It’s New Years Day and I’m feeling charitable so this blog is brought to you in a whisper, with a cold flannel (for your forehead) and a bacon sandwich (for your mouth… if you need instructions on how to eat a sandwich, maybe don’t get out of bed yet). Read my round-up of the best Christmas telly and figure out what you want to watch on catch-up to keep the festive feelings flowing, and I’ll pop to the shops for paracetamol. Alright?
A classic tale of mismatched neighbours Andrew (Stephen Merchant, playing exactly the sort of person he always does) and Dev (Asim Chaudhry) from Bedford on a 9 hour mission to save Christmas and buy the must-have toy (Sparklehoof the Unicorn Princess) for Andrew’s daughter. Dev is the lonely chubby one, separated from his family at Christmas, and Andrew is the awkward angry intellectual, successful but bad tempered with a family who loves him for some unseen qualities. Dev teaches Andrew to be a happier man and a better father, and despite themselves they’ll be best buddies for life. Basically it’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles or Jingle All The Way for the small screen. It looks lovely with cosy camera angles suited to our suburban action heros. There’s great pacing throughout with real tension and subversive moments of mischief. Neither lead performance is all that over-the-top and their situation, while silly, seems entirely probable. An unexpected gem.
The Last Dragonslayer on Sky 1 was a proper Christmas treat and should have been on everyone’s list to watch instead of the Doctor Who christmas episode, shown at the same time. In this reviewer’s opinion Doctor Who has been limping along since the unfortunate Peter Capaldi took over. The sooner we see new showrunner Chris Chibnall’s work in 2017 the better, although it’d take a miracle to lure me back. Anyway I digress…
This much more satisfying slice of fantasy was served up by novelist Jasper Fforde. I’ve read quite a few of Fforde’s weird postmodern literary stories but never realised he’d branched out into young adult fiction. Happy to report that while retaining his own odd identity (more on that later) this shared elements with classic YA stuff like the Harry Potter series, Rincewind’s adventures in the Discworld and the magnificent His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.
This is a full review, so if you want to avoid spoilers go watch it now and come back later.
In which guest blogger Susie Sue tells us about her love for a dark and brutal drama, and shows off her holiday snaps!
Last summer I was lucky enough to go to the beautiful city of Seville in southern Spain. I visited the Alcázar, better known as the seat of House Martell.
I mention this mainly to show off but also because there was nearly an hour wait to get in and also airport style security when you did get through. It wasthat popular.
With the new season of Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic, 9pm Mondays – or before that if you have Sky Go or Now etc) upon us I have asked myself why – why? – is such a brutal show so appealing to me – to us?
Exciting times for history fans! The Last Kingdom (BBC2) starts this week (22 october at 9pm). Expect fighting frightening Vikings, blood and gore, and defending the shores of the British Isles. Expect important and resonant themes of immigration and colonisation. Expect rugged men looking rugged astride horses against rugged landscapes. And expect Bernard Cornwell’s books (this show is based on his series The Saxon Story) to be stacked sky-high in Waterstones.
But don’t expect dragons. Or magic. And it seems there’s slim chance of sex or nudity. If we’ve learned anything this week it’s been that writer Bernard Cornwell is not a fan of Game of Thrones. His work in based in history, so while the costumes, weapons and landscape look epic and lavish, there’s zero fantasy elements.