank. Puts a whole new meaning to 'room service'. 
  • Lampshade obscuring the guy's junk in said hotel room. A tribute to Austin Powers' lampshade/naughty bits schtick?
  • Introducing James Woods in the final scene. Good move, Showtime.
The final season of "Dexter" was all over the shop. I've stuck with him for eight seasons. Bringing the serial poisoner back into the mix was silly. Dr Vogel became a bore as was ghost dad.
The final episode of "Dexter" was a change in tone and helped to redeem the series. The scenes on the Dexter's boat, heading into the storm were haunting and surreal. The mute, numb lumberjack .... who saw that one coming? I have my doubts about Harrison in Buenos Aires, though. That kid has been pushed from pillar to post ... must be a resilient little tacker.

Whereas "Ray Donovan" Series 1 has been consistently engrossing as well as good fun.

Episode 10, "Fite Night", was dynamite. In Episode 11, the scene in the gym with Ray and the priest knocked my socks off.  The look on Abby's face when she sees the priest said it all. I also liked Conor playing video games with Avi, the ex-Mossad agent.
This series went from strength to strength.
Episode 12, a totally satisfying conclusion to Series 1. The marina shootout was stunning. Final scene on the beach with Ray's family, a delight. What a coup getting Michael Apted (master documentary director - "7 Up" series) to film the final episode.
Series 2 has much to live up to.
Apology: this is the crappiest post I have written, jumbled and haphazard. Written too late at night.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

ABC3 Kids Television

Quality kids television (aimed at the 8 year+ age group) that blitzes the cable alternative (Nick/Disney) on Australian TV ... and it's FREE.
Friday night has amazing anime (albeit English dubbed). Witty, well produced British kids shows (far superior to Nickelodeon pap). Plus new episodes of the Australian produced "Nowhere Boys", U.K.'s "Horrible Histories" and repeats of the sublime "Outnumbered".
BUT, NO ONE WATCHES IT. Last night's ratings were 0.5% viewers.
Go figure. I am assuming the shows do better in the overseas market.