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Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection [DVD]
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Brett
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £54.01

3 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Good Attempt -- The Results Range From Mediocre to Dreadful, 12 Aug. 2014
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This is an almost complete rendition of Conan Doyle's legendary and archetypal "consulting detective". The episodes run the full gamut of collections in chronological order, from the "Adventures", to the "Memoirs" and also include the Hound of The Baskervilles.

Most of the stories are there; some that are omitted such as the "Veiled Lodger", can be found incorporated into another -- in this particular case, within "The Illustrious Client".

It starts out as a low budget production -- or what looks like low budget -- to develop improved production qualities when we reach "The Casebook" stories.

Many of the first episodes are close to the original with few additions here and there. The scriptwriters become bolder later in the series adding a subplot, as in the "Illustrious Client", but generally reproduce bits of the original dialogue which is, I believe, an integral part of the original masterpiece.

Some of the additions to the original story actually act out the background to the case in question and are a welcome addition to the whole, as in "The Dying Detective", where we actually see the story that leads up to where Conan Doyle begins his narrative. Others, are not so unfortunately -- most of which do not seem to add much to the final result.
In "Shoscombe Old Place" some of the characters are changed for no aparent reason and to no positive effect; scenes of random violence and non-sequitur beatings add to a generally irksome episode.
In the case of "The Sussex Vampire" the episode is riddled with attempts at sinister symbols and allusions to the ocult ad nauseam and to no effect to the story itself; indeed, one wishes for the episode to end before one ends it by pressing the stop button. This is a strange episode indeed: Conan Doyle's original was by far more intriguing and interesting and could have been fleshed out -- as such was the intention -- without resorting to trying emulate nightmares and half-baked pseudo-vampires.

It is the "Illustrious Client" that takes the cake: the episode is dreadful, no less. The original storyline is changed and made to include elements from the "Veiled Lodger". While the story construction is lame, to say the least (if we wish to change Doyle's original, cannot we employ a scriptwriter up to the task -- there are many outstanding writers out there, for sure...), what is irksome is the incessant addition of women shouting, scramming at one another, and randomly screeching -- for good measure... all of which detracts from the story and adds to our displeasure.

Not to mention dialogue that is out of historical context ("thank you Mr SH", "My privilege"), which we could have lived with had the rest been a bit better.

And onto the main characters:
Dr Watson is one of the best, complete and plausible ones of all, including the present day series. The same cannot be said about J Brett's Sherlock Holmes, with all due respect to the many and, undoubtedly worthy, reviewers here. He comes across as a spoilt and often thwarted adolescent, gesticulating wildly and shouting his way about when he is not whispering inaudibly. His antics reach unprecedented heights in, for example, the "Illustrious Client" when he tried to stop a carriage by planting himself in the middle of the road, waving his arms theatrically in a way that one expects him to break into a dance -- in full drag dress!!!

Brett does not impersonate the original Sherlock Holmes in any way -- other than in his excellent ability to render the dialogue (or shout it, rather) in a clear manner. SH is self-contained, Brett is bombastic, loud and short of vulgar; SH is very polite and kind and charming to women, Brett is often impolite, uncouth and gauche; SH is direct with people and not out of place in communicating with others: Brett's Holmes seems afraid to speak to grown-up, suffering a complex of sorts, perhaps?

It is not my contention that a series "based" on Conan Doyle's original" must stick to the original and therefore, a slightly modified SH on screen is not to be rejected a priori. However, this series producer has given us a SH who is, to put it simply, annoying.

Observing Brett's antics on screen, the first thing that comes to mind is: "Get on with it, for goodness sake!"

So, two stars for Watson, one star for J Brett trying to save the day and doing his best, and minus 5 stars for the producer who made a mess of what could have been an excellent series!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2014 10:16 PM BST

The Legend
The Legend
Price: £8.91

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Cases with Furtwankler..., 1 May 2013
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This review is from: The Legend (Audio CD)
A cryptic title simply to mark the (re)discovery of Haydn's 91 symphony (disc 1) in an interpretation which is a definitive if very creative reading of that composer in my humble opinion. The set is worth purchasing for this recording alone.

But there is more.

In more generalised terms, this boxed set offers a motley selection of recordings of Furtwangler and the Vienna Philarmonic, made all the more interesting because there is NO Beethoven NO Wagner and NO Brickner in this set -- i.e. all the usual suspects are absent from the list of composers. Which is marketing's way of attracting our attention -- it did attract mine, at least.

No Beethoven but instead we have Cherubini, Gluck, Weber, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Berlioz (very interesting)... and the crowning glory of this compilation: Mozart 40 and Haydn "Surprise".

