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R. L. Judd (Oxford, UK)

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Dallas - Season 8 [DVD] [2008]
Dallas - Season 8 [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Larry Hagman
Price: £19.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate Dallas!, 7 Jan. 2011
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I loved this season of Dallas which, in my opinion, was probably its last `great' season and one of its best overall.

The continued separation of Pam and Bobby is a great storyline, with both trying to find love elsewhere (Bobby with Jenna and Pam, well, by trying to find the `remains' of Mark?!) although still secretly desiring each other. Priscilla Presley really gets in the role of Jenna, moving to Southfork, and trying to `fit in' with the other Ewing women. Her kidnap by and then conviction for the murder of `nasty Naldo' is one of the stronger central storyline's of the season and probably the best one that Priscilla/Jenna ever got on Dallas. It's also clever how Jenna's absence while in goal, also provides just the opening Pam and Bobby need to rekindle their `lost' love.

Other key stories include a stronger Sue Ellen, loving then losing JR and eventually drifting back to the drinks cabinet and her `old friend' vodka - quote: (JR) -`go back upstairs Sue Ellen, there's nothing uglier than a woman that can't handle her liqueur'. Great stuff. Also, this year see's the induction of Jamie Ewing (the girl with the ever open mouth, who falls for Cliff) and a former Miss USA (Deborah Shelton) as Mandy Winger, initially Cliff's beau before coming JR's lady friend.

It's great to see some established characters coming to the fore, especially Donna (the classy Susan Howard). I loved seeing Donna step in at Ewing Oil (while Bobby recovered from his shooting) and `butt heads' with JR. It's only a shame that Bobby recovered so quickly, as its conceivable that Donna (with her breeding, intelligence and confidence) could have been a true match for JR. However the Dallas writers didn't like strong women characters and she's quickly relegated back to a nonsense storyline about buying an old oil well and then suffers marital problems with Ray over her new found `success' (I think Ray always preferred his horse to Donna anyway).

Little Lucy spends the season moping around, trying to `find' herself but instead only finds a job at the local Diner where her sad sack mother Val used to work; Clayton feels left out (of everything) and has little to do and Pam seems abit too unless she's paired with Bobby (even when she's in the office at Barnes-Wentworth, all she ever seemed to do was plan lunch or dinner).

Of course this season is also the one with the `new' Miss Ellie. Barbara Bel Geddes (the original actress to play the part) departed at the end of the previous season and so Donna Reed was recruited and introduced to the role instead. Reed's first scene was at the airport as Ellie and Clayton returned from honeymoon and the entire Ewing clan are there to welcome them back; every single one of them (seriously, they all did it) says `welcome back Momma/ Ellie' (assume this was to ensure that we, the viewers, understood that Reed was indeed Miss Ellie and always had been). Donna Reed brought a total new feel to the role of Miss Ellie, a feel and look that I particularly liked. She was classy and elegant, dignified, just the sort of woman that you could imagine at the helm of such a powerful family. It was great to see Miss Ellie finally `dressed to the nines' and rivalling the younger Dallas Dames (Pam, Sue Ellen, etc.) on the style front (as opposed to the maternity smock wearing, `plain Jane' look adopted by Bel Geddes in the role previously). The initial storyline's involving Ellie's attempts to ensure Clayton's role at Southfork (including the removal of Jock's portrait) were great although she does seem to disappear in the last third of the season, and - with hindsight - I wonder if this is because the writers knew that Bel Geddes was returning to the role the following year and wanted to limit damage by slashing Reed's scene's before the season end?

There are some clangers of course... such as the shockingly abrupt exist of Afton in episode one; Pam and Swellin's trip to Hong Kong and worse the length of time it took to solve Naldo's murder and save Jenna.

I can't finish my review though without mention of the clothes, as this is the season that Dallas really took Dynasty on in the fashion stakes by hiring top designer Travilla. His touch is notable through the whole season. Whereas the Dallas ladies used to wear skirts, blouses and tops, from this season they still have those plus trains, capes, ruffles, sequins, beading, hats and shoulder pads so big that a small plane could probably land on them!

