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"Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too" is a wonderfully crafted slice of slightly-less-dark "Black Mirror". Actually, it's a lot lighter than many of the instalments to-date and an appropriately cheerful close to this short fifth season.
Miley Cyrus plays the manipulated Ashley O, the victim of her greedy Puppet Master aunt (Susan Pourfar). Cyrus is great, delivering a moving performance, and the viewer can't help but feel sorry for her predicament.
There's oodles of cuteness contained in this story and it's an enjoyable ride. This is a tale that viewers will either love or hate. For me, "Black Mirror" is a near perfect anthology series with a mix of thought provoking content. The season finale reflects Brooker's lighter side and many will find it a sugary treat.
10 out of 10.
Black Mirror: Smithereens (2019)
Well, this escalated quickly...
"Smithereens" is an ambitious and gripping tale from Brooker.
The success of the episode sits on the shoulders of Andrew Scott, an actor who appears to be omnipresent at the moment (and for good reason). Scott delivers a powerhouse performance as the tortured Chris Gillhaney.
He's supported by an excellent cast. Topher Grace delivers a memorable performance as the new-age billionaire Billy Bauer. Damson Idris is convincing as the young man who finds his day going downhill fast.
Thought provoking stuff. 9 out of 10.
Black Mirror: Striking Vipers (2019)
A weak episode to kick start the fifth season
"Striking Vipers" feels like a weak tale to start the much anticipated fifth season. With the knowledge that there are only three stories this year, I had high hopes that each tale would knock the proverbial ball out of the park. "Vipers" is certainly good, and it has moments of greatness, but the proceedings feel drawn out and somewhat reminiscent of previous seasons' offerings.
There's a neat nod to the previous season opener, "USS Callister", with the use of the VR headpiece but this feels like a "filler" episode.
8 out of 10. I enjoyed "Striking Vipers" but it felt overlong and unoriginal. Hopefully, the rest of the season will raise the bar.
Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne (2019)
A satisfying resolution with tension so thick, you'd need Valyrian steel to slice through it
"The Iron Throne" concludes this epic series in a most satisfying way.
Any ending to this behemoth would be controversial and disappointing to many fans, who've had years to speculate and dream of their ideal finale. However, this episode makes sense and provides a logical closure to the proceedings.
The tension in the opening thirty minutes or so is so thick you'd need Valyrian steel to slice through it. In the whole of the series, never has the sheer size and terror of a full sized dragon been captured as impressively as this.
Beautifully shot and solidly directed, this is a fitting end to an impressive series.
10 out of 10.
A gripping and heart wrenching episode
Despite a measured and relatively calm start, this episode slips into top gear for the final 20 minutes. This is a heart wrenching, hard hitting episode which will leave the viewer stunned at developments. The episode has a season finale feel to it, such is the atmosphere and the beautiful closing scene.
Just when you thought everything was coming together, the Big Bad lurking in the shadows is biding its time to sweep the rug away from the heroes' collective feet.
9 out of 10.
Russian Doll: Ariadne (2019)
A Glorious Finale
One of my many bugbears is that a lot of series don't know how to end. This is the exception. "Ariadne" is a glorious, emotional, sincere and gripping slice of television.
From the word go, there is a positive energy and glow that envelops the viewer. This is intelligent storytelling, brave and ingenious.
Just a joy to watch, this is a 10 out of 10 episode.
Russian Doll: The Way Out (2019)
The darkness before the light
"The Way Out" is a tremendously gripping episode, plunging Nadia into the pit of despair before realisation hits her that there could be an escape route from this ghastly Groundhog Day.
With emotional flashbacks to Nadia's past, there are disconcerting moments but there is hope on the horizon.
Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)
Stranger than fiction
An unusual documentary, the viewer will find themselves angry at not only the horrendous acts of Berchtold but the unbelievable naivety of the Broberg parents.
Bizarre, horrifying and baffling, this is a strange tale, indeed.
The Walking Dead: Adaptation (2019)
Home sweet home
Following the shocking and unexpected end to Season 9A, the halfway point (or Season 9B) starts with an unusually tanned Negan, freed from his basement cell at last. Interestingly (at least for me), he is now sans bandage. There goes my theory that Negan was hiding a walker bite on his arm and was the saviour of mankind, having a cure pulsing through his veins!
There's a beautiful moment when a nauseas Negan falls to his knees in a clearing, sick after drinking contaminated water from a stream. The realisation hits him that this is the same place that Rick's gang were forced on their knees to watch the demise of two of their friends. The scene is subtle but as hard hitting as Negan's Lucille.
This is a genuinely promising start to the second half of the season. The new baddies, The Whisperers, are genuinely creepy en masse and there's a whole new dynamic to the show following the significant time jump in the earlier episodes of this season.
The young Cailey Fleming shines as Judith Grimes. Her interactions with Negan are what make this episode pop. Negan clearly has deep respect and a feeling of responsibility for Judith following the "death" of Rick.
8 out of 10.
Russian Doll: Reflection (2019)
An ironic title, an amazing instalment
"Reflection" is an appropriately ironic title for reasons I won't give away here.
This is a top notch episode with some standout moments. Nadia's visit to Beatrice's apartment is memorable and a wonderful scene.
9 out of 10.
Russian Doll: Superiority Complex (2019)
Some metaphysical contemplations and more dark fun
"Superiority Complex" addresses some of the questions the viewer may have considered. For the rest of the world, is life continuing? Are there multiple realities shooting off in different directions? Are Alan and Nadia dying at the same time?
Russian Doll: Alan's Routine (2019)
A whole new dynamic to the series
After the dramatic finale of the previous episode, we're introduced properly to Nadia's fellow lift traveller, Alan Zaveri.
