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Reviews

We Hunt Together: Episode #1.3
(2020)
Episode 3, Season 1

Episode 1.3
Jackson and Lola have Freddy in their cross hairs. So far it has not crossed their mind that Freddy might have an accomplice.

Freddy surely has a taste for killing. Baba is running away from his past as a child soldier.

This causes tension when a potential third victim is in the trunk of the car. Baba does not want to kill him.

You very much feel that the game is up for Freddy. The police know no more about Freddy's past.

There is also a scene late on which is becoming a lazy trope in movies and tv shows when a person suddenly emerges on a road.

So it is very much a matter of power play for Freddy. She thinks she now has a hold on Baba and even does a Villanelle type jig.

Get Shorty: The Yips
(2017)
Episode 3, Season 1

The Yips
Directed by Adam Arkin, he gives his old man a small role. Oscar winner Alan Arkin. He plays Rick Moreweather's critically lauded filmmaker father. Someone Rick is enticing to work in his movie on a cash only basis.

Rick is hoping to attract old timers to work for cash. However he is shocked to find the lengths Miles would go to get his movie off the ground. Miles puts pressure on April to get a big movie studio on board.

I did like that by the third episode that the movie is becoming reality already. We also learn a bit about the plot of this movie that is being made.

It chimes somewhat with Amara's backstory. How her poor family sold her to an older man for some goats. They got one less because she was ugly. It also leads to how Amara started on her life of crime.

Miles is now a producer, he has impressed his daughter. His wife's new boyfriend ends up with an altercation with Yago and his golf game has gone off. Maybe Mile's life is turning a corner.

City on a Hill: It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
(2019)
Episode 6, Season 1

It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
The title of this episode is derived from a Bruce Springsteen song. It is from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. which had a number of wordy songs.

The episode is pulling its disparate wordy story lines together. Especially those relating to the personal lives of DeCourcy and Jackie.

Jackie is thrown out of his house when his wife finds out about his affair. DeCourcy confronts the philandering pastor who is accusing his wife of spreading lies.

Frankie Ryan also has problems. His mother is in hospital and he needs money to pay the medical bills.

The best part is seeing Jackie's cunning. When he meets an ex Vietnam soldier suffering from PTSD. Jackie genuinely feels sorry for him. His brother is a suspect in supplying the guns used in killing of the guards in the armoured car. Jackie now has a link to the gun. This puts the heat on Frankie.

Jackie might be pleased with himself but it is short lived when he hears that his daughter is missing. There is an unexpected dark aspect to this and someone is going pay badly for it.

At least the fragmented stories are going forward and the pacing might be upped. More importantly Jackie needs to find money quickly and for that he needs to do another job.

Sliders: Last Days
(1995)
Episode 3, Season 1

Last Days
Three years before Deep Impact and Armageddon.

The Slider arrive several days before an asteroid hits Earth. The world is in chaos as this is an alternate Earth where there are no nuclear weapons.

Professor Arturo recognises a young man called Bennish who invades a press conference and tells the scientists that a nuclear bomb could destroy the asteroid.

Arturo and Bennish work together to create a nuclear bomb. After all Arturo has the knowledge.

Rembrandt decides to go and party with the others in this doomsday scenario but discovers that the party lifestyle is not for him.

The heroics is from Professor Arturo in this episode. It is a good problem solving episode even if the science is far fetched. Quinn and Wade working out their relationship is a dull sideshow.

Queens of Mystery: Murder in the Dark: First Chapter
(2019)
Episode 1, Season 1

Murder in the Dark: First Chapter
If you are a fan of the Agatha Raisin television adaptations. Then this could be right up your street. Acorn TV has produced Queens of Mystery just as they now make Agatha Raisin.

The downside is that going by the opening episode, they share similar faults. The superficial quirkiness just becomes annoying. I find it a surprise that Acorn TV does dark drama such as London Kills better.

Mattie (Olivia Vinall) lost her mother as a child which does not necessarily mean she has died. Mattie was raised by her three aunts who are all crime writers. Beth (Sarah Woodward) Cat (Julie Graham) and Jane (Siobhan Redmond).

