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epiphany-5

8 reviews in total 
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"Joey" (2004)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
How you doin'? Better than you Joey..., 3 March 2005

'Friends' was superlative ensemble comedy (the early years were easily the best) but within that framework, its pièce de résistance was the hilarious, yet often touching, relationship between Joey and Chandler. I didn't give 2 hoots about Ross and Rachel by the end (neither did the writers if you ask me) but the show stayed true to Joey and Chandler; it was their goodbye in the final episode which really hit the emotional jackpot.

Joey and Chandler easily join the likes of Norm and Cliff from Cheers, Frasier and Niles from Frasier, Fletcher and Godber from Porridge, Steptoe and Son etc. as a memorable sitcom double act.

And therein lies the rub.

One of the problems with Joey (the series) is that it's yet to find another Chandler; it's crying out for a strong enough substitute foil for its star.

Although undoubtedly brought in to partly fulfil that role, I'm not convinced that Drea de Matteo (as Joey's trashy hairdresser sister Gina) can do it in the long run. As currently written, Gina is too abrasive; she's a turn-off, not a turn-on. If the writers are looking to tweak the show (and they should), the obvious candidate for elevation is Joey's nephew Michael.

In Cheers, in Frasier, in most ensemble comedies, there are episodes in which the main characters(s) take a back seat and the focus is on a supporting character. And that's another problem with this show - some of the supporting characters are not quite ringing true yet; Joey's agent - yes. Joey's sister - no.

Another weakness is the most important key to any show's success - the writing. Joey is not character-led and driven comedy (yet?). Instead, it's plot-driven, often with punchlines that even Stevie Wonder can see coming. The humour isn't consistently generating from quirks of behaviour. In a good character-driven show, the characters gradually evolve and develop more depth and when that happens, the series as a whole grows more mature, and often, grows funnier. The sooner that happens, the better for Joey.

When 'Cheers' ended, I was devastated. But spin off 'Frasier' quickly developed into must-see viewing thanks to clever writing.

All the necessary elements for televisual success were quickly established; a wonderful infectious theme tune (I'll give you a £1,000,000 if you can hum or whistle that...noise...unfortunately attached to Joey), solid, quirky characters, fab story lines, convincing central relationships, intelligent/witty/bawdy/farcical/wonderfully silly humour and interesting supporting characters.

Of that list - only the occasional 'Joey moment' is keeping me tuned to this new spin off and last week, I turned over during the commercial break...and forgot to turn back. The reason? Joey simply isn't delivering enough of the components outlined above; as it currently stands, it's a very uneven show providing a laugh out loud moment one week and an inability to raise so much as a smile, the next.

It will take a while for Joey to find its feet but take it from a Cheers fan, unfavourable comparisons to the originating show will ONLY stop if the spin off establishes itself in its own right.

In reality, Joey is A.N.Other sitcom which just happens to have Matt LeBlanc from Friends as its star. In addition to all that I've highlighted, this show desperately needs an identity.

And the first thing the powers that be should do to help give it one is change the God-awful theme tune.

It's refreshing to see imperfection so perfectly portrayed., 23 June 2003

weight: 8st, 10 lbs (message to film-makers: why imbue Bridget Jones's Diary with Brit terms such as, "having a slash" and "bugger" et al if only to score massive own-goal via BJ's weighing routine? UK women weigh in stones and pounds. Bridget is not "138 lbs" - Bridget is 9 stone, 12 lbs. Minor irritant - no doubt concession to Yank audience. S'pose it's too much to ask Yank audience to adapt for 135 mins).

cigarettes: 0 alcohol units: 0 boyfriend: 0.

Application to nunnery in post.

_________________________________________________________

Appears self is in unique club; able to enjoy novel upon which movie is based and captivated by celluloid version too. Key to this is recognising each as separate entities; both work in their own way. Vive la difference! No point expecting exact conversion of book to film with all scenes intact. How often Hollywood achieve this? At least this adaptation not as egregiously criminal as 1940 Pride & Prejudice movie starring Laurence Olivier, Greer Garson and incorrect century (impossible to review BJD and not mention P&P!).

Rom coms one of self's favourite movie genres - especially 30s/40s screwball variety (Cary Grant - ding dong!). Modern interpretations largely forgettable. Few jewels in the crown; "Annie Hall", "When Harry Met Sally" and "There's Something About Mary" instantly spring to mind. Not much else. However, self will add "BJD" to list of fave rom coms despite fact that it's not as clever as "Annie Hall" nor as witty as "Harry/Sally" nor as inventive as "Mary". Reason BJD joins list is because it's a delightful, perfectly cast little movie. Leaves one warm and snugly inside unlike "How To Lose Guy In 10 Days" which made self empty contents of stomach into nearest toilet bowl at way-too-corny denouement.

