TV TV Features

Huffington Post: Stop Getting Bond… Right? (21/05/19)

The new teaser trailer for the latest James Bond film Skyfall is out (if you haven’t already seen it – what are you doing reading this piddly article, go and watch it!) Sam Mendes’ latest has all the tropes of a great Bond film – great action, witty quips and… dialogue that resembles a Gordon Ramsay programme (Skyfall? DONE!). In a passionate plea, Alan Partridge once shouted at his confused guests “Stop getting Bond wrong!” Skyfall looks like it’s going to fulfil this demand and more besides – so for the 50th anniversary of the martini lover can Mendes manage to pull out the best Bond since Goldeneye?

That isn’t to say that there haven’t been moments of greatness in the previous Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan films – that Casino Royale intro really made people sit up and listen – but as our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman once said before he went all silly, grew a fringe and started tapdancing, with great technology comes great responsibility. It’s all well and good to have sleek production skills, but audiences want more from their Bond now. They want their action and their plots to be clever, intelligent and meaningful as well as totally awesome. They want Jason Bourne without Matt Damon.

Apart from the dialogue, which no doubt has been parodied a thousand times on YouTube already, Skyfall‘s teaser trailer hints that this could finally be achieved. Whilst there are amazing scenes such as Tube crashes, Shanghai nights and sniper shootouts, there is also a prevailing mood of the tense atmosphere we last found in Casino Royale. Surprisingly for a trailer in this day and age, the entire storyline isn’t given away in one fell swoop, but we can only hope that it all doesn’t boil down to another crisis with Bolivia’s water system (“Oh God not the water! Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the water?!”)

JB always needs a malevolent baddie, and whilst he only shows up as a silhouette against a fireball, you can bet that the star of No Country for Old Men Javier Bardem’s silent appearance in the trailer signals a change from the usual slightly camp cackling villain. It’s about time James got himself a proper badass to face rather than one with a theatrical bleeding eye, and Bardem is definitely the man for the job.

Really the only way Skyfall can fail is if it loses sight of what Casino Royale slowly started and Quantum of Solace cocked up royally – an intriguing psychological cocktail of thrills shaken not stirred with intense, moody dialogue. We don’t need REALLY BIG EXPLOSIONS to be cool these days, and whilst it’d be an outrage to Bond if we didn’t have a few, let’s hope that, as the trailer seems to show, Mendes and co haven’t forgotten that the modern day Bond doesn’t need to stick to the formula – he can do his own thing, and be much better for it. We can all hope and pray, however, that they don’t take this too far and ask Skrillex to do the theme tune.

Skyfall is in cinemas on October 26th.

TV TV Features

Huffington Post: Let’s Hope That Homeland Doesn’t Turn Into Another ‘Lost’ (06/07/12)

So the finale of Homeland is upon us tonight, and what a journey it’s been. For a series that started out looking like every one of those empty conspiracy thrillers America loves so much (I’m looking at you, “The Event“) it’s been refreshing to see Homeland change into a rare example of well acted, tense and involving dramas, helped along not in the least by a great cast. The finale is bound to excite; teasing us with answers, whilst also filling our minds with even more questions. So why do I feel slightly apprehensive of what’s become a Sunday night staple?

The irony is that despite its dedication to serious, well-thought out and seemingly realistic plots, Homeland, because of its very format as a television series, can never be as realistic as real world conflict because we all know it’s already been commissioned for a second season. Much like the greatest blockbuster films where you know the “goodie” won’t really be dead when the sentimental music strikes up, this single fact meant that whilst getting involved in all of the drama of the series, there was always a small, annoying voice in the back of my mind bleating “You know it won’t all be wrapped up soon anyway – there’s at least another season of this to go”. Who knows, maybe the series will do a Skins, and the finale will feature an almighty explosion that sees all characters jettisoned into outer space, so that the next season can have completely different characters in almost the same predicament reliving everything again for our amusement (whilst taking copious drugs), but somehow I doubt it. Many of the main characters will be staying on because they’re what’s at the heart of Homeland – how on earth could we get a new Carrie?

There’s nothing inherently wrong of course with Homeland getting another season – it only cements what we’ve all been thinking about it from about episode four onwards – that it’s great TV. It’s just a shame that, in the nature of the real world vs the world of the programme, the news of another series somewhat breaks all of the hard work its been doing to instil an idea of drama and suspense into the proceedings.

