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Dyspeptic Spirit (Sunny Berkshire)

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The Leftovers - Season 1 [DVD] [2014]
The Leftovers - Season 1 [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Justin Theroux
Price: £14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars I'm Lost for words...., 21 July 2016
I'm not really sure what has happened to HBO. Since The Wire and The Sopranos finished, they seem to have switched away from the strong, realistic narrative which made those two shows such powerful and compulsive viewing to a stream of arty & derivative shows that just leave me cold. Yes they all look fantastic but they just have no substance.

It's not that The Leftovers, for instance, is particularly bad, it's not. The acting is good, it looks great (needless to say) and it's very watchable but it's just so disappointingly banal and predictable.

Personally I never accepted the concept from the very start. An event occurs where 12% of the population just suddenly disappear leaving a scene of both physical and mental wreckage. Some people seemingly can't cope and form a bizarre group called the Guilty Remnant who don't speak, chainsmoke for no reason and try to force people to remember the disappeared. As the series unfurls we learn individuals' stories and there is some plot development but it's all just a bit dull. The ending is rather predictable (seriously if I see one more person go back into a building that is essentially an inferno... ) and just left me thinking: "Is that it?" Sadly it was.

For anyone who has not watched the series but has seen the first few epiosdes and wonders if things will improve. Be warned they don't.


Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle 3 [DVD]
Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stewart Lee
Price: £16.04

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just Not Funny Anymore, 5 Jun. 2016
I've seen Stewart Lee a few times live and he can be very entertaining despite his less than endearing arrogance and his proudly displayed intellectual snobbery. In the past his material has had universal appeal and been, at times, very funny. But recently he has started attacking other comedians, particularly Michael McIntyre, for doing simplistic observational comedy and berating his audience for not understanding his humour because it is too highbrow for them. I understand that much of it is meant to be ironic and he is supposedly playing a character (though Richard Herring stated recently that the character and Stewart Lee are largely identical) but the problem is, watching it is just not pleasurable. Watching him running around the stage in a circle supposely taking off Michael McIntyre and mocking him for his universal appeal is nothing short of pathetic. Especially since Michael McIntyre, from any reasonably objective view, is a fine exponent of the craft and a very funny man. The problem is that Stewart Lee can't do what Michael McIntyre can do ie. successful observational comedy. So is he just jealous?

Stewart Lee clearly considers himself to be at the cutting edge of comedy and intellectually superior to both his audience and his peers. Well this may be the case (I personally doubt it) but the trouble is he is starting to lose his audience and just comes across like some mad tramp ranting by the roadside prior to a nasty accident. Disappointingly, the majority of the critics still praise his every utterance which only means he is going to get worse!

Needless to say, I won't be watching anymore of his comedy vehicle which was last seen travelling backwards the wrong way down the motorway straight into the path of a hungry juggernaut. Now I'm fantasising.

Stewart Lee's Comedy. RIP
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2016 5:49 PM BST


Marcella [DVD] [2015]
Marcella [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Anna Friel
Price: £14.99

4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I Friel Good!, 5 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Marcella [DVD] [2015] (DVD)
I've often wondered if the frenzied popularity of Scandanavian drama in this country is more to do with the dreary winter scenery and the subtitled audio than the actual quality of the product. Marcella gives us a perfect opportunity to test this theory since it was written by the creator of "The Bridge", a series given a bewildering quantity of praise that it quite clearly did not deserve.

The series started off reasonably well with an intriguing story line but rapidly deteriorated into a bewildering plot that was nothing short of tragic. The cast looked uncomfortable, just didn't seem to gel well and were less than convincing in their roles, especially Anna Friel, who was tragically miscast. Of course being the lead in a detective drama, she is a genius and so walks back into her old job immediately and starts solving the impossible straight off the bat. Also being a detective series she had to have a "thing" to make her distinctive which in this case was an ever-present Parker coat and a tendency to black-out. Great!

As the series reached the halfway point I literally lost the will to live, as did my TV box, which refused to record the last two episodes. Stupidly, instead of listening to what was obviously a discriminating machine, I cremated it and watched the conclusion by other means. It's difficult to describe how bad the final two episodes were but let's just say my therapist has forbade me from discussing the subject for fear of the "episode" (as he refers to my killing spree) happening again.

In short, it was dire.


