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Second storyline has a scene right out of the Simpsons
There are two stories in season 1 (10 episodes) of Wisting and the first one is quite acceptable. I'd probably be willing to rate the first half of the series a solid 7 out of 10.
However the second story was just dreadful and it hit the depths when one scene reminded me of something that might have come right out of the Simpsons. I won't be giving anything away by saying that when somebody calls the police to report a murder late in the series, two police officers arrive a bit later and then rather than show any interest in the dead body, they then arrest and take away the individual who made the call because he is wanted by the police on an unrelated charge. Seriously?
I mean, that has Chief Wiggum of the Simpsons written all over it or something from an old Keystone Cops farce. But for any police to prioritize the arrest of a witness on an unrelated charge over a dead body lying on the ground in front of them is just ridiculous in what is supposed to be quality drama.
There were a whole series of other holes in the second story that just aren't worth going into here.
So 3/10 on the second story line for an average of 5/10 total.
My advice is to watch and perhaps enjoy the first 5 episodes but leave it at that.
This Way Up (2019)
... and when I say "unwatchable" I do mean unwatchable.
My wife and I read a positive review in the Guardian and decided to give it a try even though we had our doubts. Our doubts proved to be correct. We lasted 15 minutes before turning it off.
Comedy? This is a comedy? There is nothing remotely funny about anything that was shown during those tedious 15 minutes. It was obvious they were trying to be funny, but it just wasn't. Not even close. Painful in fact.
Maybe it's my age but when did the definition of "comedy" change? Comedy used to mean something that made you laugh or at the very least have you smile. But this? All we could do was cringe.
Or maybe it's because I had a family member who did have a "small nervous breakdown" years ago and was institutionalized for a brief time. If you've ever known such a person, then you will know there is nothing remotely funny about mental illnesses. Asking someone if they are "fixed now" as occurs early on in this episode is perhaps what one might expect of a 5 year old, not an adult as is portrayed in this first episode. It wasn't funny; it was completely insensitive and totally ridiculous.
I can only wonder why anyone might find this vaguely amusing in any way whatsoever. Good luck to you if this is what you find humorous.
Les Misérables (2018)
The problem I have with this production isn't just that it is awful -- that really is obvious to anyone with a critical eye -- it's that it is hard to identify just why it is so awful.
Do the actors overact? Absolutely. Others have commented on this. But why do they do so? Is it because it is a general rule in theater that when presented with a poor and unconvincing script and characters, that the only way the actor can try to salvage something from being in the production is to overplay their part? That's my conclusion. The least convincing character in this series is Javert and who is it that overacts the most ? David Oyelowo. Presented with trying to sell a character who is incomprehensibly obsessed with his nemesis, he simply overplays it to the point it is laughable. But who can blame him? Why would any senior policeman be so obsessed with a simply petty thief that he seeks to put him at the heart of a revolution and ignore the rising threat to Paris in his attempts to find him? It just isn't believable. He rants and raves with ridiculous extreme in an attempt to sell it but it just becomes laughable.
So who do we blame for the ridiculous story? I'm not sure and therein lies my problem. I've never read Hugo's original novel and after seeing this production nor am I ever likely to bother. Was it he who writes so many fanciful character choices into the story? Or is Andrew Davies who is responsible for the script?
Does it seem credible that of all the towns in all of France where Valjean somehow ends up mayor that the next chief of police is Javert?
Does it make the least bit of sense that Valjean would flee to the largest city in Paris -- and the most dangerous to him when being pursued -- when he on the run rather than seek refuge in -- just to name an example at random -- somewhere obscure like Brittany?
Does it make sense that having been uncovered by Javert in Paris, that Valjean and daughter decide to seek refuge in a nunnery for 10 years or so rather than wait a few days and under the cover of darkness make a break for that remote Bordeau perhaps taking their hoard of cash with them?
After leaving the nunnery and knowing that they are still in danger with Javert now chief of police, does it make sense that they STILL choose to remain in Paris and risk discovery rather than immediately relocate to, say, Lyon?
Does it not seem totally ridiculous to have the numerous and repeated intertwining of the lives of Valjean, Javert, Thenardier, and Marius episode after episode? One coincidence? Sure, I'll give you that. But we are talking about dozens of coincidences. e.g. Marius happens to have the room next to Thenardier and hears the confrontation between Thenardier and Valjean with Javert close at hand. Really????
Look, I could go on for paragraph after paragraph identifying twist after twist that stretches credibility beyond belief but any critical viewer will get the idea.
So who is at fault? Hugo or Andrew Davies? I don't know and I don't really care. After 5 episodes which became more and more painful to view, we just put episode 6 on fast forward and breathed a huge sigh of relief when we didn't have to endure any more of this garbage.
Dreadful, awful, terrible, horrible and totally unwatchable
We lasted 10 minutes into episode 1 before giving up in disgust. What was Martin Clunes thinking? What were the writers thinking?
I'll leave it at that as nothing more needs be said.
Endeavour: Apollo (2019)
Complicated .... and implausable
I'll agree with reviewer Paul Scales on this. It is too complicated.
But I'd go further. The whole thing seems to be based on a rather implausible series of events relating to the history of the car central to the story going back several years. Anybody who has watched detective shows will have heard someone at one point say something like "I don't believe in coincidences". Well, nobody says that in this episode but they wouldn't dare as the entire complicated chained plot line is based on one coincidence after the other with much of that not being revealed until the end. The Eddy Nero connection with the car towards the end (glossed over really quickly) was the final straw as far as I was concerned.
My wife and I discussed this episode after viewing it and even the following day after reflecting on it a bit and decided in the end that, really, much of this simply doesn't make a lot of sense.
Just one example: at one point DCI Box tells Morse and Thursday to "leave it to me" and clearly removes them from any more involvement in the case. And yet in the next scene, there the two of them are still conducting inquiries. We though, "gee, they're really going to be in trouble when Box finds out" Yet a few scenes later it seems that Box has absolutely no problem with Morse and Thursday are still investigating and implicitly they have his approval.
