“I Don’t Think Marxism’s For Me.”

[Contains dodgy “diet” smoothies and SPOILERS!!!]

Ellie White and Celeste Dring as ‘Beatrice’ and ‘Eugenie’ ala "The Windsors Royal Wedding Special"Although I couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about the actual royal wedding that’s taking place up in London today, I will be celebrating the fact that it provided plenty more fodder for the writers of Ch4’s snarky spoof The Windsors, whose one-hour special aired earlier this week… and what a spectacular special it was!

From Meghan’s hysterical pre-emptive acceptance of Harry’s proposal, to Pippa’s plot to fatten-up an unsuspecting Kate, to Fergie’s surprisingly sweet/noble “Golden Ticket” giveaway, to Will’s face-off with the “Tramp-Catcher”, and Beatrice’s rather ill-considered romance with Jeremy Corbyn… the episode was just a super-fun string of hilarious highlights! Haydn Gwynne (‘Camilla’), Louise Ford (‘Kate’), Morgana Robinson (‘Pippa’), Ellie White (‘Beatrice’), Katy Wix (‘Fergie’), Celeste Dring (‘Eugenie’), Vicki Pepperdine (‘Princess Anne’), and Kathryn Drysdale (‘Meghan’) were all on top-form once again, bringing their cartoon-y caricatures to strangely-loveable life… though I was a little disappointed that Dring didn’t get more to do here (beyond describing the ideal night out in London: “Dinner, then theatre, then dinner again”)… thankfully, I can always go back to watch the in-character “wedding fashion vlog” that she and White recorded for Marie Claire, which was also referenced/briefly-cannibalised in this episode.

Ellie White as 'Anne' and Vicki Pepperdine as 'Alison' ala "Ellie White & Vicki Pepperdine's Summer"Oh, and while we’re on the subject of cast-members moonlighting, Pepperdine and White wrote a (NSFW) Summer Comedy Short for SkyTV together, starring themselves as a morris-dancing mother and daughter preparing for an “important” public performance… while Wix (who also appeared in the aforementioned short) wrote a (NSFW) sketch about an eccentric hypnotherapist and her unfortunate new patient, played once again by White! Besides being very funny, these comedy collabs suggest that the cast are all good chums off-screen, which always warms me cockles…

Posted in Rants about TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Die Harderer

Stephanie Beatriz as ‘Detective Rosa Diaz’ in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (S5)Jinkies! Last Thursday (10/5) Fox cruelly cancelled Brooklyn Nine-Nine, after five consistently funny seasons… then the very next day, NBC picked up the tab, and ordered thirteen shiny new episodes! Hurrah! In the show’s remarkably brief “limbo” period of non-existence, there was a loud outcry from fans online, including some surprising celebrity supporters, such as Academy-Award-winning writer/director Guillermo del Toro, who tweeted: “[B99] has given us fully human characters, beautiful, powerful, flawed, vulnerable, majestic… In whichever form, B99 must return. It will. And I will be there to watch. And, it is my hope that, this time, a lot more people do too.” Amen.

That said, I can’t help wishing they could tweak the show’s formula a tad, to shift the focus away from ‘Jake’ (Andy Samberg), and give the rest of the cast more to do. When I read a SPOILER that last week’s episode (#5.20) would see ‘Rosa’ (Stephanie Beatriz) getting caught up in an “active shooter situation”, I naively assumed that meant the story would be centred around her being heroic while isolated from the rest of the squad (just as “The Box” (ep #5.14) was a two-handed showcase for Jake and ‘Holt’ (Andre Braugher)), when in reality it meant she was absent for almost the entire episode, while everyone (but especially Jake) fretted over her off-screen safety. Meh. The same thing happened at the start of the season, with the comparative weight (and screen-time) afforded to Jake’s incarceration, over his fellow-victim-of-injustice. Is equal representation for Rosa and ‘Amy’ (Melissa Fumero) really asking too much, in this day and age…?

Edit (15/5/18): Mea culpa (me a idiot?), I wrote the above before I’d seen this week’s episode (#5.21), in which Amy and Rosa (aka “The Sleuth Sisters”) got a subplot all to themselves, teaming up to catch a major criminal who’d eluded them in their younger days. This was absolutely glorious, and much appreciated. More, please!

Posted in Rants about TV | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taskmaster Infinity?

Liza Tarbuck a la "Taskmaster" (S6)Quirky-celebrity-challenge-show Taskmaster (still one of the most reliably/painfully funny things on British TV, despite my lingering disapproval of the gender imbalance/uneven teams) returned for a sixth “season” this week, with an expanded run of ten episodes (as compared to last season’s eight, and the first season’s six). Hurrah! Meanwhile, it was announced that three more (ten-episode) seasons have already been commissioned to follow along at some point in the future, so this format could well outlive us all! Oh, and a much shorter-and-shoutier American version was launched earlier this week on Comedy Central, but the less said about that the better… though obviously if you’ve never seen the original (from which all the tasks were recycled), it might be more enjoyable in its own right…?

Anyhoo, this time around the female contestants are actress/presenter Liza Tarbuck and model/presenter Alice Levine. I’ve had a long-standing crush on Tarbuck since the late-1980s (thanks to the sitcom Watching), and she’s always been very high on my hypothetical-dinner-party-guest-list, so it was great to see her mucking in here, with her trademark warmth and wit… by contrast, Levine was an unknown quantity, but she won me over in the very first round with the nonchalant announcement that her submission for the “Best Liquid” prize was a vial of her own blood! Her entry in the “Wheelbarrow Stunt” task was also a well thought-out and flawlessly executed visual gag, with some properly Hitchcockian suspense leading up to the shocking punchline. So, snaps to her for that… though I refuse to choose between them at this early stage…

P.S. The Radio Times site has an interesting interview with series director Andy Devonshire, which reveals how the show is assembled… in case you’re curious…

Posted in Rants about TV | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“Make America Kosher Again!”

