September 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Reviews


‘Arrow’, The CW’s slice of DC Comics superhero stylings, new series is out on DVD and I am going to watch it, in one big long binge.

I watched the first series and I sort of enjoyed it, but it troubles me that a clearly mediocre production garners so much praise from critics and audiences alike. Now, there are countless numbers of things the world seems to love which I think suck, including but not limited to, ‘The Walking Dead’, bacon and the non-existent derriere of Pippa Middleton. So I am used to being in a minority.

It’s more that where ‘Arrow’ is almost globally accepted as being good, another show ‘Agents of Shield’ is enthusiastically panned. I watch both of these series, AOG because I find it genuinely exciting and surprising and ‘Arrow’ as I can’t really quite believe that I am watching such a cheese ball, formulaic and badly written piece of guff.

‘Agents of Shield’ Season One, ended with events that changed the whole set up of the show and I cannot wait for the next instalment to come round. I am sure that ‘Arrow’ ended on a cliff hanger of some sort (or knowing Arrow, maybe Oliver Queen gave someone a dirty look) but I just can’t remember what it is, so as you can imagine I am not that excited to sit down and watch the next season. I will return in 23 television hours.

Here I am, just three paragraphs but a whole day later and I am glad to say to all you ‘Arrow’ fans out there nothing has really changed.

The season opens with Oliver Queen’s cohorts, Felicity Smoak and John Diggle, helicoptering in to Skull Island determined to retrieve their employer from the turmoil created by the events of the season one finale. He doesn’t want to come back, but after some gentle persuasion about how much everyone needs him, he does. Of course he does.

Arrow returns to his weird hometown Starling City, which operates as an isolated city state completely separate from the rest of America, determined to become a better hero and not kill anyone anymore. This introduces two of the defining characteristics of the comic book version of Arrow: his social awareness and resolute defence of society’s underdogs. Which, though sort of interesting, also leads to more pubescent whining from the overly sensitive characters about whatever little thing has upset them this week.

Along the way we meet some more of DC’s un-powered super heroes such as Black Canary and the story arc from flash back Island catches up with the present day. All in all, though this series pretty much continues as the first; plot hole filled action padded out with 20 minutes of soap opera. Much like its spiritual predecessor ‘Smallville’.

I think the problem with ‘Arrow’ for me is that, as much as it clothes itself in shadow and darkness, this gloom is mere window dressing. It is like the teenager who, freshly doused in new puberty strength emotion, puts on some black clothes, applies a liberal smear of eyeliner and shuffles about being “depressed”. Unless you count the count the numerous appearances of Stephen Amell’s rippling torso, there really is no meat or substance under the hood.

Arrow: Season 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD now

The House Across The Lake

August 12, 2014 by  
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The House Across The Lake is a Hammer Film; you may recognize Hammer as purveyor of all those wonderful horror films from the 50s, 60s and 70s. You know the ones I mean, most of them starred either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing (often both), with many directed by the criminally underappreciated Terence Fisher. Hammer weren’t just a horror studio though. They made all types of films including comedies, dramas and many a straight up thriller.

This leads me to ‘House Across the Lake’. Back in them there olden days, film studios from the UK would often approach production houses from across the pond to help increase the budget and market of their visual wares. These films would often be dressed up to appear as American films and would be littered with American almost/has been stars.

‘House Across the Lake’ is a great example of this, aping Hollywood B movie noir so much that for the first half of the film it is only the appearance of a certain Sidney James in a rare dramatic role that gives you an inkling the film is British.

Starring Alex Nicol (who incidentally directed the woefully bad horror ‘The Screaming skull’) as Mark Kendricks, washed up pulp novelist, booze hound and incorrigible womaniser who has slunk off to Lake Windermere to get away from the bottle and the bitches to finish his novel.

Unfortunately for him, on the other side of the lake are Beverly and Carol Forest a millionaire husband and his (apparently) beautiful wife, he makes the money and drinks the booze. She spends the money, sleeps around and also drinks the booze. Before long Kendrick finds himself drinking booze with them and is slowly drawn into their twisted marriage and ‘House Across the Lake’ becomes a of tale of sex, murder jealously and…booze.

