‘Britannia’ – Sky Atlantic

Britannia is the much discussed and much trumpeted new Sky Atlantic drama. It’s also the first co-production between Sky and Amazon. It’s written by Jez Butterworth, who seems to have theater and screenwriting experience in spades, but not much on the CV for telly. Not like our collective expectations are set too high, but it’s been bandied about that Sky are in desperate need of something substantial in the swords and bloodlust category as the wait for Game of Thrones will be glacial. But the people who have seen it already are split into two camps – either it’s brilliantly bat-shit or terribly confusing. Well, which is it then?

Set in 43 AD this is about the Roman conquest of Britain. This is the second time around, as Julius Cesar went home with his tail between his legs in 54 BC, and boy, despite the man being long dead, do we hear a lot about that. We meet General Aulus Plautius, played by David Morrissey, not worrying in the slightest about his accent or where in the Roman Empire he hails from. To misquote Doctor Who, a lot of countries have a north. Aye up legionnaires!

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‘Ronja the Robber’s Daughter’

A Studio Ghibli tv series on Amazon?! Yes please, says I! Most people who love the silver screen are familiar with the masterful Japanese animation house, behind such beloved international classics as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. 

Film School Rejects say “The studio is respected the world over for its lush animation, attention to detail, and the way its movies can soak its audiences in a mood without any effort at all”. So it’s easy to see that expectations were set high for their first ever tv series, which debuted in Japan in 2014. I won’t drag out the suspense – Ronja the Robber’s Daughter is a huge disappointment.

Ronja is a cute little girl, born to a robber king and his wife. They lead a band of ne’er-do-wells who patrol the forest paths robbing from the rich who travel through in their horse-drawn carriages. The merry band live in a secluded castle surrounded by a forest full of enormous creepy birds with women’s faces.

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‘The Grand Tour’

So this is it. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Amazon picked up the wayward Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond and threw a considerable sum of money at The Grand Tour aka Top Gear on the road. Episode one starts with Jeremy leaving the BBC and rainy grey old England behind in a made-up back story to romanticise the end of the old show. No he wasn’t sacked!, they’re desperate to remind us, it was just his contract wasn’t renewed! Haha! Because Jeremy Clarkson hit someone who worked for him. He got wound up for an incredibly pathetic reason and took it out on an underling. Haha! Because bullying in the workplace is fine. Hahaha he’s such a lad! Top bantz.

Anyway, with the past glossed over, his co-presenters appearing from nowhere and an insipid version of ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ playing in the background we arrive in the Californian high desert at Burning Man Festival. They then spend a few minutes making the whole festival look and sound utterly boring. It seems to be chock full of podgy pasty white people, who no doubt leave a violent shade of lobster red. On stage we can swiftly tell that these guys are many things, but they are not rock stars or even stand-up comics. They’re at great pains to introduce each other as motoring journalists. So why do they have to do it so awkwardly on a big stage?

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‘Hooten and The Lady’ – On the Box

Sky’s new action adventure series has been hyped to the max as good old-fashioned fun. It’s an eight part series co-created by EastEnders’ Tony Jordan of all people. But we know he’s keen to branch out since Dickensian enraged/ amused fans of Charles Dickens at Christmas. This is no soap opera, but the characters are familiar and you may feel you’ve seen it before.

Meet maverick rogue thief Hooten (just one name, because he’s cool, like Coolio) and clever posh totty Lady Alexandra Hyphenated-Surname. They team up in extremely unlikely circumstances to rescue treasures for the British Museum and earn pots of cash and flirt with each other in exotic locations. Sounds familiar?

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The Great British Sell Off

Alarming news for the legions of Great British Bake Off fans as the BBC have lost the contract to broadcast the baking behemoth. The series now on tv will be the last to be broadcast on BBC1.

Channel 4 announced last night that it has signed a three-year deal with Love Productions. The first programme, a celebrity version for the charity Stand Up To Cancer, will come in 2017.

Love Productions said negotiations with the BBC had been prolonged to say the least – taking place for a year! When talks with the Beeb fell through they signed a deal with Channel 4 the same evening. They don’t hang about.

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‘Outlander’ – On the Box

Outlander has been winning fans on Amazon since March 2015, but it’s all new to me, so allow me a recap. This is a historical romance with sci-fi time travel elements based on novels by Diana Gabaldon and set in the highlands of Scotland in 1743. Safe to say this is absolutely not my usual fare. I tend to run a mile at the word ‘romance’ but I’d heard great things about this show, and props to them; they’re clearly not afraid to chart their own course. Mr H reminds me frequently that I’d do a better job of blogging about telly if I nudge myself out of my comfort zone more often. So I don my silky negligee, pink fluffy kitten-heel slippers – which I understand is the uniform for all women who love romance – and armed only with a padded box of soft-center chocolates (the customary accessory) here I go.

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‘Top Gear’ – On the Box

Peer pressure. It’s peer pressure plain and simple.

The Top Gear reboot was going to be such a big event it was unavoidable. Everyone was going to have a loud and aggressive opinion about it so last night I found myself putting it on at 8pm sharp, telling Mr H not to get too used to it. Neither of us drive, so it’s pretty difficult to be entertained by what is essentially a car review show.

As far as I can tell, Top Gear has always been awful. Either too serious, too factual and too boring in its initial inception and then after the 2002 relaunch too stupid, too loud and too macho. The presenters were men old enough to know better running around growling politically incorrect nonsense and shouting their surnames at each other like retarded public school boys.

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