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New Tricks: London Underground (2014)
An Outstanding Case For The B-Team
While the quality of New Tricks started to take massive hits from season 8 onwards, London Underground proves that even during its final years, the old dogs still had enough bite to provide some really strong and compelling television.
If you were to ask my opinion on what the best episode featuring the B-team was, this is where I'd direct you because while series 11 had some very dull episodes, the majority of its cases featured a fresh, exciting and very compelling sense of gravitas that made the twists and turns feel exciting and impactful in a way we haven't seen since the show's very early days; I'm talking series 3 here.
London Underground not only features a very exciting, immensely compelling plot that perfectly blends an 'out there' supernatural mystery with a grounded, believable case of obsession and superstition, it also presents a beautifully realised character arc alongside it involving Sasha standing up to her cheating ex-husband and her inability to forgive him as they're forced to work together to solve the case. The reason all this works so well is because they're not completely separate parts of the puzzle. Just like in the show's glory days, the cases are intertwined with compelling character work which was always what made New Tricks stand out among the river of generic, tedious, 'copy/paste' crime dramas that riddled the TV schedules.
With a few exceptions, New Tricks had for the most part lost sight of this quality over the past 4 years, and would unfortunately lose sight of it again after this. Simply, it's very refreshing to see the writers take the opportunity to provide a compelling character arc for a character that still feels incredibly underdeveloped. It's written beautifully too with a thrilling sense of back and forth between Sasha and Ned and an incredible satisfaction derived from seeing Sasha put the loathsome cheat in his place. I still think Strickland steals the show however by standing up to Ned for UCOS and Sasha, before putting Sasha back in her place like an absolute boss. It's one of my favourite Strickland moments and a fantastic scene.
The episode is also full of really exciting, some of which just leap off the screen. It makes an excellent change from the thin, generic character-tropes normally seen in the genre, and indeed most of New Tricks' last cases. Here however, the cast of superstitious, obsessive artists and their quirky personalities, wonderfully portrayed by all involved, liven up the narrative and make the case just that little bit more compelling.
The case itself is fascinating with the incomplete film clips being the key to solving two murders with a sea of superstition and confusion surrounding the whole case, and a list of suspects believing that a subterranean river is running the city and their lives, it's just fantastic. I'd go as far as to say inspired which isn't a word I use lightly.
On a final note, I think the location filming around London deserves a mention. How the production team on this episode were able to book out and film in such huge locations is beyond me, and the visit to the London sewers was a fantastic decision that adds great atmosphere to the episode. It's probably one of the show's most ambitious episodes in terms of location-work (if you don't count travelling to Gibraltar last season), and the shots are choreographed to take full advantage of the setting. It's very well directed and the editing of the episode keeps the narrative and pace steadily ramping up to the conclusion. Just ignore the awful visual effect on the laptop at the end.
London Underground is one of New Tricks' strongest episodes, especially of its later years, and one that proves that had the writing team been putting this much effort into the show on a weekly basis, the show might've had a future beyond Waterman's impending departure.
Lucifer: A Devil of My Word (2018)
The Wait Was Worth It
The general consensus among most Luci-fans is that Season 3 was simply too long. It's not a sentiment I agree with entirely but at 24 episodes plus a following 2 specials, it's true that the show had some trouble trying to fill the third season and often fell back on repeated ideas and thin plot-threads. There were some excellent moments along the way and some stand-out stories, but it was admittedly a drag at points. 'A Devil Of My Word' makes the entire thing so worth-while however.
Lucifer has always been good at season finales. Even though the show has trouble with frequently poor writing and bad character development (of which Dan is the weakest link), it somehow always manages to stick the landing in a satisfying blitz of flashy action and powerful character-work. It's possible that this is largely because the finales rely less on the much-derided crime-drama formula of the show and get down to the serious business of divine intervention and supernatural stakes. Either way, Lucifer pulls another one out of the bag here with the best finale the show's ever had (even in a post-season 4 world).
Season 3 juggled so many plot-threads across its 24 episode run that the season's finale was certainly going to have its work cut out in providing some semblance of a finale-feeling, but with several of the secondary plot-threads resolved (or should I say shot?) in the previous episode's climax, this episode can really deal with what's important: Cain.
The main antagonist of the third season's second-half, Cain has gradually become more and more of a threat as the season has progressed until we've finally got this bitter, incredibly resentful and wholly unlikable villain, the demise of whom is incredibly satisfying. Cain had an interesting arc throughout the season but never good enough to make him a likeable or exciting character, which (dare-I-say) could be down to Tom Welling's incredibly muted performance but I'll side-step that. It could also be due to his threatening of the Lucifer/Chloe dynamic towards the end of the season and his master-manipulation of various characters throughout the last episodes, which makes his eventual death and descent to Hell all the more satisfying. Maybe with better character-work I'd have cared about Cain more, but 'Devil' does the best with what it has.
What really hurts for me during this story however is watching Dan struggle to cope with the death of Charlotte. I personally was gutted when Charlotte (who possessed one of the more captivating character-arcs of the third season) was killed off in the previous story. I absolutely wish she was returning for future seasons but her exit was just about as brilliant as I could've hoped for. Kevin Alejandro does a fantastic job with this script and it's an excellent showcase of what he really can do, probably the more interesting material he's been given since the first season.
There are a few problems with the story. I too was left questioning why Lucifer didn't tell Chloe that Pierce was the Sinnerman, nor do i totally buy the lightning-fast resolution for Maze and Linda's feud, but these are nit-picks for a story that does an excellent job of closing the third season and providing a cliff-hanger so captivating that it revitalised the show for a different network.
That's an impressive feat.
Supernatural: The Heroes' Journey (2020)
The once great, powerful and exciting Supernatural has reached a new low with this embarrassingly feeble, horribly humorless, poorly conceived monstrosity that makes stories like 'Bugs' and 'There's Something About Mary' look like flawless masterpieces.
There's no sense of narrative progression within this train-wreck along with characters that have no purpose and pacing that has no consistency. Plus, the very premise is ridiculous and illogical, even for Supernatural standards. Just say the premise aloud "Sam and Dean are having bad luck because they're not the main characters of the show anymore"; how stupid did that sound out loud?
Plus. how can you possibly hold up an entire episode with that premise? The simple answer is that you can't and in his attempt to recreate the popularity of "Yellow Fever" (a strong story with plenty of humour), Andrew Dabb has wrecked any semblance of dignity the show had left proving that it will end without a shred of self-respect at the end of this season.
In a season of shameless, poorly written attempts to rip-off the glories of past seasons, the fact that "The Heroes' Journey" manages to stand out as the worst is genuinely incredible.
