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Grantchester: Episode #1.1 (2014)
What the Dickens.
I'm looking back at this series, having been a big fan for years. This first episode is a very good start, it has a feel of Father Brown for grown ups about it. The interfering religious centre piece, the clueless detective and fifties setting.
It's a very decent mystery, and you are kept on your toes as to who the real guilty party is.
What always strikes me about this series, is just how good Tessa Peake Jones is, so lovable as Raquel, so pious here. She's formidable. Morven Christie is captivating, she and Norton made this first series. 8/10
Slightly bizarre, a little padded, but still a good watch.
David shows a true degree of naivety as he puts his trust in Hellman, it's almost bizarre how willing he is to share information considering the events surrounding his poor brother.
There isn't quite deal happening in this episode, this, as with the previous episode shows that this could have easily been made into a six part series. The trio of super human beings are causing the most interesting, and I'm now baffled if they are sent to protect or steal The Aphrodite Inheritance. We at least get a glimpse into what such an inheritance seems to be.
The first half is very good, the second half is crammed full of those seventies dream sequences, all of which look very corny, and seem to serve no purpose other then padding the episode out.
Foyle's War: The French Drop (2004)
Another outstanding episode.
Fifteen years ago this was transmitted, and it is still as brilliant as it was when first transmitted. The French Drop is a wonderful, clever episode, which once again makes you think and see things differently, about life in Britain during WW2. It is almost terrifying to imagine how much collateral damage occured, but as it's unpalatable, most chose to ignore it. This episode looks at that very thing, with Foyle of course there to address matters.
Some wonderful characters, including the return of the wonderful Hilda, Ellie Haddington was so well cast, I'm so glad she became a regular. Tony Haygarth's ex brothel owner character was also great, and needled Foyle, again posing the morality question.
Well acted, well shot, with a terrific story, it works incredibly well as a murder mystery, as you are in the dark until the end, but it's so much more, it's about Foyle putting country before Justice. I found this one very impressive.
Lots of talk about the show coming back, please make it happen. 10/10
The I-Land (2019)
Worth a look, just don't expect anything major.
I knew before reading a single review that there would be a host of one star reviews, it's not that bad, it's watchable enough. Let's not pretend, it is a total, and upper rip off of Lost. It has the same premise, the same format of flashbacks, same discoveries, but where Lost seemed like it went on for millennia, this at least had the decency to last only eight eight episodes.
A second series is not needed, none of us needs to see that. Part 1 was intriguing, if Lost scaled down, Part 3 was perhaps the most interesting, and took it in a different direction. The ending sucked.
5/10 is a fair score, I would never want to watch it again, but it made a few wet September afternoons interesting enough.
It Chapter Two (2019)
It was fair, it just lacked true horror.
I made the decision to watch the first part just prior to seeing this second chapter, as for me it's one film. I'm glad I did, it's a direct continuation.
I think the ups and downs of the first film apply here. On the plus side it looks wonderful, it's slick, well produced, overall it was visually appealing. Bill Skarsgård makes a wonderful Pennywise, he's terrifying and captivating, I loved how he moved and spoke. Very well acted, I especially loved James McAvoy, clever casting.
On the downside, it's the scariest, most messed to book I've ever read, that horror didn't translate well, I felt like I was watching an adventure thriller for teens at times, it had lots going on, lots of thrills, but horror? No. It was a bit formulaic, each character hot their respective item, and each was terrorised one by one, it needed more surprises, more shocks.
I preferred the first part, but I think they did a good job here, I hope it's released with both chapters linked. Overall, I enjoyed very much.
Chapter I 7.5/10 Chapter II 7/10
Worth waiting for.
I made the decision to wait for the second part's release to watch it, and I watched the first one, and went straight to the cinema for this, for me it's one long film.
Where do you start? It's a messed up book, with some real dark, crazy horror. Some of it translated here, some of it didn't. The famous scene where Pennywise is first seen I loved, it was terrifying, and from that first moment, I loved Bill Skarsgård, and have nothing but praise for him.
