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The Sweeney: Faces (1975)
Written by Murray Smith who created Strangers and The Paradise Club.
It starts off with another thrilling opening as the police give chase to a masked gang robbing a security van.
The gang is led by an ex soldier from Manchester called Tober (Colin Welland) who have been contracted to carry out several heists over the next few days by a German terrorist group.
Carter is getting information from his snout but the secret service have an inside man and do not wish for his identity to be compromised. They are after the terrorists.
Smith very much follows the Sweeney formula but you also have a cynical view of the security services.
There are some thrilling action scenes at the beginning and the end with even Haskins getting involved in the action.
It only seemed yesterday that Colin Welland was nicking villains in Z Cars. He should had told the German that the British were coming.
Before he was Frank Butcher in Eastenders and somewhere at the same time as Yus My Dear and The Comedians on ITV. Mike Reid became known to a generation of kids through Runaround with his catchphrase Gggggggg go!
Runaround was a quiz show with aspects of educate and entertain.
Kids would be given three answers to a question and they run to an answer. They would then have a few seconds to change their mind and jump to another answer. I presume this was done to throw people off the scent when they first run to the answer. In short give people the runaround.
In the between the questions there would be people who turn up to talk about their profession. It could be a confectionery rock maker, a blacksmith, a sidecar motorbike racer, someone working with traction engines. The following question would then be linked with the person who just appeared.
There would also be a pop group that would perform a song and Reid supplied the jokes.
As this was shown on ITV the prizes were much better such as a television. There was no Crackerjack pencil to be seen here.
It was all a bit too stop-start. You get a few questions and then someone on a horse or a steam engine appears for a bit of a chat. Reid was a bit too old for ma show like this but he was game. I noticed that both the boys and girls looked all alike. No chance for anyone getting Yew-treed.
I think Runaround eventually got overtaken by the more fun Cheggers Plays Pop on the BBC.
Stath Lets Flats: A Pushy Boy (2018)
A Pushy Boy
The first series of Stath Lets Flats was nominated for two Baftas.
It just shows what I know about comedy.
Written and starring Jamie Demetriou. He plays aggressive and incompetent British Greek Cypriot Stath who works in the letting agency run by his dad. In short Stath is there because of nepotism.
Incidentally the actress playing Stath's sister is Natasia Demetriou, Jamie's real life sister.
This was an underwhelming and unfunny opener. Stath is accused by his father of being too pushy to potential tenants. He tries to steal a rental from a fellow worker Carole. He injures another worker Al and then refuses to take him to hospital.
The funniest bit was when Stath tries to catch a pigeon for an angry tenant and damages some television screens.
Maybe the first series improves as it goes on.
Semi-Detached: Episode #1.1 (2020)
Lee Mack's real time sitcom returns for a full series after the pilot episode was broadcast in 2019.
Set four months after the pilot. Stuart has been left holding the baby as his second marriage to his much younger wife April is on the skids.
Stuart wants to win her back, April thinks he lacks spontaneity. It seems cooking something and serving it with her dad's houmous is unlikely to do the trick.
Well it will when Stuart learns that he stole his dad's special houmous. It is laced with magic mushrooms. It soon became apparent to me that Stuart will certain start being out there and spontaneous.
It was a busy first episode but it is also very contrived. I forgot about the real time element of it. I did think that the writing in the first episode was to reliant on too many weak jokes and shouting. I am too used to Mack's quick witted humour in Not Going Out.
Unbecoming Habits: Part 3 - The Cross Country Monk
Bognor just cannot keep out of trouble. He gets bashed on the head in the friary and then someone puts him to bed.
The mystery deepens as Batty Tom is found dead, a letter turns up which implicates him for the murder of Collingdale.
It is all too neat and Batty Tom's father is a distinguished peer. However Bognor and Sir Erris Beg decide that it is better to give the impression that the case has been wrapped up but Bognor will stay on.
Bognor is put out when his boss Parkinson arrives who is not impressed with his partying and acting like he is on holiday with his girlfriend on the Cote D'azur.
There are so many young monks to keep track of, it is difficult to know just who is who. You just go by the faces which is easier if they are familiar actors such as Edward Peel.
I do think that Bognor would be better off if he did not drink so much. Having Parkinson turn up does add to the eccentricity of the series. We see Bognor getting frustrated with his boss but the scenes are jarringly edited.
