●●●○○ This dark, seventeenth-century historical thriller takes its lead from Tom Hardy’s Taboo and Peaky Blinders, bringing shady alleys and violence to period drama. There’s something of the vanity project to this three-parter – Kit Harington co-produces and stars as … Continue reading BBC One’s “Gunpowder” – review It’s 1605, Elizabeth I is dead, James VI of Scotland has become James I of England, and Protestant persecution of Catholics is escalating.
●●●○○ Holly Bourne has come a long way from her semi-supernatural debut Soulmates, which presupposed the existence of its titular phenomenon and had a secret international organisation apparently prepared to expend resources and time keeping two teenagers apart simply because … Continue reading “It Only Happens in the Movies” – review The novel is Bourne’s most obvious feminist critique yet, though it lacks some of the humour and warm friendships that made the ‘Spinster Club’ series bearable.
In an autumn overflowing with the careful enunciation of historical drama, historical comedy can seem a bit of an odd offering. It’s rare that a half hour of historical fiction is even vaguely funny, while violin-strung melodrama is a weekly … Continue reading Quacks BBC 2 Gore’s Anatomy
Steven (Stephen? Baking Borg 9000?) A three-time Star Baker at the time of writing, Steven has incurred the suspicion of the Bake Off fandom for simply being too good at everything. Undoubtedly one of the top bakers in the tent, … Continue reading Bake Off: The Quarter Finalists
●●○○○ It seems it’s written into the BBC’s statutes that they must have a series about the armed forces airing at all times, as latest war drama Our Girl returns for a third series. It essentially fills in for recently-finished … Continue reading “Our Girl” Isn’t Up To It BBC One’s latest military drama fulfils the requirements, without exciting anyone.
The scene: Westeros: The set-up: winter is here, Daenerys is (finally) there, and Game of Thrones is over for another year. It has turned dense, pseudo-medieval fantasy fiction into one of the most watched TV shows of the last decade. … Continue reading Flights of Fantasy Why is it so difficult to make fantasy on TV?
●●●●○ Back for a second series after last year’s eight-episode run took audiences from accession to the birth of an heir, Jenna Coleman’s young and opinionated Queen Victoria is faced with more political shenanigans, servants who just can’t keep their … Continue reading We Are Amused: the Return of “Victoria” Series 2, Episode 1 offers a second helping of a reliable recipe for a successful Sunday night historical drama, but can it do more?
The final episode of Poldark’s third series opened with coastlines, rum, warbling, and even a flicked-out sailor’s telescope (not a euphemism). There were love letters with phrases like ‘press but her lips to mine, and never let love decay’ (basically the eighteenth century’s answer to sexting); George was screwing over the poor again; and Geoffrey Charles was channeling Aunt Agatha (“It’s a Poldark house! And he’s a usurper!”). This being a series finale, however, it was inevitable they’d invoke the ancient Poldark rule that no more than two people can be happy at any one time (this week it was Dwight and Caroline). I predicted a finale of adultery and clifftop contemplation, mining and murder, and though there was less of the latter, they went hell for leather on the former.
●●●●○ In a Heartbeat: the four-minute short film here to brighten your day. This independent début – which has racked up 23 million views at the time of writing, captures first crushes and adolescent awkwardness as a boy risks being … Continue reading In a Heartbeat: The Four Minute Short Film to Brighten Your Day
The penultimate episode of Poldark series three was a bit of a belter, mainly thanks to one particularly spectacular bait and switch. Poldark rarely employs overt storytelling devices (there’s only been one hallucinatory vision sequence so far this year, and hardly any voiceovers) but when they do, it’s marvellous. SPOILERS!
There is only one important take-away from this week’s Poldark: Aunt Agatha’s (Caroline Blakiston) gleeful cackling and ominous forewarnings are no more. Last week it looked like the last of the Trenwith Poldarks (excluding young Geoffrey Charles, and bearing in … Continue reading Keeping up with Poldark – series 3, episode 7
●●●○○ This week’s Poldark opened, rather uncharacteristically, in the Trenwith home of Elizabeth and George Warleggan, where they proceeded to eat strawberries in their four-poster like they weren’t trying to plot the downfall of every decent character within a thirty-mile … Continue reading Keeping up with Poldark: series 3, episode 6