clotblaster

IMDb member since December 2004
    Lifetime Total
    50+
    IMDb Member
    14 years

Reviews

Hack
(2002)

David Morse Overrated and show's writing, direction and acting was mediocre
I watched 11 complete episodes before bailing. This show was the personification of a mediocre cliché. David Morse is a grating, very average actor who must have friends in high places. People who like the show got 40 episodes of this catastrophe. It should have died much sooner--much,much sooner. Viewers like this show simply because it is like most other police shows on t.v. It lacked authentic propulsion and moving the action along in a failed attempt to create a credible plot was comic. The dialogue was also a personified cliché or it was just plain boring. Poorly written, poorly acted, Hack should have been hacksawed before it made it to the screen

State of Play
(2003)

The t..v. version of State of Play still too short and moves too fast
Although far superior to virtually all t.v. productions, it still subs speed for character development, themes, and a more fuller and less fast-moving unfolding of the story. There is an obvious attempt to replicate the newsroom hustle-bustle of a newspaper, but this effort sacrifices depth for a heavy amount of superficial handling of important themes. Also, for me, the effort to lionize the news media is a non-starter. Sure, there are some negatives about reporting and the press room, but the editor is far too soft and mushy. I understand Michael Kitchen was offered the role of editor, but declined. Imagine him playing the editor-NOT tall, blonde and handsome. Gritty depiction of reality is also impeded by the very average acting of Stephen Collins, a key role. I found his wife too beautiful for the part, but that's a personal, somewhat subjective opinion. The lead role of Cal is handled effectively, and Kelly Macdonald is a big plus for the film. All in all, this is entertaining and somewhat thought-provoking.

L'heure d'été
(2008)

Summer Hours Tedious and so slow
I love Juliette Binoche's acting, but she can't save a film from its self-destructive implosion. French viewers and critics (non-French Franco-philes) too often use the crutch of contrasting negatively American films with French films. French films have depth and great acting ad nauseam. I have seen many, many French films over the years and even the best (I read reviews before viewing them) are usually just above average, same as America or British films. Ironically, one of Binoche's best performances is in the American film, Dan in Real Life. She is also quite good in the adventure film The Horseman on the Roof, a very, very good film. Anyway, Summer Hours has a Bergman feel, but none of his story telling ability and very little of the performances he elicits from actors and actresses. Not a winning film.

Luck
(2011)

Entertaining and enticing if you like horses or horse racing
Simply put, in one respect Luck is excellent, apart from plots and characters, because it gives entry to the world of horses and horse racing. I have learned a lot about the these subjects. Regarding the characters, they are a varied lot, in terms of acting ability and the personality/actions of the fictional characters.

Nick Nolte is marvelous as a curmudgeonly trainer, while the semi-low life gambler characters who hang out at a tawdry motel are also very well etched and well acted. Dustin Hoffman uses retro method acting techniques in his performance, which often doesn't work for me. I can't get past the immediate impression that Hoffman's acting is just that: Hoffman acting. He strains my credulity most of the time. I don't find him real as a character.

Overall, the show is entertaining, but lacks thematic depth (which isn't necessary in a t.v show, but it helps). The theme of the evils of obsessive gambling as reflected in the performance of the young card player fails to move me. For me , the theme of obsessive gambling and the destruction it wreaks has been done a lot in books, t.v. shows and movies. Perhaps I would be more positive about this plot-line if I didn't find the whole concept to be a cliché, a very negative one.

When the show focuses on Nolte and the horses, it is top-notch. Also, the low-life track obsessives have a certain aura or charisma. As stated above, I don't find Hoffman's character or performance convincing. I understand the motive behind having him as character (very clever, sinister, an upper-echelon criminal and also humorous at times) but his plot thread is weak. It doesn't keep up with the others.