Time and time again Box tells Morse to keep out of it. Time and time again Morse ignores him. In any real life situation, Morse would have been dismissed, transferred or up on disciplinary charges for the way he was ignoring explicit orders. But not in Oxford.
As to the use of coincidences.... last week we had the implausible coincidence of Morse stumbling across the bodies of not one but two missing people in two quite different places. A little far fetched perhaps?
Sorry, but this is one of the poorest episodes in my recollection.
As always, well acted but the writers need to up their game and not just coast on acting and directing alone.
The Square (2017)
Written, Directed and Edited by one person is always trouble
Like almost everyone else reviewing here, my wife and I found this way, way too long. Maybe 45 minutes too long. Maybe an hour.
Scene after scene we found ourselves remarking to each other, "what was the point of that?" Just one example: the scene with the ape street performer ran for something like 7-8 minutes. We thought it could have been done in a fraction of that and nothing would have been lost. Then I later thought they could have done without it entirely and I'm not sure anything would have been lost.
The scene with the museum director given the speech on the steps of the foyer? What was the point? What did it add? Nothing that we could see.
Scene after scene we turned to each other and asked the same question.
So instead of being a tight 1:30 to 1:45 movie, this ran on for a tedious 2 and a half hours.
I have a personal rule of thumb when it comes to films. Movies that are written and directed by the same person are so often self-indulgent. I'm going to have to amend that to: movies written, directed and edited by the same person are invariably self-indulgent and way too long.
A good director here would have told the writer what was wrong with the script and suggested what needed to be rewritten. A good editor would have gone back to the director and told him that it was running too long and that by cutting this or that that the result would have been better.
Unfortunately this film has, needless to say, the same person in all three roles. and as a result, it's way too long and was just tedious.
Sorry, but I just don't understand the rave reviews some have given this. Yes, this is ALMOST a good film. But only ALMOST.
Querying review by elmedhi
I haven't seen this series yet but hope to watch my recording in the next day or two.
I'm just querying the one and only other review that has so far been done based on the only episode that has so far gone to air as of when I'm writing this. After viewing just one episode, the reviewer refers to is as a "predictable police show". I'm just curious as to how anybody can characterize a six part series as "predictable" based on viewing just the first episode. Very strange to me. No wonder "0 out of 5" found that other review "helpful".
I've given it an 8 without viewing it yet but because I'm required to give it some sort of score to do a 'review' and also based on the character in the first two series of Missing. I'll watch the entire series before deciding whether or not it is "predictable" or maybe I'll give up after a single episode but if I do it will be for other reasons. (at which point, I'll update my review!)
The ABC Murders (2018)
That's from Fawlty Towers in case you don't recognize the line but it seemed appropriate here. It's what I imagine Sarah Phelps would say to accusations being (rightfully) made here about her writing.
Look. Malkovich? Yes, an interesting and worthwhile exploration of how Poirot might be portrayed under the circumstances and given the writing. I can see why some people love him and I can see why others are screaming, "no, no, no!".
For me it's the rest of it that detracts from what Malkovich is trying to do.
Pretentious? Yes, indeed.
Over the top? Ridiculously so.
Over direction? Absolutely.
Inexcusable rewriting of the book? Yes, and that's only from what I've seen of episode 1. When was Poirot ever, and I mean EVER, isolated, discredited, shunned etc. etc. Phelps, if you want an isolated, discredit, shunned detective as your star, then feel free to write something from scratch along those lines but don't rewrite the character and development of one of the greatest fictional detectives in history. It's borderline criminal.
Is killing off Japp absurd? Yes, especially when he appears in later Christie novels for years into the future and was actually the police inspector that was in the original novel. So why change it to Rupert Gint's Chrome? Perhaps so Phelps could justify her approach of making the whole think incredibly dark and isolating Poirot completely. Not needed. Not appreciated. No thank you.
Is the xenophobic atmospheric too much? Well, it wasn't in the original so why does Phelps add it here? Some sort of reference to Brexit perhaps?
Is it as bad as last year's Phelps efforts of "Ordeal by Innocence" That would hardly be possible especially since Phelps then completely rewrote much of that novel INCLUDING changing the identity of the killer which was just totally bizarre. Mind you, ,I've still got two episodes to go of this year's so maybe she has rewritten it so that it is ... oh, I don't know ... Inspector Chrome ends up being the killer. Or maybe Poirot himself ends up being accused, thrown in jail, wrongfully convicted, and hung in the closing scenes. I wouldn't put it past Phelps.
Bottom line? For Malkovich's efforts at doing his best with what he was given: maybe 9 and that would be pushing it. For Phelp's travesty: 1 and that very much in line with everyone else here.
Please, BBC, can we use somebody else in future for your annual Christie production and put Phelps out to pasture where nobody has to endure her anymore?
**** I'm adding the following having now watched the second episode.
The scene with the landlady's daughter walking on Cust's back absolutely unforgivable, unnecessary, added nothing to the plot, not in the original novel and for very good reason, inconsistent with Cust's character in the original novel which is even more important, and I'd go as far as to suggest the product of a disturbed mind who thinks this is what viewers want. It was at this point my wife said something like "this is becoming just completely unpleasant and I don't think I can watch this any more".
We continued to the end of the episode and were shocked by the complete rewriting of the last 10-15 minutes in which the story heads off in a tangent to the original story.
I originally gave this a 5 based on episode 1. I'm downgrading it to a 3 after episode 2.
For the love of God, BBC, please, please get someone else to write your annual Christie stories in future.
**** Final footnote
Finally got up the courage to view the 3rd episode. Surprisingly, I thought the first 3/4 of it not too bad, at least when compared to the earlier episodes.
But ..... the final 10 minutes!! Where the ((*&(*&^&* does the idea that Poirot was a priest in Belgium come from? Who would be so arrogant as to think they can rewrite the most basic part of Poirot's life story so that he wasn't actually a policeman prior to WWI (as in the Christie stories) but something else entirely?
