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6/10
Wisteria Lodge
15 October 2019
I wonder if Arthur Conan Doyle's Wisteria Lodge was inspired by Arthur Morrison's The Affair of the Tortoise which was published earlier.

The latter was dramatised as an episode of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes featuring the detective Martin Hewitt.

Both stories feature people with a murky past from the Americas who are now hiding out in Britain.

A cartographer Scott Eccles consults Sherlock Holmes. He was invited to a country estate as a guest of an amateur Spanish cartographer, Garcia. The next morning, Eccles wakes up and find the house deserted. The police later turn up wanting to question Eccles over the death of Mr Garcia.

Freddie Jones gives a fruity performance as Inspector Barnes. He comes across as pompous and pig headed at first, telling Holmes that he can follow his path while Barnes will tread his own. Holmes is convinced that Barnes has the wrong suspect.

Holmes and Watson investigate a neighbouring house. Dr Watson thinks he has spotted a lady in distress. It is an elaborate revenge tale featuring a fugitive dictator from Latin America. To Holme's surprise Barnes was never too far off the scent.

There is a lot of plot here, it just starts off in a very subdued manner. Jones actually livens things up a little and at the end it is a rather tragic tale of revenge.
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Bergerac: Ninety Per Cent Proof (1983)
Season 3, Episode 1
6/10
Ninety Per Cent Proof
15 October 2019
It is the start of the third season and a starry young cast. John Gordon Sinclair, Carol Royle and Ray Winstone all appear.

Jim Bergerac is spending all day in court over an arson case. Jerry LeFevre is accused of setting his hotel on fire for the insurance money. Bergerac stopped LeFevre's car which contained empty containers that smelled of petrol.

LeFevre's lawyer wants a jury trial and argues the evidence is flimsy. LeFevre's son went out with Bergerac's ex wife. It all looks like Bergerac is being vindictive.

Later that evening, Bergerac helps a drunk Irish lady who claims her ex husband is stalking her. While he goes out to investigate a potential sighting of him, she is found dead in the hotel room and later Bergerac is found extremely drunk.

When he returns to the hotel room later on, there is no dead body and LeFevre's son is there with another lady. It looks like a set up to discredit Bergerac.

Brian Clemens wrote a very different adventure. Bergerac has to clear his name and prove to everyone that he has not fallen off the wagon. A priest drops by to help him, a fellow recovering alcoholic just like Bergerac.

Of course credibility is strained as Bergerac storms in everywhere like a bull in a china shop and rarely engages his brain. He makes it very easy for the LeFevre's to discredit him.
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Extras: Sir Ian McKellen (2006)
Season 2, Episode 5
7/10
Sir Ian McKellen
15 October 2019
With Andy's sitcom being continually lambasted by the critics. Andy decides the play's the thing and he wants to show off his acting chops in the theatre.

Darren gets Andy a part in a play to be directed by Sir Ian McKellen. Only to Andy's dismay, this romantic play features a same sex gay relationship.

Andy is uncomfortable being involved in a gay play. It gets worse on the opening night, his old school friends arrive. Steve Sherwood never had issues in pulling the ladies and Andy resented being called gay by him. Now they will all see Andy being romantic with another man in a gay play.

Jonathan Cake plays the babe magnet Steve, the old school friend of Andy. I really liked how he played it straight especially when Andy's camp old pal Bunny showed up. I think Cake outshone the guest star Ian McKellen.

Both Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant turned up the dial in the embarrassing squirm factor regarding straight actors playing gay parts and being seen by family and friends.

Darren gets his own embarrassing mishap when he invites Maggie to his home for dinner.
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4/10
Is There a Doctor in the House?
15 October 2019
Xena and Gabrielle comes across some wounded people caught up in a civil war. Xena needs to give them urgent medical attention by setting up a proper mobile army surgical hospital in a healing temple.

They also come across a pregnant woman about to give birth to a centaur. Worse Gabrielle gets mortally injured.

