Profile for R. A. Smith > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by R. A. Smith
Top Reviewer Ranking: 412,866
Helpful Votes: 108

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
R. A. Smith "Roger Smith" (UK)

Page: 1
Garmin nuvi 2577LT 5" Sat Nav with UK and Full Europe and North America Maps and Free Lifetime Traffic Alerts
Garmin nuvi 2577LT 5" Sat Nav with UK and Full Europe and North America Maps and Free Lifetime Traffic Alerts
Price: £152.47

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Device - expecially if you need North American Mapping out of the Box., 4 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was bought as a replacement for a TomTom Go930 which decided to die on me a week before a trip to the US - so a key buying factor was that the nuvi2557 comes with North American Mapping as standard in addition to the Full Europe. Compared to the Go930 this is a significant improvement. Firstly it acquires Satellites in seconds whereas the TomTom took at least several minutes to find out where it was - longer if you were a distance away from where it was last used. The Maps are seamless, so unlike the TomTom you don't need to swap between Europe and North American Maps - it's all there in one place. Navigation was accurate enough although as others have mentioned, the voice instruction pronunciation is decidedly odd at times. the 3-D Map was good - but again I missed a couple of turns until I got used to the way it displayed.

The User Interface follows a different logic to the TomTom and it can take a while to find out where everything lives and how it works. Once you do there are some nice features - you can set what trip infomation you want to see and to a limited extent where you want to see it. The Traffic Info can come in very useful and doesn't need a Mobile Phone to work - it's all done through the Cigarette-Lighter Power Cord.

The only gripe I have is that the unit beeps every time you press a key or do an action - and the only way to turn this off is to mute the whole device. So if you don't want to go mad, you have to mute the device whilst you plan your route, then remember to unmute when you set off. Fortunately this is relatively easy to do as Mute/Volume is on the Home Screen and you can go back to this from Navigation, make the change and go back to Navigation without having to re-enter your trip, but there has to be a better way of doing this.

Otherwise, very happy with the nuvi2577 and would recommend.

Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006]
Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Timothy Spall
Price: £5.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and thought-provoking - if a little inaccurate!, 4 Aug 2013
This review is from: Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Timothy Spall - who isn't best known for serious roles - turns in an outstanding performance as the famous executioner, Albert Pierrepoint, with good performances from the main supporting cast of Juliet Stevenson (Anne Fletcher/Pierrepoint) and Timothy Marsden (Tosh). The film itself deals with the dark and emotive subject of capital punishment with delicate sensitivity and neutrality. Combine these and you have a powerful, thought-provoking film.

But it does seem to struggle with something of an identity crisis. Events that were in the public domain at the time the film was made are just plain incorrect. One example - in the film Dorotea Waddingham was hanged by Albert as No.1 at Holloway, and Pierrepoint was seen leaving his house with a gas-mask bag, putting it during the War. In fact, Tom Pierrepoint (Uncle Tom in the film and with no indication of his own career as an executioner) was the No.1, with Albert as assistant. The execution took place in 1936 at Winson Green. The film is littered with such inaccuracies and thus loses all credibility as a biopic. If it is meant to be a film about capital punishment, why are scenes that have no real narrative or dramatic purpose (such as the dance scene with Albert and Anne) included? If it is meant to be pure fiction, why claim to be a true story?

But for all the lack of attention to detail and clearly limited budget the result is still a powerful piece that may not quite be the true story claimed in the blurb, but is an excellent semi-fictional insight into the effects capital punishment had on those tasked with carrying it out - and those closest to them.

HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton Bone China Royal Wedding Mug
HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton Bone China Royal Wedding Mug
Offered by PotteryGifts
Price: £4.95

3.0 out of 5 stars OK for the price, 9 Dec 2011
Overall quality was not as good as I would have liked. In particular the graphics transfer was not as clear as it could have been. However, at the price this was just about acceptable. Positives - goods were shipped and arrived very promptly (well under a week) and were very securely packaged. It was bought for an American friend, and she was delighted with it.

Wishbone Four
Wishbone Four
Price: £8.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good Album, but lacks the cohesion needed for a classic, 7 Jun 2010
This review is from: Wishbone Four (Audio CD)
If ever there was an Album in search of an identity, Wishbone Four is it. As the Album oscillates between belting Rock Numbers (So Many Things to Say, No Easy Road, Rock'n'Roll Widow, Doctor) and gentle, typically '70s Folk-Rock (Ballad of the Beacon, Everybody Needs a Friend, Sing Out the Song, Sorrel) you are left with an impression of discordance rather than balance.

