‘Ghosts’ and ‘Back to Life’ – BBC

To quote a classic of modern literature “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” And boy is that true of the absolute shit-show that is Britain in 2019 (we officially lost the Great in 2016). At times like these the nation needs a joyful distraction, or just a way of putting our problems into relief with a a few jokes and this year we have been spoiled. Phoebe Waller-Bridge served up the last series of Fleabag and Ricky Gervais returned with After Life on Netflix, both contentious in their own way but both with devoted and vocal fan bases. Here’s a couple of new shows that I think we should also be talking about.

ghosts2
Things that go bump in the night

Ghosts is a long-awaited sitcom from the team who brought us Horrible Histories, and pleasingly it’s broadcast in a post-watershed slot, so while they don’t push it they have the rare opportunity to get away with more creative language and storytelling (Fanny is relating a tale of her husband’s proclivities “I caught him ‘pon the groundskeeper with the butler ‘pon him.” “It’s actually known as a Moroccan tea party”) Essentially it’s a flatshare sitcom with what looks to be a pretty enormous cast.

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It’s the Custard TV Podcast!

Luke and Matt from The Custard TV invited me on their podcast. We had a blast talking about new shows on the BBC, ITV and Netflix. Despite the shows themselves being a little lackluster, and one in particular a huge disappointment, we battled through what I reckon was probably a cursed podcast. Between the internet being down, a frightful 24 hour sickness bug, and a lost edit, it was a terrific team effort to pull it off!

Listen to my shocking attempt at their fiendish quiz BoxMaster, and find out which TV characters we’d like to spend a day with. Listen now on the website, ask Google or Alexa to find it for you, or check wherever you find your podcasts.

If you want to hear a particular show we reviewed, check the timestamps below:

TIME STAMPS
00:07.43  REVIEW – The Victim – Episode 1  (BBC1/BBC iPlayer)
00:17.00 REVIEW – The Widow – Episode 1 (ITV/ITV HUB)
00:26.34- REVIEW – Don’t Forget the Driver – Episode 1 (BBC2/BBC iPlayer)
00:35.58 – REVIEW – Quicksand – Episode 1 (NETFLIX)
00:46.23 – BoxMaster – The Ultimate TV Quiz
00:55.25 – REVIEW – Barry  – Episode 1 (Sky Atlantic/NOWTV)

Thanks to the guys for having me on and letting me contribute to the site. Here’s to many more years of talking telly.

 

‘Game of Thrones’ Series 8

This is a full review of the first episode of Series 8. Remember, the internet is dark and full of spoilers.

Game of Thrones is a hard thing for me to review, or even take notes on, as I’m so always so totally engrossed in the action; every word, every look, every tiny moment. I’m not the sort of person who insists on absolute silence for watching TV, but if I miss one single word on GoT I feel short-changed if I don’t rewind and watch the scene again. In my nearly four years of writing for Dead Pixel Test, I don’t think I’ve ever properly reviewed an episode. So I if descend into gibbering girlish squeals of excitement instead of actual words and phrases, please excuse me.

Khals and Khaleesis we are back! And this is what we’ve all been waiting for! Series 8 – the beginning of the end; winter is here. Even the credits were exciting, and seeing the dependable ancient Wall broken in two made me gasp. The opening sequence has always been a fantastic tabletop version of the changing landscapes of the Seven Kingdoms but now we’re seeing much more of the insides of the palaces and strongholds we’ve come to love. It was absolutely stunning, culminating in a view of the throne room in the Red Keep and, to be honest, quite a cute and dinky Iron Throne.

There’s a massive reunion up at Winterfell, with anyone who is anyone arriving to join up with the biggest army the world has ever seen. As we see a young boy dash through the crowd and climb to a vantage point, and Arya wait in the crowds it was direct nod to the first ever episode as the citizens of Winterfell waited for King Robert, the Lannisters and all that emotional incestual baggage to arrive. But this time everything is somber and dark. Jon Snow, Daenerys, their entourage and the thousands of Dothraki and Unsullied are not here to drink, hunt and fuck, like the royal houses before them, but to wage war on the army of the undead. It’s so good to see our favourite characters again, weary but ready for a fight. The sweetest reunion was without doubt Jon and Arya, so different now and parted for so long, but still easily the Starks who like each other the best.

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‘Trapped: Series 2’ – Episodes 9 & 10

This is a full review of episodes 9 and 10 of Trapped so don’t read on unless you’re up to date.

This series of Trapped has been more about fire than ice, but despite how it all began with Gisli’s self-immolation in such a public space I was not prepared for the horrific car fire at the start of episode 9. I was in denial. There’s no way hat Asgeir could be dead, stabbed by the killer intent on stealing back the mobile phone and covering his tracks. He’s not stopped that easily; he can survive a few stab wounds. But then a car is found on fire as the killer slinks away in the darkness.

