I share my thoughts and feelings about TV shows, films and music.
Pilot season is done and dusted… America’s broadcast networks have picked up their new shows and the trailers (clips in the CW’s case) are now available to watch on YouTube. I’ve compiled a list of the shows I’m looking forward to
downloading watching next year.
Us & Them
I absolutely abhorred Gavin & Stacey. It was a vastly overrated sitcom with an incredibly un-likeable cast and poor writing but oddly enough, I think I’m going to thoroughly enjoy its’ American remake - Us & Them. The cast is particularly strong, the premise is cute and the jokes in the trailer were actually rather funny. It’s just a shame that I have to wait until 2014 to watch it though.
I love quirky family sitcoms, I’m a fan of Christopher Meloni and I’ve got a weird fascination with the 90s so Surviving Jack is definitely ‘right up my street’. The show is also based on Justin Halpern’s best-selling book I Suck At Girls, which according to critics, is a very funny book and the show itself has received positive reviews so far.
About A Boy
David Walton. Minnie Driver. Jason Katims. Do I need to say anything more? This show seems amazing and the fact that it’s based on one of my favourite films makes it x10 more amazing. It’s just a shame that NBC is holding it until spring 2014 as I NEED IT NOW!
The Tomorrow People
I’ve never seen the original series but I really liked the trailer for The Tomorrow People. The cinematography was beautiful, the CGI was very impressive and the acting was pretty good. The show comes across as a cross between X-Men and Heroes but I’ve every faith in Greg Berlanti (he’s the man behind Arrow) in making sure that it does not ‘turn to shit’ the way Heroes did.
I’ve been listening to a lot of good music lately. In this round-up, I discuss R&B’s favourite ice queen Cassie, Laura Mvula’s new record Sing To The Moon and Jessie Ware’s new song “Imagine It Was Us”
So Cassie has released a new single called “Numb” and it’s bloody brilliant. Her icy, monotone vocals work so well with the eerie, haunting and ‘trippy’ beat and while I’m not a massive fan of Rick Ross, he compliments the song and adds a certain gravitas to it.
In addition to “Numb”, Cassie is also releasing an EP called RockaByeBaby on April 11th. Judging by the preview for “Paradise”, the EP is shaping up to be very good.
I discovered Laura Mvula when I attended that disastrous taping of The Graham Norton Show back in February. Her performance was definitely the only real highlight of the night. Having loved her performance, I listened to “Green Garden” an awful lot before indulging in her EP. By the time Sing To The Moon had come out, I was a fully fledged Laura Mvula fan. From the sonically rich “Can’t Live With The World” to the utterly brilliant “She”, the album is an impressive collection of songs.
A couple of weeks ago, Jessie Wage premièred a new song called “Imagine It Was Us” on Annie Mac’s radio show. The song isn’t your typical club song. It’s sophisticated, slinky and sexy while having a very retro feel to it. Jessie’s soft soulful voice compliment the minimal production.
I watched Spring Breakers yesterday and it is a very strange film. It revolves around four teenage girls: Candy, Faith, Brit and Cotty who indulge in a relentless few days of sun, sex and Skrillex (yep, that’s right, Skrillex). They soon befriend a cornrowed rapper called Alien, who gets them to do his dirty work.
On one hand, Spring Breakers feels like an extended music video, filled with meaningless scenes of pretty girls having one big party but on the other hand, there’s clearly more to it. Some characters are so one-dimensional that the whole film becomes a mockery of teen culture. This ambiguity is very clever, because the film appeals to a teenage audience as well as to the art-house audience Harmony Korine is usually associated with. But at the same time, this ambiguity stands in the way of Spring Breakers being a good film like Thirteen and Kids.
The acting wasn’t so bad (James Franco did an excellent job of portraying a ghetto, money-driven rapper), the music was excellent and the cinematography was absolutely stunning but the lack of depth and character development really ruined the film.
SPOILER ALERT - The ending was very predictable and ‘cringey’ (kissing a dead body, YUCK!). I’m sure it was meant to be empowering but it just felt rather stupid.