War Horse (2011)
Steven Spielberg is a big fan of British directors such as Richard Attenborough, Carol Reed and Powell & Pressburger. In War Horse Spielberg is very much inspired by those directors as well as with a touch of John Ford with the orange hued sunset at the end of the movie.
Taking Michael Morpurgo's novel which was turned into a stage play. Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) forms a close friendship with Joey the horse his father bought at an auction to plough the field at their Devon farm.
With the outbreak of World War 1. Financial burdens means that Joey is sold to a cavalry officer who promises Albert that the horse would be returned to him if they survive the war.
The film follows Joey's fate as he is taken by the German army, adopted by a small girl in a French farm and then becomes trapped in no man's land.
Technically, War Horse is an accomplished piece of film-making from Spielberg. It really is a master craftsman at the helm aided by his cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and a musical score from John Williams.
It is emotionally stirring in places, yet it never quiet gels together. War Horse is a series of vignettes which charts Joey's journey throughout the first world war. The downside is that you are never invested in the characters as they are only with you for a short while. This includes Albert who tops and tails the movie.
The anti war message from the book is lost. There are hints on the futility of war but the movie depicts the Germans here as more intelligent than the British when the first cavalry charge takes place.
All Around the Clock
The Fourmiles return from a winter break and Ann is not happy. She was expecting a skiing holiday but Jeffrey went to play golf instead.
They return to find their house was burgled. Detective Sgt Burke is not happy with Jeffrey's class distinctions.
Meanwhile the Ropers exchange gifts for their 24th wedding anniversary. Mildred gets George a pipe which allows him to do his Harold Wilson impersonation. George gets Mildred a carriage clock. He got it cheap from a man in the pub.
Mildred later fears that the clock was a heirloom stolen from the Fourmiles and tries to give it back on the sly.
I did enjoy Robert Gillespie's sardonic performance as Detective Sgt Burke especially his rapport with little Tristram.
The story is the old chestnut of mistaken assumptions. Mildred thinks the police have called round as she has not bought a dog licence, then assuming that George's gift was stolen.
13 East Street (1952)
13 East Street
13 East Street is a serviceable B thriller. A quickie quota with an American guest star.
It starts off with a man robbing a jewellery store and being chased by the police. He is caught, sentenced and escapes when he is being transported to prison with another convict called Joey.
Joey introduces the man to his boss Larry and is accepted as a gang member. They gang are involved in various robberies. The man is Inspector Blake an undercover policeman whose job is to infiltrate this gang and pass information about their activities to another undercover policeman who is always hanging around nearby.
However one person in the gang has suspicions about Blake as he thinks he has seen him before. The story is rather clumsy in its execution. There is a scene where Blake's wife and their neighbour nearly bump into him.
Out of all the actors it is Dora Bryan that stands out the most.
The Gentle Touch: Shock (1980)
A middle aged woman is found dead in a flat. The police are called and they think it might be suicide at first or that she was somehow electrocuted.
Further enquiries lead the police to believe that this flat was a love nest and the woman was due to meet a lover. There was champagne in the room.
This was no whodunit as the death was not suspicious. The woman had a wealthy husband who once used the flat himself for his affairs.
It was all rather mundane. It made me think, a drama with a female policewoman broadcast on the weekend. Like Juliet Bravo on the BBC it gets bogged down with domestics. All the action stuff is still with the boys.
Assignment Two: Part 8
With his ideas on time as a concept. It is a shame that Peter Hammond never wrote for Doctor Who although he did write for its spin off Torchwood.
From now on the relationship between Steel and Tully is akin to a cat playing with a cornered mouse. Steel even enquiring if Tully has any family.
Sapphire knows what Steel is planning but is unwilling or unable to stop him.
Unbeknown to Tully, Steel is willing to trade him to the darkness. The resentment of time being disrupted will feed it for maybe a millennia. Even Sam Pearce eventually realises that the darkness will never free them, it needs their anger.
The finale and the way Tully is sacrificed by Steel comes as a jolt. I noted that Russel T Davies did something similar in Torchwood: Children of Earth with Captain Jack's grandson.
Assignment Two suffers from the number of episodes. It could easily had been done in six. Still despite the low budget, it is very atmospheric and claustrophobic.