Dabb's love of fan-service is in full force here. Bringing back fan-favourite monsters is an interesting idea and one that results in plenty of genuinely frightening and tense moments. On the other hand though, when you stop to consider that since defeating them the boys have defeated God's sister, Satan and two Apocalypses, the threat starts to feel shallow and weak. The plot of the episode is very thin and moves a little bit too slowly to the point that it starts to feel padded. The introduction of Belphegor, a so-called "new-crowley" character brings back the interesting character dynamic that I loved with Crowley, but the biggest problem with it is that Belphegor is no Crowley. While Alexander Calvert does a fairly good job with the character, he and the character himself do not possess the same level of sarcastic wit and humour that Shappard brought to the show, and as such he makes for a rather uninteresting presence. Plus the show seems set on going with this "God created the last 14 years" concept, one that I find insulting and poorly thought out.
Supernatural: Raising Hell (2019)
It's Worse Than They Thought
Bringing back a number of fan-favourite faces doesn't stop with ghosts as Kevin, Rowena, Ketch and Amara make a return, sadly to no great effect. Rowena and Ketch continue to be fun, entertaining characters with strong performances by Ruth Connell and David Haydn Jones respectively, and their chemistry makes their scenes together far better than they should be. Kevin's return though feels superfluous and in many ways wrecks the happy ending of his character arc in season 11, and Amara's return is the biggest waste of character potential that Supernatural has ever done. The episode's antagonist is a weak presence with no discernible USP to make him more of a threat than the typical Supernatural ghost, and the limited number of ghosts in the episode reeks of poor production values and gives the story a cheap feel overall. It's also very slow and tedious a lot of the time with no strong writing or direction to elevate its run and a weak ending that's contrived, poorly executed and thinks it's clever and special when it's actually been done hundreds of times before. One of Supernatural's weakest episodes ever.
It All Ended With A Big Bang...
I've not kept up with this show over the last few years. It was a show I used to love and adore, until it lost meaning for me and I stopped watching, but I've dipped in and out over the past few years and always got the impression that it's simply not for me anymore. Despite this I couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness when I heard the show would be ending with its 12th season, so I made an effort to keep up.
How can I put this? This finale is one of the greatest sitcom finales I think we've ever had. It ties everything up; not just plot but character development, and delivers a very satisfying sendoff that leaves nothing wanting. It doesn't end the show with closure, but rather gives us the end of a nice, comfortable era while letting us know that there will be more for these characters, and it will be just as amazing as what we've seen before.
It's so much better than the finale to Chuck Lorre's other phenomenon Two And A Half Men which was driven and infected by his own ego and resentment towards his fans which left a very sour taste with the episode. Here, the only thing he pours in is his love and dedication for these characters and this show in general. It's really something.
The humour is on point from start to finish and there's a surprisingly emotional vibe coming from every scene, probably thanks to the actor's realization that this is the last time they'll embody these characters.
Sheldon's speech gives the last 12 years meaning and going from that rather polarizing, off-beat and bizarre little sitcom in 2007 to this incredibly impactful cultural phenomenon is felt in one moment, as every single fan looked back on that day where the boys met their attractive new neighbor and started one of the greatest journeys in sitcom history.
Sayonara Big Bang...
Captures the show with perfection!!
I find it amazing how perfectly the Hillywood sisters managed to capture the feel of the show within this parody. If like me you like to observe set designs and rewatch stuff like this to spot all the little easter eggs, then you'll definitely see just how much effort has gone it and how perfectly everything fits with the show. This could've been made by the official cast and crew of the show and it wouldn't surprise me.
The girls show that as well as being fantastic directors, they sure as hell can act with the portrayal of Dean genuinely giving me flashbacks to the character which I find wonderful, and thanks to them, every scene is incredibly memorable thanks to their performances. In fact, every shot is perfection as with very close attention, and let's face it watching this parody once too many times, you can see how meticulous every shot is.
I just love this parody for capturing that pure Supernatural feel and giving it a fun, fresh take with plenty of energy and while I like the second Supernatural parody as well, the first one will always be superior to me because it doesn't try to be anything other than a well-produced, fun and entertaining video whereas the second in my opinion, lost me a bit with the Ghostbusters homage but that's for a different review.
This is the best parody I've ever seen and I hope that the girls make it into Supernatural before it ends with Season 15. That would be a serious reward.
A Good Try but it's Too Shallow.
As a pilot episode for a new sci-fi show, I was willing to give this show a chance, but being a sci-fi show, a risky genre that fails miserably a good 60% of the time, I knew there were risks.
And somehow, Oasis managed to succeed and fail perfectly.
The plot isn't exactly thrilling. In a world that's barely surviving, a priest named is sent to a colony on a new planet that hopes to prepare to keep the human race alive. However, the members of the colony begin experiencing weird visions, and the leader of the colony has disappeared leaving only cryptic messages, and no clue as to why he called for Peter's help.
Nothing in this plot is original and sadly, it doesn't really lend itself much to thrills. There are few moments in this episode where I was on edge, where I was clutching the edge of my seat, and because of this the second act really begins to drag, and I even checked to see how long the episode had left (never a good sign).
Oasis tries to make up for this with plenty of characterisation for the crew of the colony, except there really isn't as much characterisation as it seems to think.
There are some well developed characters, some I really cared for and some I developed strong opinions about, then there were plenty that I didn't really care about at all which rendered any of the suspense this episode was going for completely flat.
Thinking about it though, what character do any of them have except they've all lost something at some point. Some of them only have implied character that's never confirmed or expanded upon, and some of them are only given character because they're about to die.
The biggest problem in this area is the character of Morgan who is the reason Peter gets sent to this colony, and has lots of mystery surrounding him and why he disappeared, but he never makes a proper appearance, and this mystery is never cleared up at all!
The writing is pretty strong, there are some great lines of dialogue and it's very sharp. The direction's nice too, especially during the first act where the struggling Earth is realised beautifully.
The colony planet has some beautiful shots where the colours just jump off the screen. Definitely the most beautiful show I've ever seen from Amazon.
The acting is, fine. To be honest, I feel it would've been better if any of these actors had anything to work with, but they're all very one-dimensional as I mentioned before.
I think Oasis definitely tried to fit a few episodes worth of narrative into one hour, and yet somehow still managed to make the second act drag. As a result, everything feels underdeveloped, the characters are bland, the story is basic, and nothing ever gets solved.
Despite this, I did enjoy the experience, well the first and third acts anyway, and I do hope that this gets made into a full series because it could be something a bit special given enough time, but while it's proved to me that it's got what it takes to be a really great sci-fi show, it hasn't proved that it deserves a full series.
Unless news of a full series arises, I can't recommend this pilot. It was good at points, but nothing captivated me. It felt too thin, and too shallow to be worth your time.
Go 8 Bit DLC (2017)
Could we have some gamers please?
