Columbo s03e08 A Friend In Deed (1974) – 7/10 crime detective murder drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Lieutenant Columbo: Peter Falk
Richard Kiley: Deputy Commissioner Mark Halperin
Rosemary Murphy: Margaret Halperin
Michael McGuire: Hugh Caldwell
Val Avery: Artie Jessup
Director: Ben Gazzara
Writer: Peter S. Fischer
Series’ Creator: Richard Levinson
Series’ Creator: William Link
Producer: Edward K. Dodds
Executive Producer: Roland Kibbee
Executive Producer: Dean Hargrove

Columbo s03e08 A Friend In Deed (1974)

When a man ends up throttling his wife during a heated argument about her extra-marital affairs, he goes to his friend Mark for help. Mark helps him out by providing him with an alibi and making the scene of the crime look like she disturbed a burgler. If anyone can help him cover it up, it’s Mark: Police Deputy Commissioner Mark Halperin.

7/10

Solid episode with good reasons for Columbo to become suspicious that everything is not as it seems (a folded nightie under a pillow, a complete lack of fingerprints including the victim’s and an unanswered phone call). Murder She Wrote writer Peter S. Fischer supplies a terrific conclusion – one of the series’ best – requiring Falk to go from his what’s-going-on face to his you’re-the-murderer speech; which he does perfectly, of course. In fact, if Fischer could have come up with some nice little Columbo moments (he has trouble with his car but there’s nothing to work with) to augment the strong, clever plot, this could have been the best Columbo ever. As it is, it’s clever, logical and the climax is completely unforeseeable and a total joy.

This Columbo episode contains violence, mild adult dialogue

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

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Sad Cypress (2003) – 7/10 period murder mystery detective drama TV review

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Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: David Pirie
Elizabeth Dermot Walsh: Elinor Carlisle
Rupert Penry-Jones: Roddy Winter
Kelly Reilly: Mary Gerard
Paul McGann: Dr. Peter Lord
Phyllis Logan: Nurse Hopkins
Producer: Margaret Mitchell
Director: David Moore
Actor and Associate Producer: David Suchet

Agatha Christie’s Poirot Sad Cypress (2003)

A poison pen letter is brought to Poirot’s attention and though he takes it very seriously, it’s not enough to get a body exhumed for further investigation. Shortly thereafter, a murder is committed and Poirot returns only to fall short once more as a woman is sentenced to death for a crime only she had the means, motive and opportunity to commit. Yet the little grey cells refuse to settle.

7/10

"I am thirty-six times an idiot!" – Hercule Poirot

This is a nicely staged production with a good sense of atmosphere and a beautifully-judged pace. There is just enough information given to the audience for them to have worked out the mechanics of the murder themselves but no way for them to derive the motive. This isn’t a mystery where everywhere has means, motive and opportunity – only one has; Poirot’s challenge is to see that there was, in fact, another. The screenwriter’s challenge is to help the audience see that and what he does is quite interesting. Though the clues regarding the true murder are there, the audience is highly unlikely to perceive them. The only reason they will consider that Elinor Carlisle isn’t guilty is because whomever we are told is guilty in these murder mysteries is always innocent. And so, unlike Poirot, we don’t need to find another motive because we already presume that she is innocent.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains unexpectedly unpleasant nightmare scene

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

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Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010) – 7/10 action detective mystery movie review

Cast / crew
Director and Producer: Tsui Hark
Producer: Wang Zhongjun
Producer: Wang Zhonglei
Detective Dee Renjie: Andy Lau
Bingbing Li: Shangguan Jing’er
Carina Lau: Wu Zefan (The Empress)
Deng Chao: Pei Donglai
Tony Leung Ka Fai: Shatuo Zhong
Action Director: Sammo Hung

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010)

As the coronation of the first female Emperor of China approaches and a 218-foot tall statue of Buddha erected in her honour is nearing completion, the foreman dies after moving a couple of ceremonial banners. The manner of his death confirms supernatural intervention: he is consumed by fire from within. In the face of such a mystery, the Empress calls on the services of Detective Dee who had been sent to prison eight years earlier… for partaking in an attempted revolution against her.

