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Mr. A. T. MCGILL "Captain_Wow" (Aberdeen, UK)
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Sugar Rush: Series 1 [DVD] [2005]
Sugar Rush: Series 1 [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Olivia Hallinan
Offered by wantitcheaper
Price: £5.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Slice of Teenage (& Lesbian) Life, 24 Oct. 2012
I remember watching Sugar Rush on Channel 4 each week and always succumbing to the temptation to watch the following week episode in advance on E4, which of course just meant that I then had to stay up even later the next week just to catch the next episode, again on E4. That being said, this show was so good that re-watching the previous episode on Channel 4 was never a bad thing!

As always, I will try and give a balanced review of the show and also of the product.

The show:

Kim is a teenage girl who has just moved with her family to Brighton and feels a bit out-of-place until she meets Maria Sweet, better known as "Sugar" and embarks upon a teenage journey of discovery for the object of her affection with all the usual trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager. Each episode has an underlying story contributing to the overall arc of the series and the balance of drama and comedy is brilliantly executed.
Each of the main characters has been perfectly cast and even the single-episode cast members add to the overall depth of the storylines. Top notch!

The product:

The DVD set consists of two discs comprising 10 episodes in total. Unfortunately there isn't a great deal of special features with this set and there are only 2 commentaries (Episodes 1 and 10) which do not include the cast members. There is also the usual affair of deleted scenes and outtakes.

Also of note is the fact that the DVD version of the show has replaced almost all of the original music featured in the series with "stock music" which really doesn't have the same impact (I'm not the only one who feels like this.) This is particularly shameful during the more emotional scenes of the show where the original choice of music added much more than the replaced stock music. It just doesn't have the same impact hearing the same "theme" every time Kim feels upset or rejected. But if you never saw the show in its original airing you might not notice this as much!

Summary:

I am not a woman and therefore not a lesbian either so I appreciate my opinion here is not very accurate given the context of the show but from what I have seen and read about the show it has been well received for the way it handled its adult content. At no point did I feel that the subject matter was handled insensitively and the show is certainly not a typical lesbian-themed show with lots of sex and swearing to draw in the viewers. Instead it handles the complex emotions and hormones that teenagers have to deal with, regardless of gender or sexuality extremely well and being a teenager at the time I found this really well handled by the creators.

So my recommendation would be to give this show (and it's equally stellar second series) a watch and I echo the opinions of others on the travesty that Channel 4 did not continue the show past Series 2, considering it was so popular with viewers and critics alike. It's not like there wasn't a scheduling spot for it - we had 24/7 Big Brother coverage on E4 watching the housemates (read: morons) sleep!

Fantastic show!
Thanks!

Andy


Red Dwarf: Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD]
Red Dwarf: Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Barrie
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boldly going where no comedy had gone before!, 28 July 2012
This is the series that began it all and introduced us to the lager swilling, curry loving Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer, a spineless smeg head who serves as Listers bunkmate and "superior" on board the mining ship Red Dwarf.

As always, I will try and give a balanced review of the show and also of the product.

The show:

Craig Charles stars as Dave Lister who after being released from a stasis pod aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf is informed by the ships now-senile computer Holly (Norman Lovett) that he is the last human being alive in the universe after the crew was killed by a fatal radiation leak. But he is not alone...

In order to ensure Listers sanity Holly brings back Arnold Rimmer (played by Chris Barrie), Listers old bunkmate and superior - much to Listers frustration as he (along with the rest of the now deceased crew) hates Rimmer with a passion. The motley crew soon discover that there is another life form aboard the ship, a descendant of Listers pet cat Frankenstein. The "Cat" (played by Danny John-Jules) joins Lister, Rimmer and Holly as the gang end up experiencing all sorts of wild sci-fi nonsense on board Red Dwarf as the ship continues aimlessly through space on a journey back to Earth.