Phelps shouldn't be allowed within 100 meters of another Christie story again by court restraining order if necessary.
My final downgrade based on this utterly unacceptable and almost criminal rewriting of history's 2nd most famous detective: now only deserving of a 2.
I'm reviewing after just 3 episodes as we are giving up on this.
Very disappointed as we loved Rolf Lassgard in a Man Called Ole and had been looking forward to seeing him in this series.
So what was the problem?
Too many silly holes in the writing.
For example: a suspect is found to have used a police radio to track police movements so the police use this fact to track him back to his hideout. Bad news writers: you can't track a radio receiver! If the suspect had used the two-way radio to transmit (which he didn't) then sure, you can triangulate on his signal. If the radio had a GPS built in like a telephone and it was switched on and you happened to know his ID, then again, you might have tracked him using that but that didn't apply either.
A hunting party goes out armed to teeth with rifles to shoot a bear. Is anybody wearing high-viz so they don't kill each other? Nope. I'm sure even in Sweden nobody goes hunting without hi-viz vests but this group are all wearing camouflage colors. It was insulting to the viewers' intelligence.
A man is murdered but it is looks like a car accident. In any other police drama (and probably in real life too), the autopsy would immediately revealed that he didn't die of injuries from the car accident but instead of the other cause you will see if you watch the episode. But an inquiry of any kind would have been inconvenient to the plot so the police just accept it was a car accident despite questions being raised at the scene that it was a bit suspicious.
The investors stating they were going to proceed with the mine investment as it was clear the community was 100% in favour if it (except for the one individual) but this despite earlier scenes showing large protests outside the meeting. Somehow the protestors didn't count or the investors didn't do the basic research to see what was going on? Not credible.
Eric continues with his 'undercover' work but then decides to reveal what he knows to the bad guys instead of offering an easily contrived explanation for his actions and by doing so puts his investigation at risk? Nobody would be that stupid.
There were others as well but by the end of episode 3 we'd had enough and won't be pursuing this further. I hope the final episodes are better than the first few for those who see it through to the end.
As I said, we would have loved to have enjoyed another great Swedish drama series but this just wasn't up their usual standards.
p.s. I'm adding this a few days later.
Very much against my better judgement, we started to watch episode 4 thinking it really couldn't get any worse. It did. We gave up after 10 or 15 minutes and I'm downgrading my rating to a 4.
It's absolutely beyond me why a few others have rated this so highly as it really is pretty much rubbish.
Vanity Fair (2018)
Delightful (so why does the public rate it only 7.1?)
I've just finished viewing Bodyguard which was utter rubbish and which I wrote a review of only two days ago giving it a 3.0. This, by contrast, is absolutely superb with wonderful costumes, directing, sets, acting etc. etc. I've only seen the first episode but the word that comes to mind so far is 'delightful'.
So how is it that the public have given this an average score of 7.1 whereas the last time I checked Bodyguard was at 8.4? I can only conclude that viewers are no longer discerning in what they watch and are content to view nonsense stories like Bodyguard, which was full of so many plot holes I gave up counting, rather than an excellent recounting of one of the greatest novels of its time in Vanity Fair.
It will be hard for me to assess the potential of series I am considering watching in future when these sorts of incomprensible scores are happening on IMDB.
Here's my list of 15 massive plot holes in the series and why I rated it a 3 and thought it utter nonsense.
The plot of the Bodyguard is like the finest Swiss cheese: full of countless holes. I tried to count, but gave up at 15.
(As the point of this post is entirely a list of spoilers, consider yourselves warned before you read on.)
Here's my very incomplete list and why I rate this series so poorly.
1. The open scenes are full of suspense but in hindsight (as so many of my criticisms will be) nonsensical. To begin with: Who called in the 'terrorist threat' to London transport? I assumed that rather important point would be pursued and be an important link in the solution it was so silly but it was just one of those threads that made no sense. I know it is a standard plot device but it remains a weak one. How did somebody come to spot a suicide bomber getting onto the train? No explanation is ever given. (And even then, it was the wrong person - i.e. Nadia's husband, not Nadia!) 2. Those who reached the end of the series (we came close to giving up) know that Nadia ends up revealing herself as the master bombmaker and (apparently) the mastermind behind the series of bomb attacks in London. Huge point this one: master bomb makers generally don't blow themselves up. They are way too valuable to the organization to be allowed by their colleagues to blow themselves up in a suicide attack. They could make dozens and dozens more bombs killing hundreds if not thousands of people if they keep themselves alive but will only kill a handful of people if they volunteer for a suicide mission on a train. Terrorists get the 'foot soldiers' to sacrifice themselves, not the bombmakers. And, in any case, she certainly wouldn't have tried to suicide attack while her work was unfinished - i.e. the later bomb attack on Julia. 3. Why would Nadia even be wearing a suicide vest? At the time, it is meant to appear that Nadia is an unwilling 'volunteer' to the terrorist cause. However, in hindsight we know that she is very willing and wants to make the attack. But a suicide vest in this situation makes no sense at all once we know (in hindsight) that Nadia is the mastermind. More likely would have been a fully concealed bomb inside a piece of luggage which could NOT have been accidentally spotted and could then have been triggered by the pressing of a discrete button. There are situations for suicide vests but this clearly was not one of them. If you are walking into a police station or an embassy or government building where a large piece of hand luggage would be viewed with suspicion, then a vest is probably the way to go. But on a train where luggage and bags are routine? That's definitely NOT how to do it if you are a willing bomber. Think it through viewers. It made no sense in hindsight other than to try and mislead viewers from the stop with a bogus scene. 4. Worse, why suicide at all? It was totally pointless. Nadia is an engineer who is a genius and who put together a series of complicated devices including one that was triggered by a clever pressure switch. Don't you think just maybe she could have built one that could have been triggered remotely or with a timer? Get on a train at Heathrow with some luggage just as hundreds of others are doing at the same time. Place the luggage in the luggage area. 5 minutes later, disappear to the toilet, leaving the luggage behind. 