THE BAY – Series One – Episode One review.

Upon reading that The Bay was a new missing child drama, I came over all Brenda from Bristol, i.e ”NOT ANOTHER ONE.”

Yes, in recent years this has now become a much-exhausted TV genre.  I loved the second series of The Missing though, in fact it is one of my most favourite dramas of recent years.  However, the missing kid thing has now been done to death.

Did I really want to watch another drama in this field, but this time set in Morecambe Bay?  Not really was my answer.  Therefore, as The Bay started on ITV1, I was viewing it with my exhausted sceptical hat on.  Soon my sceptical hat was off though because very early on I became hooked.  Sex, lies and the law, all made for a cracking start to this opening episode.

Some critics will argue it is far too much like Broadchurch in a multitude of ways.  The production, the haunting music and the storytelling all appeared like we had seen this somewhere else before.  This might be true, but that in turn does not necessarily mean The Bay is unoriginal and so a flop.

For me, the narrative had enough twists and turns in it to make The Bay appear unique.  It is like it bottled all the best bits of Broadchurch and then came out with a slightly altered, but still successful formula.

The main lead in this first episode was DS Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie), a Police Family Liaison officer.  Morven has appeared on our screens a few times now in different things (The A-Word, The Replacement), and I have been mightily impressed by her acting every time that I’ve seen her.  Lisa’s latest case was that of two missing teenage twins.  She takes her job seriously but also likes a night out, and it is this latter aspect that puts her firmly into a very comprising situation with her latest case.

All the rest of the cast were excellent as you would expect.  Worthy of a special mention are the twin’s parents Sean Meredith (Jonas Armstrong) and Jess Meredith (Chanel Cresswell).  Chanel shone brightly as the panic-stricken mother, constantly on edge.  Jonas delivered a strong performance too and didn’t overact his part as the somewhat mysterious and adulterous stepdad.

Equally as impressive was the performance given by Daniel Ryan, who plays DI Tony Manning.  Having only ever seen this actor before play Dan in the comedy-drama Mount Pleasant, I thought he showed his versatility well here.  Firm but fair was his role and it did not seem like a copied performance from elsewhere.

As this was the first episode, there was plenty of setting things up for the proceeding weeks ahead.  Who was Lisa’s son, Rob Armstrong (Art Parkinson), secretly talking to on his computer I wonder?  Lisa’s daughter, Abbie Armstrong (Imogen King), got chatty with a local labourer called Vincent (Adam Long), so no doubt he has a significant role to play in all of this somewhere along the way.

Yes, as already stated this programme was not the most original but it was captivating, engaging and brilliant entertainment throughout.  It deserves to be watched by many and cherished as the northern version of Broadchurch.

Hands-up time, I started off as a sceptic but ended up enjoying it immensely! 4/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MotherFatherSon – series one – episode one – a review.

MotherFatherSon, a powerful stylistic BBC Two thriller that promised so much with a stellar cast, and in the main this first episode duly delivered.

You had to concentrate all the way through this though, otherwise you would have felt snookered on multiple occasions.  I did concentrate hard, but even then found myself perplexed at certain times.

If you were hoping for the OAP follow-up version of An Officer and a Gentleman, starring Richard Gere, then you will have been somewhat disappointed because this was anything but a romantic drama.  Yes, Gere was as gorgeous as ever here, but his character this time around had a certain impressive menace about him.

In this drama Richard Gere plays a character called Max Finch, a media mogul from the US.  Think of a better looking Rupert Murdoch and that pretty much sums him up.  Everybody fears Max due to the power and influence that he holds due to his media empire.  We saw him have tea with the British Prime Minister Jahan Zakari (Danny Sapani), then moments later meet the leader of the opposition Angela Howard (Sarah Lancashire).  A black British Prime Minister and the first female leader of the Labour Party, oh how one can only dream but I certainly believed it.

Alongside Max, the other two main protagonists in this were his ex-wife Kathryn Villiers (Helen McCrory), and their son Caden Finch(Billy Howle).  Both performers gave tremendous performances in their roles.  Kathryn is of English aristocratic stock and in her spare time we found her working in a homeless shelter.  The emotional scene of the two of them in a restaurant together as they recalled a deeply treasured family memory, was a brilliant bit acting by both worthy of a special mention.

We initially found Caden on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  He appeared to be out of his depth as editor of Max’s British broadsheet newspaper The National Reporter.  I thought Billy Howle gave a super portrayal as a constantly conflicted soul.  He appeared to fear his father, fear his job and in general be afraid of life.  More will no doubt be revealed as to why he is like this as the weeks proceed.

