Columbo s01e07 Blueprint for Murder (1972) – 6/10 crime detective TV review

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Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Patrick O’Neal: Elliiot Markham
Janis Paige: Goldie Williamson
Pamela Austin: Jennifer Williamson
John Fiedler: Doctor Moss
Forrest Tucker: Bo Williamson
Actor and Director: Peter Falk
Screenplay Writer: Steven Bochco
Story Writer: William Kelley
Producer and Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Producer and Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s01e07 Blueprint for Murder (1972)

Columbo investigates a reported death of a Texas tycoon but there’s no body and the last man to see him, architect Elliot Markham, presumes that he has gone off on an international trip. Sure enough, the police find the tycoon’s car at the airport but while the tape player and glovebox is stuffed with country and western music, the radio is tuned to a classical station. That’s enough to make Columbo think that something sinister may be going on.

6/10

Memorable but empty episode. Columbo’s surprise appearance in a woman’s bedroom is probably worth the price of admission and the plan for disposing of the body is clever. The skyscraper construction site is an unusual, interesting and convincing location. The episode is paced surprisingly well given the lack of developments but director Peter Falk doesn’t quite get the end gambit (the digging up of the pile / eventual arrest) quite right.

This Columbo episode contains very mild gory scene

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot s02e04 The Lost Mine (1990) – 6/10 period crime detective drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Captain Hastings: Hugh Fraser
Chief Inspector Japp: Philip Jackson
Miss Lemon: Pauline Moran
Writer (Dramatisation): Michael Baker
Writer (Dramatisation): David Renwick
Anthony Bate: Lord Pearson
Colin Stinton: Charles Lester
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Edward Bennett

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s02e04 The Lost Mine (1990)

Poirot’s struggles in the early running of a game of Monopoly versus Hastings is mirrored in the real world with financial problems with his bank account (he’s £60 overdrawn, much to his fury and protestations). Meanwhile, he is engaged by his bank to find the owner of a map to a lost mine who failed to arrive at a crucial business meeting.

6/10

You don’t often see Poirot get the wrong end of the stick but writers Michael Baker and David Renwick deliver a delightful scene early on when Lord Pearson arrives to ask for Poirot’s help while Poirot thinks he’s come to apologise for a mistake in his account balance. It’s also great to see characters doing something other than their principle activity; in this case, Hastings and Poirot are playing Monopoly. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the plot but it is a tremendous amount of fun and reinforces the friendship between our two heroes. Sadly, the mystery aspect of the episode is uninvolving.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains mild gory and unpleasant scenes, opium abuse

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s13e02 The Big Four (2013) – 6/10 period crime detective drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: Mark Gatiss
Screenplay Writer: Ian Hallard
Tom Brooke: Tysoe
Nicholas Burns: Inspector Meadows
Jack Farthing: Gerald Paynter
Patricia Hodge: Madame Olivier
Simon Lowe: Dr Quentin
Sarah Parish: Flossie Monro
Captain Hastings: Hugh Fraser
Miss Lemon: Pauline Moran
Chief Inspector Japp Assistant Commissioner Japp: Philip Jackson
Producer: David Boulter
Director: Peter Lydon

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s13e02 The Big Four (2013)

As the world appears to be tottering into war, the Peace Party organise a symbolic chess match between America and Russia. On his third move, however, the Russian Grandmaster keels over dead. You know, this never would have happened if Poirot hadn’t been invited to attend; he is a little egg-shaped Belgian bad luck magnet. Still, if he wasn’t there, they also wouldn’t have discovered that the death was far from accidental and, according to the papers, a mysterious organisation calling themselves The Big Four was responsible.

6/10

Though it ends up being rather silly and features a critical centrepiece explosion that has atrocious effects, this is largely a snappy, murderful couple of hours with the first death (at the chess game) being particularly ingenious. It uses manipulation of an eagerly sensationalist press as a key theme; something that certainly applied to the understandably partisan industry at the time this is set (shortly before the outbreak of World War II) but also applies to the contemporary grab for ratings through ever more explicit and intrusive coverage of scandals and disasters. It seems that BBC News can get George Alagiah to any place on Earth before local governments can get water or emergency services and supplies there.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains unpleasant scenes

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Columbo s01e04 Suitable for Framing (1971) – 6/10 crime detective drama TV review

Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Ross Martin: Dale Kingston
Don Ameche: Frank, the lawyer
Kim Hunter: Edna
Director: Hy Averback
Writer: Jackson Gillis
Producer and Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Producer and Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s01e04 Suitable for Framing (1971)

When art critic Dale Kingston murders his uncle in order to get his hands on a valuable art collection before it is given away to charity he plans everything including a perfect, watertight alibi and a perfect stooge to blame. Lieutenant Columbo knows that nothing is perfect and presumed inheritee Kingston is quickly his prime suspect, though his efforts to prove it keep falling flat.

