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Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones, Mr. Robot [Season 1]: follows Elliot – a Cyber Security engineer by day / social vigilante hacker by night – as he’s recruited by a shady anarchist called ‘Mr Robot’. Firstly, the shows gambles everything on a wild main character: an anxious & depressed, socially inept, lonely, mentally unstable, and unsympathetic junkie-hacker! The central plot is told through his paranoid point-of-view, where we hear his thoughts – including some beautiful IT snobbery: “he owns a blackberry” “he likes the music of Josh Groban” / “stupid Marvel movies”. While Malek’s lead performance is outstanding, he’s not alone as the entire show is very well-cast: everyone has a unique look and set of traits & skills – Wallstrom and Slater in particular get a lot of time to shine. The show also looks phenomenal; it’s beautifully shot with lots of bold & striking imagery, vibrant colours, and unorthodox camerawork; like low-level & asymmetrical shots, strong leading lines… you could screenshot almost any moment and hang it on your wall. In fact, the production is so slick that it feels more like a 10-hour long movie. Every character, every sub-plot, almost every scene feels like it’s saying something about our modern way of living; how insipid tech is permeating our lives, and how ‘the masses’ are being exploited. As someone who works in IT I found myself nerding out over accuracy and tech savviness of the show; Hell, even the episode titles like “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov” are smart and cool. As the season marches forward viewers are rewarded with compelling story arcs, Shakespearian twists and turns, and scathing critiques of modern life, big business, & corporate culture. It’s very anti-establishment, and isn’t dumbed down in the slightest. Insightful, intelligent, and crammed with current issues & ‘news story’ plots, Mr Robot is the kind of show that’s setting the bar in terms of style and substance.

Score: 9/10

Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones,

Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones,

Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones,

Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, B. D. Wong, Michel Gill, Gloria Reuben, Ron Cephas Jones,

 

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Goliath: a formerly great (now-down-and-out) lawyer lands a case against his old firm and their biggest client; but his life suddenly takes a turn for the even worse. While the premise is nothing new or original, this is elevated by having a horde of superb characters, brilliantly acted by the top-drawer ensemble cast: Billy-Bob Thornton, Nina Arianda, Tania Raymonde, and Kevin Weisman in particular steal every scene they’re in with phenomenally dry and naturally funny performances. It’s also quite smutty and sweary compared to most other shows – the frequency and inappropriateness of which adds an extra layer to the humour. In style and tone, a lot of Goliath reminded me of Justified; very human and flawed characters that you want to spend more time with in knockabout situations with dive bars, blues music, and some peril / mystique thrown in. It’s also very well made, measuring up to the biggest budget shows around with a bright and slick look, top-end camerawork (those time lapses!!!) and a tremendous blues/rock soundtrack. In fact, my only two reservations about the show is that the main antagonist (Bill Hurt) is pretty much played as a Bond villain with a burnt face, living in a darkened layer, and given some token perversions. Also, the first six episodes have plenty laugh out loud moments, whereas the final two wrap things up in a more straightforward way. Goliath is so funny, addictive, and crammed with entertaining dialogue & performances that I watched all eight hours over two nights. It’s a solid courtroom drama for people who don’t even have to like Courtroom Dramas.

Score: 8.5/10

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Strike Back: Shadow Warfare – when an undercover Section 20 agent is executed in cold blood Scott and Stonebridge set their sights on the killer and his terrorist organization. For this first time, this season pulls out some big names with the likes of Martin Clunes (best death face ever), Dougray Scott, Robson Green, and Rhona Mitra. And when you thought it wouldn’t be possible, everything is EVEN MORE ridiculous, funny, cheesy, trashier and sensational than the previous outings: a sexy Russian agent-babe is introduced in one scene, and literally a having vodka sex (with Scott, obvz) in the next one; a gay transvestite pensioner hard-man starts prison riot; and only Strike Back could have the Real IRA team up with Muslim terrorists and get away with it. This is the first season where the different directors stand out as the opening two episodes have computer-game / John Woo slow-mo vibe, with epic music and everything exploding; the middle six feel more ‘traditional’ action episodes, and the final two play out more like 24 episodes with the focus being on twists and reveals (and some poorly handled shaky cam action). The overall story and structure stick to previous season formulas, but hey, every plot thread in Strike Back is just chasing McGuffins to serve up more action scenes. When things aren’t being blown to shit, the drama stuff is well handled, characters get a bit more time to develop, and the show still isn’t afraid to pull punches or shock the viewers with main cast killings. I’ve pretty much ran out of superlatives and phrases to describe how good Strike Back is because it’s so consistent in delivering five top-drawer action B-movies season after season. The show gives its audience (14-40 year old boys) exactly what they want: action, babes, guns, nudity, explosions, gadgets… and the fact that this rollercoaster series ends with a sex scene says it all really. The tagline for this season is “The world’s not saving itself”; but Strike Back is definitely saving the action TV genre.

Score: 8.5/10

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STRIKE BACK REVIEW 

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STRIKE BACK: PROJECT DAWN REVIEW

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STRIKE BACK: VENGEANCE REVIEW

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Vice Principals: when a school principal retires and the vice principals are passed over for a promotion they form an unlikely tag team to take their new boss down. Not unlike most Danny McBride projects, the humour in VPs is an acquired taste: it’s stupid and lowest-common denominator stuff, but I’m a fan of the funny to watch the crass swearing, childish squabbling, stereotypes, silly faces etc… McBride’s pretty much been here before in Eastbound and Down with his faded baseball star going back to school to teach; his latest character Neal Gamby is essentially an older, and slightly more filtered/censored Kenny Powers. Goggins on the other hand turns in an against-type effeminate role, that requires a lot of eye rolling, sucking up, and mincing around in pink clothes. Both leads are great at what they do and the core supporting cast notes (Gregory / Whigham / King / Love – GO SCOTLAND! / Patterson) all hit the right comedy notes. The show mostly cruises along, with scenarios that lead to silly and cringe comedy, but there’s a few curveballs in here with surreal moments, weird filming techniques, and the finale feels a little too bizarre and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the show. Vice Principals will go down best with fans of McBride’s trademark style, and he’s firmly in his comfort zone… for regular viewers it may be stray a little too far into crass and unacceptable territory.

Score: 6/10

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Jean-Claude Van Johnson: what if the ‘rubbish’ straight to DVD movies JCVD made in the between the bigger films were just cover for his super-agent alter ego to carry out real black ops missions? That’s the premise for the Amazon pilot Jean-Claude Van Johnson. The episode has a lot of great action genre and movie business digs and jokes; although some of the more general jokes fall a bit flatter, focusing on easy targets like hipsters, pop-up restaurants, vaping etc. The scrip is littered with witty LOL moments like an entire Looper / Timecop debate, and lines like “I’m real retired, not like Nicolas Cage retired. While the love interest angle doesn’t quite work with the meager time assigned to it; it has potential to grow through a full season. The Van Johnson pilot is handled beautifully, and clearly made with affection for JCVD’s career and filmography…  It’s also great that a star of his stature can poke this much fun at himself; making this an absolute must-watch for any JCVD or action B-movie fans.

