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Endeavour: Cartouche (2018)
Season 5, Episode 2
7/10
A slightly weaker instalment
16 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Following a showing of the horror film 'The Pharaoh's Curse' at the Roxy cinema a man is found dead at his home. At first it looks like he died of natural causes but a post mortem indicates that he died of strychnine poisoning. It is thought most likely that he ingested it with an orange drink he had at the cinema. The man was a former detective sergeant who had been working at Oxford's Pitt River Museum. Emil Valdemar, the star of 'The Pharaoh's Curse' is due to visit the Roxy as part of the promotion for a sequel.

Elsewhere in Oxford there are a couple of arson incidents; it looks as though both were targeting Kenyan Asians but as both properties were owned by the same unpleasant character there are other possibilities. This character is also hoping to buy the Roxy for redevelopment.

Away from the crime Morse meets an attractive young woman who ends up spending the night with him... he is rather shocked when it emerges that she is DCI Thursday's niece! He is then asked to show her the city and they end up at The Roxy and witness a second suspicious death.

This episode was entertaining enough but it was a bit messy. There were claims that the film was cursed; an Egyptian archaeologist who vocally objected to his country's history being used in such schlock horror, an unscrupulous developer and motives dating back to the First World War. It was nice to see Morse finally have some luck with a lady but it seemed more than a little far-fetched when the next day he discovered she was Thursday's niece. The plot involving the arson didn't really go anywhere; I can only assume it will be part of an ongoing plot. This also involved a coincidence as Thursday's daughter worked at one of the properties. On the plus side I thought the cast did a solid job; this included a fine guest performance from Donald Sumpter as an actor with a shameful incident in his past. Overall I wouldn't say that this was bad but it wasn't up to the very high standards I expect of this series.
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Doctor Who: Father's Day (2005)
Season 1, Episode 8
9/10
Rose saves her father
12 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Rose's mother always told her that her father was a fine man but Rose has no memories of him; he died alone in a road after being hit by a car that failed to stop when Rose was still a baby. Rose asks the Doctor to take her back to the day he died so that she can ensure he doesn't die alone but as she watches the accident she can't bring herself to go to him. She asks to try again and this time she impulsively rushes out and saves his life. The Doctor is disappointed and tells her that their travels together are over. It soon becomes apparent that her actions are having severe consequences beyond the fact that her father is now alive. The Tardis is just an ordinary police box and creatures from another dimension are snatching people from the streets. The Doctor, Rose, her family and they various friends take shelter in a church while The Doctor tries to find a way to save the day. Meanwhile Rose gets to know who her father really was.

This episode is one of the most emotional yet; the scenes between Rose and her father were touching as Rose gets to know the real man rather than the person her father told her about. The conclusion isn't really a surprise but that doesn't weaken the episode; if anything it intensifies the importance of Rose's interaction with her father in the church. Rose's actions may be seen as wrong but I'm sure every viewer can sympathise her choice. Billie Piper and Shaun Dingwall really impress as Rose and her father. The monsters are scary without being too scary for younger viewers and there are some amusing moments. Overall I'd say this was a superior episode with a relatable story.
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McMafia (2018– )
8/10
A drama set in the tangled web of international crime
12 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Alex Godman is trying to be an ordinary English banker but his family are Russian and had been in the criminal underworld there till things got too dangerous. They managed to keep a relatively low profile until his uncle tries to kill Vadim Kalyagin; the man responsible for their exile. He fails and soon Vadim has Alex's uncle killed. Alex now wants revenge and sets about using his financial company to help Vadim's rivals; notably Semiyon Kleiman, an Israeli. Inevitably Alex finds himself getting more deeply involved and he and his family are in greater danger than before.

The eight-part drama managed to be fairly gripping from start to finish despite the fact that many of its protagonist are less than sympathetic; most are either active in the international drugs trade or closely involved with such people. Alex may start as an innocent who is just trying to help is family but as soon as he starts dipping his toes in the murky waters of the drug business it is only a matter of time before he is up to his neck in it. There is a good sense of danger; this increases as the story progresses and there are a few shocking moments. James Norton does an impressive job as Alex. The rest of cast does a fine job too; not so long ago one would expect British actors putting on accents to depict the Russians, Israelis and other nationalities but here local actors are used and if the character isn't meant to be talking English then they speak their own language with subtitles; to my mind this is a distinct improvement. Overall I'd certainly say this was well made and gripping even if it won't be for everybody.
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Derry Girls (2017– )
9/10
Very funny but not for the easily offended
9 February 2018
One might not think that a city so divided that what you call it identifies which side of the divide you are would be the first choice of where to locate a comedy; especially if it was set at a time when there were troops on the streets and the threat of sectarian violence was very real but somehow 'Derry Girls' works. As anybody in the UK or Ireland would guess this follows a group of Catholic girls in the city of Derry in Northern Ireland (had they been protestant it would no doubt have been called 'Londonderry Girls). The humour is such that people of whatever persuasion are likely to find it equally funny/offensive.

