Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Father Ted (1995)
An Irish All Gas And Gaiters?
I'm a huge fan of Father Ted and most of the praise I would give this anarchic, wildly inventive comedy has already been written by other reviewers. But recently, I was struck by the show's great similarity to an old popular BBC sitcom of the late 1960s called All Gas And Gaiters. The main difference was that AGAG was set in an Anglican country parish, but all the same elements are there: A senior priest in the vicarage, a doddery old bishop who likes his drink too much and a young, naïve and accident-prone novice priest. Also, there is the ever-present and domineering Dean who tries to keep the trio in line. Could it be that the writers of Father Ted were simply updating this old English comedy for a modern and more open-minded audience? If so, they did a wonderful job of it, as Father Ted is a classic.
Foyle's War (2002)
First class drama with one nagging flaw
I was an early fan of Foyle's War, especially Michael Kitchen's portrayal of the title character, which is a master class in fine nuance and understatement. The way Kitchen can convey a wealth of meaning with the slightest glance or change in tone when speaking is wonderful to watch. It's almost as if he was born to play this character. Also, the whole concept of police work having to continue as normally as possible in a time of war is intriguing. In many ways, the job would have been so much harder with the backdrop of war and the resultant shortage of resources and increase in disruption. It was a fine idea from the start. Having said that, I found as the series went on and I began to review earlier episodes that something about it had begun to irritate me, and I eventually realised that it was the way in which most of the other characters - apart from Foyle's own inner circle - were portrayed as uniformly negative. Granted, this is a crime and murder-mystery series, so Foyle is dealing primarily with criminals and red-herring characters. But sometimes, it seems as though the writer Anthony Horowitz wants us to believe everyone in wartime Britain was either rotten to the core or afflicted with moral cowardice. No doubt not everyone displayed the "bulldog spirit" that got the nation through those difficult years - every country at war has its share of defeatists, shirkers and traitors - but Horowitz seemed unwilling to allow that positive determined quality in any of his "guest" characters, whether major or minor in the story. This is especially true of anyone in a position of authority. Just about every single person that Foyle deals with who holds rank or official status is portrayed in varying degrees as arrogant, callous, treacherous, obstructive or incompetent - sometimes a combination of these. It's as though Horowitz wants us to think that either Britain's entire wartime leadership was working against its own national interests or that there was never a sense of righteousness in the fight against Nazism. Foyle's War sometimes seemed to be against his own government and his own superiors. On the odd occasion this might have been a useful plot device, but was it necessary for it to be such a constant theme? I can't help wondering what the motive was for this, but I do know that over time it began to spoil my enjoyment of the show.
Foyle's War: Casualties of War (2007)
An illogical plot
Of all the Foyle's War episodes, I felt that this was one of the weakest and, as usual, was heavily dependent on Michael Kitchen's flawless performance as Foyle. I think the writer Anthony Horowitz should never have misappropriated the story of Barnes Wallis and the "Bouncing Bomb" for this episode. The Wallis/Bouncing Bomb/Dambusters story is too real and too famous to be used in such a way and surely Horowitz could have invented any kind of fictional secret weapon project to tell the story. Having done this, he added insult by portraying his version of Barnes Wallis as a moral coward taking the credit for someone else's work. There were other glaring flaws in the plot: If the weapon was being developed for a Royal Air Force raid, why was the project under the control of the Royal Navy? How could a supposedly top-secret weapon project be left with absolutely no security, to the point that two teenage criminals could simply walk into the building in broad daylight, see everything and threaten the scientists with blackmail? The ending, too, actually counted against Foyle's character. In wartime, many people were forced into making difficult choices and uncomfortable compromises for the sake of winning the war, and they had to live with those choices whether they liked it or not. Foyle, on the other hand, seemed to feel that his perfect principles outweighed the national interest. He was determined to pursue his case even if it threatened the war effort and, when he found that he couldn't, he resigned and walked away, condemning those who were left to bear the responsibility for what happened. Not everyone in wartime could enjoy such luxury of choice. For me, this undermined Foyle's character.
Anzac Girls (2014)
Anzac drama falls short of the mark
I had high hopes for this series at the beginning but those hopes were progressively dashed as it went on. Obviously a lot of money was spent on it but much more should have been spent on the script and acting. Much of it came across as wooden and forced, and seemed to be trying too hard to idolise the nurses the series portrayed, instead of showing them as real people in an extraordinary situation. By episode four, the relentless romantic interludes had become boring, and any factual or historic features in the script nearly had signposts shouting IMPORTANT HISTORIC FACT COMING UP! The anti-British message was delivered with a sledgehammer at every opportunity, as was the emphasis on how wonderful it is to be Australian. All in all, a missed opportunity, I think. It was the sort of thing that Australian television made in the 1980s - not what it should be making in 2015.
