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Emanon "Mr Holmes (they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!)" (Derbyshire)

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Jeeves and Wooster - Complete Collection [DVD]
Jeeves and Wooster - Complete Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stephen Fry
Offered by NO_LIMITS
Price: 26.99

65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect pairings, 11 May 2009
Fry and Laurie as Jeeves and Wooster... What a perfect pairing of perfect pairings.

So what if Clive Exton sometimes plays fast and loose with the original material? The adaptations are still written with the greatest respect for that material so that the spirit of the world of Wooster is there in spades and Wodehouse's mastery of the English language would, I suspect, still shine through no matter what you tried to do with it.

Modern ITV drama and comedy generally comes in for quite a lot of bashing, but back in the 1980s and 1990s, Granada TV was producing an output that was amongst the best that British television has ever produced, and this series, produced at during the same period they were creating their definitive SHERLOCK HOLMES series lives up to that fine pedigree. The productions are beautifully performed - the comic timing is spot on - and always look expensive with a fine attention to the period detail.

Perhaps the biggest shock of all comes when you see just how young Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie actually look at the time of filming, but also how utterly convincing they are. Is Stephen Fry still channelling Jeeves when he presents QI? I suspect so. I also suspect that any HOUSE aficianados might be amazed at Hugh Laurie's performance here as the difference between the two characterisations is nothing short of phenomenal.

Special mention should also be made of the gallery of actresses performing the parts of the terrifying selection of Wooster Aunts that arrive to befuddle and bewilder the life of Bertie Wooster who manage to convey their matriarchal power to such great effect, and also of the young men and women (many soon to find greater fame elsewhere) who play Bertie's bizarre selection of chinless chums so convincingly, a bunch who, quite frankly, young Bertie should pack a bag and skedaddle away from as soon as poss, if he knows what's good for him.

Maybe the picture quality could be better, maybe some modern viewers would be uncomfortable with the nature of the stories themselves, and maybe the productions might now seem a little slow to the modern viewer, but they are productions of their time and should be viewed as such, so sit back, pour yourself a large Pimms (or whatever your preference - other comestibles are available) and (if you're in that sort of mood) savour 23 of the most sublime hours of TV entertainment that you're likely to see.


Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976]
Doctor Who - The Deadly Assassin [DVD] [1976]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: 7.71

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly..., 11 May 2009
Situated slap bang between the departure of Sarah Jane Smith (in THE HAND OF FEAR - also available on DVD) and the arrival of Leela (in THE FACE OF EVIL - still unreleased on DVD but once released on a now deleted video which can still be tracked down with a little effort) there is THE DEADLY ASSASSIN, a classic adventure where Tom Baker's Doctor travels alone to his home planet and gets mixed up in a political assassination plot and the machinations of an old enemy lurking (quite literally) in the shadows of the Panopticon on Gallifrey.
To say that this release is much anticipated is something of an understatement as, to me, this was simply one of the best serials the series produced in its original run and is a jewel in a period of the the show's history where it's quality has seldom been surpassed, when DOCTOR WHO embraced its gothic side which three stories later also gave us another bona fide classic called TALONS OF WENG CHIANG. Episode three of THE DEADLY ASSASSIN might just be one of my all time favourite episodes (unconvincing spider aside... Well there always has to be SOMETHING unconvincing in a DOCTOR WHO episode.) as the exterior filming was wisely all bundled together to create this (almost cinematic) montage of a battle of minds which anticipates the mindscapes of THE MATRIX inside, er, the Matrix twenty years early.
The production design looks great, too. The sets are effective but never overly "sci-fi" and so they still work. The Time Lord costumes (by James Acheson no less) which are now so iconic that they even got a nod in the new series were introduced here, and even the so called "ping-pong ball" make up is effectively creepy. Alongside that are a set of fine performances from some great character actors giving their all.
The audio commentary is fun with guest star Bernard Horsfall sharing the reminiscences with the mighty Tom and his producer at the time Philip Hinchcliffe, and the production subtitles are as informative and well researched as ever. The accompanying documentaries are a fair overview of the show (although "making of..." is somewhat less of an apt description then "memories of...") and the short item on Fear in Doctor Who is interesting (although my saddest shock was when I saw how unwell one of the contributors was looking...) and you even get to see glimpses of Frank Sinatra on a DOCTOR WHO DVD (!) in a quite thoughtful comparison piece between this and one of its inspirations THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.
The inclusion of a documentary on Fear is appropriate to this tale especially as it was the story that hurled the series into the mid-seventies "Violence on TV" debate and so, parental purchasers should be aware that, even in this more sophisticated and cynical age, some of the imagery might prove a touch too strong for younger minds. What those psychologists are saying shouldn't be ignored.
The releases from this DVD range are always put together with a great deal of care, and THE DEADLY ASSASSIN retains those very high standards, with the restoration of the controversially edited ending to part three being a real bonus for anyone who might notice it.