Score: 8/10

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Strike Back Vengeance Season 3 Trio Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton, Rhashan Stone, Liam Garrigan, Rhona Mitra, Charles Dance, Vincent Regan, Natalie Becker, Shane Taylor, Stephanie Vogt

Strike Back: Vengeance (Season 3) – when a billionaire acquires four nuclear triggers in order to re-shape Africa, only section 20 can stop him. Continuing with the UK/US collaboration, this takes everything that worked about ‘Project Dawn’ and made it all bigger/louder/better. Every episode is wall to wall action; with dozens of set pieces, hundreds of deaths, and a load of whiz-bang sex scenes. The entire season is 100mph, and it’s simply great fun. The characters feel more rounded, the leads’ chemistry is fantastic, and it’s very professionally made – but things like ‘character development’, ‘plot’, and ‘direction‘ are background noise to the explosions, gunfights, stunt driving, and spec ops that march the show forward. It’s hard to believe that such a ridiculously intense level of action (huge set pieces every 10 mins or so) can be done on a TV budget – the 10 episodes are paired off into FIVE 90-minute long mini missions that run together. In a world of toned down and heavily edited 12-rated action films, the swearing, sex, and sensational action makes this feel like something from ‘the good old days’. Completely knowing, and aimed directly at young male action fans, Strike Back Vengeance is a show that only really does one thing (infinite ammo, high-octane action turned up to 11), but does it brilliantly – making it a truly unmissable show for action fans

Score: 8.5/10

Strike Back Vengeance Season 3 Sniping Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton, Rhashan Stone, Liam Garrigan, Rhona Mitra, Charles Dance, Vincent Regan, Natalie Becker, Shane Taylor, Stephanie Vogt

Line of Duty BBC AC12 Lennie James, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar, Craig Parkinson, Neil Morrissey, Keeley Hawes, Gina McKee, jessica raine, Mark Bonnar, tony Pitts, Christina Chong

Line of Duty (Seasons 1 & 2): police drama based on an Anti-Corruption unit and their internal affair investigations on potentially crooked coppers. The show’s biggest strength is that the main focus of each season is a very ambiguous character that looks clean and innocent, but makes some morally dubious choices – some of which are understandable – meaning that every viewer will see them differently depending on their individual moral compass. It also helps that the core characters are well-acted and for the most part, given backstory and more depth. There’s more shocks and violence than you’d expect from a Big British Castle (BBC) program – which helps to ratchet up the drama. It’s also well shot, with strong docu/realistic camerawork and a slightly gritty finish to emphasise urgency and drama. What I don’t understand is that it spends 5-6 hours setting up a complex, engaging, and constantly evolving crime scenario – only to completely fuck up the ending in both seasons: one is barely explained; the other is told only through flashbacks; and both times nothing really changes, the team don’t actually figure anything out, and it’s topped with cheesy follow-up post credit titles showing the fate of each main character (even though it’s fiction, and not true crime). For the most part Line of Duty is a slick, tense, and absorbing police procedural show; and if closure doesn’t bother you, you’ll like it even more.

Season 1 – Score: 7/10
Season 2 – Score: 8/10

Line of Duty BBC Cops Lennie James, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar, Craig Parkinson, Neil Morrissey, Keeley Hawes, Gina McKee, jessica raine, Mark Bonnar, tony Pitts, Christina Chong

The Night Manager Cast BBC AMC Roper Birch Pine, John le Carré, Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, Elizabeth Debicki, Alistair Petrie, Douglas Hodge, David Harewood, Tobias Menzies, Michael Nardone

The Night Manager: a hotel manager is recruited by the British Gov to infiltrate a ruthless arms dealer’s inner circle. I can’t remember the last time the BBC threw this much money, stars, and talent at one project. Yet for such an accomplished cast, it felt like a faux pas to cast the leading lady as a relatively unknown; she struggles to keep up with the big and entertaining performances of villainous Roper (Laurie), heroic Pine (Hiddleston), and vivacious Corky (Hollander). Style-wise, this feels like a very expensive pitch for Loki to become 007: he even has the audacity to order a Vodka Martini in the final episode (WTF M8!?!) It’s all a bit ‘classic Flemming’, boasting the hallmarks of an old-school Bond film; from the decadent credits through to stellar production values and globe-trotting espionage. The disappointment is that it only dips a toe in the Bond waters: the plot’s far-fetched, but not too daft; the villain is dastardly, but not a megalomaniac; the hero is sufficiently heroic, but not an espionage badass… At six episodes, the setup, ending, and central plot of infiltrating an arm’s dealer feel rushed – sacrificing your belief in the story for as much drama, murder, action and boobs that the run-time will allow. The ending also feels quite spineless – turning its back on the pulpy / hardboiled vibe that the story built and opting for a happy, wide-open-for-a-sequel finale. Overall, The Night Manager looks fantastic, and is completely watchable… because it’s actually more of a saucy and sensational spy romp, than the classy espionage thriller it’s presented as.

Score: 7/10

Deutschland 83 East West, Jonas Nay, Maria Schrader, Ulrich Noethen, Sylvester Groth, Sonja Gerhardt, Ludwig Trepte, Alexander Beyer, Lisa Tomaschewsky, Carina Wiese, Jens Albinus, Nikola Kastner

Deutschland 83: an East German foot soldier is sent to the West as an undercover spy to monitor the military, NATO, and carry out bespoke missions. I usually avoid lazy comparisons, but for simplicity, think The Americans or Homeland, with a younger & more naïve lead – and leveled at a younger audience. The show boasts a lot of inter-connected small and larger stories packed in to the 8 episodes, which helps to develop and justify each of the supporting cast members, and gives most of them some time in the spotlight. For the most part the acting is solid, nobody stands out as being rubbish. Set in 1983 (shock!) the period detail is very interesting, and arguably the biggest draw of the show: not just the nostalgic items on-screen or the dominating era-specific pop soundtrack, but differences between the East/West, and other background stuff from like the AIDS epidemic and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. Unfortunately, the ending’s a bit too open-ended for such a dense and small slice of the Cold War; like one of the fat cat producers hoped they’ll be making Deutschland ’85 and ’87 in the near future. The only thing that bugged me was the lack of clarity regarding time: the lead transformed from a rookie footsoldier to a stone-cold, poon-slaying, espionage-master overnight, and some of the stories lurched forward days and weeks with no real indication. Overall, Deutschland ’83 is an impressive high-budget, well-acted, fascinating and entertaining drama; it’s maybe not quite as good as the hype (it’s the most successful foreign TV show in UK history!), but it’s a solid show, and another positive step towards the HBOification of Eurpean TV.

Score: 7/10

Deutschland 83 ARMY BROS, Jonas Nay, Maria Schrader, Ulrich Noethen, Sylvester Groth, Sonja Gerhardt, Ludwig Trepte, Alexander Beyer, Lisa Tomaschewsky, Carina Wiese, Jens Albinus, Nikola Kastner

 

Newsroom HBO Election Coverage Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk

The Newsroom (Season 1): a news team bring their show back to old-school and trustworthy coverage of the stories that really matter – which proves to be a controversial decision for the network and the viewers. The first thing you have to tune in to is writer Aaron Sorkin’s unrealistic ping-pong-ping-pong rapid fire dialogue. Sorkin feels like the Tarantino of scriptwriting, everything seems to make it to the screen unedited, and you can hear him through the lines, smugly asking you: “Can you hear just how smart this show is!? Did you catch that cultural reference!? Can you keep up OK? Are you impressed? Please admire me…” The show is split into two main areas – the elite production team that are trying to bring facts and ethics back into news broadcasting, and two personal love dramas between various employees. The news stuff/cable network politics is absolutely dynamite and I could watch it all day; it’s dramatic, informative, well-researched, well-written, eye-opening, and makes for some of the best acting, speeches, and #scenes I can remember watching. The love angles on the other hand completely torpedo the show: it’s old writers writing unrealistic dialogue for youths; actors struggling to play dated neurotic caricatures; stretched out sub-Dawson’s Creek relationship arcs. I hate fingering people out, but it child over-actor Alison Pill plays the most unlikable love-interest in history – a terrible actress/character combo. To top off the stupidity, there’s a throughline of abysmal slapstick moments like people walking in to doors, falling over objects, ‘hilariously’ struggling to put trousers on, and general ACME antics that would perfectly match this song. When one of the female characters gets splashed by a passing Sex and the City tour bus playing the show’s theme song, I wanted to chew my fists off – this potentially great show is jumping sharks in season 1.

Newsroom HBO Will Anchor Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk

It’s ironic that a ‘highbrow’ concept about how stupid TV has become, decides to devote over half of its runtime to shitty, banal and moronic will-they/won’t-they love stories, aimed squarely at the very idiots it’s trying to scold. Worse still, this is clearly Sorkin’s idea as HBO doesn’t tend to shy away from serious, engaging, and intellectual television. More than anything else, it’s a shame that the scathing, and brutally honest critique of US mainstream culture (especially tabloid press & broadcasting) loses out to second-rate soap opera stories. I can’t remember any other TV show that is so brilliant at some things (news, drama, dialogue), and inept at others (relationships, interactions, dialogue). You’ll be fist-pumping the air one minute, then tensing up in maximum cringe mode at the next. It gives with one hand, then pisses all over both of your hands. I could watch Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterson all day – and there’s a phenomenal mini series praying to be edited out of this – but in the current form, The Newsroom is one of the most frustrating TV shows you’ll ever watch.