Following his meeting with Nadia, Alan is really thrown off kilter, resulting in a revelation that hits his fragile psyche hard.
This is a very entertaining, mysterious and thought provoking episode.
The viewer will be unexpectedly delighted at the cameo by the legendary Burt Young.
Russian Doll: A Warm Body (2019)
The plot thickens
"A Warm Body" takes Nadia considerably deeper down the rabbit hole. Her character is really growing on me, too.
The excellent conclusion to this episode reveals lots of promise for the rest of the series.
Russian Doll: The Great Escape (2019)
The mystery and intrigue of Nadia's predicament continues
"The Great Escape" proves to be nothing of the kind for the dazed and confused protagonist, Nadia.
Nadia's nightmarish situation continues to baffle her. Natasha Lyonne is fantastic in the lead role.
Culture vultures will love the many cinematic references in the show.
8 out of 10. Fun and freaky.
This comedy drama has caught my attention
"Russian Doll" is a unique television show. It's high concept; a young New Yorker keeps reliving the same day, "Groundhog Day"-style.
Beautifully shot with a great ensemble cast and a kick-ass soundtrack, I'm genuinely curious to see where this series goes.
Orphan Black: Human Raw Material (2016)
A genuinely entertaining episode; one of the best so far
"Human Raw Material" is so thoroughly entertaining, I was sad when the end credits rolled. Filled with drama, suspense and perfectly pitched humour, this is a phenomenally entertaining 40-something minutes of television.
Tatiana Maslany never fails to amaze at her portrayal of the individual Orphans. Here, we see Cosima and Krystal share the same space whilst fate keeps them apart.
Another solid episode with drama and comedy in equal measure
There's a wonderful balance between suspenseful drama and light comedy in this episode.
Felix and Donnie pose as a couple to infiltrate the mysterious fertility clinic operation and Alison gives Donnie a helping hand when it comes to inspiration.
Meanwhile, we discover the tragic backstory of MK.
10 out of 10.
Wonderful continuity from previous seasons
Season 4 of "Orphan Black" has a whole new energy. There's fresh dynamism in each episode with the plot sizzling with new possibilities. In short, it's a bundle of fun.
Surprisingly, too, there are lovely nods to the previous seasons. It's refreshing that significant moments in the characters' lives haven't been forgotten and that new possibilities arise out of old scenarios. This leads to an interesting confession from Alison to a genuinely shocked and confused Cosima.
10 out of 10.
A stunning second episode
"Transgressive Border Crossing" brings us back to the present day. There's a whole new energy to this season of the show and it's a genuine delight to see the gang back together.
This fourth season is gripping; it's difficult to predict the direction it will go in.
10 out of 10.
The final days of Beth Childs
The first episode of Season 4 is a surprising flashback to the final days of Beth Childs. This is a genuine delight as we're reacquainted with characters who we never imagined would reappear. In addition, we revisit some old locations.
This is an imaginative way to kick off the fourth season. Now a Netflix production, the quality of the show seems a notch higher.
10 out of 10.
Mayans M.C.: Perro/Oc (2018)
A promising start to the series
"Perro/Oc" shows great promise for this sequel to "Sons of Anarchy".
The production is glossy and different enough from its predecessor to immediately stamp out its own identity. This has the potential to be an even better show.
There are a few familiar faces to ensure a sense of continuity with the earlier series, too.
Violent, funny and gripping, this instalment bodes well for the future.
9 out of 10.
An excellent season finale
"History" is another solid instalment, tying up some plot threads whilst leaving others to develop over the next season or two.
Alison Steadman is beautiful as Kendall Malone and I'm hoping we see more of her character in the future.
Season 3 has been a pleasing one. We've said "goodbye" to a future regulars whilst new faces have been introduced. The pacing has been fast and there's not been much, if any, unnecessary filler.
10 out of 10. I'm looking forward to seeing what surprises Season 4 will bring.
A violent, fast moving and rewarding episode
There are many things to like in "Insolvent Phantom", the penultimate episode of Season 3.
Not only does the move to the UK bring a new dynamic to the main plot thread, we see Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy) sing, Helena do what she's best at (which involves a fair degree of ultra-violence), and Delphine shows just how cold and calculating she can be when pushed.
The episode concludes with a significant cliffhanger.
10 out of 10.
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
Despite a wonderful concept, this film fails to deliver
"Velvet Buzzsaw" has, at its bloody beating heart, a fantastically promising concept. However, the physical delivery of the potential thrills, spills and chills is nowhere near as satisfying as it could have been. I had been excited to see this movie after catching a glimpse of the trailer but, as the credits rolled, I felt disappointment wash over me.
There's a memorable moment, around the halfway mark, where a painting featuring monkeys comes to life. It's a beautiful scene and I was expecting more of the same. Sadly, the rest of the film doesn't live up to this set-piece.
The cast is great but there's something lacking from the movie. It has an uneven tone and doesn't live up to expectations.
Zawe Ashton gives a great performance as Josephina and Jake Gyllenhaal plays against type as the camp Vandewalt but the talents of Toni Collette and John Malkovich are woefully underused.
Good but not great. There are a few creepy moments but "Velvet Buzzsaw" fails to maintain an atmosphere of suspense.
7 out of 10.
The Guest (2014)
A wonderful throwback to '80s action horror movies
"The Guest" is a wonderful nod to the types of film that Cannon would deliver back in the '80s. With its nostalgic synth soundtrack, fast moving pace, copious amounts of dry ice and lots of big guns, this is perfect viewing for when you want bubblegum for the eyes.
8 out of 10. A gem.