"Doctor Who": The Space Museum: (Classic TV Soundtrack)
"Doctor Who": The Space Museum: (Classic TV Soundtrack)
by Glyn Jones
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 12.81

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "That's a good cardigan!", 7 May 2009
William Hartnell's era as DOCTOR WHO has been particularly well served by this series of BBC Soundtrack releases, not least because some of the shortcomings of the visuals of 1960s television can be overlooked and the listener can concentrate on the story and the performances. Whilst THE SPACE MUSEUM is probably not the brightest star in the galaxy of 1960s DOCTOR WHO it is a solid and moralistic story which has an intriguing and atmospheric opening episode that addresses one of the more neglected areas of the programme's format, namely the games you can play with the idea of time travel.

When listening, you should try to remember that this story dates from simpler times when visions of the future were all rocket ships and shiny jumpsuits and the educational remit of the series could find references to the story of the Minotaur being made whilst Barbara can get cross when Ian tries to ruin a "good cardigan". William Hartnell's Doctor is at his most twinkling and charming at times, an aspect of his portrayal that is sometimes overlooked when his long ago creation of the role is compared with the modern era. Ian and Barbara (played by William Russell and Jacqueline Hill) are merely one story away from their departure from the series in a story ("The Chase" - alas as yet unavailable in both this and the DVD range, but it did once get a video release in a limited edition Dalek tin) that is hinted at by an encounter with a (dead?) Dalek in the opening episode.

I have enjoyed this range for many years now, with the soundtracks of old stories enhanced by the addition of explanatory narration that successfully replaces the missing visuals and they can happily pass a car journey or long day at the computer. Now that all the stories that are visually incomplete have been released, it was only natural that the stories that do exist in their entirety in the archive - like this one - get similar treatment, and whilst some might think it a superfluous exercise, I think they make an interesting addition to the series, despite the fact that this did get a video release many years ago (alongside episodes of "The Crusade" in a long deleted box set) and will surely eventually appear on DVD.

Maureen O'Brien narrates very well in a very easy style, and the CDs also contain an interview with her (about 30 minutes split into two parts at the end of each disc) in which she discusses with great charm and frankness her career, the place DOCTOR WHO played in it (she seems to have mellowed in her opinion of it recently) and has some insight into celebrity culture and even finds time to empathise with Christopher Eccleston's decision to leave the show.

As ever, the sound quality is good, and the packaging designers have taken the time to produce a reversible back sleeve so that the box will match previous releases when put on a shelf, a small detail, but one which shows the care that the producers of this range put into the releases.

UPDATE MARCH 2010 - These episodes have now been released on DVD in a box set alongside the Dalek story THE CHASE.


Chapelwood Niger Seed Feeder 8"
Chapelwood Niger Seed Feeder 8"
Offered by Sam Turner & Sons
Price: 9.69

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you hang it, they might come..., 7 May 2009
I'm lucky enough to live in an area where plenty of beautiful Goldfinches flitter about and in an effort to encourage them into my garden, I bought this great little feeder and hung it up on a pole and now they're all over it. It took only 2 days for them to discover it, and now they're running through Niger seed like it's going out of fashion - they seem to be almost "hooked" on the stuff - but that's great, because they really are beautiful little birds and I could watch them for hours if I only had the free time.
This is a tidy stainless steel and clear plastic product with a flip top lid to pour the seed in, a metal loop to hang it with, and two perches. You will need a convenient hook or suitable pole to hang it from and access to somewhere that sells Niger and/or Thistle seed to fill it with and, of course, a suitable - cat free - safe spot to position it where you can observe the birds comings and goings if you wish to (you might, after all just want to feed the birds without watching them as an altruistic act, and if so, well done to you, but you'll be missing out on a real treat.)
The retailers warn that you should only buy this kind of feeder if you know that the appropriate species of birds are in your area so it's not necessarily magically going to make them appear, but if you have already seen them around - "If you hang it, they will come..." (probably).