6/10

Despite having an annoying and charisma-free villain, Peter Falk’s typically brilliant performance as Columbo and a gleefully cunning climax make this a memorable episode. Falk delivers a best-in-class embarrassed by a naked lady, one of his better popping-up-in-unexpected-places (the suspect’s apartment as he’s returning with stolen paintings) and a brilliant attempt at a macho rant down a phone at a colleague (“CHARLIE! I sent that stuff over half-an- oh.”). Don Ameche adds a bit of class as a lawyer and makes one wish that he could have played the murderer. The bad points come from guest murderer Ross Martin who is dull, drab and distinctly aggravating as the murderer. That said, I suppose that makes it all the more sweet when Columbo nails him. The direction is also flat, lifeless and feels full of tension-deflating mistakes but there’s a lot of good Columbo and an ingenious finalé and that’s what we watch for.

This Columbo episode contains inferred violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Columbo s01e01 Murder by the Book (1971) – 6/10 crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Jack Cassidy: Ken Franklin
Rosemary Forsyth: Jill Ferris
Martin Milner: James “Jim” Ferris
Director: Steven Spielberg
Story Editor and Writer: Steven Bochco
Producer and Series Creator: Richard Levinson
Producer and Series Creator: William Link

Columbo s01e01 Murder by the Book (1971)

When a successful book-writing partnership decides to part company, the ‘silent’ partner murders the other in order to collect the insurance payout but even their famed literary creation, Miss Melville, would have to go some to match wits with our Lt. Columbo.

6/10

A good perfect alibi plot and Peter Falk’s perfect performance as the eponymous shambling detective lift this murder mystery but an unconvincing conclusion drag things back down. Turns out the perfect alibi was just that. This episode was directed by Steven Spielberg and his sense of location creates some peculiarly indelible impressions. This was the first of the regular Columbo series (as opposed to the pilot episode) which would run for nearly thirty years and would be Spielberg’s immediately previous work to his breakthrough TV movie Duel (made the same year).

This Columbo episode contains

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Columbo S07E03 Make Me A Perfect Murder (1978) – 6/10 crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
Trish Van Devere: Katherine “Kay” Freestone
Laurence Luckinbill: Mark MacAndrews
James McEachin: Walter Mearhead
Ron Rifkin: Luther, the TV Director
Lainie Kazan: Valerie Kirk
Bruce Kirby: TV Repairman
Kenneth Gilman: Jonathan
Patrick O’Neal: Frank Flanagan
Director: James Frawley
Writer: Robert Blees
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link

Columbo S07E03 Make Me A Perfect Murder (1978)

When Katherine Freestone is dumped by her boss boyfriend, TV producer Mark MacAndrews and doesn’t get promotion she is less than impressed by his peace offering of a brand new Mercedes. So she kills him. Columbo investigates.

6/10

"Interesting, isn’t it, how you can work these small things out if you just think about it; like you got a tiny voice whispering right in your ear trying to tell you who did it." – Lieutenant Columbo.

Well-paced Columbo with some excellent music and agreeably tense interrogation scenes. There’s a lovely recurring gag where Columbo takes people’s comments about the case ("Can I help?", "Good luck, Lieutenant") to refer to his whiplash injury and neck support ("Thank you. It’ll be off in a few days."). There’s a nice educational element (now out-dated) regarding cue-blips and the reel-switching duties of a projectionist. It struck me while watching that Columbo features a significant number of female murderers (two out of five this season). On an absolutely sexist tone, it does feature a nice-looking woman (Trish Van Devere) in a man’s shirt which has to be one of my favourite things ever. Line horribly abused by time: "Wearing rubbers in the house – that’d strike you blind on the spot."

This Columbo episode contains unpleasant scenes, inferred unpleasant scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E04 The Power of Three (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Douglas MacKinnon

Doctor Who S34E04 The Power of Three (2012)

The Ponds are beginning to value their daily non-Doctor life more-and-more and wondering whether there will come a time when they won’t want to join him on his adventures. However, a peculiar invasion of Earth by small black cubes looks like it’ll give the Ponds and The Doctor some quality time together.

6/10

This is certainly a solid enough episode with the attention well kept during the supposedly mundane majority leading to a climax we’re not really bothered about; running and shouting without much interest or useful explanation. Aside from some awful photoshopping of cubes onto famous landmarks it does look cool (the cubes countdown looks great and there’s a big spaceship to blow up) and the cubes are quite intriguing. However, if there had been more attention paid to the Pond’s sort-of maturing beyond the thrill of adventure and finding fulfilment in making a successful marriage, this episode could have been more than just entertaining. As it is, we’ll have be content with The Doctor playing on a Wii and painting a fence.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E02 Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Rupert Graves: Riddell
Mark Williams: Brian Williams
David Bradley: Solomon
Riann Steele: Queen Nefertiti
Sunetra Sarker: Indira

Doctor Who S34E02 Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (2012)

The Doctor along with Queen Nefertiti of Egypt and big-game hunter John Riddell is tasked with boarding a spaceship that is on a collision course for Earth and stopping it.

