Happy Halloween: A Horrible List of Lists

By Rev/Views
It's Halloween tonight and I could do something special, but if I'm honest around where I live it's safest to sit inside and pretend you're not home. Sadly the British youth don't see Halloween in the same light as the American ones seem to, this year not only is the typical egging, flouring, toilet papering and dog poop flinging going on but there has even been rumours of threatened car fires (unconfirmed of course, but still - it sounds cool). Regardless while Halloween should be a fun day where you can take the kids out and everyone can dress up in cheap, tacky costumes it's not like that around here. So I'm playing count the police cars instead, we're up to three so far and the night is still young.

I was half considering listing my favourite Halloween episodes of various shows, a top ten or a top five. But I decided instead to be lazy and list my favourite 6 lists instead.

There are in no particular order, except for the one in the number one position, cause that one is the best. You'll also notice certain episodes appear multiple times, that's cause they are that good *cough* Slutty Pumpkin *cough* Hush *cough*

6. Starpulse's Favourite Halloween-Themed TV Episodes
Ten items on this list and many of them even have links to the relevant parts (or episodes) on YouTube, what more could you ask for?

5. Defamer's Top Ten
There's a nice twist in this entry as it's a video list. I've only seen a few of the episodes listed in this one mind you.

4. Halloween Addict's Top 5 Scary Creepy TV Episodes
Not strictly speaking a Halloween list as such, but anything which includes the truly creepy Buffy episode 'Hush' is worth a look.

3. Examiner's take on the Fancast list
I've decided to use this one over the fancast list because this version has the addition of the great Frasier episode, but on the whole this list is a little "eh". Still there are some good mentions in here and links to watch the episodes you like the sound of so it's worth a peek.

2. Canada.com's top 5 scariest TV Shows
They say top 5 scariest shows, but they do mean episodes. A short list but a couple of the selections are decent.

1. IGN's Top 10 Halloween TV Episodes
This list is just great, not only do they list 'Freaks and Geeks' and 'My So Called Life' but this is also the list that got me watching How I Met Your Mother. I read the review of "Slutty Pumpkin" and decided that the show was worth a shot. I'm glad I did.

Until tomorrow, have a good evening and enjoy something really spooky. If your pants ain't brown by the end of the night you're not trying hard enough (or you're not wearing brown pants, one or the other).
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The Shield Collected Reviews Round Up: Moving Day

Category: By Rev/Views
The usual suspects this week, I trawlled a little to try and find more but I couldn't. I expect most people will sit about twiddling their thumbs just watching the show until the finale and then everyone and his keyboard literate dog will spew out their thoughts onto the internet.

Instead, let's just stick with the loyal people who've reviewed the show all season.

Jason Pinter has switched to a series of notes and thoughts about the episode instead of his usual recap followed by short analysis this week.

Capone over at Ain't it Cool has a bit of spoiler free (I guess teaser) information about the finale along with his usual point driven thoughts. I'd warn you that there is a chance for spoilers if you follow this link and keep wandering beyond it. I stopped as soon as I thought there might be an inkling of something, so I can't confirm or deny that. It's just my suspicions.

Alan Sepinwall is someone who has already seen the final episode of The Shield, but you have no need to worry about spoilers in his post, he's meticulous about avoiding them. All he's willing to hint at is how great he found it.

Jason Zingale at Premium Hollywood continues to review the episodes, the picture of Shane he's used on the page really sums up Shane's situation so well.

I might not agree with Jonathan Toomey's feelings on Dutch, but I certainly enjoy reading his review. It's one of the better review series being run over at TVSquad right now.

Tom R pushes on with his recap and review, while there's more of the recap and less of the review in the feature I still find the odd detail I may have missed there and I personally can't get enough of reading about The Shield.

The synopsis at imdb is a little unwieldy this week. While it is still broken up into paragraphs I found it slightly hard going to get through this time.

Last but certainly not least we have Billy's review over at Geeky Talk. I have to say Billy, I believe I'm concerned about Dutch suffering the same fate you are. I'm also looking forward to your 'memorial' piece about it once the show is over.
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DVDs in Review: #39 - Homicide: Life on the Street: The Complete Sixth Series

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I've had the complete sixth series for a while now, but I haven't been able to get around to watching it until now. I'm still only part way through, but that just makes it easier to review the final part of this series without spoilering events for those who've not seen this most excellent show.

For the previous reviews in the Homicide series check here:
The Complete First Series (Seasons One and Two)
The Complete Second Series (Season Three)
The Complete Third Series (Season Four)
The Complete Fourth Series (Season Five)
The Complete Fifth Series (Season Six)

And the Why You Should Watch feature on the show is located here.

The Show:

There are two cast changes in the cast for the final season of Homicide brought in to keep the show at full strength after the loss of two other cast members in the previous season. One is no less than the son of Lieutenant A Giardello, Mike (Giancarlo Esposito) - who is excellent. The second is Detective Rene Sheppard (Michael Michele), who's appearance on the shift turns more than a few of the men's heads - she's not as strong a character, but can hold her own.

It's an excellent season (as much as I've seen of it so far), providing many of the strong and interesting cases that are a hallmark of this show, but as always it's the characterisation in the show that will keep you coming back for more. Now I must disclose that there is a fair portion of watchers who really felt that the quality was gone by this point in the series, now I do agree with them that the cast attrition (at this point there are only four original cast members left) did not help the show, but that's as far as I'll go. I do actually enjoy and like the newer members.

Sadly this is the last season of the show, but there is at least a final made for TV movie to tie everything up left after this. It's a great, great show that stands in the vanguard of police procedurals and happily thumbs it's nose at the lesser shows out there who prefer to treat their viewers as kindergarten sheep.

The Other Stuff:

We're back with my old favourite bug bear here. Fremantlemedia Enterprises, now by this point I can actually forgive the packaging. I still feel that the first three series, located in pleasant (to touch) cardboard dust jackets with accurate art and photographs are better. But there is something good to report here, the images on the back of the box are actually taken from the seventh season, as is the cast lists. Compared to previous seasons this is a huge step upwards and I'm glad the quality control has recovered slightly. The only real shame now is that these plastic cases did not come with a cardboard dust jacket, if they had had one of those each the differences between series 1, 2, and 3 would not have been as marked.

On the other hand, here on the extras front the region 2 viewers are once again handled into the lavatory and flushed away. There's absolutely nothing on any of the discs, which is annoying to say the least because every single one of the region 1 versions has extras.

This time we miss out on:
Live Panel Discussion with Tom Fontana, Barry Levinson, James Yoshimura, and David Simon
Barry Levinson's Acceptance Speech for the 2004 Video Software Dealers Association Career Achievement Award
Commentary with Tom Fontana, Julie Martin, and James Yoshimura on the Episode "Forgive Us Our Trespasses"
Cast Biographies

Sure it's not that much, but still. Come on!

Also, much to my annoyance Homicide: The Movie is not included amongst all of the episodes, which means that one is left hanging on Fremantle's less than considerable graces awaiting to see the final story lines resolve. Bah!

Runtime: 960 mins
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Audio: 2.0 Stereo
Language: English
Colour: Colour/Pal
Region: 2
Subtitles: English Hard-of-hearing

Here's the good news, Sendit have this set for the low price of £17.89, which works out at 1.9 ppm. Even HMV in the street has it at £20 right now (in stores). So this is a great time to pick up the set.

