The final episode of Episodes continues with a final cynical look of life as a Hollywood writer.
It seems like it was such a long time ago when the late Richard Griffiths played a cameo in the first episode as the actor who had to audition for a role in a proposed US sitcom. It was a role he played in the UK for years only to be usurped by Matt Le Blanc for the US remake. It should not be forgotten that Griffiths role was actually based on himself when it came to his role in the hit stage play The History Boys.
It finally dawns on Sean just what a selfish turd Matt actually is when he passed on the show that Matt helped create. Both Matt and Beverly confront Matt and tell him exactly what they think off him while Lapidus looks on cheerfully.
The episode loses impetus in a long scene where Carol and Helen sort out their differences.
However Sean uses his new experiences in Hollywood for an idea for a bitter, cynical new show. However backstabbing Matt can never be written off when a good script is doing the rounds.
A nice end to the series, but to me id did not quiet go out with a bang which it was promising to do early on in the episode.
A rather subdued episode which promises more than it actually delivers.
Van der Valk is after a woman who is cashing forged cheques only to come across a blind cleric (Freddie Jones) who is one of the best forgers in Amsterdam.
Samson meanwhile has a sensitive government issue on his plate. The Chief Prosecutor Rokin who is mired in a corruption scandal has gone missing. Van der Valk finds that Rokin's religious wife is cold and maybe even not too bothered about his disappearance. Rokin is a keen photographer of birds and might just be on an expedition to spot and photograph birds.
Van der Valk and Samson have a few spats throughout this episode. Both visit Rokin's workplace. They figure no wonder Rokin's ran off as his colleagues are also rather cold.
Doctor Who alumni William Russell plays Rokin. Patrick Troughton plays a football supporting priest. All are wasted in a rather disappointing episode.
Warner Brothers decided to brighten up their DC range of superhero movies after accusations of dreariness.
Shazam! who started life as Captain Marvel once upon a time tries to have some irrelevance of a Deadpool movie but remaining kid friendly although its tone is uneven. Those school bullies should had been toned down and made more comic.
As a toddler in Philadelphia, Billy Batson got separated from his mum and has been looking for her since. Although it never crosses his mind that she has not been looking too hard for him
A teenage Billy Batson (Asher Angel) goes through one foster home after another. He runs away from them all to search for his real mother. In his latest foster home he has joined a diverse range of foster kids including disabled foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) who is into Batman and Superman. Freddy gets bullied a lot and Billy helps him out. His selfless actions brings him to the attention of a wizard losing his powers.
Billy gets new magical powers from the wizard but is not told the extent of his powers. Together Freddy and Billy learn what this could amount to but Billy uses Shazam to make a quick buck first until Thaddeus (Mark Strong) shows up. He is powered by the seven deadly sins and wants Shazam's magical powers.
For a film released during Easter, the Christmas setting signifies some kind of last minute reshoots or re-editing. It certainly takes too long to get going and some of the Thaddeus as a kid scenes looks oddly inserted. Like many other superhero films that origins part affects the pace of the movie.
The film improves when it gains momentum, that is when Shazam tries to realise the extent of his powers and confronts Thaddeus. It might have helped if the wizard told Billy what his powers were.
The episode speculates on cold judgment, devoid of emotions.
When an alien is captured, Colonel Freeman is uneasy about Commander Straker's methods to find information from the alien. Freeman regards Straker as cold, calculating like a computer.
By the same token when one of three Interceptors is destroyed in an encounter with the UFO. A computer when analysing the data thinks that Lieutenant Gay Ellis (Gabrielle Drake) did not want to put one of the other pilots, Mark Bradley in danger as they are an item.
The episode flirts with an interracial romance between Ellis and Bradley. We even see a scene where Ellis is without her purple hair. It led me to think why the women on the moon had purple hair wigs in the first place.
Although this was the second episode shot, it was relegated to be shown later on in the series. The story really was lethargic and limp despite some good production values. It really would had sent viewing figures spiraling downwards if was broadcast after the first episode.
