Are you the kind of person who always remembers to say thank you to Alexa? Are you careful in how you describe the great and benevolent Google when you’re within earshot of a Home Hub? Have you had a good long look at your Facebook privacy settings and do you actually understand what all that nonsense means? In which case you’re already familiar with the themes of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, a huge worldwide Netflix success (as far as we can tell with a company notoriously cagey about releasing their viewing figures) poached with extreme prejudice (and bucket-loads of cash) from Channel 4 back in 2015. Technology is a crutch for the human race, a wedge that drives us apart and the idealism of “do no evil” is an absurd fairy story. We’re being corrupted and driven to the point of madness by our own beloved, addictive creation.
Bandersnatch doesn’t make my life easy. This review is particularly hard to write. Usually I’d give brief outline of the story and then get into the nitty gritty. But everyone’s story here is slightly different, especially the multiple possible endings. So let’s cover the very basics and see where we go from there.
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.
Spoiler alert: Contains plot details for Series 4 of The Bridge
Writers Hans Rosenfeldt and Camilla Ahlgren promised great things with the final series of this international Scandi hit and viewers arrived back on the iconic Øresund Bridge with high hopes for our heroes Saga Noren (Sofia Helin) and Henrik Sabroe (Thure Lindhardt). Were they the awesome crime-fighting duo we’d seen at the end of series 3? Were they working together to solve the disappearance of Henrik’s daughters? Well, yes and no.
The series begins with Saga behind bars serving time for her wicked mother’s murder, patiently awaiting a re-trial. We know she didn’t do it, but how on earth can a cop with such limited social skills survive the system unscathed? Devoted Henrik who is trying hard to turn his life around is a frequent visitor. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder – their relationship seems much stronger than ever before. And a good job too, as there are some incredible storms to weather in this series – new highs and desperately tragic lows that are quite alien to Saga’s usual even keel. There’s heartbreak for all here, especially Saga as she finally has to confront her dreadful abusive childhood, and how it’s shaped her adult life. Saga in therapy is powerhouse acting from Sofia Helin, pushing at the limited scope in her character’s movements and facial expressions. I’ve not seen more entertaining and revealing therapy sessions since The Sopranos.
The mighty Jontosaurus is risen. Fear him! And also, read his top 5 The Walking Dead deaths and feel all squishy inside for gore of yore…
AMC’S The Walking Dead is in a dark place right now, with viewing figures at their lowest point since season 1. Reviews of season 8 have been remorseless, but there can be no denying that throughout the show’s massive run there have been some truly memorable characters that have perished in some truly memorable ways. And, in the case of Glenn, there have been about ten times we’ve thought he was going to die, only for him to turn up alive- sometimes without a whole lot of explanation. So, in honor of Glenn- God rest his fictional soul- here is a rundown of The Official Jontosaurus Top Five Memorable TWD Deaths Of All Time. As always, this is based purely on personal opinion, so please don’t be offended if your ‘favourite’ doesn’t make it in. Oh, and it goes without saying… but there may be spoilers ahead for those of you who have been living in a cave for the last few years. To be fair, I will try and avoid the most recent two or three seasons just to play it safe.
Hershel Loses His Head
“When all others lose theirs…” didn’t seem to be part of the plan for Hershel, who definitely loses his head, albeit in a clumsy and ultimately tragic way. Used as a sort of bargaining chip during The Governor’s assault on the prison, he is dragged out and negotiated over like a piece of meat. Just when it seems as though the adorable, well reasoned old man is going to pull through, the series decides to take a drastic U turn. As Maggie and Beth’s father, Hershel has already lost a leg due to a Walker bite, and although he looks about as resilient as a water paper bag, he’s clearly a tough old dog who isn’t ready to throw in the towel just because the apocalypse has reared its ugly head. Unfortunately, the Big Bad in form of David Morrissey’s The Governor has other ideas, and after a drawn-out affair, he grabs a samurai sword- a very familiar samurai sword for that matter- and lops off the old man’s head. What makes this scene so unexpected is that it leaps upon us as viewers just when we think the old man may be spared, and it also shows the removal of the head in graphic detail. We watch as the Governor messes up his first chop, only partly severing the neck, and all the while the dying Hershel just sort of kneels there, serene and untroubled, as his head is cut off. Truly harrowing but, sadly, not the most harrowing death on this list.
After last year’s Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None, hopes were set high for short story turned into two-part drama special Witness for the Prosecution, but this was quite a different beast. No mansions, no dinner guests being offed one-by-one, no detective twirling his enviable moustaches and not a normal Christie ending. Much interfering had been done, and there wasn’t much in the way of original Christie to be seen.
We’re transported to the roaring twenties and Kim Cattrall is Ms French, a wealthy widow living it up and having a fine time with her fancy man Leonard Vole much to the disgust of her loudly disapproving maid Janet. These days Emily French would be mocked as a cougar, a woman of a certain age who is attracted to younger men and has the nerve to go after them. These prejudices are certainly represented and Emily knows her actions make her unpopular and looked-down on in high society, but she doesn’t really care. Money is a pretty good insulator against what people think of you. Cattrall, famous for a strikingly similar character in Sex and the City, is essentially playing Samantha 70 years earlier.