Score: 4/10

Newsroom Cast AMC Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk

Newsroom Sexy Sloan Hot Aaron Sorkin, Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Sam Waterston, Hope Davis, Chris Chalk

Archer Season 6 [Mild Spoilers]: Another year, and another season of FX’s show Archer has come and gone. While Season Six suffers from a tiny dip in overall quality, it places a lot more emphasis on witty conversations and established callback / running jokes than previous seasons. Also, admirably, the show hasn’t began to lean on entire ‘homage’ / ‘parody’ plots yet – keeping all episodes as original stories (other than the finalé). Some of the old favourites re-appear Conway Stern, “Mr” Slater, Barry Dylan (and Other Barry), Katya (Slutya Slutzakova), and Agent Hawley. Unfortunately, Woodhouse is still missing, after the voice actor died. The season sees some interesting episodes like one centered on a Japanese Stragglers (The Holdout) & a [now fairly standard] bottle episode (Stuck in a lift). They also visit locations like Brazil, Wales, Area 51, San Francisco, Wisconsin, and an Eiger-esque mountain. Overall, another top season that’s already proved to be a good watch, and re-watch!

Below is another list of running gags that make watching Archer an absolute treat… (1st List. 2nd List.)

Doctor Algernop krieger Van Rush Vanispheres, Caress of Krieger, VAN, Van By Night, Exit Van Left

Krieger’s Vans: through the seasons ‘Doctor’ Algernop Krieger (who’s first name was legally changed to Doctor) has owned a bunch of modified 1978 GM G-Series vans, which include upgraded “illegal-ass window tint”, chain steering wheels, projectors for his Hentai girlfriend, and each one has its own custom RUSH (the band) inspired paint job. Due to the questionable modifications, the vans are referred to as “Rolling probable cause” and “S.S. Date Rape”. These are also the main motivation behind Krieger’s illicit activities.

Namechecking & People References: This is one of the best riffs in the show, and includes everyone from Tron, Alan Turing, DB Cooper, and Norman Bates, through to bizarrely specific people like Frederick Andress (Watermelon Breeder), Elisha Otis (Elevator brake inventor), Thomas Corwin Mendenhall (Metric System), Cypher (The gayest X-man), Karl Landsteiner (Blood Groups), and even William Safire (lexicographer). It makes you want to stop the show just to Google the name. Here’s an entire page of Archer references – LINK

Archer Read a Fricking Coffee Table book for once in your life

“Read a book!”: (sticking with references) for being one of the world’s top spies Archer is particularly well-read. From Lord of the Rings and Wolverine through to heavier texts like Of Mice and Men, Shakespeare and Orwell. This often leads to colleagues missing references and jokes – like those above – and Archer shouting “Read a fricking [coffee table] book!” – LINK

Ray gillette Eye Patch Camo Paint Camoflage Turtleneck Tactleneck

Ray’s continual limb-loss & paralysis: since initially faking paralysis in S3 Ray has been constantly breaking bones and being healed by Kreiger’s robotics skills. He now sports bionic legs, and a black bionic arm (potentially Conway’s), and is – unsurprisingly – left re-re-re-paralysed in a wheelbarrow at the end of Season 6. BONUS: Ray also LOVES wearing commando paint whenever he can get away with it.

Cyril Figgis suppressing fire Wooden Stick Gun Unicorn Astronaut

Cyril’s Gun Handling: the only person in ISIS you don’t want on your side in a gunfight is Comptroller and Accountant Cyril Figgis, who can’t be trusted with any firearm. He’s accidentally shot colleagues & interrogation witnesses, and regularly empties entire clips of ammo with his eyes closed in battle – whilst shouting – SUPPRESSING FIRE… only to hit nothing but air. He’s so dangerous with a firearm that he’s even given a wooden gun-shaped stick in one episode. He did however once manage to get several rounds into a small computer. Thank god for small miracles, right?

Archer Counting Bullets: despite having severe tinnitus (you cruel mistress!) Archer’s is able to count bullets on-the-fly, including multiple automatic weapons. He’s also able to identify the make and model of a gun (and blender) from hearing it over a phone.

Malory Dutchess Archer Insult Quote Listenign to Raps Shooting The Jobs

Malory insulting Ray: although everyone insults everyone continuously, and Malory is particularly racist and homophobic – her swipes at Ray are easily the most brutal and scathing. Like upon being told he can walk again “You mean mince?”, commenting his “excellent legwork”, and continually calling him ‘Ms‘ and ‘Missy‘ instead of ‘Mr’…. It helps that Jessica Walter’s bitter voice acting is perfect for this.

Ray Gillette: To reiterate! I am paralyzed!
Cyril Figgis: Well join a support group.
Malory Archer: For who? Cripple, gay, hillbilly spies? There’s a niche…

Signs/Posters: ISIS and the show in general have some fantastic posters/signs/warnings on the walls. Kreiger’s lab has a huge  ‘Clean or Die’ poster, even though there are animals, radiation and everything else in there. ISIS Armory employee Rodney (Season 4) has a bunch of bureaucratic notices, championed by “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.“. Others are used for continuity or callbacks like the Native American themed ‘Red Beer’, the poster for the movie ‘Disavowed’ from a previous season. The ISIS mainframe has a restricted sign on the door, despite being open most of the time.

Archer Drinking Finger Hold On Glugging Gulp Chug

Drinking/Chugging finger: as you can see from this YouTube clip, pretty much everyone in the show enjoys a big stiff drink (phrasing boom!), and when anyone else tries to ruin that special moment they’re usually met with an abrupt single finger to the face. It’s not exclusively for drinking either, as  has also been used for smoking.

Classic Mother / Archer / Her / Him: if you claim to watch a lot of Archer, and don’t use the phrase ‘Classic [insert acquantance]’… hand over your ISIS I.D. badge because you’re not watching enough Archer. This rule equally applies to yuuuuuuuup, noooooooope, Boom… phrasing, and shut up.

Archer Pocket Listing Maid Outfit Uniform Lana Kane Cheryl Tunt Pam Poovey french maid

Vocabulary: Where Archer truly rises above other comedy shows is in its tight and dense writing, which is absolutely laden with playful syntax and language. So much so that episodes like the confined Vision Quest are more entertaining than those with nudity, explosions, sex, action and guest stars. Season Six is an absolute goldmine for this – covering everything on the full spectrum of wordplay.

Slater: You’ll be given a cursory explanation at the CIA laboratory in New Mexico.
Lana: Why?
Slater: Well, I assume they needed a large building in a remote location with plenty of parking, and real estate is a lot cheaper out in the desert.

Pam: No! The solution to every problem isn’t throwing freakin’ acid on it.
Krieger: Unless the problem is a solution with an overly alkaline pH balance.

Lana: Have you at least babyproofed this place?
Archer: I don’t think a baby can hurt anything.

Lucky Yates Ray Gillette Face Krieger Voice

FINAL BONUS: The voice actor for Kreiger (Lucky Yates) is also the face of Ray! MIND BLOWING INTERVIEW CLIP.

FIRST LIST OF RUNNING GAGS

SECOND LIST OF RUNNING GAGS

*Drops mic on stage*

Fargo Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine, Russell Harvard, Adam Goldberg, Rachel Blanchard, Oliver Platt

Fargo (Season 1): when a contract killer ends up in their small town he changes the lives of an insurance salesman, police woman, and grocery tycoon forever. This does well to instantly match up with the mood of the Coen Brother’s Fargo movie – there’s lots of crossover details that are familiar but not directly copied: pregnancy, outlandish hitmen, ice scrapers, car accident, salesman, the Mike Yanagita scene… It feels properly connected, instead of a forced spin-off.  It looks and feels very cinematic, even more so than the movie, and the score gives it even more heft – allowing this play more like a 10-hour movie than an episodic crime show. Although with this format it’s probably better to binge this as there’s a lot of nice and subtle callbacks to earlier episodes throughout the season. Given the screen time involved this is an actor’s dream; we spend lots of time seeing the main characters established and developed. Martin Freeman is great as the timid but very watchable asshole, but Billy Bob Thornton makes this show for me with a majestic performance as a creepy, dangerous and almost admirably smart hitman. Fargo’s lead and ensemble casting is stellar, and paired with the well-penned characters, really makes the show a joy to watch. The humour is also bang on; leveraging silly accents (a gift that just keeps on giving), and making the most of the trademarked ‘awkward, absurd, nihilistic, crimson coloured’ Coen style. This is the backbone of most episodes, however episodes 7, 8, and 9 feel a bit stretched and empty compared to the rest. Overall Fargo is one of the most promising new shows on TV, and I can’t wait for Season 2.