The season ending cliff hanger is a true gem too - absolutely fantastically done and filmed - and the last scene (in Bobby's hospital room) with everyone gathered around, and those famous last words `be a family' before he flat lines are great . It still makes me catch my breath when Bobby finally fades and you hear that `beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' noise. Terrific - DO NOT MISS!

Price: £7.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Grace Jones - where have you been!?!?!?!, 30 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Hurricane (Audio CD)
This is Grace Jones' first studio album is years but, oh my, it was sooooooooo worth the wait. The song choices, production and sound are perfect and Grace is - as always - amazing. Several of the songs seem to have a personal, biographical aspect to them (such as 'Williams Blood' and 'I'm Crying') while others are simply Grace having fun ('Corporate Cannibal'). I was lucky enough to see Grace at the Royal Albert Hall, on her 'Hurricane' tour, and she told a story about how Bette Midler tried to steal the song 'Well, well, well' from her before she recorded it and how she fought to keep it hers and ensured its inclusion on the album. Although I'm sure that Bette would have done the tune justice, Grace really does make it her own and I feel its one of her best moments on the album. My only compliant would be that there are only nine tracks on the album, however perhaps this was done on purpose as I can honestly say that there isn't one single dud song on the CD. Great stuff, hope you enjoy...

The Good Wife - Complete Season 1 [DVD]
The Good Wife - Complete Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Julianna Margulies
Price: £11.20

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality US Import, 30 Dec. 2010
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Why cant TV producers in the UK turn out this kind of quality show?

'The Good Wife' is an excellent example of plot woven storytelling. The central story, that of a political 'fall from grace' and the fall out from it, runs smoothly alongside many other strands (rekindled love, office politics, work-life balance, and - like all good US shows - an element of conspiracy!). Julianna Margulies is outstanding at the primary character of Alicia Florrick, although is supported by an amazing & quality cast including Christine Branski, Chris Noth and Alan Cummings.

The story threads are taunt and the episodic legal aspects (as Alicia returns to work at a law firm, run by a former beau, after her husbands conviction) are interesting and often challenging. An element which helps the show no end is the humour - this show has some great writers and the addition of humour adds to each characters likability and can often defuse situations and stories that may be running on cliche...

This is an excellent show, enjoyed better when watched back-to-back, cannot recommend highly enough!

Seasons Of My Soul
Seasons Of My Soul
Price: £3.93

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thinks its better than it really is..., 30 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Seasons Of My Soul (Audio CD)
I loved the song 'Slow', the Karen Carpenter-esque sound of Rumer's voice, and so brought the album and although there are a couple of stand out tracks I really feel that the album is a one-note. The songs all blend and merge in to one and 'Slow' is THE best song on the CD. In fact some of the tunes are so 'coffee shop' (ie, nameless tunes played on repeat in coffee bars across the UK, pleaseant as background noise but thats it) that I struggle to listen to the album when nothing else is going on. A great first attempt but like Norah Jones and Dido before her, I feel that Rumer has already gotten stuck with a sound/ style that really doesnt transend music genre's and unless she can come back with a follow-up album of 'Slow' inspired tracks then this could her a final outing....shame really.

Dallas - Season 7 [DVD] [2007]
Dallas - Season 7 [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Larry Hagman
Offered by makandmabel
Price: £20.78

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a quality 80's show, 21 Dec. 2010
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This is classic Dallas - a terrific season, reminding you what a great show this used to be and why half the world watched it religiously at the time.

This is the season that picks up after the Southfolk fire; Sue-Ellen takes a `toy boy' lover (in the shape of special guest star Christopher Atkins); JR comes close to finally ruining Cliff; Pam and Mark and Bobby and Jenna (the arrival of Priscilla Presley in the role) and Katherine's plotting; of course ending with the shooting of Bobby.