People criticising the run time, clearly haven't read the book, it's a long, but rewarding book. As I now can compare the two films, I preferred this first installment. It's very well made, well acted, definitely enjoyable.
Sometimes it felt more adventure then horror, it never really felt full on horror, there were some very good scenes, but they could have ramped it up a bit. Many people are terrified of clowns, they could have pushed that vibe a bit more. Lots of humour, too much though? Not sure, I didn't detect much humour in the book.
I'm so glad Stephen King is on the big screen still, how about a reworking of The Tommyknockers?
Head Count (2018)
I really enjoyed this, I was expecting it to be the usual run of the mill, colourless horror, but it wasn't. More in the horror/thriller genre, this delivered some unexpected shocks, and moments of real subtlety. It does have some of the usual horror cliches, some loud shocks and obvious scares, but what it does so well is deliver some very unexpected moments, ones you need to watch closely for.
Well made, very well produced, I thought they made the best use the budget, clever use of lightning, and very well acted.
All in all, very satisfying. 8/10
It's good, but very padded.
This is the first episode that's felt padded, the first fifteen minutes features the longest chase I have ever seen. Eric Morrison is chased by an unknown figure in a Mercedes, and it goes, on..... and on...... and on.
The chase is well done, and as it's all location work, it looks particularly good. It just goes on too long, nothing else major happens here.
It takes on more of a fantasy feel, as the heavies are ousted by Basileos and Charlambos, in the guise of David Collier.
A word for Maria, loved her character, Carmen Gomez would later appear in Dr Who's The Three Doctors, alongside Colin Baker, it's a lovely performance.
The first episode that was suffered eight part serial lull. 6/10
The story undergoes a big change.
Injured and abandoned in the mountains, David encounters the peculiar Basileos, a strange native on the island, who offers help.
I mentioned in the previous episode, that I felt it had somewhat of a Francis Durbridge feel to it, it was all intrigue and mystery. This third part sees the shift, it's still a mystery, but it takes on a somewhat more fantasy feel, with some truly bizarre events. I'm wanting to know who the three charismatic figures are, and just what's going on with that money.
Who would have been foolish enough to assume that Basileos was silent, I can't imagine anyone casting Brain Blessed to be silent, it takes time, but he soon starts bellowing, I really enjoyed his presence here.
Losing Gemma (2006)
A clever, well acted drama.
I think people that reviewed this, missed the subtleties of it. Aplit into two parts, Part one conjures up the illusion, drives you up an alley, whereas the second delivers the knockout. You think you're aware of what's happening, and know the facts of the events, but of course there's the twist.
The acting is terrific, Jason Flemyng and Alice Eve stand out, but it's the brilliant performance from Rachel Leskovac that stands out, she was fantastic throughout.
It reminded me a little bit of Carla, with Helen McCrory, out a similar sort of time. I wish these type of dramas, we only seem to get six and eight parters.
I enjoyed it very much. 8/10
Losing Gemma: Episode #1.2 (2006)
Terrific second episode.
It almost feels as if part one was a trap, you're made to think you know what's going on, when in reality, more is going on then you think.
Part two is the much better offering, with mode going on, some incredible manipulation, and one of the biggest twists you'll ever see.
Brilliant acting throughout, but as with part one, it's Rachel Leskovac that impresses most of all, she's terrific.
One thing I wondered, was that house real?
Losing Gemma: Episode #1.1 (2006)
A mixed bag, more good then bad.
A drama very typical of itv from 2006, reminiscent of Carla (Helen McCrory) and a few others, but not as good. It has its merits, but it's a bit hit and miss. Part one is a little irritating to be honest, Gemma is a total pain in the neck, but there are enough twists to make it intriguing.