Due South: Pizzas and Promises (1994)
Pizzas and Promises
When a young pizza delivery boy Lenny has his car stolen. Diefenbaker follows it to the car dealership that he just bought it from. The wolf never gives up once he has the scent.
Lenny is out on parole and if he cannot keep his job then he is back inside.
Benton and Ray go undercover and find out that someone in the dealership is stealing back the second hand cars they sell and quickly repaint and put it back to sale.
Ray's sister Francesca turns up thinking she was going on a date with Benton. She ends up helping them out pretending to be a car buyer but ends up mainly feuding with her brother.
Due South maintains its balance of comedy and action. Of course Ray is a natural second hand car salesman. Benton has trouble telling the truth but attracts the ladies attention.
I was unsure why Ray's boss did not want such a scam to be officially investigated. They would be stealing lots of other cars.
Harvey Atkin who plays Tex was better known for Cagney & Lacey.
Miami Vice: Lombard (1985)
Lombard is a character piece on Albert Lombard (Dennis Farina) forced to testify against his bosses while trying to make up with his son.
The police have subpoenaed Lombard, gave him immunity from prosecution so he cannot plead the 5th Amendment. Not being a US lawyer I am not sure the legality of how the 5th can be overridden especially in the next sentence it is added that if Lombard does not talk he will be cited!
Lombard is a gangster of the old school. He does not believe in ratting out his bosses even if he does not like the new young upstart Librizzi that heads the family.
Librizzi has no time for past loyalties and orders a hit on Lombard. It is up to Crockett and Tubbs to protect Lombard.
There are several nice shootouts in this episode featuring some big guns. Although you have question Lombard's judgment when a henchman fingers his close friend for ordering the hit on him and Lombard dismisses it.
For the first season of Miami Vice, this is a rather subdued episode. The scenes with Lombard's son is hokey. One of the song's featured is Wire from U2.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
British director Peter Yates was very versatile. His varied output ranged from Cliff Richard's musical Summer Holiday, crime classic Bullitt, comedy heist The Hot Rock, teen cycling movie Breaking Away, stage drama The Dresser.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a grimy gritty crime drama as well as a character study set in early 1970s working class Boston. It is clear that the film's style influenced both Micheal Mann in movies such as Thief and Heat. As well as Ben Affleck in his directorial effort The Town.
Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum) is a truck driver and a small time hood for the Irish mob. He is facing jail time for a truck hijacking and he wants a reduced sentence from ATF agent David Foley (Richard Jordan.) Foley wants Eddie as an informer.
Eddie also supplies arms to some robbers carrying out bank robberies. Eddie gets them from gun runner Jackie Brown (Steven Keats.)
With wife and kids, Eddie does not want to do a long stretch and finds Foley is very demanding. Eddie does not know that Foley has other informants such as Dillon (Peter Boyle) a bartender and who set up the job which landed Eddie in trouble.
Mitchum gives a world weary performance as the hood who has been doing low level crime for years. Eddie tells the story to Jackie Brown about how he had his hand broken once because someone went to jail for a mistake he made.
Mitchum gives a good performance but Keats gives an even better one as Jackie Brown. There is a great scene where he tells a novice gun dealer that life is for a gun runner and even harder if you are stupid.
The title of the film is ironic. Eddie has no friends, he is on his own like the other crooks in the movie. You find and push your own edge to get ahead. Dillon knows that.
The drama works better when it concentrates on the small time crooks as well as the cop who wants to get somewhere. The actual bank robbery scenes with the guns Eddie procured get in the way.
Killing Eve: Still Got It (2020)
Still Got It
Half way through the third series. I think there is a lot of catching up to do plot wise.
In this episode, there is a narrative shift as you have individual chapters for each characters.
The series is still jaunting all over Europe. Konstantin seems to be transporting everywhere. He is in Russia with his daughter one minute then with Villanelle in Barcelona.
The best part in this narrative is Niko and Dasha and how both of them collide for a shocking climax.
Eve's marriage is over. Niko moved to Poland to live a simple life delivering bread to his neighbours. Niko ignores all the texts from Eve. Until one text lures Eve to Poland and to go and see Niko. It is a plan crafted by Dasha.
Hopefully this will move on the story between Eve and Villanelle. I still think the arc for the third series is still not enticing enough.
A Pick-up of the Later Ming Dynasty
I have no idea why Marina would go to a second hand shop for a hairnet.