Wire in the Blood
(2002)

Vivid, believable shows with a charismatic psychologist solving intriguing crimes
Wire in the Blood, is first of all a showcase for the excellent acting skills of the charismatic Robson Green. For a mystery/suspense,thriller this show easily surpasses virtually all shows in the genre. The shows all involve murder and this is the focus of the plots. The plots, moreover, are taut and well-written. The setting and actors are British. For non-British viewers the British actors provide something faintly exotic and alluring, which works fine to subtly draw the viewer into the action of this suspense show. It is our not insignificant loss that more shows weren't filmed

The acting overall is fine; Green's outstanding acting seemingly makes all of his fellow actors elevate their performances. The stories are quite compelling, but the real interest is in the way Green solves the murders, using his training as a psychologist who teaches at a university and in at least one episode is seen acting as a therapist. His credentials are present just to make him initially credible. He has the intelligence, training, and experience to solve complex crimes.

For a t.v. show, there an unusually high level of tension and suspense, often only seen in movies. All in all, this show rewards close viewing, while the violent/gruesome scenes are few, they are minimally sanitized, and are contextually justified. In fact the reality of violence and destructive sexuality reflect quite accurately what homicide detectives see in the real world on a regular basis. This is a show about evil--so don't expect extenuating circumstances, except for brief views in some of the shows of the past of the criminals, usually childhood, that help explain why they commit their heinous crimes.

Kingdom
(2007)

Somewhat quirky comedy that makes you feel good about life
Stephen Fry, playing an attorney with a young, eager-beaver legal intern, lives and works in a small seaside town somewhere in England. The show has wit and charm--also, it delivers thematically with usually understated or just matter of fact truths about life. Fry is truly great in this role, where he is asked to be the man everyone likes and to whom they turn to solve their problems, legal and otherwise. His character's sister is over the top with obvious, but not major, psych problems. But she makes a great contrast to the almost always unflappable Fry. A special mention should go to the actress who plays Fry's secretary/receptionist. She helps to make the show seem real by being a good person whose presence helps Fry to solve the problems of the various denizens of this village. At 18 episodes, the show is incomplete---the final episode does not in any way wrap up the show or give a sense of an ending. Three good reasons why show stopped: cancelled--Brit t.v. is notorious for cancelling popular shows (did it with Foyle's War and outcry was so great that it was brought back for a few more shows); Fry is a millionaire who may have decided that he'd had enough; the episodes had covered a lot of ground in terms of what it's like to live in a small village with quirky characters and situations. Anyway, with all he junk on t.v., it is truly too bad that a quality show only gets 18 episodes. I believe that with a bit of creativity many more stories could have been engendered and not have been repetitive or boring.

Cadfael
(1994)

Jacobi Makes A Very Difficult Premise Work.
Derek Jacobi, recently knighted, is on the short list of great Brit actors, if the Brits are doing the ranking. Virtually unknown over here because of his lack of movie roles and t.v. appearances, he takes firmly hold of his role as Cadfael, the medievel, detective/herbalist monk. The 75 minute shows, set in the middle ages (late middle ages probably because of crusades backstory for Cadfael and the show itself) are just long enough to develop character of the main roles, tell the story, explore a theme or two, focus on CAdfael's bumbling, at times,attempt to stay true to his orders as a monk, and remind the audience that good and evil are sustaining characteristics of so many people throughout all times. Although somewhat subtle, this show owes much to the Medieval morality plays (short plays illustrating different human and divine virtues and vices) there is no hemming and hawing about the presence of evil that infects Cadfael's monastery and surrounding area--mostly woods and in the background the great (fictional I believe)Shrewsbury Castle looming over the landscape of the shows. There is a civil war going on between Empress Maud and King Stephen for control of much of England (fictional characters). Many of the plots involve characters' allegiances, at least as jumping off points. The monastery and its surrounding lands (supposedly quite vast) are up for grabs for the monarchs, though Cadfael's monastery is part of the land of one of the monarchs (or at least claimed by one of the monarchs) at the time of the show--Empress Maud is the putative ruler of the abby, BUT CAdfael's monastery and lands are technically neutral and this neutrality is another premise that motivates the characters and their actions. A show about a detective/monk in the middle ages is not immediately appealing to most people. Many people give Jacobi all the credit for making the show work, or at least marketable. However, the recurring characters (three or four monks) are fleshed out nicely and permit the show an easy way to illustrate the the contrasts of good and evil--two of the monks (second and third in command) are lubricious, sneaky, rather creepy, but also ambiguous, characters who belie their Christian vows ubiquitously. They look for bad in people and do nothing to nurture the good in their brother monks and other people in the show. I am very sensitive to 20/21st secular animosity towards devout Christians (Southern born agains are the devil for most Hollywood filmmakers). This show comes close to being too strenuous in its depiction of the evil, in the monks and thus in Christianity, but the handling of religious wickedness works because most of the very human evil in a couple of the monks is manifested more in their thoughts and beliefs, not their actions. In any event, Jacobi is magnificent in this underplayed role. The role could easily be consumed by his bumbling, but Jacobi keeps the role "real" and not a caricature. This is a great show of 12 or 13 compelling episodes, whose excellence is proved by the fact that multiple viewings of individual episodes yield rich rewards and the show maintains its thematic, character and plot potency from viewing to viewing.