It really is case of war is hell and Cena and Gabrielle deal with the casualties of war.

A limp end to the first series which is mainly studio bound. I think the budget ran out. It is Dr Xena as she displays her medical skills right in front of a young Hippocrates who is impressed with Xena's healing skills. He is less enamoured with the old man Galen's power of prayer to the healing gods. Galen is also offended by Xena's modern medicine methods. This is Ancient Greece after all.
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The Godfather (1972)
10/10
The Godfather
14 October 2019
Francis Ford Coppola got Mario Puzo's pulpy novel and turned it into a cinematic masterpiece with Puzo as co-scriptwriter. Robert McKee famous for his seminars on script writing offers Casablanca as the perfect film. He deconstructs the script and movie in his seminars. He is wrong. The Godfather is as perfect as a movie you can get.

When Paramount Pictures gave the movie a greenlight. The mafia families were concerned that it would lift the lid on how they operated and shine an unwelcome spotlight on the crime bosses. There were attempts to stop the movie being made. They had nothing to worry about, when the movie came out the mob bosses realized that no amount of money could buy the public relations they got from the film.

Instead of murderous gangsters. The Godfather portrays the mafia as men of honour, family men who value loyalty and live by a code. Violence would only be used as a last resort. It is because we never see the outside victims of these people. The story is set within gangsters and their families and associates.

The film opens with an epic wedding sequence set after the war. On the day of his daughter's wedding Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) cannot refuse a request made of him. His godson Johnny Fontane drops by to sing at the wedding and requests Don Vito's help to secure a part in a movie that would secure his comeback. His informally adopted son Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) is sent to Hollywood to persuade the film producer and when he refuses, the producer wakes up in bed with the head of his prized horse.

Don Vito Corleone is a criminal, the head of the five families. He is also the moral centre of this movie. He is wise, he can be kind but he is also ageing and his values are of a world that is disappearing. Don Vito's reluctance to enter the drugs trade would be his undoing.

The Godfather is really the story of youngest son, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino.) The war hero who wanted to have nothing to do with the family business but is pulled in first when his father is shot and then when a further attempt is made on his life in the hospital. After the death of his hot headed brother Sonny Corleone (James Caan.) Michael is groomed by Don Vito to become the head of the family. After his father's death, Michael plans revenge on those who betrayed his family and the rival families.

In his first scenes at the family wedding, Michael explains to his girlfriend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) the various heavies hanging around and some of the things his father did to pull favours. Michael is an outsider in his own family as he tells Kay that he is not like them. As the film progresses Michael becomes exactly like them.

The Godfather has terrific performances. Marlon Brando won his second Best Actor Oscar and rejuvenated his career. On the other hand Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and James Caan were all nominated for the best supporting actor Oscars and cancelled each other out. The film won three Oscars including Best Picture. The big winner that year was actually Cabaret with eight Oscar wins including Best Director.

So much of The Godfather has been emulated since. Michael Cimino was so enamoured by the movie, he opens The Deer Hunter with an epic wedding sequence to set up his story. He also cast Robert De Niro and John Cazale, two actors who appeared in The Godfather films. On the other hand Coppola would later cast John Savage who plays an important role in The Deer Hunter in The Godfather III in 1990.

Then there is the climax. The christening scenes where Michael Corleone renounces the devil and all his work which is intercut with his various henchmen killing the Corleone's rivals. A trick Coppola has used in his other movies.
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Agent Carter: Now Is Not the End (2015)
Season 1, Episode 1
6/10
Now Is Not the End
14 October 2019
Hayley Atwell reprises Agent Carter in her own television series. Using clips from Captain America: The First Avenger, this series is set after the second world war as Agent Carter works for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR.) The organisation that was succeeded by SHIELD.

The SSR is male dominated and chauvinistic. Agent Carter gets the brunt of it.