I must now mention the full-frontal male nudity sex scene featuring Caden.  On the plus side, it was great to see this shot for a change from a heterosexual female perspective.  Nevertheless, this scene felt somewhat out of place with the rest of the narrative.  It felt like a TV show within a TV show if that makes any sense?  That said, I guess it was all about the subject of power.  Meaning that Caden felt that emasculated from not holding any sort of real power in his general life(family and at work), so the only place he could try exerting some power was in a sexual encounter with a woman.

The bit of the narrative though that almost went over my head completely, was the strand concerning phone hacking and a missing girl.  It looks like it might have something to do with Caden and Max (the phone hacking bit) …..I think.  Again, expect more to be revealed as this striking drama goes forwards.

I loved the stunning mise-en-scene throughout which made this drama standout in a positive way.  It gave the narrative a stylish, slick and very modern feel.

All-in-all, I found this first episode a very believable piece of work that made for some pulsating viewing along the way.  Worth sticking with to see how it all unfolds. 4/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This Time with Alan Partridge – episode one review.

A lukewarm and semi-triumphant return, this is my verdict of This Time with Alan Partridge.

Before this new comedy show aired, I would have said that the great comedy character of Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan), was a bit of a Marmite figure, i.e. you either loved or hated him.  For years, I had firmly been in the loved him camp.  In fact, his series in the late 90’s entitled I’m Alan Partridge, is one of my favourite comedy shows of all-time.

With all this in mind, I am now going to completely contradict myself here with my view of his new BBC One show.  As the ending credits rolled, I found myself in the rather unaccustomed position of thinking it was just O.K.  I smiled throughout and even chuckled out loud at one point, however at no stage did I get hysterical with laughter.

I liked it without ever loving it.  I guess I am guilty of comparing it to the hilarious I’m Alan Partridge series.  It was noticeable in the credits that the amazing comedy writer Armando Iannucci, did not contribute to this first episode.  He was one of the main writers of this earlier series of Partridge.  Could it well be that without Iannucci, Partridge just is not as funny perhaps?

The premise of this new show took the form as a sort of parody of The One Show.  With the regular male co-host away ill, this was Alan’s chance at the big-time once again by filling in for him.  Alongside him, was the regular female co-host called Jennie Gresham (Susannah Fielding).   Susannah acted her role brilliantly and it was important that her character was amusing in her own right too.  Nevertheless, the key comment here is me saying that she was amusing rather than being hilarious.

Some of the gags were funny it must be acknowledged.  Particularly amusing was when we met Alan’s overly nervous friend Simon Denton (Tim Key).  His own segment of the show being ruined by him not being fully au fait with the technology surrounding the swipeboard and social media.

The segment about hand cleanliness was witty, with the highlight being the classic Partridge handshake at the end.  Lynn (Felicity Montagu), was the star of the show though.  I loved her fierce loyalty towards Alan still.  I am speaking here of when she complained to him that Jennie had nicked two of his jokes.  I also loved her little bitchy tale to Jennie, where she inferred that Jennie looked like a prostitute.  The more we see of Lynn in this series then the better it will be.

Some other bits of the comedy writing did not work as well and bordered on the corny.  I am thinking here of Alan’s demonstration about going to the loo on the train without using your hands.  I did chuckle at the giraffe disguise of the computer hacker, however that was it as far as that segment was concerned.  It was just trying that bit too hard to be funny for me.

Will I watch episode two?  Of course, because it is Alan Partridge after all.  However, this first instalment was not as funny as I thought it was going to be.  I certainly do not concur with the view that is now held out there by some, that this is already one of the greatest TV shows of 2019.

This Partridge was only lukewarm as I said at the top, whereas I always prefer mine steaming hot. 4/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BAPTISTE EPISODE ONE REVIEW.

As good old Kylie Minogue sings, ‘I’m spinning around’, this is exactly what popped into my head as the ending credits rolled to the first episode of Baptiste on BBC One.  Nevertheless, it was bamboozlement in the finest sense of the word.

Coming off the back of a brilliant second series of The Missing, the BBC decided to commission a spin-off series about its main character, ex-detective extraordinaire Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo).  He is one of the greatest fictional TV characters to have been created within the last twenty years or so.

It is hard to define exactly what is so likeable about Baptiste, but it all lies in this strong sense of confidence that he exudes as a mature man.  Created and written by brothers Harry and Jack Williams, he is a bit like the John Wayne of the detective world.  It also must be said that he is brilliantly acted throughout by the sublime Tcheky Karyo.