The Final Word:

Honestly, as much as I love the show, I can't really run about recommending this version to every man, woman and child I meet. Partly because the show isn't for children but mostly because this version of the product is an inferior specimen. Having bought all of the Region 2 versions I'm left with regret that I didn't purchase the utterly brilliant Region 1 complete set instead. It's just a better, more complete product that is consistent in design throughout, doesn't cut corners and includes both the extras and the movie. Of course, I'm now stuck with the R2 versions, which do have pleasing box art and still contain every bit as great a show inside, but I must admit I love extras and I love matched box sets. So the Fremantle version doesn't come with my recommendation - but Homicide does, it's brilliant.

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The Shield - 709 - Moving Day

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"It's all gone to s**t so fast. Everyone is falling now."

This week the quote comes not from the show by from my brother who watched this episode with me at my place. We've been sat for forty minutes watching just about every single last thing on the show fall apart and everything that, well, everyone has worked for fall down.

Read about the end times beyond the link...

Almost every single character was brought low this episode, there was one rising star amongst it all and more on him later, but for the rest? Vic unable to do almost anything without his badge. Shane forced to scrabble about squatting while his little boy suffers with hooping cough. Billings planting evidence (or having it planted) to remove a registered sex offender from his ex-wives neighbourhood. Dutch manipulating Lloyd's mother. Julien being busted (at least temporarily) back down to uniform. The Strike Team disbanded. And to cap it all off, Ronnie cracking when confronted by Claudette and providing a story that is bedded in enough truth that he might just pull it off.

Acevada is the only person who seems to be on the ascendancy now, he's playing hard ball with I.C.E. over Pezula. It's making him somewhat unlikable, but I can completely understand what he's doing and why he's doing it. Becoming mayor is his chance, his step to walk away and make a difference. Working for I.C.E. is putting that at a risk. But the way he delivered his ultimatum was exceptionally cold. I suspect being close to Vic all these years has tainted him, much like it taints everyone. Regardless, it's great to see the I.C.E. case build up to a massive target, it's a shame that Vic doesn't seem able to hang his coat tails on this one yet. If he can do something there it might save him somewhat.

Lets move onto Vic, he looks so tired and worn out now. Left scrambling around in the dark with absolutely no chance of salvation. It's clear that he's a man with few options left and almost nothing to lose,

The hospital scene was a little, weak overall, the build up was amazing, but the payoff afterwards was a little weak. No questioning of Shane and Mara by the arresting police officers, not even an attempt to detain them, especially as you have Vic with his gun levelled at a man, his wife and their child. Surely other members of the LAPD could put that together, you'd think that something would be released to other districts. It was a great moment as he levelled his gun at them, shame the writers didn't know where to go from there. Vic should have bugged out and started running before the police fully arrived. Mind you, the way it did play out was the best one fore Vic, he would have been on CCTV otherwise.

Just in case you're wondering, Vic is chasing after them with a Desert Eagle, his police sidearm was a S&W 4506.

Ronnie played his hand so well, if Shane and Vic don't screw things up for him he now has a good shot at turning away from this dark time in his life and moving on. Claudette was quite right not to let him carry on the Strike Team after what happened, but hopefully he'll get another chance at things. Then again, he could still end up catching a bullet before it's all over.

I'm thoroughly impressed with Julien, he's come out of his time on the Strike Team as a complete straight edge, refusing to leak information to Ronnie under any circumstances. He knows enough to understand what would happen if he did and he knows not to break the rules. But I can't help wonder if Tina is leaking information to Ronnie anyway, he did seem very well informed for someone who's supposed to be confined to a desk and kept out of the loop.

Dutch's serial killer pursuit heats up here. I'm starting to get a little concerned about what's going to happen to him, Lloyd is definitely a serious threat, both to his mother and to Dutch. If he isn't careful he could end up becoming a victim to his greatest obsession. The irony of Dutch being killed by a budding serial killer isn't lost on me.

In an episode with so much going on it would be easy to lose Billings, but instead his given a strong story to play with. The parallels between Vic/Shane and Billings/Dutch were obvious, I don't think the show needed Dutch to spell it out for the viewers. It could be the start of a dark path for Billings, he idolises Vic enough already, he doesn't need to start emulating Vic as well.

And last of all, Shane and Mara. Reduced to running around LA barely one step ahead of Vic, desperately hiding. Forced to squat, reduced to threatening over the phone. It's incredible how far and fast they've fallen in the matter of moments. The phone conversation between Vic and Shane was electrifying, gone were all the pretences and the two men were able to admit just how much they hated each other. Likewise the conversations between Mara and Corrine show the difference between the two women, Mara is a complete shrew, but she's strong and capable. Willing to back up Shane all the way, refusing to take the easy way out and even able to turn Corrine away from Vic.

Utterly brilliant episode with so much tension and action it was untrue. It seems everyone is set to implode at this point and only a few people look able to escape from the train wreck this show has become. I can't wait for this final month to pan out. I'm more excited than I was watching the final episodes of 'The Wire' and the end of last season's Dexter.

OK few things to consider before we leave:

• Vic has a blank passport. That's an insurance option for him there. New life, fresh start.
• Vic's pushing hard with I.C.E. I'm not convinced he'd get a post in the department, but it would be wonderfully ironic if he did. Having Vic wander into the Barn one final time in his I.C.E. jacket just so he could stick it to Claudette would be great.
• Ronnie is one heck of a prodigy, he's not only learnt from Vic he's evolved beyond him. Shane doesn't know how to do things right, Ronnie does.
• Still no sign of Danny. One last appearance for her please!

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DVDs in Review #38 - The Green Wing: 8 Disc Collector's Edition

Category: , , By Rev/Views
Created by Victoria Pile

Tamsin Greig as Dr. Caroline Todd
Sally Bretton as Kim Alabaster
Lucinda Raikes as Karen Ball
Oliver Chris as Boyce
Olivia Colman as Harriet Schulenburg
Michelle Gomez as Sue White
Pippa Haywood as Joanna Clore
Mark Heap as Dr. Alan Statham
Katie Lyons as Naughty Rachel
Stephen Mangan as Dr. Guillaume 'Guy' Valerie Secretan
Julian Rhind-Tutt as Dr. 'Mac' Macartney
Karl Theobald as Dr. Martin Dear
and Sarah Alexander as Dr. Angela Hunter

The Show:

The Green Wing is a British hospital comedy show that ran for two series plus a special to finish it off, best described as a sketch show in a hospital the show blends a mix of surreal, crude and situational humour, without touching too heavily on the medical nature of the setting. The comedy is universal and most of it could be applied to any other sit-com, it's comedy in a hospital rather than hospital comedy.

The cast runs very much as a who's who of great British comedy, we have alumni from classic shows like Spaced, Coupling, The Book Group, The Office, The Brittas Empire and Black Books. People with superb comic acting skills who are able to sell the lines and even improvise some classics themselves. Michelle Gomez's turn as Sue White includes some amazingly funny improvisations. In particular this classic:

"Do you want to have sex with me? I mean, do you want to just have, do you want to just f**k me now? Do you wanna do that? Do you wanna just get your c**k out and f**k me now? How about that, yeah? Shall we, here... on the table? Yeah, how about whopping it up my ass, what about that Mr. Secretan? Not Doctor... but Mister. Yeah? One above Doctor, how about that yeah? Mr. Secretan whopping up the staff liaison's ass."

And if you're not aware of the type of humour the Green Wing provides, you are now.

In between all of these moments which I refuse to call 'zany and madcap' on principle The Green Wing also provides a degree of continuity, events happen both inside the individual "sketches" and outside of them, propelling situations forward and providing new events for evolving comedy.

It's a great show that blends hospital soap with comedy and the completely bizarre. The casts are all very talented and comfortable in their roles, bringing a level of quality that's not often achieved on television. The show looks, sounds and feels good.

