Saturday 9 March 2024

French Traitors S2 Thoughts


France, 2023

French Season 2 thoughts and contestant ranking (All Spoilers)

I was asked for my views on some of the Traitors series I've seen, so I'll start with the first non-English series I watched in its entirety. Thanks to the Traitor Archivist! The French second series is hosted by the chap who apparently hosted the first one, Eric Antoine. He takes a bit of adjusting to, as he plays the role of host in full vaudeville OTT manner. The subtitles actually read "Hahahahahahahahahaha" for twenty seconds straight at some points. But once you get used to his melodramatic presentation, he's a lot of fun - certainly better than the NZ host at least. Location is the French countryside so very aesthetic and lots of lovely scenery. The Missions are mostly what we've seen elsewhere. Yes, that damned Church one is back again. The Bank Job mission near the end was fun because it felt so different from other games at the time. Some of the games are given a nastier twist - the buried underground game includes cockroaches in the coffins. And one of the games includes snakes.

Sunday 19 November 2023

The Moonbase

 There’s absolutely nothing I can write that will live up to the expectations for this one, so with a few deep breaths:

The Moonbase

(episode 1)

Well, here we are then.

We’ve escaped from the nefarious plots of Zaroff, and now the TARDIS is crashing!

The Doctor desperately tries to stabilise his machine as his companions hold on for dear life, and succeeds.

The TARDIS took this opportunity to land.

Polly thinks the inhospitable landscape seen on the scanner is Mars.

Thursday 16 November 2023

The Underwater Menace

 The Underwater Menace

(episode 1)

Right, let's get back to the Troughton era.

It's episode 1 of that story Official Fandom always told us was a bit naff, until Episode 2 got found and it got reappraised as "our kind of naff".

Still, four months on from Gerry Davis murdering the historical, let's see if some B-movie shlock can improve things.

Friday 10 November 2023

The Highlanders

 Gerry and Innes kill off the historical, in one final flourish. We are also introduced to a Doctor Who icon, not that you'd know from this.

The Highlanders

(episode one)

I knew sod all about this story, incidentally. Jon Arnold speaks highly of it, Jamie joins the TARDIS crew, and a very young Hannah Gordon appears in it.

It's Scotland! Culloden Moor. And there's a fight going on. Young Frazer Hines drags a man to safety. Another man rushes a red coat and kills him. Lots of people battle.

I thought Gerry Davis was aiming to lighten the historical mood?

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Top 40 Chart Singles (1994)

The slowest moving project in the world continues. I'm not saying it's glacial, but George RR Martin has been mocking its deadlines...

The recap:

A number of years ago, when the BBC4 Top of the Pops repeats reached 1984 (they are currently on 1994) I realised that, if you took the best forty songs which made the Top 40 in that year, you would get an amazing playlist. Which you did. The challenge was then to create such a list for each year of the charts. To gnash in fury when favourite songs only made it to forty-two in the charts, and were thus ineligible. To try and get forty good songs out of a year dominated by Jive Bunny.

The elephant in the room is that this is based on the art. Some of the artists may not have been the nicest of people. I'm a Gerry Rafferty man. He was a musical genius, and also a complete sod. So far, I've only disqualified one song based on the artist, a Welsh one from 2001. Which is to say that, when we eventually cover his era, Michael Jackson will be there, because you cannot look at the eighties and ignore Billie Jean. However, R Kelly will not be appearing at all, because personally I think his stuff was rubbish. Hope that helps.  

This is the 1994 edition of this project. 1994 was a brilliant year for charting music in the UK. I can say this with confidence because I turned eight years old in 1994, and watched Top of the Pops religiously for the first time, and so all of the major hits are nostalgically embedded into my brain. This made a list of forty rather difficult, however. Where does nostalgia end and greatness start? For too long, I wanted to hang on to songs I liked because they reminded me of youthful times, while finding no room for subjectively better tracks. In the end, here is the best hodgepodge of 1994, and tomorrow I could give you a different list.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Columbo Episodes Ranked (Part 4)

 Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Here we are, it's the final episode, the cream rises to the top, the A list. 

What we have left is solid TV gold and yet, someone sod still had to rank them.

Monday 30 October 2023

Columbo Episodes Ranked (Part 3)

 Part 1

Part 2

Part 4

We are now into the top thirty-five, of all the Columbo episodes. It may surprise some to realise that we have multiple episodes of the nineties era still to go. It's not that the new series era was terrible, it's just that the gems are sometimes disguised by the duds and the weaker stories around them. However, we've got rid of all of those now, so what's left must be great TV.

In the B class, we have the stories which come recommended as enjoyable slices of TV sleuthing, but which just miss the top for small reasons. Maybe there was one loophole too many in the plot, or something about the production didn't quite work. For many, it's just that simple case that there are better stories, but as the top fifteen are among the greatest exhibits of American TV yet made, being just below that is no crime. 

Indeed, I think some of these are quite underrated by fans.

And so, while trying to avoid being the enemy of succinct for a moment, on we go:

Friday 27 October 2023

Colombo Episodes Ranked (Part 2)

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

 Last time we saw the least good. This time, let's move up to the C list of Columbo. Those episodes which don't work, for a variety of reasons, but have enough in them to be enjoyable watches if they are on TV. Some might be quite bad, but amusing. Some might fail on a basic plot principle. Some might just miscast badly a crucial role. 

Sorry, George Wendt, I know all of those refer to your episode but I'm not picking on you. Honest.

Some even might have gone in Part 1 if not for one thing which raises them from the bottom rank.

Without further waffle, the flawed diamonds in the rough of Columbo!

Thursday 26 October 2023

Columbo Episodes Ranked (Part 1)

 Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The mistake was not watching all sixty-nine episodes of Columbo, because that provided many hours of great TV watching. And also Peter Falk saying the word "panties" seven times in a row, but you can't have it all.

The mistake was mentioning this to friends who asked how I would rank those episodes.

Never ask an obsessive to produce a list based on quality. Case in point, I was asked about this in February!

Since then, I did what a responsible research addicted non-writer would do. I rewatched all sixty-nine episodes. I marvelled over Jack Cassidy. I sobbed with Janet Leigh. I tried desperately to derive greatness from that bloody Commodore. And, as I watched each episode, I wrote some quick fresh notes on each story. 

From those notes, I gave you this list. Succinct being my enemy, I've had to cut this into a few parts. Also, much like Doctor Who, the biggest crime for me in TV is being dull. This might explain in advance why some stories from the seventies which are worthy but snooze worthy rank lower than some of the flawed but entertaining car crashes. 

So without further preamble, here we go!

Thursday 5 October 2023

Hallowe'en Watches (2022)


Blake Lively goes on the holiday of a lifetime, only to find herself stranded on a small island near the shore with a giant great white shark stalking her. She is a champion level surfer. Surfing by a beach in Mexico, Nancy flirts with some local surfers. We find out she’s taking time out to cope with the death of her mum, and she has a younger sister (back in Texas) who idolises her.

And then the Jaws music doesn’t play.

Dead of Night (1945)


A man drives, nervously, to a cottage house in the countryside. He’s never visited this part of the country before but is suffering a severe dose of déjà vu. Especially as he is introduced to the other guests, complete strangers, and seems to recognise them.

Our man Walter mentions that he’s seen all of these people before in recurring dreams. As a result of this, he is convinced that something terrible is going to happen in this house. The other guests try to take his mind off it with tales of premonitions they’d suffered in their lives.