And that is a shame, because individually there are some really good songs here. The blisteringly pacey Doctor and the almost mediaeval Sorrel arguably take the honours for musical craftsmanship and are the only two tracks that really showcase the trademark twin Lead Guitar harmonies. But you're left with a feeling that lyrically the band could have done so much more with the subject matter at hand. Rock'n'Roll Widow - famously written after a concessionary was shot at one of the Band's gigs in America is, when it comes to it, a pretty bland effort bearing in mind the inspiration.

Compared to the releases either side of it, (the all-time classic Argus and the almost as good There's the Rub), it is easy to see why Wishbone Four was seen as something of a let-down at the time.

Wishbone Four was the last offering from the original "Classic" Wishbone Ash Line-Up, and listening to the Album as a whole, you can be forgiven for thinking that maybe the Band's heart wasn't fully in it. But for all that, it remains one of my favourites.

The Best of the Bothy Band
The Best of the Bothy Band
Price: £12.49

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to one of the most influential Irish Folk Bands of modern times, 20 Mar 2010
Folk Music had been enjoying a revival in Ireland in the early 70's, with bands like Planxty and the Chieftains making the genre relevant to a new generation. But when the Bothy Band broke onto the scene in 1975 it was immediately apparent that this was something new. This was Folk with Attitude. Lots of Attitude.

By 1979, after three excellent Studio Albums plus the Live "After Hours", the Bothy Band was all but over as the members moved on to other things, leaving behind a reputation for powerful musicianship and excellence that was second to none. In their turn they acted as the inspiration for the likes of the Pogues and Bono who would go on to take Irish Music global.

This collection is a fairly representative sample of what the Bothy Band were about, mixing fast-paced Jigs and Reels with the relatively sedate but brilliantly executed Songs that are arguably the pick of the bunch with duties split between the Domhnaill siblings. Mícheál lends his voice to the haunting "Casadh An tSúgáin" and "The Death of Queen Jane" - which also features an awesome yet delicate solo on Uilléan Pipes by Paddy Keenan - whilst his Sister Tríona leads on "Do You Love an Apple" and the upbeat ditty "Pretty Peg".

Whether you are looking for an introduction to Traditional Irish Music or just looking for something to play once a year on St Patrick's Day, you could do a lot worse than this. If you like it, get the Albums - they're just as good.

Kessler [DVD]
Kessler [DVD]
Dvd ~ Clifford Rose

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not "Secret Army" - but good nonetheless, 14 Jun 2006
This review is from: Kessler [DVD] (DVD)
It is the early 1980's. Ludwig Kessler, the SS Standartenführer who was one of the central characters in the 70's classic TV series "Secret Army", is now (in the early 80's), living under a pseudonym, a successful and respectable industrialist. But a Belgian TV Journalist with little or no scruples, a German Detective, and an Israeli out to avenge her parents are all on to his true identity, and are trying to track him down.

Lovers of conspiracy theories will latch on to the allusions to Nazi escape networks exploiting Masonic-like connections throughout the establishment, neo-Nazi movements ready to take over the world and the like. It all sounds a little far-fetched now, but was very topical at the time Kessler was originally released. Certainly there were rumours at the time that the series might have been closer to the truth than originally thought!

It is almost inevitable that comparisons will be drawn with "Secret Army", and to be honest, "Kessler" comes in a clear runner up. Set in contemporary time, "Kessler" suffers from appearing almost cringingly "80's" at times, something "Secret Army", set in the past at the time of release, avoids. Kessler himself is the only real carry-over character - although Bernard Hepton, Angela Richards and Juliet Hammond-Hill get to reprise their roles briefly in the first episode. The six episode, single series format does not allow for the depth of characterisation and plot "Secret Army" had over its three 13 episode seasons - and that contributed to its greatness. Consequently, "Kessler" appears rather one-dimensional in comparison.

"Kessler" stands on its own as a very good, taut, well-scripted Drama. Unlike many spin-offs, in-depth knowledge of the original series is not a requirement for getting into and enjoying it. However, like many spin-offs, "Kessler" does not live up to the original.

Dog & Butterfly
Dog & Butterfly
Price: £6.80

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic!, 20 Mar 2006
This review is from: Dog & Butterfly (Audio CD)
Dog & Butterfly does not particularly showcase the Power Ballad/Soft Rock talent that brought Heart its UK success (ten years later!), and so may well come as a surprise to anyone whose impression of Heart is based on “Alone” or “All I want to Do…”.
The rockier side of Heart’s persona does get an airing with “Cook with Fire” and “Straight On”. But Dog & Butterfly shews Heart’s adaptability to a variety of styles from the sensuous shuffle of “Hijinx”, through the string arrangements on “Nada One”, to the awesome “Mistral Wind”, which starts off as a zephyr, building to its powerful climax.
The title track is the pick of the bunch, Anne Wilson softly singing the sensitive lyrics to Nancy Wilson’s light acoustic guitar, with the rest of the band adding a subtle texture that makes the whole a masterpiece. It speaks volumes that much of Dog & Butterfly is still amongst the most popular in Heart’s live performances.
Listening to the album now, it is hard to believe that Dog & Butterfly is closing on its 30th birthday. I can see myself listening to it with as much pleasure in another 30!

