Mandy (2020) – TV Review

In recent years, there has been a large amount of Britain’s finest female comedians finally getting the TV show opportunities of their male counterparts and it has resulted in mostly incredible work (Aisling Bea’s ‘This Way Up’ is a masterpiece) and this time it is Diane Morgan’s turn to write and star in her own show.

However, she’s taken a different approach to most as she has gone for just 15 minute episodes and a very slapstick and silly approach, as opposed to the more nuanced and emotional way many comedies have been going recently.

I respect that decision and always like variation, I just wish this variation had been better than it is here, as this comedy very rarely manages to make you laugh, and it is so over the top at times that you lose interest.

I think the main issue is the main character. Morgan plays ‘Mandy’ as a working class woman with so many physical ticks and stereotypical character traits that it is tough to see her as a real person, and it also feels very cynical and also mocking in many ways.

Diane Morgan is a great comedian and talented actress who has done strong work as Philomena Cunk, and in shows like ‘After Life’, but I feel she could’ve made something really great here but ended up stumbling.

Rating = 2.5/5

Unsaid Stories (2020) – TV Review

In response to the recent Black Lives Matters civil rights movement that has (rightfully) gripped the entire globe, ITV decided to create four 15 minute shorts, filmed in lockdown (just like they did with ‘Isolation Stories’) tackling different British perspectives on race relations.

All episodes are tackling different perspectives on racism and race relations, and all are very valid and important topics to look at. I think some episodes are definitely more successful than others, but I respect what they were trying.

The final episode ‘Lavender’ is very grating and really doesn’t help anyone as it is just a shouting match that struggles to get to any real conclusion.

A very effective episode however is the opener titled ‘Generational’ which explores why a black father doesn’t want his daughter to attend BLM protests due to incidents he’s had in the past, and the racism that he’s lived through all his life. This episodes takes the characters on a journey in its short run time and I would’ve loved to see a feature length version of this.

There’s not much more to say due to the short length of the episodes, and there are much more important voices than mine that need to be heard talking about race relations, but I applaud ITV for tackling this and hopefully if the Covid-19 situation improves soon, we can see them tackle these crucial issues with full series.

Rating = 3/5

The Simpsons Season 9 (1998) – TV Review

After the first couple of seasons were spent finding its feet, ‘The Simpsons’ experienced a golden age unlike many shows have ever managed, and it was incredible. However, season 9 spells the end of that particular golden age for me, and even then, it is still an incredible season of TV that just struggles to live up to the almost unattainable heights of previous years.

The City of New York vs Homer Simpson is one of my favourite Simpsons episodes and is a brilliant recreation of the city and also provides some great Homer moments, and at times acts like an effective thriller. It is a stand out of the season and really kicks it off with a bang.

“The Garbage Man” musical number in this season is arguably my favourite musical sequence in the show, simply because it is so catchy and a bit ridiculous. The episode itself is strong but the set-piece itself is a real gem.

The Principal and the Pauper is one of the worst episodes of the show due to an unnecessary and really hurtful plot twist that could be a “jump the shark” moment for the show”.

There are some really good episodes in this season but the thing that drags it down below the quality of some of the previous seasons is that it also has some week episodes.

On the whole though, still superb TV.

Rating = 4/5

Chadwick Boseman – A Life and Legacy

“Death is not the end, it’s more of a stepping off point”

Today we awoke to the shocking and truly heartbreaking news that Chadwick Boseman had lost his life at the age of 43.

He was diagnosed with advanced Colon cancer in 2016, and despite battling it hard with numerous surgeries and chemotherapy, he managed to keep the news quiet and make a remarkable amount of important movies.

After his diagnosis, he was able to make films including: Marshall, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, 21 Bridges, Da 5 Bloods, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. To get in the physical condition, perform stunts, give yourself fully to performances, do the press tours and much more, all the time while being so ill and fighting so hard for your own health is remarkable.

He made a career pre-Marvel with stunning performances in biopics as the likes of James Brown in ‘Get On Up’ and Jackie Robinson in ‘42’, before making his MCU debut as Black Panther and changing the world.

2018s ‘Black Panther’ is one of the most influential movies of all time, providing an inspirational and relatable hero for millions of young black children (and honestly, millions of people in general, whatever your background) who until then had mainly only seen white heroes on the screen. Chadwick Boseman understood better than anybody the importance of the film succeeding and was open about his pride at the impact of the character on his people and society in general.

With the passion and commitment he left out there on screen, it is almost unfathomable to think he was so ill at the same time. Recently photos had leaked where he looked thin and people made jokes and speculated about him, which I wish had never happened as he clearly respected his privacy, but he managed to essentially keep this battle to himself throughout all of it. A man of true dignity.

I lost a close family member to cancer, who even younger than Chadwick was, so I totally understand the devastation and shock of losing someone so young. It is a evil disease and the strength he showed to fight it so long is an example to us all.

Despite the very different circumstances, I can’t help but also think of Heath Ledger. Boseman and Ledger are truly two of the most talented actors of the 21st Century, and while it is the human loss that is most deeply heartbreaking, it is also devastating to think of the further incredible art they could have created and yet will never be able to. However, they managed to do so much good in the short time they were with us, and we must carry on that legacy.

He died on August 28th. Jackie Robinson Day, the anniversary of Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and the birthday of Jack Kirby, the creator of Black Panther.

Chadwick Boseman. 43 Years Old. Rest in Power and in Peace.

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