This time around we found Baptiste and his family in Amsterdam, Holland.  His wife Celia (Anastasia Hille) and he, are doting new grandparents to their daughter’s child.  He is also taking it easy somewhat having just recovered from having had a brain tumour.

Soon into the narrative though, Baptiste got the call about his help being required once more to find a missing sex worker called Natalie Rose (Anna Prochniak).  The call coming from Martha (Barbara Sarafian), an old flame of Baptiste’s, who is one of the most senior police officers in Amsterdam.  What with us seeing her drinking whilst on duty, we gather that more will be revealed about Martha as the narrative proceeds in the weeks ahead.

The other main character was Edward Stratton (Tom Hollander).  He claimed at the start to be Natalie’s uncle and so he and Baptiste set about trying to find her.  For a time, it was all pretty much formulaic stuff as they had successes and hit dead-ends with their search.  Just as their search had started to get a bit tedious, a major narrative twist took place involving a transsexual character.

It was narrative twists such as this that made for such stimulating viewing.  Just as we had regained our composure then boom, we got another one and a corking of a cliffhanger at the end.  The writing needs to be lauded for keeping us on our toes.  In an age now where we are often spoon-fed boring middle-of-the-road detective dramas, Baptiste like The Missing, stands out positively for at least trying to be original.

Another thing you must bear in mind about the great writing, is that the writers do not want us to understand everything at the beginning of the narrative.  It is a thriller, and so we are meant to find some things confusing at first.  The viewer enjoyment here is all about the thrill of the ride and the second guessing about what is about to happen.  You just need to accept that certain things will not make sense for now, but will do so in time as long as we keep watching.

A final aspect of Baptiste that needs applauding was the European style cinematography that was also present in The Missing.   It added to the haunting quality of the narrative beautifully.

Yes, my mind was ‘spinning around’ by the end of this programme, but it was spinning in a good way.  Intrigued to see how it develops in the coming weeks. 4/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FAMOUS AND FIGHTING CRIME- EPISODE ONE REVIEW.

Famous and Fighting Crime, the new reality TV show on Channel 4 that aired this week.  Did we really need another new programme in this much exhausted genre?  Haven’t we seen all there to is to see now with regards to reality television?

Yes and no, are the answers to these questions because this show was a definite triumph.  Based with the Cambridgeshire Constabulary force to help battle crime, we saw five well-known faces become special constables.  The celebrity line-up consisted of Loose Women presenter Penny Lancaster, comedian Marcus Brigstocke, TV presenter Katie Piper, MIC star Jamie Laing and Gogglebox star Sandi Bogle.

As crime figures go up and police budgets go down, this was a topical look at how police forces up and down the country are relying on over 12,000 police volunteers known as special constables.

You might have feared these five famous faces being mollycoddled on camera, but the success of this first episode was based on exactly the opposite taking place.  Soon into the action we saw them go on an intensive training day.  This involved a series of role-plays which Penny and Katie found extremely tough, due to it prompting them to relive traumatic experiences that had taken place in their past.  It all made for fascinating viewing that made us realise just what kind of demanding challenges our celebrities were about to potentially face.

Straight after this we were further dramatically hooked into the action.  A hair-raising moment to watch was when Penny Lancaster gave chase to apprehend a young female shoplifter.  What gave this a heightened sense of drama was that Penny was on her own, having been split up from her more experienced male colleague just moments before this.  Furthermore, the girl was threatening to stab Penny with a dirty needle if she came any closer to her.

It was a bit like watching an episode of The Bill, however you had to remind yourself at times that this was not a work of fiction, it was real life.  Therefore, it was edge-of-your-seat stuff all the way as this one-hour programme played out.

Jamie Laing might have come across as a bit of an overconfident posh twit at times, but there could be no mistaking his earnest approach and his will to do well in his new role.  Every other celeb came across extremely well too.  Katie was constantly fighting her PTSD trauma which came across as exceptionally brave.

It should also be praised that negative perceptions about the police were covered which were aired by Marcus and Sandi. Sandi, being a black woman from Brixton, spoke about how some people in her neighbourhood might now see her as a grass for working for the police.  As a result of these comments being included, the show therefore did not come across like some glorifying public relations exercise for the police.

All-in-all, a great welcome addition to the much heavily criticised reality TV genre.  It ticked every box that you would want from such a show. 5/5.

 

 

 

 

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STEPH & DOM: CAN CANNABIS SAVE OUR SON? A review.