That sounds pretty cool when I write it down but unfortunately ‘House Across the Lake’ falls a little flat, its characters and premise a hodge-podge of classic films like Double Indemnity’, ‘The Third Man’ and ‘The Lady from Shanghai’ but it fails to build any of the suspense and excitement that ooze from every pore of those awesome bastards, choosing instead to dwell in the dark shadows of cliché and mediocrity. Much of this is down to the script which drips with ‘on the nose’ dialogue as the characters rush to tell you exactly what they are feeling without any subtlety or hint of a subtext, sucking all life out of the movie and leaving the viewer bored stiff.

Amusingly this lack of decent writing is actually mirrored in two scenes, first Kendrick regrettably sends of some work he knows to be substandard and a second where he is fired from his publisher for being rubbish. I’d like to think this is an admission of guilt by writer/director Ken Hughes, who did do some good stuff in his day including ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.

Personally I am glad to have seen this film but if you’re not a completest follower of film noir and black and white thrillers or even fervent Sid James fan (who for the record is pretty good in a straight role) I would give this one a miss and watch the classics.

The House Across The Lake is released on DVD on August 18

The Speakmans

July 29, 2014 by  
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Since returning to the UK after eight months or so in the lunatic asylum of a country the world calls China, I have been reacquainting myself with this eccentric little island. Which, for all intents and purposes means hanging around pubs, clubs and any seedy little dive that will allow a shabby gentleman like myself through the doors.

It’s been great meeting friends and drinking, snorting and whiffing my way across Wales, the West Country and London, but as the Chinese like to think if it’s bad it’s got to come out.

Today is the day my body has decided to wave a little white flag and expel all the bad shit as well as come down with rather unpleasant cold, on top of hay fever and crackling cough.

I have turned into a living factory whose only product is human waste matter. I am so weak I can barely type let alone control the smorgasbord of excretia that flows out of me. A sneeze blasts through the strongest man size Kleenex, splattering my bedroom in cobweb of snot and bacteria. My eyes and ears weep a thick semen like substance and the haemorrhoids in my arse leaks blood like sodium pentothal dosed Julian Assange leaks political secrets

And every couple of hours I vomit. I vomit hard. I vomit a murky rainbow of greens, oranges, yellows and browns. Fortunately no black or red the tell-tale give away of blood but that’s probably cos it’s all coming out of my butt.

I have thrown up more in one day than Becky the subject of Channel… The Speakmans. Becky is 26 and due to a mishap at the age of three which meant a hospital had to induce sickness. Becky has been left with emetophobia a rare condition which means the sufferer lives in fear of being sick and hasn’t done so since then.

Becky suffers so acutely from this problem that it has affected her relationships with friends and family, missing her sister’s wedding, her grandfather’s funeral and is fast becoming a hermit relying upon her (wonderfully sweet and kind) mother to do everything for her.

She has tried everything to get over this problem including hypnotherapy, hypo-analysis and some other acronyms I didn’t quite make out. None of it has worked, so apparently it was time to call in a The Speakmans; a husband and wife team of professional northerners, clarted in fake tan, make up and bleached hair and an exquisite mullet depending on which one you happen to be looking at. I love this look, it seems to be a symptom of many a successful northerner, eschewing taste and style entirely to relying solely on the how much a thing costs as an indicator of whether it looks good.

Carol Vordeman does it; the Holllyoaks cast do it, and obviously Geordie Shore do it. It’s not limited to the north of England, Essex rocks it, as do the supposedly elegant Milanese in Italy, the affluent New York Jews and the moneyed classes of Hong Kong, Dubai and Moscow (I might as well just insult everyone, in case I am accused of being racist… I am not, I am a misanthrope, I hate all of you equally).

The Speakmans are apparently a phenomenon, without any formal training in medicine or counselling the two have managed to build up a successful empire as life coaches, appearing on This Morning and other middle of the road productions being adopted as self-help gurus by a number of celebrities along the way.