BJD movie not without flaws. Firstly, bit short. Needed 15 more minutes of biting observation of desperate singletons playing and failing at dating game. Could've achieved this via extension of scenes with BJ's wacky, neurotic circle of friends (Shazza, Tom and Jude).

Secondly, uncomfortable with some of the physical comedy. Example: Bridget arriving at hotel with Daniel and hair resembling candy floss. Struck wrong note. Infinitely prefer subtlety of comedy of manners scenes. Example: Una and Pam's hilariously obvious matchmaking attempts via pretence of lumpy gravy. Hahahaha! Mark and Bridget send up said gravy scene as they prepare food in her kitchen. They're all too aware what Una and Pam were up to - very sweet and funny moment. Melts your heart.

Have read reviews where some moaned couldn't see chemistry between Bridget and Mark. Get eyes tested! 'Blue Soup' dinner party segment is clincher! Positively crackled with electricity and sexual tension! Mark's warmth and obvious attraction makes B. coy. Marked comparison to the effect Cleaver has on B.

Cleaver makes B. horny - Mark makes her blush. BIG difference.

Finally, film needed more of Colin Firth. Even if he'd filled every single frame, self would still insist on more Colin Firth (!)

On the plus side: performances are wonderful! Ms Zellweger very commendable as BJ. Made her far more likeable than book version. UK accent is fine but what is really nailed is demeanour of insecure, neurotic, anxious, single woman in early 30s.

Hugh Grant a revelation as emotional f**kwit Daniel Cleaver. So good to see him expand his range and dump the fumbling fop schtick that he's lived on since '4 Weddings'. Brings a dangerous charm to his role - easy to see why Bridget falls for him. Heck, self wouldn't say no to tumble in sack with Cleaver! And who else in world but Hugh Grant can emit stupid, emasculating phrase, "Oh mummy!" during shag scene and make it sound so kinkily sexy?

Colin Firth is one aspect of celluloid adaptation that is vastly superior to book version. Picture perfect as Darcy in any century; Firth could play Darcy as cave-dwelling, Neanderthal and still produce same swooning effect on women. Defy P&P fans not to smile when Bridget addresses Mark as "Mr Darcy" during interview for 'Sit Up Britain'. Too funny! So glad Firth exhibiting sense of humour about the Darcy phenomenon. Out on his own when it comes to thawing reserved, repressed characters and giving them sex appeal, warmth and a dimension we never suspected existed.

But way, way, way out on his own in smouldering stakes: heart-fluttering ability to look at a woman with a mixture of both desire and tenderness, lust and fondness. It's all in his eyes. Eyes like a magnet - they draw you in. Phwoar! Watch his poignant expression during boating on lake scene as Cleaver and Bridget cavort around. Says a thousand words with one yearning look.

Considering that Firth's part is comparatively small, makes huge impression. Perfect foil for both Cleaver and Bridget.

Script not as hysterically funny as first BJ book but lines like, "You'll never get a boyfriend if you look like you've wandered out of Auschwitz" had self rolling in aisles.

Overall, film has freshness that is very endearing and appealing. Perfect date-movie and fab film to instil cheer on wet, rainy, grey Sundays. Gives rest of us singletons hope that we'll find our own Mark Darcy to love us just as we are. What more does one want or expect from a rom com?

110 out of 120 people found the following review useful:
Love It Or Hate It - It's A TV Institution. . ., 18 January 2003

It's easy to forget (or not even know) that at one point, Beverly Hills, 90210 (created by Darren Star who'd go on to Melrose Place before the phenomenon that is 'Sex & The City') was the biggest teen-orientated show in the world. Yes - the world! One minute, it was struggling to survive and the next, the stars of the series inspired scenes reminiscent of 'Beatlemania'. And justly so because in those halcyon days of yesteryear, 90210's blend of drama, cheese, humour, pure unadulterated escapism, great scenery in terms of cast and location and strong characterisation was compelling viewing.

The early years concentrated on the Walsh family - who promptly became the emotional core of the show - and their efforts to adjust to life in Beverly Hills after relocation from Minnesota.