The girls who attend an all-girls school are Erin, Orla, Clare and Michelle; in the first episode they are joined by Michelle's English cousin James who ends up going to the girls' school as it is feared he wouldn't survive at a boys' school. Over the course of the six episodes of the first season they get up to various amusing situations; James trying to find somewhere to go to the toilet in a girls' school; witnessing a possible miracle, which one of them knows was far from miraculous, getting stuck in the middle of an Orange Parade, and looking after visiting teenagers from Chernobyl amongst others.

I feel this may be a very Marmite series; viewers will either love it or hate it and few are likely to be merely indifferent. Yes, it is puerile at times but it was done in a way that I found hilarious. The characters, both young and old, are all pretty funny with the cast doing a great job making them believable even when the situation gets comically exaggerated. While we do see evidence of The Troubles for the most part it remains in the background as the characters get on with their lives as though such things were perfectly normal. Overall I'd say that this certainly won't be for everybody but if you want a good laugh and aren't easily offend it I'd recommend giving it a go... I can't wait for the promised series two.
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Silent Witness: Family: Part 2 (2018)
Season 21, Episode 10
8/10
A family is slaughtered on Christmas Day
9 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
These comments refer to the whole two part story not just episode two.

On the morning of Christmas Day police discover what looks like a massacre; one man is dead in a burnt out car, the nanny is dead on the drive and inside the house-owner's father and one of his daughters are found, dead with multiple bullet wounds. The team for the Lyell arrive and start processing the scene but are forced to take cover as further shots ring out wounding the police officer in charge of the scene. Nikki takes cover in the house before heading to the woods behind the house where she finds the younger daughter and her horse, both shot. There is no sign of the father, Andy McMorris, who the daughter blames for the events. As the police search for the man it becomes apparent that he was on friendly terms with the senior officer and this man appears to be acting in a way that is obstructing the investigation... is he protecting the wanted man or does he have another motive for hiding certain evidence? As the second episode starts the police are still looking for Andy McMorris but other possible suspects also emerge.

This was a solid conclusion to the current series with a gripping central case and little time wasted on personal issues. The story was initially very reminiscent of a real life case from a few years ago but perhaps that was a coincidence; either way the story goes its own way as we gradually learn more about the family and Andy McMorris's criminal activities. As well as the question of where Andy has disappeared to and whether he is actually the killer there is the question of whether DCI Cooke is corrupt or hiding evidence for other reasons. There are a few flaws of course; I wasn't too keen of the recreation of what might have happened it and even after we learnt that McMorris was smuggling weapons it seemed a little far-fetched that he'd leave a loaded Uzi in a draw and that the eventual killer would be able to use it so easily! The regular cast are on good form and the guest cast is also impressive; notably young Grace Hogg-Robinson who plays surviving daughter Mel and Neil Stuke who played DCI Cooke. Overall a good episode to finish the current series; no doubt we will be getting more next year.
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8/10
Milk and Honey
8 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After the death of his father Johnny returns to Israel to look after his seventeen year old sister Cheli and take over his late father's honey business. Not long after his return he gets a call from a client and it soon becomes apparent that she is expecting more than honey! It turns out the business hadn't being doing well so manager Kayes had been supplementing his income by working as a gigolo. At first Johnny is unimpressed but soon decides it could be a good way to make money. Soon he, Kayes and Johnny's friends Itamar and Shimi are the 'Knights of Galilee' and their services are in demand from the local ladies. There are problems though; Shimi's wife isn't too pleased when she finds out and Kayes gets a little too close to Cheli, who is working as the boys manager despite her age among other things.

This Israeli comedy, retitled 'Milk and Honey' here in the UK, is a lot of fun although the subject matter means it won't be for everybody. While there is a fair amount of nudity, just breasts and backsides, during the inevitable sex scenes this series is really about the characters and how the business affects each of them differently. The cast does an impressive job making us believe in these characters and sympathise with them when things go wrong for them. Throughout the series there are plenty of laughs, some surprises and a degree of drama; overall I'd recommend this to anybody looking for a little different so long as they don't object to the subject matter.

These comments are based on watching the series in Hebrew with English subtitles. Some of the spellings of names differ in the subtitles but I stuck with the 'IMDb spellings' to avoid confusion.
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Requiem (2018– )
8/10
A gripping chiller
7 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This six-part chiller opens with two suicides; a man jumps off the roof of a large house in Wales and a woman cuts her throat in front of Matilda, her adult daughter, in London. There is no obvious connection between the two people but Matilda's mother leavers her a box of photographs that include some of the man's house. They also include pictures of a woman whose daughter Carys has disappeared in 1994. Determined to discover why her mother left her the pictures she heads to Wales with her friend Hal. Here they meet the dead man's Australian nephew and are invited to stay at the large house; Matilda has a feeling that she has been there before. Haunted by strange dreams she soon starts to believe that she is in fact Carys! As the story progresses we learn more about what happened in the town and more about Matilda's forgotten past; there is also the possibility of a supernatural presence as Matilda knows things she couldn't know and others try to summon a supernatural being.

