Monthly Archives: January 2012

Casualty: Another nasty man

(Series 26, Ep.18) I don’t know about you, fragrant reader, but I’m getting a bit fed up with watching violence against women in Casualty. It feels like there’s hardly a week goes by without us having to watch some poor woman being terrorised by a nasty man. There was Maverick Nurse Kirsty and Nasty Warren, then poor Tina O’Brien and her mate were victims. This week we had another one, when last week‘s mystery man turned out to be (surprise, surprise) the abusive former husband of the woman whose child was in the car accident. And he wasn’t a happy man.

He was a proper nutter, as well. Luckily, dashing new doctor Tom Kent ensured he was caught out via the simple expedient of getting his fingerprints on a glass of water. I do like Tom Kent. He has a nice nose, he’s tall and he talks like he’s gripping a drinking straw between his teeth, all of which spell phwoar as far as I’m concerned. Scarlett likes Tom Kent as well. She likes him so much, she googled him, as you do. When she was caught out, she pretended she was checking the spelling of his name for admin purposes. It was pointed out that there aren’t that many variants on “Tom” and “Kent.”

Of course a nice nose and a way with fingerprints isn’t going to catch a criminal without official help. This was provided in the form of one DCI Yvonne Rippon, a copper with a sweet tooth and an eye for a handsome A&E consultant. She and Nick Jordan were flirting like nobody’s business. Unfortunately, Dr Zoe Hanna was busy with something or other and didn’t see all this flirtation, otherwise she’d have had something sarcastic to say.

In other news, Army Dr Sam’s fireman patient (Corrie fans will remember him as Gail’s former beau, Phil the Foot Fiddler) died.

Posted by PLA          (more Casualty reviews here)

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Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall

Oh good grief this was a brilliant finale. Twisty as a twisty turny thing, full of shock and awe, it’s also the one in which my enjoyment of Andrew Scott’s ‘Jim’ Moriarty reached fever pitch.

One of many things that gave me great pleasure about this is how the writers (Steve Thompson for this one) are playing with the powerful celebrity persona that developed around Sherlock Holmes. It tormented Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With the massive popular success of his character, he found he’d created a fictional monster. The public were addicted to Holmes, and to this day, people still believe Sherlock Holmes really existed. No-one was ever really interested in any of Doyle’s ‘serious’ writing, and at the time, he wrote to his mother in frustration,”I must save my mind for better things, even if it means I must bury my pocketbook with him.”

And so, sick to the back teeth of Holmes, Doyle wrote The Final Problem, in which he believed that he had finally got rid of the character that tormented him so, by killing Holmes off in a dramatic scene where he and Professor Moriarty fight to the death over the Reichenbach Falls. But as Victoria Principle found when Bobby came out of that the epically long Dallas shower, things are not always that simple. The public found Doyle’s belief in fairies less than convincing and screamed for the return of their beloved Sherlock Holmes. Doyle eventually had to bring him back to life in The Adventure of the Empty House.

Now, so much is known by the public about Doyle’s stories, the trap that scriptwriters of Sherlock can fall into is to be too clever for their own good, which I felt happened with Baskerville episode (not everyone agrees I know). But I didn’t feel that in The Reichenbach Fall. And there was so much that was scream-makingly excellent:

  • The touching, bookending scenes of Watson seeing his therapist to try to deal with the death of his friend Holmes, and visiting his grave.
  • The court scene with Holmes unable to stop himself being a smart arse.
  • The cameo of IT Crowd’s Katharine Parkinson as plaited haired Rita Skeeter-esque investigative journalist, Kitty Riley. I particularly enjoyed her encounter with Holmes in the Gents’.
  • The beautifully done interplay between Holmes and Molly Hooper in the morgue scenes.
  • Moriarty. So very fine an opponent for Holmes. I loved The Thomas Crown Affair meets The Wrong Trousers fun stealing-of-the-Crown-Jewels scene, particularly Moriarty being found by the police sitting on the throne in the jewel cabinet, wearing them. I think Andrew Scott has played him beautifully, exuding evil power with frightening, manic intensity without ever appearing totally psycho. Best bits for me: the chaos causing apps on the mobile phone, the carving of IOU into the apple and the delicate sipping of tea with Holmes. So many superb performances in this series, Cumberbatch and Freeman, Gatiss as Mycroft, Rupert Graves as Lestrade. But his is up there too.
  • The rooftop scene on St Barts and Holmes’ fall to his apparent death to save the lives of people he cares about. The eruption of excitement on my Twitter feed afterwards when we then see him alive lurking behind a tree in the graveyard. What happened? How did he do it? Was Molly involved, was a ‘spare’ morgue corpse switched at the last? Utterly gripping.