6/10

Adequately entertaining and that’s something of a problem. There’s not much to say. The biggest problem, aside from it’s mediocrity, is probably a total lack of atmosphere but the Pond’s aren’t annoying in this episode (that’s left to Rian Steele’s Nefertiti and Sunetra Sarker’s Indira), Mark Williams gets his trowel out ("Haven’t you got one?") and we do get the Doctor sending a baddie to his death without a second thought. The Doctor’s position as judge, jury and not-quite-executioner has been a recurrent theme for a while now but it rather goes by here without comment as if it’s presence is not borne by precedent but was how the story was going to end anyway. I noted the Dalek zits on the logo last time, this week’s has dinosaur skin on it. A nice detail.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

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Columbo S04E06 A Deadly State of Mind (1975) – 6/10 Columbo crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
George Hamilton: Dr. Marcus Collier
Lesley Ann Warren: Nadia Donner
Stephen Elliott: Carl Donner
Bruce Kirby: Sergeant Kramer
Director: Harvey Hart
Writer: Peter S. Fischer
Writer (Series’ Creator): Richard Levinson
Writer (Series’ Creator): William Link
Producer: Everett Chambers

Columbo S04E06 A Deadly State of Mind (1975)

When a wealthy husband is unpremeditatingly killed by Marcus Collier, the wife’s lover and psychiatrist, Columbo is called in to investigate. Collier sets up the wife as the only witness, tells her to tell the police that her husband was killed by intruders as he sets about establishing an alibi on top of a coworker. Columbo, as always, is troubled by tiny inconsistencies involving headlights, tyre tracks, a gun and a piece of flint.

6/10

Columbo’s reasons for believing foul play are thin, even by his standards, a lot of the first part of the episode is slow-going and Falk isn’t given much fun stuff to do but it does get better. The unusual nature of the second murder is intriguing and the writer has clearly thought about it by adding drugs and a normal scenario to create an abnormal result (though humans have a self-preservation instinct which still works under hypnotic suggestion). This is also one of those episodes where Columbo pleasantly tells the murderer that he knows well before he has any proof, which is always fun. The highlight of the episode is the delightfully wonderful, if almost certainly illegal, climax. George Hamilton and the audience think they’re one step ahead of Columbo and it is cause for special joy when he reveals that we’re not. For Brits, special mention for the unintentionally hilarious line from Collier’s publisher: "Sorry, I don’t have a Willie."

This Columbo episode contains violence, unpleasant scene.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who S34E01 Asylum of the Daleks (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure television review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Jenna-Louise Coleman: Oswin
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Daleks: Terry Nation

Doctor Who S34E01 Asylum of the Daleks (2012)

The Daleks capture The Doctor, Amy and Rory and take them into orbit around a planet they use for keeping all the Daleks which are a bit too psychotic for the mainstream population. The planet has stopped responding but the Daleks are too scared to go in themselves and disable the forcefield that prevents them from destroying the planet and exterminating the problem.

6/10

Just enough. There’s just enough fun ("I can see you."), clever moments ("Doctor Who?") and irresistible charm and cuteness (Jenna-Louise Coleman) to outweigh the Williams’ and Daleks unwanted presence, the Williams’ unwanted marital discord and the unconvincing plot setup (I thought all the Daleks were dead). I wonder if there’s some significance to the new Doctor Who logo being covered in Dalek zits.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s04e03,04 Death in the Clouds (1992) – 6/10 period crime detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Chief Inspector Japp: Philip Jackson
Writer (Dramatisation): William Humble
Sarah Woodward: Jane Grey
Shaun Scott: Norman Gale
Cathryn Harrison: Lady Horbury
Director: Stephen Whittaker

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s04e0304 Death in the Clouds (1992)

Poirot’s professional pride is somewhat deflated when a murder is committed just a few feet from him. His excuse: he was flying on a plane and he was sleeping. Even when awake, however, his only real clue from the scene seems to be a wasp buzzing around the cabin.

6/10

"Well, well. Seems you can’t even fly on an aeroplane now without someone getting murdered."

This is fine and reasonably crisp for a two-parter but the significance of the wasp is never made clear, the two coffee spoons isn’t revealed until much later than it should and the whole murder mystery aspect feels very thin indeed with almost no gathering of information taking place. Surprising, then, that it holds together as well as it does.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains extreme and extremely graphic murder and dismemberment of a wasp (yay!), poisoning violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Agatha Christie’s Poirot Hallowe’en Party (2010) – 6/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Writer (Screenplay): Mark Gatiss
Amelia Bullmore: Judith Butler
Paola Dionisotti: Mrs Goodbody
Deborah Findlay: Rowena Drake
Ian Hallard: Edmund Drake
Georgia King: Frances Drake
Phyllida Law: Mrs Llewellyn-Smythe
Julian Rhind-Tutt: Michael Garfield
Eric Sykes: Mr Fullerton
Sophie Thompson: Mrs Reynolds
Paul Thornley: Inspector Raglan
Timothy West: Reverend Cottrell
Fenella Woolgar: Miss Whittaker
Zoë Wanamaker: Ariadne Oliver
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Charles Palmer

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party (2010)

A child at a Hallowe’en party claims to have seen a murder years ago but didn’t realise it was murder. Now that she’s older, she knows better. Everyone at the party mocks her obviously attention-grabbing lies. Well, everyone except the murderer, of course.