There are disappointments though, such as the shocking under use of Afton (the wonderful Audrey Landers, whatever happened to her?) and lack of Miss Ellie during the first half of the season. Also, the last two episodes feel incredibly rushed - storyline's carefully grown over the season seem to unexpectedly conclude, with JR being beastly to everyone, and the conclusions to these clever story threads don't always fit, almost as if the writers decided the cliff-hanger and worked backwards giving reasons why (which is apparently how they came up with the original JR shooting in 1980). However these small niggles aside, its great - as a serial show - to see a stronger and centred Sue-Ellen stand up to JR; the arrival of Jenna; and of course JR's many manipulations.

The transfer of DVD is great, making it hard to believe that these episodes were originally filmed over 25 years ago. The `bonus' features are abit of a let-down though, which is a shame.

I knew, but don't really remember the show (being too young at the time of original broadcast) but am truly having a wonderful time revisiting this classic show - I'm not even watching it in order, instead swapping around between seasons (see my other reviews) and enjoying this for what it is - a quality 80's show.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2011 8:56 AM GMT

by Jack Kilborn
Edition: Paperback

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Afraid? Not anymore..., 21 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Afraid (Paperback)
A disappointing read.

The strapline - `are you afraid of the dark? You will be...' - is terrific and the general story summary was good. All this led me to overlook the previous poor reviews. This was a mistake as `Afraid' was hard work and I had to leave it unfinished.

I won't go in to the story, which has been covered loosely by other reviewers, but will say that `the killers' are typical horror-flick clichés (ie, they are indestructible - stabbing, burning, shooting, running over with a truck, do not effect or stop them) and the victimised townsfolk are an unlikeable lot, which means that investment in their wellbeing (as a reader) is limited. Also the story bats about between characters and events, trying to run streamlining individual stories, but this simply confuses and just when you're about to invest seriously in one character, the story flops and starts over with the traumatic events about to be inflicted on another character. Tedious.

I didn't enjoy this book, feeling slightly that it was mis-sold - I expected one thing and got something else - and wouldn't recommend.

Price: £24.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Soundtrack, 8 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Covenant (Audio CD)
Terrific album, although on first listen I didn't actually like it so it's definitely a `grower'. I brought it because I enjoyed the movie and, unlike some movie soundtracks, this one can live an independent life! The tracks are completely different to anything I'd ever normally listen to - its very grunge/ rock/ punk and, at times, `shouty' but the tunes are so individual that you cannot help get caught by them. I'm also pleased that its introduced me to such bands as Killing Joke, who I would never have found otherwise. The instrumental tracks by Tomanandy are also great, also individual and also infinitely listenable! Top marks!

Dynasty - Season 6 [DVD] [1985]
Dynasty - Season 6 [DVD] [1985]
Dvd ~ John Forsythe
Price: £19.99

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The season that Dynasty 'jumped the shark'!?, 1 Dec. 2010
Dynasty was arguable at the peak of its success in `85/'86 and after slowly building to the climatic `royal wedding' cliff-hanger the previous series, season 6 picks over the cast and picks up the pace... unfortunately only going downhill.

In season 5, Dynasty was the number one primetime soap (finally beating Dallas to the top spot) and had featured a parade of Hollywood stars, including Rock Hudson and Ali MacGraw, while the end of season `Moldavian Massacre' was perhaps the ultimate cliff-hanger as the entire cast were gunned down by terrorists. Therein lies the problem...

Surprising for a well-planned terrorist attack, season 6 see's the entire permanent cast limp their way out of danger (leaving only Steven's occasional boyfriend Luke and special guest star Ali MacGraw dead on the Chapel floor). Within an episode they're all back in Denver (except Jeff Colby - John James - who's off to Los Angeles to make the start of `The Colby's') and Carrington storylines struggle to make sense as Denver is inundated with yet more Hollywood superstars (including Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwick and Ricardo Maltaban) as The Colby's are introduced.

Krystle (Linda Evans) is kidnapped by another Hollywood visitor (this time George Hamilton) while the English arrive (in the form of Christopher Cazenove, as Blake's brother Ben, and Kate O'Mara as Caress). The plots get increasing frantic, including Fallon's return `from the dead' (but in The Colby's, resulting in the characters of Blake, Steven and Dominique having to constantly commute between the two shows). At some point during season 6, confused 1980's TV viewers screamed `swizz!' and started to switch off.