Now a policewoman, Mattie comes to the town of Wildemarsh when a Golden Pick Axe Award winning writer is found dead. The award he just won is buried on his head.

It is a good opportunity for her aunts to help out.

There is a never ending narration which is also irritating. Shakespeare and Hathaway does this kind of comic crime drama with a much better balance.

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot: The Magic Sword
(1956)
Episode 8, Season 1

The Magic Sword
Sir Bernard is an inept and cowardly knight who has come to King Arthur's court for some fighting skills. However he is regarded as a figure of fun.

Sir Bernard wants to rescue his maiden. She has been captured by three brothers, one of whom wishes to marry her.

Merlin decides to boost Sir Bernard's confidence. Merlin gives him Lancelot's sword and tells him that it is magical and he cannot be beaten.

Merlin and Sir Lancelot are shocked that not only Sir Bernard believes it. He goes on to challenge all comers and beats them.

Both follow him before he gets into serious trouble. This happens when Sir Bernard carelessly discards his sword and the enemy snatches it. Lancelot tells him that he always had the power of combat within him.

A lighthearted adventure which sees Bernard becoming a tiger. Of course the plot needs to turn when he needlessly discards his sword in order to kiss the rescued maiden.

By the way. In my opinion Micheal Caine is nowhere to be seen in this episode although Derren Nesbitt makes another appearance.

The ending inadvertently creates its own legend of the lady in the lake.

Motherland: Fort Salem: Say the Words
(2020)
Episode 1, Season 1

Say the Words
Despite the Young Adult trappings that range from Divergent to Harry Potter. I came away from the first episode that this is basically an allegory on the war on terror.

Set in an alternate history where the Salem witches did a deal to be accepted, even treated with reverence by the establishment in exchange to fight its wars.

The opening starts with people falling to their deaths. An alternative to suicide bombers. These attacks are blamed on the Spree.

Fort Salem, a military academy are welcoming its new recruits hoping the graduates will go to War College. The witches are ever alert to new threats.

Abigail Bellweather is descended from a slave woman who enlisted. Tally Craven has joined in opposition to her mother's wises. Raelle Collar is the rebellious one. The outsider.

Despite Fort Salem being a matriarchy, a hotbed of lesbianism. Only future episodes will tell if the underlying politics is more in line with Robert A Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

Rumpole of the Bailey: Rumpole and the Quality of Life
(1988)
Episode 6, Season 5

Rumpole and the Quality of Life
The finale to the fifth season of Rumpole of the Bailey has a surprising conclusion which involves some regular cast members showing up for a brief appearance. It makes you think they had a wrap party with a tiny bit of filming to finish the series.

Lady Perdita Derwent is a young woman married to an old wealthy artist, Sir Daniel Derwent who is not in the best of health.

Perdita Derwent is accused of poisoning him for his inheritance. His grown up daughter Helen has no time for Perdita and she saw some ampules in her room.

Samuel Ballard QC is defending with Rumpole as the junior. However Rumpole is less than impressed with Ballard's tactics in the courtroom.

It has a racy beginning as Lady Perdita poses topless for her husband. There is comedy with Rumpole advised by his doctor to go on a diet but this is an uneven episode.

A subplot involving Claude Erskine-Brown interviewing a new barrister for the chambers thinking he is gay is interminably awful.

I also felt Rumpole never shutting his mouth at court and annoying the judge went on too long.

It soon becomes clear that Ballard even as a QC was not up to defending the accused in a serious murder trial. He lacks Rumpole's street fighting skills. The episode felt too forced even with Ballard having a mishap while trying to keep fit and suddenly falling in love.

Vengeance
(1984)

Vengeance
Vengeance was a short directed by Shani Grewal. Eight years later he would turn it into a feature length film called Double X: The Name of the Game starring Norman Wisdom. It was widely panned.

Vengeance has American tourist Greg arriving in Wales on a ferry from Ireland. At a hotel he strikes a conversation with an initially hesitant elderly gentleman. He gives the name of Peter Carmody which is straight out of a newspaper headline that he is reading.

Carmody nearly gets blown up when his car explodes. Greg helps him out and departs from the hotel with him. Over the course of the next few hours, Carmody talks of his gambling problems and how he embezzled money from his bosses who are gangsters. Now he is on the run but he has an incriminating letter.

