Author Archives: Jo the Hat

Joy of Sets: Leverage

The official marketing line for Leverage is “Hustle meets the A-Team”. Trading Standards would not argue with this description. It is a fine place to start. But it’s a bit like calling Buckingham Palace an oversized council house, or George Osborne a bit of a knob. You’re hitting a truth, but missing out on a wealth of detail. Now I know I’m late to the Leverage party, but regular readers will be aware that when I fall for a show, I fall hard, and at least this way I can skip all that tedious waiting for the next episode/season stuff. Let me share what I’ve learned and loved in watching 77 episodes in just over a month… Continue reading

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Joy of Sets: M*A*S*H

M*A*S*HThere have been many medical shows in my past. I have hazy memories of Angels, was an avid viewer of Casualty for years until being lured away by ER, but my first love was M*A*S*H.

It’s a good job I’m not seeing any other medical shows at the moment, because I went from “Meeting my first crush is bound to be disappointing” reticence to “oh-my-god, why did we ever split up?” obsession in under a week, and there would, by now, be hurt recriminations coming in from Holby City and Facebook status updates that end in tears.

Apparently there have been people labouring under the misapprehension that M*A*S*H is a sitcom. I can only assume they never watched more than a couple of early episodes.  M*A*S*H is all ‘sit’ (all 250-plus episodes are about the highs and lows of the members of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean war ) and has plenty of moments of glorious comedy, but it will break your heart more than once and can be bleaker than a convention of fictional Scandinavian detectives.

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Lustbox: Alan Alda

HawkeyeMy mum (AKA TheBestMumInTheWorld™) gave me the complete M*A*S*H boxed set of DVDs a couple of years ago, and I have been eyeing them nervously ever since.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t start bingewatching as soon as I had the sofa and TV to myself, it was because I loved M*A*S*H in the 80s. I was allowed to stay up late after Guides on a Wednesday night to watch it and the disappointment I felt if I didn’t get home on time was acute. I looked at all those DVDs and was scared that it simply wouldn’t live up to my teenaged adoration.

Then a couple of weeks ago someone reblogged some M*A*S*H screenshots on to my Tumblr dashboard, I plucked up the courage to begin at the beginning and now I’m hooked all over again. Naturally, you’ll be getting a Joy of Sets review before long, but first things first. This was going to be a Lustbox for Hawkeye Pierce – then I started reading up on Alan Alda and it was clear that my focus was wrong.

Because while I love Hawkeye, with his whip-fast wit and scalpel-sharp comebacks – not to mention his liberal outlook and love of womankind (yes, he’s a womaniser, but he’s polite, respectful and always a gentleman (I’d choose Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce over Richard Gere’s “officer and a gentleman” any day of the week.)) – the man who brought him to life is even more interesting. Continue reading

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Doctor Who: Last Christmas

last christmasI’ve tried to be nice, I really have. I’ve reminded myself that writing and executive-producing a massive show like Doctor Who is incredibly difficult. And that coming up with new ideas for four years isn’t easy either. But I cannot reconcile the fact that the same man who wrote Blink, the Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, is the same one who Last Christmas. Somewhere along the line, Steven Moffat lost the plot. And now the nicest thing I can say about Last Christmas is that Peter Capaldi is being woefully under-served by his showrunner. Continue reading

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Doctor Who (8.12): Heaven knows, I’m miserable now…

dw death in heaven

Here be spoilers…

If this were Tumblr, there would be a very high probability that my submission for this evening would be the picture above with overlaid text indicating the fandom on the right and Steven Moffat on the left and something shouty in speechmarks. “Damn you Moffat!”, “This is why we can’t have nice things!” or “You had ONE job!”. You get the idea.

To be fair, Russell T Davies managed only two really good two-parter series finales (Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways and Army of Ghosts/Doomsday) – the rest suffered from the same puffiness that Death in Heaven was afflicted with.

The last few minutes were excellent, but (for me) couldn’t redeem the mawkish Clara and Danny scenes, the death of one of the best minor characters of the Moffat era and plot holes so big you could drop a full-grown Racnoss through them (the Cybermen not spotting Clara has only one heart, the fact that many of the dead would be beyond converting – though after last week’s horrors, I should probably be glad they stayed away from decomposition, UNIT getting the Tardis out of St Paul’s, but not Clara). Not to mention making Osgood credit OCD with an ability to rapidly count 87 moving Cybermen (she would know better, even if Steven Moffat doesn’t).

I’m holding out the slimmest hope that Missy killed Osgood’s alien doppelganger (I can see UNIT hanging on to her as a useful resource), because otherwise Steven Moffat has shot himself in the foot by writing out one of the best characters he’s created.

That said, there were moments to enjoy along the way – Osgood and Colonel Ahmed (always a pleasure to see Sanjeev Bhaskar) geeking about Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, with a bonus Doctor’s anecdote about foxtrotting with Sylvia Anderson, for example. I have to confess I missed the Jungle Book joke on my first pass too (at least, I assume “Man Scout” is a play on “man cub”…).

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Doctor Who (8.11): Dark doesn’t begin to cover it

dw missyI like dark. I also like tongue-in-cheek, and I’m a sucker for a in-joke. Wallop me with a lot of heart (insert your own Time Lord joke here) and I’ll leap aboard your show’s fandom like it’s the last bus out of Spalding on a Saturday night. You can see why Doctor Who has me firmly in its clutches…

I really want to be able to sing the praises of Dark Water – there was so much that was right about it – but it touched a horribly raw nerve for me, and I’m betting I’m not the only person thinking that for a little while it went just a shade too dark for a family show.

[Spoilers below the line…] Continue reading

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Doctor Who (8.9): It really is bigger on the inside

Doctor Who Series 8 (episode 9)

 

[Spoilers all the way down this week]

Now that was more like it… Flatline was proper scary Doctor Who, the kind of Who that gives its youngest viewers nightmares and leaves older viewers thrilled and delighted.

You could say the basic premise is that two-dimensional creatures are wreaking havoc on Earth by experimenting with the three dimensions they are now encountering. But, you could equally say that the basic premise of Flatline was to make Clara walk in the Doctor’s shoes for an episode…

Either way, Jamie Mathieson has done an excellent job (even better than last week’s Mummy on the Orient Express).  As have the lighting crews, SFX and CGI teams, and director – Flatline looks amazing, in particular the creepy scenes in the houses and the subway murals coming to life.

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