With memories of seeing Star Wars in 1977 aged 6 there is always a sceptical air around my watching anything new from the Lucas stable. However having seen the episodes, The Phantom Clone and Menace of the Sith twice, once with my children and once on my own, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed them!
Episode I: The Phantom Clone is an action-packed adventure where Darth Sidious unveils his plan to create an enhanced Sith clone named ‘Jek-14′ to help him defeat that pesky Republic! That means it’s up to Jedi Master Yoda and his young Padawan students to work together and save the galaxy!
Episode II: Menace of the Sith, centres around Count Dooku using his new and improved ‘Clone-a-Matic’ to create an army of Jek clones, but the original Jek-14 wants no part of the sinister scheme… Now, with the help of some old friends (and two familiar Droids), substitute teacher Anakin Skywalker must lead Yoda’s Padawan class to victory…
I’ve been a fan of Star Wars Lego for years and this take on the adventure works on several levels. The kids love the action and adventure of it all (as do I), however, I could also appreciated the under current of classic film references, with lines such as ‘Heeeere’s Anni!’ when Annakin breaks through the side of an enemy ship.
The stories are punchy and engaging with plenty of action and comedy all the way. The animation was really well done, and a lot of the sound effects and music mirrored the original movies. The stand out scene for me was when a young Lando Calrissian (complete with afro) arrived with his father in a pimped disco Millennium Falcon with Saturday Night Fever style illuminated access ramp!
Just the right mix of geeky references and tongue-in-cheek fun to keep the kids and me happy for hours!
9/10 – Great mix of Star Wars fun and humour for the whole family!
Recently I was over in LA, and I got the chance to catch the USA’s brand new take on the legend of Sleepy Hollow. As the show is about to land in the UK (coming 9pm Weds 9th Oct on Universal Channel), I though it would be a good time for a quick review.
This take on Sleepy Hollow is a little different to what you may have seen before. Although it starts in the 1700′s, Ichabod Crane (English theatre actor Tom Mison) is not a school teacher as in the original tale, but a soldier in the Revolutionary War… except he’s English, but fighting for the Americans… On the battlefield, Crane comes face to face with a brutal masked solider whom he manages to decapitate, but also appears to receive a mortal wound himself in the process. Skip forward a few hundred years to the village of Sleepy Hollow where Crane awakes in a cave, to find the local Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie - The Good Wife) who assumes he’s crazy when he starts babbling on about being in the revolutionary war and has him institutionalized… That is until a headless horseman in a revolutionary uniform makes an appearance, when she realises he might not be so crazy after all…
The show is written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the 2 main writers behind the very successful revival of Hawaii Five-O, and the outstandingly bonkers Fringe. Sleepy Hollow is a great fit for them. Part cop drama, part other-worldly weirdness. Although it’s somewhat gruesome in places (hey, it’s dealing with a headless horseman!), it’s still got their trademark witty banter between the cast. It’s also not afraid to shoot off in a direction you might not necessarily expect, with a number of cast members not making it all the way through the first episode.
The show makes a strong start which rips along a great pace, and Mison and Beharie spark off each other well. Also, for those of you worried about getting into a series only for it to be cancelled, fear not, it’s only 3 episodes in on the other side of the pond, and Fox have already given it a 2nd season. If you’re a fan of Kurtzman & Orci’s other work, this is definitely a show for you.
Sleepy Hollow airs 9pm Weds 9th Oct on Universal Channel in the UK.
WARNING, THIS ARTICLE DOES CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS.
With TV’s hottest show this year promising to end on the high side of drama (if there ever was an understatement!) this Sunday in the US, and airing on UK Netflix on Monday (30th Sept), fans have gone into overdrive trying to figure out exactly what is in store for Walt & Co. Indeed, the series build-up and the penultimate episode do point to complete destruction – the karmic kickback we knew was just around the corner, that last crippling blow – out of the many our man’s faced so far and overcome with bad-ass genius and resourcefulness. For all those rooting for the meth king-pin here, well, empiric evidence would suggest he ought to get away with it, because, hey- this is Walt White we are talking about, the ‘smartest man we know’, and he will find a way out – whether we want it or not, after all the monstrous things he’s done to the people around him. The producers are tight-lipped about the ending of course, the teaser only teases us with glimpses, and only one thing is clear – it will be a definitive end.