Marching Powder
Marching Powder
by Rusty Young
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fact or fiction? You decide!, 13 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Marching Powder (Paperback)
There's no doubt that this is an entertaining if shallow read but after the first hundred pages or so I started to doubt it's authenticity. The more I read, the more it started to sound like the ramblings of a coke-addled fantasist. Oh hang on a minute he was an addict wasn't he? Later in the book the stories become more and more outlandish and he contradicts himself continuously. Throughout his stay he is always short of cash and yet early on he makes a drug deal making $15000. Why did he not do a whole load more of these deals? Later he has no money and yet has three cells that he owns? It makes little sense. In all of the stories he is the hero; everyone likes him and respects him and he always wins through. The sequence in solitary confinement was laughable as their conditions improved hugely (to the point where he had his TV back) just because he managed to befriend a guard! Rediculous. During the book he gets elected onto the committee, becomes a Mormon priest (well pretends to), sets up two businesses, befriends everyone including people thought to be to dangerous, has a special relationship with several guards and the governor and so much more I can't be bothered to recall. It all just came across as the fantasies of a man on cocaine telling stories to pass the hours. And guess what? That was his job in prison; entertaining tourists with his crazy escapades. It's quite possible he actually started to believe his own stories were real given the amount of cocaine he was using but who knows. Maybe if he had been honest it would have been a good book. As it is, it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. File under fiction.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2016 6:58 PM BST


Journey to Hell: Inside the World's Most Violent Prison System
Journey to Hell: Inside the World's Most Violent Prison System
by Donald MacNeil
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the few honest prison stories?, 13 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I found this book after watching the ``Banged Up Abroad`` series on DVD which I would also recommend. The book basically recounts the same story but in slightly more detail. The book is not particularly well written (to be fair he is not a professional writer) but this provides an authenticity to the writing that is missing in many other prison accounts that I have read. It's an enjoyable, light and entertaining read and, importantly, unlike many similar prison memoirs, actually had the ring of truth about it. The account is strong and certainly holds your attention; if anything, I wish Mr MacNeil had gone into a bit more detail but I can understand that writing what he did must have been quite a trial.

In conclusion, I would certainly recommend this book (and the series) to anyone who wants an enjoyable, if fairly brief, account of an innocent man who was forced against his will to smuggle drugs and his subsequent incarceration in one of the toughest and most lawless prison's in the world.


The Damage Done: Twelve Years Of Hell In A Bangkok Prison
The Damage Done: Twelve Years Of Hell In A Bangkok Prison
by W Fellows
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Apochrypha, 10 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Damage Done is actually a very entertaining read. I pretty much finished it in a day which should give you an idea how short the book is and what an easy read it is. This is ironic given the fact that the subject matter is pretty horrific. Fellows descriptions of events are brief and to the point with little description or embellishment as you would expect from someone who is not a professional writer. This approach is limited though since it means the writing has little depth and you never really get involved with the story. It's merely a description of what appear to be unconnected individual events without giving the reader a feel for what life was like in prison.

About half way through the book I suddenly started to have serious doubts about the authenticity of the contents. The events described in the book become more and more horrific, outlandish and hard to believe. As with the Charriere books (Banco and Papillon), I started to realise that much of the contents were apocryphal. This book is probably a collection of stories told in prison by inmates to pass the time; some having elements of truth; most just being from the colourful imaginations of the prisoners.

In conclusion, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good light read on holiday but don't take it too seriously because it's bunkum.

PS. Apologies to the author if I'm mistaken!

PPS. I'm not though am I Warren!


Line Of Duty: Series 3 [DVD]
Line Of Duty: Series 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Mays
Price: £12.99

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Parody, 1 May 2016
This review is from: Line Of Duty: Series 3 [DVD] (DVD)
It took me three episodes of this brilliant series to realise that I had completely missed the point. I was under the misconception that this was a tough Police procedural with a plot so full of holes that it was, as much as anything, a metaphor for the state of broken Britain's roads. But no I was wrong. It suddenly dawned on me that Jed Mecurio has written arguably the best parody ever to grace our screens. Once I had realised my mistake I sat back and enjoyed every last minute of this quite brilliant black comedy that pokes fun at diabolically written series such as 24.

*Spoilers aplenty ahead me hearties*

The plot was just so cleverly written. It started in hilarious fashion, a Police Officer (an ARO no less) shoots dead a man in cold blood and then convinces his team to back up his clearly falsified version of events. This is a common occurrence in the Police Force as I'm sure we are all aware and a great grounding start to the series. After multiple plot twists and turns we came to the final episode which was a tour de force. Dot Cotton (having finished her last service wash) is finally cornered and questioned but with evil cunning has laced his own drink with an evil serum that allows him to answer any question convincingly. Each time we think he is cornered he takes a sip of serum and comes up with a brilliant response. He is finally painted into a corner he cannot get out of (having finished all his serum) and so decides to make a run for it. And what a fabulously hilarious finale it was. Dot fires off a text message to one of his team of corrupt officers who shoots dead another officer and shoots out the glass of the room in dramatic style (a similar case happened in a Police Station in Yorkshire earlier this year). Dot Cotton put out his roll-up, threw off his washer woman's scarf and scarpered. Dot being tall and lanky has a hilariously comical run which he used to fantastic comic effect (it's lovely to see Jed Mecurio brave enough to use physical humour in a finale - quite brilliant). Kate Fleming gives chase and manages to shoot dead one of them, but not Dot who keeps going despite all of those ciggiess she smokes and her advancing years. He is finally cornered but a Range Rover (driven by yet another corrupt Police officer) speeds around the corner and knocks poor old Kate over and Dot makes her escape. Kate's not hurt though (it was only a 2.5 tonnes Range Rover after all) and decides to give chase on foot against the high powered sports car. But like all coppers, the driver of said vehicle ain't so bright, and decides to go the scenic route through a dead-end housing estate giving good old Kate (who is fully recovered) a chance to fire at the car at long distance while the car is moving. As we all know this is an easy shot and the car careers off the road because, well let us not get lost on the detail and just enjoy the ensuing hilarity. Dot staggers out of the vehicle with ciggie in his mouth. Siddenly a man in a helmet fires at Kate but Super Dot manages for no apparent reason to jump in front of the speeding bullet and takes the hit. Kate then takes his dying confession and everyone is arrested and charged and sent to prison forever except Steve who is released cos he' really nivce and a weelly weally good detective and everything.