Traffik
(1989)

Comprehensive, compelling depiction of Drug Trade and its effect on three cogs in the wheel of drug trafficking
Bill Pullman, one of Britain's seemingly endless great actors, stars in this 6 hour mini-series that covers the growers, the distributors and the users. Unlike the American 2hour+ t.v. version, this British version show why the drug trade will never be reduced, much less crushed. Like so many people who don't wake up to the realities of life until they are hit over the head with a very heavy, inherently lethal 4 by 4, both in the very real sense and metaphorically (analogically is perhaps the right word.). Pullman plays an anti-drug, idealistic, left-wing crusader m.p. who believes, really believes and dreams that the government can crush the illegal drug trade that harms so many. Of course this is an exaggeration and a major league delusion. Pain drugs, legal or illegal, make people feel good, along with mitigating their pain. Why he never considers that this war against drug use is a pipe dream and people will not stop using drugs because one, drugs ease pain and two, drugs make people feel good. And those, like myself, who have done a lot of research on pain medication realize that adults should be allowed to use drugs to feel good and shouldn't have to lie about why they want drugs. Government has been silent--waiting for the silent scream-

Lie to Me
(2009)

Entertaining, if you want to give your mind a rest
Modestly entertaining, but as with so many contemporary crime shows there just has to be a distracting, hard-to-believe gimmick. Unlike House, to which a reviewer alluded, the protagonist has a "special gift" that makes it easy for him to solve crimes. Yes, I said easy and I mean it. Not that House is free of an unbelievable gimmick--that being his knowing everything about medicine and his infinite knowledge springs into action when it is time to solve the medical problem. However, in House, there is just a glimmer of credibility and truth that his genius intelligence and remarkable intuition can solve medical mysteries. In the 8 episodes of Lie to Me that I endured, I hoped for improvement. Nada improvement. Lie to Me's premise is simply a subset of the supernatural. Many people want to believe that there are special powers that enable some people to solve crimes and do other wonderful things. Boring show.

Jonathan Creek
(1997)

Highly Entertaining with Almost Uniformly Excellent Stories
This show is simply superb and Jonathan Creek, the character and the show, is a very special creation. In spite of the grating quality of all the female sidekicks who accompany him--actually I have figured out that the female sidekicks are intentionally made to be "fingernails on the chalkboard" scratchy and off-putting, but it took me awhile to buy into the creator's intention to have Creek's laid back character contrast with the magician and also contrast/conflict with the females. Someone praised Julia Swahala effusively, but she is just serviceable and appropriately obnoxious--nothing special. To actually see her in a good role, you might view some episodes of Lark Rise to Candleford, in which she acts the character wonderfully. I found most of the shows to be entertaining and Alan Davies as the lead is great. Most non-recurring actors are also good in their roles. All in all, this is a very watchable show. Highly recommended.