The short is set on a backdrop of IRA bombings. It is a question of can Carmody trust Greg?

There is another wonderful performance from Edward Hardwicke as Carmody. A man who knows he has made a fatal mistake. It is very atmospherically shot. However as a thriller it does not work, the story and twist is too obvious.

Battle of the Sexes
(2017)

Battle of the Sexes
Battle of the Sexes has little idea what it wants to be. So it becomes an uninvolved and superficial story about the exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King against Bobby Riggs.

Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) unhappy that the US Tennis Association will be awarding female tournament winners one eighth of prize money given to the male winners. King helps form an alternative women's circuit with a small band of women tennis players.

King who is married also falls for a hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough) and tries to keep her lesbian affair secret.

Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) is a champion tennis player from another era. He is an inveterate gambler and self promoter. The veteran Riggs eyes an opportunity get a bit of the limelight by challenging King to a men versus women tennis match.

King eventually accepts the challenge to bring dignity to women's tennis. For Riggs it all about fun and money. He wants to bring back show into chauvinism.

Billie Jean King was a bit before my time. I only became aware of her when her former lover outed her publicly. It is also interesting that King has always been a big defender of Bobby Riggs. They had a friendship until he died. It indicates that the real life Battle of the Sexes was more self promotion for the both of them.

King is portrayed almost as a saint for women's equality. Riggs is just a token villain, secondary to organiser Jack Kramer. The film is really a light biopic of Billie Jean King and her struggles relating to fighting chauvinism in tennis, fight for equal prize money and her lesbianism. The actual match is a distant second.

Heroes: Chapter One 'Genesis'
(2006)
Episode 1, Season 1

Chapter One 'Genesis'
I can be very critical of American shows. Some of the episodic series are very formulaic. The long form shows can have pacing issues. I avoid acting like a fanboy or like a paid shill in my reviews *cough the all new Perry Mason cough*.

Heroes is a show that should had remained a one series wonder. It was almost perfect as it was. Unfortunately they carried on.

I only jumped into the first series while it was midway. A friend kept pestering me to watch it as he knew I liked sci fi. I very much liked what I saw although my friend needed to fill in some details as I knew nothing about the backstory apart from it seemed to be inspired by the X Men. Even Stan Lee gave it his own seal of approval.

So I only watched the first episode after I saw the conclusion of the first series.

The episode introduces some of the characters, some of them believing that they have special powers. Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) is a Texas cheerleader who cannot be harmed. Her father is a shady agent of some kind who is tracking Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) whose father was involved in some top secret research in India.

It starts off with Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) who thinks he can fly. His older brother is rising politician Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar).

There is a global element of Heroes. Apart from scenes set in India, there is humour from Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) a Tokyo office worker who believes he can control time and space. His colleague is far from impressed.

It is a promising start, some intrigue, some humour and an adventure you want to stick with.

Spooks: The Sting
(2005)
Episode 9, Season 4

The Sting
Harry Pearce has had enough of the CIA pushing its weight about and taking UK citizens suspected of terrorism and forcible extraditing them.

One of them is Louis Khurvin, a suspected Iranian supporting terrorist. The CIA let him go but Khurvin later shoots the MI5 officers watching him. It leaves Harry in a hole. He is suspended and the Americans are angry.

Juliet Shaw steps into Harry's shoes. The Spooks team are not happy and Harry contacts several of them even though he is being watched.

Adam Carter needs to find Khurvin. They suspect that some of the evidence has been faked. Khurvin has links with a debt management firm with state of the art IT security systems. It is run by an American businessman who is very careful of his own movements.

There is another breathless finale with an imminent SAM attack on a plane. It also raises issues of extraordinary rendition which was a real life concern at the time.

There are some nice little moments as well. The first hint of a closeness between Harry and Ruth. Also Harry looking out for Adam and taking him and Adam's son to a dog race.

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet: The Girls They Left Behind
(1983)
Episode 3, Season 1

The Girls They Left Behind
I noticed just how clever the producers were when it came to filming in Germany. There are only a few shots that seems to have been shot on location. Most of it is studio work.

