What have you been watching this week (w/e April 29)?

My usual recommendations for maximum viewing pleasure this week: Archer, Community, Cougar Town, The Daily Show, Endgame, Modern Family, Stargate Universe and 30 Rock. Watch them (and keep an eye on The Stage‘s TV Today Square Eyes feature as well) or you’ll be missing out on the good stuff. I’ve also decided to add Happy Endings to the recommended viewing, since although it can be a bit silly, it is consistently funny.

Just a few thoughts on a couple of the regulars:

  • Loved last week’s episode of Community – a clips show with clips from episodes that don’t actually exist. How awesome is that?
  • Stargate Universe almost made me cry this week, which is kind of pathetic I know, but TJ getting motor neurone disease was just upsetting.
  • Smallville – Booster Gold turns up. So a bit rubbish basically. Still not long to the final ever episode.

Since the last “What have you been watching?”, I’ve tried

  • Game of Thrones, but gave up after 15 minutes since it seemed very dull. I might be wrong on that, but then fantasy books have never really been my thing.
  • I also dipped back into Hellcats, just to see what they did with Aly Michalka’s sister, who they’ve got to play… her long-lost sister. They didn’t do much though and since most of the rest of the episode was actually quite dreadful Kids From Fame stuff, I decided not to bother watching any more of it and was glad I gave up a while back.

I did record The Crimson Petal and the White, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and United, but didn’t watch them. Were they any good?

But what have you been watching?

“What have you been watching this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched this week. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?


Review: Engrenages (Spiral) 3×7-3×8

Laure in Spiral

In France: Some time last Summer
In the UK: Saturday 23rd April, 9pm, BBC4. iPlayer: Episode 7, Episode 8

Never distrust Spiral. That appears to be the moral of this week’s episodes. After my doubts last week, episodes seven and eight seemed designed purely to make me feel a little silly in all my reservations, those crafty writers.

Let’s talk about bluffs, double bluffs and general wheels within wheels after the jump – and a gratuitous picture of Karlsson.


Continue reading “Review: Engrenages (Spiral) 3×7-3×8”

Sitting Tennant

Friday’s Sitting Tennant (week 15, 2011)

Just to keep you going through this bizarre weekend, in which we celebrate a prince getting married then three days later celebrate the power of the workers, here are some bizarre pictures of David Tennant sitting down.

Erin C's Sitting Tennant

Hebbie's Sitting Tennant

Rullsenberg's Sitting Tennant

Sister Chastity's Sitting Tennant

Five points each to Erin C, Hebbie, Rullsenberg and Sister Chastity and a happy four-day holiday to everyone in the UK (bad luck US citizens, but you know why).

  1. Hebbie: 95
  2. Sister Chastity: 60
  3. Rullsenberg: 55
  4. Toby, Erin C: 35
  5. Janice: 15
  6. esgaril: 10
  7. theriverlady: 5

Don’t forget Tuesday’s caption competition!

Got a picture of David Tennant sitting, lying down or in some indeterminate state in between? Then leave a link to it below or email me and if it’s judged suitable, it will appear in the “Sitting Tennant” gallery. Don’t forget to include your name in the filename so I don’t get mixed up about who sent it to me.

The best pic in the stash each week will appear on Tuesday and get ten points; the runners up will appear on Friday (one per person who sends one in) and get five points.

You can also enter the witty and amusing captions league table by commenting on Tuesday’s Sitting Tennant photo, the best caption getting 10 points, everyone who contributes getting five points.


Richard Chamberlain _is_ Jason Bourne

The Bourne Identity – brilliant movie, huh? Do you know what isn’t a brilliant movie, though? The Bourne Identity.

Confusing, huh? That’s because you probably didn’t realise that the excellent 2002 movie starring Matt Damon wasn’t the first adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s book The Bourne Identity, about a spy apparently called Jason Bourne who loses his memory after being shot and has to recover his identity. Nope, back in 1988, US TV network ABC adapted it as a three-hour movie which they turned into a two-part mini-series. Except rather than Matt Damon, they got Richard Chamberlain to play ‘Jason Bourne’. And they forgot to get someone decent to direct it. Or give it a decent special effects budget.

