I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2016 – Review

I’m a Celeb should come with a health warning. Despite your best intentions, once you start watching, that’s you hooked for three weeks. What makes this the case? Pretty simple: Ant and Dec. Once again, their segues make the programme what it is, the best reality show on UK telly.

This is even more highlighted in the 2016 version of the classic show. To put it bluntly, everyone was too nice. That’s what happens when they “smash” (sorry, Dec) the Bushtucker trials each day. Hunger usually creates those hangry moments that make for good telly.

The only conflict this year came from Homes Under the Hammer’s Martin Roberts. First, he sparred with legend Danny Baker, then Larry Lamb. The rest of the time he was seen as a harmless idiot. He definitely was an idiot, maybe not so much harmless. It’s shocking the public voted so many off before him.

Danny Baker went first. Either a victim of people assuming he’d be safe and not using a vote or decades of dividing opinion. Thankfully Martin Roberts didn’t make the final, as feared. Even if he had, I’m a Celeb participants only remain in the public eye for a week after the show.

It begs the question why people join for such short exposure. Baker said it was his favourite show and final swansong. But why did Sam Quek, an Olympian, need to be on? To get her in the public’s conscious. She’s no longer just a gold medal hockey player. She’s a gold medal hockey player, one-time underwear model, fourth placed jungle contestant. Oh, and she’s an “elite athlete”, just in case you missed one of her many reminders.

Nor is Ola Jordan just the dancer that’s married to an asshole. She’s now the dancer that’s married to an asshole that drank smoothies made of bugs.

Carol Vorderman was a big name but it’s difficult to see if this was a benefit to her career. The Countdown days can no longer be dined out on. She came across as aloof at times, a woman happy for casual dating and stories of cringe experiences.

There was a Diversity member, Jordan Banjo, who helped raise his troupes profile and formed a strong unit in camp with the lads. They were headed with former footballer Wayne Bridge, taking over the Jimmy Bullard role. Surprisingly, Bridge managed to avoid injury and while he’s been away John Terry hasn’t shagged his wife.

If Larry Lamb was the father figure, Adam Thomas was the livewire kid brother. His big brother “comedian” Joel Dommett, a likable chap but would wear thin after a while.

The girls saw Lisa Snowdon prove age hasn’t touched her, but could also have turned her into a nation’s sweetheart. She was sorely missed in the challenges and for the group’s cohesion.

Scarlett Moffatt, the Gogglebox star, is the centre of this year’s controversy. Online, people claimed she was being fed lines for the diary room. At first glance, it sounds ridiculous but there is a definite difference between her language when she was in camp and her reflective mood. In her defence, all members that have been evicted claim she is bright as a button.

It’s hard to say if the challenges had been upped this year. We’ve become desensitised to watching bugs and penises being eaten. Wayne Bridge dodging an alligator was eye-catching but then you realise it’s been well-fed and appeased.

As soon as Adam was chopped, placing him third, the stage was set for the expected Scarlett win. If she benefitted from more screen time, it’s because she’s been more entertaining. She took to the throne, crowned Queen by the last year’s winner Vicky Pattinson.

You probably can’t remember her reign but something tells me Scarlett Moffett might be around to stay.

8/10.

The Grand Tour: Launch Review

After a failed season of Top Gear, the self-proclaimed (kind of, subtly) “Holy Trinity” of Clarkson, May and Hammond faced an easier return. Expectation has been replaced with comforting relief. The Grand Tour was promoted as a different beast to their former show, well, it isn’t. But this isn’t a bad thing.

The show’s premise is the trio will tour the globe, hosting from a tent. The reality: Top Gear on steroids. Arriving to a Burning Man style concert in an American desert, it’s clear the show has jumped up a scale. Everything’s bigger, including the presenters’ waist lines. Inside the tent (picture the Top Gear studio but with a screen displaying the background in lieu of an aircraft hangar), Clarkson corrects Americans on the correct name of car parts and we’re away.