Battlestar Galactica - The Mini Series [2003] [DVD] [2004]
Battlestar Galactica - The Mini Series [2003] [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Edward James Olmos
Price: £2.68

7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the best Sci-Fi to come along in ages, 30 Oct 2004
As a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica, I am about to commit heresy. This miniseries actually isn't all that bad! In fact, it's rather good. The plot has a surprising depth, and the characters are remarkably consistent with it. This is aided by gritty, plausible acting well above the quality usually found in American miniseries, and excellent CGI work.
Without wanting to give too much away, the basic premise is that some time in the past, the Humans developed a servant (semi-robotic?) race called Cylons - effectively as a labour - saving device. In time, the Cylons evolved, had enough of this and turned against their masters. After a long war of emancipation, they were given their independence, and a planet of their own. The Human Race, acting as paternal ex masters, offered to keep communications open. The Cylons had none of this and kept to themselves.
But now they are back with the aim of wiping their creators out of existence. To this end, they have come up with some very realistic (and in some cases, rather attractive) human replicas to serve as deep penetration agents and to supplement the usual purely robotic warriors. They almost succeed, and the few remnants of Humanity now have to abandon their homeworlds, and set out in search of the fabled planet - Earth.
The plot itself has only passing similarities to the original 70's series. Equally so, although some of the names, like Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer, Baltar may be familiar to fans of the original - the characters themselves bear little or no resemblance at all to their forebears. Indeed, Starbuck and Boomer are now women - something that would have been unthinkable back in the days of the original series. About the one character inconsistency I could spot was the female Starbuck puffing on a Winston Churchill special cigar. Rather incongruous - but clearly an allusion to the original.
There are other homages paid to the original series - the Galactica, now on the verge of obsolescence and about to be opened as a museum when the Cylons strike - has one of the original "Chrome Toaster" Cylons as an exhibit. In fact, the Cylons are at one point referred to by the old nickname! The fanfare at the decommissioning ceremony is the original series' theme tune. The Colonial Vipers clearly shew advances in cockpit technology from the originals, but otherwise look almost identical.
All of which raises the question - "Why did Universal attach this new project to an old TV show?" Rename the characters and locations, change the design of the some of the spaceships, take out the few links to the original, come up with a new title - and this miniseries could very easily stand on its own two feet. Indeed, it is arguably the best "new" science fiction to hit the TV screen in a very long time, and would stand every chance of evolving into its own very successful franchise. Instead, by trying to pass it off as a "re-imagining" of the original concept, Universal have positively invited comparisons to the original, upsetting a lot of Classic Series fans, who, I am sure, would otherwise have embraced the miniseries in the same way as the newer generation of Sci-Fi hack probably will. To this extent, Universal have rather shot themselves in the foot.

Secret Army: The Complete First Series [DVD] [1977]
Secret Army: The Complete First Series [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Bernard Hepton
Offered by Gift_Of_Sound
Price: £29.95

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Wartime Drama at its best, 20 Nov 2003
Drawing its cast from such BBC classics as "Colditz" and "I, Claudius" to name but two, and set in Wartime Belgium; "Secret Army" tells the story of an underground organisation dedicated to helping crashed Allied airmen return to Britain - and the German forces equally dedicated to stopping them! Remarkably it does so in a way that avoids the worst stereotypes. The putative heroes in Lifeline are not all sweetness and light - Albert Foiret (Bernard Hepton), owner of the Cafe Candide often used as the central meeting place by the evasion line, is not above killing in cold blood if his (or Lifeline's) interests are threatened. He is carrying on an affair with one of his waitresses, Monique (Angela Richards) whilst his crippled wife is bedbound upstairs, and Monique wishes her dead. Nor are the Germans potrayed entirely as the evil monsters of most war flicks. Major Brandt (Michael Culver)in charge of the Luftwaffe's forces comes across as an honourable, decent man who tries to treat his captives well whilst still getting them to part with the information he needs. Even the resident Gestapo Officer (Clifford Rose) has an human side - although it rarely slips past his "official" facade. The storylines were kept realistic, with Lifeline and the German forces probably coming in with a score draw. Once the initial episodes have set the scene, all of the key characters are allowed to richly develop, and the tension towards the end of the series as the net closes in on the evaders is masterfully portrayed, as is the historically accurate dislike between the German military forces and their Gestapo colleagues. "Secret Army" is a classic drama series from the BBC school of wobbly sets and solid acting. It is a crying shame that the series is most commonly remembered as the basis for "'Allo 'Allo".

Page: 1