I found this to be a gripping series; the opening set-up got me intrigued and I liked how we gradually learn more about Matilda and what has happened and is happening to her. The setting is suitably creepy and it isn't too obvious which characters will turn out to be bad. It does feature plenty of horror clichés, which some viewers may find annoying, but many of these things have become clichés because they are effective. By the end most questions are answered although there are enough left open for a possible second series although I'm not certain more is really necessary... some ambiguity is good as it gives the viewer something to think about. The cast do a solid job; notably Lydia Wilson who dominates proceedings as the troubled Matilda. I liked the fact that the possibility of supernatural activity wasn't too obvious; even when it is raised it isn't immediately obvious if it is real, within the context of the series, or in the minds of certain characters. Overall I'd recommend this to anybody wanting an effective chiller; of course what gives one person the chills will be different to another... it certainly gave me goose bumps though.
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Endeavour: Muse (2018)
Season 5, Episode 1
8/10
Morse and his new sidekick must solve a string of brutal murders
6 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
As this 'Inspector Morse' prequel enters its fifth season change is afoot for the police in Oxford; the city police has been combined with the county force to make the new Thames Valley Constabulary and Sgt Morse is asked to work with a new young detective, DC George Fancy. There first case involves a former boxer who is found dead in his taxi; with three bullets in his chest and a large spike hammered into one ear. Inevitably there is soon a second murder; a college lecturer who had been involved in the sale of a Faberge egg is found, stabbed through both eyes. There is no obvious connection between the two men apart from the brutality of their deaths and the fact that both were last seen with a mysterious woman in a white coat. She is identified as Eve Thorne, an artists' model and part time prostitute who admits being with the men but denies being involved in their murders. As the case progresses there are further murders and a possible link to members of a university drinking club emerges.

This was a solid introduction to the fifth series with an intriguing central mystery. It also served to give some solid character development; for the first time we see Morse working with somebody under him and he quickly shows that he won't suffer fools gladly and is somewhat irascible. Shaun Evens and Roger Allam continue to really impress as Morse and Thursday and Lewis Peek is solid enough as Fancy, a character I expect to develop in upcoming stories. Of the guest stars Charlotte Hope stands out the most as Eve Thorne; a femme fatale who's scenes with the young Morse are priceless. There are a few flaws; most notably we have prostitutes going by the names of biblical temptresses and a victim whose head is found on a silver platter and another whose eyes are 'plucked out' and nobody thinks of the similarity with two biblical deaths... I can only imagine this was to help viewers who spotted it feel smug! As this minor detail stood out as a 'flaw' says a lot for the quality of the story. Overall I was impressed with this season opener; if the remaining episodes are this good I'll be very happy.
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Twin Dragons (1992)
7/10
Twin Dragons (US Dub)
4 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This film sees Jackie Chan playing twin brothers who were separated at birth. John went with his parents to America, where he became an acclaimed concert pianist and conductor while is brother 'Boomer' was raised on the streets of Hong Kong where he learnt martial arts and gets in trouble with gangsters due to his diminutive friend 'Tyson'. Shortly after Boomer and Tyson's run in with the gangsters John arrives in Hong Kong to perform a concert; inevitably it isn't long before their paths cross and confusion ensues. John ends up caught up in car chases and fights while Boomer finds himself conducting a symphony orchestra. If that weren't enough two women who know each of the brothers find themselves involved with the 'wrong' twin.

I must admit that when I picked up this DVD I didn't check to see if it was dubbed and was doubly disappointed to discover that not only was it dubbed but that it was also shorter than the Hong Kong original... surprisingly I still rather enjoyed it. There is the action and comedy that one would expect from a Jackie Chan film and it is the sort of film where what you watch is more important than what the characters say. The action is nicely varied with impressively choreographed fights, a speed boat chase and a few explosions. The humour is an effective fix of farce and slapstick. Jackie Chan does an impressive job in the twin lead roles; it helps that he dubbed his lines into English... many secondary characters were clearly dubbed by Americans so sounded wrong for characters who are meant to be Hong Kong Chinese. Maggie Cheung and Nina Li Chi also impress as love interests Barbara and Tammy. Overall this I found this to be a fun film and hope one day to see the original version.
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Silent Witness: One Day: Part 2 (2018)
Season 21, Episode 8
9/10
A duty of care
2 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
These comments refer to the whole two part story not just episode two.

As this story opens a young man, Kevin, in care is physically restrained. We then she a woman, who turns out to be his mother, driving along struggling to stay conscious; she swerves to avoid other road uses before crashing in to a lorry and dying. She had been drugged and it isn't long before the senior police officer investigating suspects Kevin despite the fact that his mental condition make the experts at the Lyell doubt his ability to commit such a crime. Back at the care home it is clear that the residents are being abused; the deputy manager is raping Serena, the woman Kevin likes, and another worker is turning a blind eye. Kevin decides to take her away but this ends in tragedy when he is killed by a police marksman who believes he is armed. While all this is going on Thomas is asked to perform a post mortem on a woman with dementia who turns out to have been poisoned... it emerges that her doctor also attends to the residents in the care home... could the cases be linked?