5 minutes after that, get off at the next station. 5 minutes later, boom. No need for a suicide mission at all. It was an unbelievable bit of the plot and yet critical to completely and unfairly mislead viewers. 5. Why does Nadia even confess at the end? All they really hit her with is that she knew about where David's kids went to school. It would have been dead easy to talk her way out of that one but instead, after putting on her innocent wife for several weeks at every interrogation, she decides to suddenly confess everything. Why? It made no sense. 6. Yes, they go on to mention that her DNA had been found inside the final bomb control. WHAT? Her DNA? What did she do? Spit into it? Lick it? Pull out one of her hairs by the root and leave it inside the bomb control? Cut herself when making the bomb and drip blood into the device? Ridiculous. Just handling it might have left fingerprints but not DNA. There is no DNA in perspiration if that's what they were implying. It was a stupid suggestion. 7. Finally and in any case, why did Nadia back down in that opening scene and not detonate the bomb if she really was intent on being a suicide bomber. She gave a very convincing performance in the opening 10 minutes as the poor innocent wife. But if she intended, initially, to blow up the train, then why didn't she do so when David confronted her and she was surrounded by passengers in the first few minutes? Again, it made no sense. 8. Nadia claims to have passed messages from inside prison to the outside co-conspirators on how to plant the Julia bomb. This seems a very remote possibility at best. Not impossible; just very implausible given the high alert situation in London. Maybe I'm being picky on that one, but it seems very contrived and borderline unbelievable that she would have been in a position to pass messages. 9. Why drive a truck loaded with explosives at the school as a suicide mission? Again, it was hardly necessary to have a suicide mission. It would have been far simpler to simply park the truck in front of the school gates overnight, stand a few hundred meters away, and when you have a crowd of kids (including David's) enter the school in the morning push the remote button to detonate the bomb. Again, there is a time and place for a suicide truck (like driving a loaded truck at the US embassy as happened in Beirut decades ago) but not in a school situation when it is NOT an obvious target unlike an embassy or police station where a truck parked outside would have been a huge issue. You don't waste good terrorists in a suicide bombing when it isn't necessary. 10. The blood on David's face throughout the final episode. How ridiculous was that? David is claiming loudly that he did not put on the vest himself but nobody believes him. And yet nobody in the police confronting David ever says "hey, maybe he's telling the truth if he's been beat up like that as he obviously didn't do that to himself." Nobody even once mentions the blood he is covered in during the entire, what, 30 minutes he is walking around London. Not once. Not credible. Not in the least bit believable. 11. In episode 4, suspicion falls on one of Julia's aides after the planting the bomb at the school where Julia was giving the speech. "Why wasn't he vetted," asks one of the police or security people. "Of course, he was vetted" is the reply, "anybody working for the Home Secretary" is thoroughly vetted ,or words to that effect. But then we have the fired aide, Chanel, who is openly seen in the company of someone who is known to be a leading figure in the London crime world, Luke, and who obviously had been in a relationship with him for ages. Yet somehow that was missed in the vetting process for Chanel??? Maybe if the relationship was hidden but she was hardly trying to hide it with him picking her up at work and she was frequenting his club. Again, just not believable that a proper vetting wouldn't have spotted this. 12. We see David carefully hiding his gun behind a wood panel in his home and spending rather a lot of time sealing the panel and disguising it carefully so that it can't be found if his home is searched. Later, a police search of his home discovers the panel but the gun isn't there. Why? We find later that David opted to move it. Why did he move it after all the careful disguising of the hiding place? No explanation is given. And where does he move it to? To a location in his home that any thorough search of his home would have detected (behind an easily accessed ceiling light that only needed to be pushed lightly to reveal it wasn't attached) and which would have been a far more obvious hiding place than the panel. Again, silly. 13. David returns to Julia's flat and it takes him all of two minutes to figure out where she has hidden the missing device. In a location that (again) the previous police search of the flat would have unquestionably checked. Behind a photo? Come on! How do you not check that??? 14. In a closing scene, David confronts Chanel in her flat. I missed a word or two but the next thing we have is David driving with Chanel to David's boss's house??? Why has she directed him there? It makes no sense unless I completely misunderstood what was going on. Anyway, that's were they go and there he has the extraordinary luck to arrive at the very moment the crime lord is confronting the corrupt police chief in her driveway about her lack of controlling the situation. Amazing luck isn't it? He arrives at the exact second that Luke decides to openly contact the corrupt boss. Just amazing. Or was it just awful sloppy lazy writing. 15. Why was David's clip replaced with blanks? The reason given at the end was something to do with the bad guys wanting him to be used as a patsy. Right. So they knew he would try to kill himself and thought it best to keep him alive by replacing his bullets with blanks so he didn't? How unrealistic is that? One: he could still have chosen to kill himself a different way. Two: wouldn't it have been better to actually have him kill himself and then leave evidence in his flat (like a typed confession?) that he was indeed in cahoots with the killers? Far better than letting him live and run around for 3 episodes trying to find the killers don't you think?
Anyway. I've had enough of going back over this series trying to remember all this nonsense. It's a shame many viewers didn't reflect a bit more on what they had seen before giving the series a 10 and praising it so highly. Was it well made? Sure. Was the lead actor excellent. Yeah, I'll give you that one. But was the writing of the plot in the least bit decent? Er. Not in a million years.
Sacred Games: Ashwathama (2018)
I've done a review of the whole series but I thought I'd do an additional one under the first episode in order to possibly save people of the ordeal of wasting hours of their lives watching this.
This is possibly the most overrated and overhyped series I've ever come across. It is beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted, with a great background in Mumbai, and thoroughly, completely, frustratingly, and agonizingly unwatchable. Why? Because it's almost impossible to follow what is going on. If you speak Hindi, then perhaps it makes sense. If you have a good knowledge of India and understand Indian modern history, then just maybe, maybe it would make an inkling of sense. But otherwise? No. Don't waste your time.