I decided to check this out. A review show about games, something I've wanted for a long time, and yet I spent no more than 10 minutes on this show before concluding that the people who present this show, probably don't even know what DLC stands for.
They spent less than 2 minutes on a proper game (Final Fantasy XV, a game I love and really wanted to hear about), before jumping to mobile games and staying there for the rest of the segment.
Most gamers who are passionate enough to watch a TV show about games, aren't that interested in mobile games, I know I'm not.
The people who present this show don't understand what video game are. Two of them even announced with no sense of regret, that they've never spent money on a game before, and this was from the main host of the show.
The only thing that sparked a little interest was when Dara O'Briain showed up to play some games with the team, and they played one of the most uninteresting fighting games I've ever seen, in a segment that was less impressive than a co-op YouTube let's play by someone with 4 subscribers.
It was painful to watch. If this show decides to actually get some hosts who understand what the topics they're discussing (video games), mean to people like me who have a passion for them, this show could be very entertaining, but as it stands, with hosts who look at Video Games without actually understanding what makes them fun, this show is not worth watching.
Dave is not the right place for a Video Game review show. As much as it thinks it can do everything, Dave does not have the money to do this.
For a successful video games review show, you need to look at the latest Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft games, not 10 year old indie games no-one's ever heard of, and while it's always great to see a classic 80s game being played, I can go to YouTube right now and find thousands of these.
You'll say that getting the license to show off these games is pretty expensive. Yes, which is exactly why Dave can't pull off a show like this.
The BBC could have a go, but even they might struggle to find an audience.
Doctor Who: The Lie of the Land (2017)
The trouble with Misleading Trailers
Episode 8, The Lie of the Land has been built up by trailers and interviews as being something quite special. We've all seen that regeneration in the trailers, and the trailers gave away to the eagle-eyed viewers that it would be in this episode. This is what makes The Lie of the Land such a disappointment.
The way "Pyramid's" next time trailer sold the story was by telling a story of Bill trying to save the Doctor by going through his friends and enemies, and ending the story by shooting the Doctor himself. This is a fascinating idea that hasn't been done before, the companion trying to stop the Doctor from fighting on the wrong side. I was hyped.
When it aired however, I soon discovered that this is just another Doctor and Bill try to stop alien invasion story. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not what I was sold.
If this episode had come without the misleading trailers and the prospect of a regeneration, I would've enjoyed this much much more than I did.
Now, I understand, this is episode 8, Peter Capaldi was most likely not going to regenerate in this episode, but even knowing this, that regeneration was such a tacked on cop-out that it actually made me angry.
I didn't expect the full-blown regeneration, but I at least expected something after the endless weight placed on this scene by the marketing team. That was the biggest disappointment for me, and I hoped after seeing that, that I could just move past and enjoy the rest of the episode, but the episode itself isn't that great either.
After the two previous episode in this arc, Lie of the Land feels very underwhelming. This is what the previous two episodes have been building up to, and yet the most interesting thing about this story is Missy's cameo about half-way in.
There's nothing of note within the plot which is just get to the pyramid and stop the invasion, and the characters aren't very deep.
The acting and direction are nice, but the rest just gives the impression that the story should've finished last week because there's very little left here.
The conclusion that Bill let the Monks control Earth, and therefor must die to send them back it used to no effect whatsoever and is instead simply put to one side so we can get back to running around a pyramid.
The Monks, who I loved in the previous episode, do next to nothing here. They stand around, occasionally they shoot electricity at people, but that's it.
The climax of the story is the worst part of the story. It's underwhelming and boring. I was expecting something clever, something awesome, but no, once again the conclusion was put down to "MAGIC"!
I was really looking forward to this one, but it feels like the writer didn't really understand what had come before this episode, and therefor didn't know what to do with it.
Despite the great acting from the supporting cast, and obviously Capaldi, Mackie, Lucas and Gomez, there's very little of note here, and this is a disappointing conclusion to a trilogy that started out very strong, and got weaker to the point of crashing and burning.
Still, at least we have Missy!
The Tension Rises!
One complaint I do have about Series 10 is that there have been barely any moments that have done a good job at raising the tension.
Oxygen had a go, and Extremis was trying to be intense, but because neither of them had any long term threats, the tension just fizzled out. The Pyramid at the End of the World fixes that completely.
Obviously we all know about Peter Capaldi's upcoming departure from Doctor Who. I know, we're all devastated, but this made Pyramid very tense as I was constantly watching for where the episode could take us next, and if it would have any baring on the upcoming regeneration.
The monks that were introduced in last week's exposition-heavy Extremis have landed on Earth with their spaceship in the shape of a Pyramid, and are offering to help the human race survive a fatal catastrophe, but only if they are asked by someone in power.
This is a unique idea for an invasion story, and one that does a great job of raising the stakes for the Doctor, and the supporting characters, all of whom are quite interesting.
The Doctor being so desperate to find a solution to the problem but refusing to accept the monk's offer, even in the face of the Earth's imminent destruction, sums up the 12th Doctor's character very well, and his blindness is well utilised, especially towards the end.
The biggest problem I have with the monk's plan, is why the request for their help must be made out of love. I'm not sure what this changes about their plan, but maybe we'll find out next week.
The fact that the end of the world is nearly caused by two scientists, a pair of broken glasses and a hangover, is an awesome idea (and I can't help but think there's a political statement in there somewhere).
The deaths of the soldiers at the hands of the monks are quite graphic, especially considering the more simplistic death scenes we've seen over the past few years on this show. It's great to see Doctor Who returning to that.
Then there was the final scenes where the Doctor, having been extremely clever and worked out a solution to the upcoming apocalypse, gets stuck in a locked room with an explosive, due to his blindness not allowing him to enter the exit key.
The whole scene with the Doctor in the lab had a real sense of foreboding which is something I love from Doctor Who. For a while, I genuinely worried that Capaldi was about to regenerate, and the scene with him discussing his predicament with Bill was a wonderful moment.
Bill asking the monks for help to give the Doctor his sight back was awesome too, and wraps up the blindness arc, and the monk's plan, very neatly.
Next time we'll have to do with the Earth invasion, but I must say that I really enjoyed Pyramid at the End of the World. There were some gaps in logic in places but it was constantly interesting and very tense towards the end.
The acting was excellent, the writing was strong and it was a lot of fun.
Doctor Who: Extremis (2017)
The Monk Trilogy Begins!
I've wanted for a long time now a epic three-part adventure. One that can expand the story into lots of different directions and give us classic villains and brilliantly built-up plot devices. This arc begins with Extremis, in my opinion, one of Steven Moffat's best scripts in years.
Last week's Oxygen ended with the Doctor left blind by his adventure in outer-space, relying on his trusty yet controversial Sonic Sunglasses for help with navigating his way around. I'm really glad this concept was continued beyond Oxygen, it's a brilliant idea and it makes for a great story in Extremis.