Judy Greer as 'Esther' in "The Hebrew Hammer is Back: Make America Kosher Again!" (#MAKA)On a random whim, I decided to Google the long-awaited Hebrew Hammer sequel, to see if that was any closer to becoming a reality yet… and discovered a very funny new five-minute skit, starring Adam Goldberg and Judy Greer, in which the character awakens from a decade-long (wine-cooler-induced) coma in the present day, and gets slapped in the face with Trump’s inexplicably-successful presidential campaign. Although it works perfectly as a self-contained-sketch/short-horror-flick, the video also serves as a pre-production promo for the sequel’s fundraising page at Microventures. Unfortunately it seems to be more of a grown-up investment scheme, rather than a fan-friendly merch-sale, and I don’t really have the cash to splash on that sort of thing… but if I did have deeper pockets, then I’d definitely be taking a punt on this, because I just checked my watch, and it’s already half-past-Hammer-time!

Posted in Rants about Films | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bellyful Of Laughs

Natasha Leggero in “The Honeymoon Stand up Special” (2018)I kinda resent the way that Netflix has become a byword for TV-viewing in general, but can’t deny that they’ve been putting out some great shows lately… such as Natasha Leggero & Moshe Kasher’s Honeymoon Stand Up Special, which was thoughtfully divided into three separate episodes: The first featured the heavily-pregnant Leggero delivering a hilarious solo set about whether or not she was going to keep their imminent firstborn… then Kasher got his chance to shine in the spotlight, discussing his highly-atypical family history (and future)… before the toothsome twosome finally reunited onstage, to offer their (derisive) counsel to a succession of surprisingly sporting couples plucked from the audience. I’m not sure they necessarily helped any of their sacrificial lambs solve their wonky relationship woes, but they did crack plenty jokes at their expense, and laughter is supposed to be the best therapy… right…?

Posted in Rants about Stand-Up, Rants about TV | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Smith Happens

Parker Posey as ‘Dr. Smith’ in “Lost In Space” (S1)Last night I finished bingeing my way through the first season of Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot, which I wound up enjoying a lot more than I expected to from the trailer. Interestingly, this iteration of the show lives up to its title twice-over by being a (family-centric) version of ABC’s Lost set in space, with a disparate/dysfunctional group of survivors crash-landing on a mysterious alien planet, and struggling to make peace and progress in the present, as intermittent flashbacks flesh out their twisty backstories. I’m not generally a fan of derring-do adventure stories, where the main characters are constantly placed in perilous situations by their environment… especially when I know none of them are actually going to be killed off because they’re the “stars”, rather random disposable “Red Shirts”*… and “child prodigies” in sci-fi shows are a notoriously noxious bunch, so a whole family of them should be a total nightmare… but the writing and the performances here (from youngsters and oldsters alike) were entertaining and engaging enough to make me forget all of my pre-existing genre prejudices, and just settle in for the rollicking ride.

As ever, the franchise’s MVP remains the wily ‘Dr. Smith’, gender-swapped and reimagined here as a slippery identity-snatching sociopath… a role that gives idiosyncratic “indie” actress Parker Posey plenty to sink her teeth into, as she plays the innocent “victim” and concerned therapist in public, then stalks and schemes away when everyone else’s oblivious backs are turned. Boo! Hiss! Hurrah! Meanwhile, on the “goodie” side of the moral divide, Mina Sundwall steals scene after scene as ‘Penny Robinson’, the wise-cracking “slacker” of the family, who scores countless laughs as she snarks away, and occasionally/reluctantly saves the day. Bless. Not to say that Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Taylor Russell, and Maxwell Jenkins didn’t pull their weight, bringing the estranged Robinson brood bang up to date… but their characters were all a bit too serious and straight-laced for me to get too excited about. Sorry! Oh, there was also an unexpected but much appreciated flashback cameo by Selma Blair as Smith’s more-successful “little” sister ‘Jessica’, in ep #1.3.

So far the reviews and ratings have been a bit lukewarm, but I’d love to see a second season… if only to find out if there’s any plausible in-universe explanation for why the robot can only remember three words at a time…


* That said, a couple jump-scares and cliff-hangers did give me a bit of a jolt, so they’re clearly doing something right!

Posted in Rants about TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emilia’s Appeal

Emilia Clarke on the “Game of Thrones” set, stumping for Omaze (circa 4/18)Omaze has just announced a charity raffle to win a behind-the-scenes tour of the Game of Thrones set in Belfast, followed by a meet-n’-greet with Emilia Clarke (aka ‘Daenerys Targaryen’)… all in aid of The Royal College of Nursing Foundation. Of course, I entered as soon as I saw the e-mail, but I think we can all agree that our Khaleesi deserves better than yours truly mumbling and drooling away at her, so please click the link above, and purchase as many “tickets” as you can!

Meanwhile, having only ever seen Clarke in-character as “Dany” before, I had the impression she was a very regal and sombre sort, but in the promo video for this campaign you see a totally different side of her… all smiley and larky and winky. Bless! Despite being in costume, it’s almost impossible for me to believe they’re actually the same woman, so now I’m in the slightly weird headspace of having separate crushes on both her on-screen and off-screen incarnations… Oy…

Posted in Rants about TV | Tagged , , | Leave a comment