Whilst I can just about let this slide, what I’m more worried about is this series turning into another Lost or Heroes. Each of these had an amazing first season, and granted, even their second ones weren’t so bad. But then they carried on. And, in Lost‘s case, on again. Until the memory of that first exciting season was whisked away, like so many mysterious and unexplainable appearances of black smoke. Granted, Homeland has a few things on its side – there aren’t any random encounters with polar bears appearing out of nowhere that the writers will have to explain – so it’s looking more likely already that season two will be able to fit the mould of the first. But still, somehow, the doubts linger. It’s just the way it goes unfortunately – after that first great idea, few writers are ever able to continue in the same vein, especially when commercially forced to do so – which is why so often in the TV world we see first season fad fading to second/third season flop.

I hope this won’t be the case for Homeland, and that the writers are able to steer clear of Lost‘s choppy waters. All they have to do is make sure they bring us a second season not because the network or even the audience demands it – but because the story does.

TV TV Features

Huffington Post: Expectations for Mad Men Season Five (25/03/12)

Find the original article here.

With the Bob Dylan CD on repeat, everyone practising their long, meaningful stares with cigarettes, and Google hits for ‘Old Fashioned recipe’ increasing at an alarming rate, you know it can only mean one thing – that’s right, it’s almost the beginning of another season of Mad Men.

With the Bob Dylan CD on repeat, everyone practising their long, meaningful stares with cigarettes, and Google hits for ‘Old Fashioned recipe’ increasing at an alarming rate, you know it can only mean one thing – that’s right, it’s almost the beginning of another season of Mad Men. Last season saw a radical breakaway for almost all of the main characters in some department – Don spontaneously proposed to his secretary Megan, Joan got knocked up with Roger’s baby, and everyone was left rocked by the loss of Lucky Strike (and not very grateful after Peggy bringing in the first account since its departure). So in light of Season Five’s near arrival on our screens, it seems only right to play Pete Campbell and snoop into what we probably will and definitely won’t be seeing in what could be the standout season of the series so far.

What to expect

Marriage Complications

Don Draper isn’t the kind of man that can keep out of trouble for long, so don’t be surprised to see something going awry with his marriage plans with Megan. Predictions of the first episode being at least partly set at the wedding – either in flashback or the present form – are likely too, but if we don’t see at least one spilt martini, it’ll be a shock.

Dick Whitman Rears His Ugly Head

Since Betty’s discovery that Don wasn’t quite who he said he was, Mr Draper has managed to just about hold on to his deep dark secret identity. But with a new beauty under his spell, how long will it take before he has to once again step back into his past? Will he finally have to air his – albeit beautifully pressed – laundry to the whole world? With his spontaneous gesture towards Megan last time, perhaps this season will see a new leaf turned and a more honest Don stepping into the ring (but hopefully this won’t be the case).

Pete Campbell Gets (More) Arrogant

There hasn’t been much of Greedy Pete of late, and with his wife Trudi giving birth to a baby girl last season, the return of everyone’s favourite pain in the proverbial is definitely on the cards. This season could see him struggle with coming to terms with fatherhood, especially after the problems he often had with his own father, and if there isn’t a scene of him and Don bonding over what it means to be a dad over a few Old Fashioneds then I’ll eat my fedora.

The Return of Sal

Last season saw our ‘in the closet’ artist get outed – at least from Sterling Cooper Draper Price. But with Lucky Strike now firmly out of the picture, there’s bound to be at least one chance encounter with Sal Romano, even if, in the timely style of Mad Men rediscoveries, it means he turns up begging for money on a street corner to an unaware Don Draper – in turn triggering a further flashback into Don’s life featuring hobos and the poor life.

What not to expect

Glen and Betty’s Erotic Affair

Glen Bishop made a delightful return in Season Four as he tried to get close to Sally Draper, but we all know that secretly this was all just a ploy to get to his real love, Sally’s mother, Betty. Even with Betty set to move away, Glen knows their secret love will hold out, and they soon find each other in a bizarre love triangle with Henry Francis. It all becomes too much for angry Sally, who hunts him down one night with a crossbow.

A Special Episode Featuring England Winning The World Cup

With this season set in the summer of 1966, it makes sense that the characters all go football crazy, football mad, and sit down to watch England beat West Germany to win the World Cup. Joan bakes a special Rule Britannia cake to celebrate and everyone gets wasted on Pimm’s.

Season Five of Mad Men will air in the UK at 9pm Tuesday 27 March on Sky Atlantic