Auntie Wainwright's would not be the first place that would come to my head for such an item.
Still it allows Roy Clarke slip in his plot device without hopefully anyone noticing. Marina ends up with a camouflage net, something she and Howard can hide under.
The net also comes useful for Tom when the repo man comes looking for him.
The absence of Wesley is noticeable in this episode. Two people have car trouble including Barry. Glenda makes no mention of her dad. Instead the AA man is called.
Entwistle charms other regulars with his ancient wisdom from Hull. He also has trouble with his motor but is unwilling to spend any money. Entwistle does help Barry to sober up as he gets drunk again.
William Russell has fun playing dual roles in this one. He is both Lancelot and Sir Bliant.
A truce between Sir Bliant and Sir Rolf has been broken by Bliant's three sons. They want to forcibly marry Rolf's daughters and kidnap them.
Rolf seeks Arthur's help. Lancelot obliges by impersonating Bliant with Merlin's help and challenging the three sons to teach them a lesson.
It was good to see Lancelot wrestling and his wig not falling off. Also he looks so much like Bliant that his sons did not notice. A daft story but enjoyable for the family audience.
William Tell: The Assassins (1958)
Two Swiss men have bee sent by the Austrian king to kill Prince Karl who is staying with Gessler.
Instead of rewarding the men, Gessler arrests them for murder.
Gessler sees an opportunity to use these Swiss men to kill William Tell. He chances that if the men are transported in the vicinity of Tell's hangout, they might be able to escape and join Tell.
It is all a matter of how much Tell trusts these new Swiss guests. The final fight scenes were fairly laughable I thought.
Alfred Burke plays one of the Swiss assassin's and even in a small role he makes the most of it.
Prodigal Son: Annihilator (2019)
There is an arc forming. Malcolm has nightmares about a woman he saw in a box in his father's hobby room.
It looks like Lou Diamond Phillips did not put boot polish on his hair for just the one flashback. Gil Arroyo found no trace of this woman.
Malcolm has night terrors about what happened to this woman. She was never found, his father denies she was there.
Malcolm is brought in to investigate a quadruple murder of a wealthy Greek shipping industrialist. Dr Martin Whitly is just itching to help.
The episode is at its strongest when it is inspired by Thomas Harris's writings. It is at its weakest when it needs profiler type wizardry to find the killer and wrap up the episode in time.
Rebus: The First Stone (2007)
The First Stone
Skulduggery in the Scottish church. A minister due to be elected as Moderator of of the General Assembly of the Church. of Scotland is found dead. He was naked in a car with a woman who is also dead.
The suspect is the woman's husband Tommy Steele, a man with a record.
Matters get complex when other minsters die, a radio DJ gets nervous. An important clue is received from an ex policeman that Rebus visits in an old people's home.
It seems dead woman had a past where her daughter went missing. The dead ministers also had a past that they wish remained buried.
It is a mildly enjoyable story as long as you approach Rebus with low expectations. This was adapted from a short story. You have to wonder what investigations the police did about the dead woman when an ex copper with dementia gives an important clue and not the police computer.
Tomb Raider (2018)
Lara Croft has been rebooted as an origins film but it is a lacklustre pastiche of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) works as a poor bike courier in London, unable to afford to go to university. Even though her missing father Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) controlled many companies now run by associate Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas.)
Lara could claim her father's companies and fortune if she legally declared him dead. However Lara finds a clue that leads to a message to destroy his research about Queen Himiko's tomb. She goes off to Hong Kong to look for her father and his search for the mystical tomb on an island near Japan. As Lara's search progresses she learns new skills.
An illogical story, a generic bad guy, some messy action scenes and Vikander lacks the pneumatic assets of Angelina Jolie. The film never progresses much from its video game roots.
And Soon the Darkness (1970)
And Soon the Darkness
And Soon the Darkness is a foreboding eerie thriller written by Brian Clemens and Terry Nation. Two writers better known for their sci fi/fantasy output.
Two young pretty nurses are on a cycling holiday in the French countryside. Jane (Pamela Franklin) wants to keep on schedule. Cathy (Michele Dotrice) is more outgoing, provocatively dressed and wants to have a good time.
Cathy has caught the eye of a young man in a village cafe who they keep seeing. Jane leaves Cathy alone after an argument over their itinerary and Cathy thinks that Jane is being too pushy. At a cafe, Jane is warned by a woman that this area is dangerous. Later Jane finds out that Cathy has disappeared.
