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Christmas Angel

A warm hearted surprise of a film
This is an entertaining and undemanding Christmas film that I enjoyed.

With a simple story, a strong cast giving good performances and some nice messages it was a joy to watch.

There are so many of this sort of film knocking around in the run up to Christmas that it's impossible to wade through the chaff to find the wheat, but this one I am happy to report is well worth checking out.

If You Believe

Weak Christmas film
There's a lot to like in this TV movie from 1999, notably an early strong performance from Hayden Panettiere, backed up by the always lovely Tom Amandes, but this 'Scrooge meets The Kid' story is so syrupy sweet that it will not in my opinion rate as a very strong Christmas film.

Its heart and message are in the right place, but this film just didn't grab me.

It is passable enough entertainment if you're stuck for something to watch, but there are much better TV movies you could watch instead this Christmas.

Home Alone 3

A nice attempt, but nothing beats the original
Despite a script from the legendary John Hughes, this third instalment in the 'Home Alone' series suffers from the law of diminishing returns.

Much like the fourth outing that would follow years later, this film tries to replicate the events from the first film, only with a different slant, only for it to plae in comparison to what has gone before.

Alex D Linz does well in the lead role, replacing the now too old Mac Culkin, but he, much like the new team of burglars aren't as good as those in the original.

It was a nice attempt, but I don't think the public were really ever going to truly buy into this film, as the original was so beloved.

Joey: Joey and the Christmas Party
Episode 13, Season 2

A wonderful 'Joey' episode
I disagree with the previous review of this episode - I thought it was great, a really strong episode of this much maligned show.

I loved all the Alex/Joey relationship stuff, and thought it was well written. Yes, it's a bit inconsistent, and Joey's emotions change like the wind, but what redeems it are the performances from Matt LeBlanc and Andrea Anders.

Lots of funny stuff in this episode too, with Michael/Zach and Bobbie all having fun moments. Bobbie having a boyfriend who is crazier than her is just a funny idea in itself, and it's well played out.

It's such a shame that this show was facing the axe at this point, because it just seemed to be sorting itself out, especially when you consider it was only about 12 episodes into its retooled form. The writers were giving the show more depth, and the supporting characters were starting to have more to do. I think in some ways they just ran out of time.

This is where many said goodbye to 'Joey', as the show would be bumped from its Thursday night slot to a graveyard one up against 'American Idol', but if so they at least got to see a really strong episode of the show.

Joey: Joey and the Tijuana Trip
Episode 12, Season 2

Joey goes to Mexico single, and comes back married!
This is another fun episode of the show that features Joey/Zach/Michael heading to Mexico to help the latter get over his girlfriend.

There's lots of funny moments throughout that story, with Joey and Zach getting drunkenly married being a nice parody of Ross and Rachel having a similar experience on 'Friends' when they went to Vegas.

It's nice also that at this stage of the show we had a strong trio of guys, almost reminiscent of what Joey had with Chandler and Ross.

There's lots to like in the Gina/Alex story too, and although the writers had made huge changes to the Alex character from how she was at the start of the series, Andrea Anders managed to keep her feeling real and likeable.

This episode also features a nice dramatic ending too, and this would set the tone for the second half of the series, many episodes of which would never air.

The Christmas Shoes

A blue Christmas indeed
TV movies like this are everywhere this time of year, and this is a fairly downbeat offering starring Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams.

It makes some good points about the importance of family and the true meaning of Christmas, but it just a bit too downbeat for me.

I thought everyone involved gave good performances though.

Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House

Trying to follow the 'Home Alone' formula, and coming up short
Having used a 'Kevin clone' in Home Alone 3, this belated fourth instalment returns to having Kevin as the central focus, this time played by another actor. They also bring back the vast majority of his family, and Marv too, again all played by different actors.

It sets the tone for the whole film really. It's Home Alone by numbers, with all the ingredients being there, but it not quite having the magic of the original, probably because we've seen it all done so much better before.

The replacements aren't bad, they're game for all the slapstick antics that they're given, but tis is a pale imitation for the original.

At least it's got its tongue firmly in cheek though, with a few little jokes about the ridiculousness of the situation, Kevin's age changing, and the best one from the Mum "how many times can I lose this kid".

Decent enough, but watch the original.

Joey: Joey and the High School Friend
Episode 11, Season 2

Adam Goldberg steals this episode from Joey
Michael meets his Dad in this episode of 'Joey', and it's an opportunity for Paulo Costanzo, who has been sidelined since the show was re-tooled at the start of series two, to show was a great performer it is.

This episode also features a stand out performance from Adam Goldberg as Jimmy, Michael's Dad and Joey's high school friend. His performance is great, and it's no surprise that the powers that be were so quick to bring him back in later episodes.

