TV Review: The Amazing Mr Blunden

The Amazing Mr Blunden is a nice bit of undemanding, traditional, festive fare with Simon Callow doing what Simon Callow does best

“Time is not a straight line, it’s more like a vast wheel on which we stand at different points, rarely meeting”

I’m not normally one for much convention but I do like a bit of traditional festive family fare in this downtime period between Christmas and New Year but despite the preponderance of content and platforms, there doesn’t seem to be much of it around, not least that is new. So credit to Sky and their new adaptation of The Amazing Mr Blunden for scratching that itch for me.

Based on Antonia Barber’s 1969 book The Ghosts which was also filmed in 1972, Mark Gatiss leads this version as writer and director, and also as star since, you know, he can. And it is a refreshingly different take on the ghost story as it takes place in both 1821 and the modern day, reconfiguring what we know as ghosts as time travellers instead, depending on your perspective. Continue reading “TV Review: The Amazing Mr Blunden”

Review: Adventurous

Ian Hallard’s debut play Adventurous finds a gently comic soul in its exploration of middle-aged online pandemic dating 

“Is it because I said lesbian?”

In some ways, Adventurous isn’t adventurous at all. It feels like we’re destined to watch the same jokes about being muted on Zoom in in every online show and the perils of dating online are hardly fresh fodder either. But what Ian Hallard’s debut play does have, is an abundance of heart and a gently comic spirit that makes it shimmer anew.

Ros is emerging back into life after years as an unpaid carer, Richard is reeling from a divorce and both are preparing to dip a toe back into the dating pool by signing up to an agency. And as they match and meet over a hesitant first date on Zoom, we follow the baby steps of their developing connection over the following months, even to a Tier 2 IRL meet. Continue reading “Review: Adventurous”

TV Review: I May Destroy You

The best TV show of the year? Definitely so far…Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You is just superb

“Just look in the mirror, you know what I mean? It’s really uncomfortable and unnerving for everyone”

Has ‘the grey area’ ever seemed so interesting? Probing into the complexities of real life and fully embracing the fact that there are rarely ever any simple answers, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You has felt like a real breath of bracingly fresh air.

Sexual consent for straights and gays, dealing with trauma on a personal and institutional level, the perils of buying into social media hype, portraying the scale of casual sex and drug use whilst acknowledging its inherent pitfalls, examining how we bury memories from both the recent and distant past and that’s just scratching the surface. Continue reading “TV Review: I May Destroy You”

TV Review: The Salisbury Poisonings

Deeply sensitive writing and direction mean that The Salisbury Poisonings proves a powerfully effective treatment of the story

“God knows what’s happened here”

Whodathunkit, a drama about a public health crisis in the middle of an actual public health crisis proving to be just the thing we needed. Anyone thinking about writing a Covid 19 drama would do well to examine writers Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn and director Saul Dibb’s deeply sensitive approach here in The Salisbury Poisonings.

What works particularly well is that they’ve determinedly gone for a fact-based telling of the story, which steadfastly refuses to indulge in overly dramatic or cinematic touches/ And their focus is on the human aspect of how this whole affair affected actual people rather than extrapolating to the whole of society or going dwon the wormhole of a spy thriller. Continue reading “TV Review: The Salisbury Poisonings”

Not-a-TV Review: Dracula

Three feature-length episodes of a new take on Dracula prove an indulgence too far

“One can have too much of a good thing”

I found episode 1 to be a bit of a drag and the subsequent two parts of Dracula were no better, worse in fact, as Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s iconic novel takes the daddy of all vampires to places (and times) new for no good reason at all. Dolly Wells’ casting as the continuation of the Van Helsing bloodline had some great moments due to some witty writing and her wonderfully dry interpretation but there’s only so much the charismatic Claes Bang could do with the lord of darkness himself.

 

TV Review: Unforgotten Series 2

“You might put me in prison but let me tell you this: you can’t judge me unless you’ve had it done to you.”

Blimey, I knew Unforgotten was good (here’s my Episode 1 review, and my Series 1 review) but I wasn’t expecting it to be this soul-shatteringly excellent. More fool me I suppose, Nicola Walker is a god among mortals and her presence alone is reliably proving a harbinger of excellence, but allied to Chris Lang’s scorching writing, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll see much better television than this before the year is out. 

That it managed this by using elements that have been seen recently (historical child sex abuse as per Line of Duty; the Strangers on a Train twist featured in Silent Witness just last month) and imbuing them with a compelling freshness is impressive enough, but the way in which it revealed this at the mid-point of the series and yet still had hooks and surprises aplenty to keep me gripped right until the bitterly haunting end.  Continue reading “TV Review: Unforgotten Series 2”