The episode starts off with a flashback to the Doctor arriving on a planet to kill his nemesis Missy. I'm not sure why she's been sentenced to death by these... people, but any excuse to have her back is fine by me! It's great having Michelle Gomez back as Missy again, and she gives another brilliant performance as the best incarnation of the Master by far!
This flashback reveals that it was in fact Missy in the Doctor's secret vault, which was a reveal that was not exactly grand or explosive, more like it just pops up during a conversation.
It's also not as surprising as I would've liked. With the way it was being built up, I was expecting something totally new and dangerous to be revealed in a tense, exciting scenario, but instead it goes with the twist that pretty much everyone saw coming a mile off.
It's weird seeing Missy begging the Doctor not to kill her though. This cold, genius character, who has tried on more than one occasion to turn the Doctor over to her sadistic villainous ways, kneels in front of him and appeals to his sense of mercy. To give her one last chance to turn 'good'.
It's surreal and a great direction for the character, even if it's been done before. Steven Moffat seems to enjoy taking long standing villains and showing us their human side. He did it with Davros in The Witch's Familiar, and he's doing it again with Missy. This is something that makes for thrilling and deep drama, but also limits their future as a recurring character in my eyes. Davros could only really go in one direction in The Witch's Familiar. He had to turn bad again at the end to make for a workable climax. I feel like Missy will probably go down the same road later on in the series but I could be wrong.
Anyway, the rest of the episode revolves around a book called the 'Veritas', which is an ancient book that has only recently been translated, which begins causing problems when everyone who reads the book commits suicide. I was gripped by this plot right from the off as it felt like a very interesting idea, and I was excited to see how this would pan out.
The Doctor, Bill and Nardole head to the Vatican's secret library which features some fantastic direction and set design by the way.
Inside, they find a man who has email a copy of the Veritas to different organisations. After finding him, the man runs and shoots himself. Bill and Nardole head off the look for him, and they find a portal which leads to several different places on Earth such as the Pentagon. Meanwhile the Doctor tries to get his sight back temporarily by using a... device to borrow it from his future, but before he can read the Veritas he is interrupted by the menacing Monks.
These creatures look absolutely amazing by the way. The costume designers did a fantastic job bringing these creatures to life as they genuinely scary, and very well designed.
The doctor takes the man's laptop and tries to read the Veritas but his sight begins to fail just as he starts reading, leading to him being chases through the library with his failing sight in one of my of my favourite scenes in this episode. It's scenes like that make me really glad they didn't drop this concept after Oxygen because it makes for a very tense and exciting chase that doesn't just come down to running around again, but has some very serious stakes this time.
Bill and Nardole step through a portal when they find themselves in CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). They find a team of scientists who are preparing to blow themselves up. When asking one of the scientists why they are doing this, the scientist demonstrates the Shadow test to Bill, when he asks her and Nardole to quickly say a number, they both reply the same number at the same time. He keeps repeating this test until eventually the whole room is saying the same number together. I love this scene, it's so harrowing and creepy and it's definitely my favourite scene of the episode.
Bill and Nardole run back into the portal where Nardole works out that those worlds are just simulations. He also works out that he is a simulation which causes him to disappear. Bill finds the Doctor who, having listened to the Veritas through a computer, explains to Bill that the book explains about a computer simulation that an alien race are using to learn about Earth, in order to invade it.
If you want to know whether you're real or not, do the shadow test. This confirms to Bill that they are all just simulations.
Bill disappears at the hands of a monk and the Doctor uses the memory that has been recorded though his Sunglasses and sends it to the real Doctor to warn him of invasion.
Once I'd wrapped my head around this, I felt this twist was a brilliant. I really enjoyed the build-up of this episode. It's classic Moffat style, before he forgot what made his stories so compelling. This episode kicks off the Monk trilogy in fine style.
Doctor Who: Oxygen (2017)
The Return of Great Doctor Who Space-Stories!
I was really excited for this episode, more so than any other episode this series. From what I'd seen in series 10 trailers, and the Next Time trailer at the end of episode 4, it looked like a proper awesome space-story taken right out of classic Doctor Who. Add to that, it's written by Jamie Mathieson,the best writer of Series 8, and directed by Charles Palmer, director of the greats of Series 3.
With all of the above going for it, it's no surprise that the result is the best Doctor Who space-adventure since Series 3's 42 in 2007. Yeah, that long ago!
I define a space-story as an adventure that takes place mainly on a spaceship, I don't include episodes like Midnight or The Stolen Earth which don't have space as their main setting.
There have been some very disappointing space-adventures over the past few years. Kill the Moon was a horrible disappointment, and I know Sleep no More wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but Oxygen has redeemed the classic space-adventure and delivered a hard to beat story.
I love the central idea of this episode. Stranded on a spaceship with spacesuits that are trying to kill you, and the only way to escape the lack of oxygen is to put one on, is a premise that had me seriously excited for some top-class television.
The enemy of this episode, the Spacesuits, are brilliant. I love the way they look, and the sense of fear that they bring to the audience. A spacesuit walking around with a dead body inside is terrifying, and the design is outstanding.
Once again Jamie Mathieson has delivered a terrifyingly original monster that will have kids everywhere hiding behind the sofa, and they're actually a threat.
You can tell the difference between Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat's scripts, just by the way the enemies are used. Mathieson loves to use the enemy the frighten the hell out of you, while not making them too prominent so the detract from the episode's mystery.
Moffat makes any and every enemy a blundering obstacle with little threat, i.e, Cybermen, Daleks, Weeping Angels, Whispermen, etc.
Sorry, this isn't a Moffat rant.
Oxygen has some interesting characters, well most of them. The first guy we see get killed doesn't have much personality to the point that I struggle to work out which of the two male characters gets killed when I rewatch it, but everyone else is full of character.
Even the woman who gets killed within two minutes of the episode starting has enough character and background to make you care about her when she bites it.
It was great seeing Nardole finally come into his own during this adventure. We've seen him in action twice before but not so far this year, so it was nice seeing him finally jet off with the Doctor and Bill for his first proper adventure.
Everyone gives a brilliant performance in this episode. There's not a single dud performance, and that's awesome. A truly talented cast.
And I must give special attention to the direction. With Charles Palmer having not directed an episode of Doctor Who for nearly 10 years, I would've expected him to take some time to get back into the swing, but nope. This episode looks and feels awesome. He does a brilliant job making us believe that we really are in space, and the cinematography is amazing.
The suits look brilliant as well. They're definitely not done on the cheap, they look real and they look amazing.
The idea of the Doctor going blind half-way through was a stroke of absolute genius, Bill's near-death experience as she walked into the vacuum of space was wonderfully tense, as was her being disabled by the suit which was shocking!
