Monthly Archives: April 2011

Doctor Who (6.1): A dash of Aslan, a touch of Munch and bucketloads of brilliance

That Steven Moffat does love a good mystery doesn’t he? We’re back with a bang (or three) and already we have a gazillion questions. Why did the future Doctor invite Amy, Rory, River and his younger self to Utah to watch him die at the hands of the mysterious astronaut? Who is inside the spacesuit? Why was the younger Doctor late for this appointment? Is the Stormcage actually a prison or is it more like witness protection (guard on the phone: “You better get down here sir. She’s doing it again. Dr Song, sir. She’s packing…”) she certainly seems to be able to leave whenever she choses?

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Casualty: Two on a tower

(Series 25, Ep.33) You know it’s a gruelling episode when there’s a list of helpline information as long as your arm on iPlayer. Sadly I scanned through this and there’s no number to ring if you’ve been affected by boredom/irritation at having to devote 50 minutes of your life to a whole episode of Kirsty/Warren/Nita flashbacks.

Little Miss Glum had taken herself to the top of the fire station tower and was determined to stay up there till Kirsty had filled her in on the real story of her life with Warren. This involved an episode full of flashbacks, in which characters appear as their younger selves by adopting different partings and stronger regional accents. And guess what? Warren was always a nasty piece of work (I know – shocker!), creepy even when he was meant to be being charming, winning the hand of the lovely Kirsty by beating her current boyfriend to a pulp (something she only worked out in this episode).   Continue reading

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The Crimson Petal and the White (ep 3)

If you imagine the Victorian era as one where bitter secrets were kept hidden beneath a profusion of aspidistras (thank you Mr Orwell), utter despair masked under immaculate swathes of black mourning lace, and the sexuality of ‘respectable’ women so deeply buried they might as well be sewn into their bloomers, then The Crimson Petal and the White has all of that to a T.

There was less sex in this episode (and what action Rackham managed to get looked either extremely uncomfortable  – in an ancient, squeaky, lumpy single bed – or what was tantamount to necrophilia  – with a heavily sedated and emotionally traumatised wife) but it was an absolute corker nonetheless. My highlights included a fantastic black lace shrouded interchange between Agnes Rackham (Amanda Hale) and Mrs Fox (Shirley Henderson), whose eyes alone act the pants off most other people in the business. I also loved the echoes of Jane Eyre with Sugar moving into the spartan governess room in the Rackham household, overtly to look after his daughter Sophie, but really to be on hand for Rackham to shag at his convenience.   Continue reading

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Holby City: If something’s painful, keep your distance

(Series 13 Ep.27) Penny Valentine only died last week, so obviously her former colleagues will be suffering. It’s conventional wisdom that what they need is a bit of counselling. “I trust you cascaded  the note from HR about counselling?” Hanssen asked Jac. She sucked her cheeks in every so slightly (Jac is not one for management-speak), and replied that putting £50 behind the bar would surely be more therapeutic. She knows she’s on thin ice with Hanssen, though, so when he argued she gave in. “Okay, I cascaded, I cascaded!”

She didn’t cascade, though – whatever that means – with the result that Funny Little Nurse Tait ended up sobbing in a toilet cubicle. She takes things to heart, does FLNT, and wasn’t coping with her grief. Jac was right generally, though, as everyone else ended up at the bar at the end of the shift, raising their glasses in honour of Penny’s life. Young Dr Oliver Valentine wasn’t present as he’s presumably on bereavement leave.    Continue reading

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Game of Thrones: Winter has arrived

(Ep.1/10) “Winter is coming,” the members of House Stark are fond of saying, and a cloud of vapour rises before their faces at each syllable. Winterfell, their home territory, is already pretty freezing, and winter hasn’t yet arrived. When it does arrive, it’ll last for decades.

You’d think a holiday in the south would be just the ticket, but when Ned Stark gets the call that the king needs him to be his right-hand man and move to the more salubrious surroundings of King’s Landing, he’s not happy. He’s a northern kind of guy (he’s Sean Bean, after all), and being the King’s Hand is not a job you’d want, given that the previous incumbent is dead, possibly poisoned by the evil Lannisters.

Ah, the Lannisters. I shouldn’t love them, but I do. Evil, scheming, immoral (brother Jaime and sister Cersei are a bit too fond of each other, let’s say), but undoubtedly glamorous. Then there’s their brother Tyrion, a dwarf who makes up for his lack of inches with a razor-sharp wit.

HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s epic novel (the first in an, as yet, uncompleted series), showing in the UK on Sky Atlantic,  is wonderful. It’s probably testament to Martin’s brilliant writing that what was shown on screen last night in the first episode was so exactly how I’d imagined the world of the book in my head, particularly the Winterfell scenes.