The emphasis is on the wives Oz, Dennis and Neville left behind. The latter two at least send money back to their families. Oz's wife does not even know that he is Germany.

A trip to a football match in Belgium sees Oz accidentally arriving back in Newcastle on a chartered plane with some Sunderland fans. It brings him face to face with his wife and a letter that has just dropped with Not Known at This Address.

Dennis has to deal with Oz's absence and the things he has left behind. The lads in the hut do not expect him back.

It was goof to see the wives are not left behind although they were far from impressed with Oz rather brassy wife.

There are a few scenes with a new character called Magawan played by Michael Elphick. You can sense he is a bit rough who beat up the agent who was late arriving with the wages. He will be more prominent in the next episode.

Hunters: (Ruth 1:16)
(2020)
Episode 6, Season 1

(Ruth 1:16)
Like a lot of current US long form series. Whatever pace that is picked up in the previous episode, it comes to a crashing halt.

This episode is a character piece. We learn more about Sister Harriet. How she was a Jewish girl who was sent to England by her parents to a convent for her own safety.

I wonder if we will get other flashbacks that will explain her Australian accent?

More moving was Murray Markowitz's story. His son being killed by the Nazis, his loss of faith and maybe finding it again as his daughter gets wed.

However we are now at episode 6 and I would have thought the main plot would take centre stage. I guess we are going to get the background of everyone in Offerman's team.

At least a man Sister Harriet abducted has a link with the Markowitz's past.

Dylan Baker gets to do some OTT acting as Biff Simpson gives an impassioned speech to President Carter. I just wish that the writers had the wit to have Carter give Biff a withering put down.

Minder: Looking for Micky
(1982)
Episode 4, Season 3

Looking for Micky
Looking for Micky looks a lot like the earlier shows. With the return of Terry's on/off stripper girlfriend Debbie. There is more flesh on display.

However there is more emphasis on Arthur Daley. Terry does not even get involved in a fight.

'Mad' Micky Dixon has escaped from prison and staying with Debbie. Getting involved in too many fights in prison, his sentence kept getting extended. Micky wants a definite release date and plans a publicity campaign.

Terry knew Micky back in his boxing days. Arthur spots an opportunity to make money from the newspapers.

However Chisholm is looking for Micky as a well as a nasty villain called Freddie Baker who used to hire Micky to beat people up.

Terry needs to keep Micky safe while Arthur tries not to get his hands bitten off by the sharks in Fleet St.

Micky is rather dim and naive. Although everyone talks about how hard he can be. Freddie Baker though really comes as a nasty villain and Terry is warned not to upset him.

Surprisingly a lot of comedy comes from Chisholm. He really starts to step out more as a character. A young Bill Nighy plays a slimy journalist. Arthur is no match for him.

Doctor Finlay: Stolen Lives
(1994)
Episode 3, Season 2

Stolen Lives
There are elements of a story here that would cause revolt in Ireland a decade or two later.

Rachel Gant was and 15 years old and pregnant. Her father was a church elder and he put her away in an insane asylum.

After the death of Rachel's father, her mother finds out and calls for Janet MacPherson. She was a school friend of Rachel and Janet had always assumed that she had run away with the baby's father.

Dr Finlay is angry with Dr Cameron as he was one of the doctor's who signed to have Rachel committed. She has been put away for 38 years.

Now reunited with her elderly mother, Rachel has been institutionalised and getting too grips with ordinary life is not easy for her.

Dr Cameron who has injured his back playing golf is frustrated with Finlay's anger. He has a good explanation regarding his behaviour, if only Dr Finlay would listen.

The story is more than just a sane schoolgirl locked up. It did feel dated, no one seems to have considered that Rachel would have difficulty readjusting and forgot about her mother.

Sir Francis Drake: Boy Jack
(1961)
Episode 7, Season 1

Boy Jack
Cedric Wells is the co-writer. It was his only writing credit. I am going to assume that an American blacklisted writer was involved.

The episode involves Captain Drake complaining to Queen Elizabeth about the food supplies to his men. It is basically biscuits that need to be tapped to get rid of weevils.