Murder Most English: A Flaxborough Chronicle
(1977)

Wonderful British "dramedy" with a Very Special Flavor
I could pretend I don't understand the bad and average reviews of this brief t.v. series, but actually I do. Murder Most English is not fast-paced, the characters are not heavy-hitting, and the show does not fit into the mindset of too many viewers that have been raised on shows, such as NCIS,Law and Order etc. The Wire is an exception to the bogus quality of most "edgy" films, but most dark and edgy films are over-baked and lack any depth, not to mention any subtlety or truly intriguing characters and plots.

This show has a wonderful tone and the characters are understated and beautifully depicted. It is not fast-moving or "Edgy" (If I read this overused word again in a review or comment on a film or t.v. show, I will regurgitate once again.). This show is dry and witty. The chief detective is marvelously acted and the antic character played by Christopher Timothy (know almost exclusively for his All Creatures Great and Small veterinarian character) is also wonderful. The characters are highly individualized and the stories are playful, yet there is a distinct undertow of suspense and eeriness that strikes me as coming off just right. I am so unhappy that there were so few stories to watch. However, watch these films for the highly creative way that Colin Watson wrote them and do not expect to see Psycho or The Silence of the Lambs or the thousands of their rip-offs or imitations.

Homeland
(2011)

After two Episodes Homeland shows promise: Can show use Lewis effectively?
Damian Lewis is a strong candidate for best male actor in English speaking countries today. If you've not seen him in Life, you are missing not just consistently excellent performances by him, but also a great show that was stupidly cancelled after only two seasons. In Homeland he is playing a totally different character and though it looks easy to some, his character calls for emotionally repressed, possibly anguished man and it's very hard to bury emotions, whether as an act or as real.

I've only seen the first two episodes, but that's all that have come out so far. I think and hope this show will evolve in a dramatically compelling direction and that it doesn't waste the incredible talent of Mr. Lewis. I recommend this show, broadcast on Showtime without commercials and all episodes available as they come out on In Demand, at least from my cable company. I have given 8 because they're are some plausibility problems, but like much in fiction, cinema or book, the viewer/reader must suspend his sense of disbelief and take the reality of the show as it presents itself. I see problems with too much unreality as the show progresses, but the writers and producers seem to set on verisimilitude, not far-out, over-the-top versions of the so-called real world.

Life
(2007)

Damian Lewis is Given great, but difficult role, and he performs brilliantly and effortlessly
Damian Lewis is given a quirky, but believable, character (yes, we have another cop role, but this one is worth it) to play and he more than does it justice--which is more than can be said for whoever axed this show after two seasons (unless Lewis only signed on for this number of episodes). Anyway, the premise seems unoriginal, but actually isn't. The classic tale of a man falsely accused and imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit is a bit of a cliché, but there is true originality in what and how the protagonist does when "justice" is done and he is released from prison.

The continuing story line is a good one, but the creators/writers couldn't commit to it, so the episodes focus too much on the crime that is limited to one episode. MOving forward in a continuing t.v. series on two or more planes is doable--it's what makes good t.v. superior to good movies. However, in the case of this entertaining series there is a problem in that the one episode plot arc being not written consistently well--about one-third of the shows are good; one-third okay; a third of the episodes are mediocre. But Lewis is great in all thirds of this show. What a truly marvelous actor! The other performers are merely all right, especially his first partner, a gorgeous, stunning woman who is mesmerizing eye candy, but this viewer is captivated by her almost perfect good looks and certainly not by her acting. The female boss in the first season is good and for whatever reason is dropped in the second. She created tension that seemed genuine.

The male boss who takes over becomes actively involved in solving crimes with Lewis and his femme fatale partner (sometimes looks really do kill--in this instance her looks kill any credibility her character could possibly have) The new male boss is given far too much air time and once again a t.v. series is marred by making changes that shouldn't be made. Lewis gets new partner for most of the second season, a change that could have worked, but doesn't because the writers/producers couldn't figure out what personality she is supposed to have, what her relation to Lewis should be and what to do with an attractive woman (Lewis's two partners are both lookers, how non-coincidental) who like most others in the film is just another average actor--she seems a politically correct add-on.