With the paranoia that manifested itself in the USA of the 1950s. The American government are after Howard Stark who is held in contempt for failing to appear in a Congress hearing and regarded as a traitor for selling his dangerous inventions to the highest bidder.

Howard Stark turns to Agent Carter for help to clear his name and his butler Jarvis provides her with assistance.

This episode has a wonderful period setting, it looks good visually. In contrast to Captain America: The First Avenger which was shot in Manchester, England which stood in for New York.

The pacing is good. Carter glams up to use her feminine charms and also gets to kick ass.

The first episode is forming an arc, it has more organic links with the Marvel movies and it is clear money was spent here.
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2/10
The Trial of a Time Lord: Part Fourteen
14 October 2019
The Valeyard quotes Shakespeare to the Doctor. He uses the phrase, The Undiscovered Country from Hamlet. It could be a good title for a Star Trek movie. The Valeyard wants the Doctor dead and the Master wants the Valeyard dead as well as take control of the Matrix.

With the death of Robert Holmes. The writers Pip and Jane Baker were brought in to finish the Trial season. For some reason they had no recourse to Holmes ideas to finish the serial.

What we are left with is a mess of an episode with some clunky pseudo scientific phrases from the Bakers. The Doctor is in a catatonic state as he ends up back in Dickens land as the Valeyard displays that the pen is certainly mightier than the sword.

We then end up back to the trial room where suddenly the Inquisitor suddenly becomes the judge and jury in a lynching party. Hold on what was the function of those Time Lords sitting in the courtroom that were acting as if they were the jury for the last 13 weeks?

It is all the Theatre of Grand Guignol to eliminate the Time Lords. You actually think they need eliminating with their shoddy security operation. The Matrix was compromised for years and no one noticed. Their prosecutor was the evil incarnate of the Doctor who somehow emerged from nowhere and no one noticed. Did anyone even clock the Keeper of the Matrix by the end of it all?

Ultimately, the real judge jury and executioner was BBC programme controller Michael Grade. He hated the show and disliked Colin Baker. 'Carrot juice' turned out to be Baker's finals words as he was unceremoniously sacked. The show was kept on but producer John Nathan Turner had to recast the part once again.

The trial concept was a failure both with the critics and the viewers. The viewing figures declined and show would now be shunted away from the Saturday evening slot.

Interestingly the whole Season 23 has received the special edition Blu Ray treatment. At least now it is beautiful to look at.
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5/10
The Day the Earth Stood Still
14 October 2019
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a great movie. The 1951 original that is.

This could had been a good movie if the story was not so disjointed. If the script was not so cliched and if they got rid off the annoying kid.

The US government summons a group of scientists in secret. An object from outer space is approaching the planet. In fact a sphere lands in New York and an alien Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) emerges who takes on human form.

Klaatu wants to talk to the world leaders about the human destruction of the planet. The US Secretary of Defence views him as a threat and wants him interrogated at a secure facility.

Dr Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) helps Klaatu escape and when she learns the true nature of his visit, she wants him to understand humanity.

Michael Rennie gave a wonderful performance in the original movie which had a message of peace. Reeves seems to be inspired by Jeff Bridges alien from Starman as the remake highlights the issue of environmental destruction. Unfortunately the movie is bland, the American military are portrayed as trigger happy caricatures.
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6/10
Look Whose Wheel's Come Off
13 October 2019
When Pearl is told that Howard wants a kiss. She replies "again, we did it on the honeymoon."

No wonder Howard went for Marina and frankly he should had stayed with her.

Hobbo meanwhile gets a smacker on the lips from Pearl. Much to Howard's disgust. I think Pearl enjoyed it. It must be Hobbo's moisturiser.

Hobbo uses his operational brain for two plans. One to get Barry to enjoy a night out after sneakily having some fish and chips. Second to persuade Howard to make a greater effort to protest that he is homeless.

Luckily for Barry that Glenda is not that hard as she realises he has ate fish and chips. Howard though chains himself on his bicycle and then loses the key.