The other reviewer has dwelt on the latter, so I will only add that this rendition has unusual tempi, and allowances and creativity with the written script -- all in the manner we would want to have from a great maestro: we want the great maestro to be a magician and, given a script, to create something new. And Furtwangler does so here.

However, the Mozart also merits some special mention: there is seemingly relaxed attitude in this performance recorded at towards the end of the war. Close listening seems to reveal a hidden intensity (the strings crescendo peaks...) that throughout permeates the symphony especially the 1st and last movements. Joviality seems to be replaced by speed and intensity -- an inquisitive look into the composition where the dialogue between violins and strings is more a heated conversation than a relaxed exchange. The third movement has a sense of finality to it and an undertone of tragedy at times. The fourth unleashes energy and strength -- and, speed!

Lots other goodies in that box not only for enthusiasts. Very thoroughly recommended to all!

Jamie's 30-Minute Meals: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast
Jamie's 30-Minute Meals: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast
by Jamie Oliver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky presentation -- very inspired and creative cooking ideas, 1 May 2013
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The actual recipes are well thought out and presented. Not to reiterate what others have already written -- I can echo the positive commentary.

On the other hand, there is another aspect of the book which I found useful: it can be the basis to create one's own combinations (which I am sure many have already done) and also a way two or three cooks working together can create an array of dishes for a party, for example.

Another thankful aspect is that the recipes as given are complete -- only too often in recipe books we miss "secret touch" that separates good from the great; here, what Oliver promises you can get if you follow his guidance.

Thoroughly recommended

Get Smart - Complete HBO Seasons [DVD] [2008]
Get Smart - Complete HBO Seasons [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Don Adams
Price: £54.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OK, it's cult and not for all, but it can accommodate all the family if it is!, 1 May 2013
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It is well-made and the transfer to DVD is good, image being at good level while the sound is above mediocrity. Overall, an honest product in my opinion, which delivers on its promise.

This is a basic, plain-vanilla set of the series some of us grew up with.

For those that haven't, these are the stories of battle of "good" versus evil. Good always triumphs by the sheer idiocy and dumb luck of its key agent -- our hero, agent Smart. It is a humorous series bereft of the ubiquitous gore and violence producers deem the sine qua non of TV success nowadays and your children can watch without fear of lengthy psychoanalysis later on in life.

Good is upheld by a secret organisation code-named "Control" while evil comes from the dastardly "Chaos" and their despicable, foreign accented villains -- a James Bond villain take off. Our hero, agent 86 and his would-be girl friend, beautiful agent 99, following orders from "the Chief" foil Chaos' any and all attempts at destabilising world order, much like Bond, James Bond, saves the world on the big screen. Both get impossible assignments and get away with -- and thus doing save the world.
The difference is that Bond is the quintessential larger than life male who is so efficient, we are glad he is on our side -- the good guys. Bond's women, all to be reckoned with in one way or another seem to be incapable of resisting his natural charm and melt in his arms.
In Get Smart this is (hilariously) reversed: Smart is smaller than life. He has a squeaky nasal voice and he never catches on to discreet advances of the only woman in his life, agent 99. He triumphs through sheer dumb luck, help from friends, the Chief and, of course, the beautiful agent 99. Where Bond is refined, eccentric and intelligent, Smart is ignorant, conventional to nth degree and a stickler for useless rules - much to the Chief's consternation and our delight.
But most of all, Smart is dumb: "he's so dumb he'd blind himself picking his nose" as the saying goes.
We're not sure it's a good thing he's on our side -- but we love him!

True to form and cult, our hero has coined phrases which have remained for posterity:

- of outrageous statements following the response "I find that hard to believe": "would you believe..." As in,
"...there are at least 25 agents out there ready to come in..."
"I find zat chard to biliff Mr Smaart..." retorts the villainous lackey
"Would you believe 5 agents..."

- of a dangerous assignment "...being in mortal danger and loving every minute of it"

There are many details that make this series attractive & lovable: the silly use of passwords; the cone of silence,a contraption used for secret conversations so secret the conversing parties usually can't hear one another; secrets that are so secret no-one is privy to them; Agent 13's position in "tight places"...

Overall a series that has aged well, that keeps a smile on your face all of the time and makes you chuckle some of the time.
Thoroughly recommended!

