TV Review: The Split Series 3

The third and final series of The Split is hugely enjoyable, a wonderful showcase for Nicola Walker, Deborah Findlay and more 

“What is the secret to the good divorce?”

The glossy soap stylings of The Split are the kind of things that often get referred to as guilty pleasures but I would argue that there’s nothing guilty about enjoying Abi Morgan’s legal drama which has now finished its third and final series. And throwing in death, deception and yes, divorce, it ups the ante most successfully, delivering a satisfying set of conclusions for the Defoe family.

With Hannah hoping that divorce to Nathan might not actually be the end, Nina balancing new motherhood with an affair, and Rose about to adopt with James, the first episode throws its balls up in the air. And by the end, we’ve met Nathan’s new – pregnant – girlfriend, seen Nina tumble too deep and also watched someone die, setting the path for the three sisters to unwind with tears and recrimination aplenty, plus a whole lotta family love too. Continue reading “TV Review: The Split Series 3”

TV Review: Hotel Portofino (Series 1)

A stunning setting can’t quite elevate Britbox period drama Hotel Portofino into must-see territory

“Nonsense my dear, it’s the 1920s”

Britbox’s original drama offering has quite the intriguing look to it, snagging some pretty impressive names to star in a range of projects. One of the glossiest looking is Hotel Portofino, set in the mid-1920s on the lush shores of the Italian riviera where well-to-do Englishwoman Bella Ainsworth has opened a luxury hotel designed to tempt the upper classes away from…Weymouth?

It’s a winning concept from Matt Baker. And with a historian’s eye, one rich in potential. Society is still reeling from the impact of the Great War and we’re in a country inexorably sliding under the thumb of fascism and both of these are touched on in the series. But they have to do serious battle with the Downton-esque shenanigans of love affairs, engagements, society tiffs and stolen paintings. Continue reading “TV Review: Hotel Portofino (Series 1)”

TV Review: Doctor Who – Legend of the Sea Devils

Legend of the Sea Devils leaves me a little underwhelmed, a Doctor Who special that wasn’t, well, special enough

“No ship, Sherlock!”

It’s impossible to quantify just how much Covid has derailed Doctor Who, particularly as we move ever closer to Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall’s departure from the series. Necessarily restricted by lockdown but able to film under strict conditions, the arrival of Legend of the Sea Devils is a testament to creative fortitude in and of itself.

With that in mind, this adventure – co-written by Chibnall with Ella Road and directed by Haolu Wang – it’s hard to know exactly how to pitch any criticism. A short running time and some way choppy editorial decisions suggest logistical struggles. But it’s hard not to feel that a story that both alights on a fascinating historical figure and reintroduces a classic monster, whilst also serving as a penultimate episode for a Doctor. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who – Legend of the Sea Devils”

TV Review: The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe

“Anne, why did you go along with it?”

The story – lest you forget – involves Hartlepool conman John Darwin’s faking of his own death via a canoe accident at sea, so that he and his wife Anne could avoid bankruptcy, claim a healthy life insurance payout and ultimately start a new life in Panama, regardless of the fact that they had two adult sons. Continue reading “TV Review: The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe”

TV Review: The Gilded Age (Season 1)

I still remain in awe of how Julian Fellowes has a career as a writer but the first series of The Gilded Age is often a fine showcase for its cast of Broadway royalty

“I haven’t been thrilled since 1865

I really wasn’t a fan of the first episode of The Gilded Age but a cast full of Broadway royalty meant that I was always going to persevere with this first season. And from slow beginnings, the series did actually improve, albeit within the confines of what a Julian Fellowes-conceived show can ever do so. 

Set in 1880s New York City, the show hedges its bet about where it actually wants to focus. The main arena is ostensibly the clash between new money and old, the closed doors of society being assailed by hyper-rich newcomers. But being Fellowes, it’s also about their servants with whom they have unreasonably cordial relations. Continue reading “TV Review: The Gilded Age (Season 1)”

TV Review: The Split Series 3 Episode 1

Nicola Walker! Deborah Findlay! Lara Pulver! Annabel Scholey! Bonus Jemima Rooper! Anna Chancellor still to come! The return of The Split gets me overexcited

“She’s on the divorce front line”

Just a quickie to welcome back this delightful nonsense to our screens. The first episode of Series 3 of The Split picks up a few months down the line from the aftermath of the last series, with Nicola Walker’s Hannah and Stephen Mangan’s Nathan now negotiating the terms of their divorce and aiming – at first at least – to do it as amicably as possible given their intense family entanglements.

Of course, it’s never as simple as all that and in a heartbreakingly well done scene, Hannah’s hopes of reconciliation are dashed when Nathan sneaks in his swanky new girlfriend Kate (a brilliantly brittle Lara Pulver) to a big reunion party. And as the Defoe family are always marking some occasion or other, there’s a family bash in which so much awkwardness has to be endured. Continue reading “TV Review: The Split Series 3 Episode 1”

TV Review: Peaky Blinders Series 6

Series 6 of Peaky Blinders reaches the end with a scorcher, you kinda wish there wasn’t a film (and a ballet, and an immersive show) still to come

“Vengeance is for the Lord
‘Not in Small Heath it ain’t. Rest in peace, Poll'”

In a series beset by the biggest of challenges, Covid delays and the loss of one of its key stars, Helen McCrory who played the inimitable Aunt Poll, Series 6 of Peaky Blinders had no right to be this good. But as it wrapped up the televisual chapter of the gang from Small Heath, it paid stunning tribute to McCrory and Poll alike while telling the revenge epic of all revenge epics.

Wisely acknowledging that a vast array of supporting characters could not all be dealt with substantively, Steven Knight used them sparingly, which may have frustrated some but meant that some stalwarts really got their moment to shine. Sophie Rundle’s Ada is a case in point, on the fringes for much of the time but in the episode where she assumed the head of family, she soared. Continue reading “TV Review: Peaky Blinders Series 6”

27th Critics’ Choice Awards – winners

Best Picture
Don’t Look Up
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
WINNER – The Power of the Dog
tick, tick… BOOM!
West Side Story

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
WINNER Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Guillermo del Toro – Nightmare Alley
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve – Dune Continue reading “27th Critics’ Choice Awards – winners”