Ironically, the 1988 adaptation, which you can watch part of below, while worse is a lot more faithful to the book and it does feature Anthony Quayle, Jaclyn Smith and Denholm Elliott as well, so you might prefer it, particularly if you’re a Ludlum fan.

This is only part 1 – other parts are on YouTube, but you should probably get it on DVD if you like it for some reason.

Classic TV

Lost Gems: Shoot to Kill (1990)

Shoot to Kill

‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland were a pretty bloody time. Over 3,600 people were killed in what became a war between the provisional IRA, the British government and other terrorist groups. Although the 70s brought us things like Internment, some people suspect that during the 80s, the British government began to operate a “shoot to kill” policy, letting groups such as the army’s SAS special forces regiment and the Royal Ulster Constabulary kill people without warning if they were suspected terrorists.

In 1982, six terrorist suspects were killed in three separate incidents Northern Ireland by the RUC, allegedly without warning. After an initial internal RUC inquiry which revealed that one police offer had been told to lie in his statements, another inquiry, headed by John Stalker of the Greater Manchester Police, was convened. Between 1984 and 1986, Stalker investigated the shootings but just before he could make his final report, he was removed from the inquiry and suspended from duty after allegations were made he associated with criminals. Colin Sampson of the West Yorkshire Police then took over the investigation, but his findings were never made public. Stalker alleges that during his inquiry, he was repeatedly blocked, his offices bugged and there was attempts to cover up an informal but unwritten shoot-to-kill policy.

In 1990, Yorkshire Television dramatised the investigation as Shoot To Kill, a brilliant and engrossing four-hour drama documentary directed by Peter Kosminsky (who recently directed The Promise for Channel 4). The film had originally been intended to be a straight documentary as part of ITV’s First Tuesday strand. However, no one was willing to appear on-camera, partly because of the Official Secrets Act – as Kosminsky put it “They were either dead, disappeared or not allowed to talk to us.” Simultaneously, Zenith, the production company behind Inspector Morse, was looking into making a drama about the inquiry so Yorkshire Television’s head of drama, Keith Richardson, suggested merging the two projects. When Detective Chief Superintendent John Thorburn – Stalker’s number two on the investigation and the man who was in charge of the day-to-day running of the inquiry – agreed to act as a consultant, the dramatisation got the go-ahead.

Despite its four-hour run-time, the drama was utterly gripping. Starring Jack Shepherd as John Stalker, David Calder as John Thorburn and TP McKenna as Sir John Hermon (yes, three guys named John), it was nominated for a BAFTA award in the Best Single Drama category, and won the 1990 award in that category from both the Royal Television Society and the Broadcasting Press Guild. The Sunday Times critic Patrick Stoddart described it as Kosminsky’s “first and massively impressive drama”. Chris Dunkely of the Financial Times said it was “the sort of programme that makes me want to stand up and cheer”, calling it “admirable” and “remarkably even handed”, with “splendid performances… and very superior camerawork and editing. Given that Kosminsky has never made a drama before it is an astonishing achievement. But above all a heartening one”. Ian Christie in the Daily Express called it remarkable and gripping, concluding that “the film was compelling, the script and direction incisive, the performances first rate”. Nancy Banks Smith in The Guardian compared the “sense of tension and throttling pressure” of the second part to that of a “Western by a great master… Will he get them before they get him? Even though you know he won’t, you feel he might.”

However, despite the plaudits, Shoot to Kill has never been repeated or released on video or DVD. Why? Well, in October 1990, John Harmon sued Yorkshire Television for libel over how he’d been portrayed – according to Kosminsky, the libel action eventually boiled down to “how much cold tea we had put in Jack Hermon’s brandy glass”. Yorkshire settled out of court in June 1992 for £50,000 (allegedly) and suspicion is that one of the terms of the agreement was that there should be no repeats – or maybe Yorkshire just didn’t want any more trouble.

Whatever the reason, that was before the Internet and some enterprising young gentleman somewhere has uploaded all four hours of Shoot to Kill to YouTube and you can watch it below. Quality is VHS grade, unsurprisingly, but Shoot to Kill itself is still one of the best drama-documentaries ever made on British TV. Oh, and the final report of Stalker Inquiry, with up to 40 members of the RUC allegedly accused of criminal or disciplinary charges? Still not released.