One thing that swerved Gerry Anderson's glimpse of the future was the smoking ban on the workplace. It just looks odd with so many characters smoking when they are supposed to be working. It is political correctness gone mad that you cannot give your colleague secondary cancer!
Shaft (2019) is a belated sequel and reboot of Shaft (2000) that starred Samuel L Jackson as the nephew of the original John Shaft (Richard Roundtree.)
The new film has Jackson's John Shaft encountering his long lost son JJ (Jessie T Usher) who is now a cyber security nerd working for the FBI.
When JJ's best friend Karim a former army veteran and drug addict dies of an overdose. JJ seeks out his dad's help who he was apart from because his mother thought life would be too dangerous if John Shaft was around.
Karim might had been involved in a mosque with a radical cleric that the FBI are interested in. Karim was also involved in an army veterans assistance program called 'Brothers Watching Brothers.'
John Shaft is appalled with his straightlaced son who is polite and politically correct. He also dislikes guns. JJ is a naive when it comes to ghetto life although he knows some Brazilian martial arts.
It is up to John Shaft to kick down some doors and breaks some bones to find answers. John Shaft also has an ulterior motive to help out his son. When the going gets tough, the original Shaft brings in the firepower.
Shaft (1971) was a tough, hard nosed blaxploitation action film. Richard Roundtree has now played the character for 48 years. Here he has now gone from being Jackson's uncle to his dad.
Director Tim Story has gone for a more comedy slant in this version. It is a comedy of generational contrasts between Jackson and Usher's characters. It is sporadically funny in its rude crude way. Roundtree steals the show when he turns up. He would rather shaft than share the limelight.
The main plot though is so plain and uninteresting. Also it is surprising how someone guileless like JJ ever got into the FBI.
The second episode of Quincy. The dedicated and passionate pathologist need to dig his boss, Dr Asten out of trouble.
Socialite Margo Bentley was writing an expose of Hollywood lives. She checked into a low rent hotel to write more material. She ended up dead, it looks like liver poisoning through long term alcoholism.
The police think she was an unknown prostitute who drank herself to death. Dr Astin thinks the same and releases the body for cremation.
However Quincy is worried about Bentley's demeanour. Her all over tan, expertly done fingernails. The fact that someone claimed the body wanted it cremated should had rung alarm bells.
It later emerges that Bentley's publisher has died in the east coast. Again it seems of the long term effects of alcohol.
Quincy needs to get there fast and do an autopsy even if it means using subterfuge.
It certainly seems the case that Bentley found out stuff about some powerful people and they wanted to silence her even it it meant germ warfare.
The characters are being established in the early episodes. Some nice interplay between Sam and Quincy. Dr Asten is more like a bureaucrat and an incompetent pathologist. Lt Monahan seems out of his depth as a detective if he thinks a lone woman in a hotel must be a drunk prostitute.
There is a lot of humour and danger although the episode ended a little too neatly and glibly given the danger Quincy was in.
Charlie Hungerford is filming an advert for a Jersey wine company that he has invested money in.
It might be just a 30 seconds advert but it has taken several days and it needs a hand gliding expert. However Antonio is found dead while the advert is being shot.
The pathologist thinks it was no accident and Antonio was strangled.
Bergerac investigates and it leads him to Jean-Pierre (Richard Griffiths) a now out of shape climbing expert and a former boyfriend of Charlotte.
The trouble is Jean-Pierre was involved in Antonio's death. A dentist had employed Jean-Pierre to look for rare falcons nestling high up in the cliff and he was one of the few people qualified to make the climb.
The story is a little bit birdbrained. It is certainly novel. Antonio spots Jean-Pierre while he is flying about and shooting an advert. There is a struggle between both men somewhere. The dentist is such as rabid collector that he is prepared to risk everything and everyone. Despite the jokes of him being more rotund than before, Richard Griffiths is an unconvincing rock climber, one of the best in Europe.
In a battle, someone has targeted Xena and deliberately poisoned her with a dart.
It does not affect her immediately but certainly hinders her when Xena battles evil warlord Talmadeus. He is after Lord Seltzer who swindled him by selling him dodgy weapons which were ruined when wet.
