Archives

All posts for the month March, 2013

More4 [insert hilarious pun here]

Published 22/03/2013 by crimsonghad

more4_stairsidentunw

I may never forgive More4 for shamelessly losing the rights to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – I still cry about it every night – but it has recently started to quietly invest in quality shows. The superb Boss began its unfortunately short run last night (Thursday 11pm More4) with an incredible tour de force in acting by Kelsey Grammer, who plays Mayor Tom Kane of Chicago, suffering from a degenerative illness. Exhilarating and chilling in equal measure his performance is something not to be missed in a show which is scheduled for a film to conclude two seasons that I look forward to completing quickly. The smart, powerful and uncompromisingly brutal writing from Farhad Safinia serves to enhance the programme from being just another political drama or a vehicle for ‘Frasier’.

Nashville (Thursday 10pm More4) is another quality recent addition. TV shows based around music do not always have great reputations for drama (see Glee, Smash, Hannah Montana) but this has excellent pedigree. Written by Callie Khouri, who also wrote Thelma & Louise, it should come as no surprise that the main protagonists are two strong, successful and well rounded women fighting against the patriarchal society that they inhabit. The always excellent Connie Britton plays Rayna James, a faded country music superstar in, you guessed it, Nashville. Her fight is in trying to stay relevant when her family need her, her age is against her and her husband is determined to run for political office with the aid of her tyrannical father. Hayden Panettiere plays Juliette Barnes, the Taylor Swift-like young, arrogant superstar who has the looks, the youth and the following but lacks the respect that she so desperately craves. Add in Clare Bowen as the naive, scared but supremely talented waitress Scarlett O’Connor and there are three women occupying the three main roles on a US TV show not called Girls. Wonderful stuff. (And this song gave me goosebumps)

And then of course you have the mainstays of More4. Father Ted, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Time Team, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Come Dine With Me and wonderful documentaries. I will never complain about seeing Father Ted reruns, you hear me, NEVER. And my mum will never complain about seeing Time Team reruns, you hear me, NEVER (except for last night when she bemoaned the fact that they will no longer be making it). Of course Curb is pretty, pretty, prettay good and Come Dine With Me is always good for a cheap laugh or two. The documentary strands including Cutting Edge, Dispatches and Britain: My New Home (Friday, 9pm More4) are always thought provoking and well made.

father-ted_625x352

As with any channel there aren’t always programmes to your taste. I’m not a fan of Grand Designs, Location, Location, Location or any of the aspirational property TV but they are big viewer favourites and you always need them to support quality drama. If you like those then good luck to you. And if not, there’s always Kelsey Grammer.

 

Best of British TV: In The Flesh

Published 19/03/2013 by crimsonghad

In the flesh bbc 3

In The Flesh is a new zombie drama on BBC Three (Sunday 10pm or repeated a lot). However, it is not about zombies. It is about love, fear, discrimination and intolerance. It has far more in common with This Is England than The Vampire Diaries. It is also not the too awful for words hip ‘yoof’ nonsense you can get on BBC Three. What In The Flesh is is a very good and unique drama something that is to be commended in this day of televisual saturation.

We see the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse and how people are being treated for this illness. In fact that they are not ‘zombies’ but suffer from ‘Partially Deceased Syndrome’ (PDS) an excellent touch of bureaucracy added to political correctness and humanity. This is a wonderful twist to the traditional and, frankly, done to death concept. You don’t see much zombie killing action; instead we are treated to the human side of something which has been portrayed as monstrous in every interpretation up until this point.

in-the-flesh1

Already the writing has provided some chillingly brutal and moving moments (without giving spoilers away some characters doth protest too much, methinks) where my heart was racing. After just one episode that is some achievement. The writer Dominic Mitchell deserves high acclaim for his script as it has managed to create a range of characters that you can relate to.

The beautifully innocent Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry) is the PDS sufferer who is brought home to his parents after rehabilitation – including copious amounts of brain stimulating drugs, fake tan and contact lenses to make him look normal. His family ratchet up the fear factor superbly well, while The HVF (Human Volunteer Force) could just as easily be seen protesting against immigration, taxes or budget cuts as the ‘rotters’ who are being introduced back in to their community. Their HVF leader Bill Macy (Steve Evets) and Vicar Oddie (Kenneth Cranham) have a menacingly dangerous charisma that will surely only lead to increased problems and danger within the neighbourhood but you are engrossed in how they will do so.

in the flesh

Only one episode has aired and yet it already has the feel of something which can last far longer than the three parts afforded to it. George A Romero has spent a lifetime making zombie movies and yet a simple twist like that employed by In The Flesh has breathed life in to a stagnant genre.

