Arrow Review
Oct 2012 18

The recent success of the Marvel comic movies has made Hollywood and the Networks desperate to sign the next hot comic book property. I would never have thought the ‘Green Arrow’ get his own TV series but here it is!

They have cast a relatively unknown Stephen Amell playing Oliver Queen our hero the Green Arrow. The story starts with Oliver on an island called Purgatory which we find he has been stranded on for five years. He looks like Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’ with a Green Hood for the first few minutes. During these minutes we get a glimpse of his Parkour abilities as he race to alert a near by Fishing boat as to his presence.

Once back in civilisation the story becomes a reasonably predictable revenge story with the Arrow taking on those that have taken advantage of his home town. There is more too it than that but I don’t want to spoil the plot. They have cleverly not given everything away about what happened to Oliver on the island but use flashbacks to give us glimpses of the event that changes his life forever.

Some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy one line in particular whispered by Oliver to his kid sister Thea played by Willa Holland on his return is a shocker: ‘You were with me the whole time’. VoiceOver is used by the producers to explain what is going on in the Arrows mind. This for me is not hugely effective as Stephen Amell is a little wooden, not on the scale of Keanu Reeves but close. He is your classic blue-eyed blonde haired boy, and luckily for him there was clearly a Fitness First gym on Purgatory as he is ripped.

It all feels very familiar, not always a bad thing as sometimes you want to sit comfortably on the sofa and turn your brain off and watch stupidly good-looking people tell you a story. It draws on its comic book heritage and pulls from the likes of Batman and Superman for inspiration in developing the leads darker brooding character.
It reminds me a lot of Smallville, the possible love interest is called Laurel Lance and is an investigative lawyer sounds familiar doesn’t it. This is not surprising as it is produced for the CW the American channel which was responsible for Smallville.

I don’t want to give away the plot but rest assured they have built-in a way to keep this story running for as long as they need it to.

Arrow is a ripping yarn which won’t tax the brain. I enjoyed the first episode and I want to find out more about the mysterious island of purgatory and what happened to him there.

Arrow is on Sky One HD 22nd October at 9pm.

7/10

TW

Oct 2012 22

 ‘Elementary’ is the American remake of the BBC’s excellent ‘Sherlock’ television series.  Upfront I better say that I’m a fan of the original and have always enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes character in books and film (yes even Robert Downey Jr.’s interpretation).

‘Elementary’ is set in New York although to be honest the opening episode could have been set anywhere in the US.  Jonny Lee Miller takes on the role of Holmes and Lucy Liu plays Dr. Watson.  A female Watson! an interesting idea as there have always been undertones of attraction between the two traditionally male characters.

For me the writing is the biggest failing of the pilot episode, it feels like ‘Sherlock’ lite, softened and made simpler denying the American market what for me is the greatest attribute of the Holmes character his intelligence.  An example of this softening is the fact the Holmes apologies to Watson, not once but twice for his actions.  This struck me as out of character and an attempt to make him more likeable.  Unfortunately for me the American producers have slipped into what they do best ‘Procedural Crime Drama’ which reduces two of the great literary characters into mere bystanders.  I suspect Lucy Liu’s higher star ranking might have effected some of the producers decisions not necessarily for the better. 

I’m trying to imagine what I would think of ‘Elementary’ in a world where ‘Sherlock’ didn’t exist, but I can’t because it does and it is superior on every level to this version.

The only hope in my mind for ‘Elementary’ is that the chemistry between Millar and Liu lifts the show out of ‘Sherlocks’ shadow and creates a niche for its self in the minds of Sherlock Holmes fans.

Tue 23 Oct at 9pm, Sky Living HD

6/10

TW

Oct 2012 23

The Valleys0

Posted In Opinion,TV

At the beginning of October MTV launched it’s new reality show, The Valleys.
It is referred to as “The Welsh version of Geordie Shore” and has the tag line “The Valleys: There’s No Going Back”.
When I caught a trailer for it I was immediately excited.
You see, I love Geordie Shore. Completely. It took me a couple of episodes but by the time I could remember all of the characters names I felt affection for most of them. Admittedly a kind of appalled disgusted affection you might feel for a cat that can licks it own bottom, but affection all the same. I like the girls and I am fascinated, but not in the slightest bit attracted, to the boys. They are all so funny, you see. Mostly deliberately funny. Shockingly honest, self deprecating and often very drunken.
Of course Geordie Shore is a spin off of the hugely successful American show, Jersey Shore. I’ve never watched the original US programme so haven’t been able to draw a parallel between the two Shore Shows. As far as I am concerned Geordie Shore stands alone as a decent, car crash TV/soap opera style augmented reality drama type thing.
The same can not be said for The Valleys.
To be fair to it, I have only watched one episode. I missed the first two but have found the following synopsis on the MTV website:

Deep in the heart of South Wales, in the quiet and picturesque rolling countryside known asThe Valleys, nine youngsters are currently stuck in humdrum and unexciting jobs, but dream of a life of stardom, limousines, flashing paparazzi bulbs and adoring fans.

