The Great (2020) – TV Review

Due to ‘The Favourite’ co-writer Tony McNamara being the screenwriter here on another period comedy, the comparisons to that film are plentiful, and they are fair. While it lacks the visual style of Yorgos Lanthimos, the dark, quick, and hilarious script reminds you very much of that project.

The show is open in the fact that it takes liberties with historical fact and it benefits from that, allowing the show to be a unpredictable romp filled with sex, drama, and laughs aplenty.

Elle Fanning is the lead here, and it’s definitely her best ever role, even though she’s had so many films so far at such a young age. Her Catherine is initially naive and innocent, but quickly becomes smart, sexual, conniving, and ready to fight for a new Russia.

The real star of the show though is Nicholas Hoult as Peter. Hoult’s career has seemed to stall in recent years but this should absolutely kickstart it again. His character he is completely over the top, incredibly charismatic, completely unpredictable, and one of the funniest characters in recent years.

Hoult not only delivers in the comedy, but as the series goes on he also adds a real emotional depth to someone you init ally don’t believe has it in him. A truly great performance.

The supporting cast is really great, and they really have moments to shine on their own. Phoebe Fox (a real breakout), Charity Wakefield, and Sacha Dhawan in particular are all absolutely excellent and are all actors who should have long careers.

I really hope this thoroughly enjoyable show gets renewed for future seasons, because the mix of great writing and a superb cast is a winning formula.

Huzzah!

Rating = 4/5

Harley Quinn Season 2 (2020) – TV Review

‘Harley Quinn’ is quite simply one of the best animated TV shows in history, and one of the best ‘comics to screen’ adaptations in years.

The central story of this season (last season was Harley finding her independence from Joker) is the realisation that Harley and Ivy aren’t just best friends, they are in love, and the series brilliantly depicts the ups and downs along the way to them realising this. (I’ll dive into all this much more in the bottom half of the review with spoilers, which will be marked as such).

As for the rest of the characters this season, we get a lot less Batman and Joker, although they do appear and could be set to have much bigger roles again going forward, but for such great characters, they aren’t particularly missed, as there are so many to take their place.

Jim Gordon remains one of the funniest characters on the show and his story is further complicated this week when his daughter Barbara steps up in Batman’s absence and becomes Batgirl.

There are so many other great characters this season, a raft of all the classic villains from season 1, the Justice League, a newly introduced Catwoman, Darkseid, and many more, but the other stand out characters for me were King Shark and Bane.

Both are very much supporting characters but every time they are on screen they steal the show, with brilliant voice work and hilarious lines.

*Below features spoilers for Harley Quinn Season 2.

The hints began early in the season, but the second half of this season was almost entirely focused on this. From the kiss, to the fling at the bachelorette party, right up until Ivy’s wedding to Kite-Man.

It deals with Ivy’s repressed feelings and sexuality, Harley’s love for Ivy but also her irresponsible behaviour, and many more complex topics that people don’t often see in this sort of animation.

The ending of the season is perfect, with Ivy and Harley finally admitting their love for each other and riding off into the sunset, Thelma and Louise style. A great Easter egg is that the car they drive off in is the same car from the classic Harley and Ivy scene in 1993 in ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ showing yet again the attention to detail in this show.

The title card at the climax of the episode reads ‘The End?’ and while this would be a perfect ending to the show, I think ‘Harley Quinn’ is such a perfect series that it deserves to run for so many more seasons beyond its initial two (hopefully we will have an update on the shows future soon, potentially at August’s DC Fandome event).

Rating = 4.5/5

Britain’s Corona Virus Catastrophe: Did the Government Get It Wrong? Dispatches (2020) – TV Review

There will be numerous documentaries and films about this crisis in years to come, when we hopefully have defeated the virus and have the benefit of hindsight. However, it’s also necessary for documentaries to be made about the present day, and that is what happens here.

This unbias but absolutely unflinching documentary lays clear the factual timeline of how the Government has handled the CoronaVirus pandemic (from Jan-May when the documentary was made).

It allows the facts to do the talking and the viewer to make up their mind, but it is absolutely clear the amount of mistakes and irresponsible behaviour from our Government that lead us to where we are now.