They seem to help Becky as well, I am not sure how as the show didn’t really give anything away, there was segment where they presented the patient with a couple of boxes, one contained trinkets of her life imagined in a negative manner and another in a more positive light. They then blamed everything on the mother for indulging her daughter’s mental issue. Becky had a little cry and then suddenly she was better.

They seem to have some miraculous way with people, it’s a bit like cognitive therapy where you look at a problem logically and objectively do help dispel any irrational fear or problem but all the Speaksmans seem to do is say “who said life had to be hard, life is easy so stop making it difficult ”

It’s a sweet notion right up there with Kantian philosophy of the Universal good as being a good reason for human beings to be nice to each other. Just as fucking stupid but with pronounced with much less eloquence

The whole thing seemed so ridiculous that I would say it was entirely faked. Becky did not seem in the least bit troubled, in fact she was a bubbly and healthy looking woman that did not present the greasy, green tinged pallor of people who don’t leave the house for days on end and the accents of Becky and her mother differed so much that it called into doubt that they lived in each other’s pockets for 23 years.

However I have to say I rather enjoyed the show. I like the Speaksmans not as people or personalities but as figures of fun. And the show which lasts a whole television hour flew by. So watch, mock watch and laugh at the idiots. Which as we all know fuels so much of what we watch these days

The Speakmans is on ITV on 28/07/2014

Death Comes to Pemberley

December 27, 2013 by  
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Right, the Christmas Season is upon us.

You don’t need to be told this as you are in the midst of it. In fact you’re probably over the Festive Season before it has even begun. With the endless ads seeming to starting earlier each year (fffs this year they definitely started in October), Christmas movies and tinselly, baubley crap adorning the office and shop windows.

So, as I say, you may not need to be told the obvious, but me? For some reason I’m in fucking China and with less than a week to go, it’s only just dawned on me that it’s Christmas.

Just as I was thinking this I got a call from the Editor. Like some kind of TV Santa Claus (TV as in Television not transvestite, though who’s to judge? I am writing this in a nappy, listening to the Ozric Tentacles, sucking on a petrol can) he sensed my unease.

So there I was, be-diapered and high skyping my surprisingly attractive man as woman boss (think Bugs Bunny, in a dress but drunk and more slutty) complaining about missing Christmas and being home sick, when like the go-getting young lady man I have come to respect he immediately knew what to do.

“Why don’t you review a bunch of Christmas Specials? “ he slurred through lipstick stained teeth and last night’s mascara running down his cheeks, martini in one hand, cigar in the other.
“Put a few decorations up, get some sherry in, you can get sherry can’t you?” He asked, lazy hands weaving silver tinsel into his hair.
“I always have sherry, Sir” I replied.
“Atta boy” He smiled kindly at me through my laptop. A smile etched with hardship, delirium and too many cigarettes.
“If you have Christmas Specials and sherry sugar tits, then you can have Christmas. His smile grew weary as he emailed me the list of Christmas shows on offer.
“Merry Christmas you young scamp” he signed off blowing me a kiss.

So two days ago, I sat down with a bottle of cream sherry, a fresh can of Esso’s finest and a makeshift Christmas dinner, consisting of duck neck, owl soup and pickled veg and begun my Christmas Television marathon.

First up was ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’, an adaptation of crime author PD James’s sequel to Pride and Prejudice.

P&P is exactly the kind of high end soap opera masquerading as literature that bores me to tears but I am a sucker for a sequel and this one also being murder mystery, meant it might break the tedium of traditional costume drama. I have also just finished the ‘Anno Dracula’ series by Kim Newman, (sequel to Bram Stokers ‘Dracula’) so I was well up for a much delayed literary follow up.

It opens with Elizabeth Darcy (nee Bennet) heroine of P&P, on morning duties. This comprises of swanning round the village, visiting the smorgasbord of classically handsome young men who populate the area. Seriously, if a dashing chap is your cup of sex tea, then you’re in for a treat with this show. However, if it’s the female of the species that gets you hot and bothered then…well…not so much.

Once the morning perambulations are complete, the show drops into cruise control and not much happens. Tens of minutes pass where we are treated to heaving, breathy shots of Pemberley House, its gardens and surrounding countryside. All coupled with long dramatic pauses from the cast and not much else.