This series is based on a 900 page novel and whoever was responsible for trying to compress 900 pages into a mini-series of 8 parts faced a near impossible task and has failed in the undertaking. Scenes seem to jump randomly and have at times to bearing on what has come before or what comes later. We were left thoroughly confused and totally disappointed.
By episode 5, we were ready to give up but decided that with only 3 episodes left we'd watch to the end. HUGE mistake for two reasons: 1) it only got worse. and 2) and get this because it is the key point I want to make here:
THIS IS ONLY SERIES 1 AND THE SERIES ENDS WITH A CLIFFHANGER WITH A FURTHER 8 EPISODES NEXT YEAR TO FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON.
Please, please don't waste your time. It really isn't worth the agony of having to endure this. Episode 1 may tempt you in because it is admittedly very well done; episode 2 may entice too but it's all like an addictive drug. Get hooked on it and you may not be able to stop even though you know is all absolute garbage.
Sacred Games (2018)
Don't understand why it is rated so highly
Decided to watch this Netflix series because it was rated a 9.5 on IMDB. We were puzzled by the first couple of episodes and thought we must be missing something. It was hard to follow at times with scenes and characters popping up that seemed to not tie into preceding events. Yes, it is absolutely wonderful to see something out of India. Yes, Mumbai is that star of the show. Yes, the actors are great. But frankly if this was set in Detroit or LA or the suburbs of Paris I wonder if it would have been so popular because of all its other flaws.
Episode 5 was so violent and with several scenes that just didn't make a lot of sense in terms of advancing the story that we almost gave up. However, with only 3 episodes left, we'll endure it to the end and hope it doesn't get any more difficult to view.
Footnote: as I've been preparing this review, I had an email from the Economist magazine with its own review. One phrase jumps out at me: "The series strains to meet such heavy expectations". That about sums it up. Here's a second: "Viewers are left to scratch their heads." Well, we certainly did a lot of that. Worth a read if you can find it on the Economist website.
I'm amending my comments after watching the final few episodes. This just got worse and worse and both my wife and I now regret having watched it. I'm even lowering my rating from 6 to 5 as it was worse at the end that the beginning. Bottom line: it would seem if you are India or have a strong connection to India, you might enjoy this (certainly the case based on the names of the reviewers who rate it highly), if you are an international viewer, you are probably going to be disappointed and conclude as many have said that this has been grossly overrated.
My wife and I managed 1 and a half episodes of Series 1. The early part of Episode 1 set a reasonable tone for what might have been an interesting series. Unfortunately, it took a worrying turn into the absurd about half way through. After about 20 minutes of episode 2, we concluded it was getting totally preposterous with so many unbelievable assumptions and premises for what was going on that it just became totally unwatchable. Series abandoned and we will be looking for something else. A shame as the brief summary of the series had been so promising but the reality was something else entirely.
Love, Lies and Records (2017)
Very disappointing ... but I'm not sure why.
I had high hopes for this series. Great Cast. Ashley Jensen, Kenny Doughty, Rebecca Front. Brilliant writer with good track record in Kay Mellor. What could go wrong?
And yet it does all go terribly wrong and having said that I'm having problems putting into words just why it is that it does go so wrong.
I think what it comes down to (maybe!) is that it tries way too hard to be PC. Worse than that. It almost comes across like it is trying to preach to viewers as to HOW to be political correct.
Frightened of one day being confronted by a man at work who shows up dressed in woman's clothing and not sure how to react? Don't worry, this programme will give you some clues as to what to do and say.
Been invited to the wedding of an older man who is ex-army and who used to be married to a wonderful woman with whom he had two children but you've been shocked to discover he is now marrying a man? Again, this will ease you through the shock of not knowing how to react.
In this fantasy world, the cross dressing man is universally greeted with compliments by his fellow workers and clients. The gay man's former wife even attends his wedding to his new husband and has a huge smile on her face, obviously thrilled that he has at last found true love.
In real life though? Much as I'd like to say we live in a society where this is all possibly, the fact is we don't. A cross-dresser would certainly be greeted with some derision by at least some co-workers and certainly clients would be uncomfortable with the situation. A wife even attending her ex-husband's wedding to a man? Really? Most ex-wives wouldn't even attend his wedding to a new wife, let alone to a man all the time smiling at his new happiness. It just didn't ring true.
Worse, as I said, it felt like we were being preached to. This is what to do! This is how to behave! This is how to think!
In addition, one sub-plot has two of the Registers' workers fearing for their jobs after they were caught on CCTV by a 3rd blackmailing co-worker having sex after getting drunk at the office Christmas party. Leeds city apparently has a policy against co-workers entering into sexual relationships (true or not, I don't know) while at the same time is happy to have a cross-dressing male on staff and understandably (as per law and rightfully so) providing registers to conduct gay weddings? We aren't talking manager-employee sex by the way. Or Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby abuse of power and position type of sex. Just two co-workers at the same level, both consulting adults, having sex outside office hours after getting drunk at the Christmas Party . For that, City policy is instant dismissal. (Admitedly, the sex was on the premises but even so!). In this day and age, if the workers were fired, the union would call a full strike and the two fired workers would jointly higher lawyers to sue the Council for damages and solicitors would be queuing up to take on the task pro bono.
Again, it just didn't work for me.
My wife and I managed two episodes but after gritting our teeth through the last 20 minutes of the second episode we turned to each other and said, "No more".
By all means, make up your own minds and give it a try. Some will be happy watching this fantasy, others will be like us and other reviewers and just find it unsatisfactory.
By the way, what's with the "Lies" in the title? Does it refer to the lying about the real world being like this I wondered.
Tabula Rasa (2017)
I don't often write positive reviews as I tend to stick to posting info about other disasters to warn people off wasting their time but I'm going to make an exception here.
This was brilliant. Really, that's all that needs to be said.
