Shiny Shelf
By Mark Clapham on 29 March 2012 Comments Off

‘Alcatraz’is perhaps the archetypal post-’Lost’ TV series.

By Mark Clapham on 26 March 2012 Comments Off

What if James Bond was a self-involved jerk?

OK, forget that: what if James Bond was an even bigger self-involved jerk than he is already?

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 13 March 2012 Comments Off

‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ is a compelling hour of television that falters under Rick’s continued half-hearted character arc.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 09 March 2012 Comments Off

‘18 Miles Out’ is a taut drama that allows some long-simmering tensions to bubble to the surface at last.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 01 March 2012 Comments Off

Thankfully, ‘Triggerfinger’ wraps up the ‘what-happened-to-Lori’ arc, for those of you keeping score at home.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 21 February 2012 Comments Off

‘Nebraska’ kicks off the mid-season of series 2 of ‘The Walking Dead’.

By Mags L Halliday on 23 January 2012 Comments Off

Todd Haynes’ latest love letter to Sirkian Hollywood melodrama, ‘Mildred Pierce’, suggests melodrama should get a restraining order.

By Manu Ekanayake on 20 December 2011 Comments Off

Nucky Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) sums up his role in the ‘Boardwalk Empire’ with one line to his protégé Jimmy Darmody (relative newcomer Michael Pitt), ‘You wanna be a gangster in my town, then you’ll pay me for the privilege.’
That’s who Nucky is – he’s Atlantic City’s political boss, not its crime boss. Well, [...]

By Eddie Robson on 07 November 2011 3 COMMENTS

After the second episode of the second series of Downton Abbey, some viewers complained that the show was moving too quickly. The narrative jumped five months, going from November 1916 to April 1917, and many were wrong-footed by the rush of time. Yet people seemed to think this was somehow different from the first series. [...]

By Lance Parkin on 30 September 2011 Comments Off

‘The Feathered Serpent’ is the love child of ‘I, Claudius’ and ‘Doctor Who’, and is just as peculiar and rewarding as that sounds.

By Jonn Elledge on 30 June 2011 Comments Off

Watching the first episode of Shameless US is disarmingly like bumping into old friends.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 23 June 2011 1 COMMENT

Now this is something different- a legal drama that takes place in England… in the 18th century. A period piece based upon actual cases and drawn from the available records of that time, ‘Garrow’s Law’ is a welcome change of pace from not only the legal shows of today, but television in general.
Andrew Buchan plays [...]

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 13 June 2011 Comments Off

In late summer of 2003, I was laid off from my job. In-between looking for a new job, I had extra time at home to be with the family and watch television, and I got hooked on the American crime show ‘Law and Order’.
This began my interest in a genre of television that I had [...]

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By Lance Parkin on 08 June 2011 Comments Off

‘Upstairs Downstairs’ is one of the best known British TV series of the seventies, on both sides of the Atlantic (and has recently been revived). It quickly became a centerpiece of [...]

By Eugene Jones on 23 May 2011 Comments Off

After three BBC series shot entirely in the UK, ‘Torchwood’ comes back later this year with a fourth series shot partially in the US, subtitled ‘Miracle Day’. Following on from the surprise critical success of the high-concept mini-series ‘Children of Earth’, ‘Miracle Day’ also starts with a big idea – one day, no-one on Earth [...]

By Mark Clapham on 16 May 2011 Comments Off

The first season of ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’ starts out as something of a shallow, guilty pleasure, but gains depth and complexity across the thirteen episodes in this season box set.
Based on the first couple of episodes I wrote a review that summed up the initial impact of the show as a cartoonishly violent and [...]

By Mags L Halliday on 12 May 2011 3 COMMENTS

contains spoilers… for ‘Lord of the Rings’.
Steven Moffat has a thing about spoilers. You’d have guessed it, given he snuck the word into ‘Doctor Who’ and then turned it into River Song’s catchphrase. But his recorded complaint about fans posting spoilers made BBC Breakfast News (and elsewhere).
I agree with Moffat. The kind of person who [...]