This was a gripping instalment although at times it wasn't an easy watch. We see that despite their conditions Kevin and Serena are in love most people around then can't see it; Toby Sams-Friedman and Rosie Jones did a brilliant job portraying these two characters. Charlie Creed Miles also impresses as Conor Flannery, the abusing deputy manager; this a character who really makes ones skin crawl; one moment he is being charming with the authorities the next he is horrible to the people he is meant to be caring for. Of the regular cast Liz Carr really stands out as Clarissa gets a larger role than usual and ends up in a very vulnerable position that should put most viewers on the edge of their seats. There are some flaws though; it seems unlikely that the police would shoot Kevin without warning him they were armed and a few too many people didn't seem too bothered about the deaths of people who require care. There is less of a mystery than usual but that doesn't matter as the story is tense and there is a moral message about the way people look at those in need that is effective without feeling like a sermon. Overall a really good story.
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Professor T.: In vuur en vlam (2016)
Season 2, Episode 2
8/10
Fire and Flame
31 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After a fire at a block of student flats, in which one of the students ends up in a coma with severe burns, it is determined that the fire was started deliberately and the student was drugged. Various suspects emerge including her ex-boyfriend and a girl whose boyfriend she had slept with... this is of course assuming the person who drugged the girl and the person who started the fire are one and the same; something Professor T isn't certain about. Away from the case Professor T has been told to use public transport as part of his treatment and after the events of the previous episode he has been suspended from teaching at the university; a decision Mrs Sneyers is determined to help overturn. Elsewhere Daan and Annelies are having difficulties with each other and Paul's son unexpectedly returns from India.

This was another enjoyable episode; the central mystery was interesting and provided some exciting moments however it was Professor T's activities away from the case that were more interesting. It was hard not to feel sorry for him as he struggled to catch a bus and deal with being confined with so many people. This was nicely balanced by the joy of seeing him get round his suspension to help his students. Koen De Bouw is on great form in the role. Goele Derick also impresses as Mrs Sneyers; a character who is always fun but can be overlooked as her role isn't huge; here we are made to wonder if some of the universities 'rules' are in fact made up by her! Overall a fine episode that nicely balanced the mystery, plenty of character development and humour.

These comments are based on watching the episode in Dutch with English subtitles.
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8/10
Nikki gets involved with a diplomat after the murder of a member of the US embassy staff
27 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
These comments refer to the whole two part story not just episode two.

When the aide to the US ambassador is murdered in London it looks like an act of terrorism but there are some odd aspects to the case; most notably the fact that the body has been moved and posed. As the investigation gets underway Matt Garcia, the US Embassy's deputy chief, gets close to Nikki and invites her to an event at the embassy where she meets a respected US pathologist who has been involved in charity work in Africa. Soon afterwards she too is murdered and posed. Post mortems suggest that both victims had been suffering from the same tropical parasite; they had both been in Mali at the same time and it is possible that the killer is motivated by something that happened in Africa... something the US authorities aren't keen to disclose. Suspicion falls on a former member of the RAF who has been suffering from psychotic episodes but when Garcia disappears while the suspect is in custody it looks as though somebody else must be involved.

This was a really good story even if it did have quite a few clichés; most notably the US not wanting to share much information, some of which made sense and some that just seemed to be there to add a bit of tension. We also have Nikki getting involved with Garcia... at least we don't have the cliché of him being the killer or ultimately dying. There are plenty of tense moments and the killer and his motives are far from obvious. Emelia Fox does a fine job as Nikki takes centre stage and guest stars Michael Landes and Jefferson Hall impress as Garcia and the troubled suspect Fergus Weir. Overall a fine episode; it is good that Nikki appears to be over what happened in Mexico last season.
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Doctor Who: The Long Game (2005)
Season 1, Episode 7
8/10
Controlled by the news
25 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After the events of the previous episode The Doctor decides to show potential companion Adam the distant future where humanity is meant to be at its peak; an era of high culture, perfect manners and fine cuisine in an empire that includes millions of planets and myriad species. There is something wrong though; they turn up on a space station orbiting the earth but there are no signs of the things The Doctor promised; there aren't even any aliens. Rose and Adam may be impressed by the technology but The Doctor thinks it is at least ninety years out of date. The space station is responsible for broadcasting the news and those working there dream of promotion to the 500th floor. We soon see that what happens there is rather sinister; The Editor works for an alien overlord who has effectively enslaved humanity without their knowledge. While The Doctor and Rose try to get to the bottom of what is going Adam says he finds things a bit too much for him... he has his own motives though; he has Rose's phone and intends to learn about computer development so he can profit when he gets home.

