Friday, 18 April 2014

COMMUNITY, 5.13 – 'Basic Sandwich' (Part 2)


written by Ryan Ridley | directed by Rob Schrab

This was potentially the last ever episode of Community; but that's been true of almost every season finale, so despite notably low ratings this year I'm optimistic it will return somehow and somewhere. "Basic Sandwich" was a much better episode than its predecessor, "Basic Story", and tapped into a style of writing I particularly enjoy about Community: where it's not only fun and amusing, but also creative, adventurous, and happy to take bizarre diversions.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

MSN TV: Sky Atlantic's MAD MEN, 7.1 - 'Time Zones'


Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the seventh and final season premiere of AMC's 1960s drama MAD MEN, which made its UK bow on Sky Atlantic last night...
I sometimes hear complaints that not much changes in Mad Men, but I think that's very unfair. I think the show's deliberate pacing, relatively few regular locations, and characters who are largely defined by an inability to break out of old habits, simply gives that impression to the casual viewer. In fact, every season has given us changes—although, admittedly, some were far bigger than others. But for its final season (picking up the story only a few months later, in January 1969), creator Matthew Weiner gives fans the biggest shake-up of Mad Men in quite some time...

Continue reading at MSN TV...

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 5.10 & 5.11 – 'Into the Woods' & 'Triangle'

XANDER: But you missed the point. You shut down, Buffy. And you've been treating Riley like the rebound guy. When he's the one that comes along once in a lifetime. He's never held back with you. He's risked everything. And you're about to let him fly because you don't like ultimatums?

I will admit I haven't been completely understanding of Riley's (Marc Blucas) state of mind this season, as his behaviour toward Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has struck me as odd and unwarranted... so perhaps my brain's wired more like the titular Slayer, who came to realise her relationship with her boyfriend's been slowly crumbling for awhile now. Marti Noxon's "INTO THE WOODS" was one of the better character studies this season, and certainly managed to explain the mindset of both Riley and Buffy.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

HANNIBAL, 2.7 – 'Yakimono'


written by Steve Lightfoot & Bryan Fuller | directed by Michael Rymer

The second phase of this season is most definitely under way, with the stunning "Yakimono" sending the narrative veering down another unexpected path. The discovery that FBI rookie Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) is alive was dealt with as expected, as she's suffering from the same memory loss Will (Hugh Dancy) is battling—only even more comprehensively because she's been under Lecter's (Mads Mikkelsen) control for two whole years—and yet there was so much more going on in this episode. Following the hour where Lecter took charge of a disintegrating situation, after Will hired an assassin to kill him, this was another episode that underscored just how difficult catching Lecter will be...

Monday, 14 April 2014

COMMUNITY, 5.12 – 'Basic Story' (Part 1)


written by Carol Kolb | directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

Like most two-part episodes, it feels unfair reviewing the first half without seeing the second. "Basic Story" is potentially the last adventure for the study group (in the wake of dismal ratings, I'm less certain NBC will be kind enough to greenlight that fabled sixth season), and it worked in the sense it set everything up very nicely. The Save Greendale committee (which has been less significant to the season than I'd hoped) were successful when the college was valued by an insurance appraiser (Michael McDonald), but this unfortunately led to the school being sold to Subway (apparently the sponsor of choice for all struggling geek-friendly shows, post-Chuck).

Easter TV Picks: 14-20 April 2014 (Fargo, Intelligence, Mad Men, Only Connect, Twin Towns, etc.)


Below are my picks of the week's most notable shows, premiering/returning to UK screens this Easter week...

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Intermission: 12-14 April

Sorry, I'm on a weekend break, so reviews of Community and Hannibal will again be delayed. Next week's TV Picks may also go up Monday afternoon instead. I'm sure you'll all survive without me...

Friday, 11 April 2014

THE TRUMAN SHOW: the television show


Peter Weir's masterpiece The Truman Show is being developed into an actual television show; which makes sense in some respects, but also feels like an oddly pointless endeavour. If you're somehow unaware, the 1998 sci-fi drama concerned a man called Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) who was unwittingly the star of the world's most popular reality TV show. His entire life from birth had been spent on a massive sound-stage doubling as an idyllic seaside town, and his everyday existence manipulated by programme-makers to keep him blissfully unaware his every waking moment is being watched as entertainment.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 5.8 & 5.9 – 'Shadow' & 'Listening to Fear'

XANDER: Am I right, Giles?
GILES: I'm almost certain you're not. But, to be fair, I wasn't listening.


This felt like an important episode for the season, but it wasn't one I was completely swept along with. I did enjoy seeing the situation with Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) play out, however, as the Slayer is finding her powers to be utterly useless on two fronts: the newest villain Glory (Clare Kramer) barely breaks a sweat when they fight, and now her sweet mother Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) has been diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumour. The latter issue was the most effective part of this episode by David Fury, as it's always interesting whenever a superhero can't defeat something that feels comparatively small-scale and humdrum. Buffy's saved the world a dozen times and slaughtered many beasts (including a giant cobra in this very episode), and yet a simple medical diagnosis leaves her utterly helpless.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Review: HBO's SILICON VALLEY, 1.1 – 'Minimum Viable Product'


written by John Altschuler, Dave Krinskey & Mike Judge | directed by Mike Judge

Curiously, I've never liked Mike Judge's animated hits (Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill), but have enjoyed most of his flop live-action efforts (Office Space, Idiocracy), which makes me an unusual case. As Judge's biggest hits have been on TV, it feels like a wise move that his next non-animated project is an eight-part HBO series; and after sampling Silicon Valley's pilot I'm hopeful this will develop into something smart and funny... although, given its subject-matter, it'll likely remain as niche as the Office Space did. But is that a bad thing?