Game of Thrones – Season 2 – Review

The beginning of season two takes a few minutes for you to settle in. We are expected to just understand who the new faces in Westeros are. The displaced Robert Baratheon sees his true heir Stannis bang heads with brother Renly. It takes a while to accept Stannis as a main player due to the absence of screen time in season one but he meddles enough to grab your attention.

He’s aligned with the Red Lady aka Melisandre. The actress that plays her Carice van Houten replaces Denise van Outen as my favourite sexy woman with a Dutch sounding name. It’s amazing what dropping an H and spicing up a first name can do. In the show, what she can do is also magical but it’s dark. The sort that gay brother Renly falls foul of.

With Stannis on the march, he is a clear threat to the Lannisters’ hold on the throne. They are too busy playing games with themselves at King’s Landing. Cersei is trying her best to ignore Joffrey’s cruelty and control the Imp, Tyrion. His Achilles Heel is former prostitute Shae. He’s given some rest bite when Cersei targets the wrong hooker but the tension on this subject threatens to be there for some time.

As added protection, Tyrion as the King’s Hand promotes Bronn (lesser known member of Robson and Jerome) to commander of the watch, or in plain English: nails bodyguard that kills for cash. He’s a likable figure in a city of misfits. IE, The Hound prevents Sansa from getting raped and killed but comes across as a guy you wouldn’t wanna share a meal with.

The Lannisters’ main threat comes in the form of Robb Stark – King of the North. He is winning battles and moving toward King’s Landing, looking to avenge the death of his father. On the way, he breaks the promise to marry a daughter of Walder when his head is turned by Talisa Maegyr, the Florence Nightingale of Westeros.

His problems mount when Catelyn Stark releases The King Slayer Jaime Lannister (with Brienne The Warrior Woman as an escort) in exchange for her daughters. They are in a bad way. Sansa prays Joffery’s eye will turn elsewhere (it kinda does but she’s still a toy) and Arya is now independent and surviving on her wits alone. Her son, Bran, is doing the same.

Starks with power but divided in more ways than one.

Jon Snow, the bastard Stark, finds himself on a covert Night’s Watch mission. It goes wrong (had to, didn’t it) and he ends up siding (for real or not?) with the Wildlings. There, his former red-headed female prisoner happily informs him he knows nothing. And so begins a love affair, of sorts.

While Robb is advancing well on the Lannisters, he should have kept one eye on home. Exiled Theon Greyjoy returns to capture Winterfell. He was only trying to impress his biological father, whom was none too impressed.

Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen continues her journey with growing dragons and actual numbers on the ground. She spends the season in Qarth. I won’t ruin surprises but needless to say, not everyone has the best of intentions for the Mother of Dragons. Hers is one of the most engaging plots and we begin to see her ruthless side and her true power.

The season highlight is episode nine’s Blackwater (10/10). It contains the battle of the same name. The finale Valar Morghulis (9/10) sees Arya make an ally that could prove beneficial and she can thank for her freedom, and a final shot that makes you want more.

The addiction has taken hold…

8/10

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.

Big Brother 2016 Review – Review

Before we head into Celebrity Big Brother, let’s look at the regular version. I say regular, that implies it is for regular people. People off the street, plucked from obscurity in the elusive chase for fame. Those days have long since passed. Now it is a junkyard for people on the fringes, of those on the fringes, of fleeting fame. Failed “reality” TV stars that try to make it on an original reality TV pioneer.

The problem is, Big Brother is now a modern reality TV show. It feels part scripted with “contestants” too aware of the medium. Craig from Season 1 had no idea what being in the house meant. The players of 2016 haven’t got a game plan to win, they have a career path that are attempting to manipulate with TV time.

Emma Willis is the face of this charade but her stewardship is equal to Davina’s from the original and light years ahead of Brian Dowling’s failed effort. Like Davina McCall, she appears to love the show and is absorbed in the characters. She adds warmth and familiarity. But as good as she is, if the show failed in between her live shows, nobody would enjoy her.

This year the feel of the entrants made it worth sticking around. Despite being an ensemble of people already used to media exposure, the balance of fame-seeking and genuine personalities shone through.

Welsh girl Lateysha Grace sums this up best. She came across as a slapper on MTV’s The Valleys. Acting the promiscuous tart she took offence to being labelled as in the house. And rightly so. Judging her on her views and actions in BBUK, she was down-to-earth and lovely.

So why knowingly play a role using her real name, for just five minutes of fame?

It undermines her true self.

Her only cracks came when she was tactically booted. As a single parent, she felt her reason for winning had greater validity. Lateysha still needs to learn one important lesson: Life owes you nothing.

Her axe wielder was eventual winner Jason. His presence, made the belief the whole thing could be rigged gain credibility. In an early “twist” there were two houses. The Others occupied a secret home alongside the main one. Jason spent days going on about an ex he couldn’t possibly do the Big Brother experience with. Guess what, she was part of The Others and soon joined the main cast.

A similar plot occurred with geezer Chelsea and kiss-and-tell Jayne.

This wasn’t real people showing the diversity of the British public. It was pure, pre-ordained, entertainment.

But it survived the cynicism – just.

Other standouts were Jackson. He had more voices than tattoos; came from the street (but was actually a model); fell in love with a posh bird he made out was a fairy tale dream. Being BBUK, she complied and the fairy tale came true.

That’s when Georgina wasn’t dictating to Jackson. But her harshness was a defensive mechanism. In a house of frauds, she displayed true emotions. I hope for her sake, Jackson proves himself to be genuine.

Proving BBUK can always provide a disillusioned, despicable human, we met Laura Carter. A woman who described herself as “an established actress” before entering the house. If that’s true, I’m Barry Norman.

She’ll be remembered for sleeping with Marco Pierre White’s immature, overactive son. Pretending she is vulnerable but savvy. Pretending she had a long lost love. Pretending she wasn’t selfish or self-centred when she embodies both those evils.

Andy was the “intelligent” addition. Proving that repeatedly saying something, doesn’t make it true. Pretty fun watching him not know how many make a baker’s dozen. In the kingdom of the blind…

He got engaged on the show, when during a task, his boyfriend entered the house for an overnight stay. While it provided a touching moment, it shows how far the show has fallen from the original social experiment. A founding rule was: No contact with the outside world.

Now they get news updates and Tweets read to them and hands in marriage.

Ryan had a love affair with fan-favourite and runner-up, Hughie. The former was a scouser playing for the cameras. The latter an intriguing Irishman, that came in, broke taboos and stereotypes, and allowed a heart of gold to shine through.

He was easy to disagree with, at times. But “real” people show all sides and all shades. It’s proof the makers of Big Brother can go back to basics and bring in the general public. Real is more explosive, more engaging.

Big Brother shouldn’t be a retraining school for failed reality stars. It should be relevant. Right now IMDb don’t even add new series to their page.

Go back to basics, BBUK or face extinction.

5/10

 

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