It details how Boris Johnson: Chaired no cobra meetings until right in the heart of a global pandemic, Went on a 2 week holiday in February and aides were told to cut down documents about it as he didn’t wanna read too much, and took no interest in a unfolding disaster.

Once he did take notice in March, multiple situations showed he believed in a disastrous policy of ‘herd immunity’ (which he would later scrap and deny due to the horrific death toll it would have caused) and he Even told Italian PM he wanted herd immunity, went on ‘This Morning’ to tell the nation it wasn’t at risk and to take the virus on the chin, and bragged on tv about shaking hands at a hospital, just a few days before saying shaking hands was banned.

Among other disasters, we then locked down way too late and could’ve saved over 10k lives locking down a week earlier alone, as the scientists are now admitting, and instead for weeks all the nation was told to do (while most of Europe was in a rapid lockdown) was to wash our hands for 20 seconds and sing happy birthday.

We allowed the Cheltenham Festival to go ahead in mid March and for fans from Madrid (who were banned from attending games in their city as it was a Covid hotbed) to attend a match against Liverpool, which undeniably accelerated the spread.

The documentary doesn’t touch too much on the huge mistakes during the pandemic (No PPE, testing initially abandoned and too slow, Cummings saga etc) but it shows how the ‘PM’ was pressured into late action at every move and his inadequacy in the job has made this so much worse.

This is just things before and at start of pandemic, since it has got even worse and there need to be a major public enquiry and criminal consequences, but this documentary does a great job of highlighting the undeniable facts.

This documentary helped confirm what I already knew, that Boris Johnson has the deaths of thousands on his hands.

Rating = 4/5

Peter Kay’s Car Share (2015) – TV Review

Peter Kay is one of the modern age’s most loved British comedians, for his work in scripted comedy, stand up, and beyond, but in recent years he has scaled back his workload and public appearances.

This made ‘Car Share’, a show almost entirely set in a single car featuring Kay and Sian Gibson, an even bigger deal to UK audiences, and to our delight, it was another home fun for the comic legend.

This show follows a very simple premise, and mainly operates as a vehicle to allow long time collaborators Kay and Gibson to bounce off each other and improvise a lot, and it is a real success as their chemistry is great.

What’s ever better is, despite not being plot reliant and having a real ongoing narrative, you still really come to love these two characters and even start to root for a relationship you never expected by the end of this first season.

Rating = 4/5

Talking Heads: Her Big Chance (2020) – TV Review

It was already a well known fact that Jodie Comer was an incredible actress with a rapidly rising career, but this just further proves her versatility, talent, and maturity beyond her years.

In this adaptation on the classic Alan Bennett monologue that Julie Walters originally performed decades along, which was filmed under Corona Virus lockdown on pre-existing sets, Comer is able to showcase her talent yet again.

Playing a naive aspiring actress who takes a role in a film but quickly discovers this isn’t the type of film she thought it was, the monologue looks at who men take advantage of vulnerable women in the industry, something that is improving but sadly not enough progress has been made to stop this in the decades since the monologue was first written.

Comer is the only person to appear on screen in all 42 minutes, with it consisting of five long take scenes, and she remarkably manages to keep you entirely engaged throughout, which is a very tough thing to do.

The accent she does starts off posh but gradual slips into a more northern accent, and while some may mistake this as Comer losing the accent (anyone who watches Killing Eve knows that would never be the case) it’s actually an acting choice as the character begins to become more vulnerable and slowly reveals her true self.

She has talked about her concerns about ‘not being classically trained’ so not belonging in the theatre, but I think she would be sensational on the West End stage and is something I would love to see from her one day.

Due to social distancing restrictions, Comer had to to her own hair and make-up, but you couldn’t tell, as she looks stunning and radiates off the screen.

Josie Rourke, famed theatre director and director of ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ does a great job under tough circumstances, getting such a strong performances from Comer and also making the sets feel as alive and cinematic as possible.

When the original ‘Talking Heads’ was first aired, it was a BAFTA juggernaut, and this performance from Comer deserves the same. She is becoming a defining force in British TV (and she is still only in her mid 20s) and at this rate, she might be competing against her own Killing Eve performance for the best drama actress BAFTA in 2021.

Rating = 4/5

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