He does steal the episode from Joey, and that's great. There was far too much pressure on Matt LeBlanc throughout this series, and as we've seen before when people like Christina Ricci and Lucy Lu came on, good guest stars and relieve this pressure.

There is another story involving Joey and some 'chocolate milk', but it's very weak in my opinion, and unworthy of the character.

I prefer to look at the positives, and there were a lot to be found in the main storyline.

Joey: Joey and the Bachelor Thanksgiving
Episode 10, Season 2

Great fun
I thought this episode was great, 'Joey' series two had hit a bit of form by this point, but sadly the axe was looming.

Gina wants a traditional family Thanksgiving, Joey wants to go and party at his neighbour, Dean's place.

What's lovely about this episode is that the ensemble cast around Joey all have lots to do, and it's especially nice to see Paulo Costanzo being given more to do as Michael.

Even the 'pottery' B story has lots of laughs in it, and again I liked Miguel A. Núñez Jr. as Zach.

Yes, Joey is in every scene and it's a bit annoying, but I'm sure Ray Romano is in 99% of every 'Raymond' episode, so it's not such a big deal.

I'm enjoying this series as I re-watch it, and thought this episode was one of the best of this second run.

Joey: Joey and the Musical
Episode 9, Season 2

"I will not have my actors taking drugs"
I thought this was a strong episode of the show, and one in particular that highlighted the ever developing Joey and Zach friendship.

He doesn't get a lot of credit for his all too brief time on 'Joey', but I thought Miguel A. Núñez Jr was great here as Zach, having some really funny lines. The story line that sees him and Joey direct a senior citizens musical ran out of steam a bit at the end, but it does have some lovely moments.

I disagree with the previous reviewers comments about the Alex storyline. Again, I thought it was good fun, and well played out by Andrea Anders, as Alex's letter confessing her feelings to Joey gets intercepted.

There was also a lovely scene between Joey and Michael, that reminded us what a great dynamic Matt LeBlanc and Paulo Costanzo had together. It's a shame that Michael got more side-lined in the second series.

Another good episode of this much maligned show.

Love at the Christmas Table

A wonderful Christmas film, that deserves to be more widely seen
There are so many films like this that fill the schedules over Christmas, often very sentimental and featuring some big names from the past in small roles. Brilliantly though this film mocks that completely, and it's qualities like that that made me enjoy it so much.

I thought this film was great. With wonderful central performances, and stellar support from the always lovely Lea Thompson and Scott Patterson, this is a film about love developing over time, the importance of family, and second chances.

There are so many big budget films that claim to be 'modern festive classics', but this smaller budget, rarely seen by the masses film was more thought provoking and entertaining than lots of those put together.

I highly recommend this film.

Joey: Joey and the Sex Tape
Episode 8, Season 2

A look into Joey's past
A sex tape from Joey's past comes back to bite him, and leads to a public apology on Ellen in this episode.

I disagree with the previous review of this episode, I thought it was a good one.

One of the aims of this spin-off was to flesh out the character of Joey, and allow viewers to learn a bit more about his past, and this episode does that. The sight of a younger Joey was pretty funny too.

I like the character of Zach, I think he brings something different to the show, and although it significantly cuts down the Joey/Michael interaction (Michael again is largely side-lined here) the dynamic between him and Joey is fun.

It's nice again to see Gina/Bobbie/Alex in a story together, and although the attempt to humanise Bobbie a little falls flat, there are some nice moments in the story overall.

Another good episode of the show in my opinion.

Joey: Joey and the Poker
Episode 7, Season 2

Joey plays poker in his own way
Alex's attempts to 'teach' Joey poker in order to keep him away from his new female interior designer falls flat when he then goes on a televised celebrity poker event.

That is the main plot of another good episode of the show, that again allows the supporting characters, well, Gina/Zach/Alex to have their moments too.

The Zach/Joey dynamic looked strong here, and it was good to see Joey have a friend to bounce off of.

There was also a lovely scene that Joey wasn't in, and it was nice to see the writers having a bit more confidence in their ability to hold their own at this stage of the shows run. Sadly it wasn't to last.

Drea De Matteo shone again as the now slightly softer Gina, and although her role as 'Alex's person to talk to about Joey' limits her own story opportunities, these scenes are well played.

The only person not to benefit from the new re-tooled 'Joey' at this stage was Michael, whose storyline that sees him lose his virginity feels very thin.

Overall a good episode, with its heart in the right place.

Joey: Joey and the ESL
Episode 6, Season 2

Joey learns english...sort of
Joey wanders into an ESL class whilst following a pretty girl, and ends up loves being the smartest guy in the class. That's the main story in this strong episode, and is easily the funniest story.