Each of the main characters are brilliantly cast and play very well off one another with excellent comic timing and some classic one liners that fans of the show will remember to the letter, and with good reason. Each episode (there are 6 in total, as with most British comedy series) has an interesting and funny story ranging from the crew seeing future versions of themselves to encountering the personified "Confidence" and "Paranoia" of Lister to name just two (I don't want to spoil anything!)

As the show was filmed at the end of the 80's it certainly has a cheap look to it with most models and sets being constructed from everyday objects (see the PC keyboards glued to the walls) but to be honest this just adds to the charm of the show.

The product:

The DVD set consists of two disks with the 6 shows on the first and the special features on the second. There are cast commentaries for each of the 6 episodes which are very entertaining and will offer lots of nice facts and titbits for fans while the accompanying documentaries, outtakes, and deleted scenes certainly provide a lot of extra material considering the age of the show.

Unfortunately, my version of the DVD has very plain and boring silver disks with the usual labels on it such as BBC, DVD and of course "Red Dwarf Disk 1 & 2" but later seasons (3 onwards) have coloured disks to match the corresponding colour of the boxes. This may have been changed for later reissues though but mine is an original one. This is hardly a big issue though - just something of note.

My only gripe with the features on this set is that there is not an in-depth documentary covering each episode as there is for series 3 and onwards but as this was the first set to be released on DVD it's understandable that this was a later thought. There is however an interesting 25 minute documentary covering the genesis of the show with interviews from the key players. Rather annoyingly though, Rob Grant (the co-creator alongside Doug Naylor) is nowhere to be seen which is unfortunate as it would have been nice to hear some stories from him also.

Other extras are really only for die-hard fans but it's nice to have (e.g. the Japanese version of the first episode) but certainly interesting to see if you are really into the show.

Summary:

Red Dwarf was always going to be (and probably always will be) a cult comedy show but there is little not to like from creators Doug Naylor and Rob Grant who have crafted a truly brilliant sci-fi comedy against the advice of colleagues and executives at the BBC at the time. The show has gone on to span 8 TV series, a follow up `9th series' entitled "Back to Earth" and now UK TV channel DAVE have commissioned a 10th series of Red Dwarf set to air later in 2012.

It's great to have this classic show given the proper DVD treatment and I would recommend it to anyone who loves the show, has seen the show in parts or fancies trying something new!

Thanks!

Andy


Colin McRae: DiRT (Xbox 360)
Colin McRae: DiRT (Xbox 360)
Offered by STOCKTASTIC
Price: £14.44

5.0 out of 5 stars DiRT Review, 29 Oct. 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
DiRT is the first in a series of rally driving games for the Xbox 360 from Codemasters and the studio have done a great job of bringing the overall feel of rally driving to those of us who will probably never get to drive like the pros do.

As always, I will try and give a balanced review stating some of the pros and cons.

So first the pros:

The game looks great, even 4 years on (I have had the game that long but have only just started to review my back-catalog so to speak) and the textures on each car model have been given a great amount of attention. The damage model is equally impressive and while a nasty crash causing your car to roll and tumble its way down a hill into some trees might ruin your chances of race victory, it certainly looks great on the post-race replay.

The overall look and feel of the game from the menu system to the career pyramid etc., has a nice and sleek, almost minimalist look which is to it's advantage as it makes navigating the menus to find what you want an easy task.

The achievements are graded accordingly and all are simple enough to acquire if you put the hours in. Some gamers might wish for an achievement awarded by completing every race on the hardest difficulty setting and without crashing once etc., but I prefer playing games where each achievement is obtainable without resorting to punishing your enjoyment of the game.

While many have rightly commented that Colin McRae was best known for traditional rally events it is important to note the other disciplines he competed in such as Rally Raid which is represented in DiRT also. The range of event types such as hill climb, rally crossover, big rig and CORR events are a welcome change of pace from the more traditional rally events but that being said I always prefer the traditional rally stages and always wanted more.