Now Talmadeus suspects that Xena is out of sorts and is there for the taking. An injured Xena has to persuade Gabrielle to pretend to be Xena to save the village being rampaged by Talmadeus.
Gabrielle has difficulties in fitting into Xena's clothes, is a little too short and Xena's horse is reluctant to obey Gabrielle's commands.
Xena is certainly out of action in this episode as her body fights the poison. Gabrielle definitely needs pepping up by Lord Seltzer who is an effervescent personality who brings a lot of fun and froth in this episode.
The Red Angel. Finally we are getting answers in a complicated and conflicting way.
The DNA of the Red Angel is a match with Michael. The Star Fleet team including Section 31 wants to spring a trap to capture the future Michael.
However Michael finds out from Leland that her parents were working on time travel experiments that led to their deaths. The mention of a time crystal made the episode go all Marvel. Of course mention dead parents and before long Star Trek Discovery will have more characters that never stay dead.
I think it came as no surprise to me with the reveal of the Red Angel. However it conflicts with the narrative of what came before.
It was all a bit silly with all the little character moments as Michael cooks up a deadly plan to trap the Red Angel. So she has a heart to heart with Spock and then Ash.
Preceding all this was a memorial for Airiam. Gosh we barely knew you.
It is the start of the second series of Rumpole and it seems Leo McKern has sprouted hair. It is certainly longer or it might just be a wig.
Rumpole believes that men of the cloth make bad witnesses. Unfortunately he has to defend a vicar from shoplifting charges. He is accused of stealing some shirts and does not have much of an explanation.
To make matters worse. The trial judge is Judge Bullingham who is never a friend of the accused or defence lawyers.
Rumpole suspects that the good reverend is lying to him and might be protecting someone else.
However Rumpole is also left in a dilemma with another matter. How to protect someone dear to him. George Frobisher has applied to become a judge and is planning to get engaged. However Rumpole recognises the woman he wants to marry from a past case when she comes to the Rumpole household for dinner.
As always writer John Mortimer brings out the romantic in Rumpole with some florid verse and some verbosity in the courtroom. Rumpole also witnesses a miracle in the courtroom.
When Superman was being made by Richard Donner. Some of the cast did not realise that they were also making Superman II simultaneously. You would think they would had figured out that the production was going on for a long time!
Despite the chaos in production. Donner got fired and was replaced as the director by Richard Lester who bought a comic book look to the film. There were budgetary cuts so no more Marlon Brando for the sequel. Also Gene Hackman's stunt double seems to play a larger role in the film than the actor himself.
Even after all that, Superman II is a terrific film. I watched this in the cinema as a kid and realized this was more fun than the first film. There was no need to establish an origin story, just head to the main plot.
Superman II goes back to the beginning of the first Superman film. The sentencing of General Zod (Terence Stamp) and his associates Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) by the Kryptonian high council who are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone and sent off to space.
When some terrorists plan to explode a hydrogen bomb in the Eiffel Tower. Superman (Christopher Reeve) flies off to deal with the terrorists and save Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) who headed off to Paris to cover the story.
Superman sends the bomb off to space, the shockwaves frees the three criminals who head to Earth. They have the same powers as Superman. Meanwhile Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) escapes from prison and discovers Superman's Fortress of Solitude and some of the secrets of the man of steel.
When Zod causes chaos and destruction, Luthor seeks him out to make a deal. However Superman is nowhere to be seen.
Lois Lane discovers the truth about Clark Kent's true identity on a trip to Niagara Falls and Kent decides to shed his powers for love.
There are some wonderful action sequences accompanied by John William's iconic theme tune. The story might be corny, the special effects have aged but it works wonderfully here. Terence Stamp takes it all so pompously seriously and he has some great lines. As ever it Christopher Reeves who is the heart and soul of the film.
Look out for theatrical knight Sir Antony Sher as the cheeky bellboy at the hotel in Niagara Falls as well as Richard Griffiths (Uncle Dursley in the Harry Potter films) as one of the French terrorists.
Hannay helps out a damsel in distress who is being terrorised by an east end gang wanting protection money from her music hall club.