It’s all very nice but there is only so much high definition, soft focus and made for 3D composition that I can stand. After a while it becomes less drama and more advert for National Heritage.

Anyway, at some point in the first episode some bloke is murdered. Not much else happens before that; Darcy walks around looking serious and saying little whereas Elizabeth goes on her sex tour of the village.

Once the death happens, the two classic lovers instead of working together, take their own separate journeys into discovering the killer. Elizabeth pretty much by being inquisitive and asking questions and Darcy by being a pompous dick.

This schism in their relationship represents an underlying theme to ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ and P&P i.e. should we marry for love or for duty, this is rammed home at all possible moments.

The second episode is more of the same but without even the revelation of a murder…so it plods along for an hour sighing, looking forlornly out of windows and being wet. Looking gorgeous though, always gorgeous.

At some point Penelope Keith pops in for a rather pointless cameo, and though she does liven proceedings for 3 or 4 minutes, it is not enough to distract from the shows numerous failings in script, direction, casting and Trevor Eve’s ponytail.

The third episodes starts off much like the others, but about half way through the editors realise they don’t have to continue padding this out and finally start telling the story.

This story is quite entertaining if a little predictable and would have made for good TV if they had cut it down to 2 or even 1 episode. But, it’s a Christmas extravaganza and no doubt the BBC’s big thing for Christmas, which makes it rather disappointing. On the other hand its unchallenging nature and themes of love and honour, duty and family, against picturesque English countryside and architecture make it a perfect food coma tele. Not for me though, for my Gran. My dead Gran.

Well that’s the first special done, next up it’s the ‘Bletchley Circle’ or ‘Catchphrase’ Seriously he wants me to watch ‘Catchphrase’. I need more petrol and maybe some duck tongue.


Death Comes to Pemberley is on BBC1, at 8pm on the 26th December

The Americans

June 3, 2013 by  
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I had no idea what ‘The Americans’ was going about when I sat down to watch it, ( I tend not to read the blurbs on these things as I believe it will bias my opinions as I am weak willed and impressionable).

But any programme or film that starts with a blow job, quickly followed by a chase scene and knife fight soundtracked by Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk is going to pique my interest.

That the sex is rather amusing and the man attached to the turgid member receiving the aforementioned fellatio seems to have his pleasure sensitivity levels set to ridiculous. And is ready to shoot his bullets before his gun is even out of the holster, with a fizzog twisted into a gurn of ecstatic exaltation not seen since this side of an acid rave up circa 1990, well that just makes it all the better.

Anyway, the bad guy being chased and eventually caught is a Russian spy, and the agents chasing him, well, they’re Russian too but not normal Russian agents. Oh no not on your nelly .

They are Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings, undercover superspies sent by the KGB to pose as a regular couple who live in the suburbs with their nice American kids and their nice American jobs. Oh and the icing on the cake; it’s set in the motherfucking 1980’s. Oh yeah!

That there is the basic premise of ‘The Americans’, Fx’s new show that somehow has not been bought by Channel 5 or Channel 4 and is being aired by rubbish old ITV. As you can no doubt tell, I think it is fine premise indeed.

I guess this is the first ‘Homeland’ inspired political action thriller to appear in order to capitalise on that series’ runaway success. It’s not as confident in what it is as ‘Homeland’ and nor does it have its intensity, veering from heavy, uber seriousness to a lightweight almost camp vibe. Which is odd, considering it’s only a three parter and does not have worry so much about having to consider all the people all the time in order to get another season.

I am toying with the idea though that this is intentional, the show does not shove 80’s references down your throat. There is no super massive big hair, shoulder pads or pixie boots and no one watching Knight Rider and listening to Axel F.

In fact it’s the only the references to President Reagan and another sex scene where the huffing puffing is replaced by the grating wail of Phil Collins singing ‘In the Air Tonight’ that I even noticed the period.
However 80’s TV and Film was always bit odd; ultra-violence was graphically displayed but always juxtaposed with a witty one liner or wise crack to release the tension, it was dramatic theory played to extremes and now looks distasteful and almost perverse.

