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Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


June 12, 2008

Review: Fat Pig (again)

Posted on June 12, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Joanna Page, Kris Marshall, and Robert Webb in Fat Pig

Okay, I've already reviewed this. I know. But my wife wanted to see it, and she was gutted when we couldn't use the free tickets Fat Pig's PR guy offered us – two hours before the performance was due to start, mind – so I thought I'd treat her to dinner and the theatre yesterday. Cos I'm nice.

The thing about both movies and TV shows, though, is that they're always the same. Once recorded, they're immutable. But theatre changes every night. The actors can improve or vary their performance, be tired one night and turn in a dodgy performance, get bored, or ad lib, for example. Mistakes can be fixed – or new ones can turn up.

So two weeks on, is Fat Pig better or worse?

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June 7, 2008

Review: Doctor Who - 4x9 - Forest of the Dead

Posted on June 7, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Forest of the Dead

Two-parters are tricky, aren't they? You set up mysteries and problems in the first part that need to be answered in the second. Most importantly, you have to make sure there's sufficient pay-off for the viewer, who's been hanging around waiting for the answers.

Last week in Silence in the Library, Steven Moffat set up all sorts of questions that needed to be answered this week. Did he answer them this week? And did he answer them well?

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June 6, 2008

Review: In Plain Sight 1x1

Posted on June 6, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

In Plain Sight

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, USA Network
In the UK: They're all in hiding

Awful. Just awful.

What? You want more from that in a review?

Sigh. Okay. Here we go then.

Although at first sight the USA Network has a clear theme - it's the “network of characters” - that's not quite what it is. It's the network of 80s shows. These weren't shows made in the 80s, mind. These are shows that fit the show templates of the 80s.

For the most part, we're talking private detective shows – quite good ones at that. So, for example, we have Monk, the private detective who works for the police department and has OCD. We have Burn Notice, featuring the private detective who's an ex-spy. And we have Psych, the private detectives who also work for the police department and pretend to be psychics.

Typical story in any of these: helpless person comes to private detective, private detective investigates, finds clues, solves crime use his special “character” skills. The end.

Psych is in fact the purest of these retro 80s shows, since not only does it use the old script templates of the 80s, it references all the shows explicitly (I'm still guffawing at Gus's Airwolf jacket) and even has the same actors (Corbin Bernsen, for example).

As we can see the USA Network knows its audience: old enough to remember the 80s and its tele fondly; wishing they made tele like in the good old days.

Thing is, most 80s US TV was a bit pants. If we polish off our old Betamaxes of Riptide, Simon and Simon, Tucker's Witch, Jake and The Fatman, et al, we'd see how poorly they stand up compared to the far more sophisticated and intelligent fare (with exceptions) that modern US TV has to offer.

Except we don't have to, because here's In Plain Sight, starring Mary McCormack. It's an 80s police/action show lovingly recreated in every detail using modern television techniques. And it's rubbish.

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