More than anything else, I've been missing the days when Doctor Who took me through a whirlwind of emotions, twists and turns and shocks and surprises before getting to the end, but this episode did just that.
I haven't felt as tense and on edge with an episode of Doctor Who for years, and I'm glad this kind of episode has returned.
I really want more episodes like this one. Episode that deliver the surprises without sacrificing plot, or character, which is where Moffat's been going wrong recently.
I hope Jamie Mathieson sticks around for a good while yet, as he's definitely the strongest writer Doctor Who has right now. With an astounding track-record, and the skills to give us a shock every step of the way, this guy is the new Steven Moffat! (Sorry, Steven. Believe it or not, I do still think you're awesome!)
Oh, and that Cliffhanger... Just Bravo!!!
Doctor Who: Knock Knock (2017)
15 Minutes, and then Nothing!
I'll get straight to it, Knock Knock was weird.
I'm struggling to form opinions on this story, because there's not much to remember. I was worried that this story would do a 'Hide' (Series 7) on us, where it advertises itself as a dark horror film then suddenly turns into a Sci-Fi adventure half-way in, but it never did that thank god.
Instead, Knock Knock is very methodical, taking it's time with the build-up so it can deliver an engaging experience that captivates the viewer. Does it succeed? Not Quite!
Don't get me wrong, it's fun, and the first act is very creepy, but if I was a casual viewer, I would've turned off 15 minutes in. In fact I think the only reason I stayed until the end was because I'm a fan of the show.
The mystery the episode was trying to build up, was never mysterious enough to become gripping. The characters that the story spent 10 minutes setting up were never interesting enough to become memorable, and after 15 minutes the creepiness ran out, and the whole story became a rather dull runaround.
The dynamic between the Doctor and Bill, one that showed real potential with the Doctor pretending to be Bill's Grandfather was wasted as they spend most of the episode apart.
When the mystery gets solved, it's quite underwhelming, and had a few too many illogical points. This guy apparently always attracted 6 people to the house, no more, no less. Did he always look for exactly 6 students?
For some good points, the direction is pretty great. It's creepy and dark, and provides some very creepy tension in certain scenes.
Capaldi is brilliant, as if I even needed to say it. The way he works with the rest of these kids was funny and rather charming at the same time. Capaldi has never shown this kind of dynamic when working with other characters so it was nice to see this warm welcoming character that you rarely see from the 12th Doctor.
The monsters were fun. Obviously creepy-crawlies are the easiest way to freak people out but they are used to good effect here, although I am a little disappointed that the episode relies on them so much. If the writers could've found some more creative ways to kill people it would've been more interesting.
The script is good but it could've been wittier, and I realise these kids aren't the best actors in the world, but I highly enjoyed their performances none-the-less. Plus, it's hard to act when you have no character to work with.
Lastly, there's the episode's ending, which was awkward. This ending didn't really match up with the rest of the story. When the landlord was trying to keep his daughter alive, it was weird but passable, then the twist happened and everything fell apart for me.
I found this ending too melodramatic, and uncomfortable to watch at points, but once this part was over, we got a cop-out flat ending that didn't lead anywhere or provide any closure, dismissing the characters like they were nothing, which isn't inaccurate.
Overall... I was expecting more from this story. It's good in it's own right, it's creepy and dark, and the acting is strong, but from the pre-release reviews I heard about this episode, I was expecting another classic like 'Blink' or 'Flatline', but the lack of character sadly ruins this.
The ending is awkward and it never manages to hit it's targets, and therefor lack any kind of interest, although I am more fascinated about the Vault than ever before.
Doctor Who: Thin Ice (2017)
Great Morals! Great Monster! Characters?
It's generally a companion's third episode where she witnesses her first death, and it's usually a tough moment for them. They start to question the Doctor's morals, and question whether they should be on these adventures in the first place, but Thin Ice takes this one step further.
This is an episode that has many brilliantly realised moral undertones and a great understanding of two very strong subjects: Sexism and Racism.
It handles them with care, and a sense of victory as the sexist, racist antagonist is punched square in the face by our time- travelling hero, and despite dealing with them in a light-hearted way, it never makes a joke of them which is definitely the right direction for a pre-watershed sci-fi show.
Thin Ice involves a giant monster spanning the length of the River Thames chained under the ice in Victorian London, by an evil rich businessman who uses it's... um, excrement for fuel as a alternative for fossil fuels.
It's a simple plot that's easy to understand, which is why it's all the more baffling that it never gets properly explained, but I'll get to that later. First, the good stuff...
Thin Ice is fun story that is really enjoyable. The snowy Victorian setting is much better than most of Doctor Who's previous attempts at portraying this era, dealing with homeless children who have to pickpocket for money, and the festival on the frozen Thames which was a nice idea.
I found this much more compelling than yet another candle-lit street with Victorian people yelling at each other, which is what you see in most Victorian shows these days.
The concept of a Thames size monster is a weird one, but I'm glad they didn't just use it as a joke for the sake of getting another episode out-there.
Series 10 so far has been really good at taking ideas that sound stupid on paper, and making them into compelling stories: A Sentient Puddle, A Grief Tsunami, A Monster the shape of the Thames.
The concept of the antagonist using the creature's excrement as a fuel source is one that hits home in this day and age, when we're constantly being told that the fossil fuels are running out and we need to find alternatives. It's nice to think that they were already planning in the Victorian era.
This is another idea that's handled in an emotional way. This whole scene reminded me of two episodes that have come before. The Doctor saying that they couldn't leave the creature to suffer under the ice anymore reminded me of Series 5's The Beast Below, and the Doctor telling Bill that it was her planet and therefor her decision reminded me of the final scene from Series 8's Kill the Moon.
Except, Thin Ice does this far better than both of the previous episodes. The Beast Below didn't really have any substance to back it up, and Kill the Moon's ending was completely nonsensical to begin with.
This episode makes you feel like the Doctor has learned his lesson from the end of Kill the Moon where he threw Clara into a life or death situation to save a creature, and then abandoned her. Here, the Doctor tells Bill it's her decision, but he'll stay and do what he tells her.
This is the best Capaldi's Doctor has ever been. Telling Bill to make the decision, but understanding how hard it is for her, which I didn't get from Kill the Moon. It's a lovely moment and one that I think should be remembered when talking about Capaldi's Doctor in the coming years.
Now for some bad stuff... The characters in this episode are about as thin as the titular ice. They have no substance to them what-so- ever. The children are just there so the Doctor will have someone to help, and the main antagonist is only there because, every episode needs an antagonist right?
He has a relevance in the story, but no real effect. The only character trait I get from this guy is that he's sexist and he's racist, and he's only both of those things to drive home the themes of the episode, and so we can have that awesome moment where the Doctor punches him in the face.