Even though ‘The Americans’ doesn’t operate anywhere near those bizarre altitudes, it does reflect them. We have vigilante revenge violence, then a camera lingers with saucy attention on a punctured hand as it spurts blood and of course it’s all set against the end of The Cold War.

And get this for a nod to ‘high concept’, the Jennings’ have a new neighbour, and what does he do for a living? He’s an FBI expert in espionage and spying!

Basically, ‘The Americans’ is an 80’s show made with all the those morally questionable corners sanded down, which is much better than it sounds.

Great stuff, I am going to watch part 2 right now.

‘The Americans’

10pm, June 1st on ITV

King of Coke: Living the High Life

May 15, 2013 by  
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King of Coke: Living the High Life

Tuesday 14th May 10pm on National Geographic

This is the story of Larry Levin, a studious and charming young man with his sights set on the big time glamour of dentistry. On the way he uses his charisma and attention to detail to accidentally almost become one of the most significant coke dealers of the 80’s.

Born into a successful middle class family, Levin was used to having money and nice stuff but this all changed when his Dad’s business went kaput and suddenly his family were more or less ostracised from the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ lifestyle they had become used to and Larry had to fend for himself.

Winning a scholarship to an Ivy League college, Levin had no more than a 100 bucks in his pocket when he first rocked up to the privileged institution. Desperate for cash, he soon turned to hustling weed to maintain his existence and much more importantly, to fit in amongst the moneyed set of his new environment. Fortunately for him, his looks, charm and what can only be described as ‘coolness’ made it easy for him to establish himself as ‘the man’.

Then as the 70’s moved into to the 80’s and as the show puts it “long hair gave way to big hair? marijuana was no longer the drug of choice for the fashion conscious and the old Bolivian marching powder came back into vogue.

Levin shifted into this higher gear effortlessly and by seeking out money motivated and attractive slicksters like himself he was able to build and run his rapidly growing Chang Dynasty and still be a dentist.

His life soon became a cliché of 80’s glamour. Full of pastel coloured suits, fast cars and busty ten foot blondes you could shake a Duran Duran at. Of course as you know from the mere existence of this doc, it all went very wrong very quickly.

King of Coke is a pretty standard old school documentary. Lots of interviews with the people involved with just a wee bit of dramatic reconstruction to help highlight certain situations.

It is also an engrossing subject, nearly 30 years on, the now middle aged Levin, talks about his success and downfall with a casual, almost aristocratic air. He clearly loves what he did and is unable to hide the pride he has in almost getting away with it.

It is this appealing arrogance on display that no doubt enabled him to make so much money without intimidation or violence in business that is drenched in blood and guts. It is also very much part of the hubris that meant he was always going to get caught.

The Fall

May 13, 2013 by  
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The Fall

13 May at 9pm BBC2

I had hoped this would going to be a dramatisation of Albert Camus’s philosophical novel ‘The Fall’ when I first got the go ahead and review it.

It isn’t, and my disappointment only sharpened when I saw it was in fact going to be another detective show about another arsing serial killer. Then I saw Gillian Anderson was in it and I breathed a sigh of relief, maybe this was not going to be that painful after all.

I am a big fan of Anderson and not because of her iconic turn as Agent Scully in the X-Files, sure I liked the show (the first few series anyway) but she never particularly blew me away and I was not caught up in the whole Gillian Anderson as a sex symbol thing either (not that she wouldn’t get it but she didn’t get my teenaged blood up like a Erika Eleniak or a Nora Batty).

No, the reason I am a big fan is that once she was shorn of her break through role she went on to do some interesting projects and proved herself to be a very charismatic and effective actor. More than capable of carrying a piece as a lead or adding a touch of class to a character part.

This can only be a good omen for ‘The Fall’ but from the opening episode it’s quite hard to properly judge. I found it interesting that it was set in Belfast, Northern Ireland is not the most common of TV locations and I also liked playing spot the Hollyoaks actor ( I definitely saw two) but not a huge amount happens.