Jonathan Creek - Complete Series 1-4 & The Christmas Specials Boxset [DVD] [1997]
Jonathan Creek - Complete Series 1-4 & The Christmas Specials Boxset [DVD] [1997]
Dvd ~ Alan Davies
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: 37.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surreal... Intelligent... Fabulous!, 7 May 2009
JONATHAN CREEK was a wonderfully understated little comedy-drama series which managed to combine intelligent plotting with the kind of dry wit and surreal comedy we had come to expect from David Renwick from some of the absurd situations he created for ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE.
These beautifully shot and expertly crafted "howdunnits" are always entertaining and the characters created by Alan Davies, Caroline Quentin and later Julia Sawalha are great company throughout and present a very real and down to Earth way into a world that could very easily have slipped into parody in lesser hands. Stuart Milligan's Adam Klaus, for example, could have been the most irritating of characters but somehow the presence of this character manages to bring the more surreal aspects of the JONATHAN CREEK world into sharp relief.
The feeling of being backstage in the world of magic and being "let in" on the secrets of that world whilst contrasting it with the mundanities of everyday life creates a very special relationship with the viewer, and whilst the whole sub-genre of "cosy murder mysteries", where the consequences of horrific acts are rarely properly addressed and the decisions made by characters to commit ultimate evil seem to come to them as simply as putting the kettle on shouldn't really be applauded, these films are a lot of fun and will (mostly) keep you guessing right until the end.
This box contains all four complete seasons (including the pilot with Anthony Head playing Klaus) as well as the two Christmas specials made during the original run. Obviously, with a new Christmas special in 2008 and the promise of more to come, it is no longer the complete collection it once was, but it is still an essential purchase for all fans of intelligent, thoughtful and enjoyable television.


KEEP CALM and CARRY ON Large Coffee Mug
KEEP CALM and CARRY ON Large Coffee Mug

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is definitely a mug, 6 May 2009
Very difficult to review a mug, but Amazon said "review your product" and, well, it's a mug.
The whole range of KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON products now available do seem to strike a chord in the current climate, so it makes this a very appropriate gift for the office worker or an overworked parent.
Obviously, a respectful nod should be given to those hard working designers in those wartime graphics departments who produced such timeless works of art which spoke to the nation in a time of crisis, and which we still find appealing today.
The shade of scarlet used doesn't seem to be quite the same as that of the original poster, but I think it makes for a cleaner and brighter look and makes the mug a very fine looking object in itself, which might just be the envy of the office or kitchen. Be careful where you leave it, you might find it swiped!
To be fair I bought this one instead of the smaller one because I appreciate a good sized cuppa, and this certainly will give you that. The weight is slightly lighter than I expected, but that's due it being made of bone china rather than the cheap and chunky stuff I am usually handed.
The service (in my case from ILLUSTRATED LIVING via Amazon) was excellent. The product was safely packed in sturdy protective packaging so it came to no harm and arrived very quickly indeed. Finally, the large version does seem to be less widely available, so it seems that this is a very good place to get them from.


Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection [DVD]
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Brett
Offered by actionrecords
Price: 30.00

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A jewel in Granada's crown, 6 May 2009
I bought this set a couple of months back and have been slowly working my way through it and it has proved to be a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable purchase. Modern ITV drama generally comes in for quite a lot of stick, but back in the 1980s, Granada TV was producing an output that was amongst the best that British television has ever produced, and their SHERLOCK HOLMES series' was one of the finest jewels in a very fine crown.
The adaptations are written with nothing but the greatest respect for the original stories and when they do deviate it is only to make them more "televisual" to expand some of the tales that, whilst always very readable on the page, might have proved slightly uneventful on screen. The productions always look expensive and the attention to detail is stunning. Often, Sidney Paget's original illustrations from the Strand magazine are referenced, such was the attention to detail paid by the people making the show. Consequently, the atmosphere of the world inhabited by Holmes and Watson always seems totally authentic and you are carried effortlessly into a very convincing world, and this succeeds even though the films are in colour when, in your mind's eye, you just know that the Victorian and Edwardian eras feel like they should always be in black and white. You also get to see a selection of some of the finest country houses and halls in England which are used as locations for many of the films and they always look glorious, as do all the locations; Dartmoor, Derwent Water and Cornwall are amongst the most memorable, used to give picturesque authentic settings to the stories set there.
The performances rarely fall short of these high standards, but Jeremy Brett, David Burke and Edward Hardwicke are quite simply perfectly cast. Mr Brett's Holmes dazzles the eye and the performance is so strong that you are constantly watching him even when the camera is focussed on the other actors, some of which went on to have very fine careers having made their debut in these shows. Special mention should also be made of Colin Jeavons & Dennis Lill's Inspectors Lestrade and Bradstreet and Charles Gray's sublime Mycroft Holmes, but I must give more than a little praise to Rosalie Williams' warm and affectionate portrayal of Mrs Hudson, building a genuine character from the most unpromising of parts.
Occasionally, in some of the later films, the direction does drift towards cinematic self-indulgence, but this is forgivable when you consider that later series were competing with the phenomenon that was INSPECTOR MORSE and struggling to find an original voice in a broadcasting world that was rapidly changing.
I did worry, before buying this set that, given their age, the films might now appear slow or stilted, but I needn't have worried; the sheer quality of this production still shines through, and more recent adaptations could do much worse than to emulate the style and basic storytelling expertise used here. Forget the gimmicks, this is how it should be done.
They really don't make television series like this any more, so pick a dark winter's evening, put a disc in, curl up and savour every delicious moment.