I was banking on a TV miracle, right up until his autopsy (“That’s not Asgeir – he had a distinctive rabbit tattoo on his lower thigh! This is some other convenient dead body with terrible stab wounds!”). Only then, like Andri, Hinrika and poor Gudrun I had to admit he really was gone. The grief of his colleagues was so raw and real, especially Andri who immediately blamed himself. Watching the big guy crumble was too much to bear especially because he had to hide away in his bathroom to cry privately. And the new feeling of empty space in the police station where Asgeir should have been was a neat way to show something has changed forever without the need for words. There’s no relief until Asgeir’s killer is caught. And despite what Andri tells his boss, we know he’s not alright to continue leading this investigation but we admire his resolve and we want him to see it through.

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‘Trapped: Series 2’ – Episodes 7 & 8

This is a full review of episodes 7 and 8 of Trapped so don’t read on unless you’re up to date.

Episode seven opens with the fairytale of Gutti the goat boy, his personal tragedy and how he gets trapped in a lost future. If it’s meant to evoke any sympathy or understanding in steely Halla it falls flat. “Gutti was an idiot” she says. There’s more myths and legends butting up against the everyday in these episodes as the villagers start to feel they’re cursed.

The man competing for unluckiest villager is Vikingur, stood awaiting his fate against a very suitable blood-red backdrop locked in a room in the plant to keep him safe from the angry mob. His white shirt is splattered in blood, the backdrop is a once-white sheet covered in red spray paint. Pawel was hit in the head with a nasty-looking pointed hammer and Vikingur looks extremely guilty. Pawel the Pole was running jobs with various foreign workers at the plant. Was he a mini mob boss? If so, I bet he had plenty of enemies.

Stefan, the clean-cut pal of Vikingur, rescues Ebo from yet another mob and puts him up with Hjortor and his girlfriend Soffia. Stefan can’t help but look guilty to seasoned fans of the genre – he’s so clean-cut he must be hiding something. Ebo speaks to the police to provide some context for Vikingur’s rage at Pawel and the homophobes they worked with. Lovely Asgeir’s English is beautifully spoken in this scene; he’s so kind to this terrified man.

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‘Trapped: Series 2’ – Episodes 5 & 6

This is a full review of episodes 5 and 6 of Trapped so don’t read on unless you’re up to date.

Welcome to a couple of subdued but pivotal episodes as we reach the halfway mark in Trapped, despite Andri admitting he’s really back at square one in the investigation. Episode five in particular is quite slow and introspective as it centers around Gisli’s funeral. It marks a break in the action and a pause in the investigation. Gisli’s gravediggers remark on his ancestor who had “bad blood which contaminates the soil” and we get our first hint of what exactly is tearing the family apart – Gisli, Halla and Elin are the three siblings whose father went missing when they were children and his body was never found.

The Case

Young Aron’s flash car was bought by his father with cash. And as Asgeir says Finnur had a fleet of cars, with not exactly a massive wage from the plant. So this is where he spent his dirty money, and the rest is stashed in the house for Aron and Thorhildur to find after his death.

Stylish Halla is burnt but unbowed and goes to her brother’s funeral. Sister Elin accuses her of doing it for the media attention and if she hadn’t managed that already just by attending she gives a speech to the congregation and is treated like a hero. This has to be very good for her long-term political career. All the villagers scrub up well for the service in the tiny church, apart from Bardur keeping his trademark wooly hat on until Hinrika jabs him in the ribs.

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‘Trapped: Series 2’ – Episodes 3 & 4

This is a full review of episodes 3 and 4 of Trapped so don’t read on unless you’re up to date.

Welcome to this week’s episodes of Trapped aka racist Lord of the Rings, well sort of.  The Hammer of Thor group are in the ascendency, racing around in the north embroiled in various criminal enterprises, large and small. The director must have heard my complaints about the first episodes; they’ve saved the greatest landscape shots for this week as we see Skuli evade the search team and murder a dog. Two dog deaths now in just 3 episodes. My top tip: never be a dog in a Scandi noir.

The Case

Incarcerated Torfi reveals a vague threat about “what happens today” which gives a real sense of pressure on the whole episode. Could the Hammer of Thor group have set a bomb at the location the Mayor will use to sign the controversial deal with American Aluminium? Could it be another attack on the plant? Rabble-rouser Ketill is delighted to be in front of the TV news cameras on his release from custody but desperate for his son to be found safe. On reflection Skuli’s white horse was a poor choice in a muddy green landscape. When Skuli is finally found he’s given up hiding as he is as sick as a dog (although not quite as sick as the one he stabbed previously). Could this be exposure as he’s been on the mountainside for days, or something more sinister. I immediately thought poison, but I’ve been conditioned by detective dramas. Aha! I was right, and we’ve seen him drinking from a stream. Is this the ecological disaster the angry farmers were predicting?

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