3 massive plot twists which one would have found hard to predict. The first left my wife and I thinking, "why didn't we see that?". The second, "we knew there was something odd there but never would have guessed that." The third, "yes, I knew there was something fishy about [...] so not entirely surprised but nevertheless a wow".
Yes, one could quibble about the last little surprise in the final 10 minutes of the last episode as to whether or not the resolution of the central missing person mystery is quite realistic but it really would be quibbling.
In short: brilliant. Just a shame there can't be a series 2!!!
Strike: Career of Evil: Part 2 (2018)
I'd been looking forward to these 2018 episodes tremendously after enjoying the first series back in 2017. All I can say is 'disappointing'.
It seemed to lose its way entirely compared to the earlier efforts and the plot sometimes seemed a bit like a Death in Paradise formula: a murder with 3 possible suspects and we run around investigating the 3 suspects until all his revealed in the final few minutes. None of it was particularly convincing and the ending just a cliche.
A sad way to end what had previously been a great series.
Ordeal by Innocence (2018)
A totally surprising ending ... and I've read the book and the ending was still a surprise!
Let's be honest about this. If this hadn't been advertised as an Agatha Christie adaptation, I would have rated it a lot higher. As it was, my wife gives it a 9, I give it a 3. Average score: 6.
Why the huge difference? Because I knew the story before we started watching and she didn't.
This is NOT an Agatha Christie adaptation. This is taking an Agatha Christie title, using the same characters, starting out with the same opening of a son convicted of killing his mother ..... and then changes pretty much everything that follows.
I could almost accept that. What I can not accept is having reached the final episode and expecting character "A" to be revealed as the killer in the closing scenes because I knew the original story but instead finding out that in this 'adaptation' it is actually character "B" that did the deed because the screenwriter knows better than the incomparable Agatha Christie.
Imagine if you were going to an 'adaptation' of a Shakespeare play about a couple of star crossed lovers. You know the story. You know what to expect. You are confused by a few of the director's changes as you watch and you are doubting your memory of the original story but then you get to the final scene and the boy ... let's call him Romeo ... rushes to the girl's tomb ... let's call her Juliette ... to find her apparently dead. Surprisingly (because you KNOW the story), he decides to join her and kill himself but ... just before he can plunge the sword into his chest, Juliette awakens in the nick of time. Furious at being so cruelly deceived into thinking his beloved was dead, he stabs Juliette instead and then launches into a long soliloquy on the tyranny of women before fleeing the stage. Would you be happy with the rewrite?
An adaptation of Agatha Christie's Ordeal by Innocence? It is nothing of the sort.
However, if this had been given a completely different title, with different unrecognizable characters, set in a different time and place, I probably would have enjoyed it.
As it was, I was left immensely frustrated by the writer, director and producer's decision to capitalize on the Christie name and not willing to let the production stand on its own merits.
In future Christie 'adaptation' by the BBC, I'll be carefully checking the screenwriter and avoiding it if it has Sarah Phelps name on it.
On the other hand, if I see an original production where Sarah Phelps is the writer, I'll give it a go because, as I said, other than the con of presenting it as an Agatha Christie it wasn't too bad.
Les témoins (2014)
Series 2: Nominated for worst television series of the last 50 years
Okay, so I exaggerate a bit. It's a personal nomination for worst television series of the last 50 years. And, of course, it's only the worst television series that I've personally seen in the last 50 years. I'm sure there are worse coming out of places like ... I don't know ... Albania, but of all the series I've seen in the last 50 years, this comes right at the bottom of the list. No question about it.
Let's just summarize the nonsense and then we can all move on to something else shall we?
It starts with an empty bus of corpsicles (i.e. frozen dead men). No obvious relationship between any of them other than they all disappeared starting around 3 years ago.
The we have the appearance of the amnesiac red-headed Catherine.
Over the remainder of the first episode and into the start of the second we learn that:
1) Catherine was kidnapped 3 years go 2) her amnesia is drug induced. 3) While being held, she gave birth to a baby 4) All the dead men on the bus are her ex-lovers 5) She was forced to give up the baby 6) and then ... get this ... the reason she was forced to give up the baby was that she wasn't considered worthy of raising the baby.
I'm not giving away anything in all of the above as it all comes early on in the first episode except for one point early in the second. No spoilers there as if it was possible to spoil any of this rubbish.
Think about point 6 a bit. Forced to give up the baby because she wasn't worthy of raising the baby.
Wouldn't it have just been easier NOT to have kidnapped the baby, not to impregnate her, and then she wouldn't have had the baby in the first place so there wouldn't have been any need to save the baby by taking it from her? Geez.
So why did we continue to watch this preposterous plot?
Well, in ep. 1 and 2, my wife and I are thinking this all sounds a bit intriguing and I'm sure it will get better now that they have set the scene and we discover what is really going on. Perhaps a plot to create babies to sell on the black market? That would have at least been mildly more logical that what they gave us.
In ep 3 and 4., we're thinking this is getting ridiculous but maybe we're missing something so let's continue as it has to get better and I'm sure it will make sense soon. Series 1 was okay; series 2 couldn't be this bad, could it?
By ep 5 and 6, it's just a case of we know it's rubbish but we started so we may as well finish.
Ep 7? Well, I actually enjoyed ep. 7 I'm embarrassed to say. Decent bit of tension, mystery. Still didn't think it made any sense but at least it was mildly enjoyable.
Ep 8? Well, if the series was the 'worst series of the last 50 years', then ep. 8 was the "worst single episode of any series made in the last 50 years." Just preposterous, ridiculous, atrocious, mind-numbing, wrist-slashing, drivel. What more can one say?
Oh, and just as an aside. My wife and I are both convinced that throughout the first 7 and a half episodes, Catherine refers to the baby she had to give up as her son (en francais, mon "fils"). That's what the Engish subtitles said and that's what we heard in the french (we are both reasonably fluent). Midway through ep. 8, and it suddenly becomes "ma fille" (i.e. a girl) and remained so to the end. My wife and I both caught this and both asked each other if we'd misunderstood or missed something. We're convinced not. The writers just switched from a boy to the girl half way through the final episode. A sex-change operation on a 6 month old baby? Weird.