It’s interesting how Breaking Bad has steadily picked up such a huge fan-following – especially for a show which started on slow-burn mode and took its own sweet time (three seasons!) to simmer up to a real pot-boiler. It’s not just about the faith of die-hard fans, or a simple desire to see the underdog get his dues (the way one does while morphing from powerless, rather bullied high-school teacher to ruthless, much-feared drug-lord, ahem), or even Netflix. Maybe it’s the way Walt decides to do an FTW and get his own back from the doorway to death – hesitantly at first, for the highly ‘justified’ cause of providing for his family after his cancer leaves them penniless, and filled with doubts and dilemmas. It has us all rooting for him – even toward the highly questionable role of a crafty and compunctions-less criminal. We don’t realize when the admiration turns to horror. For a lot of fans though, it is still about how the awesome Heisenberg totally turns the tables on his writ fate. After all, it is quite a powerful and disturbingly comforting thought – how a helpless guy can survive with his craft and craftiness, should he just have the balls to let go of all the morality, and should he want it badly enough. And then again, we have this tale of the dark alter ego that takes over and corrupts the good guy completely- that vulnerable family-guy we grow to champion – and turns him into a megalomaniac monster, who no longer has any priority to his original objective (which he uses to lie to himself to validate all his actions) and who actually enjoys all the violence. In a quiet creepy scene early into his metamorphosis, we are shown how he literally gets off on the power-trip, as if the only thing that makes him come alive in his otherwise miserable existence is his parallel and secret life of lies, betrayals and substantial blood-shed. He shows no remorse for any of it, and goes about his work with chilling mechanical precision – a genius the world rejected and who’s now broken uncontrollably bad. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the story of The Anti-hero, worthy of the ranks of Darth Vader, the Joker, Tony Soprano and Dexter. We loved them, and we love Heisenberg, the not-so-reluctant monster who does not care about the lines (or lives) he crosses – simply because that is the hand he’s dealt and that is how he chooses to deal with it.
He is bullied at every step, he has Skyler for a wife (‘nuff said!), and he’s dying for heaven’s sake! – yes, if ever there was a man deserving of our moral reprieve, it would have to be Walter White. And just when we get comfortable with the idea of watching Walt grow into a powerful drug-lord, overcoming sticky situations and inexplicably caring more for his inept but very humanly messed-up accomplice (and one-time student and all-time junkie) Jesse Pinkman – we also get to witness the attrition of his soul over the accumulation of his empire of crime. It is a fascinating, riveting watch – all unfolding with the slow, compelling and believable drama of reality TV (but so much more real, and intelligent!). The inability and unwillingness to judge the right from the wrong, the uncertainty of situations and human emotions, the voyeuristic pleasure of watching someone else’s nasty, dysfunctional family get what it deserves (Oh Skyler, Marie and Hank, you are all such unpleasant characters!) – these are the themes writers of the show have played on, and with great success. Walt, ostensibly, is quite possibly the only character deserving of our sympathy. His steady rise to crime, from cooking meth in a humble trailer (where he symbolically loses his pants to the desert), is perhaps one we cheer on. It is scandalously delicious how he lives a double life and quietly emerges as the anonymous power whose name gives him such profound gratification – the real man of the family no matter what Skyler and the rest of the ignorant world thinks. Perhaps, a part in us wants to see Heisenberg rise, in the hope that his fall would be just as devastating, and that the name he’s so fond of making people repeat and fear (“Say my Name”), is the only legacy and writing on the wall he gets to keep.
There’s no doubt about this one thing though – BrBa’s an insanely well-crafted saga, with all the elements of a gripping crime-drama – it’s unpredictable with unthinkable twists, has flawed characters you loathe (but always take you back to the revision table with some clever character development), and sudden somethings that hit you in the face with their blinding brilliance and black humour. BrBa is not the first show that gets its ingredients right, but it’s the way it’s cooked that makes all the difference. 99.9% pure addiction. Ah, Walt would know.