Frozen Planet (2011)
Absolutely brilliant work
I was looking forward to this BBC series and I was not in any way disappointed. The work that went in to bringing us these wonderful visions of the polar regions is amazing. Thankfully, in New Zealand, we saw the David Attenborough-narrated version as it was meant to be. No disrespect to Alec Baldwin, who narrated the US version, but Sir David has been there and done that in wildlife film-making for the best part of 60 years. He KNOWS what he's talking about. I'm very aware of the "controversy" that surrounds the seventh episode titled On Thin Ice, and the apparent reluctance of US TV to show it because it deals with climate change. My advice is: don't let anyone tell you that this is a piece of climate change propaganda. It's not. It simply lays out the facts in a non-judgmental way and backs them up with historical photography and clear satellite imagery. Watch it and make up your own mind.
An intensely irritating display of US nationalism.
I remember watching this mini-series the first time in 1984 with a growing sense of anger and indignation. Having read the comments on this title, I must agree with those from the people in Greece. This was produced to coincide with the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and, to me, it seemed like nothing more than an exercise in jingoistic, flag-waving American nationalism in which the American athletes are glorified at everyone else's expense. Some other nationalities would have every right to feel deeply insulted at the way they were portrayed in this series. It may, however, help to explain the way in which many American spectators behaved at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the TV coverage which seemed only interested in events that Americans were likely to win.
Strange re-write of New Zealand history.
This drama series just didn't work for me at all. If you are trying to write historical drama, then your task is to dramatise historical events. If, however, you are trying to write historical fiction then you must set your fictional story against a genuine and well-researched historical background.
Greenstone, a cross-cultural love story supposedly set in 19th century New Zealand, followed neither of these basic rules and ended up losing the plot altogether.
The writers apparently wanted to write an "epic" story with a cast of easily-identifiable villains (arrogant, imperialist English) and victims/heroes (noble Maori, oppressed Irish) but shot themselves in the foot by inventing a false history of New Zealand to suit the story they wanted to tell. As a result, the story had no credibility.
I don't understand the writers' motives in doing this. Were they trying to invent a new history of New Zealand to suit a modern political agenda? Or could they simply not be bothered to research their subject properly? Whatever their motives, it didn't work. And a golden opportunity to create a truly believable historical TV drama about 19th Century New Zealand was lost.
That's a shame because New Zealand TV struggles to fund major drama series at the best of times. And a wasted opportunity like this doesn't help matters.
Not clever enough
The first episode of Primeval went to air in New Zealand last night and I'm afraid I'm joining the "disappointed" team. I was looking forward to this as a fan of British TV but it quickly lost my vote, and not just because it looks like a cross between Jurassic Park and Stargate. That wouldn't have been a problem if the writers and director had shown any degree of patience with their plot. Instead, they rushed headlong into the story as if in fear of the viewers getting away if they stopped for breath. So there was no tension, no build-up, no clever mind games with the viewer and, by the end of the first fifteen minutes, we already knew far too much - as did the characters. And what the characters discovered didn't scare them anywhere near enough. The main ones are supposed to be serious scientists but they were far too ready to accept things that should have thrown their world-view into chaos. Big, scary creature? Well, clearly it's a dinosaur that's somehow found its way into the present day. Oh, look - big sparkly thing in the forest. It must be a space-time anomaly. We've all heard about those! And yes, let's go through the big sparkly thing despite the fact that we have absolutely no idea what it will do to us or what, if anything, is on the other side. (At least Stargate had the nous to send a mechanical probe through first). And the scenes with the boy were just plain lazy and crude. A dinosaur manages to track the boy right back to his bedroom in suburban England and then proceeds to smash its way through his window and wreck his room without anyone in the other houses noticing. And when his mother comes up to tell the boy off for making so much noise, she doesn't even bother to ask how the bedroom window frame came to be smashed to pieces! Pu-lease! Yes, I know that sci-fi demands a suspension of disbelief but good sci-fi doesn't insult your intelligence along the way. What it should do is challenge your imagination. Primeval doesn't do that - at least not for the adult viewer - so I won't be tuning in next week.
The Poseidon Adventure (2005)
It didn't sink soon enough.
I think the writing was on the wall for this turkey when they named the captain of the ship after the author of the original novel and then had him shot in the back. As an earlier commentator has pointed out, the best line in the whole thing came right at the end: "It's a bloody mess".
Some say this version shouldn't be compared to the original movie but you can't help it when the title, the basic plot, many of the characters and even some of the scenes are identical. It's as though the makers of this version never understood what made the original so entertaining and figured they could do better. They couldn't - and didn't.
Apart from the bad script, bad acting and bad directing, this film demanded far too much suspension of disbelief to be a straight drama. Those responsible should have gone down with the ship.