Score: 8/10

What if YOU’RE right, and they’re wrong?

Fargo Police Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine, Russell Harvard, Adam Goldberg, Rachel Blanchard, Oliver Platt

Game of Thrones Season 1 Mark Addy, Maisie Williams, Sean Bean, Harry Lloyd, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Jason Momoa, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Iain Glen, Rory McCann, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena HeadeyGame of Thrones (Season 1): several noble families with royal ties feud over the right to rule all seven kingdoms in a medieval-ish fantasy epic. One year prior, Spartacus was balls deep in rumpypumpy and graphic violence, which felt like it was pushing boundaries; then someone in HBO said had said: “lets take Spartacus as a starting point, then add as much over the top sensational stuff as you can. 3, 2, 1… GO GO GO!”  GoT is loaded with full frontal nudity (sausages, chuffs, and udders), blood, gore, prostitutes, lesbians, and as much offensive language as censors allow; not to mention the taboos like breastfeeding and incest being pretty major plot points. Whilst these add to the show’s notoriety, it detracts from the Rome-like inter-weaving political storylines; continually reminding you that it’s actually being pitched at teenage boys. Other than the odd stinker (Arya Stark!!) the cast are generally decent; although different characters giving their roles different levity levels – from scenery chewing (King) to borderline comedic (Bronn). Peter Dinklage is the one actor that really sticks out from the vast ensemble – impressing and entertaining with his larger than life character. Due to the number of characters, families, locations and concurrent plots there’s a lot of dialogue-heavy slapdash whistle-stop history & exposition lectures between characters – some hit the mark better than others, but most are required. While there’s one big “Holy Shit” moment, Season One feels like a 10-hour teaser – promising better things to come; introducing white walkers (zombie-ish creatures), dragons, teeing up a war – but blatantly not following any of it through to anywhere near conclusion.

Score: 6/10

Game Of Thrones Season 1  Mark Addy, Maisie Williams, Sean Bean, Harry Lloyd, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Jason Momoa, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Iain Glen, Rory McCann, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey Game of Thrones Season 1 Mark Addy, Maisie Williams, Sean Bean, Harry Lloyd, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Jason Momoa, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Iain Glen, Rory McCann, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey

Justified Season 6 Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Jere Burns, Joelle Carter, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, Walton Goggins, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Justin Welborn, Garret Dillahunt, Rick Gomez, Duke Davis Roberts, Patton Oswalt,

Justified: The Final Season (Season 6) –  Old-school kick-ass US Marshall Raylan Givens tries to put his lifelong nemesis Boyd Crowder behind bars before he gets re-posted to Miami. I didn’t get round to writing up reviews of Seasons 4 & 5 as they felt like the show was resting on its laurels – but Season 6 brings back all of the elements that make Justified a great show to watch; well written storylines and characters, fantastic dialogue, and a thick streak of humour – it’s entertaining TV in its purest form. The writing is particularly special in this season, which boasts an intricate, overlapping and multi-layered story that sees the upper hand continually shift between the law, and Harlan’s various quibbling crime factions. Everyone that’s still alive gets drafted back in, and because it’s the final season there’s no shortage of people being written out either – usually at the behest of Boyd, to make him seem more dangerous than the last few seasons. The only thing that is missing is a baddie that matches the villainous heights of Quarels or Maggs Bennett – or even a consistent henchman – but with all of the other fireworks going on, it’s not as big a deal as the previous seasons. The final 20 mins our may divide people, as it plays out in an ‘X years later’ fashion, trying to round everything off. Season six had a major legacy to uphold and close out, which it managed comfortably, while staying true to the characters, which are the biggest draw to the show – Olyphant and Goggins will always be Raylan and Boyd to Justified fans. Season six is a satisfying conclusion to one of the most enjoyable and truly entertaining shows on TV – sad to see it hand over its gun and badge.

Score: 9/10

Danger 5 Season 2 David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Pacharo Mzembe, Elizabeth Hay, Fumito Arai, Robert Tompkins, Nathan Cain, Daniel Becker

Danger 5 (Season 2): the team of global super spies are re-united, this time in the 1980s, to stop another of Hitler’s quests for world domination. It’s soon apparent that this is – paradoxically – undeniably Danger 5, but also quite different to the previous season. The writers tampered with the cocktail recipe a little too much; Pierre has totally changed for no explained reason, another lead was swapped out for a ridiculous brat-character, most of the established running jokes dropped, and 80s throwback has been done to death lately – giving it a less cool / kitsch feel than the 1960s format. On the other hand the show manages to remain funny, wacky, surreal, psychedelic, and a celebration of satire (there’s an episode called “Back to the Führer” – come on!). I hate using the word ‘random’, but the ‘randomness’, madness and surrealism of the gags is the main thing that raises Danger 5 and sets it apart from the mediocrity that you expect of most modern comedies. All of the changes add up to fewer laughs per episode, but despite this Danger 5 Season 2 is still a great show, that is equally bonkers – but has a significantly different look and feel.

Score: 7/10

Danger 5 Season 2 3 David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Pacharo Mzembe, Elizabeth Hay, Fumito Arai, Robert Tompkins, Nathan Cain, Daniel Becker Season 5 Season 2 4 David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Pacharo Mzembe, Elizabeth Hay, Fumito Arai, Robert Tompkins, Nathan Cain, Daniel Becker Danger 5 Season 2 2 David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Pacharo Mzembe, Elizabeth Hay, Fumito Arai, Robert Tompkins, Nathan Cain, Daniel Becker

Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat

Danger 5 (Season 1): a team of Allied super-spies are tasked with stopping Hitler’s various advances in a 1960s interpretation of WWII. With a premise like that, you’d expect the show to be a little bit mental… and it is. The plot lines and characters are insane: it’s a show where a jazz improv band of white-suited apes fighting Nazi dinosaurs & reptiles isn’t just normal, but somehow funny. About half of the major characters have massive animal heads, and nobody seems to speak the same language… but you just roll with it. It has a very unique ‘tapey’ aesthetic, with grain, bad dubbing, Gerry Anderson style miniature sets (locations & action set pieces) and a 60s style surf rock soundtrack – it’s 100% kitsch and kampf. On a comedy level it’s very strong, with good loads of one-off belly laughs, and some cracking running gags like cocktail recipes, Hitler jumping through windows, bad food analogies and bizarre product placement. Although the first few episodes are the strongest the show is consistently funny. Danger 5 is what happens when you draw from a bunch of great TV Shows like Archer, Thunderbirds, The Young Ones (and throw in a pinch of Iron Sky). If you’re after a raunchy, risqué, alternative / subversive comedy packed with b-movie gore, sexy damsels, and – most importantly – laughs by the truckload, look no Führer than this. Pure cult TV that will undoubtedly snowball for years to come.

Score: 9/10

Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,2 Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,3

Episode Titles

I Danced For Hitler

Lizard Soldiers Of The Third Reich

Kill-Men Of The Rising Sun

Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace

Fresh Meat For Hitler’s Sex Kitchen

Final Victory

Danger 5, Isla, Claire, Jackson, Tucker, Pierre, David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Aldo Mignone, Andreas Sobik, Robert Tompkins, Paul Muscat,4

Orphan Black Season 1 - Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Michael Mando, Kevin Hanchard, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Dylan Bruce, Natalie Lisinska, Matt Frewer, Evelyne Brochu, David Richmond-Peck,

Orphan Black (Season 1) [Mild Spoilers]: When her doppelganger commits suicide a con artist tries to steal her identity; but gets way more than she bargained for. I’d class this as ‘Sneaky Sci-Fi’ – it starts out as an innocuous TV drama, but soon hits some obscure territory: DNA sequencing, evolution, cloning, body mods, it even gets a bit ‘Matrixy‘ in tone and style. The smart part about this is that by the time someone figures out it’s not something they’d usually watch, they’re probably hooked. Despite the Sci-Fi leanings there’s enough titbits of standard genres (Police procedural, Suburban Housewife comedy, Science girl for the nerds, religion) to give it general appeal. The central actress (Tatiana Maslany) is absolutely outstanding; she has to play at least 6 people, often one disguised as another – and is so convincing throughout; looks, mannerisms, accents – all nailed down. The gay step-brother is also fantastic comic relief. There are a heap of welcome – albeit unnecessary – panty shots / lesbian scenes for no real reason other than to keep the hard sci-fi dudes interested. Overall, a good concept, tight story, great talent and a solid budget – what’s not to like?