A Short History Of Nearly Everything
A Short History Of Nearly Everything
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 20 April 2009
There are now over 200 reviews of this book, and I imagine that there's not much I can add to anything anyone else has said, other than to add my opinion, which is that I believe than everyone should read this brilliant, brilliant piece of work at least once. I should say at least once a year... because that's just what I seem to have done since I first bought it, but I know that would probably be asking too much.
As an introduction to general science it's sometimes beautifully poetic ("We are all Stardust"), sometimes downright scary (meteor strikes from the outer atmosphere to the ground in quite how few seconds???, the Yellowstone potential supervolcano...), but it is always thoroughly readable and completely accessible and explains topics that you might need to buy a whole pile of other books to understand and yet feel none the wiser for it if you had. Bill Bryson just seems to have a knack of putting whatever subject he chooses to tackle in an accessible way that most of his readers would understand.
This is a book you can dip into and quote from again and again and always be captivated by a thought or an idea you find, but it also works read cover to cover without ever getting dry or confusing. If you've ever wondered about the universe and our place in it, but not quite been able to find out where to start, you could do a lot worse than to start with this.
Excellent.


Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977]
Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Tom Baker
Price: 6.50

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Last of the gothic greats?, 19 April 2009
There are many candidates for the last truly great DOCTOR WHO story in its original run. Some might say the show never had any greatness at all, others might believe that they every single episode is a masterpiece, but for me, IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL might be one of the last of the true greats, the last hiccup of gothic horror carried over from the previous year that had ended with TALONS OF WENG CHIANG, and if it isn't the last great story, then surely, at least, it's first episode, is up there amongst the greatest openers.
Mad scientists working in a spooky old priory, unseen aliens from ancient history tampering with human evolution, strange ritualistic covens and an enemy that is described as "death itself" all feature in a story that is more about its characters than any sci-fi trappings. There's an acknowledged hint of Nigel Kneale in there, it has to be said, but that really is never a bad thing.
The main cast - a small, tight little unit of great character actors - are all on tremendous form and never play the script without conviction, even when faced with a "monster" that, whilst not being truly awful, does leave something to be desired, and Martha Tyler (no relation!) is a star.
The audio commentary is fun - not least because of the pairing of Tom Baker and Louise Jameson alongside Edward Arthur and Wanda Ventham, and the production subtitles are as informative and well researched as ever. There's a fun little easter egg, some (low res) deleted scenes, a trailer from those faraway BBC days, and a pretty good "making of" documentary, amongst others.
As ever, releases from this DVD range are put together with a lot of care, and IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL retains those very high standards.


Frost/Nixon: One Journalist, One President, One Confession
Frost/Nixon: One Journalist, One President, One Confession
by David Frost
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.57

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but fascinating, 19 April 2009
This is an odd book, really, as it is really two books in one. The first half tells the story of how the interviews came about, and the behind the scenes story of the actual taping, followed by a short biography covering the rest of Richard Nixon's life and his re-emergence from obscurity. David Frost also takes some time to reflect on the man himself, thirty years on, and you do get the impression that he can't really decide now whether he actually dislikes him as much as he seems to have done at the time of the actual recordings. Time, it would appear, is going to be kinder to Richard Nixon than we might have thought. His foreign policy, race relations policy and economic policy are all viewed much more favourably with the passage of the years... if only everyone could forget about that little matter of Watergate...
The second half is the actual transcripts of the "Frost/Nixon" interviews themselves, including guidance notes from David Frost injected into the text referring to quite what he was thinking and/or trying to achieve at that moment. On the page as cold, dry text, the interviews tend to lose some of their impact - part of the fascination of the originals was seeing Mr Nixon himself and his various reactions - also, the "ums", "ahs" and half finished phrases don't really help clarify the arguments when they are in written form. The transcripts are, of course, very necessary to put the first half of the book in context, and are obviously a very good written reference work for anyone researching Richard Nixon to dip into rather than constantly having to refer to the taped interviews.
The photographic section is not great as the "backstage" source photographs seem to be rather smudgy (1970s film not aging well, I suppose) and the rest are off air images, which are seldom great.
Maybe a more straightforward retelling of the Watergate story at the top of the book and an appendix listing the main people involved would have helped to tell the overall story. If you hadn't read any other books about Watergate, you might get a bit lost with all the references - it does assume a lot of foreknowledge on the part of the reader. Even a basic Nixon timeline would have helped put things in context. Of course, maybe David Frost assumes his readers are clever enough not to need that.
Overall, slightly flawed, but a fascinating study of a very bizarre chapter in recent American history.


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