Obsession, Inc. – “Breaking Bad is a show that rewards close attention”
Remember all the fact-finding, soul-searching, number-nuancing, symbolism-spotting efforts that other show Lost inspired? Well, BrBa is that dope today. Though, unlike Lost, these cues and clues are not pivotal to the BrBa plot – they are just ‘out there’ to be appreciated by the most ardent, observant and discerning fanboys/girls. Creator Vince Gilligan admits to putting in the signs, colour codes, flashbacks, layers and other symbolisms – most of which serve as what fans are calling ‘foreshadows’ indicative of what’s going to happen to characters in the future. This is currently another favourite pass-time of BrBa fans in between episodes – spotting the Easter eggs and trying to figure out hidden messages. Indeed, as the show moves on to its finale, there’s widespread speculation and conspiracy theories being floated around as to how it would end, and how things shown in previous episodes could be momentous – be they weapons, actions and words. It’s quite mad actually, considering people have worked out colour codes used by characters for all five seasons AND their symbolisms. But, yeah, there are some pretty great conversations going on amongst fans who seem quite excited with the bonus cues – kudos to Gilligan and team for that!
Lost fanboy in the writing team?
Shortly after the Buried episode (Season 5, Episode 10), Lost co-producer Carlton Cuse tweeted : I’m loving Breaking Bad — they’ve got flash forwards, lottery numbers and people yelling, “Walt!!”. Fans of both shows probably know what he’s talking about. In Season 5, Walt hides his cash-stash in the desert, and buys a lottery ticket with the GPS coordinates of the location – which he sticks on the refrigerator door. Walt’s lottery number combination 034-059-020-106-036-052 is now as (if not more) famous as Hurley’s winning numbers 4-8-15-16-23-42 (Lost, Season 6). Some BrBa fans cum Lottery lovers will, in all probability, try their luck out with Walt’s treasure-trove numbers – after all, in a strange twist of fate, the Lost numbers did translate to decent winnings of $150 apiece for a whole bunch of Lost fans in 2011 who got 4 out of 6 numbers correct on a US Tuesday Night Mega Millions lottery – apparently, there were no less than 41763 winners for those 4 numbers! A bit of a stretch for similarities, perhaps, but one that does give numbers-and-signs obsessed Lost (+ BrBa) fans something to smile at.
With the Ozymandias episode (Sep 15) already sending shock-waves across the BrBa fan community, what with Hank getting shot down and King Heisenberg’s legacy seemingly in ruins, the internet has been abuzz with showdown scenarios, based on some serious deconstruction of visual and narrative cues and foreshadows, and, well, just wishful thinking. Will Jesse escape from his tormentors, don a Hamletesque revenge-helm and be the one to end it all in his characteristic loose-cannon way? Or will Walt manage to get away, though much like Ozymandias, with nothing at all – no power, no money and no family? And what of Skyler and family? Is there a cataclysmic confrontation or two in the offing? Oh, wait, Gilligan’s tossed us a red herring (again) in the penultimate episode Granite State (Sep 22), and we are quite confused. What was that even meant to be – emotional reprieve post the meltdown that was Ozymandias, or a dangerous calm before the gathering storm? We can only keep our fingers crossed on that one.
BrBa has been building up to an explosive finale all right, and fans will just have to keep guessing and obsessing over all the indicators. In the run-up to D-day from Sep 25 onward, the show’s broadcaster AMC will have a special 5-day marathon re-running of all previous episodes of BrBa in the US. AMC’s tie-up with Netflix for the entire Season 5 also meant UK fans could catch it hot on the heels of the show’s US screening. We also have more of MethMan Madness lined up for the final two episodes, 15 more minutes to be precise – as if the normal hour-long Breaking Bad turbulence wasn’t, well, bad enough! Oh, and the finale’s called ‘Felina’. (Go figure, is that a code for blood-meth-tears, you know, Fe=Iron=Blood, Li=Lithium=Meth, Na=Sodium=Tears? Or are we reading way too much into it, and it would just turn out to be an anagram for Finale – ah, now is there a hint in that as well…)
Loads of people will need to deal with BrBa withdrawal symptoms come October. Until the Better Call Saul spin-off makes it to our TV-sets – which ought to be pretty good by the sounds we hear. And, there’s some good news: Bryan ‘Walt’ Cranston is doing more films and fleshier roles (the man deserved his fourth Emmy, c’mon!) – in fact, he does a Breaking Bad reversal in his recently released low-budget indie Cold Comes the Night – this time portraying a gangster who becomes a family man, it might be pretty cathartic to catch it while the show’s still on and imagine all the deceit, mayhem and chaos getting stripped off – layer by bloody layer. And well, if nothing else, you could always give Walt’s ‘lucky’ numbers a shot on the next big Euromillions lottery draw and see if they are any good!