 The task of introducing such an array of characters, in various different settings, wasn’t an easy one to achieve in an hour, but it was done really well. Captions indicating the locations were only used the first time each one appeared, and after that it was left to the characters and the very different feel of each location to show where we were.

The cast are excellent. Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen had exactly the right combination of fragility and inner strength, and her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) was just… spooky. Peter Dinklage looks like he’s going to be a perfect Tyrion and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jaime has the perfect mix of flashy good-looks and ruthlessness. I also liked the early glimpses of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who shoots arrows better than her brothers and can’t be doing with needlework.

A great start, and I’m looking forward to seeing the story unfold.

Posted by PLA          (more Game of Thrones posts here)

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Casualty: It’s not what you’ve got, it’s who you are

(Series 25, Ep.32) So who’s the best clinical lead? Is it Nick Jordan, all designer suits, snappy put-downs and brusque, no-nonsense bedside manner? Or the warm, motherly Miriam Turner, who’ll go with you for your medical appointments and put £50 behind the bar on a night out?

I like both of them, but which one should get the job, if there’s only one job? There’s only one way to find out – vote. Yup, Henry and Hanssen decreed that what was needed was a staff popularity contest, with the winner being decided by secret ballot. The ways of the NHS (Holby-style) are many and mysterious indeed.

You could never accuse Nick Jordan of pandering to public opinion or going out of his way to make himself popular – quite the reverse. “In order to win a popularity contest you have to be popular,” Dr Zoe Hanna advised him, but even with hs job apparently on the line, he wasn’t going to compromise by actually being nice. So when a girl was brought into the ED with apparently all the symptoms of being very, very drunk, Nick wasn’t listening to her sister protesting that the girl hadn’t been drinking at all, and must have been drugged. His staff were cross with him. I was cross with him – we’d seen the girl’s orange juice being spiked earlier, so what was Nick playing at? It turned out that the girl’s sister was well-known to Nick for having such a severe alcohol problem that she was, in fact, dying of liver cirrhosis. And just at the point where you’ve thrown your hands in the air in despair at Nick’s lack of bedside manner, and Lenny has cast his vote in favour of Miriam, Nick manages to persuade the father of the two girls, who hasn’t spoken to his elder daughter for years, to donate part of his liver to her. A job well done in the interests of his patient, Nick Jordan-style.

And it turns out that, while a cuddly personality will take you a long way, the ED staff actually prefer the more curmudgeonly approach of Nick. He may be a tad cussed, but he also happens to be a genius, and when you’re up to your knees in blood, guts and trauma, that’s what you want.

Meanwhile, Jay was dealing with a patient with breasts. Continue reading

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The Archers: Pimp my Peggy

Yes, I think I can just about detect a small plot here.

Those of us who’ve been puzzling over the purpose of Elona, the heavily-accented carer of poor witless Jack, let out a collective ‘eureka!’ this week. As with Archimedes in his bath, so the solution landed on our heads like an apple. You know, I’ve always wondered how Galileo managed to drop those two apples from the Leaning Tower of Pisa in such a way as to clobber Newton and Archimedes simultaneously, and why were they sharing a bath anyway? Those Greeks, what were they like? But back to Elona, who isn’t Greek so much as Albanian, and whose air-time has been steadily increasing to eye-watering levels since she first popped up to tell Peggy that, ‘Jack ‘as ‘ad a goo’ night Meesus Worrley’: finally we all understood her story-arc. Because till now speculation, which you can be sure has been rife in Qwerty-Towers, if nowhere else, has gone futilely along the following lines:

Why are they bigging up this here Elona considering she is playing exactly the sort of part generally occupied by the silent characters, viz. a member of the serving classes who is a complete treasure? (See Titcombes.) Is it simply because she allows the writers to tick the ‘ethnic diversity’ box? This box has hitherto been ticked by Usha, but obviously in these difficult days of budget cuts that kind of unthinking form-filling just won’t do. Presumably an alarming chap in braces and deceptively jovial manner has come in to run a compulsory equalities awareness workshop for the writers, shortly before the start of his three-year contract on Midsomer Murders. He has had to explain that just because a character is Indian doesn’t mean your cultural work is done. Particularly if that character is a lawyer and extremely middle-class and was born in the UK and is a vicar’s wife, albeit one with a statue of Ganesh on her coffee table. It’s rather like primary schools assuming they’re good to go re. cultural diversity because they’ve ‘done’ Diwali. All primary schools do Diwali because there are sweetmeats and candles and it’s near Christmas and they kept the display from last year. Tick. I’d like to see ‘em tackle something a bit more challenging, like Yom Kippur (no food or candles) or Ramadan (no food or candles).

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