The Other Stuff:

The Collector's Edition of the Green Wing contains 8 discs that are mounted in a fold out book that is then housed inside a cardboard dust cover. The cardboard really is of the highest quality with a metallic gloss finish that can't really be expressed via photographs. Also included is a high quality booklet that has stills from the show and each disc has it's own individual picture

There is a decent selection of extras for each series of the show and they break down as follows:

Series 1:
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary on episodes 1,2,5 and 9
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
Cast & Crew Blogs

Series 2:
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary on episodes 4, 6 and 8
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

Deleted Scenes
Alternative Ending
Audio Commentary
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

There is also an eighth disc that contains previously unreleased material:
Green Wing - The Phenomenon Documentary
Deleted Scenes
Green Wing Music

The Details:
Running Time: 1,024 mins (212 for extras)
Soundtrack: English Stereo
Subtitles: English Hard of Hearing
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Colour: PAL
Region: 2

This snippy little item can be yours for the low, low price of £23.89 from sendit. But both HMV and Play have prices that are just £1.10 higher. This is 2.3 ppm which is very, very respectable for a UK show boxed set. They normally clock in around the 4 - 5 ppm mark.

The Final Word:

The Green Wing is a great show that's worth watching and this set is the best way to do it, while the words hospital and comedy might have one thinking "Scrubs rip-off" that couldn't be further from the truth, the shows are very different beasts. Right now this set is highly affordable and will provide a full nineteen hours worth of enjoyment (including extras).

One final piece of advice with regards to this series, in my personal experience The Green Wing is the kind of show that gets "borrowed" by your father and not returned. This means that one, you shouldn't lend it out because people aren't going to want to give it back and two, my dad gives his personal thumbs up to this show through his actions. And we all know that actions speak louder than words.

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Dexter - 305 - Turning Biminese

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I've finally put my finger on the root cause of my malaise where Dexter's third season has been concerned. It lays not with the show at all, it's my curiosity combined with that inappropriately titled news item at tv.com. As such I've already known the direction the season was taking, I still know the further direction at this point. Watching the show after having it unintentionally spoiled has reduced the impact of the show greatly.

I'd like to direct you to Dan's excellent review in lieu of a full one from myself, because it was very difficult for me to get excited about the big reveal at the end of this episode. Instead I shall just be bullet pointing a few of the things I did enjoy in this episode.

The short version is, the episode was very good. Easily the best one so far this season.

Read in short about fishing, character development and bullet points beyond the link...

• First of all, I'm thrilled with the direction they've taken Vince this season, I hope the colder and harder Vince remains around. Using him as a throwaway joke/pervert/clown was a real shame. He's better than that. A nice mix between the two would do.

• Jimmy Smits is just fantastic as Prado, I hope his final fate this season doesn't match the fates of Brian, Lila and Doakes in the previous two seasons. He has the potential to be a very interesting point in both Dexter's life and the series as a whole.

• Debs side story is still pretty lame, mostly because of Quinn and the terrible guy they have playing the CI, I really don't care for either of them at all. There seems to be some kind of strange love interest angle they're trying to push at with regards to her and the CI. Ugh, talk about cliched, trite and a lack of chemistry...

• Sadly likewise with Angel's storyline involving the vice cop, it was pretty predictable that it would go this way. Hopefully they have a little something more for him then just a plain ordinary 'chase the pretty lady' romance plot. David Zayas deserves a stronger plot to match his abilities.

• I'm liking the direction between Rita and Dexter, moving them closer together is just great.

• Last of all, hooray that the events in the show have almost reached the point that was spoilered. I'm tired of knowing what's up ahead, I want to be surprised by this show - just like the first two seasons which had me on the edge of my seat all the way through.

Overall, it was an excellent episode. My own experiences of this show have just been horribly tainted, I can't let that reflect badly on Dexter. It's not the fault of the show.

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Charlie Brooker's Dead Set

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Just a friendly reminder for those of you located in the land of bowler hats and tea drinking (GB) that the most excellent Charlie Brooker's first writing foray will be debuting tonight at 10pm on E4.

It's called Dead Set and in theme for the season it's about zombies. It will continue to air in 5 hour long episodes ending this Friday.

The official site is located at http://www.e4.com/deadset/ and for those people who miss it the DVD is out in November. I shall be reviewing the thing in it's entirety this Saturday.

PS. New Sharpe on Saturday! Hooray!
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Stephen Fry in America: Episode Three - Mississippi

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In this weeks adventure Stephen takes us on a journey up the mighty Mississippi river, visiting no less than ten states along the way. From the mouth of the river in New Orleans, Louisiana all the way to source in Minnesota.

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is in full swing when we start and it also seems that Stephen injured his arm at some point between Alabama and here. But it's not mentioned how or why in the episode, which is fair enough because it's about more the country, not the man. Still I must admit it nagged at me for quite a while and I was often wondering what happened. In addition to Mardi Gras we also get an insight into Voodoo, a culture that permeates the saturates the city. Then finally we're taken on a tour of the devastated ninth ward, still not repaired after hurricane Katrina hit. A place where ninty percent of the homes there were destroyed and a young marine named Isiah, who compares the state of the neighbourhood to that of war torn Iraq, guides Stephen around the desolate streets.

Next we're taken out of the city and towards the legendary Angola State Penitary (also known as "The Farm", a prison where nine in ten inmates are lifers. The prison warden Burl Caine is rightly proud his reforms in the jail, a place as large as the entire island of Manhattan, as he has turned the place around from a violent and desolate place filled with gangs into a place of genuine reform.

Leaving Louisiana behind we pass through the town of Natchez, filled with beautiful antebellum architecture before heading to Clarksdale, the home of the Blues and also the home of Morgan Freeman's club Ground Zero where Stephen meets with Morgan and the pair of them wax lyrical for a while.

After spending some time canoeing on the Mississippi itself Stephen travels to St Louis, Missouri - the gateway city, where he spends some time talking with a homeless man named William and travelling through the old abandoned stockyards to meet with more of the homeless.

Then it's a trip to Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa, the foundation and home of Transcendental Meditation, he meets with one Dr Fred Travis and has his alpha brain waves tested before talking a little about TM itself.

From here it's a trip through Indiana and Ohio to Michigan. In Indiana Stephen takes a ride in an Elkhart fire truck and chats about the great American hero, the fireman, before experiencing what it's like to be inside a smoke filled house - unpleasant would be the word of choice. In Ohio Stephen talks about the Kent State Massacre, where on May 4th 1970, thirteen students were shot by the national guard for protesting about Vietnam. A terrible incident that marked the point where the free spirit of the sixties died. In Michigan Stephen visits Detroit (Motown) and talks with John, a passionate car designer who has finally achieved his dream of designing a Cadillac.

From there it's over to Chicago, Illinois. Stephen first meets with the legendary Buddy Guys about the dying nature of the Blues and the changing landscape of music before heading to the also legendary "Second City" comedy club, a place where such greats as Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and the awesome Stephen Colbert have all performed. To this distinguished list of alumni in comedy you can now add Stephen Fry who was called up to perform on stage while he visited. Then while being initiated the following day at the wiener circle he has some sage advice to pass onto the young comedians with him, never give up because you can't be sure when you'll get your break.

Also in Chicago Stephen assists in making an Oscar and then admires the view from the once tallest building in the world the Sear's Tower. The wonderful shots of the city at night remind me once again of my own observations when travelling over New York and Newark. The way the traffic travels along the roads of America looks so much like life blood coursing through veins and arteries, it's a fantastic site that evoked many memories.