I could go on but what's the point. Please, please, I beg of you: don't waste 8 hours of your lives on this travesty as we did. Find something else. Anything. It couldn't possible be worse than this.
Series 2 very disappointing
We enjoyed series 1 for the most part although we found it a bit over-the-top with the violence from time to time. We put up with it.
Because we had enjoyed the acting of Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse in Series 1, we thought we'd give series 2 a try when it became available. Big mistake.
I should explain that we are Canadian but now live overseas and we thought we'd enjoy the chance to view a bit of Canadiana. This is anything but.
It took me a while to figure out what it was that annoyed me so much I'll try to put it into words
We've taken to watching lots of Scandinavian and French dramas the last couple of years and really enjoyed them for the most part. Part of the attraction of the European series is simply that they aren't American and don't try to do anything too American. And that's where series 2 of Cardinal goes terribly wrong.
One other review described Cardinal as 'tedious'. Agreed. All too predictable after a couple of episodes. "Cookie cutter" American story-line? Absolutely.
But worst of all, the thing that dawned on me this morning was the phrase "gratuitous violence" and I was glad to see at least one other had made the same complaint. It was so unnecessary. If you thought series 1 had a few borderline gratuitous scenes, then series 2 just takes it that much further.
At one point a minor character is shot in the head by one of the bad guys. Does he go down? No. The victim complains of a sudden pain in the head and finds a bit of blood trickling from his neck. Bad buy complains about the useless gun. Fires again. Victim now complains he can't see anything but still doesn't go down. Bad guy curses and swears about the bullets. Ditches the gun and grabs a golf club and then proceeds to pummel the victim until the job is thoroughly done.
Did we need to see all of this? No. Did we need to be convinced bad guy was a psychopath? Well, no. Earlier episodes had made that perfectly clear. Were there other ways to dispose of the victim that would have made the point without being so graphic? Absolutely.
Was it made to appeal to the American audience who seems to love this stuff with an eye to selling the product south of the border? You betcha. Criminal Minds, Hawaii 5-0. It's all there and more.
Oh, and one of the things that made series 1 so enjoyable was the brilliant winter scenery. That's gone in series 2, "Blackfly season". Could have been anywhere with a forest I'm afraid, and the Canadian feel disappeared with the melting snow.
Will we be watching a series 3? No way. We'd already decided against it before watching the final episode of Series 2 but if we'd had any doubts, some of the atrocious plot holes in the final episode as well as the silliness of the motorbike scene added to the resolution of the subplot with Cardinal's wife ended the possibility for good.
Give it a miss, Canadians, unless you enjoy gnashing your teeth.
Two words: Unbelievable Nonsense
When I watch a drama like this, I ask myself (and I hope others do too) whether or not the actions of the characters are credible. NOT, whether or not You or I would do or say the things they say; but rather whether or not it is credible that someone might do or say the things they say.
The answer in the first painful hour and a half my wife and I sat through was all too often "no, a thousand times no."
Kevin Russell's ex wife has remarried. Is it credible that the new husband is so supportive of his wife's years and years of trying to clear her ex-husband's name? Not really. Why would any man accept that their wife is more obsessed with their previous husband than with him?
Is it credible that Kevin's son, who no doubt has been raised from birth to "know" that his father was innocent, is so openly hostile towards his father and his mother to the point that he joins a vigilante mob rallying against his father? Not particularly. Maybe, just maybe, but we didn't buy it.
Is it credible that the victim's parents who are so incredibly hostile and confrontational (understandably) to Emma's efforts to re-open the case are suddenly willing later to almost calmly and voluntarily to even sit down with Emma to answer pointed questions about their dead daughter's behaviour? Absolutely not.
Is it credible that when a second forensic exam arranged by Emma shows that the victim was initially murdered and buried at the air force base before then being dug up and reburied next to Kevin's shed are more or less glossed over despite it being pretty much unequivocal proof (or at least 'reasonable doubt') of Kevin's innocence? A thousand times no. Especially when one would have expected Helen to plaster this fact all over the media and doesn't. Why would someone murder her elsewhere and then shift the body to right beside Kevin's shed? Maybe, just maybe, to put the blame on Kevin? Would that possibly occur to the police if the findings were passed on to them as any defence attorney would normally do? I would hope so but not in this drama.
Is it credible that the case would be sent for retrial rather than just dismissed once the confession is thrown out because of the obvious pressure and coercion when it would appear that there was no other significant evidence against Kevin other than he was seen talking to the girl on the night of her disappearance. Not really. Without the coerced confession, there doesn't seem to be any other evidence against Kevin. At least none that was given to the viewer.
Yes, compromising photographs of the victim do appear but do the photographs really implicate Kevin when someone else confesses to having taken them? Not at all. It is not necessarily the case, as was implied in the plot, that he must have been disposing of evidence. The defence team says that if the photograph burning ever came out then Kevin is done for. Nonsense, when the defense can certainly argue that they were burnt in Kevin's shed because he found them so offensive especially after the photographer confesses to giving them to Kevin. Case closed.
The implication also is that Kevin is so smart that he knew he had to dispose of the photographs because they might be used as evidence against him if they were found while at the same time being perfectly happy to dig up the body from the air force base and rebury it next to his shed where it would be eventually found. Would any jury buy that? Were we the viewing audience supposed to think that the defence wouldn't point out the inconsistency? Apparently.
Is it credible that the original investigating detective just happens by some absolutely extraordinary coincidence to now be working for anti-terrorism and investigating Emma's only other client? Come off it! Coincidence is the refugee of the poor writer as far as I'm concerned.
Was it credible .... Oh, I can't be bothered anymore.
And on and on it goes. My blood pressure just kept going up scene after scene.
My apologies for rambling a bit and perhaps not writing as well as I usually do but I'm still fuming about this rubbish and that we wasted an evening and a half watching it.