You have to give huge credit to Rachel Leskovac, for her creation of Gemma, she's blonde, annoying, and over the top, no not Gemma Collins, but you could be forgiven, she's a nightmare. If I was on holiday with her, I'd have jumped off the plane.
I watched it, for the first time since its transmission, think I enjoyed it more now. 7/10
Dark Mon£y (2019)
A powerhouse drama.
I'll be honest, ten minutes in, I thought I would have had to switch it off, the subject material is incredibly dark. However, the performances were such, that I got into it. As it progresses, it gets darker, and more engaging.
A fabulous cast deliver some incredible performances, Max Fincham is the standout, he's captivating, as is Jill Halfpenny, she's been prolific, I just had no idea and was this good.
It of course deals with recent events in Hollywood, and beyond, but is as much about the diabolical creation, the NDA.
I urge you to try and watch this without feeling a raft of emotions, anger, pity, frustration etc.
Incredibly good. 9/10
Dark Mon£y: The Valiant One (2019)
A wonderful ending.
The conclusion to this wonderful, dark, moving drama is terrific, we were given a glimpse of what the angered father was going to do, but even halfway I had no idea how I was going to play out.
Babou Ceesay, Jill Halfpenny, entire cast, fantastic, it's one of the best acted dramas I've seen in some time. Hugely impressive throughout.
So well written, sadly a drama relevant for today's age, dealing with uncomfortable, but relevant issues.
This final part was exceptional. 10/10
Dark Mon£y: All That Glitters... (2019)
It's enthralling drama.
Isaac starts to spiral out of control, as the poor boy so confused and conflicted starts lashing out, fortunately his sister cares fiercely for him, his parents meanwhile begin to fall apart as a unit.
The story continues to be compelling, heart breaking and captivating. The performances are tremendous, on this occasion I must give a big shout to Jill Halfpenny, always a good actress, she is incredibly good, I have never seen her this good. The young man also impresses still.
I have no idea how this will play out in the conclusion. 9/10
Change, and a fresh feel.
Jones has gone, and gets the honorary mention, and in steps DS Nelson. Gwilym Lee is destined for big things, and I imagine that Midsomer Murders had a big hand in launching him.
The story is very good, it has a creepy vibe, it feels very up to date, it has some great characters, and deals with many relevant issues. The story is not Christmassy per se, at times it feels like bits are added on. Who cares, it's a great story.
Elizabeth Berrington and Les Dennis are the standouts for me, both wonderful. Nelson started off very well, he's blunt, abrasive, and ballsy, a real departure from Jones. He should have continued in this way.
I'd imagine if a Christmas special were made bow, itv would transmit it the following Easter, such is the channel's treatment of the show.
Dark Mon£y: Valiant & Son (2019)
I defy you to watch this without being moved.
Definitely as good as the first part, with the horrific events now taking effect on Isaac, who's beginning to play up at School, and falling out with family.
It is so tragic, Isaac and his family, unable to enjoy his new found fame and wealth. The events are so upsetting. The story, sadly so relevant.
Is there nothing Claire Balding won't do, Tracy Ullman used to have a funny sketch, with Claire doing everything, it's so true.
Once again, it's the young man that impresses. 9/10
Dark Mon£y: Shattered Dreams (2019)
Terrific, original, heart breaking.
I had no idea what this was about, I didn't read any press, or see any reviews beforehand. My heart sank in the first few minutes as I realised the tragic content. It's a story that is so relevant for 2019, we have the Hollywood star, who up until this point had been bulletproof, and we have the lesser known contentious topic of NDA's.
Young Max Fincham is terrific, Isaac is an amazing character, he is a tremendous young talent. The acting in general, terrific, but he stood out.
It's a winner, but harrowing. 9/10
Deliver Us from Evil (2014)
Not what I expected at all.
I don't know why I was expecting something bad. I've watched so many horror films, that my expectations have plummeted. I loved this, absolutely brilliant, dare I say it, it's even a bit on the scary side.