FHM Review– A first time buyer’s perspective

Published 09/03/2013 by crimsonghad

2013_0305Iceland30070

I am a 27 year old male who had NEVER bought a copy of FHM. Seriously. Never. I had read parts of it before from friends’ copies and a very lovely woman once bought me an issue of it many years ago, extolling the virtues of said magazine – I think Jennifer Ellison was in it if anyone remembers when she was famous. As I was going on holiday I wanted to purchase Empire magazine (big film fan, obviously) to read and as I’m always looking for a bargain I saw this offer for Empire and FHM for £5 and decided, what the hell. I’m not the type to shit all over something without giving it a chance (unless it’s called Splash!) so I actually sat down and read pretty much every word in the March 2013 issue of FHM. Now that I’ve alienated all human beings with this first paragraph I’ll continue with a review.

2013_0305Iceland30079

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and what better way to celebrate than by reading something which is so empowering towards women… In fairness there is some good stuff in FHM and I will start by highlighting that:

  • Jobs Down Under – about relocating your life from UK to Australia and tips from 4 or 5 separate people who have done so successfully
  • The Greatest Summer Holiday –  a section devoted to approx 10 destinations that will see you have the best holiday ever possible

I have actually torn these pages out and will keep them. There is some genuinely good advice and I might very well use them for myself. Even so I have a couple of issues. Firstly, all of the people in Jobs Down Under are men with their partners briefly alluded to. Secondly, all of the holiday destinations are male with the emphasis on booze, birds and beach.

2013-03-09 17.25.25

Now the bad – and there is a lot of bad. I’m even going to split it in to insulting towards women and not abusive towards females. I’ll save the invective for later:

  • Adverts – as with all magazines the proliferation of adverts to articles increases throughout and I know the target audience is male but Jesus Christ there is a lot of metrosexual shit.

Designer clothes, James Bond, posh alcohol, clothes again, more clothes, men’s perfume (aftershave I think it’s called), vitamins, watches, shoes, clothes again, film ad and shampoo ad featuring a footballer. Every single advert feels like it is targeted specifically towards a mid 20s-40s rich, middle class London yuppie type and it just seems depressing to me.

2013_0305Iceland30080

 

  •  Adverts within articles – half of the actual articles are basically just adverts for products.

Some examples being an article about Dan Ackroyd’s new vodka range morphing in to a celebrity alcohol advert, a coffee making piece which merely sought to sell a range of expensive accessories, and 14 (yes 14!) pages of style tips for cunts men which was just a very long advert.

2013_0305Iceland30076

  • Dull attempts at funny stuff – there are a few articles about Pancake Day for men, a man’s best friend: dog vs. mate and The Bloke Test.

This month’s ‘bloke’ was Danny Trejo who just seemed dumbfounded to be asked such questions as “have you ever followed through on a particularly exuberant fart”. I found them uninspiring and tedious rather than utterly offensive but, hey, maybe some guys find that funny. Each to his own.

2013_0305Iceland30074

Other articles I won’t talk about because you could find them in any magazine include: an interview with an astronaut and a footballer, reviews of film, video games, theatre, readers’ letters, biker gang stories – none of these are particularly bad or good.

 

However, there is a whole long list of articles offensive to women:

  • Scantily clad women in insulting terms – men buy these magazines to look at soft core porn. That is the first thing I will say. I am not going to criticise for the ridiculous poses because it’s clichéd and is there for titillation. Is it wrong? Yes. Will it change? No.

What I take offence to is the actual language highlighted in these articles, “I’m quite old fashioned. It’s the man’s role to look after the woman” says Chloe Cummings who is famous for being Abby Clancy’s cousin and is “a bit of a psychic”. Setting the women’s movement back a hundred years there Chloe. The actual interview is too boring and depressing to even repeat on here.

2013_0305Iceland30071

  • Get A Massive Crush On Alicia Vikander – she was nominated for BAFTA rising star award this year and has been awarded the Kermode Award for best actress for her role in the sensational, A Royal Affair. Here she is reduced to a picture in an article NOT EVEN ABOUT HER.

This article is actually an interview with Adam Deacon (winner of BAFTA rising star last year – in a tenuous link to Vikander) where he is promoting his new film on DVD. If I was Deacon I would be insulted. If I was Vikander I would be insulted.