Midway through episode 2, we'd had enough and put on something else.
I would suggest others don't even start for the sake of your own health.
Mad Dogs (2011)
An example of a series starting strongly and then just petering out.
This series (or rather series of series perhaps) started out so strongly in season 1. We were intrigued. The actors and acting were strong. The storyline different enough to be worth watching and wondering what direction they were taking. The four episodes of the short season were just about right. I'd give season 1 maybe an 8 out of 10.
Season 2. Still good though it did seem to wander a bit. A new storyline set somewhere else in Spain with a couple of new characters to add to the mix that made it interesting in its own way. Not as good as season 1. Not as satisfying. A few scenes included that we wondered what the point was. But still watchable. Down to 7 out of 10.
Season 3. What on earth is going on? It just seemed to wander aimlessly from scene to scene and episode to episode. At times, it seemed to be liking a Sartre play it was so odd. Scenes seemed to be added just to make up time and fill in an episode. Characters introduced with their own stories only to never be head of again. The final episode had a 10 minute drug induced sequence towards the end that was just bizarre. It was all quite painful in the end. 5 out of 10 would be generous.
Season 4. Well, we didn't watch the two episodes that made up season 4. I took a look at the IMDb reviews and noted that the final episode was scored 5.3 by other viewers. That said it all for me. We chose not to endure any more pain. Thank goodness the writers realized that enough is enough and no more will be made.
I hope that helps other viewers. Season 1 definitely worth watching. Season 2 if you are huge fans of the actors. But leave it at that or you'll be left with bad memories of the whole series.
The Kettering Incident (2016)
"It sorta starts off real slow and then fizzles out altogether"
Neil Young introduces his wonderful song "Don't let it get you down" with the now famous lyrics, "It sorta starts off real slow and then fizzles out altogether".
The difference between Young's song and The Kettering Incident is that Neil Young was brilliant and this isn't. "Fizzles out" doesn't cover it at all.
My God but this was awful. I see another reviewer gave up after Episode 5. My wife and I wish we'd given up mid way through Episode 1. Sadly, we didn't. We stuck it out until Episode 8 hoping to make some sense of it but now feel we've been robbed of 8 hours of our lives.
I could say more but what's the point? It's mediocre at the start and just goes downhill from there. That about covers it and there really isn't any need to spend any more time writing this.
Sad thing is that by the end of 8 it's clear they intend a Series 2 of this. Hard to believe and one can only hope they come to their senses and abandon the idea. We won't be sucked in a second time and would think few others will bother to watch it either.
Bottom line: don't waste your time.
"The Bridge" this isn't. Not by a long shot.
If you are expecting a story of the same quality as the Swedish/Danish production, The Bridge, you are going to be in for a huge disappointment.
Yes, there is the same technique of introducing characters for an episode or two, having them fulfill a purpose and then they disappear. However, whereas in The Bridge these character introductions and disappearances generally made sense and had a purpose, here they do not all too frequently.
Why, for example, have one character, a witness, pursue Marcella for a couple of episodes, building up the suspense, finally find her, confront her violently, and then have him just completely disappear from the story after one of Marcella's blackouts with absolutely no further mention of him for the rest of the story? It was just silly.
Holes in the plot? Holes so big you could drive one of those oversized trucks they use in mines right through them without touching the sides. Where does one begin? Without spoiling anything, let's begin with the opening scene: Marcella covered in blood cleaning herself up in the bathtub, walls smeared with blood. A real eye catcher, of course. But as we later discover, it is totally inconsistent with anything that happens in the story. Yes, there was a murder victim but, no, the victim was not killed in any sort of bloody way and nor was Marcella herself the source of the blood. So where does the blood come from? Nowhere. It's kind of important as it did set the scene for the entire series but as it turns out, it was a ridiculous and totally inconsistent scene which had nothing to do with what happens in the story.
In the final episode we discover who the murderer actually was but the means of the murder Marcella was involved in seem totally impossible. Marcella goes to the victim's house and talks to the victim so the victim was alive when Marcella arrived. We discover later (and I won't give away spoilers here so I'll word this carefully), that Marcella left the house AFTER the murder was committed. That is certain. Absolutely no question about it given what is revealed. So how is it that the murder was committed in Marcella's presence without her somehow noticing what was going on? It makes no sense.
I could go on as these holes are far from isolated.
My wife went on to me at some length criticizing just how ridiculous some of the actions of the other police were towards the end of the story and I have to agree with her that it all just didn't ring true.
My wife and I endured the entire series but now wish we hadn't. It's disappointing to see that this has rated as highly as it has (7.4 as I write this) as it simply doesn't deserve it. Well made? Sure. But with any sort of story-line that leaves one satisfied at the end? Not in the least. 4/10 is the best I can give it. If that's the score that others had given it as well, we wouldn't have wasted our time.
London Spy (2015)
A slow fizzle
There's absolutely no denying this is another example of a wonderfully made British drama production. It is beautifully filmed. The acting marvelous. The directing and editing probably won awards. The subject not one that could even have been tackled a generation ago.
But, although my wife and I were mesmerized by the first three episodes and absolutely enthralled by the production and couldn't wait for the next one, during the fourth episode I started to get one of those "oh-oh" feelings that the whole plot was just going off the rails. It just felt like the writer wasn't too sure where to do with the whole thing and how to resolve what he started and just making it up minute to minute.
During the final episode that fear was confirmed as the two of us just sat there in silence enduring what we were now committed to watching as we'd made it through the first part of the series. At the end of the episode, I just turned it off in disbelief and my wife summed it up with something like, "what a waste of time that was." So much potential with what started out so promisingly but it all spiraled its way downhill in a painful fizzle for the final 45 minutes. So disappointed. In some ways, the final episode reminded me of bad science fiction it was so silly.
Look, IF you've started watching it and wonder what is happening, by all means finish it. However, if you are reading these reviews prior to seeing episode 1 then both of us would suggest you don't waste your time as you will find yourself let down when it reaches the end.