Jane gets help from the young man they saw earlier. Paul (Sandor Elès) claims to be a detective from Paris who is looking into a murder of a young woman that took place in the area several years ago. Jane finds him creepy and manages to get to a local police station.
The opening theme music is too jarring for this kind of thriller. It also tries too hard to portray Paul as the villain. When I first watched this many years ago, I found the reveal to be genuinely unsettling. I did think the film suffers by not being taut enough. It is a lot better than its 2010 remake.
Hannay: Death with Due Notice (1988)
Death with Due Notice
It is the fourth episode of the first series and we got a lot more about Hannay's background.
He had little formal education beyond the 3 Rs and was a mining engineer without any formal qualifications.
Reggie Armitage announces Hannay as his friend who has recently arrived from South Africa. I actually wondered if the running order of the episodes were reshuffled.
Armitage and some other friends who all served in the same regiment in South Africa have received letters. They all contain a line from a Shakespeare tragedy. They are later killed, we even see Armitage being shot at close range.
Hannay investigates, he even tries to warn off several other possible targets. Inspector Bristow of the local police seems to be of little use and irritated by Hannay poking his nose in.
I felt this would had been more suspenseful but the killer just shows up and almost announces himself. He was a very good friend of a soldier who was court-martialled. If you get the drift.
The English Dragon
Mendoza, The Spanish Ambassador wants Queen Elizabeth to banish Francis Drake, execution is preferable.
In private Queen Elizabeth has little time for Mendoza's lies. However he has one cunning plan. Exchanging Drake for the life of Lord Oakeshott (David McCallum) who is being held prisoner in Calais.
Drake goes off to rescue him only to find out that Oakeshott is in love with the Countess of the castle who is his protector and lover. Oakeshott lacks steel and far from treats Drake as a favourite uncle.
With time running out as Mendoza wants Oakeshott executed if Queen Elizabeth does not agree with his terms. Can Drake and Oakeshott make themselves invisible and duck out by the time Mendoza arrives in the dungeon?
There is a little bit more off Micheal Crawford in this episode but he seems to have more singing than action. McCallum still looks the same 60 years later but his character is a wet fish.
A Guest for the Gallows
The nasty Sheriff of Nottingham decides to make an example of a family man unable to pay his taxes. Hang him high.
Even the tax collectors are shocked by this harsh approach who favour the man is allowed to postpone his taxes until his crops are grown.
When news reaches Robin Hood, he decides to save the man from the gallows.
Robin pretends to be a butcher who sells meat cheaply even for free to widows. He starts a fight in the market as other traders are jealous of his sales approach and is accused of selling stolen meat.
Robin is taken to see the Sheriff, he persuades the sheriff that he is gentry selling his father's animals who is fighting in the crusades. Making enough money to have a good time.
The sheriff accompanies him to see the animals and does not realise that this is a trap.
It makes you wonder just how clever the Sheriff is. Not only does he not recognise the outlaw Robin Hood or Friar Tuck. The Sheriff just wanders into Sherwood Forest with a stranger and finds himself held for ransom.
As for Robin, if the Sheriff does not know who the outlaws are by face, maybe he should keep it that way.
Gemini Man (2019)
By the time the end credits rolled. I had to remind myself that this action movie was directed by a two time Best Director Oscar winner.
Ang Lee must have thought that if Sam Mendes could slum it by directing a Bond movie then he could do the same.
Well Ang Lee did make the Hulk back in 2003. A comic strip art movie, one of the more visually interesting early Marvel adaptations.
Gemini Man is simply Ang Lee taking the money and running. It is a generic but dull action adventure with some pretty locations. Most of it was shot in central Europe.
Will Smith plays hitman Henry Brogan who calls it a day as his skills are slipping due to him getting older.
Brogan learns that the agency who sent him down for his final hit lied to him. His target was not a bio terrorist as they claimed. Soon Brogan finds himself being hunted by an assassin who looks like a younger version of himself. He has been cloned.
With the help of a female rookie agent Danny Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who was meant to keep an eye on Brogan. Both go on the run knowing that their former bosses have turned on them.
Despite a few good action scenes, a lot of it was a crashing bore. There was a scene with another clone but it was very much a tribute Terminator act.