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J. Gathergood "Jay Firestorm" (Berkshire, United Kingdom)

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Gibsons 1970s Toy Box Memories Jigsaw Puzzle (1000pieces)
Gibsons 1970s Toy Box Memories Jigsaw Puzzle (1000pieces)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really enjoyable jigsaw that brings back many memories, 5 Feb 2011
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
It may seem a little unusual reviewing a jigsaw, but I thought I'd write a few words about how much I enjoyed this item.

I purchased this item for my father and I to do over the Christmas holidays. It is part of a series of four (ranging 1940-1970s), and there is also a similar "shopping basket" and "sweet memories" series, which also look good.

I chose this one because it has many toys, and merchandise of classic television series, that I grew up with. It has a great range of products in it, and it brought back a lot of memories. Also, with so many products shown, it is fun to concentrating on putting various areas together one at a time - particularly good for those who might find 1000 pieces a bit daunting.

I wouldn't usually splash out so much on paying for a jigsaw, but this one really appealed to me; it was money well spent, and I enjoyed doing it so much that I was sad when it was all completed(!). I've just gone to the other end of the range and ordered the 1940s one.
(I'd also like to see a 1980s version issued at some point, reflecting the popular toys and TV shows of my era).

Hancock: The Lost Radio Episodes: Sid James's Dad and the Diet
Hancock: The Lost Radio Episodes: Sid James's Dad and the Diet
by Ray Galton
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 7.58

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe the Beeb are daring to charge for something you can barely hear!, 5 Feb 2011
I ordered this CD when it was first released (yeah, it's taken me all this time to write a review!), before there were any reviews to go by to warn me of how bad the quality of this release is.

I'm a huge Hancock fan, particularly of the radio episodes, owning all of the box sets of the surviving episodes. There are many "wiped" episodes, and occasionally recordings of some of these are discovered.
There are a number of "unofficial" home recordings of missing episodes (including these two episodes) floating around certain areas of the Net, but usually these are such poor quality that it's not usually worth attempting to listen to them - I'd much rather pay a reasonable price for a decent copy. So when I saw that a CD of "missing episodes" 'Sid James's Dad' and 'The Diet' was being released, I naturally assumed that new, superior copies had been re-discovered, and ordered it immediately.

...How wrong could I be! As already covered by other reviewers, the sound quality is not only atrocious, but for much of it, impossible to even hear what is going on! Even when listening through reasonable quality earphones it's hard to fathom most of the dialogue. As other reviews have touched upon, I wouldn't have minded so much, if the sleeve notes had at least been upfront about this and how the recordings were discovered.

The incidental music used to break scenes, is patched in from other episodes, and only serves to highlight to weak sound quality even more.
I'd like to review the episodes themselves, but due to the poor quality, I gave up trying to make out the dialogue after a couple of minutes.

The back-of-box details contains the standard "Due to the archive and off-air nature of some of the source material, the sound quality may vary" disclaimer; I assumed this might mean the odd hiss or crackle that we occasionally hear on such vintage recordings. But they should have said "Due to the terrible quality of this recording, you won't remotely be able to hear what is going on!".
I actually feel very strongly about this, to the point that I am considering writing to BBC Audio to complain. I can't believe they had the nerve to sell such a weak product. At most, this CD might have been included as a "freebie" with some future compilation, but the fact that they are charging for it is pretty disgusting. Blimey, even Sid himself wouldn't have tried to pull off something this unscrupulous!

Rant over. Bottom line... save your money! Stone me, what a racket.

Clash Of The Titans [DVD] [2010]
Clash Of The Titans [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Sam Worthington
Offered by CP UK And Global LTD
Price: 2.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Confusing half the time, dull the rest, what a disappointment, 22 Sep 2010
Normally I like to review a DVD on its own merits (transfer, extras, etc.). But after seeing this film at the cinema, all I can say is - don't waste your time!

Although I was only 3 when the original came out, I have enough interest in both 1970s & 80s films, and of Greek myth (I was - and still am - a huge fan of TV's 'Hercules' and 'Xena', creative discrepancies et al) to have enjoyed it many times on TV. That said, I'm not an uber-fan, which made me willing to give this new version a fair chance.

My friend and I don't often get to the cinema nowadays, usually waiting for DVD releases instead. But both having seen and enjoyed the original, we went to see this film the night it opened with high expectations but an open mind. We wished we hadn't bothered.