Now for the cons:

The post-race replay is shot well and the numerous camera angles and slow motion options are great but the interface could have been mapped better. This has been improved for DiRT 2 where each command corresponds to a button on the controller making things much easier. In addition to the clumsy interface there is not an option to save your replays and while admittedly not every race will be a stunner it would have been nice to save that amazing crash or last-minute edge into first place.

There is no option to plug in 4 controllers and have a race with your mates in your living room. Admittedly Xbox LIVE does offer a multiplayer experience but it would have been nice to have a splitscreen option as well but it seems that this option is being phased out of almost every genre of Xbox 360 game for one reason or another.

Lack of environments to race in is something I noticed very quickly and while the tracks that are there have been given a good level of detail it would have been nice to customize your race with weather effects for example. Equally absent from DiRT is any track on snow which is almost a sin given how many classic WRC championships have taken place in colder, more demanding climates.

50/50:

The handling of the cars might not be to everyone's tastes and purists might feel that the game plays a little to much like those arcade driving simulators you see at fairgrounds but I personally found the handling to be accessible and easy to master before long. There is always the option to tweak the vehicle set-up to your choice however and so I wont cast any more judgement on this.

Summary:

All in all, DiRT is one of my favourite Xbox 360 games when I've had my fill of Halo, Left 4 Dead, Assassins Creed etc., and I always find myself coming back to it even just for a couple of races. The game had Colin McRae's involvement and it's clear to see (although a bigger presence from the rally star would have been nice) which is why I recommend picking this up and giving it a try if you love racing games.

Thanks.

Andy


Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360)
Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360)
Price: £9.97

4.0 out of 5 stars A flawed but ultimately enjoyable experience, 28 Oct. 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Fallout: New Vegas is the follow up to 2008's Fallout 3 and continues much of the same open world brilliance that it's predecessor started but sadly the cracks are still there.

Overall my review is positive (hence the 4 stars) but I will try to balance the pros and cons of this game to give an honest review.

First the pros:

If you've played Fallout 3 then you will slip into New Vegas with ease and it's clear that Obsidian (the game's developers) has improved on what made Fallout 3 so enjoyable. This takes the form of more weapons, factions and tribes, multiple (albeit similar) endings and a hardcore mode which introduces a new element to the game. There are also some simpler changes such as iron sights for weapons which although I didn't use much, were an improvement over the "screen zoom" of the previous game which was absolutely pointless.

The open world mechanic is still here and due to the altered colour palette from it's predecessor (Fallout 3) the world itself feels much more vibrant. I loved Fallout 3 but the greenish-grey colour palette was sometimes a little too depressing, even if the game is set in a post-nuclear apocalypse setting! The ability to say "screw it" to the main story line and head off into the unknown at your discretion is something that sets this game apart from so many others as is something I really enjoyed. Also, not having constant rubble blocking your route and forcing you to traverse same-old same-old subway tunnels was a welcome change!

The voice acting is again stellar with many familiar voices that you may not be able to put your finger on but you know you've heard somewhere. Even the graphics have been given a bit of an overhaul but to be honest still look a little clunky and dated next to other games such as the Mass Effect series for example.

Another great plus are the missions which I felt were varied and engaging - something many developers seem to let fall by the wayside by instead only focusing on the main story. Thankfully here you get both and the pop culture references dotted here and there are a nice touch.

Now for the cons:

Unfortunately, almost every Bethesda game is full of bugs when released and Fallout: New Vegas is no different with some truly terrible examples that a quick search on YouTube will show. But that being said, there is a truly fantastic open-world game to be explored which in many ways forgives some of the more glaring technical issues, especially when one considers that Bethesda RPG games don't provide the player with a simple "on rails" experience. In a world as vast and as populated as Fallout: New Veges it's inevitable that something will go wrong.