All 5 seasons of Breaking Bad are on Netflix in the UK, and the final episode will be available from Mon 30th September 2013.
Believe it or not, some TV fanatics were a little skeptical about the release of this now ‘epic’ drama. First of all, it sounds like a game you’d buy for a console and not a series based on a novel by the renowned author George R.R. Martin. And for those that knew the text, could a TV show really pull it off?.. Amazingly they did, and with more style and panache than any other TV show before it.
Despite some folks skepticism, what followed was a dramatic drama encompassing all the mythical creatures, Kings, Queens and dark forces – basically everything you’d expect from the novel. As the plot thickened, with lust, intrigue, literal backstabbing, and lots of blood shed, the show continues to grow an ever more rabid fanbase. We always have someone post the next day on the air dates page ‘when will season 4 of Game of Thrones air in the UK?’ (April 2014 if you’re interested.)
But what makes it have such a devout following? Here are our top 5 reasons…
5. The Locations
Due to the nature of the fictional continents of Essos and Westeros, it was always going to be impossible to shoot Game of Thrones in one place. However, to take a tv show, and propose shooting it in 5 entirely different countries must have taken some serious location scouting! Although Northern Ireland serves as a main base of operations, Iceland doubles as ‘north of the wall’, with Malta, Morocco, and Croatia playing various parts of Essos and King’s Landing. With 3 production units running, in parallel, consisting of 6 directing teams, over 250 cast members, and over 700 crew, it’s fair to say, the organisation of the filming was as epic as the show they were making. On a side note, if Scotland had a few more film studios available, they may have used that as the main base of operations. Sadly for them, NI had more space. Scotland’s loss was most definitely Northern Ireland’s gain, boosting it’s economy by an estimated 77 million euros!
4. Joffrey Baratheon
This is possible a controversial choice… In season 1, I hated Viserys Targaryen (as played by Harry Lloyd, who I’m sure is lovely out of character), elder brother of Daenerys, and I never really thought they could produce another character quite so loathsome… Oh, how wrong I was… Joffery – the son of Cersei Lannister and (allegedly) Robert Baratheon… With ol’ Bobby (season 1 spoiler alert) kicking the bucket, the blonde haired spawn of pure evil gets to take the Iron Throne. From brutalizing prostitutes, to tormenting poor Sansa Stark, he is quite possibly the most vile, evil character ever to grace a tv screen… But he’s a character I love to hate. I’m waiting for the day the little sadistic brat gets his comeuppance, but until that day I’ll continue to loath him, and love every minute of it. If you see Jack Gleeson (who i’m sure is also a lovely chap out of character), shake the boy’s hand for managing to portray the epitome of the ultimate spoilt brat.
3. Daenerys Targaryen
Wonderfully played by Emilia Clarke, Daenerys has probably the most interesting of character arcs so far in the show. When we first meet her, she’s is living in exile with her vile brother Viserys, who’s trying to raise an army to take back the kingdom taken from them by Robert Baratheon’s rebellion. In a quest to raise an army, Viserys sells her to Dothraki Khal Drogo in the form of marriage to gain his soldiers. This doesn’t work out to well for the lad who, after insulting the Khal’s new bride one too many times, is (season 1 spoiler alert) given a new hat… made of hot melting gold. With her brother gone, and her new title as the Dothraki’s Khaleesi, Daenerys confidence begins to grow, as she cuts a swath through Essos, growing her army, and heading ever closer to Westeros and her revenge. Daenerys Stormborm of House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons, we salute you.