Another episode stolen by the quips from Entwistle and a much better effort from Roy Clarke, almost vintage.
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Brightburn (2019)
3/10
Brightburn
13 October 2019
Brightburn is essentially a twisted evil Superman origin story.

A childless couple Kyle and Tori Breyer adopt a baby boy whose alien craft lands on their rural farm. Brandon is like a normal child until he turns 12 years old.

Then Brandon exhibits erratic strange behaviour. He has dark thoughts which manifests in his drawings and writings in his scrapbook. Brandon injures a girl at school and when he feels threatened by someone, he goes to kill them in horrible ways. Eventually even his parents realize that their sweet boy no longer exists as Brandon manifests special powers.

Produced by James Gunn who made the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and written by his family members. This should had been an interesting 'what if' take on the superhero genre.

Instead Brighburn opts to become a dumb, violent slasher horror film. More Friday the 13th and The Omen as Brandon is the child you cannot harm.
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3/10
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
13 October 2019
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos makes a film based on a Greek tragedy, Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides.

Heart surgeon Steven Murphy's (Colin Farrell) life is in turmoil after he befriends a troubled teenager Martin (Barry Keoghan) who is the son of a patient who died while Steven was treating him.

Martin blames Steven for his father's death. His wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) finds out that Steven had been drinking when he treated Martin's dad. Now Martin is threatening harm to both of their children and he wants Steven to make a deadly choice.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a weird arthouse film and not a very good one. It starts out with the Murphy's comfortable lifestyle and everyone delivering lines in a monotonous cold way. It is too self consciously trying to be offbeat, dark and pretentious.

It then becomes unpleasant, surreal and violent as Martin can somehow make the Murphy's children fall ill by some form of magic. This compels Steven to act in a way to somehow rescue his family. It is essentially a demented version of Sophie's Choice.
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4/10
Private Buckaroo
12 October 2019
Essentially a musical revue for the war effort and promote enlistment. It is a movie with lots of songs and a slim story about an entertainer made to join the army and he has an attitude problem.

The movie could had benefited with more comedy acts although Mary Wickes steals the show as a tall lady out on a date with Shemp Howard in a nightclub. Comic Joe E Lewis tries to take her away from him.

The highlight of the songs is The Andrew Sisters singing Don't Sit under the Apple tree. If you know little about the Andrews Sisters then this is the film to see them in action.
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Star Trek: Discovery: Such Sweet Sorrow (2019)
Season 2, Episode 13
7/10
Such Sweet Sorrow
12 October 2019
The penultimate episode of Season two and Discovery raises the stakes with an action packed episode.

It is all excitingly heading for the finale and it all looks very cinematic. This is what Star Trek should be.

One confusing point was a character appears and I had no recollection of her and thought I had missed an episode. Po is a friend of Tilly and the new Queen of Xahia. She appeared in the Star Trek shorts that I have not watched.

The only way to prevent Control from obtaining the sphere data is to destroy Discovery. It means everyone is transferred to the Enterprise. We also see Captain Pike showing up in his gold uniform and comments are made about the colour scheme of the classic Star Trek look. This is the first indication that the producers are trying to align Discovery with original Star Trek.

However the sphere data has fused with the ship will not let Discovery be destroyed. That was rather obvious and it was a surprise no one thought this was a probable outcome. Burnham devises a plan to build a new time traveling Red Angel suit to open a wormhole into the future and send Discovery into another time and place. Somewhere where Control cannot find it. It means Burnham could be away for good.

It is a time for goodbyes, even Sarek senses something is wrong and goes to see Burnham and Spock. Pike says his farewells to the Discovery crew. It is rather understated but powerful all the same. What an impact Anson Mount has made.
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World on Fire: Episode #1.2 (2019)
Season 1, Episode 2
6/10
Episode 1.2
12 October 2019
Harry arrives back home in Britain with a refugee in tow. His mother is not pleased and knows there is something more as to how he chose this particular boy.