This was a pretty solid episode; there were plenty of good moments and a nice degree of threat. The story was well told although I doubt many people will be surprised with it emerges that the 500th floor isn't as great as promised. The idea of people's opinions being controlled by carefully selected news seems prescient in this era of 'fake news'. Simon Pegg and Tamsin Gregg do solid jobs as The Editor and the nurse wore treats Adam although less well known guest stars Christine Adams and Bruno Langley stand out more as Cathica Santini Khadeni, the woman our time travellers deal with, and Adam. Adam was an interesting potential companion; it was fun how The Doctor gentle teased Rose by referring to him as her boyfriend. His behaviour is such that it is soon obvious that he won't be a permanent addition to the show but this leads to him getting an amusing send off. The episode features some impressive effects even if the monster-of-the-week is a bit rubbery. Overall a solid episode with some good ideas.
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Doctor Who: Dalek (2005)
Season 1, Episode 6
9/10
The Last of the Daleks
24 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This episode sees Rose and The Doctor arriving in an underground museum in Utah where billionaire Henry van Statten has assembled a private collection of alien artefacts. The Doctor tells Rose that they have been drawn their by a cry for help. It becomes apparent that van Stratten has been using alien technology to create his vast wealth and believes his latest acquisition is his most important yet; a living alien in a distinctive casing. The Doctor is horrified when he sees the alien... it is a Dalek! It is in a poor condition but it is soon fully operational after it is touched by Rose. The Doctor is determined that it must be destroyed at all costs; even if that means sacrificing Rose.

After the previous, slightly disappointing story, this is a return to form. The Daleks are probably The Doctor's best known enemy and their return is handled well by concentrating on a single Dalek. Interestingly while the Dalek provides the threat it isn't the most unpleasant character; van Stratten is worse as he is self-centred and doesn't care about the lives of those under him... he does get a suitable ending though and it isn't what one might expect. Corey Johnson does a fine job in the role. During the old series it was a running joke amongst viewers that Daleks weren't much of a threat as they can't cope with stairs... here we see that the can. The special effects are pretty good although a couple of times they look a little dated, not too badly though. Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper are on good form as The Doctor at Rose; especially in the scene where Rose tries to protect the Dalek from a vengeful Doctor. Overall this was a classic episode that fans of Doctor Who are sure to enjoy.
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Doctor Who: World War Three (2005)
Season 1, Episode 5
7/10
Flatulent aliens invade London
21 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
These comments refer to the whole two part story; 'Aliens of London' and 'World War Three' not just the latter episode.

As this story begins The Doctor and Rose return to present day London; The Doctor states that only twelve hours have passed so Rose heads home intending to tell her mother that she spent the night at a friend's... unfortunately The Doctor was mistaken, twelve months have passed and Rose's mother understandably wants to know where she has been and why she didn't call. Soon afterwards all that seems unimportant as an alien craft smashes though Big Ben and crashes into the Thames. The Prime Minister appears to have gone missing so his deputy assembles various people in Downing Street; as an expert on aliens The Doctor is invited. It turns out the acting PM is an alien in a human 'suit' and he and his family have plans for the Earth. It will be up to The Doctor, Rose and backbench MP Harriet Jones to save humanity with a little help from Mickey.

After a fine first three episodes this story felt a little weak. The aliens were more embarrassing than amusing as the technology that shrinks them to fit in human bodies also made them break wind on a regular basis; it was little better when they were in there natural form as they looked too much like the 'men in rubber suit' aliens that were mocked in the original series. Once we learn the aliens' motives there are more problems; they want the nuclear launch codes to be released by the United Nations but no attempt at explaining why the UN would hold the codes makes sense; anybody with the most basic understanding of the nuclear deterrent would know that it relies on the country being able to deploy the weapons without the say-so of a third party! After all I've said one might think I thought this was terrible; actually I don't. It wasn't as good as the previous stories and contained flaws but it also had some good points; I liked Penelope Wilton's performance as Harriet Jones and there were some suitably scary moments as well as a few laughs.
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Silent Witness: Duty of Candour: Part 2 (2018)
Season 21, Episode 4
8/10
A blackmailer targets patients of a London Hospital
19 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
These comments refer to the whole two part story not just episode two.

This story opens with the discovery of a woman's body in her home. Her husband is the most likely suspect; a suspicion that rises when it emerges that she was pregnant and he wasn't the father. Soon afterwards the husband murders the man who was the father and after a brief chase jumps from a tall building and dies. At first it looks as though this is the shortest mystery in the history of the series but then it emerges that somebody had leaked news of the woman's pregnancy to the husband. It turns out there was a data breach at the hospital where she'd sought treatment and the hospital administrator had kept quiet after ignoring a blackmail demand... it would appear that after failing to get money off the hospital the blackmailer had turned his attention to the individual patients... it isn't long before a barrister who was being blackmailed because of his drug addiction is seriously injured... the police and the Lyell team must work fast is they are to stop more people being harmed. To further complicate matters Nikki has being seeing a psychiatrist at the hospital and is worried about her problems becoming public.