Score: 8/10

Orphan Black Season 1  - Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Michael Mando, Kevin Hanchard, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Dylan Bruce, Natalie Lisinska, Matt Frewer, Evelyne Brochu, David Richmond-Peck,

Archer is one of those great shows where the more you watch, and re-watch it, the more you appreciate and pick up on the obscure and flat moments that you didn’t ‘get’ first time round. Here’s another list of even more recurring jokes that you’ll find in TVs greatest adult cartoon.

Kenny Loggins Archer KLOG Danger ZoneKenny Loggins / Danger Zone – this fan favourite appears time and time again; mostly when a perilous mission is being described, or Lana’s feelings for Archer surface. Going beyond bad (and country) renditions of the 80s pop classic, it comes to a head in an episode where ‘K-LOG’ is the central storyline, but it all becomes a bit self-indulgent. Personal favourite. “I will hire Kenny Loggins to come here and play an acoustic set, while I slap some sense in to you”.

Archer Phrasing BoomBoom… Phrasing – essentially the “that’s what she said”, of the show. Every time someone says anything that has even a fraction of innuendo (pretty much every second line) someone will inevitably shout phrasing – BOOM! Dropped in Season Five, as it was getting a bit too obvious when they were appearing. Favourite: Other Barry calling Phrasing on Barry “So tell Archer I’m coming for him, phrasing, boom, and both Barrys out! “

Archer Smut re-heat a chilliSmut – it’s far raunchier than most cartoons, and the cast doesn’t hold back with the x-rated running gags. There’s everything from inappropriate boners (favourite: “I love that I have an erection, that didn’t involve homeless people” – Kreiger), to arousal descriptions (favourite: “I swear to god you could drown a toddler in my panties right now” – Pam) and even the blackest of taboo, as Archer gets a stiffy at the thought of his dead mother – it’s wrong on soooooo many levels. Cheryl/Carol is also a one woman choke-fetish gag factory.

Archer Tinitus MAP MOP mahp finger ear rip rileyTinnitus – every time there’s an explosion, or a grenade / gun goes off next to someone’s ear the aftermath is undoubtedly peppered with the affected character poking their ear(s) and shouting “Maaahhh” “Mahp”. Favourite: when Archer tries to bazooka the ISIS Armory Requisitions officer Rodney – it doesn’t end well.

Archer Woodhouse Ants Itchy Heroin Addict Spiders Webs Sandpaper Boil an egg cold turkeyWoodhouse – Archer’s long-suffering live-in man-servant is a great minor-character. For no reason whatsoever he is a heroin addict, WWII hero (arguably the original rampager) that collected Nazi scalps – he is also absolutely bursting with gay innuendo and British stereotypes. This is best displayed in the Tontine episode (“The Double Deuce”). Favourite, when Woodhouse learns what his fellow soldier naming his aeroplane “Choke and Stroke” really meant.

Archer Brett Buckley Bunsen Bloodmobil Ricochet Magic Bullet Blood Friendly FireBret Bunsen/Buckley – being a spy agency, every so often a gun will go off in the ISIS offices, and unfortunately mild-mannered clerk Brett usually ends up with a slug in him. Last count I did was six times – although I’m sure it’s probably higher. Season Five opens with Bret’s funeral – “he died doing what he loved – getting shot”. He also got the nickname “Mr Bloodmobile” because he lost so much blood, without ever bleeding out.

Archer Lana Kane Sterling Animal Farm Novella Allegorical BookGrammar Nazi / Literary References ­– for a racy, adult style comedy one of the best, and most subtle, recurring jokes is that Archer is a complete book-and-grammar pedant;
– to whom,
– can’t or won’t
– literally and figuratively
– Irony lessons

Favourite: on being told that Animal Farm is a book “No, it’s not Lana. It’s an allegorical novella about Stalinism by George Orwell, and spoiler alert, it sucks”

Archer I can't hear you giant throbbing erection awesomeness me punching you in the faceCouldn’t hear you – even when you can clearly hear someone, it’s not uncommon for agents to bait each other by saying I Couldn’t hear you over the sound of… “… my giant throbbing erection”, “… me breaking your nose”, “… how awesome I am”, Favourite, the one time someone says “I can’t hear you over the sound of.. I genuinely couldn’t hear you” was so unexpected that I snorted.

Archer_WooWoooooooh! – any time Archer partakes in some high-adrenaline activity (or enters the Danger Zone) he will end up running into enemy fire laughing or shouting Wooooh.. Favourite: “he broke both of Wu’s arms; while shouting Wooo!”

LINK TO THE FIRST NINE BRILLIANT RUNNING JOKES!

And for anyone that doesn’t like Archer…. THIS

Peep Show Logo, Channel 4, E4, Harvey Danger, Flagpole Sitta

As a British male under 40, there are very few things that unite almost everyone in this demography – a love for Peep Show, is one of those things. To those unfamiliar, it’s a British sit-com about two flatmates that uses First-Person (from the character’s perspective) viewpoints, and their stream-of-consciousness internal thoughts as part of the dialogue.

Peep Show Mark Corrigan - They can laugh, but I win, they think I've pissed myself. They have no clue I came in my pants

I remember being so confused the first couple of episodes – why is it filmed like this? Is he saying this out loud? WTF is going on? But when it clicks it’s seamless. (Not unlike Family Guy’s confusing jumping to unrelated events, timelines, and situations). Essentially, Peep Show is Being John Malcovich, but through the eyes of two atypical British guys.

Peep Show Jez Jeremy Usbourne Vegetarian Chicken fish posh bacon

Most of the comedy comes from the two central characters being wildly opposing personalities; and although they’re almost caricatures – we can all relate to a bit of each of them. One is an uptight, awkward, history boffin loan manager with confidence issues; the other is a happy-go-lucky, idiotic failed-musician / eternal waster. Naturally, these two try to help each other feel more normal, and hijinks / hilarity ensues. We love them because you hear what they think, which is usually what everybody thinks, but society says you shouldn’t say out loud – and you never hear on other shows.

Peep Show Super Hans is the bottom half of me on fire?

What separates the Peep Show style of humour from other comedy series’ is that it’s so awkward & realistic – with some scenes being difficult to watch. The closest thing I can think of is that it’s a bit like Party Down but – being British – has more deadpan/reserved characters and less glamorous settings & scenarios: basically, everyone’s like Roman & Henry.

Peep Show Mark She like me blog it public record

Although it isn’t quite as witty, or well-written, as shows like Arrested Development or Father Ted (the storylines are often a bit clunky) the charm of Peep Show is that it’s grounded, brutally honest and unfiltered – like your own thoughts. Because of this, it can stand proud alongside British TV Comedies like Fawlty Towers, BlackAdder, The Young Ones, The IT Crowd and Mr Bean. If anyone was interested in knowing what It’s actually like being awkwardly British in today’s world, take a look at this.

Peep Show Super Hans You Get a Van, we could be men with ven

As a bonus, I’m from a Scottish City called ‘Aberdeen’, which is name-checked a disproportionately high number of times for a TV show (i.e. way more than once)

 

Peep Show Mark and Jez

The Good Wife Eli Gold Peter Florrick Alicia Florrick Diane Lockhart Will Gardiner Carey Agos Kalinda Sharma Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Chris Noth, Titus Welliver, Scott Porter, Michael Ealy, Jill Flint, Monica Raymund, Anna Camp, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Gary Cole, Dylan Baker

After five series’ (and renewed for a sixth) this show is obviously a big hit in the ‘States, but The Good Wife (TGW) in an unsung hero of the UK TV schedules – big props to Channel 4 and More4 for giving it a punt, and sticking with it. As a late-20s guy that loves Action & B-movies, It’s not the type of show I thought I’d like, but here’s a bunch of reasons that will hopefully convince you to give this a spin!