If you’re someone who loves pop culture, pop music and lots of skin action and want something fun to watch, Spring Breakers is the right film for you. However, if you want a film that has a good plot and believable characters, then I suggest you go watch something else.
I can’t stand Chuck Lorre and his slew of outdated and unfunny comedies. I wouldn’t mind him so much if his shows didn’t get such high ratings and undeserving praise.
I like Jennifer Lawrence. I think she’s got a fantastic personality, undeniable beauty and she’s obviously incredibly talented but although I was very happy for her, I felt like her Oscar win last night was undeserved and here’s fivereasons why:
1. I liked Silver Linings Playbook, however it was no different from any other indie romcom. The only thing that sets Silver Linings Playbook apart from your typical quirky comedy-drama is that it was released later on in the year, had a calibre of well respected/popular actors as well as a director and a producer known for critically acclaimed and iconic box office hits at the helm. While, the film is perfectly serviceable, had it been released around April or May, it would have been completely overlooked by Oscar time.
2. Jennifer didn’t hold a candle to some of the performances she was up against. Jessica Chastain was phenomenal in Zero Dark Thirty, Naomi Watts did a great job in The Impossible and nine year old Quvenzhané Wallis was fantastic in Beasts Of The Southern Wild.
3. Tiffany Maxwell was hardly a taxing role for Jennifer, I genuinely think that any actress could have pulled off that role. MEGAN BLOODY FOX could have pulled it off and it’s common knowledge that she doesn’t have much range as an actress.
4. Like Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, Jennifer’s win will go down as one of the most undeserving Oscar wins of all time.
5. It’s a shame as Jennifer gave a better performance in Winter’s Bone, which was a fantastic film.
I love music and I also love reality television so it’s no surprise that I thoroughly enjoy watching The Big Reunion - ITV2’s latest reality series, which chronicles the rise and fall of Britain’s beloved pop groups of the nineties as well as their attempts to comeback.
Aside from Liberty X and Atomic Kitten, I wasn’t a fan of any of the groups (911, B*witched, Honeyz, Five) but I look forward to every episode as I’m fascinated by how the music industry worked back then as well as the drama/infighting that occurred between the bands.
Last night’s episode, which focused on R&B trio Honeyz as well as the double denim quartet B*witched was the best so far. Although, I wasn’t familiar with the Honeyz beforehand, I found their story very interesting moreso than B*witched. Despite having only released one studio album and five singles, the group had their fair share of line-up changes as well as lots of drama. They were essentially the R&B/pre-millennium version of the Sugababes.
I felt incredibly sorry for the group’s lead singer - Celena Cherry as upon a series of unfortunate events, she had her dreams dash and dive. As a result of Heavenli Abdi’s homesickness, the group’s deal with Def Jam records was terminated and when things were finally looking up for them, Heavenli’s replacement Mariama Goodman left due to the bitchiness she faced from Naima Belkhiati. In the end, their record label felt that there was no need for them to continue releasing music, which was sad as they had a quite a few good songs (e.g. ‘Won’t Take It Lying Down’, ‘Love Of A Lifetime’).
The reason why I found Honeyz so interesting was that they had a shoulda woulda coulda type of story. They were beautiful, had decent songs and at one point, massive support from an American label but due to bitchiness and various other things, ended up being forgotten by the masses. It must have been awful for Celena to be so close to breaking the US market but then have it snatched away from her because of the selfishness of her fellow band mates.
Lord knows how she must’ve felt when she saw Destiny’s Child and to a lesser extent Mis-Teeq have success. I can imagine her sighing and saying ‘It could have been us performing at an arena or winning an award’ every time those two groups did something major.
This episode was entertaining but it also showed that the life of a nineties popstar was so intense that it made some band members go through depression as well as have alcohol and drug related problems.
In addition to his constant groping, Mark whispered into Sarah’s ear at one point, put his arm around her and started chatting her up. He just came across quite sleazy and Sarah looked kinda perplexed but she laughed it off. It was the most awkward moment of the night.
It’s a shame that the Graham Norton show doesn’t do reaction shots because some people in the middle row, were putting their hands across their faces when Mark sat on Graham’s lap.