Next we travel through the ridiculously cold Wisconsin, so cold that Stephen's water is frozen in it's bottle, and meet with a woman who has a noble calling indeed. She intends to bring decent, proper cheese to America. Now I love the country, but I have to completely agree with Stephen's sentiment here. American cheese is utterly lousy, it's amongst the worst in the world - if not actually the worst. But here at least some proper decent cheese is being made in the traditional ways. And bravo for it!

Finally we travel to Minnesota, where Stephen learns about the Hmongs who sided with America in the Vietnam war and were allowed to immigrate into the country after America's defeat. They're a fascinating people who clearly still yearn for their homeland, but have made Minnesota their home. Finally Stephen heads back to the Mississippi river itself and partakes in some ice fishing - catching a Sunfish for his troubles.

Just like the previous two episodes this one was a delight to watch, America truly is a beautiful country filled with interesting and wonderful people. The episode was a delight to watch, Stephen is - as always - a delight to watch on screen.

In next weeks episode Stephen travels from Montana to Texas.

As always the episode is available to watch on the most excellent BBC iplayer and I'd like to also recommend the book as it contains a lot of additional material written with Stephen's incomparable style and wit.
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Watching The Wire: Episode Three: The Buys

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The king stay the king” – D’Angelo

Teleplay by David Simon
Story by David Simon & Edward Burns
Directed by Peter Medak

Wendell Pierce (Detective William 'Bunk' Moreland), Andre Royo (Bubbles), Lance Reddick (Lt. Cedric Daniels), John Doman (Major William Rawls), Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale), Deirdrie Lovejoy (Rhonda 'Ronnie' Pearlman), Idris Elba (Russell 'Stringer' Bell), Sonja Sohn (Detective Shakima 'Kima' Greggs), Dominic West (Detective Jimmy McNulty), Larry Gillard Jr (D'Angelo Barksdale), Frankie Faison (Deputy Op Ervin Burrell)

Brandon Price (Anton "Stinkum" Artis), Tony D. Head (Maj. Bobby Reed), Delaney Williams (Sgt. Jay Landsman), Michael Salconi (Det. Michael Santangelo), J.D. Williams (Preston "Bodie" Broadus), Corey Parker Robinson (Det. Leander Sydnor), Michael B. Jordan (Wallace), Hassan Johnson (Roland "Wee-Bey" Brice), Jim True-Frost (Off. Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski), Clarke Peters (Det. Lester Freamon), Richard DeAngelis (Maj. Ray Foerster), Seth Gilliam (Det. Ellis Carver), Michael Kenneth Williams (Omar Little), Nat Benchley (Det. Augustus "Augie" Polk), Wendy Grantham (Shardene Innes), Doug Olear (FBI Special Agent Terrence "Fitz" Fitzhugh), Tray Chaney (Malik "Poot" Carr), Domenick Lombardozzi (Off. Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk), Al Brown (I) (Maj. Stanislaus "Stan" Valchek), Tom Quinn (Det. Patrick Mahone), Michael Kevin Darnall (Brandon Wright), Lance Williams (John Bailey), William F. Zorzi (Bill Zorzi), Curtis Montez (Sterling)

The Summary:

After early morning “field interviews” conducted by Herc, Carver and Prez lead to a minor riot and bad publicity for the police, the Deputy Commissioner calls in Daniels. McNulty sends Mahone and Polk to the terrace to get a photo of Avon Barksdale. They come up short, but soft-spoken Freamon comes through with an old photo from Barksdale’s boxing days. McNulty and Greggs get surveillance equipment from McNulty’s FBI contact.

Read about dead soldiers, chess and gloves that shine like gold beyond the link...

The Recap:

The episode opens down in the Pit, an addict hassles Dee and the boys seeking a fix, but the product hasn’t arrived yet so Bodie sends him packing with some harsh words. Dee takes Bodie to task for this and queries his ‘customer service’, echoing McNulty’s sentiment in the previous episode and asking why drugs can’t be sold the same way as everything else is. It’s clear that McNulty’s question got to him and he’s been wondering the same. He’s interrupted by Bubbles, who arrives with the hats and marks out both Dee and Bodie with a red hat – signalling to Kima that they’re persons of interest, Poot and Wallace both get other hats as well. In the Pit these four lads are the Barksdale organisation.

In Burrell’s office Daniels is meeting with Valchek, Foerstor and Burrell about Prez’s actions at the towers in the previous episode. Daniels wisely wants to have Prez placed on administrative duty; he can’t call for full suspension because Valchek is Prez’s father-in-law, as Prez is clearly and impulsive problem case. Valchek is against this but Burrells hands the decision to Major Bobby Reed who agrees with Daniels. Burrell then talks to Daniels with only Valchek present, wishing to know if Daniels authorised the presence of Herc, Prez and Carver in the towers. Daniels makes it clear he knows this is a loaded question and asks if Burrell really wants an answer. The silence that comes back in reply is answer enough and Daniels falsely admits that he sent them out there, which pleases Valchek and he provides some additional support to the detail in the form of unmarked surveillance vans and potential manpower. Daniels once demonstrates that he understands how the system works and shows that he’s willing to play ball for the big dogs. After Valchek leaves Burrell goes on to explain that Valchek is considered a necessary evil and Daniels attempts to use his suction in order to swing more resources. Burrell just lets him know all that’s needed is a few weeks of street work and Daniels will be fine. There is no need for a big win, Burrell will be happy with enough to make Phelan shut up.

While Rawls and Bunk are giving a press conference about William Gant, attempting to deflect any frenzy about the shooting of a State witness, McNulty watches them on the TV and exclaims his disgust at Bunk’s actions. Kima on the other hand defends Bunk’s as doing the right thing considering the situation and they walk over to the photo board. Avon’s picture is still noticeably absent from the gallery, demonstrating just how far removed he is from the street. So he sends Polk and Mahone out to try and find a photo in the housing department. They’re not keen to do anything other than sit on their backsides and read newspapers, but McNulty tells them they either get that photo or they do all the review work on the ten homicide cases. So they choose the easier option and go polariod hunting.

Down in the pit there’s a problem, they’re out of the good stuff so Bodie and Wallace are killing time playing checkers with chess pieces. Dee is bemused why they’re playing checkers when they have chess pieces and quickly cottons onto the fact that it’s because they don’t know how to play chess. He starts to teach them and while Bodie isn’t too keen, Wallace is interested to learn, so Dee explains the game in terms that the lads will understand. Linking the pieces to real life examples from the drug organisation; Avon as the king, Stringer as the queen etc. Bodie quickly fixates on the way that pawns can get promoted when they reach the opposing back rank and he associates this with himself; while he’s got no delusions of grandeur as he knows he’s a pawn but he’s keen to go places and get promoted.

Sydnor arrives in the detail with nagras to use in surveillance; this isn’t the first time that the poor state of equipment in the department has been noted. Sydnor isn’t keen to use this gear because it’s so bulky he’ll get made no problem. In a brief cut we see Santangelo in Rawls’s office asking to be returned to homicide but Rawls wants to keep him there in order to watch McNulty. Then the action moves back to following Daniels as he arrives in the basement, McNulty and Kima are busy typing while Freamon is making his dollhouse furniture and listening to jazz. Daniels informs Kima that she has Carver and Prez back (Herc is off due to injury) but Prez is confined to office work. McNulty speculates about what it’ll take to get thrown off the police force and Kima quips that he’ll find out if he carries on the way he does. Polk and Mahone arrive back with a picture of a middle aged Caucasian taken from his file. This prompts Kima to review just how little they know about Avon, he’s pretty much kept himself off the radar for everything. He doesn’t stick with one girlfriend, he’s avoided any trouble with the law, he works out, he used to box golden gloves and that’s just about it. Freamon asks Kima where she found out about the golden gloves and then leaves onto the streets. He arrives outside a boxing club and heads on up to talk with Mack the coach there.