Dremel 3000-15 Multitool, 130 W, 15 Accessories
Dremel 3000-15 Multitool, 130 W, 15 Accessories
Price: £39.99

84 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a "Dremel" for good reason! Choose your set with care, however..., 1 May 2013
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As is evident from my rating, I am very satisfied with this little tool, surprisingly so, in fact. While I expected the Dremel to be better than my previous rotary, this product happily exceeded my expectations.
I am not new to rotary tools, but I am not much of a handyman either; mine are the comments of a near clueless amateur.
My use varies; I have used such tools for polishing, cutting, sanding for small-scale modelling and lately (thanks to the Dremel in fact) a little bit of engraving and grinding/ sharpening.
The multi-tool
The first point to make is that the tool feels solidly constructed; it has speed control over a wide range (you may find that 1-2 of the first speeds do not actually work and may be superfluous in the first place) which is a blessing and it does not get worryingly hot at top speed -- which I rarely use, but thought I'd mention. The grip is good as is, even though I prefer the flexible shaft for most jobs.
The difference with my other tool lies in the power and the rpm consistency: i.e. the Dremel does not falter even under pressure and continues to operate without fluctuations in the rpm. In practical terms for me, this opened up new applications and better results. I discovered how to scrape away grime & polish a seashell and that I could polish a stone and etch letters on it with some degree of success; also, polishing now takes considerably less time & the results are predictable and better.

The actual set has the advantage of being inexpensive but the accessories included are more of an afterthought: what you are really purchasing is the Mutlitool While I had the advantage of having a whole array of aftermarket accessories already, people purchasing their first multitool should keep in mind that accessories are a mandatory supplementary investment.
It is important to note that there are two indispensable tools which are note included with this set: a) an aftermarket set of Dremel collets of various sizes that allow you to use most ANY attachment b) the flexible shaft making precision related tasks much easier. The first will set you back about £8-10 while the other is even dearer £ 20-30! Sets of aftermarket accessories come in many sizes, shapes, and prices including some competitively priced by Dremel themselves.
The "kit".
SO, while the Dremel is an excellent product (no doubt about that) and it comes in a nice pouch, choose your Dremel kit carefully: there may be another one slightly more expensive which includes what this particular kit does not. If not, you have to budget in some near indispensable after-market purchases.

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé
Price: £14.74

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Performance (if a bit fuzzy times!), 20 Feb. 2012
Fuzziness refers to the sound which is less than the usual stellar re-masterings we are used to from Mercury.
But the performance is well worth the trouble...

50 years down the line this Munch / BSO performance of Daphnis & Chloe remains a classic, and one of the reference renditions of the piece. I cannot say it's definitive in one sense or another but, rather, an excellent all rounder which IMO excels generally.
In this respect, very interesting readings, especially ones with a definite "point of view" can be had: Martinon (Orch de Paris, EMI) or Dutoit (O de Montreal, decca) or even Ansermet, to name a few (there are many others).

Here, the Munch / BSO combo creates an elegant & poetic result; however, it is neither flat, nor clinical, nor politically-correct -- the latter an aspect that drives me up & down the proverbial wall!
Munch does give way to passion and the BSO lets loose dynamic impulses and passionate outbursts that emphasize the subject. Munch's Daphnes & Chloe may have good manners -- but they are certainly far from being sterilised in any sense of the word.

To conclude on a previous thought: this is still the performance many people can rely upon to get introduced to this music. For many it will be their last version of this piece.
For others, this where they will start their journey, to branch out to more personalised readings.

No Title Available

3.0 out of 5 stars The green tea is nice -- the "spice" may need rethinking?, 24 Jan. 2011
I have to admit to liking green tea: it's simple and fresh without being cheap and banal. And the EA product is nicely presented, in and of itself.

Yet in this product, something doesn't quite come across: while at the top it is fresh and invigorating, the freshness quickly dissipates and the heart tastes burnt. We tried it on different people (i.e. different skins) and then on clothing -- and always got the same result.

A work in progress perhaps?

We Are Most Amused - Prince's Trust [DVD]
We Are Most Amused - Prince's Trust [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rowan Atkinson
Offered by Homebays
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars HRH (and the rest of us) in stitches!, 1 Nov. 2010
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This must one of the best comedy shows ever, probably the best of what our times have to offer!

Decorum and laughter....

The Omid Djalili Show - Series 1 [DVD]
The Omid Djalili Show - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Burt Kwouk
Price: £5.17

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Help me! I need to be famous..., 1 Jun. 2010
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Djalili's grasp of language and the music and the sounds and the accents... uncanny and fabulous. He is at his funniest as "...comedian from Eraan -- technically dat's tree more tan Tchermany". The Nigerian accent is not wanting either! I love accents, what can I say...
On a more serious note, he does also capture the stereotypes of racial (in)tolerance.

Robin Williams' Weapons Of Self Destruction [DVD]
Robin Williams' Weapons Of Self Destruction [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robin Williams
Price: £11.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Non stop laughter, 1 Jun. 2010
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The man is inimitable! Putting aside the plethora of F's, this must be one of the funniest (if not the funniest) stand up comedy hour. The content as well as the delivery, not least the accents!

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