Twins Brandon and Brenda (Jason Priestley and Shannen Doherty) befriend a diverse group of mostly-rich rich kids at West Beverly High: spoilt son of a movie actress, jock and joker Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), persistently in trouble and always relying on Brandon to bail him out. Brainy (but not as affluent) crusader Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris) doomed to an unrequited love for Brandon. Ditzy, naive Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) - probably the most (in)famous virgin on American TV. Insecure, school DJ David Silver (Brian Austin Green), desperate to be accepted by the gang. Blonde bombshell Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) who'd go on to sleep with her best friend's boyfriend and also, her ex-boyfriend's best friend. And last (but by no means least), moody alcoholic Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) - the quintessential troubled teen.

From High School (Seasons 1-3) through to College (Seasons 4-7) and life after College (Seasons 8-10), they face a series of crises together ranging from the death of a friend to depression, drugs, physical and sexual assault and tumultuous love triangles.

The earlier High School years are undoubtedly the best; the original cast is intact, the strongest scripts are to be found within this time frame and it's the period that, to this day, defines the show.

However post-Shannen Doherty and with Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as vivacious, vampy schemer Valerie Malone and Kathleen Robertson as the acerbic, sarcastic Clare Arnold on board, 90210 remained very entertaining viewing right up to College graduation at the end of Season 7 - notable as the episode in which High School sweethearts (and future spouses) David and Donna finally consummated their long on-again/off-again relationship.

Admittedly, the last three seasons are weaker than previous ones. A deadly combination of changes to cast and crew (it survived the loss of Darren Star, Shannen Doherty and Luke Perry in Season 6 but to all intents and purposes, the show ended with Jason Priestley's departure in Season 9. Not even Luke Perry's return could compensate for that), a more overt soap opera format and weaker new characters (embodied by the faux-Dylan imitator Noah Hunter ineptly played by Vincent Young) sounded the death knell for a series that had become a shadow of its former powerhouse self.

Still, in the cutthroat world of TV, you've got to have something very special to last ten years on an American network and that's exactly what Beverly Hills, 90210 did. It outlasted all its contemporaries such as the infinitely superior teen drama 'My So-Called Life' starring Clare Danes and Jared Leto, which only made it to air for a year, and it gave the likes of 'Buffy', 'Party of Five' and 'Dawson's Creek' a recipe for success to follow.

Love it or hate it (and I LOVE it) - Beverly Hills, 90210 is a TV institution.

"Cheers" (1982)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Timeless, superlative comedy, 10 April 2002

The premise of the lifes and loves of staff and regulars inside a Boston bar is sheer poetry in its simplicity.

In Sam, Diane, Coach, Carla, Norm, Cliff, Woody, Frasier, Lillith and Rebecca - we're presented with an ensemble so rich in characterisation, so diverse in background and outlook, it's no wonder the writers easily delivered sublime wit, bawdy broad comedy, hilarious sight gags, naughty double entendres and (particularly in the Sam/Diane axis) sizzling sexual tension and pointed innuendo week after week for eleven years.

The quality of the writing is virtually unsurpassed: the one liners, the ‘Norm-isms' (`What's up Norm?' – `My nipples. It's freezing out there') and the telling home truths about life. Very few sitcoms (on both sides of the Atlantic) can hold a candle to this one.

Yet the real beauty of Cheers is that line it frequently crosses between comedy and pathos. Scratch the surface and every single principal character is essentially, a loser.

Sam is an alcoholic, aging lothario who missed out on making it big with the Red Sox. Despite their intellect, Diane, Frasier and Lillith are neurotics specialising in terrible relationships. Coach is a lonely old man who's taken too many knocks (literally) on the head. Woody is a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. Rebecca is a vastly insecure kook. Norm is almost Cheers' norm except that he's perennially unemployed and a terrible husband. Carla is so ground down by life that she takes it out on everyone around her. And Cliff? Be afraid. Be very afraid....

But their individual failings is precisely what makes them so compelling. And that's what keeps us watching after all these years.

I've deliberately waited until 2002, the 20th anniversary of the very first episode of 'Cheers' (Give Me A Ring Sometime), before adding a comment because the true testament of art is whether it transcends time - and Cheers does. It's as simple as that.

"Thieves" (2001)
1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
It had a foundation but not enough bricks...., 3 December 2001

Courtesy of a mate in the US, I've been able to witness this latest attempt to out-moonlight 'Moonlighting' and out-Steele 'Remington'.

Two thieves - one male, one female - blackmailed into working for the government. Cue loadsa scenes of the two diametrically opposed characters sparring away ... and nothing more.

John Stamos was okay in his role as the whiny Johnny but Melissa George never convinced me. Life's too short for the level of disbelief required to believe in the Kung Fu kicking, forever-moaning Rita (as portrayed by Ms George). A stronger actress should've been cast, even if it had meant sacrificing the 'babe' factor.