Kima and McNulty meet with Agent Fitz to try and get more information on Avon, but Fitz reveals that he doesn’t know anything about the man before showing them footage of the final FBI bust (the same one he was working on in ‘The Target’). But that’s it for the FBI; they’re moving onto counter-terrorism now. McNulty requests some decent equipment from Fitz and when McNulty tells him who’s in charge of the case Fitz hesitates for a moment before carrying on. Kima and McNulty notice this but do not push any further.

It’s raining in the Pit when the new red-tops arrive and Bodie has the addicts line up for their stuff, but he’s being watched from a van by three men. They notice one of Dee’s lads head over to a house and the one with the scar speaks, this man is called Omar Little and we’ll learn more about him later. The three of them identify that the third house is where the stash is located and comment on how sloppy the operation is.

Bubbles is meeting with McNulty and Kima in the basement, they’re discussing McNulty’s custody issues. Bubs observes that McNulty must have cheated on her if she’s giving him that much hassle. McNulty concurs and muses why Bubs is so observant and intelligent if he lives the life he does. Bubs doesn’t have an answer himself. After McNulty inquires about Kima’s home life Bubs crudely begins to reveal that Kima is a lesbian, McNulty shows a lot of tolerance towards this and the pair of them settle that it doesn’t really make a difference.

Dee meets up with Stringer in Orlando’s (passing by Shardene on the way in) to hand in the days takings. He’s taken a lot of cash considering that he’s located in the low-rises and it’s noted. But Dee’s a little concerned about getting some new product; Stringer lays it on the line and reveals that the new stuff is the old stuff, just in new packaging. Dee notes that the current lot of heroin is very weak, but Stringer shrugs and says that they’ll just shift more; addicts will take whatever they need to get their high before handing him a bonus. On the way out Dee sits down with Shardene and buys her a drink before talking a little.

In the basement Kima is preparing to head out in the van when Freamon returns with a poster of Avon from his boxing days. He hands it over and heads off without saying a word before Sydnor walks in dressed ready to go out undercover. Bubbs is asked to provide his expert opinion on Sydnor’s disguise and he notes a few things that should be changed, especially the shoes. The soles of Sydnor’s shoes, while dirty, are too intact to look realistic, when walking around the projects you walk on what Bubbs calls ‘dead soldiers’ the discarded heroin vials and they cut up the soles.

A rough looking Sydnor heads out into the Pit with Bubbs and Kima gets some good shots of the hand outs, but it’s clear that the people out in the Pit, especially those who handle the product, are unimportant. As Kima leaves Omar and his boys are still watching the Pit. And back at the basement Kima, Sydnor and McNulty are sat around when Daniels returns from upstairs. They’ve got almost nothing, but the upstairs brass wants to make this disappear so they’d be content with just a few low level busts and some product on the table. Once these arrests have happened it’s all over, McNulty has had enough at this and walks out.

He arrives at Rhonda’s place to ask her how to clone a beeper. Hopefully you’ve noticed by now that Dee and the others all use pagers, antiquated technology for the time. He can get one cloned if he has probable cause, they’ve exhausted all other options and a supervisor signs off on it. This is also the first moment where we find out that Rhonda and McNulty know each other more than they’ve indicated. In all the professional encounters they’ve hardly spoken but it’s now revealed that she’s the woman who McNulty was cheating on his wife with (or at least one of them). The sex that follows highlights just how long they’ve been at it; they’re almost synchronised and routine in their sounds.

In the Pit Dee and Bodie are still waiting on the re-up and Dee heads off for food when Stinkum arrives with the gear. Suddenly the stash is hit by Omar and his boys and after shooting one of the guards in the leg they get the stuff hidden under the sink. But one of the stick up crew (Brandon) screws up and calls Omar by his name just before they withdraw. Poot pukes from the fear and Omar makes his get away by the time Dee returns. Bubbs sees the whole thing.

The following morning Daniels is briefing the detail in preparation to hit the stashes. McNulty is clearly being insubordinate by not suiting up in his Kevlar and Daniels takes him into his office. Daniels is once again very angry at McNulty and demands that he write this up as a sick day. McNulty refuses to play ball and walks out. As the rest of the detail role out Herc turns up and is allowed to join in despite being on medical. Prez is the only one left back at the office.

In the Pit Wee-bey is dressing down Dee for failing to be around when the stash was hit, while there’s little he could have done he’s still torn into for not being there. The only information Bodie and Dee can give Wee-bey is Omar’s name and a white van. Then the police arrive and hit the wrong door as Bodie switched up the location of the stash yesterday. Bodie hits Mahone during the arrest and Carver starts beating him down for it before Kima and others run over and join in (to make an example of Bodie) Freamon examines the now empty stash house and finds a number written on the wall with a D next to it. Outside the reporters offer to film whatever was pulled, but as Kima notes they “ain’t got s**t.”

McNulty meets up with Fitz in a car park and Fitz drops the bomb about Daniels, as his hesitation before suggested, there’s something wrong with Daniels, he’s dirty. The B.P.D. went to the FBI about Daniels in the previous year. It turns out that Daniels has more cash than he should have and Burrell did nothing about it…

The Themes:

Many themes continue from the previous two episodes.

There ain’t any real good guys” – Daniels has been portrayed so far as a straight laced by the book cop who’s willing to do what’s right for his men. But now we find out that there’s more to him than just this, at this point the only decent cops we’ve seen who remain mostly straight are Kima, Bunk and Sydnor. Just about everyone else is political, lazy, insubordinate or possibly corrupt.

The easy way out” – While it’s been clear from that get go that the Baltimore P.D. is only interested in an easy win here; this is the first major indication of how much they want that. Hitting the Pit was a huge error on their part. The place contains no high ranked members of the Barksdale organisation and it was even more unwise to strike the day after a C.I. informs them that the stash has been hit. How anyone could have expected to locate anything once the Barksdale organisation has been hit is a real question.

The Catchphrase Count:
“What the f**k did I do?” x3

The Review:

This episode is mostly a Pit orientated episode, which is to be expected considering the name. On the whole less punchy events happen in it when compared to either of the previous episodes, but there are some great moments still. The chess discussion is a just a fantastic example of subject based teaching and a superb analogy for the drug organisational structure. Likewise the dead soldiers moment with Bubbs is also a classic, Andre Royo is such a superb character actor that it’s impossible to see the Harvard graduate underneath the junkie he’s playing and the repeat of McNulty’s sentiments by Dee are also great, Larry Gillard Jr. is such an excellent actor and his portrayal of Dee is just fantastic, it’s a real question mark why he hasn’t been given something bigger in TV land yet.

Development-wise this episode is a huge set back for the Police Department; they still don’t appreciate just who they’re dealing with here. The assumption from the brass is that the Barksdales are just some punk dealers who’ll cave quickly and are nothing to roll up. But it’s clear that this is not the case, when you’ve got a kingpin who’s that far removed from anything it’s plain that you’re dealing with a highly effective business that’s built on the principles of trying to avoid attention. It’s quite likely that if Dee hadn’t shot the man in the lobby and thus garnered McNulty’s and Phelan’s attention the B.P.D. would still be completely oblivious to it all.

Of course, this is effectively the third chapter of the story and it’s still building up, there’s no sign of the titular wire, the police are still fumbling about and making assumptions. In fact there’s not a lot of evidence to reveal just how great the show becomes when it gets rolling. So I can see why people struggle to get past here, it’s all to easy to incorrectly judge the show at this point and assume it’s following the same rules as every other ordinary show. But when you look at it in the context of a novel a very different beast rears its head. This is the stage where the protagonists fail to understand exactly what they’re dealing with and rush in half cocked.