The Good Wife Alicia Florrick Hot Sexy - Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Chris Noth, Titus Welliver, Scott Porter, Michael Ealy, Jill Flint, Monica Raymund, Anna Camp, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Gary Cole, Dylan Baker  The Women: unlike 99% of other TV shows the main character is a strong, powerful, hard-working mother (don’t run away!). She’s written well, brilliantly acted, fleshed out, and what’s more – she’s surrounded by other equally capable ladies – Diane, Kalinda, and dozens of other minor, characters. It’s a sad time when around 50% of all movies fail the ridiculously simple ‘Bechdel Test’ – and ½ that pass do so by the skin of their teeth – but TGW puts women front and centre, making it a refreshing change.

The Tech: I work in IT and the tech in TGW never fails to amuse and impress, not just the kind of gadgets they use day-to-day – but the way in which cutting edge technology is often the centerpiece of a story arc, or the focus of a case. There are entire episodes based on Bitcoin, search algorithms, NSA surveillance, Reddit (Scabbit), Silk Road, drone murders, leaked documents, Anonymous, ISPs turning over IP addresses, memes, video game murders, and a recurring Google-esque client – ChumHum. You watch it and think “WTF TGW, this exact case was in the news last week!?!?” It’s easily the most tech-savvy show on the planet.

The Good Wife Peter Florrick Alicia Florrick Will Gardiner - Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Chris Noth, Titus Welliver, Scott Porter, Michael Ealy, Jill Flint, Monica Raymund, Anna Camp, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Gary Cole, Dylan BakerMajor characters: Although Alicia is the eponymous Good Wife, there are around ten recurring characters that come in and out of the spotlight throughout the seasons. Kalinda Sharma, Will Gardner, Peter Florirck, Eli Gold, Diane Lockhart, Cary Agos, and to a lesser extent, the kids and grandparents. All of these enjoy a good share of screentime, character-building and season-spanning story arcs, that bring some much-appreciated depth to the cast – making them way more than “The husband”, “The Boss”, “The Competition”.

THE GOOD WIFE Dylan Barker Colin Sweeney Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Chris Noth, Titus Welliver, Scott Porter, Michael Ealy, Jill Flint, Monica Raymund, Anna Camp, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Gary Cole, Dylan BakerMinor and recurring, characters: arguably the show’s best feature is the ability to craft great minor characters with very little time. David Lee (Family Law!!) is one of the best lawyers on TV; Colin Sweeney is deliciously creepy; quirky lawyer Elisabeth Tasioni, politically incorrect Senior Partner Howard Lyman, the ever-scheming Louis Canning (Michael J Fox), promiscuous brother Owen, morally sound Clark Hayden, those are just off the top of my head. These characters – and many more – are so good that you cross your fingers every episode, hoping they re-appear and you get enough time to have a proper catch up with them.

The Judges: interestingly, the show has a small roster of regular judges, each with their own personality, leniency threshold, quirks, and history with Lockhart/Gardner. You find yourself thinking “un-ohhh, this is the strict Judge” or “Yeeess, this one fancies Alicia”, or “Is that in your opinion?” Technically another bunch of minor recurring characters, but they’re definitely worthy of their own spot on the list.

The Good Wife Judge Charles Abernathy Dennis O'Hare - Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Chris Noth, Titus Welliver, Scott Porter, Michael Ealy, Jill Flint, Monica Raymund, Anna Camp, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Gary Cole, Dylan Baker

The main reason that all of these characters are awesome is that the casting for the show is phenomenal. I can’t think of a single actor who you could say was totally mis-cast. Re-inventing actors so inseparable from their big roles – Chandler Bing, Ugly Betty, Marty McFly – making them work alongside relatively unknown / under-rated actors. Someone somewhere has outstanding vision – like a Tarantino of the TV Sphere – making something special out of people with fairly unremarkable careers. It’s a true anomaly of TV. The guest appearances are also often surprising: Eddie Izzard, Method Man, Anna Champ, Sarah Silverman… it feels like everyone is lining up to appear in the show.

The Good Wife Judge George Kluger Jeffrey Tambor - Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Chris Noth, Titus Welliver, Scott Porter, Michael Ealy, Jill Flint, Monica Raymund, Anna Camp, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Gary Cole, Dylan Baker  The Law: probably the most important aspect of a legal program – and not that I’m a qualified lawyer or anything – but it’s one of the few shows when the law is complex, believable, but still completely accessible (usually through some ‘approach the bench’ exposition). The show’s also not obsessed with Lockhart Gardner winning every case, and you sometimes see the flipside when they have to knowingly defend a guilty party… There’s so much fiery courtroom drama that you’ll soon find yourself walking around shouting phrases like Objection! Sustained! Over-ruled! Leading the witness your honour!! STRIKE THAT!! RECUSE YOURSELF!!!

Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Chris Noth, Titus Welliver, Scott Porter, Michael Ealy, Jill Flint, Monica Raymund, Anna Camp, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Gary Cole, Dylan BakerThe dynamics: it’s baffling that a show with such a super-broad appeal, and so many angles, still works this well. Ultimately, it appears to have been pitched at more senior viewers (median viewer age is 61 years old, and rising), yet it’s very tech-savvy and has a lot of explicitly gay/bisexual characters. It’s supposed to be about a lawyer, but that’s not even ½ of the runtime as family and politics feature heavily. It flips between serious drama, social commentary, and contemporary comedy so easily that it must be enviable to other show writers. You can watch the show as booth case-of-the-week, or appreciate the larger stories that bridge episodes and seasons. On paper it would look committee’d to death – a show that really shouldn’t work – but it’s a true anomaly.

The Good Wife Kalinda Sharma and Blake Calamar Parking Lot Baseball Bat Stand Off Fight Fashion Boots Jacket - Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Chris Noth, Titus Welliver, Scott Porter, Michael Ealy, Jill Flint, Monica Raymund, Anna Camp, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston, Dallas Roberts, Gary Cole, Dylan Baker

 

it’s just a shame that the title is so bad. “The Good Wife” – bleurgh! It instantly repels most male viewers (probably wimin’ too); it’s just so frustratingly vague that anyone flicking through the TV Schedules could be forgiven for not giving it a second look. It could be a show about housewifery, it could be a melodramatic soap opera, hell – it could even be a softcore Movies For Men / Cinemax / Bravo style show.

 TL; DR? Short Version: this is a peach of a show, and you should be watching it.

Strike Back Stonebridge Scott 01 Philip Winchester, Alexandra Moen, Sullivan Stapleton, Amanda Mealing, Eva Birthistle, Rhashan Stone, Michelle Lukes, Jimi Mistry, Richard Armitage, Liam Cunningham, Laura Haddock, Natalia Avelon

Strike Back: Project Dawn (Season 2) (Mild Spoilers): following on from the action-heavy British mini-series. Sky TV teamed up with Cinemax (aka skinemax) for season two, and as if by magic there’s more tits and ass in the first 5 minutes than the entire first season (and sex / tits / nudity at every possible opportunity moving forward!) Replacing believable badass John Porter with two new faces was a risky move, and it takes a while to adjust to the change, but they really shine from the mid-way point of the series: the British agent (Stonebridge) is played a touch too straight, and American Delta Force (Scott) a tad on the caricature side, but their chemistry, and “yo mama” style banter is thoroughly entertaining – like the highlights of a drunken Lad/Pub chat. Whereas the first season played out as a tight, tightly focused, serious political drama, season two is basically an action romp around the world – where everything explodes, everyone gets shot, and the American guy bangs every hot local in sight. The generic plot-lines only serve to deliver piece after piece of over-the-top action – chases, shoot-outs, sieges, espionage… it’s all there, it’s all good, and there’s 4 more episodes than the first outing! There’s very little resemblance between Season one and this, but they’re both great fun and totally entertaining in their own ways.

