TV Review: Silent Witness Series 18

As the dust settles on all the recent changes, Series 18 of Silent Witness turns out to be just a little bit average 

“If you think you can do better, you’re very welcome to try”

After some wholesale changes to the core team and indeed the remit of the show, Series 18 of Silent Witness is the first chance to really sees where the land lies now that the dust has settled. The biggest consequence is the shift to incorporating forensic science just as much as, if not more than, forensic pathology which of course lends much more credence to the team spending so much time out of the lab.

I say the team, I actually mean Nikki and Jack, as it is these two who unquestionably lead the investigations now, Emilia Fox and David Caves finding a nice chemistry. Richard Lintern’s Thomas may be the head of the Lyell but is comparatively considerably under-used. He’s less a third lead than a second supporting lead alongside Liz Carr’s Clarissa, whose dry wit makes her the MVP here. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 18”

Film Review: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Even if it didn’t follow the big success of Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies would still have disappointed. Bonus point for predicting something of the future though…

“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success”

Tomorrow Never Dies had the unenviable task of following up the enormous success of the reboot-of-sorts that was Goldeneye, which firmly established Pierce Brosnan as the new Bond and suggested a real place in contemporary cinema for the franchise. And despite a troubled production history due in large part to the rush to capitalise on this and director Roger Spottiswoode not necessarily firing on all cylinders, it ain’t too bad, mainly due to Michelle Yeoh.

Its main antagonist is a Robert Maxwell/Rupert Murdoch-type media mogul, played with relish by Jonathan Pryce who wants…to secure exclusive broadcasting rights in China for 100 years and is willing to start a world war to get them. It’s a strong if ultimately dull concept but Götz Otto gives good classic henchman as his underling Stamper and Brosnan’s gun-toting Bond gets to be more violent than perhaps we’re used to, which is a change if nothing else. Continue reading “Film Review: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)”

TV Review: The Body Farm

The Body Farm sees Tara Fitzgerald reprise her highly successful Waking the Dead character Dr Eve Lockhart but in a far inferior series

“Are you a cop?
‘No I’m a scientist’
What you doing here then?”

Of all the Waking the Dead characters to get a spin-off, Tara Fitzgerald’s Dr Eve Lockhart was definitely the right one to choose. Which makes the relative rubbishness of The Body Farm all the more disappointing. The beauty of the mother series was that it had all the investigative elements for a police procedural in place in balance. Unsurprisingly, The Body Farm shifts the focus to the forensics but still tries to achieve the same case-of-the-week results.

Which means it falls into Silent Witness territory with the role of the police laughably sidelined as Lockhart and her team stride forcefully (in protective clothing natch) into crime scenes and take over the investigation of any number of crimes. Keith Allen is on hand as grizzled DI Hale as the token representation in blue but otherwise, it is the forensic team who far over-reach themselves in a way which is watchable but somewhat flat. Continue reading “TV Review: The Body Farm”

Film Review: The Children Act (2017)

The neglect of Stanley Tucci aside, The Children Act does a decent job of bringing Ian McEwan’s novel to the screen, with Emma Thompson on fine form

“I think it’s my choice
‘I’m afraid the law doesn’t agree'”

The first half of The Children Act is astounding. Family court judge Fiona Maye is utterly devoted to her career, deciding carefully but firmly on the most delicate of ruilngs. But the case of Adam Henry gives her cause, a 17 year old cancer victim whose Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs are leading him to refuse the blood transfusion that could save his life.

As Maye, Emma Thompson makes you feel every inch of the emotional stoicism she has developed in order to rise through the judicial ranks so. There’s admiration sure but also a touch of apprehension – the brittleness with which she interacts with her devoted clerk (Jason Watkins) and the casual callousness with which she takes her long-suffering husband (Stanley Tucci) for granted. Continue reading “Film Review: The Children Act (2017)”

News: Michelle Collins fundraises #ForTheLoveOfArts

A new series of monologues, curated and produced by Michelle Collins alongside the Equity Benevolent Fund, has been released online for charity. Entitled “#FortheLoveofArts”, the scheme sees acting talent come together to raise funds for beleaguered artists and individuals during the ongoing pandemic.

Appearing in the series are Lesley Manville, Ian McKellen, Adjoa Andoh, Miriam-Teak Lee, Derek Jacobi, Layton Williams, Sue Johnston, Jason Watkins, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Pearl Mackie and more. Some of the monologues are brand new works penned especially for the series.

The monologues can be viewed on the Equity Benevolent Fund’s YouTube channel.

TV Review: W1A (Series 3)

W1A remains entirely watchable in Series 3 but repetition sets in to blunt its comic edges

“It may be the future but it’s still the BBC”

Returning to W1A has been good fun, though watching its three series back-to-back, it is interesting to see just how much it wears its concept increasingly thin.  Series 1 was a winner, introducing its cast of misfits all trying to navigate the bureauracy of the BBC and avoid doing as much work as possible but even by Series 2, the strains were clear to see.

John Morton’s Twenty Twelve, the show that kicked off this mockumentary mini-universe, had an inbuilt advantage in that it had a clearly defined end-point, the thing that everyone was working towards. By contrast, W1A has a sense of ambling on which, while perfectly pleasant to watch, means that a terminal case of diminishing returns sets in. Continue reading “TV Review: W1A (Series 3)”

TV Review: W1A (Series 2)

Something doesn’t quite click right with Series 2 of W1A, as it struggles to live up to what has gone before though still remaining quite gently funny

“I don’t want to be dramatic about it, and I mean we all love Sue Barker, but I’ve to to say we are looking at a situation here”

I’ve loved going back to watch Twenty Twelve and my memories of the shift to W1A were that it was just as good, if not better. I’d definitely say that about the first series but having just gone through series 2, I found myself just a little disappointed. The bar having been raised so high, it feels like this collection of four episodes just doesn’t have the same zing that really grabs your attention.

In many respects, nothing has really changed. There’s still much comic currency in the exposure of the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the BBC and the determination of any middle-to-senior manager to avoid actually making a decision. But there’s also a slight sense of familiar ground being retrodden that dulls the edge – I mean once again any and every female is falling at the feet of Ian Fletcher, really? Continue reading “TV Review: W1A (Series 2)”