As you can imagine I was in tears by this point. Never in all my years have I seen such a brilliantly conceived comic conclusion to a series. It was quite brilliant.

PS. The Police, especially the AROs and the AC12 officers must watch this utter drivel and think "What kind of medication is Jed Mecurio on?"

I don't know but I want some.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 11, 2016 5:22 PM BST


The Office - Complete Series One & Two [2001] [DVD]
The Office - Complete Series One & Two [2001] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ricky Gervais
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £6.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Off-air would have been better, 28 Mar. 2016
Ricky Gervais is a talented performer but this series was just skin-crawlingly bad. Unfortunately it spawned a million and one copy cats.

Tim from the Office was good though!


Thirteen [DVD]
Thirteen [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jodie Comer
Price: £12.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Twelve and a half (nearly 13), 28 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Thirteen [DVD] (DVD)
This review spoils the series so don't read it unless you have seen it!

Until the final episode Thirteen was compulsive viewing. The story gripped from the get-go and one episode was just never enough (thank you iplayer!) . The cast was convincing, the storyline unfolded slowly and the slight twists and turns were intriguing.

So why only four stars?

As is so often the case these days, the writer just couldn't quite pull off a satisfying ending. As that final episode opened I could see the dark clouds gathering and as the final credits rolled I was left feeling rather flat and dissatisfied.

The problem was that the final hour contained too many unconvincing plot developments. Glossing over the fact that the Police would never have put Ivy in danger (we have to allow a little licence for fiction writers), the shopping centre sequence was rather bizarre. So many questions were left unanswered. Why did Ivy remove her earpiece and then walk away. Why did Mr Baddie (can't remember his name) then let the little girl go when Ivy had walked away and was the abduction planned? The whole sequence just made no sense. Allowing for the fact that Mr Baddie then escaped from a shopping centre patrolled by over 40 cops, the Police had the van cornered in all directions and yet after Mr Baddie rammed the car out of the way they just made their escape unmolested. How did that happen? The road wasn't blocked! It just made no sense. Later Ivy manages to fool Mr Baddie into undressing (oops where's me gun!) and yet this is a man who is intelligent enough to smuggle a woman out of a shopping centre that is literally crawling with Police! I could go on and on. There was the escape from the building completely engulfed in fire (couldn't happen), the exploding house just as she walks away (why other than for dramatic effect), the two way mirror in the Police station (would not be allowed), the family allowed to go to Ivy's captors house (wouldn't happen) and so on.

Ultimately, as with the second series of Line of Duty, in a desperate attempt to end the series on a high, the writer has rather ruined what was an excellent series. So five stars for episodes 1-4, no stars for the final tragic episode.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2016 9:34 PM BST


Scorpion - Season 1 [DVD] [2014]
Scorpion - Season 1 [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Elyes Gabel
Price: £11.00

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My IQ is 207 and in my view this series is pants!, 5 Nov. 2015
Let me quickly say that the only reason I saw this was because I was on holiday in South Korea and this was all that was on cable some nights. That and CSI! What is remarkable is that this show made CSI, possibly one of the worst series in history, look good. Ironically for a show where the main character supposedly has an IQ of 197, this show is clearly aimed at an audience with an IQ in the lower quartile.

The characters were nonsensical, the plots inane and the scripts, well, just painful. If you are 12, love Big Bang Theory and Friends and think that the Mission Impossible franchise is wicked then strap yourself in because you are in for the rollercoaster ride of your life. Fortunately I doubt this show will reach these shores but if it does retreat to the nearest nuclear bunker and wait for the all clear.

On a side note, it is interesting to note that the man behind this abomination is an Irishman called Walter O'Brien. According to his wikipedia page he is a bit of a fantasist, making many wild claims, none of which he chooses to substantiate with any evidence. Worth reading just to get an idea of from what hellish nadir the seeds that form the concept behind series of this nature germinate.


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