Harry is cut down to size in the Foreign Office. He might be idealistic and naive but his boss just thinks he is stupid and not cut out for the Foreign Office. Igt is hard to disagree with his boss. Even Lois knows Harry has been a naughty boy in Poland.

The harrowing scenes are the Nazis brutality in Poland since they invaded the country. Kasia sees her mother killed, she watches Jews being persecuted. A Pole throws some scissors in the street so the Nazi soldiers can cut off the beard of an elderly Jewish man.

The standout performances is the icy cold one from Lesley Manville. I am sure Harry is itching to find out what really did happen to his father.

It does look like an expensive production as we see Kasia being chased in the rubble of Warsaw.

Helen Hunt's character so far is to point out the rise of the Nazis in her broadcasts.
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Russian Doll: The Way Out (2019)
Season 1, Episode 7
7/10
The Way Out
12 October 2019
With the chaos around them, it is Nadia with her computing knowledge who provides a plausible explanation of what is going on. The orange might be rotting from the outside but slice it in two, it is ripe inside. Time is moving differently.

However each time, Nadia resets back to the bathroom at her party, there are less and less people. It looks like people are disappearing.

Nadia is haunted by her childhood memories and her mother's breakdown.

Alan resolves to be a better person and explains to Beatrice that he failed to see the signs that their relationship was in trouble.

A clever, troubling and enthralling episode with splatterings of blood and horror. The flashbacks to Nadia's childhood with her mother obsessed with buying watermelons has touch of Kubrick about it.
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Keeping Faith: Episode #2.5 (2019)
Season 2, Episode 5
5/10
Episode 2.5
12 October 2019
Evan has got out of jail and returned to the family home but Faith does not want to be near him.

It is Evan who is playing a dangerous game and he might be dangerous himself. He threatened Steve Baldini to leave Faith alone. That is Steve Baldini who punches hard objects like brick walls and rock.

We know DI Breeze was involved in getting Evan released early but he is also close to Gael Reardon in a perverse way.

We see Gael has got her hooks on everyone. Faith over the Corran Energy Deal and a host of businesses that she wants to use to launder her money.

As we head towards the second series finale, Faith is running out people she can trust, even the Madlen murder case throws in a few more twists.

The emotional game is there with the use of music and beautiful scenery. The story has been underwhelming.
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2/10
Men in Black: International
11 October 2019
You know a film is in trouble when two of the main stars turned up on the film set bringing their own writers to fix issues with the script.

The original Men in Black managed to deliver an exciting film in 90 minutes.

30 minutes into this film I was wondering where was the plot?

The film starts with young Molly Wright in New York who encountered an alien and saw her parents being neulayzed by the MIB. The adult Molly (Tessa Thompson) has spent years trying to join the MIB and succeeds after she infiltrates its headquarters.

Agent O (Emma Thompson) assigns her as a probationary agent to the London office which is run by Agent High T (Liam Neeson.) Molly teams up with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) to babysit Vungus the Ugly who is alien royalty. He is killed by alien twins.

Agent H is arrogant and a bit of a slacker on the job and Agent High T always covers up for him. However it turns out that someone within MIB might be a traitor.

The Men in Black films run out of steam with the sequel in 2002. This one does not even get out of the starting blocks. To call it a tired retread is an insult to a tired retread.

The best thing about Men in Black: International was an anecdote from Ed Solomon who wrote the first movie. He was in a profit share for Men in Black which grossed over $500 million worldwide.

Each year he recieves a letter from Columbia Pictures informing him that as Men in Black has not yet made a profit, there is no money for him to receive. Solomon said in advance of the release of the third sequel, this is proof that Columbia Pictures are in it for the art and not money. I think he was being ironic.
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The Name of the Rose: Episode #1.1 (2019)
Season 1, Episode 1
5/10
Episode 1
11 October 2019
The 1986 film adaptation told the mystery in 2 hours.

This Euro pudding has eight hours and will give Umberto Eco's novel room to breath.