The CGI is also rather bad. The shot of the monster swimming out to sea looks really cheap, and the death of the antagonist (sorry, I can't remember his name he's so under-developed) looks horrible.
But at least we have the great shot of the Doctor and Bill looking at the giant eye.
There's also a lack of explanation as to the origins of the creature. The doctor states that it might not be Alien, but stops there, and we never get a definitive answer as to where this creature came from, or what it is, which is a shame as I was quite interested in this thing.
Also, will we ever find out what happened to it?
Overall... Thin Ice is a lot of fun. It has a wonderfully witty script, great performances, a good monster, and some fantastic moral undertones.
The characters could be more developed, but it's still as compelling a compelling story that works brilliantly. We really are on a role with Series 10.
Doctor Who: Smile (2017)
A Gentle Walk turns into a Race!
I'm guessing people are going to be divided on Smile, so all I can say is my opinion, and I felt it was pretty darn good!
In order to introduce our new companion to the universe, we need something light and fun rather than something dark and complex. Just look at Amy's second story, and Clara's, both light-hearted adventures that present the new character with a whole new universe, while also testing their emotions.
Smile manages to be this while also being a fascinating adventure with an air of mystery constantly in the air.
The new robots, which I'll call the Emoji-bots, are interesting, but their design is very cliché. Ask someone who's never seen a futuristic robot what it would look like, they'll probably describe the Emoji-bots. And I highly doubt the Human race will still use Emojis that far in the future but whatever!
But I'm fine with their simplistic design as this isn't meant to be a ground-breaking episode, it's just meant to be enjoyed, and Smile is certainly enjoyable.
The first 15 or so minutes than involve the Doctor and Bill simply wondering round the city talking and looking around, was very fun to watch. I could watch a whole episode of just this, but obviously the plot has to start at some point.
The Doctor and Bill soon find lots of Human skulls which they work out have been harvested from the colonists, by the Emoji-bots. Wasting no time, they escape from the city, having worked out that they kill in response to sadness. The Happiness Patrol?
The Doctor decides to head back into the colony and blow it up, fearing what will happen when the other colonists arrive when they find their dead relatives.
I felt this decision by the Doctor was a little out of character at first but it's grown on me, and I now understand the Doctor's reasoning.
The Doctor and Bill head for the Engines of the main ship which is located at the heart of the colony, and the Doctor starts tampering trying to blow it up.
Meanwhile, Bill finds a dead woman, and a young boy. The Doctor, alarmed by this finds that all of the colonists are already on the planet, and are waking up.
I would've thought the Doctor would've been a little more shocked about the fact that he just nearly destroyed the Human race, but we haven't got time for that because we're in a rush.
This episode's climax seems to be racing to round off all of the elements it introduces right at the last minute. Padding, something that can absolutely destroy a story if done too heavy-handedly.
It starts as a simple introduction, until the second-half. Now suddenly we're juggling the Emoji-bots, the Killer Bug Robots, a ship full of Colonists, the mystery of the sadness response, and the mysterious dead woman.
With only 10 minutes left this episode suddenly starts going too fast, and I found this a little off-putting.
The Dead Woman reveals... uh, something about grief that I don't understand. Really, I didn't get this at all, but a woman died then lots more people died, then the Emoji-bots attacked because they saw grief as an enemy. This could've done with a bit more explaining.
The colonists decide to destroy the Emoji-bots but are soon attacked by the Killer Big Robots. The Doctor... does something akin to turning the power on and off and the Emoji-bots all reset.
A Reset Button!!! I hate Reset Buttons!!!
So the climax is horribly complicated and the ending is nonsense, so why do I think this episode is quite good?
Smile was fun. It disappointed me in places but I still had a good time watching it. It was never dull and had plenty of great moments.
It won't go down in history, but I ask of the viewer when critiquing this episode, don't look too deep, just go along for the ride, have fun, and Smile!
Doctor Who: The Pilot (2017)
An Exciting Character Piece with a Lacklustre Ending!
After a Painful 16-Month absence from our screens, with only a mediocre Christmas Special in between, Doctor Who is Finally Back with Series 10.
To start off this Series is 'The Pilot', written by Steven Moffat, and this made me concerned for a start. Would he just give us a fun, exciting adventure like The Eleventh Hour, or a awkward, universe breaking mess like Hell Bent.
What we got was an Eleventh Hour script, which is great... Mostly!
Obviously this episode's main focus is to introduce us to new companion Bill Potts, and unlike previous Moffat episode that have the job of introducing the new companion, The Pilot doesn't feel the need to mess with time, and give us incomprehensible, convoluted plots to introduce us to the companion Bill Potts.
She simply walks into the room which is a nice change of pace, and gives her more of a relatable character than Amy Pond or Clara Oswald.
The pre-credits sequence showed us the Doctor working at a University, giving science lectures to students, when he decides to become canteen-worker Bill's personal Tutor.
Just after this opening sequence, Bill felt like a relieving departure from Moffat's past companions. She's a proper character that's not bound or defined by some character-limiting nickname like 'The Girl who Waited' or 'The Impossible Girl'.
She's also the first openly-gay companion which is interesting, but as of yet, hasn't impacted the story much so more on that next time.
We still have the same boring old title sequence that I haven't been a fan of since the start of series 8 but oh well...
After the titles, we get an insight into the world of Bill Potts, and she really reminds me of Rose Tyler in many ways. They both have uninteresting, low-paid jobs and are both waiting for something exciting in their lives. Bill however, feels more vulnerable than Rose who displayed a street-smart attitude.
They're also both held back by interfering mother figures, and Bill's foster-mother in this episode, oh dear! I'm sure it's deliberate but I really hope she gets killed off at some point during this series.
Bill meets a girl that she finds attractive, and the girl shows her a puddle of water on the floor (as you do), explaining that she thinks there's something wrong with it, before abruptly walking away.
She immediately tells the Doctor who can't help but investigate, and finds that the puddle is not reflecting them, but projecting the image back at them.
It's great seeing Capaldi's Doctor helplessly getting involved in the mystery even though he's clearly trying not to.
He sends Bill home where she is suddenly attacked by something hiding in her shower drain-pipe. She runs to tell the Doctor, but encounters the girl she saw earlier, only drenched and preparing to attack.
When she joins with the Doctor, they hide in the TARDIS, and queue the best moment of the episode. It's always great seeing a companion's first steps inside the TARDIS, but the way it was done here is masterful.
It was a very unique was of doing things that I can't remember ever being done before, and the Doctor is clearly loving her reaction.
This is where things get a little weird for me though. The Doctor uses the next 10 minutes hopping from place to place trying to see how far the girl would go. This was clearly meant as filler space while Bill got introduced to the TARDIS, until suddenly the Doctor comes up with a plan.