Finally, Lewis's great performances, consistently great from episode to episode, make others around him seem to be better actors than they are, which is a positive (something Paul Newman was usually able to do) while at the same time there is a major negative: he should have even more screen time.

An exception to the extreme averageness of most actors, is Lewis's accountant and friend who performs his role very well. The continuing plot is interesting and when the run of the show ended, there certainly was room for more continuing plots. Sadly, another good show dropped by a network before its time (See especially The Unusuals, another cop show cruelly cancelled despite its extremely high quality).

A Nero Wolfe Mystery
(2001)

Classy, Witty show with lots of Charisma
This show lasted two seasons and is a blessing for intelligent viewers with a taste for sophistication; solid, if thin, plots; great settings; high production values on a not so high budget; excellent jazzy recreation of early 1950's; and extremely good acting. The t.v episodes are consistently good because they are based on the actual Nero Wolfe novels and stories by Rex Stout.

That said, an obvious weakness in this show is the fact that the t.v. shows lose a lot, too much at times, when an entire novel is reduced to 47 minutes. So if you are interested in complete plots with twists and turns and a level of complexity this show could disappoint you. Even the 90 minute double episode shows suffer because of the necessary dilution of a novel to such a short time.

So why watch? Well, Timothy Hutton as Archie, Wolfe's sidekick (a bigger role on t.v. than in the novels), is given the main role and his performance sparkles. The non-recurring characters (played by a repertory cast) are generally good and often are very interesting. Wolfe's bloated ego, justified in the books, seems a bit out of place and silly, rather than comic and satirical, in the t.v. episodes. Meaning he doesn't seem to earn the applause thrown at him by his clients, the inspector and Archie.

But this show is not about "reality" but about having a jaunty good time, laughing along with Archie and Wolfe. Since most t.v. viewers prefer fast-paced nonsense, exemplified by NCIS, it is a true miracle that this thinking-man's show made it to the air. Hutton's character, Wolfe's charming bluster and Hutton's own pushing for the show (He is listed as a producer and directs some of the episodes) probably are responsible for this show being aired. A very entertaining and "slick" show, pulsating with the "joy of life."

Upstairs Downstairs
(2010)

Acting generally mediocre, Keeley Hawes is an exception
The real problem with the three episodes that were aired and I viewed is the fact that there was uncertainty about whether there would actually be more than 3 episodes. This three episode alleged season had to be produced assuming that there would be more than just three episodes of this sequel to Up/Down. Hence, things were rushed, the show seemed incoherent much of the time, and there was some uncertainty about how to develop plot lines and characters. This might excuse some of the problems with the first 3 episodes. That being said, I thought the show was weak--it only came alive when K. Hawes was on the screen, a flaming firework in a cast of mostly duds. Ms. Hawes has charisma and subtlety-- e.g.,in a rather dull role as a pathologist in the first Murdoch Mystery series (she appeared in two of the three episodes in this truncated series), she played her part as it was written and her obvious sensuality was kept under wraps. Still, she performed admirably. In Up/D she shows great promise. The Indian character was forced, unrealistic and was undoubtedly part of the show for diversity's sake. This show has been compared to Downton Abby. I thought D. Abby was boring with a script that would trip up Olivier. The new Up/Down, if it continues (I understand that only six more episodes have been ordered--which is hardly reassuring)seems to me to show little promise. The first Up/Down is iconic and was on for many episodes and those who compare the new version to the old are being unfair. As it stands, I would suggest watching or re-watching The Duchess of Duke Street, The Pallisers, The House of Eliot and Bramwell for quality, period multi-episode shows. There are others of course. For the record, the first Upstairs Downstairs has always been overrated. I just finished watching three seasons and I was underwhelmed to the max.