2. The WTF Moments!
With the possible exception of Buffy, I don’t think any show has ever had so may ‘WTF!? I can’t believe they did that!!’ moments! From the aforementioned ‘golden hat’ incident, to Ned Stark’s brutal conclusion, to that scene in the 2nd to last episode of season 3, GoT is not a show that likes to pull it’s punches. You only had to look how nuts the Twitterverse went after the ‘red wedding’ airs to understand why critics have applauded the show’s action, drama and suspense. To date, Game of Thrones has been awarded 1 Golden Globe, with a total of 32 other wins and massive 75 nominations, and it’s moments like these that make you see why.
1. Tyrion Lannister
There are many reasons I love Tyrion. I love the fact that he’s a dwarf in a fantasy show, who is actually playing a character with dwarfism, rather than some fantasy race. I love his wit and sarcasm, and his wonderfully cutting comments. He’s so brilliantly played by Peter Dinklage, with such style and finesses, he makes him the only Lannister in the entire show you really hope comes out of it alive. Nicknamed ‘The Imp’, Tyrion has become adept at using his brain to overcome all the prejudice he’s face, and skillfully outwit his opponents. Plus the banter between Tyrion and his sellsword/protector Bronn is some of the best double act work in the entire show. And as season 2′s finale showed, he’s not someone you want to upset. I’m just waiting for the day he manages to find a way to drop that brat king Joffrey into a vat of wildfire…
There are of course so may other great things about GoT. The scheming Littlefinger and Margaery Tyrell. The ballsy Arya Stark and Ygritte. The list could go on forever. If you have a list of your top 5 things about Game of Thrones, feel free to leave them in the comments. You can find out more about the show on the official game of thrones site.
Welcome to the 3rd part of our Upfronts Roundup (part 1 is here, part 2 is here), where we look at the shows that will the networks hope will get you laughing after they’ve canned your favorite tv show. Here is our rundown of some of the upcoming tv comedy series we think sound the most interesting.
Please bear in mind, these have only just been picked up in the US, so we don’t have any news on UK pick ups yet. The titles do link through to their show pages though, so you can click through to see the latest info. You can also keep an eye on the UK Air Dates page for up to the minute info!
Based on Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name, the show stars David Walton (New Girl) as Will, a man-child who, since writing 1 hit song, has been living of the royalties to fund is happy-go-lucky life of free time, free love, and general financial happiness. All is rosy, until single mother Fiona (Minnie Driver – Grosse Pointe Blank, Good Will Hunting) moves in next door, with her 11-year-old son Marcus (Benjamin Stockham – 1600 Penn), and start to turn his carefree life upside down. When Marcus starts to drop by unannounced, Will’s not overly happy with the idea of a 11yr old BFF… That is until he realises, women find single dad’s irresistible! So, Will and Marcus strike a deal. Marcus pretends to be his son so he can pick up chicks, and in return, he get’s to hang out at Will’s swanky pad.
GT Anticipation Rating: 7/10 – I love Nick Hornby’s novels, and was quite fond of the movie adaptation, so it’ll be interesting to see if they manage to keep the charm, or if it looses it in the translation across the pond…
It’s been over 10 years since Michael J. Fox quit TV to focus on dealing with his Parkinson’s disease, but at age 51 (i know what you’re thinking… i also now feel really old!), he’s decided it’s time to return to the small screen, with a semi-autobiographical comedy about a man dealing with Parkinson’s. Fox plays Mike Henry, a news anchor who returns to work after taking putting his career on hold to spend more time with his family, and cope with the disease.
The company are over the moon to have him back, especially his boss Harris (Wendell Pierce The Wire, Treme) who never wanted him to go in the first place… Almost as happy as his family, who are really glad to have him out of the house! Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad) plays Mike’s wife, with Juliette Goglia (Ugly Betty, Joan of Arcadia), Conor Romero (American Gangster, Person of Interest) and Jack Gore (We Are What We Are) play his kids.