This was an impressive second story; I really liked how it looked as if it would be all about who killed the woman found in the opening scene but ultimately it was about something else altogether. Even after the attention has switched to the search for hacker/blackmailer there are plenty of twists and turns as further misdemeanours are exposed more people become potential suspects. When the person responsible is ultimately exposed it isn't somebody too obvious nor is it a total surprise to fans of the genre who will know to suspect anybody who doesn't look too suspicious and isn't part of the investigation! Having Nikki's treatment taking place at the hospital in question did feel a bit unnecessary but it did at least serve to get her problems into the open so hopefully she will be able to move on soon. The cast do a solid job bringing the story to life. Overall a good story that kept me guessing almost to the end.
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Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead (2005)
Season 1, Episode 3
8/10
The Doctor and Rose encounter 'ghosts' and 'zombies' in Victorian Cardiff
16 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After a trip to the future the Doctor decides to show Rose somewhere in the past, in this case Naples in 1860... it doesn't quite go to plan as they end up in Cardiff in 1869. Inevitably they are still in for an adventure; a dead woman at a local funeral parlour has got up, left and headed to a hall where the author Charles Dickens is reading from 'A Christmas Carol'; her ghostly appearance causes a panic just as Rose and The Doctor arrive. While The Doctor searches the building Rose sees the undertaker and his assistant, Gwyneth, bundling the dead woman into their hearse; he drugs her and bundles her into the hearse. The Doctor and Dickens pursue them back to the funeral parlour. Here it emerges that the 'ghosts' are actually aliens called Gelth who claim to need help passing through a rift so they can return home. Gwyneth, who appears to have real spiritualist powers, agrees to help.

This was a rather fun episode with some genuinely spooky moments, impressive special effects and an enjoyably 'guest appearance' by an historical figure. Simon Callow does a fine job as Dickens, a role he has played so many times it would seem wrong to have anybody else play him, and Eve Myles is really good as Gwyneth... she obviously impressed the producers as she later returns as a main character in spin-off series 'Torchwood'. The Gelth are an interesting alien; it is far from clear whether they are malevolent or just trying to survive until near the end. Once again the creators don't shy away from killing off a good single-episode character who the audience have been encouraged to like; this leads to an impressive bittersweet ending to the story. Overall an impressive episode; so far this new series has given us good stories in the present, future and past.
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Doctor Who: The End of the World (2005)
Season 1, Episode 2
8/10
The Doctor takes Rose to the End of the World
15 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After the events of the previous episode The Doctor has invited Rose to join him in the Tardis and offered to show her the future. In this case the distant future. He takes her to a space station orbiting the Earth billions of years in the future; approximately half an hour before the Earth is to be destroyed by an expanding sun. They aren't the only ones their; various very wealthy individuals are present to see the even. This includes Cassandra, the 'last human'... who thanks to extensive plastic surgery is now just a sheet of skin with a face! There are also tree people and various other aliens. One of these gives the others a 'gift' that turns out to contain robotic spiders that set about sabotaging the station. Everybody will soon be in grave danger and it will be up to The Doctor to save them.

After the introductory episode no time is wasting in giving us an adventure featuring a variety of aliens as well as travel to a distant future. The story provides plenty of exciting moments that are scary enough without being too frightening for younger viewers. The effects were impressive; these aliens clearly weren't all people in rubber suits tile in the old days. Even those like Jabe the Tree-woman that are a person in costume look great thanks to brilliant makeup. While the story had a clear anti-racist undertone it never felt like the audience was being lectured to. Billie Piper continues to impress as Rose; nicely capturing her reaction to seeing aliens, her fear when it looks as though she is about to die and her sadness at seeing the world's end even if The Doctor can take her back. Christopher Eccleston is solid as The Doctor. Of the guest stars the most notable are Yasmin Bannerman, who did a fine job as Jabe and Zoë Wanamaker who provided the voice of Cassandra. Overall an exciting episode with just the right mix of danger and humour.
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Doctor Who: Rose (2005)
Season 1, Episode 1
8/10
Rebooting a classic
15 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
As this, the first new episode of Doctor Who for many years opens we see shop worker Rose Tyler descending to the basement of the store she works; here she is accosted by various manikins that appear to have come to life. As she flees she is rescued by a man who simply identifies himself as The Doctor. He gets her to safety before returning to the building; shortly afterwards it explodes. Rose returns home and the next day she starts researching The Doctor; she soon finds a conspiracy theorists who has evidence suggesting that The Doctor was present at many historical moments. While Rose talks to him her boyfriend Mickey is attacked by a wheelie-bin and replaced by a plastic copy! Once again she is rescued by The Doctor; he explains that they are dealing with Autons; plastic beings controlled by the Nestene Consciousness which is trying to take over Earth. Together they set off to stop them.

