Monday, 27 April 2015

TV Picks: 27 April – 3 May 2015 • 24 Hours in the Past • ANZAC Girls • Peter Kay's Car Share • The C Word • Empire • The Game


Below are my picks of the most notable new shows, returning or premiering on UK screens over the next 7 days...

Sunday, 26 April 2015

OUTLANDER, 1.12 – 'Lallybroch'


★★★☆

We're in a very different place now, literally and figuratively. Jamie (Sam Heughan) knows his wife's a time-traveller, and is awed by her stories of airplanes and, well, seeing an elephant in the flesh, and Claire's (Caitriona Balfe) been taken to her new spouse's ancestral home at Lallybroch. Having chosen 17th-century Scotland over her own place and time, this was an hour of 'meet the family' drama, but not as overwrought and predictable as that implies. Indeed, sassenach Claire's arrival was met with frostiness by her husband's pregnant Jenny (Laura Donnelly), but this episode mostly avoided the in-law clichés.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

INSIDE NO. 9, 2.5 – 'Nana's Party'


★★★☆

This week, series 2's penultimate Inside No.9 paid homage to farcical one-act plays, and in particular the trope of an important birthday going awry thanks to invited guests clashing spectacularly. It's Nana's (Elsie Kelly) 79th birthday, and her daughter Angela (Claire Skinner) and son-in-law Jim (Steve Pemberton) are putting on a delicious spread in their immaculate suburban home, where Angela's alcoholic sister Carol (Lorraine Ashbourne) and her practical joker husband Pat (Reece Shearsmith) are also in attendance. What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, 24 April 2015

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)


★★★☆

Warning: mild spoilers ahead, but certainly nothing too ruinous if you've yet to watch this film...

If the box-office supremacy of The Avengers can be partly attributed to the simple mathematics of four established superheroes appearing in the same film, with lashings of tongue-in-cheek humour and more digital bedlam than the team's previous solo outings combined, highly-anticipated follow-up Avengers: Age of Ultron has a far tougher job on its hands. If the original succeeded with fresh spectacle and its then-unprecedented super-team dynamics (the welcome culmination of a triumphant "Phase One" of Marvel flicks), then returning writer-director Joss Whedon has managed to improve on what came before. It's what most immediate sequels are mandated to be—bigger, darker—but also scruffier and, for the most part, better. Or more sugar-rush enjoyable, at least.

MAD MEN , 7.10 – 'The Forecast'


★★★☆

The best episode of season 7.1 thus far (certainly a huge improvement on "New Business from last week), and mainly because it suggests the ultimate direction Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) headed come the finale, as his world changes around him. And it also featured the welcome return of some favourite young characters...

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Video: What's wrong with HD BUFFY?


Here's an interesting video on the many issues remastering Buffy the Vampire Slayer to high-definition has caused, simply because they haven't consulted the original filmmakers. I'm currently watching the show via Amazon Prime and their stream is mostly in widescreen (I believe it's essentially the widescreen UK DVD release), and that occasionally throws up some "blunders"--mainly film crew being visible on the edge of the 16:9 ratio screen, although recently I could see the "off camera" wires being used to make it appear like a keyboard was being used by an invisible Buffy...

ANGEL, 3.12 – 'Provider' • BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 6.9 – 'Smashed'


★★☆☆

I appreciate what "PROVIDENCE" was trying to do, in terms of the moral it was trying to impart, but the episode struggled with its juggling of a handful of storylines that were mostly poor. Angel (David Boreanaz) wants to provide for his newborn, so suddenly he's keen for Angel Investigations to become a successful and profitable business—with a flyer campaign and even a website (the '02 excitement over which was amusing to me). It works, as suddenly the Hyperion Hotel is a hotbed of clients—some demon, others jeopardised humans—and the team are so busy they're forced to take separate cases.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

DAREDEVIL returning with new showrunners; plus more spin-offs


I'm full of admiration for Netflix's DAREDEVIL, as you can tell by reading my four-star review of season 1. It was a no-brainer they'd renew it for a second season, but now we have confirmation it'll debut in 2016. However, there's worrisome news: showrunner Steven S. DeKnight, who took over from Drew Goddard during production (who left to develop Marvel movies), is stepping down. His replacement is Doug Petrie, who helped produce and write the first season, but is best-known for running seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Petrie will be partnered by Marco Ramirez (Sons of Anarchy).

Monday, 20 April 2015

TV Picks: 20-26 April 2015 – Ballot Monkeys • Jane the Virgin • The Last Leg • Madam Secretary • The Paul O'Grady Show • Safe House • W1A


Below are my picks of the most notable new shows, returning or premiering on UK screens over the next 7 days...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

OUTLANDER, 1.11 – 'The Devil's Mark'


★★★★

A pivotal and exceptional hour from Outlander, despite how much of the trial adhered to the tropes of innocent women charged with witchcraft and having to suffer the false testimonies of townsfolk with scores to settle, or who wilfully misinterpret events to serve their own prejudices and fears.