GT Anticipation Rating: 9/10 – I’m a huge fan of Fox (Spin City was never as good after he left), and just really looking forward to having him back on screen where he belongs.
Stars the legend that is Robin Williams as Simon Roberts, a renowned & brilliant (but eccentric) advertising executive, runs the Roberts and Roberts Advertising Agency with his rather more practical daughter, Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who’s trying to manage the company, and her dad… Additional cast include James Wolk (Mad Men) as copywriter Zach, & Hamish Linklater (The Big C).
The show is written by Ally McBeal & Boston Legal’s David E. Kelley.
GT Anticipation Rating: 8/10 – It’s Robin Williams back on TV, and with our favorite Slayer. David E. Kelley’s shows have been a bit hit & miss, but when they do land, they tend to do it extremely well. Let’s hope this one is as good a hit as it should be.
Stars Seth Green (Buffy, Family Guy, Robot Chicken) as Eli and Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar, Ted), as two friends who run a video game company together. Warner is married with Kids, whilst Eli has stuck to his stoner roots, but despite their differences, they’re still best buds. All is going smoothly, that is until their Dads unexpectedly move in with them…
This is Seth MacFarlane’s first live-action tv show, and he’s continued working with fellow Ted writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild for Dads.
GT Anticipation Rating: 8/10 – Seth & Seth working together on a project is always worth checking out.
A remake of the UK comedy Gavin & Stacey, about two people who start a long distance relationship. Jason Ritter (The Event, Parenthood) takes on the role of Gavin, with Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls, Mad Men) taking the role of Stacey. Dustin Ybarra (We Bought a Zoo, Californication) play’s Smithy, and Ashlie Atkinson (The Invention of Lying, Rescue Me) plays Nessa. Having watched through the trailer, it does seem to have traveled quite well, so it’ll be interesting to see how it’s received in the USA.
GT Anticipation Rating: 8/10 – Hopefully turns out to be more the US remake of The Office, and less the US remake of Coupling…
With the USA network’s upfronts all but over, it’s time to take a look at what TV shows we’re going to be seeing over the next 12 months, and what shows we’ll be saying a sad farewell to… Let’s start off with the bad news. If you’ve been following our Renewed & Cancelled page, a lot of these will come as no shock, but there are still some we’re sorry to see go.
On the drama side, the CSI’s of NYC have solved their last case, with CSI: New York following CSI: Miami who went to the chopping block last year, leaving only the original CSI left standing. Body of Proof also didn’t make the cut, and the officers of Southland‘s LAPD have done their last tour of duty. Kiefer Sutherland has lost Touch (although he will be returning to our screens in a more familiar guise soon…), and CBS shut down rookie drama Vegas, whilst The CW evicted the residents of 90210. Comedy drama Enlightened also got it’s P45, and Smash took and early curtain call…
On the comedy front, Happy Endings got an ending which wasn’t so happy, and it’s bad news for animated shows as The Cleveland Show and Futurama both got given the boot. Whitney couldn’t make it past a 2nd season, and The New Normal failed to find an audience. Also, the struggling Up All Night gets to spend more time with it’s family, and Matthew Perry’s Go On… won’t be going on…
These are shows which have come to the end of their life, and unlike the previous list, will get a proper send off.
Dexter has one final season of killing to go before his spree comes to a close, and Burn Notice‘s Michael Weston gets 12 episodes before he can finally leave Miami. Already halfway through it’s final season, we will get to see what happens to science teacher turned drug baron Walter White in Breaking Bad. Ted’s kids only have one more season to wait before they get to find out how he met their mother in How I Met Your Mother.
There are of course a number of other shows which have already bowed out gracefully this year. The glorious Fringe, the sex and swords of Spartacus, and the employees of 30 Rock and The Office US. But, not to worry, the network’s have been beavering away at the pilot pit to extract some new precious gems which they hope will polish up into massive sellers. More about that in part 2, when we do a rundown of what we think will sink or swim in the new crop.
Take a look at our Renewed & Cancelled page for a full list of ending shows.
Part 2 coming soon!