The first episode of the television series certainly delves into the backgrounds of William Baskerville (John Turturro) and cruel inquisitor Bernardo Gui (Rupert Everett) called the spawn of satan by a monk he burned on the stake.

Baskerville is a medieval Sherlock Holmes sent to an abbey in Northern Italy and there has been a death, a monk fell from a window. In tow with Baskerville is a novice monk called Adso who dislikes his father.

This was beautiful to look at. I remember the film was carried by its stars Sean Connery and F Murray Abraham. Here Everett stands out, Turturro does some kind of cod English accent.

However I found myself losing interest as it went on. I am not sure I could stick with this for eight ponderous episodes especially after one person turned up and I knew that was the killer.
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Lucy (I) (2014)
5/10
Lucy
11 October 2019
Luc Besson mixes action with science fantasy in this slick but empty thriller.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is forced to become a drug mule in Taiwan with her body inserted with capsules of a new synthetic drug CPH4. When it leaks into her system, her mind accelerates in its abilities and she begins to transcend.

Chased by the drug kingpin's gang, Lucy ends up in Paris as she seeks help from Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) an expert on the potential of the human body.

With shades of Limitless, Lucy wants to say something about the power of the human mind and evolution but settles to be a dumb action thriller.
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The Avengers: Box of Tricks (1963)
Season 2, Episode 17
3/10
Box of Tricks
11 October 2019
Another episode with nightclub singer Venus Smith and they tend to be the weakest ones. This one is more crime orientated.

The episode starts with a magician making his female assistant disappear in his box of tricks only for her to appear dead. The same thing happens again with the replacement assistant. You would think the magician would had given up by now.

Venus appears as a singer at the nightclub and is roped in by Steed to help out the magician. However she hears some kind of voices, maybe this led to the deaths of the two other assistants.

Steed also investigates the leaking of military secrets. It seems the magician is in cahoots with a therapist of a sick wheelchair bound military general. The general's daughter is used to place device in her father's wheelchair thinking the alternative therapy would help him but it is being used for more nefarious purposes.

Not a good or credible episode, the story is thin, so it has been stretched out. You know this as Venus sings two songs.
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Fosse/Verdon: Glory (2019)
Season 1, Episode 4
5/10
Glory
10 October 2019
Glory represents a personal triumph for Bob Fosse. It is 1973 and Cabaret is a hit. His television special for Liza Minnelli is a hit and so is his Broadway show, Pippin.

Fosse wins 3 Emmys, 2 Tonys and an Oscar for Best Director. Cabaret won more Oscars than The Godfather in that year.

For Gwen the year was not so good. Her play flopped and closed quickly. She did managed to get the rights for Chicago but Fosse is not yet interested in it.

For Fosse on a high. His life is one big party. Sex drugs cigarettes pills. He also has a blank cheque to do what he wants creatively. We see him abusing his power to get sexual favours from women in his musicals. It all comes with a cost, a one big downer.

It is good to see the contrast in fortunes between Gwen and Fosse. Yet with all that the episode never grabbed me. There is a black actor rehearsing for Fosse's musical. He is playing the great Ben Vereen and not once does he make an impression. Even Fosse's celebrations become repetitive. Life in 1973 might had been one great party for him but not for this viewer watching.
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Spooks: Episode #3.4 (2004)
Season 3, Episode 4
6/10
Episode 3.4
10 October 2019
I am sure the producers thought it would be a hoot to get actor Corin Redgrave and get him to play against type. Corin was a far left activist and a prominent supporter of the free Palestine campaign. This episode very much takes an interest in the Israel/Palestine situation.

He plays David Swift, a conservative media mogul and a supporter of a greater Israel with links to right wing Israeli extremists. Swift is at loggerheads with Nicholas Ashworth, a left wing pro Palestinian politician.

It is all done in the background of a middle east pre peace conference taking place in London and it is halted as the chief UN negotiator has vanished. She was someone known to Adam.