6/10

Most impressively, the critical clue is given without obfuscation to the viewer and Poirot at the same time, nice and early in the investigation. It isn’t until Poirot twigs the significance that the audience realises too. Brilliant. Adapter Mark Gatiss successfully tidies up the reportedly slightly haphazard novel and even managing to briefly shoehorn some lesbians in (as required by ITV period drama law). Director Charles Palmer keeps a good grip on things and delivers a tidy feature-length episode.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains adult dialogue and violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot S01E09 The King of Clubs (1989) – 6/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Arthur Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Writer (Dramatisation): Michael Baker
Script Consultant: Clive Exton
Niamh Cusack: Valerie Saintclair
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Renny Rye
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott
Executive Producer: Linda Agran

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S01E09 King of Clubs, The (1989)

A much-disliked movie producer is found dead by his leading lady, Valerie Saintclair, but her subsequent actions are too well witnessed for Poirot.

6/10

Bit of a surprise to see Poirot allow being called French (by Sean Pertwee) to go without correction and SPOILER allow someone to get away with a crime. It’s always fun to see Japp think he is out-performing Poirot’s little grey cells ("You mustn’t get discouraged Poirot. When you’ve been around as long as I have…"). Suchet is spot on, Philip Jackson does his thing and Hugh Fraser’s Hastings is, as always, perfect ("You’re onto something, Poirot. I’m dashed if I know what it is.") So while this is one of the weaker hour-long’s, it’s still a fun, entertaining murder mystery and there’s a lovely closing shot that reinforces why: the relationship between Hastings and Poirot.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains adult dialogue and mild unpleasant and gory scene.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot 3.05 The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor (1991) – 6/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Captain Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Writer (Dramatisation): David Renwick
Ian McCulloch: Jonathan Maltravers
Geraldine Alexander: Susan Maltravers
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Renny Rye
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s 3.05 Tragedy at Marsdon Manor, The (1991)

Poirot is called by a hotelier to solve a case where every person has a perfect alibi. When he arrives, however, another, more urgent case, grabs his attention as a wealthy but sick man is found dead. Poirot immediately suspects murder and the young widow finds herself the next target. With Poirot’s little grey cells up to full speed maybe he can solve both cases.

6/10

A bit of a weak episode thanks to some variable pacing and the deliberately difficult-to-believe supernatural elements (which are portrayed amateurishly) but there are still items of note including the reason for Poirot’s presence in the town, Poirot’s waxwork (both added by writer David Renwick) and a particularly horrible murder (not shown graphically but still a nasty one; the victim sleepily opening his eyes to behold his fate was a quality touch). Renwick also supplies a healthy number of lovely incidental gags ("Doctor? There’s a gentlemen outside suffering from Hercule Poirot. He seems to think it’s quite serious.") and bits of business which Suchet and Fraser take full advantage of.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains one scene of strong, impactful gun violence.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

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Doctor Who 33.08 Let’s Kill Hitler (2011) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Richard Senior

Doctor Who 33.08 Let’s Kill Hitler (2011)

The Doctor, Amy, Rory and the TARDIS are kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to 1938 Berlin where they inadvertently interrupt the assassination of Adolf Hitler.

6/10

How had there not been an Seventies exploitation movie with this title? While the episode story is too jarring to convince (especially regarding a brainwashed assassin who suddenly isn’t when the plot needs it) and repeatedly putting a principal character’s life in danger works to undermine it’s potential drama, there’s just too much fun spread around to keep complaining. When you’ve got lines like “Take Hitler and put him in that cupboard”, the rest of the episode gets a pass.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Doctor Who 33.05,06 The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People (2011) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Matthew Graham
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Julian Simpson

Doctor Who 33.05,06 Rebel Flesh, The / Almost People, The (2011)

A power surge from a solar tsunami separates doppelgangers made from a special liquid flesh from their human originals. The Doctor tries to bring everyone together harmoniously but things are never that easy.