The story moves around handsome young psycho Paul Spector (crass? Yes, I think so) as he tries to balances his night time hobbies of lurking outside windows, sniffing knickers and ‘moidering’ attractive young professionals, with his career as some kind of guidance/bereavement/marriage councillor.

When he’s not doing these things he likes to nothing more than ponce around naked in shadows, allowing shafts of moonlight to perv tastefully over a bit of muscle, sinew or half buttock.

The local police force are finding him very difficult to track down basically because they refuse to see any connections between the deaths. But they still draft in Detective Stella Gibson to help track down the culprit even though don’t think there is ‘one’.

As I said at the beginning serial killers are the go-to villains in modern detective shows and have been pretty much since Anthony Hopkins hammed it up as Hannibal Lector in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ many years ago.

While I like a serial killer as much as the next person; like many people I have more than one book on my shelves discussing the various individuals and psychoses that fuel their blood soaked carnality. However, this familiarity does mean that we have a good idea where the show will go: more profiling and forensics than traditional detective work as they have no real motive to investigate other than the perp likes to fuck and kill!

The Fall though might prove to be a bit more substantial, it’s got a slow drip, drip vibe to it, taking time to round out all the characters. The writing is smart and all about suggestion and subtlety not pointing and shouting and I have high hopes for part two.

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

May 13, 2013 by  
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The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

12 May at 8pm on ITV

I was looking forward to this. I love a bit of Victorian sleuthery, the fog, the gas-light and mangled faces of the supporting casts have always evoked great comfort and pleasure in me.

I am also a big fan (who isn’t?) of Mr Paddy Considine, he has a rare charisma that I find hard to pin down and is extraordinarily watchable so the combination of the period, the actor and ‘moider’, should have made for an excellent nights viewing.

Unfortunately it did not. Following on from ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder at Road Hill House’ from 2011, we meet up with our titular hero as he looks out for one Susan Spencer; who he spies on a desperate mission to prise information about a missing child from the denizens of the seedier, grimier parts of town.

After emancipating her purse from a young oik, Whicher offers his services as an ex copper to help her track down her missing charge.These services seem to consist of wandering around, mumbling questions to an assortment of undesirables and getting useful and immediate answers. They just tell him everything at the slightest prompt, it’s quite bizarre.

I have been watching the classic ITV Sherlock Holmes of Jeremy Brett of late, (I say of late but I never really stop watching it, it’s been on for about ten years now) and I guess ITV are in some manner trying to recreate that show in the ‘Suspicions of Mr Whicher.’ If they are to do so they really need to up the ante on the writing.

The detective’s ability to evoke honest answers from everyone around him is a microcosm of the script as a whole; everyone seems to spout exactly what is on their minds without any subtlety or sub plot. None more so in the utterly wasted Olivia Coleman as Miss Spencer. She is hamstrung by the weakness of the writing, taking a layered and cultured actress and turning her (and the rest of the cast) into little more than exposition machines. Which is just such a shame, as one of the greatest pleasures of period drama is often the effortless use of elegant language.

Despite this, the atmosphere and Paddy C manage to make this ‘on the nose’, unsophisticated stuff pretty watchable at first, but at the hour mark I found myself focusing on the frivolities, like the similarity of one of the main characters to Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, instead of what was actually occurring.

By the time we got to the reveal of the main villain and the reason for their schemes my head was thick with lethargy and didn’t know what was happening and nor did I care.

However, I like to think there is potential in this and if ITV do go onto make many more, it could be thrilling. If they trust the audience to understand and enjoy a less obtuse script that is.

Arne Dahl

April 28, 2013 by  
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Arne Dahl

BBC4 27 April at 2100

The first thing I learnt about this series is that Arne Dahl is the name of the writer not a main character like a Frost or Inspector Linley.

The action revolves round ‘A Unit’ who are I guess, having not seen the first story, Sweden’s top level crimes team. They are a bit of an NCIS type set up, in that are made up of specialists of one sort or another. There is the female all-rounder, an intellectual Finlander, a brute, a tough guy, a Mexican (I think, his name is Chavez) and a veteran lady-cop who leads the whole shebang.