First segment, they take to the track. It reminds us this is a car show. And who doesn’t like a 950 horse power Ferrari? Nobody that is watching this show. Throw in a McLaren for good measure and it’s clear these big kids have been let loose on big kids’ toys. Albeit, electrical engine toys . . . in a drag race (note the Clarkson-esq pause).

That soon becomes a classic drive through the hills, which May can’t participate in because his Ferrari isn’t licensed for road use. Classic stitch-up, break for a pause, back to the studio. All very Top Gear, but better than Top Gear.

Cars are still put through their paces on a track for testing. An Ebola shaped track, no less. The BMW M2 is the debutant, paving the way for a new (old) regular feature to commence. What it does is give something scarily like a proper review of the car, making it almost feel like a classic style car show.

Of course, the Ebola Drome needs a timed lap. Enter The Stig. Well, almost. Enter The American (NASCAR’s Mike Skinner). Unlike The Stig, he is all chat when behind the wheel.

The Celebrity Brain Crash replaces Star in a Reasonably Priced Car but turns out to be a gag about stars dropping dead on the way to the show. Sadly, the trio can’t see the future, and the otherwise decent joke fails when a “dead” Carol Vorderman is spotted in the audience. It’s kind of distracting when she’s currently in the headlines for getting massages on the most viewed TV show in Britain I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Part two of Porsche vs McLaren vs Ferrari concludes with former F1 driver Jérôme d’Ambrosio performing timed laps after the lads couldn’t split the cars. The winning car doesn’t steal the show, that’s reserved for Clarkson, May and Hammond’s gag should Clarkson’s McLaren not be the fastest.

The verdict is The Grand Tour is an overriding success. Already it all feels familiar but somehow fresh. Those that mourned the loss of Top Gear, rejoice. Get an Amazon subscription and enjoy its rebirth.

10/10

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones – Season 1 – Review

If you’ve never heard of HBO’s Game of Thrones, welcome back from the coma you’ve been in – the world’s missed you. Before the next season hits our screens in June 2017, Simms View will recap each chapter so far. First up we have the world setting, Sean Bean led, first season. In hindsight, is it worthy of its critical acclaim?

“Don’t believe the hype,” a great song, and a great way to approach fan-favourite telly. Game of Thrones is at a great disadvantage here. It’s been hyped to the heavens (and its seven Gods, the old and the new) and attempts to make an expansive fantasy series manageable for the small screen.

It begins with the world of Westeros in disarray. The King’s Hand –  kinda like his advisor and Executive Officer –  has been killed.

This happens to be Ned Stark’s (played by Sean Bean) so as head of the Stark family, he goes to investigate. Once there, King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) makes him the replacement Hand of the King. These old pals are unable to see out a peaceful collaboration because Robert’s wife is a Lannister and they have their own ideas for domination. These don’t include the most powerful family from the North – The Starks – being anywhere near the throne

Ned’s younger son sees how Robert’s kids are made when he catches Cersei Lannister being rodgered by her brother Jaime. He pushes the boy from his high viewpoint, leaving him out of action. Jaime is already seen as a villainous character, his moniker is: “King Slayer”, because he stabbed the last man on the throne in the back, paving the way for a change in family at the helm.

More acts of betrayal follow as the Lannisters don’t want Baratheon to realise his kids are really his brother in law’s children, made with his own wife.

The focus of the main throne in Westeros is only one claim. Further afield in Esso, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), daughter of the murdered true king, is being used as a possession by her abusive brother to unite with the Dothraki tribe.

She’s from line of people that used dragons but they’re extinct . . . except for three eggs she receives as a wedding gift. Imagine if she had the ability to give them life…

The most popular character has to be Peter Dinklage’s Imp, or to use his proper name: Tyrion Lannister. A “half-man” that is a blight on the Lannister family name. Better known for whoring and drinking, two acts he does very well. But his lack of height and apparent carefree personality act as good cover for his higher intelligence.