6/10

Feeling a bit padded with characters running around like headless chickens for no obvious reason, this is an episode with a terrifically interesting idea well-presented (how would you feel if there were two of you?) and some impressively spooky make-up for the “almost people”. There’s also a brilliantly SPOILER unexpected climax / cliffhanger which builds upon the intrigue of the Eye Patch Lady. “We’re coming for you.” Wonderful. Hopefully, we’ll get some answers next week before the show takes a summer break. That said, it never quite gels completely (hehe) but feels like it just, only just, keeps losing it’s grip on edge-of-the-seat greatness.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes, violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Page Eight (2011) – 6/10 British intelligence services drama TV movie review

Cast / crew
Bill Nighy: Johnny Warricker
Rachel Weisz: Nancy Pierpan
Holly Aird: Anna Hervé
Ewen Bremner: Rollo Maverley
Judy Davis: Jill Tankard
Tom Hughes: Ralph Wilson
Felicity Jones: Julianne Warricker
Marthe Keller: Leona Chew
Alice Krige: Emma Baron
Saskia Reeves: Anthea Catcheside
Michael Gambon: Benedict Baron
Ralph Fiennes: Alec Beasley
Producer: David Heyman
Producer: David Barron
Writer: David Hare
Director: David Hare
Executive Producer: Bill Nighy

Page Eight (2011)

Intelligence Analyst Johnny Warricker is left standing without a chair but with a potentially damaging file when his friend and MI5 Director General Benedict Baron dies (of natural causes). As he tries to discover what the import of the information in the file is, his life is complicated by a beautiful neighbour who is trying to find out the truth regarding her brother’s death in Iraq.

6/10

This is full of people saying writerly things and, like wrong hair, suffers from being unconvincing and inexplicable enough to distract, not least in a baffling would-be romantic relationship between Bill Nighy and Rachel Weisz. But this low-key espionage drama is largely intriguing, interesting and watchable. Michael Gambon is the clear cast stand out largely because he’s having so much fun and it’s infectious but Nighy and Weisz are also terrific, despite writer / director David Hare stupidly insisting on a romantic attraction. While his performance is fine, Ralph Fiennes doesn’t work as Prime Minister simply because he hasn’t got enough hair. It’s the wrong hair.

This movie contains sexual swear words.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Jonathan Creek s03e04 Ghost’s Forge (1999) – 6/10 black comedy crime mystery drama TV review

AmazonBuy Ghost’s Forge at Amazon

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Writer: David Renwick
Lysette Anthony: Mimi Tranter
Gina Bellman: Samantha
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Richard Holthouse
Executive Producer: David Renwick

Jonathan Creek s03e04 Ghost’s Forge (1999)

Creek looks into the 18-month-old case of the death of Ezra Carr, found knifed in the back in his mansion Ghosts Forge. The motive of burglary had been dismissed as all Carr’s valuables were still intact but, to be honest, Jonathan’s only investigating because Maddy’s charming and beautiful friend Mimi Tranter fluttered her eyelashes and asked him.

6/10

Two mysteries for the price of one this week as Creek investigates an 18-month-old murder and the mysterious disappearance of Maddy in an empty upstairs bedroom. The latter is more convincing while the former comes up with a simple enough explanation of the crime itself but a fearsomely complicated and unconvincing explanation for the aftermath. Lysette Anthony’s big eyes and lovely legs provide much for Maddy to entertainingly seeth over and Renwick delivers a before-it’s-time gag regarding giving someone who doesn’t understand the language a gift with an insulting Japanese phrase on it. Curious to note that the title card of the show is spelt wrong, i.e., with an apostrophe.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue, sexuality, sexual violence, knife violence

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

Jonathan Creek 4.05 The Chequered Box (2003) – 6/10 black comedy crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Julia Sawalha: Carla Borrego
Writer: David Renwick
Adrian Edmondson: Brendan Baxter
Colin McFarlane: Inspector Fell
Stuart Milligan: Adam Klaus
Producer: Verity Lambert
Director: Sandy Johnson

Jonathan Creek 4.05 Chequered Box, The (2003)

As Adam Klaus tries to get in on the endurance magic craze, Creek ambles about his daily life and Carla is following a local police inspector around with her camera. Then Creek learns that a local journalist has taken photos of the inspector removing self-incriminating evidence from the scene of a murder.

6/10

This episode doesn’t start well with a broken gag involving a train vibrating a coffin with Adam Klaus inside and a macabre but lame joke involving decapitated motorcyclists. Macabre but clever, macabre but intriguing, macabre but funny are all fine. Macabre but lame is not. While the murder plots are clever, the contents of the chequered box are unconvincing and this episode appears to be where Renwick dumped all his weakest gags.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains mild swear words and extremely unpleasant scenes.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

Jonathan Creek s01e06 The House of Monkeys (1997) – 6/10 black comedy murder mystery TV review

AmazonBuy The House of Monkeys at Amazon

Cast / crew
Jonathan Creek: Alan Davies
Maddy Magellan: Caroline Quentin
Writer: David Renwick
Director: Sandy Johnson
Annette Crosbie: Ingrid Strange
Executive Producer: David Renwick
Producer: Susan Belbin

Jonathan Creek s01e06 The House of Monkeys (1997)

A family friend of Jonathan’s is found dead in a room locked from the inside. While that indicates suicide, the samurai sword impaled through his back rather indicates murder.