MORE BBC more. Bring it back and bring it soon. Best telly ever.

Posted by Inkface

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Eternal Law: The Difficult Second Episode

Yes, it’s Difficult Second Episode week. Viewers who have stuck with you past your the first episode will be looking to be entertained enough to stay with you to the end (in a good way, not a “Bloody hell, might as well see where this ends now I’ve wasted three weeks on it” way).

I’m enjoying the quiet quirkiness and warm heart of Eternal Law. Sam West is a joy to watch as Zak, and he’s been gifted some lovely dialogue by Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah. And yet, gentle reader, I worry for Eternal Law.

Casting around t’internet, there are people who think it’s too silly or too dull. I can’t agree with the ‘silly’ people – I’m willing to buy into angels covertly helping humans. That’s no sillier than a dead policeman conjuring up his own personal limbo for other dead coppers…

So, is it dull? That’s not the adjective I’d choose, but I can see why you  might reach for it when both EL’s cases of the week have been so predictable.

It was clear from the beginning that the only villain in this piece was Richard (Tobias Menzies doing his creepy vulpine thing). That’s not to say that there aren’t divorcing parents out there who won’t benefit from a reminder that they should be going to court for what’s best for their child, not to punish their ex. And I enjoyed the judge’s King Solomon moment as he made his final decision – though I don’t suppose Social Services appreciate being used as a stand-in for the whole ‘chop the baby in half’ solution.

I could do with a bit more of the supernatural too. I appreciate that it can’t be all wings and heavenly CGI, and I like the extra pressure on Zak not to be tempted by Hannah (one more angel leaving Heaven and Mr Mountjoy may give up on the human race completely – though why we should get the blame for the angels I’m not quite sure…), but I’m not feeling the threat of armageddon yet.

Until I start caring about anyone other than Zak, there’s no real jeopardy (or long-term interest). I’m not giving up on Eternal Law yet though. I stand by my statement that it shouldn’t be judged too fast or against Those Other Shows. For now Sam West’s luminous performance is enough to bring me back next week – but if Eternal Law wants a longer run than six episodes it will need more than one stellar actor.

Posted by Jo the Hat

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Podcasts: The Slate Culture Gabfest

For a long time podcasts were a mystery to me. They were mentioned on the BBC website so were sort of mainstream, but why would you need them with Listen Again? And anyway who had time to feel even more of a fogey trying to learn the next new technology? More recently, thanks to the Guardian and the estimable US webmag Slate, it began to dawn on me what gems I was missing. You don’t even have to go and find podcasts but can arrange for them to come straight to your computer. Or even to your phone! Sometimes the modern world is so wonderful I can hardly stand it.

For all the newness of the technology though it’s also a case of plus ça change, and good podcasts can become as essential a part of one’s life as TV and radio classics. I remember watching Nationwide as a kid. Every few weeks someone would write in to say they hadn’t missed a show since 1969 and how great was that? The seventies were obviously a barren period but still, they must (I thought) have had f*** all to do if they were  tuning into Frank Bough every night.

It was a shock then to realise that I have become one of those people who never misses my favourite programme. The show concerned is Slate’s culture chat podcast, the Culture Gabfest, and I have a 100% record since the middle of 2009. Not due to some anal completism you understand and not, of course, due to having an otherwise boring life, but simply because it’s so good there’s no reason to miss it. Ever. Not unless you’re actually dead, and even then I expect Apple are currently working on a gadget for streaming audio in the afterlife. I just hope Steve Jobs is making a fuss about the quality of the celestial interface device. Maybe Hell is simply not having this pop up in your iTunes every Wednesday.

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The Great Sport Relief Bake Off: BBC Celebrity Special


Sports and cakes? Do they go together? I think not. And I’d have to seriously question the ‘celebrity’ bit of this, since I hardly recognise anyone, apart from Angela Griffin, Arlene Phillips and Fi Glover. But I’m enjoying it hugely. Why? Because they’re being set tasks most primary school kids would expect to do in a cooking lesson, (eg cheese scones), and despite that, they’re mostly crap, that’s why.