Head for the Dalek war! Huh? This was a plan the Doctor instigated to take-out the creature that was following them, but feels more like Steven Moffat desperately trying to fit his 'Friend from the Future' short into the episode somewhere, but if you add the entire scene, it still doesn't quite fit.
This whole Dalek scene feels like padding for the third act, and doesn't fit with the story at all, but it's great seeing the Movellans back after nearly 40 years.
It's not exactly revealed why the creature was following the TARDIS crew but her motivations are a promise the she made to Bill earlier in the episode. She promised not to leave without Bill, before being caught by the puddle, so she follows Bill throughout the universe to take her with her. Bill releases her and they head back to Earth.
Not exactly a thrilling resolution, but oh well, it works.
They head back to the university where the Doctor attempts to wipe Bill's memory of the adventure, but she stops him by asking him to imagine someone doing that to him, at which point a beautiful rendition of Clara's theme plays which almost had me welling up and reminded me that I do actually miss Clara quite a bit.
She heads for home, but finds the Doctor and the TARDIS just outside and heads off on an adventure with him.
So... Overall, The Pilot works as a good character introduction story, but not so well as a serious piece of sci-fi. It feels too drawn-out and padded in places, and that ruins the pacing and the suspense.
Apart from that, it works wonders with the character of Bill, and brings us back not by throwing us in at the deep end like in Series 9, but by holding out hand into an adventure that you suddenly realise is going to overflow with excitement.
I can tell this will be a fun series, and we have a great new companion too. See, no woman Doctor's needed, this is what Doctor Who should be!
Not Going Out: Marriage Guidance (2017)
Wow the Acting...
I mean that title in a good way! The acting in Not Going Out has always been very cheesy and half-hearted. Even experienced cast members like Sally Bretton and Miranda Hart have felt very casual about their roles, and to be fair, it is a sit-com so I don't expect BAFTA award winning acting.
In this week's episode however, every cast member gets their chance to shine in a story that feel scripted specifically to feel tense.
A story about Marriage Counselling is something I expected to have happened at sometime over the 7 years we didn't get to see, but I always enjoy a story that dives into Lee's mind, which is why I love the Series 6 episode Therapy so much.
Having Toby and Anna around for this episode was an obvious decision due to their relationship, but I love the way it was used, and just like Lee and Lucy, I genuinely couldn't believe that Toby and Anna could behave so kindly and considerately towards each other. It was weird.
We also got a little reasoning to Lee's apparent hatred of Geoffrey and Wendy this year. Lee's made some rather brutal comments towards the two of them through Series 8 and I've been wondering why, seeing as Lee did at least get on well with Wendy over the past 6 series.
The climax of the episode is definitely one of the best moments of this series so far, if not the whole show, as it genuinely dropped my jaw.
The revelation about Geoffrey was not something I saw coming and it was a shock coming from the refined and orderly character we've come to know.
Deborah Grant gave a fantastic performance with her rage filled yelling towards Geoffrey, and Hugh Dennis' burst of rage was brilliant too.
Overall, Marriage Guidance was brilliant. It did a great job in adding some depth to a part of the show that really needed it. It finally gave the characters a meaningful part and it was just really funny.
The Not Going Out that I know and love is Back!
Not Going Out: Charlie (2017)
Really love Lee...
Never in the last 11 years have I loved the character of Lee so much!
This character finally shows a side that is caring, thoughtful and unselfish. I was hoping we'd see a new side to Lee after he's had children, but the past three episodes hadn't really showed that.
Charlie shows Lee as a father, rather than the sarcastic layabout we know him as, and the result is an episode that is genuinely touching, as well as downright hilarious.
There are some brilliant moments here, and we get a rare look inside Lee's character. Past that thick layer of endless one liners, is a troubled and caring man who only wants the best for his kids.
Watching Lee express his regrets about his past was a wonderful moment, and I hope there's more of these in the future.
There were some great lines as well, but most of the humour came from the many visual elements, all of which were hilarious, and Lee acting like a small child in the school scenes were great.
This is one of the few Not Going Out episodes to encompass a moral tone into the story. Behave, but don't try and hide who you are. I loved this as it added a real sense of personality into the story.
This could be the best episode of this series, and one of the best of the show. It may not be as laugh-out-loud as the previous episode, but it's touching, emotional, and has the best written portrayal of Lee that ever came from this show.
Not Going Out is really proving now that it's worth having around. After a worrying few episodes at the start of the series, it's picked itself up and is delivering masterful episodes left, right and center.
I hope this show stays around for a good few years yet. It's got the life left in it!
Not Going Out: Hot Tub (2017)
Return to Form...
Finally an episode that ranks up there with the likes of Pointless and Camping!
The episodes of Series 8 so far have been fun but have largely lacked the quick-wit of the earlier seasons. It doesn't feel like one-liner comedy anymore, more a toned-down version of My Family, another BBC sitcom.
Hot Tub however, has returned all of the classic Not Going Out wit to the show with one of it's finest episodes this series. I've noticed Mack's skill for comedy writing increasing as this series has progressed. It may have taken some time to get the skills back after a 2 year break, but it's safe to say that it's back now.
Hot Tub puts the kids to one side for this episode and brings Toby and Anna to the front of the cast, and it's kinder worrying that this results in the best episode so far this season, but that leads me to think that the problem is the kids.
One episode without them, and we have the much sharper more familiar Not Going Out that we fell in love with.
Lee Mack really gets to show off some amazing acting skills in this episode, and Hugh Dennis once again proves himself worthy of the place of Tim Vine. Sally Bretton does a great job too, as does Abigail Cruttenden.
I enjoyed the cameos of Emma Bunton and Susie Dent as well, who were both obviously having lots of fun here.
Overall, this is a brilliant episode of Not Going Out and the best episode since the end of Series 7. It feels like it could belong in one of the earlier series because of it's brilliant narrative, and the absence of the kids makes for a sharper and more dangerous script, no matter how worrying this is for the future of the show.
If Mack can work out how to make writing for the kids as sharp as writing for adult characters, there's no reason this show can't last beyond series 10.
Raj is Officially Boring!
If you're a big Raj fan, then you may be annoyed by that title, but although I hate to say, Raj might just be the most boring sit-com character ever! EVER!
These writers have no idea what to do with him. What, another girl dumped him, who saw that coming? I know, bloody everyone! That's who!
Why do they insist on dragging this arc on? Probably because they don't want to face the truth, this character can go nowhere else! Either they continue this trend of girls dumping him making the show repetitive and dull, or the give him a girl and make his role in the show redundant. After all, Raj is the only character in this show that doesn't tell the same story of relationship drama and awkward romance.
