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charlie-benjamin

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7 reviews in total 
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"30 Rock" (2006)
8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Excellent comedy, 21 December 2006
10/10

30 Rock is sharp, witty, and very, very funny, in part because of the excellent performances from the entire cast. Like The Larry Sanders Show, 30 Rock takes us behind the scenes of a television network, and while just as funny, is somewhat more lighthearted, less acerbic, than its predecessor. But this is not to detract from either The Larry Sanders Show or 30 Rock. If you're a fan of one, you'll be a fan of the other. One thing that I find distracting is the use of music in each episode. The music seems oddly unnecessary, and I hope will be dropped in future. However, the music does not stop this from being one of the best comedy dramas on television. Probably the strongest aspect of 30 Rock is its characters and their relationships to each other, all of whom have a great deal of potential.

1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A film so bad that it is funny, 15 December 2006
1/10

This film is so bad that it is actually laugh-out-loud funny. If you're a fan of Garth Marenghi, then you need to see Dungeons and Dragons the blah blah of blah. Its hilariously awful. Probably the best line in this film occurs when they discover a sleeping dragon beneath the mountain. The maiden says 'What's that hole?' Hero replies 'That's not a hole. That's a nostril'. Classic. The special effects are below the quality of those in television drivel such as Charmed, while the script and acting worse than the worst video game. Another problem is that almost all of the actors look like porn stars trying to break into mainstream acting. The badness of this film is its only redeeming quality, and its for its badness that it should be watched. If you want cinematically beautiful fantasy with superb acting, the Lord of the Rings trilogy remains the only series of films to do the genre any justice.

"Friends" (1994)
10 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Tepid comedy, 16 September 2006
3/10

Friends is neither so unfunny that I switch channel, yet nor is it funny enough to ever make me laugh out loud. At best, I'll chuckle, but that's as far as it goes. The dialogue consists of 1-2-1 exchanges that with almost clockwork precision result in one of several "quirky" expressions, most commonly the much copied "sh'uh right" from the infinitely funnier Wayne's World. Its that, or its Phoebe's expression of disgust, "Y'eugh". You get the idea. The comedy is built around this predictable exchange, with the audience no doubt cattle prodded into laughing, or paid. Over the years that the comedy has run, attempts have been made to develop the characters, and I believe this was directly in response to the masterful writing in Frasier, which managed to combine complex character and relationship development with laugh-out-loud humour. But Friends failed to succeed in developing either the characters or their relationships. Rather, what we were presented with were teenagers in adult bodies, 'playing' at being adults. And in a sense, for people who love this comedy, it perhaps represents a 30 minute opportunity to identify with this and its opposite, namely being 20 but living the life of a 30 year old, or being a 30 year old, and remembering back to when they were 20 fantasising about being 30. In the latter sense, comfort can be found in knowing that they aren't the idiots that the Friends are, but at the same time, they have achieved a comparable lifestyle, whilst being able to fantasise that they too have achieved that lifestyle with the same level of ease as the Friends. Conversely, people in their 20s can fantasise that they too will be able to attain a comparable lifestyle with the same level of ease. Herein lies its success but simultaneiously its weakness, that contributes to the general lack of substance that characterises this show. Life, especially in the city, is often about struggling, and indeed, it is in the struggle from which much comedy is born: the struggle to find love, the struggle to find work, or in my case the struggle to find Friends funny. Friends is a hugely but inexplicably successful series...I hesitate to call it a comedy because this would be to imply that it is funny. It is not. Put it this way: I can watch Friends, and effortlessly hold a straight face. It simply is not funny. The paradox, however, is that aside from Matt Leblanc, the cast have proved themselves elsewhere to be excellent dramatic and comic actors. But you would never guess it from watching Friends. I was glad that Friends finished, only to realise that there would be in eternity of repeats to avoid. I can only hope that Arrested Development is given a new lease of life on HBO, that Kelsey Grammar and gang return to a new series based around Frasier Krane, and that the new seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Rescue Me start soon. These are shows against which Friends is eclipsed and soon forgotten.