Red Eye
(2007)

Satire and Politically Incorrect--gorgeous female guests
I have been watching since approximately April 2010. It is an hilarious show, most of the time, hosted by Greg Gutfield (witty and quick-witted) Though to be fair some shows are much better than others--often due to topics (usually news of the day topics), interaction of guests and the selection of guests themselves. Variety of guests is impressive: Pat Cadell, Hucakabee (3 times). Bill Kristol--once I believe and other very serious types. Show has Ann Coulter as regular guest.

Comedians make up a lot of guests, usually at least one a night. Comedians Jim Norton and Amy Schumer(sp?) are outstanding, while some are inconsistent. Frequent guest comedy guy Paul Mercurio should be dispensed with. Must be friend of Greg's because he's ruined more shows with his often witless humor and his monopolizing of banter. Bill Schultz moderate liberal is Greg's "repulsive sidekick" and is regular on show along with T.V's Andy Levy--both are consistently funny and often insightful. Gutfield himself has ego problems--since I started watching 9 months ago,(I watch every day), Greg has increased his air time significantly. For ex., he used to let Levy just do his hilarious "half-time report" with minimal intrusion. Now he is part of every report. He also has increasingly interrupted guests unnecessarily and seems to think he always needs to have the last word on many topics.

Schultz is main politically incorrect element of show--unseriously depicted as homeless, drug addled, transgender, gay and all-around crazy fella. He and Levy work the best on a consistent basis. Show uses toilet humor in a way that works (not like Judd Apatow and his pals). Guests vary (see above) but female guests are very inconsistent--Lauren Savan is always good and good to look at. Amy Schumer also hits home runs. Diana Valzone (hot, very hot) is usually good, but other female guests such as Remi Spencer, S.E. Cupp, Imogen Lloyd Webber, and Coulter are sometimes good and sometimes bad. Brook Goldstein, as do other female guests (much more than male), takes herself too seriously. Lately, she has been grating and should be booted from show permanently.

Anyway, show is unlike any on t.v. Truly great satire from conservative viewpoint usually and good selection of topics and usually good guests make this the most amazing and attractive talk show on t.v. Bill Maher and Jon Stewart would kill to have the comic/off the wall elements and quality of this excellent show.

Waking the Dead
(2000)

Fast paced = no time for viewer contemplation
Twice in the last few years I have given this show a chance--viewings at least two years apart. Both times, same reaction. The show is the most Americanized (NCIS, The Shield (The Shield, however, does have compensatory features) etc. ad nauseam) Brit cop show that ever worked its insidious way onto the screen and into the hearts of many people who like to be mindlessly silenced by a show that depends almost solely on a kind of smart aleck quick pace that leaves no time for character development, thematic development, plot development. This show throws images and speech at you at a cyper speed that first baffles, then disgusts, and then reaches the apogee of t.v. non-sense--we've made it through the episode and something must have happened because we have good acting, seemingly a compelling plot and interesting stories--not.

Trevor Eve is supposed to have charisma, but it is lost in the miasma of stories that refused to be told in a way that is comprehensible, not to mention compelling. A show to be missed if you enjoy other Brit suspense/detective shows such as Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War, The Last Detective (okay L.D. is a comedy/drama not a hard ass cop show. The most successful cop shows usually have a proper amount of mystery, but essentially a large dose of humor--Rumpole, Morse, New Tricks,--and they move at a reasonable pace so you don't think you're in a blender. This show reminds me of Criminal Minds--with one impt. exception-- CMinds slows down once in awhile and the characters seem more real.

Mad Men
(2007)

Overrated, boring Series with excellent costumes and good props
The fanatic (note "fan" in fanatic), unthinking embrace by many viewers of this soap opera(Yes, it is a night time sudser in the same sink with All My Children) and its characters is only explicable in terms of a puerile taste for soft porn and titillation, caused, not by pretty females in the cast, but by all the booze consumed, the fags smoked and the obvious sensual bonanza for gays and hetero women when Don Draper takes off his hat. Very sexy, very virile--only one so tedious as Don could be known best for the way he takes off his hat.

