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The 39 Steps (2008)
A different direction
Having watched the Powell version when I was growing up (and thoroughly enjoying it), when I saw it was going to be on BBC I jumped at the chance to watch it.
The experience was a mixed one. There were definitely some good moments (the highland scenery, some of the acting, the inclusion of actual historic events), however there were quite a few choices that I found baffling (making Hannay a kind of useless puppet half way into the film, blatantly obvious plot holes, and ending that makes no sense at all). I am going to have to watch the original Hitchcock version now and compare.
Overall a watchable, yet ultimately forgettable film.
Finally, can someone please tell me what the 39 steps refer to in the book? In the 2 versions I have watched so far they could not be further apart.
Star Trek: Voyager (1995)
Amazingly there is very little quality Sci-Fi on TV. All of the Star Trek series stand out in a quagmire of mediocrity and Voyager stands out within the Star Trek group of quality Sci-Fi series.
The basic premise is an old one. A group of people on a journey to the promised land. They end up facing all kinds of hurdles, both external and internal, make friends and foes, allies and enemies, fall in love, cope with extra-ordinary situations and yet still stay focused on the bigger picture.
As if it wasn't obvious, I love this series. It has its issues. For one thing it has some plot holes along the way. But over 7 seasons it manages to balance things nicely. Every season there are a couple of real Sci-Fi episodes and a couple that focus more or less entirely on character development. The characters naturally evolve over the 7 seasons and the high standard is maintained.
Danish CSI, but better
This is one of the best Non-English series I have seen. It weaves interesting single and double episodes of crime-solving together with a personal aspect that you just don't get in CSI. The individual characters all have personal lives that combine well with their day job and occasionally interfere. Additionally the characters all manage to naturally evolve throughout the episodes.
The casting is superb and it was taped all over Denmark, giving a good example of the highlights that majestic country has to offer. Unfortunately only 32 episodes were made, however they are top-notch television. Here's hoping they consider making some more episodes of the same caliber.
Jonathan Creek (1997)
Great Whodunnit series!
This series offers something different than most other detective series. With this one, you genuinely have a chance of figuring it out yourself if you spot the right clues along the way. It isn't like most other whodunits where you are just following the story, here you can choose to do that or try and exercise your gray matter. In one case a friend of mine and I stopped the episode just before the explanation at the end and tied all the loose knots ourselves.
What I really like about this series is that with each episode it takes an impossible situation as its premise and then runs with it. Alan Davies fits the title role perfectly - an anorak with some social issues. Caroline Quentin is quite the opposite - a bubbling character always sticking her nose where it doesn't belong. Again, perfect typecasting. When CQ was replaced by Julia Sawalha the show took a bit of a hit in my opinion. Additionally the ideas which were so free-flowing in the beginning, seemed to dry up.
Seasons 1 & 2 are by far the best. Season 3 starts to feel a bit formulaic and season 4 is only just watchable.
What a series
As with some of the best films and series, I stumbled across this quite by accident. It was late, a storm was in full force outside and I was sitting comfortably on the sofa when I flicked past a channel that was just about to show one of the episodes. I intended merely to watch a couple of minutes while waiting for the commercials to be finished on another channel before switching back to some or other sitcom. About an hour and a half later I remembered my resolve and was so happy that I hadn't done that. Needless to say I made sure I saw all the other episodes.
John Hannah has been brilliant in almost everything I have seen him in and he does not let down here either. All other cast members do a stellar job too. My personal favourite (aside from John Hannah, of course) is Gerard Murphy.
The only negative side to this series are the limited amount of episodes. Only 8 with JH himself and an additional 1 with someone else. I would love to see McCallum back on the screens, though it would have to be with JH!