"Bones" (2005)
9 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Why play second fiddle to an unknown?, 20 June 2006
5/10

Bones is watchable, but I find it strange seeing David Boreanaz play second fiddle to an actress I've never seen or heard of. With the success of Angel, I would have expected DB to play the central character. To my mind, this was avoided for two reasons. First, audiences might compare Bones to Angel, and come away disappointed because of the show's scientific, rather than supernatural angle. Secondly, if Fox, who I believe own the rights, ever decide to ressurrect Angel, and it was a crime to end the show in the first place, DB could feasibly leave Bones, without effectively ending the show. Temprence would simply find herself teamed up with a new partner. To be honest, I hope DB does leave the show, and land something with more substance, such as a role in Battlestar Galactica, Lost, 24, or The 4400. The writers of Bones don't know if its a crime drama, scifi tech show, or comedy, and the funny thing is, each and every episode uncomfortably negotiates its way through these different genres. This is in stark contrast to Buffy and Angel, which were able to nimnbly interweave Gothic horror, kung fu, comedy, and drama without batting an eyelid, or maybe that should be Joss Whedon's eye lid. The stories in Bones are pedestrian affairs, with each crime solved within the hour. Now, if you had a detective series centred on the pursuit of a serial killer, in the same vein as Seven: dark, moody, film noir, washed out colours in the daytime...this I would watch.

30 out of 79 people found the following review useful:
The Shield, 21 May 2006
10/10

The Shield is superb. Like all great dramas, this has a story arch, rather than simply one crime after another to be solved in each successive episode, as seen in dramas such as Law and Order and it's spin offs (although there are some excellent actors on these shows). We see all the main characters change over the years, almost all of whom descend into their own personal Hells. People have commented on the programme's bad language, but if you watch it, and listen carefully, there is in fact very little bad language. The F word and the C word are never used, in contrast to the language used in that other excellent drama, Oz. This is perhaps to counter the level of violence depicted, but again, Oz could easily match The Shield in terms of violence, so I'm not sure what the reasoning is behind the absence of bad language. What is clear, however, is that the show is so raw, brutal, and "real", that it was only into the fourth season that I realised there was little or no bad language. In terms of story, plot, and characterisation, this drama is like Shakespeare's Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Tempest, being performed LA style. The Shield is a work of genius. Long may it continue.

"Jam" (2000)
10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
The most surreal programme ever created, 3 January 2006

Jam, the television series, is a work of surrealist genius that is both hilarious and profoundly disturbing, turning on its head the familiar world in a way that Sigmund Freud would no doubt have relished when writing his essay 'The Uncanny', had Freud been alive today. One of the funniest examples of how Jam manages to make unfamiliar the familiar, is in the 'sketch' in which a man robs a convenience store, with gun in hand. He asks for the change, only for the owner to point out that with a gun, he doesn't need to pay for things or wait for the change. The stirring music that accompanies his realisation of the power he now has is both moving and funny. Adding to the strange narratives is a vivid aesthetic reminiscent of many modern art installations: we see this in the interesting use of editing in which collages of colour, unusual lighting,slow motion film, slow motion sound, and visual effects blend one scene into another, and further contribute to the uncanniness of Jam. Layered on top of the narrative and the aesthetic, is the extensive use of ambient music by Brian Eno and Aphex Twin. Jam almost defies definition and to simply call it a comedy is to mislead. All I can say is that for those who despair of the false laughter and intellectual vacuity of Friends, watch Jam. It is like nothing else you've ever seen, unless it's something else by Chris Morris.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The Larry Sanders Show, 22 May 2005
10/10

Larry Sanders hosts a show named after himself. At the same time, we watch a show about that show, which is also called The Larry Sanders Show. We get to see actors such as Jeff Goldblum playing themselves, and just as the show that we watch parodies the Hollywood film and television industry, so the actors parody themselves, revealing themselves to have the quirks, neuroses, and flaws that make us all human and funny. While all the characters are funny, for me, the funniest character in the show is Hank Kingsley. He worships the ground that Larry walks on, yet carries around a repressed anger and frustration at the levels of sycophancy he can't help but stoop to. He is essentially a nice person, yet can express howlingly incorrect attitudes towards women, with absolutely no insight into why women might be offended, for example when he asks Drew Barrymoore to lift her blouse for the camera. My favourite moment, of all time, was when Hank met the Wutang Clan, and tried to engage them in an urban conversation, but got the "cool" handshakes and lingo all wrong. This was simply one of the funniest comedy moments ever.