Now and again a programme comes on the telly that you feel glad to have watched.  This certainly was the case with the recent Channel 4 documentary, Steph & Dom: Can Cannabis Save Our Son?

Gogglebox stars Steph and Dom Parker, invited us further into their world as we learnt about their eighteen-year-old son Max.  Max has severe epilepsy which entails him having over one hundred epileptic seizures a day.  As a result, brain damage has occurred which means Max has the mental age of a five or six-year-old.

The purpose of this documentary was to explore the ongoing debate around cannabis oil being used to treat severe epilepsy.  This debate being particularly significant in the UK right now, due to it still being unavailable.

What we got was a superb personalised view of this heart-wrenching condition.  Regarding this and the debate about the medicinal uses of cannabis oil, we got a documentary that was informative, educational and profoundly moving.  Dom spoke of his hope one day of being able to hold a conversation with Max.

Hope is the one thing that kept Steph and Dom going.  It was this that saw them travel to America to visit a boy called Sam and his family.  We heard how medicinal CBD cannabis oil had led to a vast reduction in the number of daily epileptic seizures that Sam now had.  As Steph pointed out to us, anecdotal evidence is so crucial to hear given the lack of scientific evidence that there is out there.

In terms of balance, we could have heard more views that were very opposed to the medicinal use of cannabis oil.  For instance, why are some UK medical professionals against its usage?

The juxtaposition of them feeling hopeful about soon being able to try Max on CBD cannabis oil, compared then to their downright despair months later with it still being unavailable in the UK, was striking and powerful stuff to watch.

We never got told specifically though what was holding the whole process up?  It would have been insightful to have had somebody from the government recorded on camera, explaining to them and to us as to why it is still unavailable?

Nevertheless, a brilliantly put together documentary that was emotive throughout.  It was well produced which further echoed the emotional quality of the content.  The tone of it was pitched exactly right, meaning that it never went over-the-top when it so easily could have done.

An enlightening documentary that will hopefully lead to greater awareness. 4/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DANNY DYER’S RIGHT ROYAL FAMILY – Episode one review.

Before it aired there was aright load of cultural snobbery towards Danny Dyer and his new historical documentary, Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family.  Ignore all of this negativity because you will be missing out if you do not.

It was with all this cultural snobbery in mind, that nearly made me give this programme a miss.  I had predicted that lots of cringe TV would be on show.  Instead, what we actually got was a complete gem of a show.  Unexpectedly, it was interesting, educational and extremely funny.  This was not evidence of the BBC ”dumbing-down” for crying out loud.  Rather, it was great new way of presenting history to us.

As this documentary proceeded it became abundantly clear to me who Danny Dyer reminded me of.  He was like a London version of the great Karl Pilkington(The Moaning of Life, An Idiot Abroad), but with more southern swagger.  Like Karl, Danny came across as very likeable and as a man-of-the-people.  Like Karl, Danny sent himself up greatly via a series of role-plays, and it was this that was key to the humour generated.  Danny doing his cockney hard man impression whilst jousting a watermelon, being one comedy highlight to note amongst many.

The basis of this documentary was it being a sort of follow-up to Danny’s appearance on Who Do You Think You Are?  On that occasion, it was surprisingly discovered that Danny was a descendant of King Edward III.  Consequently, Danny’s family tree was now going to be examined more closely we were told.

This documentary became so engaging because although there were many laughs aplenty, Danny cared deeply about the subject matter at hand.  As a result, we therefore cared about what we were watching.  If Danny had been flippant with the expert historians or say not been bothered about what they were telling him, then it would have felt like a pointless exercise all-round.

As stated, Danny threw himself completely into the action very early on.  Upon investigating his Viking 35-times-great-grandfather Rollo, he stated, ”you know, I do feel I need to get VIKINGED-up out of my brain.”  Such a line just made me really laugh.  Can ”VIKINGED-up out of my brain”, become part of common parlance from now on please?

Other comedy highlights included Danny giving it the big bravado on camera about eating like the Vikings did, only then to have to run off camera whilst he spewed his guts up at what he’d just eaten.  Another one was him being given a swear box near the end(he’s famous for swearing a lot), given that his descendant French King Louis IX, would have strongly disapproved of such a thing.

There was a brilliant emotional climax at the end of this documentary upon Danny discovering that he was related to a Saint.  Again, because he was so gobsmacked and moved by this news, it thus in turn made it moving and heartwarming for us to witness.

I laughed lots and I was fascinated by lots.  Great all-round telly for me in what turned out to be an unexpected delight. 4/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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