By Mark Clapham on 05 May 2011 Comments Off

Kate Summerscale’s ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ is a brave choice of book to adapt into an ITV drama.
While the subject matter – the investigation of a nationally notorious child murder in the mid 19th century, at the dawn of the age of detection – is dramatic, the way Summerscale’s book deals with it concentrates [...]

By Matthew Badham on 28 April 2011 1 COMMENT

I have a confession to make. I’m a crap ‘Doctor Who’ fan. In fact, when it comes to the (Extraordinary?) League of Whovians, I’m definitely Fourth Division. When Season 24 was mentioned in the pub, I had to ask which one that was; I still can’t pronounce ‘Frontios’; and I switched off 10 minutes into [...]

By Jonn Elledge on 20 April 2011 Comments Off

Elisabeth Sladen has a claim to be the most important actor to play a companion in ‘Doctor Who’.

By Mark Clapham on 15 April 2011 Comments Off

Well, at least they’re not watering it down.
‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’ sets its stall out in the first scene, an astonishing montage of brutal, gory combat in Capua’s old arena, a crude box of wood and cloth.
Shortly after, we get a scene of two old friends doing their business in both senses of the [...]

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 05 April 2011 Comments Off

An amoral, conniving, manipulative- and possibly murdering- character. The makings of a tepid crime drama, ‘based on a true story’? Nope. We have the main character of a two-part miniseries collected on Region 1 DVD. Dubbed as a black comedy and staring Martin Clunes (of ‘Men Behaving Badly’ fame) as the aforementioned shady character, ‘Dirty [...]

By Mark Clapham on 17 March 2011 Comments Off

To my surprise, ‘Being Human’ creator Toby Whithouse managed to not only provide a satisfying conclusion to a season I’ve had mixed feelings about with this episode, but also retroactively fix a lot of my issues with the season as a whole.
By the end of ‘The Wolf-Shaped Bullet’ I was left feeling optimistic about the [...]

By Lance Parkin on 11 March 2011 Comments Off

There’s a Darwinian process with art. To generalise wildly, a lot of the more ordinary examples of novels, plays, movies and so on fall away, leaving only the particularly notable. The stuff that isn’t to our taste shuffles aside.

By Iain Hepburn on 24 February 2011 1 COMMENT

A triumvirate of Scots comedy shows have broken through to critical acclaim in the last couple of years, gaining support from the likes of Grace Dent despite their availability on the other side of Hadrian’s Wall being limited to iPlayer.

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By Eddie Robson on 23 February 2011 3 COMMENTS

A few thoughts on the passing of one of Doctor Who’s major players.

By Eddie Robson on 18 February 2011 4 COMMENTS

He’s cute! He’s controversial! We look at the furore surrounding the lovable reggae rodent.

By Lance Parkin on 15 February 2011 1 COMMENT

The most memorable character of Durarara!! is silent and wears a motorbike helmet, and is spoken of in whispers.  ’Some say she doesn’t even have a head under that helmet, just some weird black fog. Some say her motorbike is really a horse in disguise. We only know her as … ‘. To a British [...]

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By Mark Clapham on 07 February 2011 1 COMMENT

There’s no particular mystery about the ancestry of this ‘Family’: it’s the ‘Fantastic Four’, via Disney/Pixar’s ‘FF’-a-like ‘The Incredibles’, filtered through the ‘no capes’ superhero show genre popularised by early ‘Smallville’ and, more recently, ‘Heroes’.
The introduction of superpowers is virtually a find and replace of the Fantastic Four’s origin story: our four characters go on [...]

By Mags L Halliday on 06 January 2011 4 COMMENTS

The return of 165 Eaton Place is compact and lively, with only the odd wandering accent to let it down.

By Jim Smith on 04 January 2011 1 COMMENT

ITV’s ‘Marple’ is, and always has been, a strange hybrid beast and this is perhaps down to what seem to be a large number of contradictory pressures on it.