Brand new show The Valleys will pluck them from obscurity and thrust them into the limelight where they will live in a house kitted out with a ‘cutch-hut’ and cameras, to see if they succeed amidst the hustle and bustle of Cardiff city.

I wanted to love this show, I really did. Maybe I will after another episode? Stranger things have happened. But, after my first viewing I have no affection for this bunch of badly dressed, badly spoken, badly mannered bunch of fame hungry wannabes. The best way to describe an hour long episode is: imagine watching 60 minutes version of THAT section of the 1990s Channel 4 show The Word, called “The Hopefuls”. Yes. It is a 2012 equivalent of a young man french kissing an elderly lady.
The Welsh cast, all drafted in from a relatively rural existence to get stuck in to the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Cardiff in order to make something of themselves, have clearly been spending all of their days leading up to the first episode watching Geordie Shore. Each character tries to out do one another in the filth stakes, using the lewd Newcastle based show as it’s benchmark. The Geordie Shore girls could (just about) pull off their incredibly honest sexual banter because it was always funny and was, in my opinion, said intelligibly and with tongue firmly in cheek.  (Wahey!)
Not so in The Valleys.
The show’s tried and tested format sees the cast commentating on footage of a recent night out as they speak to the camera.
Whilst reviewing a crazy boozy night out in a karaoke bar, where the 9 “stars” of The Valleys appear to be the only patrons in the entire building, we have the following sequence of comments –
Nicole: “Lateysha says she doesn’t like Leeroy but I think it’s a bit like bum sex: she says she doesn’t like it but I bet she does really”
Leeroy: “Jenna’s not like most of the girls I’ve been with. Yeah so she’s got fake boobs and stuff but she’s proper classy.”
Jenna: “Leeroy’s cute but he’s a boy and at the end of the day all boys think with their dicks.”
Just after this individual piece to camera sequence, the footage of the night out shows Nicole dancing with her skirt hitched up. This lasts for a few moments before Liam, the gay housemate, pulls her knickers down to her. Her possible love interest in the show, Aaron says “What the fuck?! Nicole’s got her knickers down to her ankles, her bean’s hanging out… I don’t know what she wants me to do, like! I do want to bang Nicole, but I’m not going have live sex in front of everyone, like.”
Fair enough.
Nicole is happy to explain “when I’m dancing I don’t want a sweating fanny so I just let a little bit of fresh air in, you know, because I don’t want a sweaty fanny.”
Perhaps it’s me…
No. No, it’s not me. It’s them. They are offensive, nasty, one dimensional freaks. Vulgar. Obscene. They appear to be one trick ponies, only able to revolt, not entertain.
Will I be watching the next episode?
You bet your fanny I will.
The next episode of The Valleys is on MTV tonight at 10pm, Sky channel 126 or Virgin 311.
LW
Oct 2012 30

Girls is a new HBO comedy series being shown on Sky Atlantic and I absolutely love it.

The Girls

“Why?” you might ask.

(For the sake of this I am going to imagine you definitely did ask cos otherwise the rest of this is going to be weird.)

I love it because it is real. It is blisteringly, cringe inducing, get up and walk around the room, blush while you are watching, honest.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so happy to admit this but I can really relate to this show. Really a lot. It is funny because I have had similar conversations, with similar women, in similar settings, discussing similar boys whilst  worrying about similar stuff.

When I first read Bridget Jones’s Diary, back in 1996, I didn’t think she was a disastrous flake.  I was 21, had just finished university and was trying to get a job and a flat in London. In my opinion Bridget Jones had it all.

She was thinner than me, she went out a lot with her friends, she smoked, she had a flat, a job and wasn’t a virgin. “Isn’t Bridget a hopeless nightmare?” people would say to me when they noticed what I was reading. I would of course make some kind of facial gesture to try to show I agreed but inside I was thinking “Bridget isn’t’ hopeless! She’s everything I want to be!” Bridget Jones’s Diary was as aspirational guide to a chic London lifestyle that I wanted.

Now, 16 years later, I finally feel the appalled pitying affection that I was meant to feel about Bridget for  the lead in Girls, Hannah.

Hannah Horvath wants to be a writer. She looks normal – she’s neither fat nor thin, ugly nor beautiful. She likes to think she is streetwise, witty and cool but in actual fact she is a super naive, socially awkward girl in her early twenties who relies on an allowance from her parents every month, while she works an unpaid internship. An internship that she accidentally gets herself fired from when she asks for a salary.

