Tag Archives: drama

Kick-ass women: Indira Varma

indira varmaThe final episode of the BBC 1 drama What Remains aired last night, and if you haven’t seen it, get yourself to iPlayer immediately. But leave the lights on.  I’m not going to post any spoilers, but what I will say is that the ending was twisted, dark and rather extreme. The final scene will haunt me for quite a while, I think.

Front and centre when any twisted, dark, extreme stuff was going on was the character of Elaine Markham, played with absolute swagger and charismatic nastiness by Indira Varma (who also appeared in Luther and has been cast in the next series of Game of Thrones). In a cast of incredible actors (Steven Mackintosh, David Threlfall etc), Varma stole every scene she was in. Elaine was, at best, bitchy, feisty, confident and sexy as hell. At worst, she was very, very bad indeed. Or, in Varma’s words, “When she’s your friend, it’s a party all the time, it’s great fun. But if she turns against you – that’s when you’re in trouble.”

Posted by PLA     (episode 1 and 2 reviewed here)

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The Following: Things that go AAARRGGHH!!! in the night

the following bacon purefoyI watched the first episode of The Following last night (I know, only a week behind everybody else, as ep. 2 has already aired) and I think I’m still shivering. It’s seriously spooky stuff.

The set up is that Kevin Bacon plays Ryan Hardy, your typical ex-FBI agent with an alcohol problem and nightmares about his last case, the one where he took down a Seriously Bad Guy Indeed. The episode opened with the serial killer Bad Guy, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) breaking out of prison, leaving a trail of gore in his wake – but how did he do it? And how will the FBI capture him before he kills again?

Obviously they need Hardy, and obviously after initial reluctance he’s persuaded to come back. This is where it starts getting properly creepy. Continue reading

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Holby City: Who’s sitting at Hanssen’s desk?

(Series 15, ep.5)   “Who is running Holby City?” Ric wanted to know when he discovered Henrik Hanssen had taken a leave of absence (that’s “leave of absence,” worried Hanssenites – they mentioned him so often in this episode that I’m quite confident he’ll be back. It’s Luc Hemingway all over again). Ric was not perked up to discover that the answer to his question was (temporarily) Serena Campbell, a woman with whom he does not exactly see eye to eye.

She’s confident, that Serena. Her job interview was more like a sales pitch to the board.  “I have what I believe is a compelling solution,” she briskly informed them. “Me.” The thing with Serena is, although she does display flashes of warmth, she is really all about the balance sheet. As such, she did look scarily comfortable in Hanssen’s chair.

Everyone wanted Ric to go for the CEO job, because Michael Spence and Elliott Hope weren’t interested in it and everyone is scared of Serena. The four of them seemed to be the entire candidate pool. I don’t have any particular knowledge of NHS administration, but I couldn’t help thinking this wasn’t the most realistic scenario I’d ever come across. What it did do, however, was set Ric up for the classic patient v future-of-the-hospital dilemma. He had a patient who was about to have a kidney transplant, and the kidney she was about to get might or might not give her cancer. Serena thought it would be dreadful publicity for the hospital if they gave a patient cancer, but Ric felt the kidney was the only option for the patient. It wasn’t ideal that his interview for the CEO job meant he had to leave the operation early and leave the suturing up in the capable hands of The Malick. Naturally the machines started going beep while he was away, and by the time he got back to theatre there was blood everywhere. “You take the vein, I’ll take the artery,” said Ric.   Continue reading

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Holby City: Small things done in a great way

(Series 15, ep.4)   Not wanting to run into board member Cunningham, Hanssen pressed the B button on the lift and found himself in the basement. The basement is generally the place Holby cast members go to collapse, be attacked or have a sulky smoke. Nothing good generally happens there, but on this occasion, Hanssen found himself chatting to a Polish porter, Karol, whose job was under threat. This porter was a wise old sort, although he was blissfully unaware that he was talking to Henrik Hanssen, somewhat implausibly, given that Hanssen’s face had been all over local newspapers and TV news for weeks. It reminded me of the encounter between Kevin and the owner of the toy store in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (I’m sorry, but that film is my cultural touchstone). Karol was a people-person and liked to make a difference to the people he worked with. He had the following advice: “If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.”   Continue reading

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Holby City: Where’s the camoxidan when you need it?