Speaking of shamed family members, we have Jon Snow, bastard of Ned Stark. Having been raised by the Starks he joins the Night’s Watch. They are impartial protectors at the Northern Wall. What they’re protecting the lands from isn’t instantly clear in season one.

Neither are a lot of other key aspects. And some characters that you will loath here (Sansa Stark) develop in later years. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to see how season one got such a free pass. To delve any deeper would give away too many reveals, so a pause for now.

If you find it slow going, stick with it. Things get much better in season two and are far less predictable.

6/10

 

Finding Carter – Season 1 – Episode 1

I may be a damn fine reviewer but I’m not a police procedural expert, however, I feel well equipped enough to say Finding Carter isn’t a realistic representation of what would occur if a missing girl was discovered, thirteen years after her kidnap.

After being picked up by the police with all her mates for trespassing on a fairground, Carter watches her pals go home while she waits for her mother to collect her from custody. Problem is, she’s been identified as a missing person and the police are waiting for child protective services.

In this show, protective services protect the child by dropping a massive bombshell: Your mom, isn’t your mom. She robbed you. And by the way, your real folks are here and they’re taking you home.

She even pleads that she isn’t ready. But any delay would slow the show, and we couldn’t have that.

Her real mom is Hurley’s girlfriend from Lost. She was more believable in that show as the crazy-turned-sensible-chaperone to the big guy. Here she plays the bad mom to Carter’s lovable thief mom. But even her rendition as a cop is more realistic than how the show pops Carter into a brand new family and within a day is perfectly comfortable.

She enjoys immediate immersion into the family dynamic and appears in no way phased by the 100% change to her situation. One character even says, “Wow! You must be majorly freaked out.” Yeah, she should be but if she was, it’d get in the way of taking her newly discovered sister to a party. So she goes to the party – without a care in the world.

If the show was carrying a deeper hidden message about the adaptability of children, and how Carter is the product of her experiences, including those that have been supressed and known only by the subconscious mind, this sequence would be a powerful metaphor. But this is MTV produced for a teen audience, rather than examine human factors, it’s more important to throw in some love interests.

There is a moment Carter tells the new mean Mom she is loveless and hasn’t displayed any affection to her family. New brother explains she is like this because of Carter’s kidnap. Rather than be touching, it’s MTV’s way of reminding us, Carter was kidnapped, the unfortunate family has suffered ever since.

Unnecessary twist alert! New Mom was having an affair with a cop she was using to follow Carter. She was going to leave her husband but can’t now. Oh, let that resentment build. Layered, MTV. Layered. Just so happens Carter’s latest love interest is the son of said cop.

The Mom that raised Carter, Lori Stevens, risks capture to arrive at Carter’s new (and deliberate) place of work just to see her. And also to dangle the there’s-more-to-this-than-you-realise carrot.

Whether that is enough to pull you back for more will depend on how much you have bought into the mess so far. I’m tempted because sometimes, when things are so bad and ludicrous, it almost makes them good.

4/10

The Leftovers – Season 2 – Episode 10

So an extended episode attempts to wrap up what has been an enthralling season. Even with the extra minutes, nobody expects all the answers. But things look bleak for Jarden as a whole and in particular Kevin Garvey, whose handprint on the girls’ car has now been identified. Oh yeah, and he’s been a little bit dead for an episode.

In a move that is either deus ex machina or a necessary plot device (I’ll let you decide), Kevin suddenly remembers the missing girls faked their disappearance. How that sits with you could change the perception of an entire season.

Knowing this doesn’t stop John Murphy shooting him and leaving Kev for dead . . . again.

So we head back to that strange hotel (afterlife or not?) where he once again finds a way to escape back to reality.

Once back on familiar ground the Guilty Remnants have enacted their plan. The illusion of a Miracle Town has given way to all-out anarchy. Peace has been destroyed and this time the cult has a strong foothold over a town.

Kevin and John makes friends, as you do after a friendly shooting, and pull together.

The ending is emotional and it’s easy to feel that Kevin has been on a journey. It all just feels a little contrived.

7/10