6/10

The big problem with having gorillas in your story is that the audience immediately thinks ‘why have they got someone in a gorilla suit walking around the place?’ Even if it’s a terrific suit and performance, and this is, it still never feels like a gorilla. It appears to exist largely for a great bathroom gag (SPOILER) though the gorilla does also provide a clue in the death. While the episode uses an impressive misdirection to confound matters the murder eventually feels horribly straight-forward and plausible (SPOILER poison on the lickable gum of a self-addressed envelope).

This Jonathan Creek episode contains adult dialogue, bad language, sexuality, very unpleasant and slightly gory scenes

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

Jonathan Creek 1.05 No Trace of Tracy (1997, BLack Comedy Crime Mystery) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Alan Davies: Jonathan Creek
Caroline Quentin: Maddy Magellan
Writer: David Renwick
Director: Sandy Johnson
Ralph Brown: Roy Pilgrim
Executive Producer: David Renwick
Producer: Susan Belbin
Sandy Johnson: Policeman

Jonathan Creek 1.05 No Trace of Tracy (1997)

A 16-year-old girl, Tracy Cook, calls round to visit her hero, rock star Roy Pilgrim. Half a dozen schoolboys see her walk in through the French windows at the back of the house, into the white room. At the exact same time, four o’clock, Pilgrim swears he was in the room, fully conscious, handcuffed to the radiator, and saw no one come in.

6/10

This is an example of the kind of illusion that takes an mammoth amount of work that the audience wouldn’t consider viable ‘just for a magic trick.’ All the time, your brain is screaming to you the obvious solution but you might easily dismiss it because it would take so much effort to pull off. The sexual tension side of things is needlessly played up; needless because the central crime mystery is more than interesting enough by itself. It would take a long time for Renwick and his producer to get off that particular crutch. Director Sandy Johnson cameos as the beautifully moustachioed policeman.

This Jonathan Creek episode contains a mild swear word and frog abuse and very unpleasant scenes and arboreal fondling.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

T.J. Hooker 1.04 Hooker’s War (1982, Police Action Drama) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
William Shatner: T.J. Hooker
Adrian Zmed: Officer Vince Romano
April Clough: Officer Victoria Taylor
Richard Herd: Captain Sheridan
Sid Haig:
Vic Tayback: Pete Benedict
Supervising Producer: Rick Husky
Producer: Jeffrey Hayes
Writer (Series’ Creator): Rick Husky
Writer: Leo Garen
Director: Charles Picerni
Executive Producer: Aaron Spelling
Executive Producer: Leonard Goldberg

T.J. Hooker 1.04 Hooker’s War (1982)

Hooker gets involved with illegal gun-running in the city but relishes the chance to work alongside Pete Benedict, his partner when he was a detective.

6/10

Normally the term clichéd is used in a derogatory sense but this thoroughly entertaining episode elicits cheers of delight when Shatner spits out such beauties as “If you want a war, you can have it”, “…being dead is as much trouble as there is” and other golden oldies. There’s even a detective on his last case.

This T.J. Hooker episode contains unpleasant scene.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

T.J. Hooker 1.03 God Bless the Child (1982, Police Action Drama) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
William Shatner: T.J. Hooker
Adrian Zmed: Officer Vince Romano
April Clough: Officer Victoria Taylor
Richard Herd: Captain Sheridan
Rick Lenz: Dr. Damon Segal
Tom Nardini: Falco
Steve Sandor: Perez
Ed Bernard: Lieutenant Tom Reed
Paul Kent: Harry Simpson
Susan McClung: Cathy Hooker
Supervising Producer: Rick Husky
Producer: Jeffrey Hayes
Creator: Rick Husky
Writer: Rick Husky
Director: Harry Falk
Executive Producer: Aaron Spelling
Executive Producer: Leonard Goldberg

T.J. Hooker 1.03 God Bless the Child (1982)

The death of a young girl the same age as his oldest daughter causes Hooker to redouble his efforts to get drugs off the streets.

6/10

Hooker adds to his remarkable array of talents by knowing the exact age of a victim just by looking at her (“same age as my daughter”) and he tells us that ‘he wants the guys that did it, Romano; I wan’ ’em real bad’. Huzzah! Though, like all Rick Husky-scripted episodes, it’s inconsistent in between the earnestness, it all quickly builds to a tidy action climax where Hooker threatens to a blow a hole the size of “the Holland Tunnel” in a bad guy, hangs on to a speeding car bonnet and pleads with the crims to resist arrest so he can punch him.

This T.J. Hooker episode contains adult dialogue and violence.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

Doctor Who – A Christmas Carol (2010) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg
Director: Toby Haynes
Michael Gambon: Kazran / Elliot Sardick
Katherine Jenkins: Abigail

Doctor Who xmas 2010 Christmas Carol, A (2010)

Amy and Rory are on their honeymoon but their spaceship gets into serious trouble and needs to land. However, the controller of the planet below, Kazran Sardick, doesn’t care and won’t let them land just because he can. The Doctor attempts to change his heart before the 4003 people on the spaceship crash to their death.