(Series 15, ep.3)   I watched this episode with a befuffled head, thanks to having a very nasty cold. I say this by way of apology for the fact that this is such a poor-quality blog post. Having spent most of the day slumped in a sneezing heap watching Judge Judy from beneath heavy eyelids, frankly my powers of concentration weren’t what they should have been come 8 PM. Maybe camoxidan would have helped, but I’m willing to bet, now Eddi’s gone, camoxidan will never be mentioned on Holby again. People will go back to getting good old-fashioned paracetamol for pain.

Seeing Ianto Jones from Torchwood popping up on Keller didn’t help my confuzzlement. He (Gareth David Lloyd) was playing new boy Rhys Hopkins. I’m not quite sure what his job title was – I thought he said he was a radiographer, but he seemed to be doing generally doctorly stuff (and possibly dealing with aliens in the basement). As I said, I wasn’t at the peak of my powers, concentration-wise. That naughty Mary-Claire tried to get Chantelle into trouble with him by letting him think it was Chantelle who’d confused saline for anaesthetic. Our Chantelle doesn’t make mistakes like that, and as well as proving herself to be jolly competent on her first day as a staff nurse, she was also invited out for an end-of-shift drink by Ianto Jones Rhys.

There was another new person on AAU in the shape of junior doctor Lilah Birdwood (Natasha Leigh). I’m not sure about her yet – I don’t think we quite saw enough of her to know which way her personality is going to go. And Hanssen and Jac had to grapple with their priorities when a member of the board’s daughter needed an operation but Elliott also had the opportunity to try out his Herzig 3 on Aisha (that’s not a euphemism). This week’s guest star collapsing in the car park (there is always one) was Jack Ryder, formerly of EastEnders.

Next time: Hopefully I’ll have recovered and will be able to offer something a bit more entertaining than the above. In Holby, Jonny finds himself trying to keep both Mo and Jac happy; Sacha has a go at being a consultant; and there are dramatic events for Hanssen. Even more dramatic than being locked in the back of a van with only an upset man and a staple gun for company.

Posted by PLA More Holby City here

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The Spies Who Went Into The Cold – No More Spooks

As reported by various news sources today, the tenth series of Spooks to be shown this Autumn will be the last.

Because Jo The Hat would kill me if I didn't use a picture of Richard Armitage

The decision was rather unusually taken by the programme makers Kudos rather than by the BBC, on the grounds that they wanted to stop the show whilst it was still “in its prime”. Anybody who watched the most recent season may choose to strongly disagree with this statement, but still.

Despite its dip in form of late, Spooks can easily claim to be one of the most consistently brilliant dramas of the past ten years. This was due to a number of factors. Firstly, its excellent writing. Secondly, its often shocking plots. It speaks volumes that Spooks became something of a victim of its own success in this sense – you ended up expecting the unexpected, which when it happened became, er, totally expected. But the impact of killing one of its major characters in only  the first series without any warning is more than most serial dramas ever manage. Although I doubt deep-fat fryer manufacturers were quite so welcoming of this turn of events.  Continue reading

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Mildred Pierce: Monty, Carlo and bust

(Episode 5) Way back when, episode two in fact, a chap noted that it was difficult to get a rise out of Mildred Pierce because of the high quality writing and production. Also mentioned was the need to scour the later pages of James M Cain’s source novel to indulge in some gentle teasing; such were the more ludicrous plot devices presented to his readers. This raised faint hopes of the same cathartic idiocy in the final part of this series.

Are we there yet, CL? Oh yes, my little corumblings.

Last week we left Mildred unhappy but free from her wellsprings of weakness and downfall: Mad Veda and The Man Who Was Del Monty. Veda has left home in a strop (it was a mink strop, having exhausted her extensive wardrobe of huffs) to explore the downtown existence of an uber-diva. An advance guard of contrived silliness here, being as she has never sung a note in her life. Meanwhile Monty has been jettisoned on account of being a bit of a nuisance in the accounts; his first, then Mildred’s [note to feminine side: aristocratic gigolo with pencil moustache and cheek-bones built for glacier skiing bad for wallet).

The final episode opens with Mildred stalking Carlo Treviso, the famous conductor with whom Veda is pursuing her nascent career of operatic parping. She wants to pay the bills but Carlo, having been briefed, refuses to take orders from the mother ship. He also offers a baroque homily about coloratura sopranos, a trillful elite among whom Veda is the trilliest. This pep talk is a little hard to follow – still less quote – so here are my notes verbatim: “See little snake at zoo. Very pretty. Take home? Not sensible. Girl is snake. Coloratura much worse than snake. I no enjoy snake bite.”   Continue reading

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