It's a slick, well paced, action packed horror thriller, with some nail biting scenes and uneasy moments. Yes there there are some of the stereotypes, there is the dishy Catholic priest, there is the endless Latin chanting, and there is a lot of biting. Forget all of that, it's terrific.
Great acting, especially Sean Harris, he pretty much stands out. I loved it.
Collateral Beauty (2016)
It doesn't get much love, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This kept reminding me of A Christmas Carol, with the central figure visited by three ghosts, our central figure, namely Will Smith, is visited by three beings, all sent, to turn his life around.
I've not found a great deal of love for this film, and that surprises me, I very much enjoyed it. It had me moved to tears. The ending in particular hit hard.
A great story, with some terrific performances, a terrific cast, including Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet. Despite the names, I must give full credit to Will Smith, the best performance I've seen from him to date, he had me choked up.
Yet another very good episode.
The show is going through somewhat of a resurgence, the change up in quality has been quite noticeable. The previous episode was terrific, and whilst this doesn't fall into the same bracket, I'd say this was still very good indeed.
Some interesting stories and characters, we good a sweet mix of cake and rugby. Some relevant topics at play,
They're back to focusing more on zany killing methods, and they worked well, I just hope they don't start sacrificing plot for crazy
Dudgeon was so good, he's gotten so much more engaging as a character, I loved his conversion and celebration. Anette Badland impressed once more as Fleur.
No real standout guest performance, more a good team effort.
ITV Playhouse: Casting the Runes (1979)
An impressive drama.
Whilst I love the work of M.R. James, and the Ghost story for Christmas series, this feels very different, however I think it's just as good. It lacks the subtleties and solid production of the BBC series, but there is something so engaging about this.
I will forever be a huge fan of Iain Cuthbertson, and he cuts a very menacing figure, unfortunately his American accent at times sounds a little bit Bristol. Despite that he's very good, as is the wonderful Jan Francis.
It isn't particularly well made, but that adds to the charm of it. It's a wonderful story, one that has definitely been ripped off in horror movies.
This is worth revisiting. The nasty little twist at the end is great. 8/10
Pure, total, absolute joy.
Series seven ends on a massive high. The Honourable Thief is a joy from beginning to end. It is intensely funny, intriguing and beautifully dramatic.
Flambeau is called in to help Father Brown for a change, and is of course a thorn in the side of everyone. John Light always adds something, and this episode is no exception.
Wonderful to see Nancy Carroll back, and boy was she good, absolutely hilarious as the maid, a real high point for the show. She is much missed.
One of the standout episodes of Father Brown, I laughed and felt entertained from start to finish. I thought this was terrific. 10/10
New Tricks: It Smells of Books (2010)
A classic episode.
I would class it smells of Books as one of the top three episodes of New Tricks. Somehow it ticks every box, it's funny, gripping, engaging, and I love that Brian is explored in depth as a character, indeed it's his gift and obsession for detail, that crack the case. Sometimes it can be a little easy to guess the killer, but here I was made to wait, as I didn't work it out.
I used to love watching these after a day at work, it was the perfect watch for a glass of wine. I remember this one particularly fondly, as Brian's helmet was the cause of much laughter.
Everyone has their bit to do, but my favourite, Alun Armstrong, is at his best. Anne Reid and David Ryall are brilliant also, the three shared some wonderful scenes.
A classic. 10/10
New Tricks: Dead Man Talking (2010)
A solid start to series 7.
Series 7 begins with a solid episode. It's not a favourite, but it has its good points, the regular team are fortunately still together, and they investigate a pretty interesting case, Sandra also has the added complication of catching up with her estranged half brother.
It does benefit greatly from the guest performances of Paul Rhys and David Bradley, both make their characters incredibly interesting, injecting life into a pretty ordinary story. Jo Stone Fewings is also good as Sandra's dishy brother.
The best scene had to be where Dennis Waterman and Amanda Redman are attacked by a martial arts expert.
Not a classic, but watchable.