6/10

Adaptations of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol always have the same gigantic problem: why does Scrooge change? Invariably, it’s just not convincing that he has a change of heart and it always happens too quickly. Christmas Past and Present don’t get it done but Christmas Future does just like that. It a problem that Moffat’s adaptation here suffers from. Michael Gambon’s character is all over the place emotionally, he doesn’t appear to grow or change over the course of the story but simply blub or not depending on whether the writer told him to. Still, there are compensations. Matt Smith’s Doctor is still a hoot, an effervescent whirlwind of hair and fashion advice, the flying fish are cool and the climax works emotionally.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Chuck Season 2 (2008, Espionage Action Comedy) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Zachary Levi: Chuck Bartowski
Yvonne Strahovski: Sarah Walker
Joshua Gomez: Morgan Grimes
Ryan McPartlin: Captain Awesome
Mark Christopher Lawrence: Big Mike
Scott Krinsky: Jeff
Vik Sahay: Lester
Julia Ling: Anna
Sarah Lancaster: Ellie Bartowski
Adam Baldwin: Major John Casey
Creator: Josh Schwartz
Creator: Chris Fedak
Scott Bakula: Steve Bartowski
Morgan Fairchild: Honey
Bonita Friedericy: General Beckman
Tony Hale: Emmett Milbarge
Bruce Boxleitner: Woody
Chevy Chase: Ted Roark
Matthew Bomer: Bryce Larkin
Producer: Lisa Cochran-Neilan
Producer: Corey Nickerson
Producer: Paul Marks
Executive Producer: Chris Fedak
Executive Producer: Josh Schwartz

Chuck Season 2

The CIA are finalising a new Intersect after which Chuck won’t be needed anymore. Won’t be needed alive, that is.

6/10

Chuck is a show that is getting by on charm. The dialogue is fine, the actors are terrific, but the plotting is endlessly awful. That said, the writers have done really well this season in maintaining interest in all the ancillary characters with every episode containing some kind of fun distraction at the Buy More. The full twenty-two episode length has made the already transparent formula verge on irritating as family, old girlfriends and old school rivals are unconvincingly dragged into the plots and Chuck whines and endangers almost every mission before saving the day that probably didn’t need to be saved before he blundered in. But, as I said before, the charm and fun is there and we are always suckers for a forbidden / doomed romance, especially when it’s portrayed so wonderfully by Zachary Levi and, particularly (because she has less dialogue and screen-time to work with), Yvonne Strahovski.

Chuck contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and strong melee violence, very unpleasant and gory scenes, graphic gun violence and sexuality.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Links

T.J. Hooker 3.18 Death on the Line (1984, Police Action Drama) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
William Shatner: T.J. Hooker
Adrian Zmed: Officer Vince Romano
Heather Locklear: Officer Stacy Sheridan
James Darren: Jim Corrigan
Writer (Series’ Creator): Rick Husky
Kimberly Beck: Linda Stevens
Lynne Moody: Dr. Pamela Carter
John Dennis Johnston: Cliff Tanner
Jonathan Perpich: Dan Stevens
James Whitmore, Jr.: Frank Bryce
Richard Herd: Captain Dennis Sheridan
Supervising Producer: Rick Husky
Producer: Jeffrey Hayes
Writer: Jack V. Fogarty
Director: Cliff Bole
Executive Producer: Aaron Spelling
Executive Producer: Leonard Goldberg

T.J. Hooker 3.18 Death on the Line (1984)

When a robber and a rapist team up, it confuses the trail left for Hooker and co. but he soon sniffs the truth.

6/10

Solid episode which handles the serious topic of rape with due seriousness and balance but it’s all a little bit flat. This is probably due to the almost complete lack of pumping music during the action sequences. It also comes as something of a surprise when they don’t get Stacy into her underwear to pose as bait for the rapist. The final chase is well done, though, with the rapist running out of bullets correctly, then punching Hooker after being tackled (the traditional end of the chase). Hooker doesn’t seem too perturbed by this uncommon event, however, and throws him over the side of a pier into the sea and nearly bursts out laughing.

Links

T.J. Hooker 3.17 Hot Property (1984, Police Action Drama) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
William Shatner: T.J. Hooker
Adrian Zmed: Officer Vince Romano
Heather Locklear: Officer Stacy Sheridan
James Darren: Jim Corrigan
Writer (Series’ Creator): Rick Husky
Ray Wise: Harrison MacKenzie
Jason Evers:
Anne Lockhart:
Ed Bernard: Lieutenant Tom Reed
Supervising Producer: Rick Husky
Producer: Jeffrey Hayes
Writer: Chester Krumholz
Director: Ric Rondell

T.J. Hooker 3.17 Hot Property (1984)

When a policeman is discovered dead at a drug bust, it seems that he may have been on the take but the supplier is successfully deflecting the efforts of honest cops to nail him (including getting Stacy suspended). Meanwhile, an ex-fiancee of Stacy’s returns to her life and this is not a coincidence.