The main purpose of this episode was to reintroduce us to The Doctor, now played by Christopher Eccleston, and his assistant-to-be Rose, played by Billie Piper. I liked how we meet Rose first and it is only when she is in danger that The Doctor arrives. Having an enemy that was first seen in the original series of the show but not one of the iconic villains was an inspired move as it provided a link without suggesting there would be an over-reliance on Daleks and Cybermen. As well as our two protagonists we are introduced to Rose's mother and her boyfriend; while we don't see too much of them they promise to be interesting recurring characters. Eccleston does a fine job as The Doctor but it is Billie Piper who is a revelation as Rose; I recall when the series first aired people questioned giving the role to a pop-singer but here she shows she can act too. Overall this was a fine series opener that should leave viewers keen to see what happens when the duo start travelling in time and space.
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Primeval: Episode #3.10 (2009)
Season 3, Episode 10
8/10
Series three comes to a cliff-hanging conclusion
14 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Following on from the last episode the team head to the anomaly that leads to the 'predator future'. As they prepare to go through the anomaly at Christine's old facility opens; Becker and Sarah head to investigate that leaving Abby, Connor and Danny to look for Helen in the future. Becker and Sarah find themselves confronting giant insects that have come through the anomaly but that is nothing compared to the problems the others are facing. The catch up with Helen and learn of her plan; she intends to travel through the anomalies to the time early man was evolving and kill off humanity before it can even begin. They follow her to the distant past where they have a run in with a trio of young velociraptors. Connor is injured and Abby stays with him while Danny pursues Helen through another anomaly; if humanity is to be saved Helen must be stopped before she can poison our ancient ancestors.

This was a gripping series finale that wrapped up the 'Helen Cutter' plot arc but raised more questions as it finished with three characters apparently trapped in the past. Before we get to the cliff-hanger ending there are plenty of great moments; Becker and Sarah's run-in with the giant insects was exciting and it was great to finally learn exactly what Helen was planning. I liked how they caught up with her in the remains of the ARC building and her ultimate fate was satisfying. Juliet Aubrey's appearances as Helen will be missed in future seasons. Given that the series has killed off major characters and had others leave the ultimate fate of Abby, Connor and Danny is far from obvious for anybody watching for the first time. Overall this was an exciting conclusion to the season that will leave most viewers keen to discover what happens in Series Four.
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Primeval: Episode #3.9 (2009)
Season 3, Episode 9
8/10
A herd of prehistoric 'rhinos' comes through an anomaly and Danny rescues a 'woman from the future' from Christine
13 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This, the penultimate episode of the third series, sees Danny breaking into Christine's facility and rescuing Eve, the woman Christine's team had brought back from the future. She says that she must see James Lester at the ARC but first Danny must join the rest of the team who are dealing with a herd of rhinoceros like creatures that have arrived from the distant past. Once that is dealt with they head back to the ARC where Christine is waiting to arrest Danny and the truth about Eve is revealed.

This was a really good episode with many interesting elements. Danny's rescue of Eve was fun even if it did seem a little too easy. The prehistoric rhinos were impressive; dangerous because of their size and desire to protect a baby rather than wanting to harm people. The creatures are well designed and animated; if one didn't know such creatures didn't exist one might believe they were real. This part of the story provided some good laughs as a man on his stag do is cornered by the creatures while wearing only his underwear then mistakes Abby for a stripper! Just as it looks as if the story is over we return to the ARC and there are some surprising revelations before a cliff-hanger ending that sees the team preparing to return to the future where they encountered the predators. Overall a really good episode that left me keen to see what happens next.
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Silent Witness: Moment of Surrender: Part 2 (2018)
Season 21, Episode 2
7/10
Nikki returns to work but is she ready?
12 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
These comments refer to the whole two part story not just episode two.

This story opens sixteen years ago as a young couple are attacked by three masked individuals. After this prologue we return to the present and Nikki is still affected by what happened to her in Mexico and discusses it with her friend Sally, who works at another forensics lab. Shortly afterwards Sally goes missing and the police suspect her business partner David as they had recently argued. They ask Nikki to help investigate him by getting him a position working alongside her at the Lyell Centre. Soon the team are called out when the body of a man is discovered; at first it looks as if he may have committed suicide but inevitably it isn’t long before it becomes clear that he was murdered. As the story progresses we learn that the dead man was involved in the events we saw in the prologue and it starts to look as though David does indeed have something to hide.