I've complained before about Raj's role in this series. The fact that he has no real story to keep him in the series, and so that pin him to Howard and Bernardette's stories makes him irrelevant to the point of annoying!
I think some reduced screen time for the whole cast could help the rut that this show is in. Not just Raj but all of these characters are tedious to the point of irrelevant, and it's not enough to make them get angry at each other all the time! There's no substance, which means there's no reason for the audience to care, and I don't anymore!
As for the rest of the episode, Sheldon's "Emotion Detector" I think is pushing it even for this show, but it's a comedy so I'll buy it. It presents some funny moments and Sheldon has some good lines, but far from the show's best!
The return of Raj's girlfriends was a nice return for some great characters, especially Emily who I think should have become a main, but I feel like there's something wrong with their accounts of their relationship, and what I remember from the show. Not sure but, something feels wrong!
Howard and Bernadette get little to do here, which is good because it gives the writers more time to find things to do with Raj... oh no wait!
There still feels like a lack of humour, which is a shame considering this show showed what it could do with The Brain Bowl Incubation early on this series, honestly the best episode in about 4 years, but it soon reverted to this horrible incarnation of what was once a brilliant series. Darn it!
Not Going Out: Car (2017)
Seemed Funnier Before...
I saw this episode filmed, well I say filmed, I, along with the rest of the audience saw it through a screen after the filming of Romance, and I must say, it seemed funnier then!
Not to say of course that this episode wasn't funny this time. It had some brilliant lines and very funny scenarios, and it could be quite tense in places, but the humour didn't stand out as well as I remember.
The plot feels like something that's been done by almost every other sitcom ever made, Keeping Up Appearances springs to mind, and it didn't really contain anything original. Having said that Mack has a skill for ramping tension and excitement in his scripts.
When the kids began kicking up a fuss and all the shouting began, it was always followed by a brilliant moment that had the audience in stitches. The bridge scene being the best moment.
Rob Brydon's voice-over role was great, as he brought some brilliant sarcasm to the episode that had me laughing out loud at some points, but I do wish we'd seen him in person. And we definitely need a David Mitchell cameo now!
The regulars once again do a great job, and the episode brilliantly highlights the pain of taking your kids out for a road trip, even if it doesn't go horribly wrong.
Overall... I enjoyed... Car. That's a really dull title by the way! It had some brilliant lines, the Hannibal Lecter one being my favourite, and some fantastic moments, but I can't help but feel it could've been funnier.
It may be because I saw this with the real audience who were laughing in hysterics so loudly it was hard to hear the episode at points, and I definitely feel they lowered the volume of the laugh track too much, but just like Romance, it feels like an example of the series needing to try a little harder to match up with the quality of Series 3 or 7.
Even so... we're off to a good start, it's definitely more worth my time than the recent series of Still Open All Hours or The Big Bang Theory!
Not Going Out: Babysitting (2017)
Back to the Good Old Days!
I was a little concerned by last week's episode of Not Going Out. It felt like the humour was toned down too far and there was a lack of depth within the premise itself. This week's episode, Babysitting, laid ALL my concerns to rest...
This is old-school Not Going Out. We have a great series of characters, a plot that deepens more and more as the story goes on due to Lee's mistakes and weaknesses, a brilliantly witty script, delightfully cheesy acting, and some brilliant one-liners.
It's great having Frank back. Having been put off by Daisy's absence from the show, it was nice to see the other best character in the show return. Once again, Bobby Ball nails it and is the best actor in the episode.
I liked the bigger emphasis on the kids of the show. Something I disliked last week was the lack of focus on the children, but that was redeemed this week as they are given great lines and all give great performances.
The casting directors struck gold with the casting of these kids. They all carry their lines brilliantly.
Lucy's rant at the end of the episode is absolutely hilarious, and you can see the passion in Bretton's performance. Wonderful acting.
Babysitting is a return to form for Not Going Out, and is definitely the best episode of the show since the end of Series 7. Not Going Out is back on form, and proving that it can still be the highlight of a Friday night.
Not Going Out: Romance (2017)
A Few Fears Remain!
Finally, it is back! Not Going Out's new direction is one that I was a little concerned about, considering the disappointment that was the 2015 Christmas Special, and having seen the first episode I wish that I could say all my fears have been swept away, but they haven't.
Don't get me wrong, the episode was funny and I liked it, but I feel like I liked it more because the series is back after two years, rather than because of it's humour.
We're never really introduced to this new premise, we're just supposed to fill in the gaps between the 2015 Christmas Special and Series 8, which is about seven years, exactly 8 years after the end of Series 7. That's a lot of time to fill and it feels like there's something missing from the show, which is probably us missing most of the backstory.
The final two episodes of Series 7 were so effective because we knew the whole story about Lee and Lucy's relationship and how they got to that point, which gave The Wedding a very rewarding feeling. At this point we've missed the whole journey from Lee and Lucy adapting to married life to the adjusting to becoming parents, which takes away the power the show had before when we were actively rooting for the characters.
On the surface however, Romance is funny and it's a good episode to start the new series. There are a lot of great lines and the cast are back on top form.
As for the kids, they're all good actors, but I hope they're given more to do in future episodes, especially Benji who is definitely the best actor of the three.
The one thing I miss the most however is Daisy, where is she? I hope her role is just reduced because I really want to see her back. She's been a great character right from her first appearance in Series 2 and it would be a massive shame if she were not to return.
Also, I like the new opening titles but they feel less energetic than the previous titles, but even so they were fun to watch.
Overall, I'm glad Not Going Out is finally back, and I think it's on a good road, but the fact that the gap between the 2015 Christmas Special and Series 8 has been left entirely open ended is a shame, and definitely drains some of the depth from the show, but it's still a good show and one that is definitely still going strong.
Just as I Expected!
I felt like breaking one of my main rules that I set for my own sanity, never watch NEW Two and a Half Men, and by NEW, I mean the Kutcher years.
I've watched a few of these in the past but they never impressed me, more like angered me so I decided not to watch them from now on, but feeling in an experimental mood I decided to try one out.
I picked this one randomly from the case and, not feeling particularly optimistic, hit the play button.
It was just what I expected, dull, there was a distinct lack of laughs, the characters were petty, and Kutcher is a terrible actor.
The episode felt like it was reusing concepts and jokes that had been done in the far superior Sheen years, and there was only one moment that made me laugh, and that was Berta's minute-long scene.
I reckon if Berta was more prominent in the episode, I think I would've enjoyed it more. She's still a great actress and a brilliant characters. One of the few characters that didn't crash and burn after the switch to Kutcher.
So my experiment was more or less a failure, and a little sign that my potential journey into the forbidden and sanity-destroying world of NEW Two and a Half Men is not a good idea.
Stay Away! NEW Two and a Half Men is BAD!