2013_0305Iceland30073

  • Close The Deal With Beautiful Women – I am shit with women. It is a fact. Just ask any woman I’ve ever dated and they’ll tell you. I can do with some advice but fuck me this was a depressing read. 7 pages of tips for men to get women in to bed! This made me angry.

They dressed women up in scantily clad outfits reducing them to mere caricatures and then proceeded to label them in specific terms which men could access via following the advice written on the page. I mean really? I just found this insulting to my intelligence. I can see how there is some well-meaning advice in there (hidden very well admittedly) but it is just dumping women on a plate and saying, “There you go guys, come and fuck us. This is how to do it. It will definitely work.” It made me feel ashamed to be a man.

2013_0305Iceland30075

  • Win a Date with Georgia, Franziska or Rosie – this is another 8 pages of nearly naked women but this time it is self promotion for the world renowned FHM 100 Sexiest Women 2013 edition (vote now!)

Again, I have no problem with the naked women as that’s the purpose of the magazine. I also have no problem with FHM promoting their magazine’s 100 Sexiest Women as that edition is presumably the biggest selling of the year and to use wrestling parlance (since they review wrestling games in one of the articles) is the equivalent of Wrestlemania. My problem is them giving a date away with one of the 3 models they’ve chosen to flaunt in their lingerie. Once more women have been reduced to objects for no real reason. What is the purpose of this? Does anyone reading think they will get an ACTUAL date with someone they’ve never met and who probably have boyfriends in any case? Is the magazine trying to drum up business by using aspirational techniques? Are they sex slaves who will fuck anyone on command? I just don’t know.

2013_0305Iceland30078

  • Judd Apatow: FHM Hero – I like Judd Apatow films. They are blokey in a geekish, immature but appealing way. This interview I did not like. Not because of Apatow but FHM.

In Empire magazine Apatow was also interviewed about his new film This Is 40 which also happens to star his wife, Leslie Mann. They are both interviewed together in a funny, bickering and informative format that is well executed. Good job Empire. In FHM Apatow is interviewed alone with lots of blokey references to his past films and upcoming films (pretty much all of which star Mann in some way). So why is it that Leslie Mann gets no reference until paragraph 11 out of 12? And when she does get a mention it is thoroughly condescending, “Spot [Mann] in This Is 40, in which, if you can prize your eyes away from Megan Fox rolling around in a bikini, she plays spouse to Paul Rudd…surely directing your own missus in a sex scene with a good friend is kinda weird, right?” Ugh. Everything about that wants makes me want to punch the page, the writer and myself in the face. Leslie Mann is pretty much shot down in the tiny piece of an article she is afforded. Terrible.

2013_0305Iceland30084

  • Great Sexy Moments In Life #12 – this is the last thing I’m going to moan about but it’s basically page 3 but 3 pages from the back.

What is the purpose of this? Beth from Manchester is just eating some grapes answering inane questions. ‘A pretty girl nibbling on some grapes’ it says in the sub-heading. Yes, that is it. That is the purpose. To have a pretty girl. There is no substance to the questions. There is no reason for it to be there *sigh*

2013_0305Iceland30077

Ok, well I hope anyone who has read this is as thoroughly depressed as I am. A couple of redeeming articles will not make me buy this again. It is insulting to women and also to men I would suggest.

Dancing on the Edge

Published 09/03/2013 by crimsonghad

Dancing-On-The-Edge

I like Stephen Poliakoff – I really do. And I am a history graduate with a love of the changing race relations and politics of the early 20th century. I should have loved Dancing on the Edge.

I was a big fan of Shooting The Past, Perfect Strangers, The Lost Prince, Gideon’s Daughter and Joe’s Palace to name a few. I even defended him on Twitter after the negative  backlash of the first episode of Dancing on the Edge. I love his lazy, laid back and deliberately slow style. It always makes his work stand out and it feels like you are watching a real event rather than just some show. And for £8.5m budget you would expect so too.

However, even I gave up after the second episode when nothing had happened in 2 and a half hours. Sure he had his normal royal family obsession, Nazis, garden parties, obsession with dark rooms and beautiful cinematography but is this enough? No.

From what I’ve read in the brilliant Guardian episode by episode blog nothing happened in the last 3 and a half hours either.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/series/dancing-on-the-edge-episode-by-episode

Please return to form soon Mr Poliakoff.