The Queen is not interested but she does go down to the ship and eat the same food as them, which includes tapping the biscuits. There are some good shots of the bugs.

That was the social commentary done.

The Queen wants Drake to take her godson, the lute playing Jack to Portugal. He has a special for her ambassador there.

Once the ship departs, Queen Elizabeth learns that Philip of Spain has invaded Portugal. The English Ambassador to Portugal is being interrogated. Once Drake lands with Jack in a meeting place at an inn.

Drake finds out about the invasion and needs to think quickly to rescue the ambassador.

Jack looks all at sea first. No sea legs and put off the by the food. He soon discovers his inner strength and singing voice. Before long heroic Jack is man enough to woo the ladies.

Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans: False Witness
(1957)
Episode 13, Season 1

False Witness
Some thieves rob an army payroll and leave a dying man behind.

Hawkeye and Chingachgook look into it and meet a trader called Jim Foster at a trading poster.

Foster has suspicions regarding who the thieves might be. Only for Foster to find himself framed for the robberies by the robbers.

Hawkeye looks to clear Foster as the thieves plan another lucrative job.

A good adventure although you would think Foster could not be fingered for the next job. So either the robbers find a new patsy or suspicion would rebound on them.

Robin of Sherwood: The King's Fool
(1984)
Episode 5, Season 1

The King's Fool
Given Richard Carpenter has challenged aspects of the Robin Hood legend in the first series. The finale shatters the image of King Richard the Lionheart.

Even from the opening long shot of a man on a horse. It was clear that it could only be John Rhys-Davies playing a knight wandering around the forest. When he is attacked, Robin Hood and the Merries come to his rescue.

In due course the knight reveals his true identity, King Richard and he pardons the outlaws. With territory in Normandy being lost to the French, the king is raising finance to wage a war and he wants Robin Hood to go to Normandy.

This could had been a traditional end to the Robin Hood series. The merrie men have come in from the cold. The Sheriff of Nottingham is banished.

The real King Richard had no love for England. He spent just a few months in England and barely knew much English. His time was spent in France and fighting the crusades. His kingdom was a source of revenue raising.

This is bled into the story. Will Scarlet never trusted King Richard. Over the course of the episode Robin is abandoned by others. King Richard is taking Robin for a fool by massaging his ego with flattery. To the King, Robin Hood has his uses and will then be disposed.

There is a very nice fight scene with Robin Hood and Gisburne in a barn that is on fire. It looks like something that would not be easy to stage. At one point a Gisburne who is on fire himself manages to shoot an arrow on Marian.

Herne the Hunter is on hand to give the first series a mystical send off.

The casting of Mark Ryan playing a Saracen has caused issues with some people. The irony is that the notoriously Islamophobic John Rhys-Davies has made a good living playing Arabs.

Bognor: Unbecoming Habits: Part 5 - Keeping Up with the Jones
(1981)
Episode 5, Season 1

Unbecoming Habits: Part 5 - Keeping Up with the Jones
Bognor discovers that some of the monks have been playing all night poker games and drinking mead.

He does find out who bopped him on the head and then tucked him into bed.

Bognor's boss Parkinson turns up and gives him some important information during a church service.

This is where Bognor the series gets infuriating in terms of production. Parkinson points to a man and the camera shows Edmund, The monk caught naked with Lena Strudwick in the previous episode.

Is Edmund a high ranking civil servant Graymer Burton masquerading as Mr Jones, a schoolmaster on a regular retreat in the friary?

Let me rewind and have another look. It seems there is glimpse of the back of someone's head. He is the person of interest, Graymer Burton someone who will play a significant part in the mystery.

It is just a shame that the editing did not make this clear. At least this Burton chap is not pleased that Bognor exposes him in front of Anselm.

Nightingales: Kiss and Make Up
(1990)
Episode 3, Season 1

Kiss and Make Up
No mock Shakespeare in this episode. Bell takes parts in magazine competitions and Carter wins third prize.

It is a night out with a page 3 model. The only problem is that Carter cannot get a night off in this security job.

So the other lads have an idea to bring her in to the office block.

Of course all of them think they might get lucky with her so they all spruce up.

