Showing posts with label TV reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TV reviews. Show all posts

4 September 2011

TV review - Night Terrors (Doctor Who)

The second episode of part 2 of season 6 (that's a bit of a mind bender to begin with) sees the Doctor and the Ponds making a 'house call' to a very frightened child somewhere in present-day England. The boy's parents are concerned, as the child is 'scared of absolutely everything'. However, The Doctor soon discovers that the child has good reason to be afraid, as the monsters that lurk within his bedroom are very real indeed.

This episode takes a break from the whole 'search for Melody Pond' plotline that I feared would dominate this half of the season. While it seemed a little out of place that Melody's parents - Amy and Rory - were so blasé about not looking for their daughter, it gave us a welcome respite so that we could get into a more insular story.

The real star of Night Terrors is writer Mark Gatiss, who gives the episode a brilliant sense of tension and suspense, as well as great 'villains' in the form of the dolls. Their look is pretty creepy, and their lack of expression, persistence and child-like voices are reminiscent of the episode The Empty Child. Matt Smith continues to cement his role as The Doctor, his performance in this season a lot more confident and comfortable in his role. Daniel Mays, who plays the child's father, was pretty stale, and his performance didn't seem to differ from his role as Cass in BBC's Outcasts i.e. constantly surprised and looking as if he'd just been crying.

My main criticism of Night Terrors was the ending, which seemed a lot less 'Who-ey' than other episodes this season, and a lot more emotional and, dare I say it, mushy. There was a lot less emphasis on the high concept sciencey jargon that The Doctor is famed for, and the episode seemed to end on an anticlimax.

Still, the episode as a whole was tense and very well shot, giving us a healthy dose of creepy into what is becoming an increasingly more 'kid friendly' series. I hope for a lot more of the same in the episodes to come.

17 January 2011

Review - Misfits Season 2

Misfits is a comedy/drama about a group of young offenders who are forced to perform community service when they are granted superpowers after a freak electrical storm.

By the end of Season 1, the five super-antiheroes settle their personal differences and form a bond close enough to be confused with friendship, forged through fighting against others who use their new found powers for their own dark ends.

Season 2 picks up more or less straight after Season 1, and each episode introduces a "super mystery benefactor called Super Hoodie, and how each character manages to overcome the limitations of their powers. The identity of Super Hoodie is revealed with a 'Bwah?!' moment that is both awesome and unexpected.

The characters are very well developed, and you can see their progression as the series goes on. Particularly with regards to Alisha and Simon, their changing relationships with people and their overcoming of their personal demons is well presented. Nathan, Curtis and Kelly remain pretty much the same as they were in Season 1, with the exception of one episode a piece that gives them some revelation (which they promptly seem to forget and go back to their old selves). The main strength of Misfits is that all of the characters are flawed. There is no real sense of good and evil, nor of justice. The main characters need to survive with each other as well as against the rest of the world, and so there is no time for morality.

The superpowers of the main characters as well as the villains are varied and unconventional since they all tend to focus on some character flaw with the character e.g. a man who was addicted to a Grand Theft Auto style video game is given the ability to enact scenarios within the game and gains powers associated with that game (no need for sleep or food, large amount of weapon ammo etc.) The entire mythos surrounding the show is very British and so, with the exception of the visual spectacle of seeing these superpowers in action, a lot of it may be lost on non-UK viewers. This is also one of those shows that I don't think would translate well were the US to remake it, even with a new set of characters and image. It is deeply ingrained in a British subculture and so it may not be to everyone's tastes. With an abundance of cursing, drug use, violence and sex, Misfits may be a little extreme for some, although it correctly satirizes the the stereotype of British youth culture today.

There is one plot hole at the finale (but, since it involves time travel, it can be forgiven - just), but aside from that, season 2 of Misfits surpasses the first and goes from strength to strength. I can't recommend it highly enough for UK viewers, or those familiar with British culture and television. Everyone else, well, give it a shot and you might be pleasantly surprised. Season 2 is available to purchase on DVD now [UK Only].

Also, I received the 'Welsh Star' award at the HollywoodSpy Awards (a.k.a. The Dezzies) yesterday! Whoo! Thanks to Dezmond for the awards, and for a great ceremony too!

13 September 2010

Review - Merlin Season 3 Episode 1 "The Tears of Uther Pendragon Part 1" (BBC)

Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head) in the grip of madness.
Merlin's third season premièred last Saturday (11 September), ready to fill the Doctor Who shaped void in our lives. Season 2 left us with a sense that things were going to take a much darker and more sinister turn, and the team behind the show certainly did not disappoint.

A year has passed, and Lady Morgana is still missing after being taken under the wing of the sorceress Morgause (Emily Fox). A series of frantic and suicidal missions have been ordered by Uther Pendragon. When all hope seems lost, Morgana is found and things begin to return to normal in Camelot. However, Morgana is a changed woman with vengeance in her heart and murder on her mind.

Without giving too much plot away, this is one of the darkest episodes of Merlin to date. The magic that has been done against Uther sets up two quite chilling scenes that reveal more of his character and personal demons that the other seasons have so far. The relationship between Merlin and Arthur has become a little more relaxed than before - there is more banter between them, and the bond between them is getting noticeably stronger. I think that at this stage there needs to be more respect of Merlin by Arthur, however. In the second season it could be subtly seen beneath the insults and commands, but there didn't seem to be any development in this episode.

Lady Morgana (Katie McGrath) plots against Uther.
This was an episode for Lady Morgana, and she performs brilliantly throughout. Where Morgause's character has become a straight villainous one, Morgana is still in a bit of flux. After her battle with her own magic and feelings of hatred towards Uther, you still feel that there is an internal struggle going on. The only drawback was that there were one too many shots that lingered at the end of each scene that showed her smirking or looking doubtful to provide that 'oo, is she really evil?' feeling.

As usual, the locations and sets of Merlin were beautiful, and the visual effects were pretty impressive. I was just a little bit disappointed to see the return of the Dragon this soon into the season after being dismissed at the end of the last season, but this was overshadowed by the awesome look (and voice) of the Dragon.

A solid beginning to what will be a very macabre season, with Morgana's turn to evil as the overriding plot piece. With next week's promise of a Morgana/Merlin showdown, Merlin riding the Dragon into battle and an army of the dead, it looks like Merlin has remained on form. If you haven't watched Merlin yet, I suggest that you start. Now.

Merlin on the BBC website