I thought Drea De Matteo did well in her storyline too, that sees her trying to snag John Larroquette's character, Lockwood as a client for Bobbie.

With a larger supporting cast by this stage, it was harder for the writers to give everyone their moment, especially as Joey was usually in the main story on his own.

Drea De Matteo fairs best on this occasion (and rightly so), but it does mean that Andrea Anders, Paulo Costanzo (who regularly would lose out) and Miguel A. Núñez, Jr. find themselves with very little to do.

Another good episode though, of a show that seemed to have settled down into its new 're-tooled' format.

Joey: Joey and the House
Episode 5, Season 2

A wonderful episode
Without a doubt this is one of the best episodes of 'Joey', both in series two and the series in general.

Everyone has lots to do, and there's a whole subplot featuring Alex and Bobbie that Joey doesn't feature in at all, and only proves that the writers should have had more faith in the supporting cast, because with the right material they really shine.

Joey buys a new house now he's making a lot of money from the film. It leads to a wonderful scene where Joey and Gina have to pose as a couple, and is quite simply hilarious. It's beautifully played out by Matt LeBlanc and Drea De Matteo.

'Joey' wasn't always the most consistent of shows by this stage, but when you watch great episodes like this you realise what an underappreciated show it was.

Joey: Joey and the Stuntman
Episode 4, Season 2

Good silly fun
Joey gets a stuntman, and treats him poorly, as he spends time learning how to be 'Joey'.

There are some funny moments within that story, but again, Joey is made out to be completely stupid, and a little cruel at times, which the character should never be.

The character of Zach worked well here too, being someone for Joey to talk to onset, and be involved in his misadventures.

The storyline involving Joey getting in the way of Michael's relationship with Abby, the script supervisor was fun too. Matt LeBlanc played these scenes beautifully.

There is a subplot involving Alex as part of the ongoing 'Joey/Alex' love story, but it only serves as proof about how annoying the writers have sadly made this character.

A vast improvement on the last episode, with some funny moments.

Joey: Joey and the Spanking
Episode 3, Season 2

A very weak 'Joey' episode
Oh dear. 'Joey' as a show had so much potential, there are some wonderful epsidoes across both of its two series, but this episode is a mess.

I had such high hopes for it too. Michael Borkow was on 'Friends', he knows the character of Joey. And yet instead we get a weak episode where both plots fall a bit flat.

So, Joey is now a big movie star. That in principle I had no problems with, it opened up the landscape of the show a bit, and enabled the writers to poke a bit of fun at Hollywood.

Joey having to deal with a child star with attitude is also a decent enough story. But it's poorly executed, with lots of seriously weak jokes, many of which again make the character of Joey out to be a complete idiot. Only a nice guest appearance from John Larroquette redeem it slightly.

Although it was nice to see Gina and Alex's friendship develop their storyline wasn't much better, with actually some offensive moments in it along the way. Why they had to alter the Alex character so much is beyond me too. She's changes so much from the start of the series, and even quite a bit from how she was towards the end of series one.

A seriously disappointing episode.

Joey: Joey and the Big Break: Part 2
Episode 2, Season 2

The kid is back
After a chaotic first half of this two parter things settle down, thankfully.

I enjoyed the Joey/Zach dynamic, it was almost reminiscent of Joey/Chandler at times, though the stuff with Kevin Smith was terrible. Why the writers were so keen to make Joey out to be a complete idiot is beyond me, but it certainly didn't benefit the show.

It was nice to see Michael having a bit more to do as well, with Paulo Costanzo on top form, especially when interacting with Matt LeBlanc. Costanzo's part would get scaled back as this series went along, which was a shame.

I thought the scene where Joey bemoans the fact that he has to solve everyone else's problems was quite apt, because for a lot of the first series his role was exactly that.

One of the strengths of this uneven second series is that the Joey/Alex 'will they/won't they?' romance is for the most part well written, and the roof top date along with the sweet scene between Joey and Gina were the highlights of the episode.

A much improved second half to the series two opener.

Joey: Joey and the Big Break: Part 1
Episode 1, Season 2

A mixed start to the second series
With ratings lower than NBC thought they should be, and the critics bashing the show (often unfairly) the powers that be pushed the panic button on 'Joey', sending it into a hasty retooling that saw the character of Zach be added as a friend for Joey, Bobbie playing more of an active role, and Joey leave 'Deep Powder'.

Throw in the need to deal with the fallout from the series 1 finale involving Alex and Joey and it makes for a packed first episode back, not all of which works successfully.

It was nice to see Gina starting to work for Bobbie, and I agree with the previous reviewer that this lent itself to a lot of comedic possibilities.

All the Joey/Alex stuff was played and written well, but the less said about the scenes regarding his career the better. It's very difficult to root for Joey as a character when every time he gets a lucky break he stuffs it up. They really did make him out to be the dimmest man on the planet here, and it's unworthy of the character.