The woman who plays the shop assistant in Miranda tipped a ton of red colouring into her electric mixer for her revolting looking ‘red velvet tray bake’, turned the mixer on, then splattered red slop over herself and everything around her. Then she created an accidental snowstorm with icing sugar and a fast moving whisk attachment. That never happens on the main series of the Great British Bake Off. The contestants are far too good, too practised and perfectionist for that sort of thing.

And by ‘that sort of thing’ I mean what I sometimes do when I cook. I was employed as a chef once and I sent watercress soup squirting with vivid green splendour up the walls of a very posh kitchen when I forgot to put the lid on the blender. Twice. Oh yes.

It seems that many of these ‘celebrities’ never bake in real life at all. Arlene Phillips got herself into somewhat of a pickle. Angela Griffin was pretty darn good, and is in the final tonight. Fi Glover and Anita Rani too.

Sadly there is no Sue Perkins in this. And the banging on about baking cakes to raise money for Sports Relief gets a bit tedious (fine cause though it is of course). I love seeing the wonderful Mary Berry and rather foxy Paul Hollywood looking on with pained sorrow at times, when all of the banana chocolate cakes are so bad as to be inedible, or pastry sticks to the surface, quiche sticks to the flancase, or someone makes a prawn meringue, yes you heard that right. Truly, madly, horrible. But brilliant.

The celebrities flail around like helpless, hopeless mortals who normally buy Mr Kipling slices. God bless them, one and all.

Posted by Inkface

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Holby City: The champagne’s chilling in the mini fridge

(Series 14, Ep.13)   It was The Big Day at Holby. The day when they finally found out whether they’d achieve Foundation Trust status. It was a big deal, because without it they wouldn’t get funding for research and equipment and Holby would die a slow death. Hanssen was confident, though. He even had a bottle of champagne in the mini fridge in his office, as we could see from the fridge cam cunningly placed inside it.

The day didn’t start too well when the person who turned up to do the assessment was the horrible one whom I previously described as being “so stern he made Henrik Hanssen look like Graham Norton.”  The day didn’t start too well for Irish Dr Greg, either, as he had a hangover and was put in charge of Darwin for the day. It got even worse when Sahira Shah the Registrah went off to pick up her adorable little son Indy from nursery and then news came in of a nasty car crash and a child with a coat labelled Indy was brought into the hospital. Greg went from being frantic that there was no Registrah present when the CTU Traumafone rang, to being frantic that the woman of his dreams may just have ended up tangled in some wreckage on one of Holby’s highways. Greg was worrying about Sahira, Hanssen was worrying about Sahira and Jac was annoyed that everyone was busy worrying rather than knuckling down and suturing arteries.  Continue reading

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Casualty: Ready for anything

(Series 26, Ep.17) A cracker of a first episode in the new Cardiff-based location. Extra long and complete with car crashes, explosions, poison gas, Tess in peril, a handsome new doctor and some fabulous work by Dr Sam Nicholls. I didn’t even have time to miss Dr Ruth Winters and Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren.

We began with our favourite emergency medics literally unwrapping their shiny new department, the previous one having been ravaged by fire. The new version is slick, shiny  (or it was at the start), and more closely resembles the wards of Holby City. The staff were just there to unwrap stuff and make sure it was working, find out where the toilets were, get the CT scanner up and running, that sort of thing. But when there was a multi vehicle car crash nearby, Nick Jordan wasted no time in declaring Holby A&E open for business. “Ready for anything,” he declared. Would he still have made that call if he’d known about the ensuing explosion and chemical leak on a nearby housing estate? Probably not, and he did go a little bit wobbly in the new Peace Garden. “Why do we need a Peace Garden?” he asked Charlie, who was sitting out there contemplating the peace and quiet. Charlie speculated it was probably so people had somewhere to go to contemplate the peace and quiet. Or to smoke. And, if the Linden Cullen Memorial Garden is anything to go by, it’ll also turn out to be a good spot for staff members to be attacked and/or poisoned. Anyway, Charlie gave Nick the small pep talk he needed – Charlie really is your go-to guy for a pep talk – and Nick headed back indoors ready to sort out the carnage.  Continue reading

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