Sorry, low-taste viewers, this show was barely worth one 13 episode series. It muddles along now in the glory of its "period" setting and ever-worsening plots and character shallowness. This paean to lives defined by cigs, adultery, hard-ass main character who manages to be attractive (think "hat" and the way he doffs it--also loving camera shots of the hat is a thrilling attempt to suggest self-pleasuring as an approved form of sexual behavior. I continue to watch so I can write negative things about each show for my wife's education--she loves the show,but she also is energized by Jersey Shore and Judge Judy.

True, the red head, full figured woman is a minor success, but all the rest of the show's mediocrity that oozes from this show drowns her performance and character. Finally, John Hamm can't act, which is good because he fits right in with the other characters who ham up their performances and achieve well...nothing.

Dalziel and Pascoe: An Autumn Shroud
(1996)
Episode 3, Season 1

Clunky, clumsy adaption of good, not very good Hill novel
Although Autumn Shroud is not a very long book, 90 minutes still is too short a time frame to do a decent adaptation. And this is what this film clams to be. I am not criticizing the show because it isn't as good as the book. No way. The film itself judged as a film, completely apart from the book or any other of Reginald Hill's books, is a vast improvement to A Clubbable Woman, which was just plain awful. Nevertheless, once again,the actor playing Dalziel simply isn't believable as a rude, crude copper with street smarts, who disdains education and civility. Unfortunately, juxtaposing this randy chief cop with the Francesca Annis character (and the father character, brilliantly acted, by the way) is a mistake of the first degree. Fine acting by Annis is wasted because the film's writers and director (and editor etc) create total cognitive dislocation and lack of believability.

The film lacks any kind of coherent plot development and disdains continuity. It is rushed throughout, particularly at the end. Moreover, the mystery is drowned in the relentless effort to make a film that has rounded characters and some depth of feeling and insight. You must expect very little to like this film. For a contrast, see Midsomer Mystery and the Morse and Rumpole serieses to see what can be done with a charismatic lead. Also, Pascoe's prettiness distracts from the show--I think the casting of this extremely good looking actor undoubtedly reveals a not too obvious nod to homoerotica. This is particularly emphasized in the plainness of his wife. Not that a handsome man can't be married to a woman less good looking than he, but this isn't real life and the film suffers from the anti-heterosexual perspective. It is obvious that the film should be at least 30 minutes longer, but the writer who adapted the film could have been given another two hours and I'm afraid we would still have to watch a wretched, failed effort to make a mystery film with interesting characters and a winning story line.

Dalziel and Pascoe: A Clubbable Woman
(1996)
Episode 1, Season 1

Confusing, too many fish in the barrel, needs some good acting
Very disappointing since I have been waiting patiently for this series to come to the US, but, well, this episode, the clubbable woman, makes little sense and is mushed together without any care for logic, character development, plot, atmosphere and the outrageous characterizations of the two main characters. Rushed at the end, fatuous in the beginning and flaky in the middle, this film has little to offer a viewer who has a right to expect something to work in 90 minutes of story telling. There is, however, nothing that works. Too little of the main characters and flaky presentation of the actual mystery is most disturbing. Daziel seems to be vulgar and anti-elitist, but wears top-drawer clothes and knows a lot about every facet of life. The subplot is a snippet at the end. And Ellie is moderately repulsive, but Pascoe is the worst--pretty boy to the max. P.C at work when homoerotic implications are rampant in this truly awful show.

Poirot: Cards on the Table
(2005)
Episode 2, Season 10

Excellent drama: striking characters, good plot and the always grand Suchet.
Many of the reviews badly distort the quality of this film. I have seen many Poirot films lately and find them of high quality, especially compared to other movies and t.v. shows currently on view.

