‘Maxine Peake As Hamlet’ filmed at Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester for cinema screening at Hyde Park Picture House
So it turns out that like most things Shakespeare is much better in a northern accent. It’s also interesting that theatre and Shakespeare in particular is the only place where equality truly exists and there is no discrimination between race and gender.
My dislike of lengthy stories extends to Shakespeare with too many unnecessary (or misunderstood) scenes adding length and making it harder work to get through. Another problem is that Maxine Peake is so brilliant that every time she’s not on screen everything else feels so ordinary. Everybody else puts in a good performance but it was only Gillian Bevan as Polonia who stood alongside Peake as great.
City Varieties, Leeds.
Scattershot and lacking structure but incredibly funny and brilliantly performed.
Wolf Hall continued it’s greatness (I still have the final episode to watch) but also got harder to watch than I initially thought. When sitting down to watch the 3rd episode I was shocked to find it was only the third episode, surely there must have been more episodes. Each episode feels like a two hour film but was never hard work.
Unlike Wolf Hall, this just flew by. I was worried that the first episode was 90 minutes but it passed in no time and hooked me. I’ve only just watched the second episode and it didn’t seem as engaging but happy to stick with this for the next few months.
Catastrophe didn’t disappoint. I think part of the reason it worked it was because it was written by a man and a woman.
I’m not getting this, it seems incredibly dull with not a lot happening. Hoping things will get better in episode 4.
Count Arthur Strong
It took me a while to warm to the first series but the 2nd outing had me from the start. Funny, charming and really quite brilliant.
The Good Wife
The best show on TV returns and I’ve still only watched the first episode but it was absolutely fantastic.
Finally finished season 2 and still think it’s the best prison based TV show.
Good To Have Back: Last Week Tonight, Sceenwipe, House Of Fools,
Didn’t Start: Better Call Saul, House Of Cards, Banana, Cucumber, The Casual Vacancy
American Interiors at The Brudenell, Leeds.
With support from Gwenno.
In the first of what I’m optimistically going to call a monthly series here’s what TV I was watching in January 2015.
This started on Sky Arts (via NowTV) before Christmas and is still ongoing not that you’d know because the obscure channel means nobody is talking about it (if anybody else is watching it). It’s a Danish drama but one of the reasons it’s so enjoyable is that it’s also incredibly funny, most episodes appear to have a laugh out loud almost slap stick moment (are you really going to put your mothers’ ashes on that high shelf?). It’s engaging because the characters feel so genuine, especially when they’re not always that likeable.
Speaking of unlikeable characters pretty much everybody in Transparent is horrible, selfish and egotistic and yet feel so genuine that they feel like family. I caught up with Transparent when Amazon made it available to watch for 24 hours and I sailed through all 10 episodes with ease, I can’t remember the last time something felt so watchable.
Catastrophe looks likely to be one of the greatest romantic comedies ever made. As The Guardian pointed out it’s “as beautifully rommy as it is swaggeringly commy”. Both sweet and crude the most important thing is that it is frequently incredibly laugh out loud funny.
All kinds of classy. This is the kind of thing that I often feel I should be enjoying or appreciating more than I actually am but that wasn’t the case here as I remained engaged throughout.
The world doesn’t need another person complaining about “the difficult second series of Broadchurch” but the thing is the first season probably wasn’t that great, it just grew to be an engaging mystery. Season 2 of Broadchurch isn’t bad but it is all over the place and without any real sense of what it wants to be doing.
Honourable Mentions: The Wrong Men, Marry Me, Weekly Wipe, Wentworth S2, Spiral S5
As January draws to a close it really does feel like the last chance to write about the television of 2014. I’ve decided to try and keep on top of things throughout 2015 by writing more, I only wish there was a decent website for television like Letterboxd for films. There are plenty out there but they all seem a bit rubbish but hopefully tvtrakt is stable again now so I can continue checking things in and let’s hope their website develops some more. Anyway back to 2014
I was disappointed with Babylon and In The Flesh, both were good but I was always having the feeling that I should be liking it more. Downton Abbey is really terrible now, it stopped being good after the second series but I now think that Julian Fellows must be taking the piss to see how much we can take. I thought Hinterland was dull and predictable and gave up after the first episode, my life is too short for second chances. I also didn’t get The Walshes which I felt bad about but, hey, not everything is going to be liked by everyone, I stuck with this for all three episodes but didn’t watch the second series.
Australia had a good year with The Code, Secrets and Lies and the best TV show set in a women’s prison – Wentworth. Orange Is The New Black is fantastic (although it did take me a while to get into it) but feels so fluffy and light when compared to Wentworth.
In terms of catching up I finally got to see and really enjoy seasons 5 and 6 of Mad Men, S1&2 Modern Family, S1&2 of Parks And Recreation, S1 of American Horror Story, S1&2 of Veep and all of A Touch Of Cloth including the new episodes.
In terms of the rest of the really great stuff. The 7.39 was great television (and may have gone out in 2003), Sherlock continues to amaze but was over too quickly. It took me a while to warm to Capaldi’s Doctor Who but I’m fully on board now. Happy Valley stayed at the top of the great TV pile throughout the year, a completely unexpected gem of a series hidden in what looked like a pedestrian cop show. Similarly Line Of Duty built on the first series to create a high quality drama. Homeland got good again and I’m still wondering if they motion captured Damian Lewis into more episodes than he was credited with – that resemblance was uncanny. I also though 24 was a large amount of silly fun. Fargo showed how to adapt something well, feeling familiar but completely new. My Mad Fat Diary has a whole lot of heart and is much better than it initially appears. Others seemed to have issues with the second series of The Fall but not me and certainly not with the ending. The Honourable Woman had quality stamped all over it. The Missing was wonderfully structured and technically brilliant, idiots had a problem with the ending but it was great way to end, no need for a second series though. The ending of True Detective was disappointment after all that set up and smart story telling it resorted to a cliched Hollywood ending – if the actors are definitely not returning for another series why the happy ending? After every episode of The Good Wife I’m sure I say that was better than the last, this really is the most deceptively brilliant show currently airing and this was the strongest season.
On to comedy and via NowTV it’s so good to have The Daily Show back in my life although why Comedy Central show it days later is baffling (and the NowTV interface is horrible mean I spend so much time trying to find the next episode). Even better than The Daily Show is Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, I only caught the second half but it was consistently smart and funny. Scrotal Recall was a horrible name for a quite charming comedy. Sexy Beasts not strictly a comedy and not something I’d usually watch but it’s an interesting concept and made all the better by Susan Calman’s brilliant narration. Was Weekly Wipe on during 2014, if so then I’m sure that was brilliant because it always is which reminds me I’ve unintentionally missed the Black Mirror White Christmas special off all my lists. There were lots of other comedies that I saw and enjoyed but none really stood out so I’ll save my final mention for the finale of How I Met Your Mother, I’m still not convinced by the series as a whole but I am completely behind that ending which for anybody complaining was left ambiguous, who knows what happened next.