This was a solid return for this long running series. I liked how there was an intriguing prologue that wasn’t referred to again for some time. One could guess that it would be connected to the later cases but how wasn’t too obvious. The question of who killed the dead man and why was interesting but was overshadowed by what happened to Nikki’s friend and what David’s involvement with that was. Julian Rhind Tutt did an impressive job as David; he kept the character nicely ambiguous so it is far from obvious whether he is involved in Sally’s disappearance till the very end when all is revealed. The rest of the cast is also on good form; most notably Emelia Fox who does a fine job as the still troubled Nikki. Overall a good story that left me looking forward to the rest of the series.
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Les oubliées (2007– )
9/10
Forgotten Girls
11 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Captain Christian Janvier has been investigating the disappearance of six girls in northern France for many years; at first he had a team but now it is just him. He demands some help and eventually Olivier Ducourt is appointed to his department. Then another girl goes missing and evidence suggests that it may be the same person behind it; his superiors certainly think it is although Janvier thinks there are inconsistences that point to a copycat who knew details of the earlier crimes. When a man is arrested and the girl's body is discovered in his garden it looks as though all the cases will be considered closed. However the more Janvier investigates the man the more convinced he is that this man knows the original killer but despite his confessions isn't responsible for the others. To make matters worse for Janvier he is having blackouts after which he has no idea what he did at the time; he has consulted doctors but they have no explanation other than fatigue.

I was really gripped by this series. At only six episodes in length it never drags while still not feeling rushed. The central mystery is intriguing and various suspects come and go before the final episode. As much as this is about the 'Forgotten' it is about their effect on Janvier; he is clearly haunted by them but equally they give his life purpose meaning both those around him and the viewer may wonder just how far he will go to stop the case being closed. Jacques Gamblin does a great job as Janvier making the viewer feel his frustration and exhaustion; he is ably supported by Fabien Aïssa Busetta, who does a fine job as Ducourt, and Priscilla Attal-Sfez, who impresses as Janvier's daughter Caroline; who inevitably fits the profile of the missing girls. The story manages to play with genre chilchés without becoming too cliché itself and the finale is far from obvious. I'd definitely recommend this to anybody looking for a short mystery series that is about character rather than action or trying to solve the case while watching the show.

These comments are based on watching the series in French with English subtitles.
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Primeval: Episode #3.8 (2009)
Season 3, Episode 8
8/10
Abby's brother noses around and finds himself lost in a dangerous future
10 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This episode sees the team finding an anomaly through which a giant ant-like creature has emerged. The creature is killed and the anomaly sealed but that isn't the end of the matter. Abby's brother, Jack, has found her anomaly detector and uses it to head to the anomaly, hoping to find more about what his sister does at work. By the time he gets there it emerges that there was a second creature, which has killed the two people guarding the anomaly. Jack gets in a car and knocks the device that locked the anomaly; he then drives through it and finds himself in a future where as well as the giant insects there are numerous predators. After getting out of the car he falls down a hole and in injured. Becker thinks they should wait before going through but Abby is determined to rescue her brother. She, Connor, Becker and Danny head through the anomaly and quickly realise they are in extreme danger and it is quite possible that they won't all get back.

This was an impressive episode; it must be admitted that Jack is a bit of a moron and quite irritating so he hardly the most sympathetic character. Robert Lowe does a solid job making the character seem believably obnoxious! While many viewers might not care what happens to him there is genuine tension when the others turn up hoping to rescue him; especially when it looks as if one of the team has sacrificed himself to save the others. For the most part this is a standalone episode but it later becomes apparent that Christine is somehow connected to this future time period and Lester believes she has an anomaly linked to it. The regular cast are on good form and the creature effects are impressive. Overall a fine episode with plenty of tension, some laughs and even a little romance.
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Professor T.: Cuberdon (2016)
Season 2, Episode 1
9/10
Professor T and Daan return to work
10 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Six months have passed since the end of the first series and Professor T believes that he is ready to leave the psychiatric facility and return to work, even if his doctor isn't so sure and insists he sees her regularly. Inspector Daan De Winter also returns to work; he is now in a wheelchair and there is no prospect that he will walk again. It isn't long before the police are investigating a series of deaths that initially appear natural. There is no obvious connection between the victims; only the numbers make it seem suspicious. It is discovered that each had consumed chocolate that had been adulterated with ethylene glycol so Annelies and Daan go to talk to the manufacturers, one of who was one of the victims. Chief Inspector Paul Rabet calls in Professor T to help. Back at the university it is clear that Professor T's replacement doesn't have the respect of the students.

I really enjoyed season one of Professor T so was pleased that we didn't have to wait too long before season two became available. Things get off to a fine start in this episode; it is clear that Professor T is the same as ever despite claiming to be more empathetic now; we see him telling a fellow patient that given his limited intelligence and lack of good looks he was right to attempt suicide! Koen De Bouw is on great form in the title role. The central case is interesting enough although this episode is more about establishing where the characters are now and how they have changed due to the tragic events at the end of series one. We see Daan's frustrations that he obviously can't do what he did before and Annelies's feeling of guilt for what happened to him. Not all the character changes are negative; Paul seems to be successfully dealing with his alcoholism. Professor T is still having strange visions, this time involving a parrot which was pretty funny. Overall this was a really fun episode that provided plenty of laughs, a decent central mystery and solid character development.

These comments are based on watching the episode in Dutch with English subtitles.
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