While there are some films that should be left as they were, I felt there was good scope for updating the original 'Clash...'. But they took it in totally the wrong direction.
While I can understand they wanted to take a more serious stab at it than the enjoyably camp original, they made it TOO serious. This is typified by the absence of the iconic mechanical owl from the original, here only given a blink-and-miss it throwaway cameo. While it didn't need to be a comedy, this version of 'Clash...' badly lacks any lighter moments to break things up a little. There was so much they could have done with this movie, but it wound up a dull, confusing mess.

The film was awkwardly put in 3D, but both my friend and I felt that this had been tacked on late in the day to jump on the bandwagon (particularly after the massive 'Avatar'), and not only didn't add anything to the film, but in many ways even detracted from it, as we both found the 3D effects terrible. Of course, that's by-the-by for the DVD version, but it kind of typifies how this film misfires on all levels.

The movie falls into the trap that all too many modern films fall into - all effort gone into over-the-top CGI effects, and nothing given to actual story. There are no characters to get behind and cheer (or love-to-hate and boo & hiss); half of the time I was confused what was going on. The rest of the time I was too disinterested to care. But one of the biggest problems that I found, was that characters and their costumes - particularly the Gods - look to similar to each other and are often hard to distinguish, further making it confusing and impossible to really feel for what's going on. If I, as a 32 year old, had this problem, I feel sorry for young audience members trying to make sense of the proceedings!

I thought I was alone in my immense disappointment in what could have been such an excellent film. But coming out of the cinema, the first thing my friend and I did, without prompting, was to turn to each other and sum it up with a "nah". Getting talking to a few other audience members on the way out, we found we weren't alone in our disappointment.

Normally I find something good to say about even weaker movies, but I honestly can't think of one decent thing to recommend about this film. Even if you find it at bargain basement price, I'd say save your pennies. Even when this one turns up on TV, I personally won't get excited about it.

Amazon's reviewer, Robert Horton concludes "...It would be hard to deny that this is one case where the remake tops the original". Sorry, have the rest of us been watching the same film?!

Rob Brydon: Live [DVD]
Rob Brydon: Live [DVD]
Offered by CP UK And Global LTD
Price: 3.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very amusing and very warm show by the likable Rob, 22 Sep 2010
This review is from: Rob Brydon: Live [DVD] (DVD)
I've been a fan of Rob Brydon ever since the excellent 'Marion & Geoff'. Correction, I've been a fan since he did some good voice work in the 1990's 'Discworld' adventure games. He's great presenting 'Would I Lie To You' too. (Haven't watched 'Gavin & Stacey' yet but have it on DVD at recommendation of a friend). Either way, I'd long considered getting this DVD but aren't really a fan of stand-up DVDs. But as I was home alone for a few days, I decided to finally order a copy and give it a try. I wasn't disappointed.

Brydon has a great stage presence, and while has a persona that is contemporary and relevant, at the same time gives off much of the air of the classic comedians who - without wanting to get all Daily Mail - didn't rely on the f word every two seconds to get an easy laugh.
I won't say there is no bad language in this show, but it is few and far between, and is not over-the-top as with many of the current crop of comedians.

Brydon opens with a few rambling comedy tales, but by mid-way through the show is mostly made up of interaction with the audience, which he does very well indeed. There are also a nice selection of impressions mixed in; As well as mostly being spot on, these impressions thankfully don't seem forced, and fit in with the rest of the show well.

I wouldn't say this is Brydon's best ever performance, but that is a mark of his quality overall, and I found this show to be very good, and one big point is - while biting and cynical at times - he gives off a tremendous warmth that is lacking from so much of comedy nowadays.

Extras on the DVD include: Rob On Tour - a reasonable backstage look at Rob's tour; It's Hal Out There - a feature with Rob talking to his warm-up act, Hal Cruttenden (though frustratingly we don't get to see any of his act); and Rob's Road Cam - a potentially amusing short about various things Brydon has filmed on the road travelling to venues, but with very brief running time and shaky camera work, doesn't really amount to much. A mixed bag, but considering many stand-up DVDs only feature the bog-standard performance with no extras, the ones we get here are decent enough.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed this DVD. To give a balanced view, Brydon might not have the most cutting-edge material (here at least), but what he does do, is give a very warm and very humorous performance. This DVD is about a year old at time of writing, so should be available at a knock-down price; I personally found it very enjoyable.

Doctor Who: Carnival Of Monsters [DVD] [1963]
Doctor Who: Carnival Of Monsters [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: 14.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun and inventive Jon Pertwee-era adventure, 2 Jun 2010
My slow by steady project of delving into vintage 'Doctor Who' tales continues with this fun Jon Pertwee adventure.