The game crashes - A LOT. I have completed the game 100% and I'm proud of it but BOY did it take a lot of time and patience, mainly related to the near-constant crashing of the game. It affects the whole console so you need to turn the Xbox off and reboot which will be infuriating for some. Also, sometimes the game doesn't crash but instead just has the same "Loading..." screen forever, with the little roulette wheel spinning endlessly but doing nothing. This was also really frustrating.

Finally, I had some issues completing side quests. It is extremely frustrating when you have spent a lot of time and effort on a side quest and then you don't get the option to complete it. I was instructed to speak to an NPC about completing my mission and although he was clearly highlighted on my map there was no dialogue option anywhere to register the quest as completed. Thankfully it didn't affect the main story line and therefore any of the achievements but I put that down to luck more than anything.

- Having only just completed the game (and it's expansions) 100% I can safely say that some of these issues are still present.

So in summary, if you enjoy open-world games where you can play good or evil; customize your characters looks, clothes and skills; go off exploring as you wish, and work through varied and engaging missions then this could be the game for you. But be warned, it is a little rough round the edges and the freezing issues are definitely something to consider before you buy.

I hope this helps in your decision on whether to buy this game and that my review felt balanced!

Thanks!

Andy


Six Feet Under - Complete HBO Seasos 1-5 Collector's Edition (24 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2006]
Six Feet Under - Complete HBO Seasos 1-5 Collector's Edition (24 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Richard Jenkins
Price: £49.99

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant from beginning to the End, 9 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The series:

I had seen a few episodes of Six Feet Under after here and there on TV and had always meant to get into the series properly. I decided to take a chance in buying the whole series boxset after many of the 5 star reviews and I can honestly say that I am very glad I did.

The series was innovative and thought provoking and managed (in my opinion) to convey perfectly the death of a loved one and the impact on those left behind. At no point did I feel that the show was preachy or "the most depressing thing I have ever seen" as it was crafted so beautifully to make you feel at all the right moments without the constant need for a box of tissues by your side.

Having bought the series as a whole and watched it more-or-less back to back over a month I can't honestly say I noticed a difference in the look or feel of the show which is a good thing as it was already spot-on to begin with.

The characters are interesting but flawed in the way that many of us are - making rash decisions, not being honest with others and keeping our true feelings hidden. But despite all that I found I could still relate to Claire (Lauren Ambrose) who portayed a coming of age teenager exactly as real teenagers behave, or the storylines of Nate and David where the two clearly have a different approach towards death and how someone's passing is handled. The same level of praise needs to be extended towards the cast who are all exceptional and wonderful to watch on screen.

For obvious reasons I don't want to give away anything about the major storylines or character development but what I will say is that the ending, which received almost universal fan and critical acclaim is well deserving of such an accolade. It not only ended brilliantly from a storyline perspective but also from a legacy perspective. What I mean is that it's nice for a show to end while it's at the very top of it's game without the need for TV networks to run it into the ground. No spin offs, no specials, so sequels. Perfect.

The product:

The version of the series that I received was made to look like a tombstone (the same as the current product image in fact) which sits very nicely on a shelf with all my other DVD boxsets (LOST, Band Of Brothers etc.,) and so thankfully isn't monstrously big and difficult to tidy away. Inside were the 5 seasons as they appeared on separate retail release. One thing to note is that I DID NOT receive the black covers over the cases which I have seen in the product images but I don't care as I didn't buy this series for a bunch of cardboard sleaves.

I would have liked a little bit more in the way of "Behind The Scenes" style features but all-in-all I can't complain as there are a few documentary shorts and "Making Of.." featurettes. I was also impressed with the amount of audio commentaries that this series has! Plenty to get your teeth into and get a different perspective on how the creators or actors view a scene.

Summary:

If you liked American Beauty (another of Alan Ball's creations) and you don't like lazy-writing where everything is "fine and dandy" at the end of each episode then this is a series you'll most likely enjoy. Things achieve a recognition and following for a reason and Six Feet Under is a perfect example of this. Once again, brilliant from beginning to end and well worth having.

Everything, Everyone, Everywhere, Ends.


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