A mixed start to series 2.

Jingle All the Way

A Christmas dud
Your enjoyment of this film will more than likely come down to three things:

1) Whether you think Arnie can do comedy. 2) Whether you find Sinbad funny. 3) Whether you think comedy violence is funny.

If your answer to those three questions is yes then I'm sure you'll love this Christmas film.

For me though it was a decent idea stretched to breaking point, with lots of silly scenes, almost sketches, pieced together.

Arnie does his best, but the constant need to turn this seemingly nice guy into a violent one for no real reason was silly.

Phil Hartman has all the best lines here, and sadly I didn't find Sinbad remotely funny, which is a shame because I've liked him elsewhere.

It's an acceptable enough Christmas film, but you'd really have to be in the festive mood.

Joey: Joey and the Moving In
Episode 24, Season 1

"What did you do that for?"
So, here we go, the series one finale of the first series of 'Joey'. Serious re-tooling would occur between this and the second series in an attempt to get the critics off the shows back, and win back adueinces, so this is actually the last episode of the show in its first incarnation.

It has loads going on in it too, from a sad end to the Joey/Sara relationship, which is beautifully played by Matt Le Blanc, to more comedic moments involving Michael and Bobbie.

I loved the face off between Gina and Bobbie, with the writers (creators Shana Goldberg Meehan and Scott Silveri) teasing us with what an awesome pairing they could be.

The ending was perhaps a little predictable, but I think we could see it coming.

Overall 'Joey' series one has been far more consistent and better quality than people give it credit for. This episode shows the potential it truly had.

Joey: Joey and the Break-up
Episode 23, Season 1

"My brother works at Newsweek"
I really enjoyed the Joey/Sara relationship, and her being tempted by a job in DC added some drama to this storyline. I think you can see the confidence of the writers in the show at this point (before the critics tore it apart and they went into a panic re-tooling) in the fact that they were writing more drama into the show.

This episode actually has about three scenes without Joey in, and is all the better for it, as we are reminded just how good Drea De Matteo and Paulo Costanzo are in their respective roles. The storyline involving Michael having an older girlfriend was great. The only way we were going to get to know their characters more was if they had the opportunities.

The confidence is again shown by the fact that the powers that be felt comfortable enough to have more little references to 'Friends', such as Hugsie and the recliner, as well as a reference to the love triangle between Joey/Rachel/Ross from series 8. It's such a shame this confidence didn't seem to last.

There's a lot to like in this episode.

Joey: Joey and the Temptation
Episode 22, Season 1

"This may not have been my best performance"
This isn't one of my favourite episodes of the show, and although there is some fun to be had in the story line involving Joey trying to avoid the advances of Carmen Electra now he's in a committed relationship, there are just too many examples of weak writing for me to be positive about it.

For once the character of Michael is poorly written, changing allegiances from Sara to Carmen at the drop of a hat, and the joke about Joey missing Christmas for the last four years is a load of rubbish because not too long ago we had a whole Christmas themed episode. As I've said in other reviews, I think sometimes the writers went for an easy joke at the expense of the character of Joey.

On a positive note I did enjoy the Alex/Gina dynamic, and it's nice how their friendship has built over time. The mafia jokes weren't funny though.

A weaker episode of the show overall sadly.

Joey: Joey and the Spying
Episode 21, Season 1

"One more person in Bishkadu"
'Friends' regularly told up to three stories per episode, so it is nice to see 'Joey' trying to go down a similar route. If anything it improves the show, allowing the supporting characters to have more to do.

I think the powers that be made a huge mistake getting rid of Glen. The character provided Gina with storylines, and gave Joey someone to bounce off of, so I think it was a loss to the show that he left.

The Alex storyline was well played out, and moved the often inconsistent character on. Andrea Anders adapted well to her characters changes throughout the first series, and was funny here.

I disagree with the previous review of this episode because I really liked the Joey/Sara relationship, feeling that she was more than a match for him in many ways.

This episode also has a nice emotional level to it, and I think this was perhaps one of the strongest episodes of the show for Joey as a character.

Up the Women: Panto
Episode 6, Season 2

Panto time for the suffragettes
A Christmas themed episode of the show that oddly aired in February. Perhaps the BBC knew at this point that it wouldn't be continuing with the show beyond its second series.

All that is wonderful about this sitcom shines through in this episode, from the wonderful comedic characters, to the quick exchange of dialogue. However you do wish sometimes that Margaret (played by creator and writer, Jessica Hynes) would come down off of her high horse and get involved in the fun, rather than be just a straight character to the far more funny ones around her.

This was a decent episode though, and it's a shame it was the last of the show ever.

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