Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Tricks Series 2

New Tricks series 2 brings back the main cast members from series 1, the three retired policemen, their boss and the wife of the Alun Armstrong character although James Bolam's wife in real life. I must admit I have already seen series 3 and looking forward to 4.

My review : (4 stars) Again 4 stars. It's as good as the first series with James Bolam, Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong, Dennis Waterman and Susan Jameson returning. I suspect why it is so popular is a sense in the viewers that the cast are enjoying themselves making it. Again Alun Armstrong seems to steal every scene he is in.

Details : 2005 TV police drama series 2.

Episodes : Eight episodes of about 60 minutes each made by the BBC.

Features : No

Print quality : Good

Sub-titles : Yes

Discs : 3

Last of the Summer Wine Series 3 & 4

Catching up with this post and the next, (the one above), as I watched this a few months ago. I found the half hour format very relaxing after finishing work. Very laid back and very British. Now I'm ready to order series 5-6 Amazon is out of stock. Should I wait and see if it becomes available or should I try something new like EBay. On Amazon the independent dealers can't send to us in Thailand.

My review : (4 stars) It is such a pleasant surprise that I like Last of the Summer Wine so much. I did see one of the early ones during a visit home in the mid-seventies, but it's really a very recent addiction. I was a little worried it would be a bit too much Yorkshire, too much Geoff Boycott, but it isn't. It is just a relaxing way of watching TV and waiting for the little verbal gems from Peter Sallis. In these series 3-4 we have Brian Wilde playing the straight man against the Bill Owen and Peter Sallis characters, replacing Michael Bates. I think this was regarded as the strongest cast. Brian Wilde who died in March also played the nice prison officer in Porridge.

Details : 1976-1978 TV sitcom series 3 & 4. 15 episodes of about 30 minutes each made by the BBC.

Episodes : 13 - The Man from Oswestry, Mending Stuart's Leg, The Great Boarding-House Bathroom Caper, Cheering Up Gordon, The Kink in Foggy's Niblick, Going to Gordon's Wedding, Isometrics and After, Ferret Come Home, Getting on Sidney's Wire, Jubilee, Flower Power Cut, Who Made a Bit of a Splash in Wales Then, Greenfingers, A Merry Heatwave (Xmas Special) and the Bandit from Stoke-on-Trent.

Features : No

Print quality : Good

Sub-titles : Yes

Discs : 3

One from the past!

Had a surprise when the credits came up after the third episode of "Bird of Prey", a political thriller serial from 1982 starring Richard Griffiths. There was an actress playing a journalist who I thought I should know but couldn't put a name to the face. The surprise was it was Mandy Rice-Davis. If you are too young to remember that name, here's the Wikipedia note on her.

Funny thing was that there was another actress playing a sort of high class madam character which was a trade Mandy would probably know more about I suspect.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

State of Play Review

Going a bit out of the order I wanted to do the reviews but we finished this on Friday by watching the last two episodes of State of Play (2003) one after the other. It is what TV, and especially UK TV can do so well, a serial. This time it's a six part (6 x 60 minute) political thriller. It could probably have been tighter in the storyline, but if Wikipedia is correct in saying the writer, Paul Abbott, made up the plot as he went along, that would be the explanation. Even so it is so much better than the pap we get used to being shown today. Again if Wikipedia is correct, a movie adaptation is due out this year. This time it would be set in the US. I won't overly worry if I don't get to see this.

My Review : (4 stars) A great cast. The serial starts with a killing in London and involves newspaper journalists and politicians. The newspaper they work for, The Herald, seems to be based on Murdoch's Sun with the owner having an Australian accent. Although in the serial the paper is a broadsheet rather than a tabloid, historically this would be correct as the Sun was a continuation of the old Daily Herald. The government is very much New Labour with all the corruption we have grown to expect from the opportunistic MPs that Tony Blair and his friends saddled Labour with. I won't get into the story as that would spoil it and there are a few red herrings to make you think. The cast do deserve a mention as it is so well acted. I enjoyed Bill Nighy as the newspaper editor. Look out for John Simm and Philip Glenister together before they did the Life on Mars series.

Details : 2003 Six episode serial of about an hour each made for the BBC. Total run time is 340 minutes.
Features : First and last episodes with voice-overs from writer, director, editor and producer.
Print quality : Very good
Sub-titles : I think so
Discs : 2
Trivia: Bill Nighy was playing his part in the movie, Love Actually, on the set next door while also making this.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Titles

Not a review today, just a quick list of what came in over the last couple of weeks. The post from Amazon UK has been slower than usual but still within their estimated delivery times. We were getting the packages here in about 4 days before, but the last few have been closer to 10 days. I keep the total value of the shipments below £30 as above this seems to be where the customs step in with duty.

The last three shipments bought us Lewis Series 2, Murphy's Law Series 1-5, Coast (BBC documentary) Series 1 and State of Play, a 6 part BBC serial. The last one has two of the Life on Mars stars in it and having watched the first two episodes I suspect I will be giving it a 4 or 5 star review.

Friday, May 2, 2008

New Tricks Series 1

Well New Tricks was to blame for me watching TV again. My mother sent out the set of DVDs more than a year ago. I hadn't really been watching the box. Perhaps some football or to catch up on the news, but the rest was just background noise. Out here in Bangkok we have ready access to all the latest movies which are pirated within a few months of release plus a cable TV network. My problem was I couldn't find much in recent Hollywood releases that I could sit through. The British movies hardly ever make it out here so I gave up. Back then the TV channels were just more Hollywood garbage. I always had the feeling that the program makers were dumbing down for the audience. Then in the post was New Tricks Series 1...

My Review : (4 stars) It feels like you are watching some friends at work. It couldn't get much more comfortable, even down to Dennis Waterman singing the theme song. Superb casting of the four detectives in this half comedy half police series. Again they get the Life on Mars effect of turning back the clock by bringing three retired cops back to work under a modern female boss played by Amanda Redman.

The four main cast members, Redman, Waterman, Alun Armstrong and James Bolam are well supported by the rest of the cast which includes Bolam's wife Susan Jameson and Chiké Okonkwo who plays a young computer savvy black constable. My surprise is how Alun Armstrong steals every scene he is in. I had thought it would have been Bolam doing that or maybe Waterman doing his Minder bit.

Details : 2003-4 Pilot and the fist series of six episodes of about an hour each made for the BBC. Total run time is 351 minutes.

Features : No

Print quality : Very good

Sub-titles : Yes

Discs : 3