Archive | Reviews

An archive of all the blog's reviews of TV programmes, films, DVDs, plays, audio plays and gadgets. There's also an A-Z index of all reviews.


May 26, 2016

Preview: Outcast 1x1 (US: Cinemax; UK: Fox UK)

Posted on May 26, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Outcast

In the US: Fridays, Cinemax. Starts June 3
In the UK: Tuesdays, 10pm, Fox UK. Starts June 7

The Exorcist was justifiably proclaimed as one of the best movies of the 70s and perhaps the scariest movie of all time. Despite being about demonic possession of a young girl, its horror comes from the crisis of faith of a young priest who at first tries to explain the possession rationally, before the slow accumulation of facts and his partnership with an older, self-assured priest (Max Von Sydow) on an exorcism force him to acknowledge that the Devil - and God - exists.

This year, we're facing not one but two TV versions of The Exorcist, both of them airing on a Fox of one kind or another. The first, airing on Fox in the US, is explicitly a remake of the movie:

The second, airing on Cinemax in the US but Fox UK in the UK, is Outcast. Although based on Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead)'s comic of the same name, it's basically a remake of The Exorcist, with a young man (Patrick Fugit) gradually coming to accept the truth of demonic possession thanks to the sights he beholds while working with an older priest on an exorcism of a child.

Surprisingly, of the two shows, Outcast looks like it's by far the better remake. Even more surprisingly, Outcast is also a partial remake of 2008 ITV Buffy knock-off shitfest Demons. Because who should be playing the older American demon-hunter of the piece? Why it's none other than Life on Mars' Philip Glenister again.

Here's a trailer.

Continue reading "Preview: Outcast 1x1 (US: Cinemax; UK: Fox UK)"

Read other posts about:

May 25, 2016

Preview: Preacher 1x1-1x3 (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime)

Posted on May 25, 2016 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Preacher

In the US: Sundays, 9pm (8c), AMC
In the UK: Episodes available on Amazon Prime the day after US airing

Maybe I just found Garth Ennis at the wrong time. Hellblazer had been one of my favourite comics at university, thanks to Jamie Delano's unique blend of horror, politics and a UK setting. When he left the title, I expected more of the same. Instead, I got Garth Ennis.

For many, Ennis was the best writer of John Constantine, combining horror with a knowing playfulness that undercut the action. For me, I was losing amoral tussles with hunger demons as a metaphor for Western consumption and Ethiopia in favour of tricks on the Devil involving transmuted holy water. Horses for courses, but Ennis was definitely not my 3.15 from Aintree.

That's probably why I never read Preacher, Ennis' magnum opus. Even to tell you what it was about, I'd have to look at Wikipedia. To a lot of comics fans, that's tantamount to not being able to explain the plot of Hamlet, but I don't care - Garth Ennis stole my student Constantine, wah, wah, it's not fair.

So is AMC's Preacherwritten and exec-produced by (of all people) Seth Rogen and his childhood pal Evan Goldberg, a faithful adaptation of this esteemed comic? Don't know and don't care, either. Ennis - pphhtt. Wah.

What I can tell you is that it stars Dominic Cooper (Captain America, Fleming) as the improbably named Texan, Jessie Custer, a bad-as-they-come criminal who returns to become the preacher in his home town when his father dies. Trouble is he's a very bad preacher who's not really convinced there is a God. Then one day, just as he's planning to give it all up and return to his bad, bad ways, he asks one last time for a sign from God of His existence… and, surprisingly, he receives it. And now, whenever he tells someone to do something, they do it - often more literally than Jessie intended. It's almost like the Preacher now speaks the very word of God.

And that's basically episode one, which you might have already seen. I've left out Tulip (Ruth Negga from Marvel's Agents of SHIELD), Jessie's former partner-in-crime, who's got 'one last job for him' and isn't going to take no for an answer. I've also left out Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun from This is England and Misfits), the century-old Irish vampire who's being chased by a group of religious fanatics. 

We can talk about them and the next two episodes after the jump.