Over the next few episodes they’ll need to get their heads properly into the game, otherwise there’s no chance they’ll even get close to a sniff of Avon and Stringer.

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Last Chance to See

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Today I'm going to unashamedly plug another of Stephen Fry's projects, this time it's 'Last Chance to See' located here on the web itself. The original 'Last Chance to See' was a radio show that had writer Douglas Adams travelling with Mark Carwardine to look at rare and endangered animals. Stephen, who was a close friend of Adams before his heart attack, has decided to take up his legacy and revisit the locations and animals.

There's plenty more on the site, I can't really do it justice myself.

Stephen's video blogs are here.
Mark's are here.
Some history behind the project is here.

And I'll leave the rest for you to discover by yourself, videos are being added to the site literally as they're uploaded from location.

Share and enjoy, share and enjoy.
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The Week That Was 25/10/08

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I'm really sorry to do this, I am. But Life is being bumped down into the week that was feature instead of getting it's own episode review because I'm tired with the lack of consistency. After last week's brilliant Standford Prison Experiment episode this week's was pretty average, and while average for some shows is still miles above the rest Life is not one of those shows. The problem is, I like the show, but this is not Life as I know it. If they'd just pull things together and get back to the great and compelling moments of the latter part of the first season then things would be forgiven. But it's had too many duffers so far with only two episodes that were good.

Likewise Dexter has been bumped down to here, in part because my personal schedule is utterly overwhelmed with other things and something had to give. And in part because this season hasn't been very inspiring compared to the previous two seasons. Last Sunday's episode wasn't bad, but it also wasn't really good either. It seems the show is a little rudderless right now having shot it's bolt in the previous seasons with the loss of two really good antagonists (B & D).

Family Guy:
"Das Poop!"
I never like the "Road to _____" series it's a set of stories that Seth and Co seem very fond of but I find to be rather boring overall. Fortunately this one is pretty good, the Little Shop of Horrors skit was great, as was the Back to the Future skateboard scene, the Top Gun references, the awesome Flash Gordon moment with Brian Blessed and the Indiana Jones snow raft moment. It was all very silly and a lot of fun.

American Dad:
In contrast, American Dad was. Eh, not so interesting. Stan's juggling work and home life again, which is a little... meh considering the potential subject matter. You have to wonder how a show about a fat overweight American can result in an epic romp around wartime Germany while it's sister show about a powerful CIA man instead spends it's time rowing back and forth across a lake to a fat girl. Below average for the show, nothing really that funny contained within it.

Utterly stupid, utterly fun. But it was a real shame they decided to kill off Adam Monroe, he was one of the better characters in the show and definitely the best thing that happened last season (that wasn't retconned this season). At least they've finally neutered stupid Peter, man I'm tired of his special blend of poor acting and plain stupidity of character. Sadly it seems the writers have decided to infect almost every other character in the show with an lowered intelligence. But as long as it remains fun, I'll watch this season.

Also how did I miss the Hare & the Tortoise reference with regards to Parkman and Daphne?

How I Met Your Mother:
After a brilliantly leaked fake out set of pictures last week the crew at HIMYM had a lot of people thinking that we were going to see a happy ending. But as the episode unfolds, no. It was a great little episode with some fantastic moments, more sentimental than funny mind you.
But, I'm thinking the show has just one or two more seasons in it after this one through, it shouldn't be dragged out.

Boston Legal:
"Have you no shame what so ever?"
We have a solid episode of Boston Legal this week, to be honest there's nothing we haven't seen before. But there are slight inklings of how the show is going to end creeping in here. Denny and Alan's antics have consequences at long last, the firms reputation is suffering and Shirley is less than impressed with them both. There was plenty for everyone to do, except Carl and Katie who were somewhat sidelined, it does seem that David struggles to write for an ensemble style show. His next project should try focusing on only a couple of core characters and then have reoccuring guest stars that fit the situation when needed. Funnily enough this might be what his next project is...

Did I mention how much I love Tara Summers as Katie? Yes? Did I mention it this week? Well I have now.

The Shield:
This episode was the best thing that has been on TV since the fall season started, more here.

The Office:
I'm really, really enjoying seeing Michael and Holly together. The stuff he says is so cringe-worthy that you think it's all going to blow up but then Holly talks and you realise that they're very much in sync. The auction was also good, with some great moments but I think my favourite moments was the lot "leave now and have a drink with us" and the moment when Dwight realised that his cruelty towards Phyllis was unwarranted and he attempted to make up for it by bidding heavily on a hug with her - each time passing the previous bid by a penny. The other great moment was Jim meeting up with Roy again and nearly developing the same level of possessiveness and paranoia as he had by rushing off to New York to see Pam without warning. But instead of causing some scene he comes to his senses and turns back.

My Name is Earl:
Another episode with Earl attempting to make amends with Randy, this time by getting him a car for his birthday, except it gets stolen and Earl is forced to talk to the police instead of just getting drunk and inflicting violence and property damage onto the culprits (as he did before he got his list). Pretty standard fare for the show, it does feel like it's in a bit of a rut right now. Very formulaic.

While this week's episode couldn't hold a candle to last week's utterly amazing black and white B Movie monster homage this week did have some pretty superb moments. With Dean acting up after being infected with a 'ghost sickness' - the actual threat of some ghostly illness was pretty laughable. But the episode itself was great, Dean was acting up like a prize coward and you could see that Jensen Ackles was relishing the chance to break character. The episode also packed a couple of strong moments when Dean's fears about Sam resulted in a hallucination where Sam displayed the powers of old yellow eyes. But the real sting was right at the end, where a now cured Dean saw a flash of yellow in Sam's eyes. Sam has vowed off using his powers, but that's not a good sign.

Also, the scene after the credits was amazing and hilarious at the same time, you don't even need to watch the show to enjoy this one so here it is:

On the DVD front I gave up attempting to recover my Green Wing DVDs and picked up the complete collection instead (review coming soon), the phone call to my father was interesting. I started off asking about my DVDs and he flat denied having them, claiming he'd returned them to me a while back. Seeing how I keep my DVDs in order and always have them on the shelf if I'm not watching them, I know he was mistaken. But he was pretty pleased when I told him he could keep them. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect he was trying to borrow them indefinitely anyway.

I also picked up the 15 disc "Almost everything ever in one gloriously fabulous ludicrously definitive outrageously luxurious Monty Python boxset" and the first two series of Rob Brydon's "Marion & Geoff"
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The Shield: Collected Reviews Round Up: Parricide

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There's masses of swearing in almost all of the reviews this week. True last week's episode had the word "Bitches" in every single title, but heck that's because of the episode's name. All the swearing this week is because the episode is completely, utterly, ball-busting, life changing and brilliant.

Alan's review is here. The inevitable "Wire/Shield" comparisons start creeping up and some commenters seem bemused as to why the comparison is ever broached. Well it's not because they're creatively in the same plane. They're not, The Wire is a masterpiece of characterisation and writing, but The Shield knows exactly how to grab you right where it hurts, turn you upside down and shake until you pass out from the pain. Ultimately they're both masterpieces, there is just a massive difference in the depth and style between the shows. (I'm pretty sure if they weren't both cop shows with grey morals we wouldn't get the comparisons.)

Capone's is located here over on Ain't it Cool. I'm guessing he enjoyed the episode, a lot.

There's some speculation about a second copy of The Strike Team Sin files in the comments over at Premium Hollywood. Myself I'm just wondering what the non-premium part of Hollywood looks like.

Some rather NSFW language over at geeky talk, but I'm not surprised. The episode is one of those that can only really be expressed with such words. It was hard for me to not write "F**k me, best episode I've seen all fall season." Oh, look. I did anyway...