However Adam is not the only person to have a personal stake in this crisis. A pro Palestinian activist and documentary maker turns out to be Harry's daughter. Harry is concerned that his estranged daughter might be at risk, worse she could actually be a double agent and be working for the Israelis.

Swift is a thoroughly despicable person, but Corin always ended up playing these 'against type' characters. He was a corrupt policeman in the IRA thriller, In the Name of the Father.

It was good to see Harry's relationship with his daughter and how much he cares about her. Also Zoe finds herself in an embarrassing position when someone attempts to leak some incriminating photos.
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5/10
Howard and the Great Outdoors
10 October 2019
To get back into Pearl's good books. Hobbo gets Howard to dress up as a tramp. Even though Pearl knows that Howard is staying at Hobbo's and not living rough at all. Howard only spends about 5 hours in the wilderness each day.

So good is Howard's disguise no one recognises him, not even Marina. Even though he still has his moustache.

Meanwhile Toby also wants to get into his wife's good books. She sets the dog on him, Toby is surprised they never had a dog in the house. He complains to the two policemen but they are no help.

The final series has a running theme. Barry and Glenda dieting for an impending wedding they are invited to. Howard being thrown out by Pearl. Toby wanting to be reunited with his wife.

Hobbo works well with his eccentricities. In this episode he talks about why more men do not use tweezers on their eyebrows.
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Joker (I) (2019)
6/10
Joker
10 October 2019
What kind of Joker is this? The kind that cries on the inside.

This is a Gotham Horror. Director and co-writer Todd Phillips has gone through Martin Scorsese's filmography ranging from Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, Bringing Out the Dead to Shutter Island. Robert De Niro appears as a chat show host just to drive home the Scorsese connections.

The Joker delivers a bravura performance from Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck. He is one of life's losers. Unable to hold down a job as a clown and on seven different kinds of medications but he is still a manic depressive.

Set in the early 1980s, Gotham City is in the sewers and there are sightings of giant rats. Social services funding cuts means that Fleck is on his own. The social worker who does not even listen to him is not going to be there for him any more.

Like Travis Bickle, Fleck snaps and is then reborn as the Joker. The Joker is not political but this nihilistic slow burn drama takes aim at wealthy Democrat and Republican politicians alike.

Thomas Wayne might not be painted as a Trump, but he is a rich tycoon who thinks the 'have nots' are clowns. Watch out for the scene when the moguls dressed in tuxedos are watching a screening of Chaplin's Modern Times. A movie that commented on the desperate conditions many people faced during the 1930s Depression.

Joker is a bold comic strip adaptation but it is a low wattage film with no plot. It is a tribute act because of the Scorsese movies that inspired it.
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Batwoman: Pilot (2019)
Season 1, Episode 1
5/10
Pilot
9 October 2019
Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) has an International Lesbian Haircut Number 2. It was obvious how she was going to swing and her sexuality has been lifted from the comics.

After appearing in other DC Universe television shows, Kate Kane becomes Batwoman in the pilot.

First we get some exposition. Kate losing her mother and sister in a car accident and she saw Batman walking away.

In the present day Batman has been away for several years and coincidentally so has Kate's beloved cousin, Bruce Wayne. No one put two and two together.

Kate's father Jacob Kane has no time for the wastrel Bruce Wayne. In Batman's absence his private security firm Crow Security is trying to keep Gotham safe.

However one employee of Crow, Sophie Moore has been abducted. She was also Kate's former lover.

Kate goes to Wayne mansion and stumbles into Bruce Wayne's secret. She also finds out the immense bad luck that caused her mother and sister's death. Batman was powerless to save them.

It was a fast paced pilot. Ruby Rose is a spiky character with all her tattoos although I cared little for the opening in the iced up river. The pilot is setting up its stall, the villain here shares a link with Kate. It did look cheap with a lot of it shot inside the studio lot. The character of Luke Fox was irritating.
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