Continue reading "Preview: Preacher 1x1-1x3 (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime)"

Read other posts about:

May 12, 2016

Review: Raising Expectations 1x1 (Canada: Family)

Posted on May 12, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Raising Expectations

In Canada: Sundays, 7:30pm ET/PT, Family

Some shows just invite you to slate them, simply by their names. Remember Bonekickers? Even if it hadn't been absolutely dreadful in and of itself, there was that name, begging for me to hate the show.

Raising Expectations isn't in Bonekickers' league, in that sense, but it's definitely an invitation to pre-emptively reply "Yes, but you're still absolute sh*te. Who told you you were above average?" After all, most Canadian comedies are dreadful. There's about one good one a decade.

Yet here's one that stars, wait for it, not just Jason Priestley from Beverly Hills 90210 and Tru Calling but also Molly Ringwald. Yes, Molly Pretty in Pink Ringwald.

We're talkin' 'bout my generation here - raising expectations indeed. 

So I was prepared to give Raising Expectations the benefit of the doubt, despite airing on Canada's Family channel and having the following plot:

The Wayneys are an amazing family. They’re good looking, smart, talented, athletic, and popular. Paige Wayney is a best-selling author, and her husband Wayne is an architect. They have worked hard at raising their five children to be “multi-exceptional”, and they succeeded… four times. Adam is an honours students and football quarterback. Bentley is a brilliant poet and cellist. Conner is a gifted dancer and actress. Derek is a master of gadgets. Their youngest son, Emmett, is a work in progress. Emmett may not be the most academic, athletic, or artistic of the Wayneys, but he makes up for that with his “street smarts”.

If I could punch a plot, I would. But I really wanted to like it, all the same.

Unfortunately, the show isn't funny. There's a mild titter every so often and the show saves its sole actual laugh for literally the final line of dialogue, but the humour's generally of the order of background radiation, rather than Silicon Valley

In part, that's because it's Canadian intended for a family/young audience, and the show isn't pushing any boundaries. It's not even aware there are boundaries to be pushed, it's so young and innocent. It's coming to this humour thing as though its audience is as equally young and innocent that they've never heard any jokes before and so all the old ones can still be used. You might as well be watching early 90s Canadian-British co-production Spatz for all the differences: 

Perhaps that's a little unfair, since so much of this first episode is as down with modern kids' social media obsession as The CW's Containment, with Ringwald's online lecture garnering troll comments that not only are mean about Ringwald, but expose Priestley as having lied to her on one of their first dates. The children then use their 'unique, character-defining, all other characteristics-excluding' skillsets to organise a SWATing (well, pizza- and poo-ing) the trolls in revenge, while Priestley has to re-retroactively disprove the lie by climbing up a rope with an egg in his pocket (don't ask).

It's a bit hard to like any of the kids, though. Apart from the odd choice of three sons, one daughter, all with stereotypical interests and abilities, it's hard not to look at both Priestley and Ringwald and think "These look like normal people" and then to look at the kids and think, "These look like they're made of plastic." Times have changed and standards of on-screen pulchritude have unfortunately increased, but I was genuinely surprised when any of them managed to have a facial expression.

If you've got to watch something with your kids, Priestley and Ringwald are a sufficient draw in themselves - and, in fact, toghether - that you could probably make your way through an episode or two without your brain revolting.

Otherwise, stear clear of Raising Expectations and always rememberCaroline laughs and it's raining all day, she loves to be one of the girls, she lives in the place in the side of our lives, where nothing is ever put straight. She turns herself round and she smiles and she says, "This is it that's the end of the joke," and loses herself in her dreaming and sleep, and her lovers walk through in their coaches.

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 415 416 417 418 419 420 421 422 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 442 443 444 445 446 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 456 457 458 459 460 461 462 463 464 465 466 467 468 469 470 471 472 473 474 475 476 477 478 479 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 494 495 496 497 498 499 500 501 502 503 504 505 506 507 508 509 510 511 512 513 514 515 516 517 518 519 520 521 522 523 524 525 526 527 528 529 530 531 532 533 534 535 536 537 538 539 540 541 542 543 544 545 546 547 548 549 550 551 552 553 554 555 556 557 558 559 560  

Featured Articles

Outcast

The best Exorcist remake this year