Diana Weston who plays the model Angela Wilson was Robert Lindsay's real life partner for some years.

The bulk of her scenes are with her and Angela confides what she always wanted to do but never had the voice for it.

It is not as strong or surreal as the first two episodes. It still highlights that Carter is the clever one and Bell is an overgrown schoolkid.

Insecure: Insecure as Fuck
(2016)
Episode 1, Season 1

Insecure as
Pilots of a new comedy series rarely go off with a bang.

The opening of Issa Rae's new sitcom made me squirm. The school kids giving Issa a hard time reminded me of an incident when I was at school. My class did the same to a visiting careers adviser who tried hard to ignore our smart alec comments.

Issa Dee is a graduate who has been working for a youth charity since she is graduated. The token black woman in a charity full of middle class whites. Issa has horned her passive-aggressive skills in the work place.

Issa's personal life is unfulfilled. She sees no future with her longtime boyfriend Lawrence who is an underachiever.

The first episode sees Issa who is celebrating her 29th birthday going out with her friend Molly to a club. Molly is a lawyer who is also single and looking for love.

This was not laugh out loud funny maybe because it is observational. It was bittersweet about young black women who see life going by. Even being professionally successful might not be enough to get you the man of your dreams. Men just want short term fun.

There was an amusing rap bit which led to Molly and Issa falling out as well as Lawrence having a potential love rival.

Perry Mason: Chapter Seven
(2020)
Episode 7, Season 1

Chapter Seven
I was fearing that Pete Strickland, now Perry's sole investigator would meet a sticky end.

After all this is an origins story and Paul Drake is his go to investigator.

Well those church elders were not in this series because they all have pretty faces and clean souls. It was obvious they would be mired in the baby kidnapping plot.

Perry Mason has success linking the church, their dicey finances and a motive to kidnap the baby. However it is not enough.

Paul Drake helps out Perry as they search for a junkie Chinese prostitute who was a wet nurse to the kidnapped baby.

However the flow of the courtroom drama was interrupted by the resurrection sub plot. With one more episode still to go, it was too much to expect that the drama of the courtroom would go uninterrupted.

As with other episodes. Pacing issues hurts this show. This could had been wrapped in four episodes and there is still one more to go.

A Suitable Boy: Two
(2020)
Episode 2, Season 1

Two
I should had more faith in Andrew Davies. He knows how to condense a 1,349 pages novel into a six part series.

Contrast this to the long form American HBO serials. They spend millions as they really want that Emmy for art direction and costumes. The episodes crawls along at a snail's pace but breath the atmosphere.

Not so here. It is the second episode and Lata's mother soon finds out about Lata's romance with Muslim Kabir and she is not happy about it.

Banished to Calcutta, hopefully not the black hole part. If Lata's story has an element of Pride and Prejudice. Maan's affair with the older courtesan Saeeda Bai has more spice.

Maan's father feels scandalised politically as his rivals find out about his son's nocturnal mingling.

Davies adds some sizzle with the flighty Meenakshi Chatterjee character. She even partakes in a sultry Argentine tango at a party. The party where Lata is introduced to a rising writer Amit Chatterjee.

I do wonder if Amit is based on a young Vikram Seth himself.

Van der Valk: Season for Love
(1973)
Episode 5, Season 2

Season for Love
There is little mystery here initially. A defence lawyer turns up at Van der Valk's home requesting a favour. He agrees to help out an American visitor looking for a few weeks of romance.

Margo is a middle aged American woman who visits Amsterdam every year to attend a festival. It also allows her to see her young lover Ko.

Despite making arrangements to meet up, Ko has gone missing. The lawyer, a friend of Margo contacts Van der Valk.

Ko does turn up, apparently he was in Paris but then Van der Valk gets a strange phone call informing that a woman has been murdered in Paris. It seems Ko has a history of problems and Margo could be in danger.

This is a love triangle story between people fighting over a young man. Van der Valk needs to figure out if Ko is psychotic, a murderer or is just a pawn in a complex game?

I thought Shane Briant was splendid as Ko. He looks so androgynous, someone who would appeal to both sexes. He hints at a darker more volatile side. Briant lifts what could had been a mundane story.

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