7/10

Tremendously entertaining if not exactly coherent (a Tsui Hark trademark) fantasy detective thriller with action sequences impressively and imaginatively unconstrained by physical limitations. I’m always impressed by the ability to construct fight and action sequences that clearly are not possible but remain convincing. It’s a wonderful leap of imagination to think them up and a spectacular logistical challenge to make them appear effortless and natural on screen (scores of intricately manipulated wires for this particular movie). It’s a talent that the Chinese action choreographers (Sammo Hung here) have developed most assuredly and the results are very cool.

This movie contains mild adult dialogue, Mild nudity and mild sexuality, Fantasy martial arts violence, extremely unpleasant scenes

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

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Two Worlds (2007, version 1.6 PC) – 7/10 open-world action role-playing game review

Cast / crew

Two Worlds (2007)

Your sister is kidnapped and held for ransom by mysterious forces who are scheming to open the tomb of Aziraal three-hundred years after your ancestors sealed him in it.

7/10

This is an ambitious, enormous, oddly charming action RPG that is fun to play and will easily hoover up twenty-five hours of your time. The most brilliant element of the game is item-stacking: if you find a weapon, shield or armor you already have, you can combine them to create a stronger version. Collecting loot is always one of an RPG’s most oddly satisfying pillars and item-stacking makes Two World‘s already excellent implementation a real selling point. The story about rescuing your hilariously under-dressed sister did involve me as did enough of the quests, caves, villages and locations (a bamboo forest was particularly lovely) of the game world. The combat had some nice moments and I happily clicked for hours. It also lightens up at times ("As you wish, oh master of the many wafting smells"; "I spent three years at the Shaven Back Monastery." "What’s their special power?" "Shaven Backs.") and I even got photo-bombed by a small dinosaur. This is the kind of game to which you form an unreasonable attachment and I enjoyed it a lot.

This game contains gory violence and your sister’s combination cleavage and side-boobs.

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

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot The Clocks (2009) – 7/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Writer (Screenplay): Stewart Harcourt
Frances Barber: Merlina Rival
Stephen Boxer: Christopher Mabbutt
Tom Burke: Lt. Colin Race
Phil Daniels: Inspector Hardcastle
Beatie Edney: Mrs Hemmings
Guy Henry: Matthew Waterhouse
Anna Massey: Miss Pebmarsh
Geoffrey Palmer: Vice Admiral Hamling
Tessa Peake-Jones: Val Bland
Ben Righton: Constable Jenkins
Lesley Sharp: Miss Martindale
Abigail Thaw: Rachel Waterhouse
Jason Watkins: Joe Bland
Jaime Winstone: Sheila Webb
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Charles Palmer

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Clocks, The (2009)

A typist is booked by a blind woman to be at her house at 3:00pm but when she arrives she finds four clocks set to 4:13. And a dead body, of course.

7/10

Good episode of Poirot because it is, however mildly, fun, a quality that is in short supply in the feature-length adaptations. On top of this, the clues, characters and mystery are presented clearly and kept in focus and, while Poirot does keep a clue away from the audience (a marriage certificate), there are enough other clues to the how and who to get us most of the way there if we’re paying attention. The support cast do a good job with Phil Daniels balancing his character delicately and Tom Burke providing a surprisingly welcome romantic element.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains adult dialogue and brief gory violence, graphic fatal car accident.

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

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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.

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Doctor Who S33E11 The God Complex (2011) – 5/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Sarah Quintrell: Lucy Hayward
Amara Karan: Rita
Dimitri Leonidas: Howie Spragg
Daniel Pirrie: Joe Buchanan
David Walliams: Gibbis

Doctor Who S33E11 God Complex, The (2011)

The Doctor’s seeming inability to travel where he intends sees him and his companions arrive, unexpectedly, in a perfect recreation of an Eighties’ Earth hotel but this hotel may become their prison.

5/10

Weak Who with worthless lives in meaningless danger. As mentioned before, if you always put people’s lives in danger it’s no longer an extraordinary circumstance and loses dramatic impact. The story point of the episode, however, is excellent as the Doctor SPOILER leaves Amy and Rory to get on with their lives without him. It’s a true sacrifice that places the personal interests of others ahead of his own need for companionship and an audience.

This Doctor Who episode contains mild peril.

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

Links

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