Hannay gets a rugby club full of toffs to help out but confident Joe Morris does not take his beating lying down. He takes his revenge.
Hannay realises he needs to be cunning himself and reels in Morris by pretending to be part of a west end gang of crooks and Morris needs to prove himself to them. Hannay needs to bring Morris down a peg or two in the eyes of his prospective father in law.
Martin Clunes has an early role as one of the rugby playing toffs who comes to the rescue for Hannay. It is a nice enough story but again not very adventurous.
The British Secret Service recruits Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti) a criminal to protect a shipment of diamonds heading to an arab sheik. Master criminal Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde), the head of a criminal organization is after the diamonds.
Modesty Blaise is certainly a departure for director Joseph Losey better known for more high brow dramas as well actor Dirk Bogarde who really camps it up here.
It is one of a slew of psychedelic James Bond satires that popped up in the swinging mid 1960s including Casino Royale which it shares some similarities with. A poor script that seems to be made up as it goes along even though Modesty Blaise is a comic strip character.
The film is bizarre, weird and boring. Vitti has no screen presence at all. Terence Stamp seems to be doing a bad Michael Caine impression, he even starts to sing at one point.
Aeon Flux starts out with great action and great visuals. Then its story kicks in and the pace grinds to a halt. Charlize Theron in skimpy clothing cannot rescue the film.
The planet has fallen victim to a virus. By 2415, the remaining population lives in a city of Bregna under the protection of the Goodchild family while they try to find various cures for what went wrong with society.
With people disappearing or being randomly murdered in this supposedly benign totalitarian regime.
Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) is a freedom fighter and member of the rebel group the Monicans. When her sister Una is killed. She undertakes a mission to bring down the head of the family, Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas).
However Aeon has some kind of past connection with him. She also uncovers other secrets hidden in her world.
After the opening act the film becomes listless with an incomprehensible and dull story.
An early outing from director Jonathan Demme who would later win a best director Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs.
Columbo has a gourmet outing when restaurant owner Vittorio Rossi (Michael V Gazzo) dies after supping some poisoned wine. Rossi along with other restaurant owners have been paying a lot of money to famous food critic Paul Gerard (Louis Jourdan) for favourable reviews. Rossi has had enough of Gerard's extortion and threatens to expose him.
Gerard cunningly poisons Vittorio Rossi's wine by injecting it with a poisonous part of a Japanese blowfish which he reckons will be undetected.
However intriguingly Columbo suspects Gerard right from the start, something Gerard eventually refers to.
In this short economical culinary episode, Columbo eats and drinks his way through and even trying his Italian as Rossi's nephew cannot speak English.
Jourdan is aloof and arrogant who thinks he might just be too clever for the dishevelled detective. Columbo has a spicy hotdog up his sleeve.
There is a lot of comedy from Falk and a cast that includes Mako, Richard Dysart and Michael V Gazzo.
After Simon Carne played by Roy Dotrice. His daughter Michele Dotrice is the damsel in distress. Mary Hisgins is about to get married but the country house she resides in is haunted. There have been tales throughout the years of singles ladies being frightened by horse noises, their intended men being frightened off to marry the,
Her father calls in a ghost detective called Carnacki (Donald Pleasence.) He arrives with all kinds of gizmos but he concludes that someone actually does not want Mary to get married.
Carnacki has a sense of calmness when there is chaos going around him. It is not too hard to figure what is going on although the story does have a little supernatural sting in the tale.
Not entirely a successful adaptation, I just did not think the director could pull it off for the screen and it all got a little silly when the culprit showed his hoof.
Look out for a young Geoffrey Whitehead in this episode. He is better known these days for the comedies Still Open all Hours and Not Going Out. He also once played Sherlock Holmes for a Polish television series.
There is certainly a clash of acting styles in this episode. Brian Blessed is his usual shouty self as King Yrcanos who wants to exact revenge on the Doctor but Peri helps the Doctor escape.
Yracnos comes across some resistance fighters led by Tusa played by Gordon Warnecke. A more stagebound performance from an actor who a year earlier was lauded for his performance with Daniel Day Lewis in My Beautiful Launderette. This should had been a casting coup but Warnecke seems fazed both by Blessed and the script.