Jason Pinter missed the chance to recap last weeks episode, but he's bang up to date with this week's on his blog. He also adds in a few thoughts about Bitches Brew at the end of the post.

It seems Jonathan Toomey enjoyed the show as much as a hot, spicy Mexican meal over at TV Squad. It's a fitting analogy for the way the episode leaves you feeling after watching it.

Tom R's recap is short, but on target and has an interesting thought about the alternate spelling of Parricide as Parracide (Parasite, get it?)

Last of all is the imdb synopsis. As always it's long and detailed. If there was anything you're unsure of about the episode. Them there is the place to look.

5 More episodes and it's all over, what are we going to do with ourselves then?
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Checking the List

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As I have a quiet day I'm pulling through my collection and seeing what is on my list left to get. It's a lot smaller than the one I drew up last year.

American Dad: Season 3
The A-Team: The Final Season (5)
Battlestar Galactica (2003): Seasons 2 to 4
Boston Legal: Seasons 2 & 3
Carnivale: Season 2
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 6
The Complete Green Wing (I don't think I'm ever recovering my original set from my Father now, he seems to have latched onto them permanently)
The Complete Father Ted
Scrubs: Season 5 & 6
Sharpe - Complete
Simpsons: Season 11

And here are the Upcoming DVD releases I'm interested in (Complete with links to play.com's listings):

House M.D: Season 4
The 4400: Complete Collection
Oz: The Complete Collection

1st - 16th November
Monty Python's Flying Circus: Complete Series (Deluxe Edition)
Futurama: Complete Seasons 1 - 4 Collection Box Set (Repackaged version)
Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law - Season 1 Boxset
Family Guy: Season 7
Dead Set
Gavin & Stacey: Series 2

17th - 30th November
Bones: Season 3
Stephen Fry: In America (2 Discs)
Ian Rankin's Rebus

I'd also like to quickly note that The Wire: The Complete Boxset is out in Region 2 in December, sadly for us it's nowhere near as good as the upcoming Region One version. It's just the individual season DVD sets boxed up. I was planning to purchase a second version of this, but the complete R2 set doesn't seem worth it as I already have all the individual sets.

Just to be clear, I've used the play.com links due to ease of navigation, they may not have the best prices. It is worth checking amazon, zavvi, HMV, sendit and your own personal favourites before purchasing.

It always pays to shop around.
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Curb Your Enthusiasm Returns in 2009!

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I don't often post about news items here, I tend to leave that for the people in the blogs I read. Instead I like to concentrate on DVDs and a small selection of shows I watch. But I really can't keep quiet about this one after I read it over at Rob Buckley (mediumrob)'s site - The Medium is Not Enough - in his selection of Thursday news bites.

Larry David's fantastic comedy show has been slotted for another 10 episodes, they start filming in December and will broadcast in 2009 (most likely next October). I know the title of the show asks one to not get excited, but I am. Really I am. Season Six was fantastic. Woo.

And there I was thinking there would be almost nothing to watch next fall, how foolish of me.
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DVDs in Review: #37 - Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law: Volume One

As the region two release of this DVD set is imminent I thought I'd review the region one version as that's the one I have.

The Show:

I've been into some general detail about the show in the Why You Should Watch feature on it, so I'm going to talk about the specific episodes included in this set. If you want broader strokes about the show click that link.

Volume One contains, funnily enough, the first thirteen episodes that cover Harvey Birdman's early adventures/cases while working for Sebben & Sebben. Over the course of this volume Harvey deals with the problem of a wide range of classic cartoon characters in the courts of law. This volume also introduces us to many of the other core characters; including Harvey's boss Phil Ken Sebben (Falcon 7 from Birdman), Harvey's sidekick Avenger the eagle, his clerical assistant Peanut, co-worker and general philanderer Peter Potamus, nemesis X the Eliminator, Judge Hiram Mightor, Judge Mentok the Mind Taker, Attorney's Myron Reducto, Stan Freezoid, Evelyn Spyro Throckmorton and Vulturo. Oh and of course, Bear.

The episodes deal with in order:
Bannon & Quest's custody battle (Johnny Quest), Apache Chief's hot coffee incident (Super Friends), Shaggy & Scooby being busted for drugs (Scooby Doo), The Unabooboo (Yogi Bear), a case of intelectual property theft (The Neptunes), A mafia mob boss (Flintstones), Murder (Blue Falcon), X's attempts to get Birdman's crest (X, The Eliminator), skin cancer caused by over exposure to the sun's rays (Birdman is solar powered), a stuntman being sued for imitable stunts (Ernie Devilin), a very short detective suing for wrongful dismissal (Inch High Private Eye) and a case of an out of control buggy (Speed Racer).

Really there's just no way to express how enjoyable and funny this show is, poking in a good natured fashion at a lot of old classic cartoons that many adults will have watched as a child growing up. Each episode runs for about ten minutes and is packed to the feathers with gags, puns, non-sequiturs, practical jokes and low brow humour of every kind. It's a great show and the first batch of episodes are all brilliant.

The Other Stuff:
Volume One (and indeed all of the three volumes of this set) is a fantastic little package, the external box is cardboard styled like faux leather, complete with added wear and tear to make it look more like a law book.

Isn't it lovely? Then you slide out the interior box and it's made to look like the internal pages of one of Harvey's own books.


Fold that out and you get this.

Which is absolutely choka-block filled with stuff to read. The production of this set really is just fantastic, a lot of other companies could learn from this set. It's a real tactile experience getting the DVD down off the shelf to watch, you just can't help run your fingers across the cover and read the little notes on the interior box. This is amongst the best packaging I've ever had the pleasure to own. There is a downside, because it's all constructed of cardboard it is a little more prone to damage/wear and tear on the corners. Mine is already dinged.

First of all, I have to give big props to the main menu; it's not the most exciting thing to look at, but it more than makes up for it's looks with the music. They've put the full length version of Wesley Wills's song "Birdman kicked my ass" playing over the top of it, it's fantastic that the main menu has something like this. Too many menus are half assed attemptes with broken animation/music loops loops that have just part of the theme song playing on them.

As for Extras, there are a decent amount of them on here, let's have a list:

• Deleted Scenes from Deadomutt and Trio's Company
• Live Action version of the opening credits
• Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law Movie Trailer
• Casting What Ifs? Stephen Colbert and Todd Barry as Harvey
• Pencil Test and Final Animation Comparison on Shaggy Busted
• Tab Can Redux, with lyrics
• The Wind Beneath his Wings
• Commentaries for: Very Personal Injury, The Dabba Don, SPF, The Devilin Made Me Do It (2 versions), Trio's Company

The Region 2 version will apparently retail for £19.99 in the UK with a run time of 154 mins plus extras. It's a hefty 13 ppm, which is far from the best ratio I've reviewed so far. A price of around £10 would be a better one to pay, so you might want to wait for it to drop a little before buying.

Runtime: 154 mins
Region: 0 (Yes, that's right. Volume One is region free!)
Sound: Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

The Final Word:

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The Shield - 708 - Parracide/Parricide

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  1. The murdering of one's father, mother, or other near relative.
  2. One who commits such a murder.
  1. The latest episode of The Shield.
That mild dig aside (mostly made so that I'd have both spellings in this post for the search engines) let's push on and look at this weeks episode of The Shield. Something I have no hesitation now in calling "The Best Thing On TV Right Now", in this season of rather lackluster shows and below average performances from drama across the board The Shield stands mighty and tall with it's broken bronze badge and brutality charges.

Read about motorbikes, the priesthood and confessions beyond the link...