Score: 8/10

Strike Back Stonebridge Scott 02 Philip Winchester, Alexandra Moen, Sullivan Stapleton, Amanda Mealing, Eva Birthistle, Rhashan Stone, Michelle Lukes, Jimi Mistry, Richard Armitage, Liam Cunningham, Laura Haddock, Natalia AvelonjpgEpisode 1-2                                     “Die Hard in India”
Episode 3-4                   “Blown Away in South Africa”
Episode 5-6                                        “Taken in Darfur”
Episode 7-8                                   “Rambo in Kosovo”
Episode 9-10          “Every episode of 24 in Budapest”

Strike Back Stonebridge Scott 03 Philip Winchester, Alexandra Moen, Sullivan Stapleton, Amanda Mealing, Eva Birthistle, Rhashan Stone, Michelle Lukes, Jimi Mistry, Richard Armitage, Liam Cunningham, Laura Haddock, Natalia Avelon

Arrested Development Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard, Charlize Theron

Arrested Development (Season 3): Michael Bluth is still trying to keep his dysfunctional family together – and they’re doing their best to screw everything up. This series coasts a little more on the established gags like the Bluth lessons (why you should always leave a note!), rather than creating new ones; some old plot-lines and characters are also written back in to beef up the story. Because it was the last scheduled season, the final few episodes felt obligated to tie-up the loose ends like the Iraq “light treason” court case, cousin love etc – which was good to see, but feels more forced than the usual completely unrelated antics. Once again the two stars of the show are the cast and the writers – you just don’t get it this good on both sides very often. As you’d expect, Season 3 is still great TV, but it doesn’t feel as fresh or funny as the first two series – the episodes aren’t quite as tight, or packed with jokes, and some of the bigger laughs stoop down to things like rude language (pussy/fags) and retards; which previous seasons didn’t need to fall back on. However, those niggles are minor, and Season 3 ensures that the show remains one of the greatest comedies of all time.

Score: 7.5/10

Arrested Development Season 1 Review

Arrested Development Season 2 Review

Arrested Development Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard, Charlize TheronJason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard, Charlize Theron, Scott Baio

Hunted 02 Melissa George, Adam Rayner, Stephen Dillane, Stephen Campbell Moore, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Morven Christie, Lex Shrapnel, Dhaffer L'Abidine, Dermot Crowley, Indira Varma

Hunted (Season 1): 1 year after a botched murder attempt secret agent Alex Kent must find out who betrayed her, whilst carrying out a new mission for her private contract company. The production values on this are through the roof – it always looks more like a film than TV series (Going for the Luther / HBO vibe). A few characters stand out as good, including the botoxed lead Melissa George, but the rest are all definitely TV standard. The writing’s solid, with the current mission dramatically unfolding, as well as several well-connected revenge storylines weave through the central drama. As the season progresses and the plot thickens the show really grabs you – but – like with almost every modern TV show the greedy prospect of a second season made the writers go for a disappointingly limp finale that fails to conclude the bigger mysteries in the story, and (more annoyingly) raises even more last-minute questions. It’s a sour ending to what’s otherwise a top spy/thriller/espionage thriller show.

Score: 7.5/10

Hunted 02 Melissa George, Adam Rayner, Stephen Dillane, Stephen Campbell Moore, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Morven Christie, Lex Shrapnel, Dhaffer L'Abidine, Dermot Crowley, Indira Varma,

Strike Back Season 1 John Porter Richard Armitage Andrew Lincoln, Orla Brady, Shelley Conn, Colin Salmon, Jodhi May,  Toby Stephens, Ewen Bremner, Dhaffer L'Abidine, Shaun Parkes, Alexander Siddig

Strike Back (Season 1): When he takes the blame for a failed mission, Spec Ops soldier John Porter is kicked out of the SAS, but re-hired seven years later to catch a familiar face. After the briefest of setups Strike Back is pretty much just action-action-action with the odd scrap of plot – it has to be one of the most action-centric, kick ass, blood splattering, neck-snapping, omni-exploding pieces of TV badassery out there. Richard Armitage (as John Porter) holds his own and really makes the show, as the central Damaged Hero, and total badass – channeling guys like Rambo & Mclean – and could probably take on Jack Bauer in a fight; not even kidding! As the series sprints forward, the main backstory becomes more intricate, and interlinked with the current missions. The episodes which are decadently overflowing with set-pieces, deception, betrayal, action, adrenalin and politics – are all surprisingly believable, at least until the Scottish hacker pops up in the final mission. All-in-all Strike Back is like a mythical unicorn hiding in the TV Schedule: an action-heavy, huge-budget, Movie-styled TV show consisting of 3 interlinked adrenaline-soaked 90-minute episodes that truly raise the action bar. Action fans rejoice!

Score: 8.5/10

Strike Back Season 1 John Porter 2 Richard Armitage Andrew Lincoln, Orla Brady, Shelley Conn, Colin Salmon, Jodhi May,  Toby Stephens, Ewen Bremner, Dhaffer L'Abidine, Shaun Parkes, Alexander Siddig

Dexter Season 1, Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Erik King, Lauren Vélez, David Zayas, James Remar, C.S. Lee, Christina Robinson, Daniel Goldman, Geoff Pierson, Christian Camargo, Mark Pellegrino,Dexter (Season 1): Miami’s top blood-splatter expert has a nice little hobby of dispensing the city of its criminals that the justice system spits back out. I know it’s the first season and everything needs to be established, but there’s no need for the dialogue (and lazy voiceovers) to be this wincingly bad: “This box is like me, completely empty,” “if I had a heart, it would be breaking…”  WE GET IT, You’re an emotionless sociopath! THIS IS THE PREMISE OF THE SHOW – DUH!!! Dexter’s (Michael C Hall) acting is also good, or bad, enough (hard to tell when he’s playing a psycho) to convince us he is truly cold, and always trying to act normal. Plot-wise, the bigger “ice Truck Killer” story is far more interesting than the scumbag of the week episodes, however they do reinforce, and slowly let you see Dexter’s M.O. which is interesting to watch. Dexter Season 1 has some good watching in it; and features TVs smoothest asexual, and most supportable vigilante.

Score: 7/10

Dexter Season 1, Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Erik King, Lauren Vélez, David Zayas, James Remar, C.S. Lee, Christina Robinson, Daniel Goldman, Geoff Pierson, Christian Camargo, Mark Pellegrino, 2

Arrested Development Season 2, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron HowardArrested Development (Season 2): with George Bluth on the run, the family must march on without him, and Michael must keep the Bluth Company – and his family – under control. This is my third time watching through AD and in reflection it’s so obvious why a show like this was destined to fail on TV. The biggest problem is that the running gags are subtle, and would be easy to miss if there were 7 days (let alone weeks) between the episodes. With the DVDs however, you can bash through a season in a few nights and really appreciate the fine writing. In saying that, S2 tries to address this by having clusters of jokes that are confined to an episode; like the ‘Charlie Brown’ slow walking, Gene Parmesan, etc. The biggest step up for me is lot more brilliantly timed physical comedy: chicken dances, face pulling, slipping, and Mrs Featherbottom’s spectacular Mary Poppins moment. Once again the brilliant ensemble cast of comedic actors does great things with well-written characters. This should be mandatory viewing for anyone that enjoys comedy TV – almost a decade later and it still puts most shows to shame.

Score: 8.5/10

Arrested Development Season 2, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard 2

“I just blue myself”

Arrested Development, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron HowardArrested Development (Season 1): when the CEO of the Bluth Company gets jailed for fraud (and light treason), one son must step up and take charge while the rest of the dysfunctional family try to get back on their feet. This is an absolutely explosive combination of fantastic writing, stellar casting, and perfect comic acting / timing. The 20 minute episodes are so tight and neat – not a single word is wasted, and everything is relevant to the plot or character development, to be used somewhere down the line. For a comedy, every main character is funny, well-played and developed over the season. And, for something this upbeat and watchable, it’s remarkably dense, layered, lean & efficient. Arrested Development is the holy grail of comedy; fun for casual, first-time viewings, but rewarding for repeat viewings as you’re able to pick out more and more running jokes, themes and catchphrases. Unmissable comedy.