6/10

Fun, though Hooker hilariously breaks the case by identifying a spent match! There’s a generous amount of good well-filmed stunt work and there are probably more bullets fired in this episode than the rest of the season put together. There’s even a bullet fired by Stacy. Just the one, mind you, despite her using an assault rifle. She also gets an expanded role without having to take her clothes off! Best stunt is probably two dudes jumping out of the way of a speeding car (it looks really close and the double personnel makes it extra dangerous) and most fun stunts are the climax when Hooker throws the baddie through what seems to be every wall in a warehouse ending up in a elevator shaft (Hooker: "Alright maggot, let’s go. We’re on the wrong floor.").

This T.J. Hooker episode contains violence.

Links

T.J. Hooker 2.13 Too Late for Love (1983, Police Action Drama) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
William Shatner: T.J. Hooker
Adrian Zmed: Officer Vince Romano
Heather Locklear: Officer Stacy Sheridan
Richard Herd: Captain Sheridan
Barbara Stock: Amy Robbins
Thom Christopher: Harry Cort
Theresa Saldana: Maria Santini
Supervising Producer: Rick Husky
Producer: Jeffrey Hayes
Writer (Series’ Creator): Rick Husky
Writer: Jack V. Fogarty
Director: Michael Preece
Executive Producer: Aaron Spelling
Executive Producer: Leonard Goldberg

T.J. Hooker 2.13 Too Late for Love (1983)

When a series of fur coat robberies takes place, Romano is delighted to have a chance to reacquaint himself with his beautiful clothes model ex-girlfriend, Amy, but her appearance at the same location as the robberies is not a coincidence.

6/10

An improvement on writer Jack V. Fogarty’s previous additions to the series, this is solid entertainment and features a terrific scene where Romano punches Hooker (that’s after eulogising him earlier to a date and, to be fair, he is instantly mortified). There’s also some good action with very tidy stuntworrk in the opening chase, a more thoughtful than usual shootout mid-way and an impressive solo beat down by Romano for the climax.

This T.J. Hooker episode contains violence and a long look at stacy’s bum.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Chuck Season 1 (2007, Espionage Action Comedy) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Zachary Levi: Chuck Bartowski
Yvonne Strahovski: Sarah Walker
Joshua Gomez: Morgan Grimes
Sarah Lancaster: Ellie Bartowski
Adam Baldwin: Major John Casey
Creator: Josh Schwartz
Creator: Chris Fedak
Mark Christopher Lawrence: Big Mike
Bonita Friedericy: General Beckman
Tony Todd: CIA Director Graham
Ryan McPartlin: Captain Awesome
Producer: Phil Klemmer
Producer: Robert Duncan McNeill
Producer: Paul Marks
Co-Executive Producer: Chris Fedak
Executive Producer: Josh Schwartz

Chuck Season 1 (2007)

Chuck isn’t just a computer geek working for Buy More superstores: he’s also a critical CIA / NSA asset who has in his memory all the United States’ secrets. Unwittingly. By accident. Which is inconvenient.

6/10

Slight but charming spy caper.With the exception of the fairly strong, if largely bloodless and injury-free, violence, this feels like a children’s spy show. In fact, as much as I like Zachary Levi as Chuck, it would probably make more sense if Chuck was a child. The problem with the show is the premise; it never makes any sense (the whole Intersect in his brain thing and the fact that every major crim in the world parades through Los Angeles just so Chuck can identify them). However, the stars and characters are fine, Zachary Levi is terrific and the show has a simple charm that makes it nice to watch. So while it’s not exactly good, I have enjoyed it and that’s rather more important.

This Chuck episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and occasional strong violence and occasional sexuality.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Links

T.J. Hooker 3.12 Slay Ride (1983, Police Action Drama) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
William Shatner: T.J. Hooker
Adrian Zmed: Officer Vince Romano
Heather Locklear: Officer Stacy Sheridan
James Darren: Jim Corrigan
Writer (Series’ Creator): Rick Husky
Robert Dryer: Troy Eldridge
Philece Sampler: Sue Ann Eldridge
John McLiam: Father DeMarco
Marjoe Gortner: Marino
Supervising Producer: Rick Husky
Producer: Jeffrey Hayes
Writer: Rick Husky
Director: Bruce Kessler
Executive Producer: Aaron Spelling
Executive Producer: Leonard Goldberg

T.J. Hooker 3.12 Slay Ride (1983)

While Hooker and Stacy are suffering from Christmas blues thanks to the prospect of spending the holiday period alone, they get involved in the case of a couple of armed robbers and their baby who they decide to abandon in a church.

6/10

Despite a very strong start featuring Hooker as Santa Claus executing a narcotics bust (arrest punchline: "Merry Christmas, punk!"), the story side of things gets progressively worse and even the car chases are rather underplayed. Refreshingly, Heather Locklear gets a storyline that doesn’t involve bikinis and impotently jumping into shot after an action scene finishes, Shatner gets a nice scene on the phone to his daughter, and there is still entertainment value to be had in the lead characters as they thoughtfully consider each other’s needs at Christmas time.

Links