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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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 33.09 Night Terrors (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg
Director: Richard Clark
Daniel Mays: Alex
Jamie Oram: George

Doctor Who 33.09 Night Terrors (2011)

The Doctor responds to a distress call from a small boy who is terrified of just about everything but the parents’ advice and actions to put all the scary things in the cubpoard may backfire.

7/10

This is certainly a scary episode with some agreeably disturbing transformations and a plot that works quite well as long as you don’t ask where the deadly dolls came from.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Sherlock 1.03 The Great Game (2010, Crime Detective Drama) – 7/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Benedict Cumberbatch: Sherlock Holmes
Martin Freeman: Dr. John Watson
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Co-Creator: Steven Moffat
Writer (Original Works): Arthur Conan Doyle
Producer: Sue Vertue
Director: Paul McGuigan
Actor (uncredited) Mycroft Holmes: Mark Gatiss
Executive Producer: Mark Gatiss
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Sherlock 1.03 Great Game, The (2010)

A bored Sherlock is bemoaning the lack of crime but the spark soon comes back when he is forced to solve five crimes against the ticking clock of a bomb around innocent persons bodies.

7/10

While there’s a nagging feeling that it isn’t achieving it’s potential, this is unquestionably the best new show on British television in 2010 and for some time. There’s a glee and energy to proceedings and the deductions from Sherlock are terrific fun. It would be nice if the audience were given the same clues as Sherlock (we still wouldn’t see them, of course) and I still feel that all this Moriarty business is too soon. It’s like end-of-the-world scenarios in Doctor Who. If every episode is Armageddon, it becomes the norm; the ordinary when it should be the extraordinary. For Sherlock, if everything runs through Moriarty’s fingers, it makes Moriarty’s involvement the norm; the ordinary when it should be the extraordinary.

This Sherlock episode contains a muffled mild swear word and violence, unpleasant scenes.

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

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Sherlock 1.02 The Blind Banker (2010, Crime Detective Drama) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Benedict Cumberbatch: Sherlock Holmes
Martin Freeman: Dr. John Watson
Creator: Mark Gatiss
Creator: Steven Moffat
Writer: Steve Thompson
Writer (Original Works): Arthur Conan Doyle
Producer: Sue Vertue
Director: Euros Lyn
Executive Producer: Mark Gatiss
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Sherlock 1.02 Blind Banker, The (2010)

Shortly after being terrified by a graffiti symbol, people in locked rooms are dying sudden mysterious deaths.

6/10

Successfully giving Watson more to do and allowing Holmes to be occasionally undermined by his own self-centred arrogance are highlights in an episode (loosely based on The Adventure of the Dancing Men) that is rather less successful in disguising an abundance of deus ex machina. So Sherlock can come to the rescue at a secret gang hideout based on the word "tramway" while manipulating time and space to arrive barely minutes after the baddies ; a damp Yellow Pages, a really cool clue in itself, connects a Chinese woman to his current case except it doesn’t; and people react with horror to a cipher message that they haven’t yet decoded. The Moriarty coda is, again, awful and so unnecessary. However, the identity of ‘a book everyone owns’ has a satisfying answer (SPOILER an A-Z London map guide), there’s some nice scenery of modern London (hello to The Gherkin) and the episode as a whole is entertaining. I think British television finally has it’s replacement for Inspector Morse.

This Sherlock episode contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and violence.

 

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

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Sherlock 1.01 A Study in Pink (2010, Crime Detective Drama) – 7/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Benedict Cumberbatch: Sherlock Holmes
Martin Freeman: Dr. John Watson
Writer: Steven Moffat
Co-Creator: Mark Gatiss
Writer (Original Works): Arthur Conan Doyle
Producer: Sue Vertue
Director: Paul McGuigan
Phil Davis: Jeff
Executive Producer: Mark Gatiss
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat
Executive Producer: Beryl Vertue
Actor (uncredited) Mycroft Holmes: Mark Gatiss

Sherlock 1.01 Study in Pink, A (2010)

Three suicides in a row; all for seemingly stable people, all via the same poison pill, all in places where they shouldn’t ever be. The police consider them linked but you can’t have serial suicides. A fourth victim causes the police to turn to self-appointed consulting detective Sherlock Holmes who insists this is the work of a serial killer and who is breaking in a new flat-mate, Dr. John Watson.

7/10

Martin Freeman. Crack-shot adrenalin-junkie soldier. No. Freeman aside, this is a impressive start for a new show based on the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his consulting detective (‘I’m the only one because I invented the job’) Sherlock Holmes. The update to present-day works fine and there is enough clever stuff to make Holmes appear brilliant as he translates information into the most likely explanation. The only notable mis-step is the Moriarty reveal which is unnecessary and required the use of the episode’s only horrible scene; sadly, with our hero being horrible. The remainder of the final half-hour is masterful stuff (and a major addition to the A Study in Scarlet source story) as the episode absolutely entices you and Holmes into a chat with the murderer (a fantastic Phil Davis) and leaves us with the question as to which pill was the good pill. Leaving the audience wanting more and talking about it is a great sign.

This Sherlock episode contains brief graphic gun violence, brief unpleasant torture scene.

 

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

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Doctor Who 32.03 Victory of the Daleks (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Producer: Peter Bennett
Director: Andrew Gunn
Ian McNeice: Churchill
Creator Daleks: Terry Nation
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Doctor Who 32.03 Victory of the Daleks (2010)

A call from Winston Churchill brings the Doctor and Amy to World War II London but he has a shock in store when he unveils his secret weapon: a Dalek.

6/10

It’s fun to see a Dalek wearing a Union Flag and fighting alongside Winston Churchill in World War II and Matt Smith again manages to segue between fun and fury far more neatly than David Tennant ever did (and he wields a mean jammy-dodger) but Mark Gatiss’ script is largely unconvincing. Essentially, the Doctor keeps asking the Daleks what the plot is and they keep telling him. It builds to a typically weighty moral dilemma (save the Earth or save the rest of the Universe) but it has no impact and no emotional resonance.

This Doctor Who episode contains bad language and unpleasant scenes, violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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