Something happens mid-way through season 6 though - as if the writers took a weekend off, came back and said `let's try again' - as during the second part of the season the storyline's actually get back on track but too late to return the show to its former glory. Even setting fire to La Mirage (with half the cast in it) as the cliff-hanger is lacklustre, as the viewer's knew that they'd no doubt all pull through (and they did) in a repeat of the Moldavia aftermath.

The fashion is fun though and the `new faces' to do add interest but somehow - somehow!? - the launch of The Colby's (which coincided directly with this season), coupled with the arrival of so many `big names' (and consequently `big parts)' and, perhaps, with just an element of storyline-exhaustion after 3 terrific previous seasons, this is where Dynasty lost its way and started that downward spiral... shame really, but it's still a great season - just don't compare it to the earlier ones, overlook its flaws, and I'm sure you'll have a good time with this classic retro viewing!!
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2011 7:09 PM BST

Murder, She Wrote: The Queen's Jewels
Murder, She Wrote: The Queen's Jewels
by Donald Bain
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The best JB Fletcher mystery for awhile..., 1 Dec. 2010
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Thankfully Bain shows some return to form with this latest MSW outing, which see's Jessica aboard the Queen Mary 2 for a transatlanic crossing.

The premise is fine, although overly complicated and under developed - murder, stolen jewels, smuggling, M16, Mosad, terrorist funding, insurance investigation, too many people 'under cover'... Thankfully the awful character of George Sutherland (Jessica's sometimes sweetheart) was relegated to a minor 'top & tail' role in the story, whereas I had feared (when seeing the story was set in London) that he may feature in the whole thing! I know its 'only a book' but I really dislike the character of George Surtherland and his tweed jacket with elbow patches, and blue 'button down' shirt and Scottish 'brogue' - I really hope he becomes a victim in a future novel so that readers of the series don't have to endure anymore 'romantic interludes' or his 'darlin' Jessica, we must find time for us...'-moments!!

The setting on the QM2 too is great and wonderfully detailed. Having travelled on this great ocean liner several times, I was actually able to picture the locales and ship settings, however I found it ittitating how the author couldn't make up his mind as to what to call the ship (sometimes Queen Mary 2, then Queen Mary Two, then QM2, then Q M Two.... its just QM2. Simples!).

The conclusion was something of a let down and quite confusing, almost as if Donald Bain (author) got to the end and hadn't planned on the what, when, where and why, so just blamed everyone for having done something at sometime to someone else! However it was nice to see a couple of the old (occasional) characters from the TV series crop-up (although neither was written as particularly likeable).

On the whole, an okay read, but not a stratch on the earlier 'Murder on the QE2'.

The Covenant [DVD] [2007]
The Covenant [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Steven Strait
Price: £3.04

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars just a little bit of buff-fluff, 30 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: The Covenant [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I love how evenly reviews for this movie are spread - half for and half against, with just one 3 star rating in the middle. Therefore I've decided to tip the scale and say - 4 stars - because I enjoyed it.

Okay, the plot is (at best) basic and (at worst) times confusing and I wont confess to having understood all the dialogue however it had some great set pieces (like a car that breaks apart and then reforms to avoid a collision and the battle sequence at the end, where the two guys 'magic battle').

I thought it was fun to have a male-spin on 'The Craft' (which 'The Covenant' shares alot of similarities with) and the fact that these four buff guys call themselves witches was a fun twist. The Covenant lads are also 'One Tree Hill' hot and the several swim team scenes added nothing to the story but allowed these wideboys to strip down to their trunks and stand around looking at each other (any excuse, eh?).

This is a film where the special effects cost more than the cast and I don't mind that. If you want a hunkier Harry Potter, or a gay 'Craft', or you're just happy watching anything, then you cannot go wrong with 'The Covenant' - sexy-bad-boy-buff-fluff-magic-nonsense is always a winner with me!

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