I could excuse the silly plots, the daft storylines, the trite dialogue and the ridiculous scripts if the writing had been cleverer, wittier and far less predictable. So many times I said the next line before Johnny or Rita did. And as for their no-brainer assignments? Let's not go there...

In addition, 'Thieves' tried too hard to emulate the sexual tension of the aforementioned 'Remington Steele' and 'Moonlighting'. Having the chief protagonists discuss a supposed relationship every bloody five minutes was a huge mistake. It eroded the UST factor to such an extent that you just wanted them to do it so they'd stop talking about doing it .... and whether they should do it .... and how they should do it .... and when they should do it. Enough already! And apparently the Network has had enough.

ABC has flushed this show down the toilet.

The postscript? 'Thieves' was the McDonalds of TV programming. Fast food entertainment. Forgotten as soon as it's consumed.

Victory (1981)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Anachronism Rules!, 17 June 2001

Escape To Victory is so silly, so stupid, so asinine, so inane, so unbelievable that it's great to watch!

Did people actually pay money to see this on the silver screen? Did they really journey to the cinema, hand over their hard-earned salary and make the effort to find a seat, sit down and--seriously--watch this? CNN should investigate!

We are presented with nothing worth analysing or critiquing, so I'm not going to bother. All I will say is, suspend disbelief for two hours.

I could actually feel the sensation as my credulity was stretched further than the distance between the sun and Pluto.

And to top off this big, dumb, silly movie is the anachronism to end all anachronisms! In the final scene, after the football match has been won, the crowd invades the pitch. The Nazis look on in horror as a multitude of people approach - WEARING FLARES and bearing AFROS!!!

They look like they stepped out of a Rolling Stones concert and into this movie. I laughed until I cried. Worth sitting through for that alone! Anachronism rules!

13 out of 58 people found the following review useful:
Best Comedy of The Year!, 29 April 2001

I can always count on Dr.Quinn Medicine Woman to make me laugh. Hysterically. I won't even bother to recount the - excuse me for swearing - 'plot' of his movie. But I can tell you that 'I love you', 'I love you mommy' and 'I love you pappy' is about as deep as it gets.

However, raise a glass with me and toast the blatant anachronisms, Jane Seymour's distinctly 20th Century hair and make-up (her mascara is piled on so thick that it resembles spider legs), the clichéd plots, the tweeness, the simplistic and vomit-inducing moral sentiments, the silly storylines etc.etc.etc. This is US TV at its lowest common denominator. No punch, no guts, no edge, utterly unmemorable. I'd like to personally shake the hand of the person that decided it was time to pull the plug. It is, always has been and remains, the televisual equivalent of valium.

39 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
Overall, Remington Steele was a first-rate light comedy/drama/romantic series., 6 September 2000

Here's a little known fact. Remington Steele obsessives, like myself, cannot bear to even mention the unfortunate 5th season of this series. To cut a long story short, male lead Pierce Brosnan was on the brink of being officially declared the new 007 (replacing Roger Moore) but NBC ordered more Remington Steele episodes and Timothy Dalton got the licence to kill instead. Brosnan returned to TV for a shortened, unsatisfying 5th season.

So, if we ignore the fifth and concentrate on the previous four seasons, what do we have? An excellent series, very much of its time, with a premise that just wouldn't stand up today! Can you imagine a show in these politically-correct days where a woman invents a male boss to attract business? Stephanie Zimbalist starred as Laura Holt, the woman behind the man – an attractive, spunky, fiercely independent private investigator. Pierce Brosnan played the handsome and mysterious thief-with-no-name turned eponymous super sleuth. The sexual chemistry between Laura Holt and Remington Steele was the driving force of the show but it had so many other plus points too. The first episode (License To Steele) sets the tone which future shows followed: an exciting mystery, tight plotting, fine script, a stylish feel and explosive sexual tension between the two protagonists. This was an absolute pre-requisite in the 1980s. Everyone was either doing it, or nearly doing it, or talking about doing it: Cheers' Sam and Diane, Moonlighting's Maddy and David, Scarecrow and Mrs King's Scarecrow and Mrs King(!) and Laura Holt and Remington Steele were no different! The writers of Remington Steele delighted in torturing their audience, keeping us guessing as to when the two would finally consummate their on-again, off-again rocky-romance as they ran around solving crimes. The series finished in 1987 but the plethora of websites dedicated to it and fan fiction inspired by it, is testament to its enduring appeal. Remington Steele? 100% pure class.