Meanwhile the Doctor assists Dr Crozier to transfer Lord Kiv's brain into a new body but the procedure is touch and go. If Kiv is gone, then so does Dil, the Doctor and others.
The episode is known for its shock ending but somehow the way the scene was shot, it lacked dramatic punch.
David and Jackie Siegel thought The Queen of Versailles would be a fawning documentary about them and their wealth. He was the timeshare king and the Siegels planned to build their own Versailles. The largest private residence in America, the symbol of their wealth.
During the making of the documentary, the financial crash happened and it seems the Siegels put nothing away for a rainy day. By the end David Siegel was complaining about bankers when he himself roped in countless of punters to buy timeshares they did not want. His Versailles mansion still only partly completed and his timeshare empire was at risk from the financiers.
By the time the documentary came out, David Siegel was suing the makers of the documentary for not a being a puff piece of the golden couple now fallen on hard times.
Jackie Siegel is the trophy wife who had time to have plastic surgery even when money was tight. Her bosom were in prominent display throughout the documentary to keep someone hard. She pumped out kids when she discovered that nannies could always bring them up.
David Siegel built the PH Towers Westgate in Las Vegas, a luxury timeshare resort. He had a crack team of salespeople trying to sell a dream to ordinary folks. They too could live like a king instead of in a crummy motel. Here is a tip. Just pay for a better hotel room in Vegas, no need to get a timeshare and ongoing annual management costs which rise every year.
David Siegel liked to claim credit for the election of George W Bush in 2000. He persuaded his employees in Florida to vote Republican. The same employees he ruthlessly fired when times got tough.
David and Jackie's children are spoilt. Everything is done for them by the household staff. They flew in private jets. When they had to fly scheduled flight and hire a car, you see Jackie asking at the rental desk if the car comes with a driver.
You get a taste of what David was really like as a person. His son from his first marriage tells how he never sent enough money to his mom after the divorce. They were raised poor but were always well dressed as he would take them clothes shopping. His son works in the timeshare business but admits their relationship is more employee/employer than father and son.
By the end David looks to be heading for a nervous breakdown as he tries to salvage his business empire. It is hard to feel sorry for him as it dawns on viewers that his life of excess consumerism was built entirely on debt. He also piled on debt to people he sold timeshares to. It looked like he owned very little that was his, he may not even had money squirreled away for his kids college funds.
Director Lauren Greenfield does not mock the couple. She was astute enough to realise that the financial meltdown meant she could paint a real picture of the Siegels.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. 8 Days: To the Moon and Back recreated the events with the audio tapes, some lookalike actors in a recreation of the capsule which was mixed with historical footage.
The documentary had no narration. You relied on captions which gives some factual information as well as footage of the television coverage fronted by Walter Cronkite. The US network's coverage was sponsored by Kellogs on the day of the launch.
In the build up to the launch, the three astronauts had been constantly paraded on tv and the press. They must have been the most interviewed people in America, giving the same bland answers to the same questions. No wonder Armstrong eventually withdrew from the limelight.
Neil Armstrong was the most inexperienced of the three astronauts in terms of actual time spent in space. It showed when he mentioned his excitement of the prospect of seeing the sunrise from space. Buzz Aldrin was expecting to be the first man to walk on the surface of the moon but NASA had other ideas.
What came out of this documentary was just how much seat of the pants the mission was when it reached its critical stages as the lunar module approached its moon's orbit. The module overshot its planned landing site. A warning light came on and nobody knew what it meant. When a switch broke during take off from the moon, Aldrin improvised by using a pen while NASA boffins searched for an answer.
The three astronauts had a sense of calm and practicality throughout the mission.
After 50 years you would have thought there was little new to say about the first moon landing. This documentary proved me wrong as it provided new insights.
Acorn TV who produce London Kills have certainly decided to show a modern take of London. There are shots of skyscrapers in the London skyline, bright weather and it certainly looks like a Metropolis.
Blood Lines is the best episode of the series so far with several red herrings.