As a child, I collected many (in fact, most) of the tie-in Target novels, but for whatever reason I never had this one, meaning that I was mostly unfamiliar with the plot - but that turned out to be a plus point when, all these years later, I came to watch the DVD; I loved every minute of this great adventure unfolding, never knowing what would happen next.

Although a long-standing 'Doctor Who' fan (though my interest dipped a bit in those long barren years when it was off-air) I confess to having not watched a full Jon Pertwee adventure for some years now. Shame on me - I'd almost forgotten what fun he was; and I prefer his "dashing dandy" take on the character far more than some of the more "over excitable" leads who seem to have got all the attention in recent years.

Both Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning are on fine form in this story; they work well together and really bounce off of each other. The story is certainly a surreal one, but kudos to the ever reliable Robert Holmes for daring to try it - and for pulling it off! Of the guest cast, Leslie Dwyer is particularly fun as travelling showman Vorg.

I watched this story - and am writing this review - in the middle of the new Series 5 on Saturday nights (in which I am enjoying Matt Smith immensely more than David Tennant, and in which Amy Pond is by far the most modern 'Who' companion IMO, but that's for another site!)... so obviously I notice the difference in special effects with these old stories. But this does actually not bother me - the story is strong enough to excuse these limitations, and it actually reminds me of just how genuinely scared some of those old monsters could be!

The extras are as good as we've come to expect from a 'Doctor Who' release, featuring a number of interesting bonuses (including a terrible proposed update of the theme, which thankfully was never used). As is usually the case, my personally favourite extra is the in-episode trivia track.

I really enjoyed this story, it ranks just short of a solid 5 stars from me, but comes pretty damned close. If you're looking for a decent Third Doctor tale to check out, I highly recommend this one.

Miami Vice (Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx) [DVD] [2006]
Miami Vice (Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx) [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Colin Farrell
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull cop thriller with 'Miami Vice' name welded on, 13 April 2010
Nostalgia for an original can often distort the merits of a new version. But, although I love all things TV from 1970s-1980s, I've only really got into TV's 'Miami Vice' in more recent years (I was six when it first aired - it was too violent and after my bed time for me!), so don't have the instant nostalgia for it that I have for the more family-friendly U.S. show's of the same era ('The Dukes of Hazzard', 'Knight Rider', 'The A-Team', etc.) so considering that, I came to view the 2006 movie with an open mind. Even so... what a total let down this movie is.

Other than sharing the same name of characters (and being partly set in Miami), this has virtually nothing to do with the iconic TV series. Now as much as I love and live for the original versions of such TV shows, I do understand that they need to be tweaked and updated for modern audiences; I wouldn't have minded if that was the case here, but all we get here is a heavily stripped down, limp version of the original, and gone are all the little touches such as Crockett living on a boat with an alligator.

Jamie Foxx is so-so as Tubbs but has little to really get is teeth into, but Colin Farrell as Crockett (yes, an Irishman as Crockett, as sign of how misjudged this movie is) frankly comes across as rather creepy, a far cry from Don Johnson's super-cool original.
In the TV series, Phillip Michael Thomas (Tubbs) always had a hard time matching up to Johnson's iconic role, but that's nothing compared to the movie versions; Farrell and Foxx have zero chemistry together, and this severe miscasting is one of the key things that lets the movie down.

Plot-wise, the overall story is very noticeably similar to the (FAR superior) first season episode 'Smuggler's Blues' of the original TV series, albeit excruciatingly drawn out and expanded. I watched the first hour or so, preying that it would get better, but by the second half I was busy on my computer, with it only on in the background - not a good sign.

Some were disappointed by the lack of action in this film. Personally I could have lived with this, if the actual story was a bit better! And while I like that director Michael Mann was going for something serious and moody, there is not one single moment of humour in the entire movie to at least break things up a little.

Part of me wonders why this was even made with the 'Miami Vice' title to begin with - as noted above, it has very little to do with the original, and maybe if it had been made as a stand-alone movie (which it easily could have been), it would have avoided comparisons and stood on it's own merit. ...Nah, it would still be rubbish!

All-in-all, this one is truly a stinker. Luckily I didn't pay much for it, but even so, I wouldn't advise wasting your money on it. It's seldom that I give a movie one star, but this is such a case. This is how NOT to do an update of a TV series.

Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993]
Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: 6.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another classic Tom Baker story, 27 Mar 2010
After being effectively reintroduced to vintage 'Doctor Who' when I picked up the excellent 'The Brain of Morbius' DVD almost on a whim a couple of months ago, I keenly bought more vintage 'Who' DVDs, of which 'Horror of Fang Rock' was one.

Seeing as '...Fang Rock' was actually a last minute replacement story (the originally planned script, which would eventually become 'State of Decay' in 1980, involved vampires, but was aborted due to feelings it would clash with the Beeb's production of 'Dracula'), it actually ends up as a really good 1970s-era story, with only Part 3 feeling slightly stretched.

While no doubt too slow for young audiences accustomed to watered down single "fifty minutes and it's over" modern 'Who' stories, I love these vintage tales for allowing more depth, and think that (generally) multi-part episodes work much better for this.

The alien of the story is the jelly-like Rutan (of which we see only one); these are actually (otherwise unseen) enemies of the Sontarans, although you do not need to be familiar with any of the Sontaran episodes to enjoy 'Fang Rock'.
Naturally, coming from the tight budget, pre-CGI days of 1970s BBC, the Rutan looks very primitive by today's standards; the (many) sequences of it squelching up the lighthouse stairs are certainly a bit dodgy, but at the same time, it is not the worst '70s-era realisation of a monster, not by a long shot. Besides, as with all good vintage 'Who', the story is strong enough carry the weaker effects off.

The sound, considering it's from ancient 1970s mono, is extremely clear. The picture is mostly good, though I did notice some camera interference during Part 2, present on the original, which is still evident.

The one thing I was a little let down with regarding the DVD, was the features. Not with the quality of the features that ARE included, but typical 'Who' DVD releases at least feature a retrospective look back at the making of the particular story, but there is no such feature with 'Fang Rock'.
We do get a nice (and deserving) 36 minute feature looking at the extensive work of story writer Terrance Dicks, though it only makes brief inclusion of 'Fang Rock'.
The other main feature is with Paddy Russell, show runner for several 'Who' stories. This one goes into a bit more depth regarding 'Fang Rock', and interestingly she considers it a rather weak story.

While these two features are nice, I did feel they could have been easily at home on any number of other vintage 'Who' DVDs. The third main feature is an Antiques Roadshow-style short looking at some of the merchandise, made in 1993. This sounded very promising, but at just 4 minutes, I found it to be to be pointlessly short, and - with no direct connection to 'Fang Rock' - it seems to be included just as a filler.

There is the standard in-episode trivia track, which I always love, and audio commentary (which as per usual I've yet to listen to), but the only other feature is a bog-standard picture gallery. Bearing in mind some of the wonderful features on other 'Who' DVDs, I felt a bit let down by the ones of this release.

But all-in-all, this is a great 'Who' story. I'm not qute giving it a perfect 5 mostly due to the unusually disappointing extras, but even so, if you are a vintage 'Who' fan, I recommend 'Horror of Fang Rock' for your collection.

Bruno [DVD]
Bruno [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sacha Baron Cohen
Offered by Talbot Media
Price: 1.95

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere near as good as 'Borat' - BUT..., 27 Mar 2010
This review is from: Bruno [DVD] (DVD)
This film has been out on DVD for a while now, so most of what's to say about it has already been said, but even so, I thought I'd share my comments.

I've had this DVD since it was first released, but didn't get around to watching it until last night, having been hesitant after hearing mixed reviews. But with nothing better to do last night, I stuck it on...

First off, I'll agree with the many that the film is nowhere near as good as the truly excellent 'Borat' before it. Of course, with 'Borat' we'd already seen just how far Baron Cohen was prepared to go and what to expect, but even so, if 'Bruno' had come before 'Borat', I still think that 'Borat' would be the far better of the two.

But that's not to say 'Bruno' is no good. As with the Beatles' lesser songs still being good songs, lesser Sacha Baron Cohen is still good Cohen.

One of my main problems was that I found it quite hard to actually warm to Bruno the character. For all of Borat's "eccentricities", he is for the most part a lovable character, whereas Bruno, I didn't totally care for.

There are some truly great moments, though for me - even though they clearly tried to be even more "extreme" - didn't quite match the giddying heights on 'Bruno'. At points, it almost felt as if they were trying too hard. And while there are some excellent moments of spontaneity with unwitting 'victims', much of 'Bruno' feels to be too staged for my liking. Somehow I was just expecting more from the whole thing.

Well, that's the bad out of the way, but there is good - as I say, some really good moments that will have you laughing out loud. I also like the overall structure of the story, and how it develops and wraps up at the end.
Some of the things they dared do are breathtaking - none more so than the whole terrorist segment (without giving too much away).