Score: 9/10

Arrested Development Home, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Ron Howard

BReaking BAd logo periodic table yellow meth smoke teeth effectBreaing Bad Season 4 Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Giancarlo Esposito, Jonathan Banks, Ray Campbell, Lavell Crawford, Maurice CompteBreaking Bad (Season 4): The pressure’s turned up even higher as Walter White and his protégé Jessie Pinkman play a dangerous game of tactics with Mexico and ABQ’s top drug kingpins. This is the first season of BB that comes out of the blocks sprinting, starting dramatically, with the coldest murder to date. Almost every episode has a narrative purpose, story & character development and some solid drama – it’s not just about the characters anymore (finally). Needless to say the acting is some of the finest on TV; Walt and Jessie continue to evolve, but it’s Gus who shines brightest as an ever-calm, focused, calculating, courteous, professional, ruthless, business-minded, innocuous drug lord. Hank gets a lot more time, and a gripping sub-plot as he does some top investigation work; as does Mike, Gus’ hardened, dryly comic right-hand man. Visually, the show is like nothing else, with so many innovative & beautiful time-lapses, montages, and knockout camera shots. They’re often unusually high or low which sticks out; attached to an object (like a shovel or self-navigating vacuum cleaner); and sometimes stuck inside / behind / under something – a pipe or oven – and there’s even a dodgy ‘filming up through glass pretending to be underground’ shot. The show’s visual flair is one of its best and most unique features, and something that always keeps you on your toes. The tone also becomes more eclectic as everything closes in on Walt: synth music and manic laughter wouldn’t feel out of place in The Shining, and there’s some flat-out slapstick moments like Walt scrambling around his house trying to evade hitmen. Season 4 is when Breaking Bad finally makes the leap from good to fantastic and unmissable TV; every aspect is continually improving and evolving in to everything you could ask of a show; stylistically, plot-wise, and such 3D characters – which comes together to produce a final product that is entertaining, thrilling, dark, funny, ‘gritty’, and believable.

Score: 8.5/10

Breaking Bad Season 1 Review
Breaking Bad Season 2 Review
Breaking Bad Season 3 Review

Archer Logo - Sterling Malory Archer, H. Jon Benjamin, Lana Kane, Aisha Tyler, Malory Archer, Jessica Walter, comptroller, Cheryl Tunt, Judy Greer, Cyril Figgis, Chris Parnell, Pam PooveyFor those that don’t yet know about this piece of TV gold, Archer is a smart, fantastically written, genuinely funny and raunchy animated adult comedy. It follows the world’s deadliest secret agent, Sterling Archer – a James Bond parody – at his mother’s spy agency ISIS. The show has the advantage of combining two great genres: mixing the world of ‘spy parody’ with ‘workplace comedy’ – and trust me when I say that fans of either genre should be watching this.

Like any other comedy worth it’s salt, there’s a long list of running gags and references that hardened fans will pick up, adding a much deeper appreciation. Here are my favourite gags:

Archer 01 - Cyril Hello1) Cyril’s welcome: Every time the ISIS sex-addict accountant-turned-field-agent Cyril is caught in a compromising situation he lets out the most innocent and child-like ‘Helloooo’. He even gets to say “Olllaaaaaa” when he gets caught in a Mexican quandary.

Archer 02 - Lana Kane YUP NOPE2) Lana’s Yep / Nope: The pronunciation (and frequency) of these two words uttered by Lana are so infectious that they will soon creep in to your everyday vocabulary. By the time season 3 rolls round it’s a full on catchphrase. It’s never a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with her, but an attitude laden YUUUUUUP or NOOOOOOPE.

Archer 03 - Krieger - I'm not a SERIAL Killer

I’m not a serial killer…

3) Krieger: there are too many standout krieger moments to warrant picking one out – his elaborately pimped out vans are ridiculous, he has a manga girlfriend who’s beamed from a projector, and so many grim and sinister ‘scientific’ projects that are always going wrong – he is easily the darkest aspect of the show.

Archer 04 - Do you want ants? Because thats how you get ants - may as well start an ant farm4) Do you want ants? Every time a piece of food is dropped on the ISIS carpet someone makes a remark about getting ants. It starts as a throwaway line, but is mentioned frequently enough to beome an in joke. It’s so ridiculous and out-of-place that it gets you every time – “We might as well just start an ant farm”

Archer 05 - Lana's man yetti shovel scoop cricket bat hands Lana Kane5) Lana’s Hands: Poor Lana. Despite being one of the hottest cartoon ladies ever drawn (is that OK to say?) everyone comments on her man / shovel / yeti / monster / cricket bat hands. Any time she touches someone these are likely to be brought up – even though they look completely normal. Poor Lana, although she doesn’t help herself by using them to death-grip her colleagues.

Archer 06 - Barry Bionic Barry Other Barry6) Archer / Barry rivalry: the relationship between Archer and his nemesis Barry, from ISIS competition ODIN, is so twisted and bitter that it has to be laughed at. Archer has dropped Barry from a great height (twice) and broken up his engagement, to which (Bionic and / or Other) Barry has returned the favours.

Archer 07 - Malory Archer7) Malory Archer: aside from the fact that not even she knows who archers father is (could be one of five men) Malory appears to have slept with almost every male character, from ex-colleagues through to Burt Reynolds. She’s also the, most stubborn, alcoholic and least PC character, continually spouting the most risqué and offence-courting dialogue.

Archer 08 - Passwords Guest8) Passwords: working in IT, this is particularly funny to me because it’s so close to the truth, yet played for laughs in the show. Every password to every database and ‘mainframe’ computer in the whole of ISIS is ‘GUEST’.

Archer 09 - Phone Elaborate Voicemail Prank Ringtone Mullato Butts

BOOM! Birthday Voicemail!

9) Archer’s Phone: a double-header: firstly, he has the most elaborate voicemail pranks you could imagine, some spanning +30 seconds, and usually aimed at his mother. He also has a completely awesome, but totally unexpected ringtone (Mulatto Butts) going off at the most inappropriate moments of his covert operations.

Archer Banner Poster TV ShowOf course, there are dozens of other jokes and smaller characters that keep re-appearing. Archer’s childhood flashbacks, and his obsessions with rampages, Lacrosse, turtlenecks/tactlenecks, significant historical names, and cars. Pam “Shit Snacks” Poovey as the shockingly incompetent, badass and blabermouth HR manager. Cheryl / Carol “You’re not my supervisor!” Tunt as the glue-eating choke fetish secretary. Archer’s life-long live-in male servant Woodhouse, and all of his innuendo & heroin. The ever disabled / able ‘Gay’ Ray Gillett. Brett “gunshot wound” Buckley, ODIN Boss Len Trexler, Nikolai Jakov (Khhheeaadd ov Kay Gee Bee) and so forth. Put all of these individual elements together and you have an unmissable comedy show.

Sons of Anarchy SAMCRO 01Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior, Dayton Callie, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Ryan Hurst, Johnny Lewis, William Lucking, Theo Rossi, Maggie Siff, Ron PerlmanSons of Anarchy: follows a group of Californian outlaw bikers as their gang is squeezed by rivals, the cops, the feds, and themselves. The main story lies with Jax, the second-in-command of the gang, who’s dead dad co-founded it with the current leader, but after finding his dad’s unpublished book, he realises that SAMCRO has gone down a bad route – this is a good foundation for the show, but the ‘dead dad narration’ angle is cheesy beyond belief. To keep it interesting, the writers have stuffed in as much sexy chicks, loud Harley bikes, stacks of money, booze, gunfights, boxing as they could shove in, to appeal to the manly man inside you. Yet, despite all of the fireworks, it always returns to the theme of ‘family’, which for most of the guys is the club. For something centered around bikers, there’s a surprisingly high number of interesting characters: including a random Scottish guy (with an unapologetically thick Scottish accent) and several well-developed female characters, which lead to some unorthodox storylines, like a woman going through menopause! The cops feel like cops, bikers feel like bikers and everyone slots in nicely other than the lead (Jax) who feels a little miscast, but I guess he’s supposed to be more morally sound. What also sets this apart from run-of-the-mill shows is a thick streak of very black humour, that makes you crack a smile, even when the guys are dong despicable acts. Overall, the show starts off slow, but builds up a steam in the second half with several all-killer, action-packed, explosive storylines. Whilst Sons of Anarchy Season 1 is entertaining, watchable, and surprisingly moreish. there’s some room for improvement.

Score: 7.5/10

Sons of Anarchy SAMCRO 02 Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior, Dayton Callie, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Ryan Hurst, Johnny Lewis, William Lucking, Theo Rossi, Maggie Siff, Ron Perlman