In this two-parter, the ‘A Unit’ are warned by the FBI that an American serial killer is on his way over to mix things up a bit and do some murdering Swedish style. Swedish style in this case being the same way he indulged his morbid peccadillo in the States, specialist pliers in the throat to keep the victims from making any noise as he goes to town on their genitalia.

It’s an interesting show, after opening with some serial killing and the team descending on the local airport to try and capture the ‘Kentucky Killer’ on arrival, it then segues into the lives of the characters who make up the ‘A Unit’.

This is done extremely well. Which surprised me as in the opening minutes the dialogue and camaraderie between the group was forced and unnatural; very much “we need to show that this is a team who work together and play together, so let’s have some shit jokes and personal references to bring the audience up to speed?.

But, when it actually got going this side developed very naturally and I was sucked in to the slightly depressing lives of the Swedish crime busters. The drama between fathers and family is very much a theme for the story and ‘A Unit’ has at least two Dads with interesting familial dilemmas but it also spotlights some over some over 40’s sexy time, which as a younger man would have hurt my eyes but now, equidistant between my 20’s and 50’s, actually give me some kind of comfort in light of my rapidly approaching middle age.

I could have watched this quite happily but as must happen, by the time the second feature length instalment starts the focus switches back onto ‘Kentucky Killer’. Though this is still very enjoyable it also seems to be a bit far-fetched when compared to the down beat realism of ‘A Units’ private lives.

This clash is my own real problem with what is a very intelligent and carefully paced thriller, with fully rounded characters filmed in a bleak and grizzly style going up against with what the FBI describes as “like 65 psychopaths wrapped up in one body?. It all clashes a bit, especially when it is revealed that there is a second ‘Kentucky Killer’ who wants to kill the first one, the involvement of the CIA and the ubiquitous terrorist story arc.

There is a lot going on and it’s an odd mix but Arne Dahl just about gets away with it.

Men at Work

April 25, 2013 by  
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Men At Work West Hollywood - Smashbox Studios

Men At Work

23/04/13 at 2200 on Fox

Breckin Meyer, used to be sort of famous (go on Google, the sonnuvabitch, you will like totes recognise him from the movies) but now he is not, so he has created what I suppose is called a sitcom, though I am not entirely sure.

It has laughter (canned, natch) but nothing funny happens and there is no conflict, so it certainly isn’t a drama and there is no tragedy, ergo it must be a comedy. It is also half an hour long and has actors who have previously been in sitcoms, playing the same pick’n'mix roles that appear in these things.

We have a so called likeable main guy (played by someone from That Seventies Show), a geek/weirdo (if played by a woman they are known as kooky), a cocky, confident chap who is also good with the laydeeez, though here Breckin Meyer has split this character in two and we have a slick wise arse and a lady killer but they are best mates so we get two for the price of one. You lucky people.

Anyway, Milo (the likeable main guy) has broken up with his long term girlfriend and turns to his group of clichés to help him muddle through this difficult transitional phase, he gets drunk and pours his heart out to some girl, the lady killer has sex with three women (2 at one time), the cocky guy is witty and comes out on top and the geeky guy is geeky…though he does have a surprisingly hot girlfriend.

And that’s about it, it’s the same thing you have seen a million times but you won’t be used to seeing it this badly. The States tends to only export their good stuff but with all this globalism that’s been going on recently we now have to watch their crap as well.

I am sure when Breckin Meyer originally came up with his ‘Men at Work’, it was a brilliant and cutely observed piece on being suddenly single in your mid-thirties, it was probably full of original characters and snappy dialogue that dared show what men are really like (and ladies you may think you know what we are like, but really you don’t).

But then the suits got involved and sanded down all those nasty edges that seemed way too like real life. I bet Breckin Meyer fought every step of the way to keep it true to his vision but no doubt had a kid or something and eventually capitulated just to earn a buck.

Or maybe he so hated being sort of famous that he created the most vanilla and forgetful series he could think of just to burn any bridge that might take him back to Lala Land.

Or he thought anyone can write a sitcom. Ed. Hello Leverage fans! What do you think?

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