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Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (2012)
Possibly the best writing I have seen.
Without any spoilers, let me say, this is simply the best story on television. Bringing Sherlock Holmes to the 21st century seemed impossible to me, but I completely believe Cumberbatch and Freeman in their roles. Holmes as a dysfunctional geek just seems natural. He reminds me of Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory. The writing on this episode is riveting, and I didn't want it to end, but when it did it left me soaring. Having read the original material, I believe that Moffat has, in adapting it to this episode, produced a masterpiece that exceeds Conan Doyle. I am pretty jaded when it comes to both literature and the media, and I am not ashamed to admit that I both cried and pumped my fist in the air for this episode. Well done, Mr Moffat, well done!
Megaquake 10.0 (2011)
Interesting but almost unwatchable
I don't understand the current fascination with shaky, unfocused, extreme zoom photography. I want to watch the show, so show it to me. Don't subject me to an epileptic seizure inducing series of flashes. This seems to be the current trend in documentaries. What ever happened to cinematography? Is it really so difficult to hold the camera still? UFO Hunters, Monster Quest, and now this show all make heavy use of these techniques. Someone seems to enjoy visual whiplash, but it isn't me. It's a real shame too, because I find the subject matter interesting, but until they decide to film it so that normal people can bear to watch it, I will have to refrain.
UFO Hunters (2008)
I have tried to give UFO Hunters a chance, but the producers aren't on my side. The premise of investigation is interesting, and the incidents investigated are intriguing, but too much time is wasted on shaky, vertigo inducing, extreme zoom shots of vehicles and scenery. I understand that the hand held camera is considered the way to shoot television nowadays, but my twelve year old son could be a better cinematographer than this. Often, whenever something truly interesting is shown, it is on screen for mere seconds, or is blurred. The underground base episode, for instance, went on for most of an hour about the layout of the alleged base, and when maps were provided, they were on screen for 3 seconds (I timed it). I guess if the show were more visually appealing instead of a visual assault on the senses I would be able to continue watching it. This show epitomizes the difference between reality TV and documentary TV, the difference between sensationalism and journalism.
Life on Mars (2008)
Not too bad, but different
I watched this and was prepared to hate it, as I am a huge fan of the original series. The experience was akin to watching the two different versions of Max Headroom. The British versions of both are gritty, dark and slightly depressing; the American versions are more upbeat, brighter and less effective as a result. This show does show promise though. I was a bit disappointed at the way the plot blew through the original script. It was recognizably the same story, but 'streamlined' for an American audience. As we all know, Americans can't understand British TV (or so the executives believe). Jason O'Mara is passable as Sam Tyler, but he was too obviously trying to be John Simm. His performance at times seemed forced. Maybe he just needs to get to know his character a little better. The standout character is Harvey Keitel as Gene Hunt. He isn't Philip Glenister, but he has some of the bad ass attitude that Glenister simply reeked of. Let's hope that he can carry the show, because the other characters seem to be pale copies of their British counterparts.
J.P. Patches (1958)
The only morning show for Northwest kids
This was the quintessential morning kids show in the Pacific Northwest. If you were a Northwest child of the 60's or 70's you watched J.P. Patches before you went to school. From the opening strains of Vivaldi's Spring to the personalized birthday greetings on his ICU2TV to his rapport with Gertrude, we loved every minute of this wonderful show. It was so personal, so lighthearted, so human, so NORTHWEST, that it defined what it was to be a local. In addition to the supporting cast there were always interesting guests. I remember seeing Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" for the first time here. Local celebrities sometimes appeared on the show. The show had such local appeal that the contest to name the new local football team was held on it (the winner was 'Seahawks'). J.P. still makes appearances at local events and fund raisers, and on the local PBS station. It says something that, while the show has been off the air for 25 years, J.P. Patches is still as popular now as he ever was. I'm proud to be a Patches Pal!
Wrong, wrong, wrong
I knew as soon as I saw the ads on TV that this was going to be a gross misinterpretation of my favorite series of books. From the first scene the story veered sharply away from the books, and quickly disintegrated from there. Where shall I start? Bubbles? Where was the pre-resurrection chamber? Hundred-foot tall grailstones? CLOTHING? ONE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE! I'll stop here because it does get worse. In the books, Sir Richard Burton is the hero. A better action hero was never created, and, best of all, he really existed. Alas, he has become Sir Not Appearing In This Film. Emily Lloyd as Alice Hargreaves was a decent choice, although Lloyd's bleached hair was at odds with Hargreave's famous raven black hair. Hundreds of pages of prose cannot make a two hour movie, and the makers of this film seemingly cut and pasted with great glee. In fact, they seem to have subscribed to the David Lynch school of movie adaptation: Never read the original book. In short, this was two hours of my life that I was robbed of. I expected much more from SciFi Channel.
Search for the Gods (1975)
One of the first realistic 'aliens-among-us' movies
I was eleven when this movie aired on TV, and it really captured my imagination. I was a sci-fi fan at an early age, and was really annoyed at the very low production values and cheesy special effects of most series of the time. This film was a surprise; a believable story and characters written to a higher grade point average than most TV movies. The premise of ancient alien contact has been used since many times, but it was quite original here. If you are a Kurt Russell fan, then this is an excellent example of his post-Disney acting. It was obviously written as a pilot for a series that didn't sell. Too bad. But historically, intelligent TV never prevails.