Newly married Eleanor Kemp is having an affair with dishy doctor Adam Garrick. When she visits him in his houseboat she finds him dead and calls the police.
The murder investigation team initially arrest Eleanor but it seems her husband suspects his wife of having an affair. Also Adam had a blazing row with his homeless, estranged brother on the day of their father's funeral.
Paul Marquess who has created London Kills was also a longtime producer of the television series The Bill. It shows here in the economy of the storytelling. Very little is superfluous and is all tightly done.
On Dangerous Ground is a film noir with Robert Ryan as detective Jim Wilson with a penchant for police brutality. He likes to beat information out of suspects, one beating leads to a potential lawsuit.
Wilson is sent by his bosses upstate away from the city to cool off and reconsider his attitude.
Only once he arrives in the country, he joins a posse looking for the murderer of a young girl who was also sexualy assaulted. Wilson teams up with the father of the victim, Walter who is determined to kill the murderer.
They track the killer to a remote country cabin and finds blind Mary Malden (Ida Lupino) living there alone. She claims no one is in the house but later Wilson learns about her mentally ill brother.
Directed by Nicolas Ray. This hard boiled thriller loses its way once Wilson moves to the snowy rural area. Ryan is fine as he thaws in the wintry weather and he develops feelings for Malden. However I found the character of Walter annoying and the story was choppy and a tad dull.
Steven Spielberg called the film "the best directorial debut since Citizen Kane." It is certainly hyperbole. Of course he did go on to marry co-star Amy Irving!
Yentl should not work as a musical. Barbra Streisand is too old to play a 17 year old girl, too beautiful as a teenager who is unmarried. Not very convincing when she pretends as a boy. Streisand sings all the songs even though the film has a bona fide musical star in Mandy Patinkin in the movie and the singing voice of Jessica Rabbit in Amy Irving. Surprisingly it does succeed but not without flaws.
Adapted from a short story by Barbra Streisand and British writer Jack Rosenthal. Yentl is a Jewish girl in Poland who is learning the Talmud secretly by her Rabbi father in the early years of the 20th century. The Talmud can only be learned by men. After her father's death she decides to continue to study the Talmud rather than get married.
Yentl enrols into a Jewish religious school in a village far away by taking her late brother's name of Anshel and dressing up as a man. No one sees through her male attire and she quickly gains a reputation of being a brilliant student.
Yentl is attracted with fellow student Avigdor (Mandy Patinkin) who is always touching Anshel. However Avigdor is due to marry Hadass (Amy Irving) both are in love but the relationship sours once it is revealed that his brother's recent death was due to suicide.
Yentl examines societal attitudes to religious education, mental illness and gender roles. There is a strong feminist subtext in the movie. Hadass has been raised to please her potential husband not do any thinking.
As the director, Streisand adds a lightness of touch to the movie, it glides rather easily. I do think plaudits need to go to writer Rosenthal who could so easily do comic drama. Most of the songs do not get in the way of the drama, although I was uncertain about the ending. The resolution felt rushed and there was something uninspired about Yentl singing on a ship which was filmed on the Irish sea just off Liverpool.
Inspector Stanley Hopkins visits Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes at Baker Street to discuss the death of Willoughby Smith, a secretary to the irascible and invalid Professor Coram. As far as Hopkins is concerned there was no motive to the murder.
The dead man had in his hand a pair of golden pince-nez glasses. Both men are intrigued enough to set off to investigate.
As Edmund Hardwicke was filming the movie Shadowlands, Dr Watson does not feature in this episode, too busy dealing with an epidemic.
It is always great to see Charles Gray again as Mycroft. Frank Finlay is a hoot as the chain smoking Professor Coram, his bedroom being an haze of smoke from the Egyptian cigarettes. Even Sherlock wants those cigarettes. Coram thinks that his secretary's death is due to suicide. A theory that astounds both Sherlock and Mycroft.
Of course Finlay is too obviously a bad guy and the answer to the murder lies in the events of a Russian uprising and Coram's past.
A rather melodramatic ending to the episode and some very arty direction from director Peter Hammond.