In the first three episodes we see Hannah, unfortunately, having a lot of sex with her lover, Adam who is aloof and noncommittal about their relationship. There is no chemistry between Adam and Hannah. Their time together is clumsy, uncomfortable and embarrassing. It is what life is actually like.

The only female character in Girls that I don’t like is the Jessa, the British flatmate who is effortlessly cool, (more so than me at 21 and 37,) and is therefore intimidating, however my age now allows me to admit that.

Jessa

I cannot wait to watch the next episode though I know I will be viewing from behind a cushion, or through a series of facepalms.

Girls is broadcast on Monday evenings at 10pm on Sky Atlantic.

Nov 2012 12

Falcón0

Posted In Opinion,TV

The new Sky Atlantic series ‘Falcón’ is based on Robert Wilson’s bestselling Javier Falcón novels.  The books and the series are set in Seville Spain but the location is the only Spanish piece of this unusual crime drama.  Marton Csokas who you may recognise as Celeborn from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and also ‘Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter’ takes the lead as Javier Falcón.  Javier is your standard TV cop struggling with his troubled past by burying himself in his work and substance abuse.  I have always struggled with how these characters remain charming when they are smacked out of their faces.

Robbie Coltrane in Jimmy McGovern’s excellent ‘Cracker‘ is one of the rare times this type of flawed character has worked in my opinion.  Why do these cops have to be a walking disaster zones outside of work? Why can’t they just lead normal lives as a balance to the horror they see at work?  If it is because of the horror they see why aren’t more police around the world checking into the Priory?

The most striking element of the production is they haven’t bothered with Spanish accents at all.  I’m not messing around, they even have a Spanish cockney sidekick for Javier.  It is possibly one of the most dumbfounding production decisions I have ever seen or in this case heard.  With the runaway successes of the ‘The Killing’, ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Wallander’ all foreign language productions why did Sky Atlantic feel that even accents would be too much for the audience to deal with?  I can’t tell you how jarring it is to sit and look at these beautiful locations and have people who inhabit them sound like an episode of Eastenders.  Admittedly I don’t think Eastenders has a storyline, which involves someone cutting off people’s eyelids, but still it is annoying.

Clearly they put a lot of love into this production, it is well cast and looks great, a simple decision not to perform in Spanish or with accents completely removes you from the location and makes this just too difficult to watch.

5/10

TW

A Young Doctor’s Notebook – Radcliffe and Draper in a Bath
Nov 2012 13

Watch out ladies! That’s right, Daniel Radcliffe’s latest attempt to prove that there is life after Harry Potter involves taking off his clothes! But that’s not all, oh no, he’s also shown in the bath. That’s right, the camera will show him soaping himself down. But wait! That’s not all. Calm yourselves girls, because you see, Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper off of Mad Men) actually shares a bath with him!

I know, right?

Sky Arts‘ critically-lauded Playhouse Presents series returns with A Young Doctor’s Notebook, a comedy miniseries based on the memoirs of a Russian Revolution-era doctor. Jon Hamm plays the older version Daniel Radcliffe’s character. The dual perspectives of the younger man and the older man on the events of the story give it a lightness of tone that it is hoped will juxtapose with the harsh realities of life at that time in a small Russian village.

Daniel Radcliffe seems to have decided that the best way to make everyone forget that he was one Harry Potter is for him to take all his clothes off (just like in Equus, or to play characters who look younger than they are (The Woman in Black). Playing the same character as Jon Hamm is an intriguing prospect, and with seemingly high production design, and the Sky Arts pedigree, there seems to be plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this one. Check out the trailer below, and let us know what you think.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook airs in the UK on Sky Arts in December 2012.

TA

Nov 2012 22

Steve-O is back with an interesting mix of Jackass and the X-factor.  Contestants are judged on their ability to sing while suffering shocks or frights.  These clips are highly entertaining and if the producers can keep thinking of ways to put of the contestants it could be a Saturday evening must watch!

 

 

TW

Nov 2012 22

This is why I love the internet, two of my favourite shows combined.
Enjoy.

TW

Dec 2012 12

This is our first podcast, and the first in a series of exclusive interviews with Tony Guyan, Production Manager of the classic 1984 BBC children’s series The Box of Delights.
Pull your chair closer to the fire, help yourself to a warm mince pie and maybe a glass of something and listen as Tony serves up anecdotes on locations, cast and crew, giving a nostalgic and unique insight into what it was like to be part of a bit of TV magic.
Please do let us know what you think and Happy Christmas from RBTV!

NP/TW

Dec 2012 16

The second part of our interview with the 1984 Box of Delights series Production Manager Tony Guyan.

Here Tony talks about locations including steam trains and stations, ‘Tatchester’ Cathedral, ‘Seekings’ House as well as cast members Robert Stephens, Patrick Troughton and Devin Stansfield. Not to mention some Dreft hurling!

Happy Christmas!

TW/NP

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