As I thought last week Shane decided to try and pull the one-two on Ronnie and Vic at the same time, unfortunately his choice of Two Man as the shooter for Ronnie was not the best one. Two Man botches the job, and Ronnie phones Vic before he enters his own home - where Shane was waiting for him - so neither of the two men get killed. This pretty much triggers the avalanche for the rest of the episode, cause and effect runs away and we just get a simply amazing episode.

Shane scrambles with Julien in an attempt to find Two Man and put him down before he gets caught and Shane's actions come out. They search his hang outs and come up with nothing before Two Man is caught by a rookie on the street. This is bad news for Shane and by extension bad news for Vic and Ronnie, their beef has been kept private between the three of them until now, if Two Man breaks the wrong way then it'll all start to bubble up - and it stinks. But right at this moment Vic and Ronnie aren't entirely convinced Shane is behind the hit, it could just be retaliation over Ronnie's beating of Two Man last week.

Shane and Vic's attempts to get put in the interview room fail. Dutch and Billings are given the job, this forces Shane to make a desperate play, entering the interview room, disabling the camera and asking Two Man where the gun is so he can hide it. Two Man eventually agrees to trust him, but not before Claudette notices that Shane is in there - he gives her a lousy excuse and leaves. Recovering the gun from it's hiding place and ensuring that Two Man will be able to walk.

But, Dutch, Billings, Claudette and Vic all have other ideas and decide to lie to Two Man; telling him they found the gun. Two Man is hard and reasonably smart, he doesn't crack on this one. So Vic suggests that they crack him by telling him that they have witnesses - after a moment this proves to be enough and on camera Two Man begins to confess, while Shane makes himself scarce. Once again The Shield bucks conventions by having things fall apart a lot earlier than expected, Shane confessed early in season six and now he's on the run early in season seven. I adore the way the writers mix things up like this, giving us massive moments before the final episode.

Mara meets up with Corrine at her house and tells her everything, delivering the ultimate that if Vic and Ronnie don't help provide them with information on the manhunt Shane will confess to everything. She tells Corrine that Vic shot Terry and robbed the Armenian money train before leaving. Corrine goes to talk to Vic at the station and tells him that she will help him, but it'll cost him his family. She'll back him up this one last time but he'll never see them again, Vic's lost his family as a result of his actions.

Shortly after that Vic packs in his badge as it's the only way he can go after Shane, he knows that eventually Shane will get caught and confess to everything. When that happens it's all over for him and Ronnie, Ronnie will spend the rest of his life in prison and Vic will be executed. So it seems that the plan is to make Shane disappear for good. Of course if he kills Shane he'll be the number one suspect in all of this and he'll also have to kill Mara (who is pregnant) and maybe even Shane's boy. He's in an unthinkable situation now and that's assuming that Shane hasn't kept a copy of everything his 'everything we did' file - something he told Mara he did do.

Now there was other stuff happening with ICE, Olivia, the blackmail box, Pezula, a guest appearance by Silas Weir Mitchellas a priest and Acevada. But it was pretty much nothing behind the twin thunder shocks of Two Man's confession forcing Shane to run and Vic throwing in his badge to go after him. Which in some ways is a shame, Silas was very good in his role but it's hard to take the side stories seriously when everything is crashing around them.

Also, anyone else notice that no-one seemed to notice that Danny has left at this point, admittedly events were crashing about while this happened, someone shooting at a cop tends to get the entire department focused externally and rushing about. But is that it for Danny? Surely she gets something more than just packing boxes in her house as a final scene...

Regardless, Parricide was a breathtaking piece of entertainment that still has me pumped and excited with the way it suddenly twisted near the end of the episode. Things are almost unthinkable now, it doesn't look like this is going to end well for anyone...

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Stephen Fry in America: Episode Two - Deep South

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First of all, before I push on I'd like to mention (in a related matter) I had a wonderful message from twitter this week. The main of it was "Stephen Fry is now following your updates on Twitter." Now I know that the man himself follows around seven thousand people and I'm just one amongst the masses, but it was nice that he returned my decision to follow him as there was no obligation to do so at all. Needless to say, his tweets are infinitely more interesting than my own. It made my day.

Onto the episode, where Stephen travels through the deep south, visiting the Arlington cemetery in Virginia, a Coal mine in West Virginia, Race Horses and Bourbon in Kentucky, a body farm at Knoxville university in Tennessee, Air ballooning in North Carolina, he experiences Gullah in South Carolina, Thanksgiving in Georgia, some kind of concrete hell in Florida and an American football match in Alabama.

Much like last week there's only so much room in an hour so some states get a far more detailed treatment than others. We get a few shots of the thought provoking ceremony at Arlington and a few more of the cemetery itself before Stephen heads off to find the Mason-Dixon Line. Again during this, I'm amazed as just how beautiful America is during the travelling shots, admittedly autumn is a season that can make even the biggest s**thole look beautiful, but the rolling hills of America are certainly as far from a s**thole as they could possibly be.

In West Virginia Stephen explores an absolutely massive mine, some ten square miles in size, and we get a glimpse into the lives of people who risk everything to bring us one of the foundation resources of our current society - coal. In Kentucky we get to see race horses and of course bourbon whiskey, two of the three things the state is famous for, it seems Stephen samples a little too much of the drink, but who can blame him for that?

In Tennessee we have the most thought provoking and disturbing moments of the episode, first of all we're entertained by the wonderful tones of bluegrass music and then in Knoxville Stephen visits a body farm. Now I've seen plenty of death both in my life and on television, but this section remained the most unsettling part of the show by a huge margin. While it's all part of a noble pursuit that helps capture criminals and identify the deceased it's still a grim sight. While a fully exposed skeleton laying in the dirt isn't too hard to stomach it's a little tougher when you're looking at ant covered feet under a black plastic tarpaulin and realising that they're not some actor or fake prosthetic. Likewise with a hugely decomposed torso in a plastic bin. While it's understandable that places like this exist, it's not something I care to dwell on for too long. Life is too short to get upset about death.

Next we skip through North Carolina with the sight of a black bear up a tree and then a balloon ride that skims the treetops close enough to collect leaves before moving onto South Carolina where Stephen (and the viewers) learn about Gullah, which is a culture based on a mixture of the African cultures that came over during the times of slavery. The lady he talks to shows a great deal of wisdom and tolerance during her conversation with him, a sign of how times change but history should not be forgotten.

Stephen then spends thanksgiving with a wonderful family in Georgia, charming them in his almost effortless manner and (attempting) some horse riding. Stephen's charms do not extend to those of the equine persuasion and the horse acts up slightly, surprising the family somewhat. He then travels on to Florida and experiences Miami and Miami Beach, a pair of cities that comes across as a form of concrete hell to him. Lacking soul and beauty in it's artificial nature, I especially enjoyed his wise and accurate remarks about the ugliness of the beautiful located there.

After a trip through the Everglades Stephen travels back up north into Alabama and experiences the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles before watching the spectacle that is a college American football match. A dizzying mix of sights, actions and sounds that was capped with planes travelling low overheard at the climax. Stephen's face was much like my own when I experienced a similar thing out there, it's amazing the sheer showcase that happens in something that's really just a match between university teams. The level of enthusiasm, grandeur and overall silliness of it is just breathtaking. You feel simultaneously amazed and bemused by it all.

Despite having travelled through several of these States myself I enjoyed the first episode more than this one, there are moments that will not be easily forgotten but nothing that quite moved me as much as the beautiful architecture located in the New York cabin and Rhode Island. Still, it is a documentary that was filled with wonderful shots, conversations and just a great experience. Stephen both educates and entertains at the same time. Brilliant stuff.
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