By Shiny Shelf on 27 December 2010 Comments Off

Like Scrooge, we’re a bit at sea about what the future holds for our favourite kinds of nonsense.

By Shiny Shelf on 25 December 2010 Comments Off

One late Christmas Ever Ebenezeer Scrooge was visited by three spirits who showed him the past, the present and the Yet To Come. This is like that, but with three reviewers & Shiny’s usual pop culture nonsense. Merry Christmas.

By Eddie Robson on 25 December 2010 Comments Off

Note: Eddie wrote this in 2006, as part of Shiny Advent, but it got lost in an email thread for four years. So here, at last, it is:
The ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas special appears to be establishing itself as a tradition, so ingénues into the world of Who may be surprised to discover that, until [...]

By Shiny Shelf on 24 December 2010 Comments Off

One late Christmas Eve Ebenezeer Scrooge was visited by three spirits who showed him things from the past, the present and the Yet To Come. This is like that, but with three reviewers & Shiny’s usual pop culture nonsense. Merry Christmas.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 22 December 2010 Comments Off

The first season of ‘The Walking Dead’ is now over, and with the conclusion of the six-episode series, its time to look back and see how it fared in its freshman run.

By Mags L Halliday on 08 December 2010 Comments Off

The fundamental story-telling problem with the ‘Star Wars: the Clone Wars’ is that the end is already locked down. It has to end with the characters in place for ‘Revenge of the Sith’.

By Mark Clapham on 23 November 2010 2 COMMENTS

I’m finding it hard to get quite as worked up about the Joss-free ‘Buffy’ remake as many fans of the series are.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 12 November 2010 Comments Off

‘Guts’ is an entertaining episode, which lacks the strength of the premiere but concentrates on action.

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 05 November 2010 Comments Off

‘The Walking Dead’ comic has always primarily been about the characters, with the zombies providing a background.

By Jim Smith on 14 October 2010 1 COMMENT

‘Dollhouse’ was, in case you are part of the vast majority of the population that it entirely passed by, a short lived US TV show.

By Mark Clapham on 13 October 2010 Comments Off

The formula of Seth MacFarlane’s animated series is straightforward: there’s a family, and the dad also has a set of drinking buddies.

By Matthew Badham on 11 October 2010 Comments Off

‘Our Friends in the North’ isn’t just first-class drama, it’s a stunning piece of fictive social history that charts the lives of four friends and their extended networks from 1964 until 1995.

By Iain Hepburn on 08 October 2010 Comments Off

If you’re on the southern side of Hadrian’s Wall, you may, but more likely may not, have heard about ITV’s spat with their Caledonian counterparts at STV.

By Mags L Halliday on 06 October 2010 Comments Off

‘Downton Abbey’ is haunted by the past. Not within the drama, but at a meta level.

By Lance Parkin on 27 September 2010 2 COMMENTS

‘Undercovers’ is like a sexy, action-packed ‘Alias’. Which is a bit like saying something’s like a dinosaury ‘Jurassic Park’.

By Stephen Lavington on 22 September 2010 Comments Off

AMC’s ‘Rubicon’ is an espionage thriller that manages to feel weightier than the escapist fare of ‘24’ or ‘Burn Notice’.

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By Mags L Halliday on 17 September 2010 Comments Off

The third series of ‘Merlin’ has started with grim spectacle, aside from the odd slapstick scene that’s escaped from a different tone meeting.

By Jim Smith on 07 September 2010 Comments Off

One of those things that, while you’re watching it, you can’t help but be deeply suspicious of the reaction the production is trying to evoke.

By Jim Smith on 28 July 2010 2 COMMENTS

I thought I’d like ‘Sherlock’, because I like both Sherlock Holmes apocrypha and Steven Moffat scripts, but I didn’t think it possible it would surprise me. Thrillingly, I was both right on the first count and very, very wrong on the second.