Archived entries for Television

Glenn Hoddle: A Touch of Genius

Glenn Hoddle by Lilly Allen

As a player Glenn Hoddle was the greatest English talent of his generation and as a manager he advanced the national side tactically and technically, as no one else has done. Since, he has revived the careers of previously discarded youths and brings insight to the game when allowed to be given his head in punditry, as he notably was when England failed to qualify of the European Championships against Steve Mclaren against Croatia. A fifty minute programme on Sky Sports was always going to be hard to do justice to both the career and the man, let alone featuring all the wonderful goals, the dummies, the nutmegs and amazing passes that were managed to be captured by the cameras where they were actually at grounds, but A Touch of Genius is a good effort. Continue reading…

Boardwalk Empire: Finale

Boardwalk-Empire- A recap

A day trip to Atlantic City at the turn of the Millennium was nothing special; the arcades and casinos had plenty of senior citizens in jogging bottoms staring intently into slot machines where they poured their dimes, while outside the boardwalk was full of seagulls shitting as if they were on a bombing raid. Boardwalk Empire took us back to a time when that strip was a base for a power struggle, adapting the story of the real life sheriff turned political operator who ran the city in the 1920’s, Enoch Johnson, into Steve Buscemi’s Enoch Thompson (Nucky) as the centre piece of the times. And it was the delivery of the fictional characters and their stories amidst some obnoxious narcissistic figures and gratuitous violence, which produced moments of television of the highest quality. Continue reading…

Football Column – Fleet Fox

As Match of the Day (MOTD) turned 50 in the last week it drew both praise and criticism; the eighties graphics were a highlight in the birthday edition, with even the right-back named before the left-back, taking us back to common sense basics. In fact MOTD’s many good points come from not throwing the baby out with the early-bath water, notably reverting back to its best theme tune from 1970 after playing about with it in the eighties, a mistake even the BBC’s otherwise superior Athletics coverage still hasn’t learned from.

Like Athletics, MOTD has an intelligent, natural broadcaster with Gabby Logan (also sometimes a stand-in on MOTD) and Gary Lineker perfect for their roles. More on Lineker to come, but MOTD’s weakness is inconsistency in punditry. Athletics give us Michael Johnson, Tennis offer up John McEnroe and Sky Cricket have a whole team of great analysts, but MOTD is only brought to life during international football. In the World Cup Clarence Seedorf was a breath of fresh air, and in the past Terry Venables and Trevor Brooking were the non-playing stars of Italia ’90’, having to explain to the slow-on-the-uptake Jimmy Hill that Chris Waddle and John Barnes were more dangerous having a bit of freedom in the final third than chasing back full-backs.
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The Honourable Woman

The Honorable Woman

With his debut, The Shadow Line in 2011, Hugo Blick created one of the great British TV dramas, a genuine thriller with conspiracy at its heart and an uncompromising sinister force that created suspense throughout. Blick’s follow up, The Honourable Woman, was four years in the making and daring enough to be centred around the Gaza, a complex enough centrepiece for an eight-hour documentary to effectively deal with, much less a drama with over half-a-dozen significant characters.

As timing had it, the early, sometimes slow-paced, episodes were in danger of being over-shadowed by the shocking real-life events on the news bulletins that followed its airing with hospitals, schools, playgrounds and UN shelters being regularly bombed in a one-sided national assault on Palestine. But the premise of The Honourable Woman was a central character, Nessa Stein (played by Maggie Gyllenhall) independently striving for peace amidst constant examples of brutal collateral damage, not  least to herself. Continue reading…

True Detective

True Detective Season 1 Review

The first glimpse of the golden age of television we are now well and truly in came from the US, with the continuing chase of a serial killer in Twin Peaks. Scandinavia have since mastered the art of that traditional tale with The Killing and The Bridge, but True Detective, inspired by pulp fiction novels, has found new life in an old shaggy dog’s story.

Before Twin Peaks, much of US prime time cop-led drama used to belong to duos, with Starsky and Hutch, Cagney and Lacey and CHiPs successful exports in the early eighties. The first season of True Detective used the duo of Matthew McConaughey’s alcoholic Rust Cohle and Woody Harrleson’s compulsive philandering Marty Hart to hunt down a serial killer that had evaded them for over a decade with echoes of Twin Peaks’ dark second season and arguably the best cinematography and set detail in any US long-running drama. Continue reading…

House of Cards (US) S1 & 2

House of Cards Season 2 FU Cufflinks picture

It took a while the US remake of Andrew Davies’ original adaptation to get going. It wasn’t until the tenth episode the pace quickened, like an acceleration of a leading pack in a long distance race, but even then the story that was delivered in the British original in four one-hour episodes still didn’t reach the finish line in the first thirteen episodes of Season 1.

The Season 2 opener, Chapter 14, was the finale Season 1 should have been, delivering a punch full of impact that was true to the original drama broadcast on Sunday nights on BBC1 in 1990 (then also topical with the Thatcher blood bath in the Tory party fresh in the nation’s mind), while setting up an excellent second season released in one batch on Netflix, ideal for binge viewing. Continue reading…

Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake

With cottage chemical industries, underground bunkers, broken heroes, lost souls, power, corruption and lies, Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake with an excellent lead performance by Elisabeth Moss was an inspired commission by the BBC.

An outsider coming into a desolate setting and trying to solve a mystery and fight for justice amidst secrets, corruption, crime and unique characters gave Top of the Lake the feel of a modern day merger between Twin Peaks and The Wicker Man. Continue reading…

Arrested Development – Season 4

Arrested Development Season 4 Netflix

When Arrested Development first began it took situation comedy to another level with multiple strands of layered gags that come thick and fast be it with satire, visual gags, great lines, self-referential in-jokes, nods to popular culture, farce and at times dark humour; it was the freshest thing to happen to comedy on television since The Simpsons, and it was confident enough to never feel the need to sentimentalise that its close relations – The Office (UK) which preceded it and Modern Family which followed it – felt obliged to.

Its fourth season, released in its entirety yesterday, is totally groundbreaking in its own right; Netflix have made it a global TV event via the Internet, with the simultaneous release of all new 15 episodes, a sharp contrast for a show that was previously shunted around schedules and a welcome antidote to modern day fragmented viewing habits. Continue reading…

Romanzo Criminale II

Romanzo Criminale by Lilly A

 

An exclusive Romanzo Criminale illustration for The Substantive by Lilly Allen. Details of The Substantive t-shirt with another original design by Lilly Allen is at the bottom of this piece.

Carrying on where Season One left off, the second-half of Romanzo Criminale completes the story of the rise and fall of a criminal gang in Rome with ten more episodes of sublime television. Now in decline, imploding within and struggling to manage external forces, the gang’s tale continues at a fast pace throughout the eighties with style, in both sound and vision.

Continue reading…

Lilyhammer

The Sopranos taught us many, many things, not least how long running television drama can have the multiple plotlines and complexities of a great novel while being as layered as the best of cinema. One of the smaller things it taught us was that Little Stevie can do comedy; a facial expression here, a hand gesture there and a sigh and indentation of the neck when imparting a few words of wisdom to Tone.

Just thinking about it is enough to think about getting the boxed sets out again. We always have the option, but as an alternative Lilyhammer gave us something new. Little Stevie reprises a mafia role, this time as Jimmy the Fixer, an unlikely grass against the new boss in his organisation who has already tried to take him out. His safe house and new life is not in suburbia like Henry Hill but instead in Lilliehammer, Norway, due to the character’s memories of watching the 1984 Winter Olympics. Continue reading…



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