The DVD extras include alternative / extended / deleted scenes, some of which are better than others, and a commentary track, which I haven't listened to yet.

This film is certainly not for you are easily shocked. If you haven't seen 'Borat', I'd definitely recommend to buy that DVD first. But if you liked 'Borat' and want more, 'Bruno', while far from perfect, at least delivers some decent laughs. For all I've said against it, I still enjoyed it enough to give it a reasonable 4/5.

Pure Easy Moods: 3cds of Pure Easy Listening Moods
Pure Easy Moods: 3cds of Pure Easy Listening Moods
Price: 6.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money!!, 24 Mar 2010
I like all genres of music, from hard rock to golden oldies and even a bit of drum 'n bass (!) When I bought this, I was in the mood for some vintage crooner tracks from the '40s, '50s and '60s. I wish I hadn't bothered - this is a terrible CD box set, as just about every track is a horrible re-recording of the original (I wouldn't have bothered purchasing them if I had known this beforehand).

I had thought (and hoped) that cheap and cheerful budget CDs such as these weren't so much nowadays - this release sadly proved me wrong.

Things start of with a version of 'I Wanna Be Loved By You' that sounds like it belongs in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and things don't get any better from there. The quality of tracks (in terms of not being the originals) is the sort you'd get free with a weekend newspaper and still consider poor! Worse still, I'm convinced many aren't even by the original performers - and the words 'Made famous by' on the back of each CD reinforces this concern.
Not to mention, that with only 10 tracks on each disk, the CDs are woefully short. Definitely not value for money.

I'd return this box set, but I've played the CDs (right through, I'm ashamed to say, hoping they would get better... they didn't!). But suffice to say, they're going straight down the charity shop.

There are FAR better CDs of this genre, and with ORIGINAL recordings. Save your money - don't buy this abysmal release.

Truck Turner [DVD]
Truck Turner [DVD]
Dvd ~ Isaac Hayes
Price: 6.18

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great slice of 1970s 'soul brother' cinema, 22 Mar 2010
This review is from: Truck Turner [DVD] (DVD)
I was reading up on the late, great Isaac Hayes after buying the 'Ultimate Isaac Hayes' double CD (which I purchased after his death). Anyway, reading up, I learned of this film, and out of curiosity - {} - I gave it ago. And I wasn't disappointed.

Hayes is perfect as the lead (bounty hunter Truck Turner of the title), and I immediately warmed to him. The movie is an enjoyable action thriller; the first half plays more like a comedy, with many wisecracks and amusing happenings, as Hayes and his partner Jerry track down a psychotic pimp.
The second half almost plays like a sequel to the first (if that makes sense), as - with the pimp dead - a price is put on Truck's head, and there are numerous attempts on his life. The second half of the picture is far more serious than the first.
The first hour or so is great fun; the pacing does slightly let up midway through as things sag very slightly, but thankfully things soon pick up again, leading to a satisfying climax.

The supporting cast is very good, with many faces from various '70s blaxploitation movies appearing. (By the way Yaphet Kotto, the main villain of the picture, and first billed after Hayes, doesn't appear until almost an hour in).

I was surprised to see Nichelle Nichols in a role, as the new head of the group of hookers that is central to the plot. Nichols is, of course, best known as Uhura from the original 'Star Trek', and it is quite a shock to see the same actress f-ing and jeffing here.
(Incidentally, the inside of the DVD case has a picture of Hayes and Nichols together, smiling, which is presumably an on-set photo, as the characters are enemies in the actual movie.)

Unlike some of the old '70s blaxploitation pictures, production values are actually very good, with some nice action sequences (in particular, the lengthy car chase, as Turner and Jerry pursue the murderous pimp, is excellent).

The movie has many instances of both the 'f' word, and the 'n' word (which the black characters mockingly use about themselves). Although there are a couple of vaguely-gory shootout moments in the second half, I think if this film was released nowadays it might only get a 15 rating.

I was surprised that this movie never led to a follow-up of some kind, or even - as some of the 1970s blaxploitation movies were - tweaked and toned down for a TV series. The elements are all there and I think it would have been great, and I would have liked to have seen more of the Truck Turner character.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed this movie, and it has made me keen to check out some more of the 1970s blaxploitation movies. It's hardly cinema's greatest ever picture, but for what it is, it's well performed and well shot, with a terrific lead - and for 2.99, you can hardly go wrong!

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