This film is condemned by many for various reason: subj. of homosexuality; campy; plot not presented well; not faithful adaptation of the novel; (comparing these cinematic renderings with the novels is superfluous when not wholly odious--give it a rest Christie fanatics). In fact, the film is quite good and good in large part because it renders the mystery in an unconventional fashion. The premise that brings the various characters together at the place the murder is committed is compelling, if not wholly unique. Poirot is given pride of place, not slighted by having to share the screen with other fine actors. Also, the character who starts it all is quite believable, especially in 2009, a time in which anything is believed and acted upon.

Poirot: Hickory Dickory Dock
(1995)
Episode 2, Season 6

Good Solid Adaption
This was a strong Poirot/Suchet, television mystery selection. The characters were vivid and well-acted. The plot and the main setting--a student hostel-- were excellent. Japp was nothing special but for me did not distract from story. One significant point, many Poirot watchers don't recognize good acting or good characterization. I also think they are rather harsh in their judgments of some of the Poirot mysteries. Finally, I have read few Christie novels--none in recent years-- and find it annoying that so many viewers are upset about changes from the novel. Please, viewers, consider what is presented to you on film, not what you think should be there. That said, the Poirot mysteries vary in quality, but not as much as reviewers and raters would have you believe. With the singular exception of The Five Little Pigs which was fabulous in plot, character and theme, the longer Poirot films are neither that good or that bad. For the record, I have seen all the longer Poirot/Suchet films. Finally, films without Lemon, Hastings, and/or Japp are neither good nor bad because of their absence. There presence, however, is either obtrusive (almost always with Japp) or irrelevant with Hastings. Lemon is in the middle.

Foyle's War
(2002)

Finest television of All Time
There is really nothing with which to compare this episodic series. The pacing, the acting, and the plots blend to create a superb fictional experience. I find very, very little to like in today's movies (No Country for Old Men being an exception) and much more to like on television, which I understand his heresy to some, but Six Feet Under, Doctor Findlay, Morse, Midsomer Murders, The Shield etc. far surpass any movie I've seen in a long time. This show in particular shows what can be done in cinema but not in writing--very, very unique. Seeing Foyle, his driver and his immediate subordinate act their parts really helps make this a fine viewing experience. Kitchen, playing the lead, is a fine actor and performs admirably, but the writing is what makes this show--Horowitz, the writer and creator, never varies from show to show. He controls the unfolding of this show, without the viewer having to worry about different writers muddling the waters. I highly recommend this show and would urge viewers to watch the series sequentially, starting, of course with the first episode.

My So-Called Life
(1994)

Main character is unbelievably morose and grating
Much of the show is entertaining and at times presents some top drawer thematic material concerning being a teenager. The major, unfortunate problem is the main character who is presented as morose, cynical, depressed, a total downer and on and on. I found her to be tedious and unrealistic. In fact, the whole series lacks a clear, cogent nexus to reality. Unlike the Wonder Years with its wonderful stories, themes, characters, this show wallows in the self-pity and narcissism of teenagers. The writers obviously have problems with an ensemble series, which was also a problem with the hugely overrated 30 something which they also wrote. Some interesting characters, but the show stands or falls with the main character and she flops, so does much of the show.

Rio Bravo
(1959)

Extremely well-made film with disparate characters and actors
Hawks, as has been pointed out by many viewers and professional critics, mixed an unlikely quintet of characters (other than Wayne and Brennan) into a very good movie, with strong character interactions and very strong screen performances by Martin, Wayne and Brennan. I also think Nelson was fine and think negative reviews of his performance don't match Hawks's expectations for this character and the actor who portrayed him. Meaning, Nelson isn't supposed to be a polished,powerful actor. Dickinson is also quite good and unfair comparisons to other actresses by a couple of critics are irrelevant, if not just plain wrong. (The movie is a conservative rejoinder to the left-wing, spineless High Noon. Cooper acted well, but the story made him seem weak and lacking in common sense, not to mention virility. Kelly had a thankless role which she made the best of. Only the community matters to Zinneman and the movie grossly overplays its hand by building suspense out of amateurs, naturally, not wanting to be involved in fighting outlaws.) Anyway, Rio Bravo has good plot, generally very good dialogue and great direction by Hawks.

See all reviews