Whilst Laura was performing, Mark stood up and briefly started clapping his hands but Graham leaned over and told him to stop. I wish they had showed this bit in the episode as it was hilarious and Graham looked annoyed. After that, Mark kept talking to Sarah. Michael, on the other hand was fixated with Laura’s performance.
When Michael was taking about Frank Sidebottom, a picture came up and Mark stopped pretending not to care, looked at it and said ‘HOLY SHIT’. That was funny.
The show was an hour long and the edited episode was 45 minutes long, so you didn’t to get see the other 15 minutes (see my previous post for more of the stuff that was cut). Sorry, if I haven’t elaborated enough.
I went to a recording of The Graham Norton Show on Thursday with my older sister and it was definitely a night to remember. Now, the episode, which was shown last night on BBC1 was very well edited and only showed a fraction of what happened on Thursday. Sure, Mark Wahlberg was very drunk, groped Graham Norton’s nipples and made a complete fool out of himself but there were quite a few other highly awkward moments which were left out of last night’s episode.
2013 has only just begun and there’s already so much music news. In this round-up, I discuss rising star Tom Odell, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance as well as the return of Justin Timberlake.
There’s been a lot buzz surrounding Tom Odell. He has received praise from artists such as Lily
Allen Rose Cooper and Lana Del Rey, critical acclaim from publications ranging from The Guardian to NME as well as attention from the BRITs, the BBC and MTV.
Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of folk or indie music but after listening to “Another Love” as well as his EP - Songs From Another Love, I quite like Tom Odell. First of all, “Another Love” is fantastic.
The rawness of his voice works really well with the crescendo of piano and drums. The song builds perfectly and the chorus is pretty catchy. I’m probably alone in saying this but it kinda reminds me of a Two Door Cinema Club song.
In addition to this, I think Tom is an excellent live performer, his acoustic performance on Jools Holland as well as his Live Lounge cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” were brilliant.
I stayed up to watch Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance and although it was entertaining, it just didn’t wow me. Madonna’s performance last year left me absolutely gobsmacked and while Beyoncé is a better performer than Madge, her performance wasn’t as good. Putting aside the Destiny’s Child bit, the whole thing felt like an uninspired mess. I never felt like I was watching an untouchable pop cultural superstar but rather an artist in concert. It would have been nice if she had more props, more eccentric costumes, a narrative and actually SANG more.
The return of JT
I’ve never been a massive Justin Timberlake fan. Yes, I enjoyed a few songs off his second LP - Future Sex/Love Sounds, loved his work on Saturday Night Live and thought that he gave a pretty convincing performance in the 2006 film - Alpha Dog (If you haven’t seen it yet, YOUTUBE IT! It’s so good) but he’s never done it for me. He’s not in my list of favourite musicians and I don’t care about him enough to spend money to buy his album, go to his concert or watch his film at the cinema.
However, when it was announced a few weeks ago that he was finally returning back to music, I was a little excited to see what type of sound he’d go for this time around. Would he stick with his usual R&B influenced pop or follow the Guetta dance craze like his contemporary Usher? Well, judging by his comeback single - “Suit & Tie”, it seems like Justin is heading into Bruno Mars territory. It’s not an offensive track but it’s not exactly the eargasm you’d expect a popstar to release to make their return back into music. Like Bruno’s work, it kinda bored me to tears.
I watched Catfish the other day on Channel 4 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hoax or not, it was a fascinating, thought-provoking and gripping film that was so well told that I was engaged from the very beginning. When the twist was revealed, I was shocked but also sympathetic for the person. Sure, they had done something very bad but it was just so obvious that they only wanted a bit of escapism from their sad life and never intended to hurt anyone.
Here are five TV shows that I enjoyed watching this year. I decided not to list them in numerical order as they were equally entertaining. I also included a honourable mention list comprised of shows I liked but weren’t outstanding enough, if you get what I mean. Anyway, here goes:
Him & Her
Him & Her has really brightened my Sunday nights this year. When the show began back in 2010, it felt like an inferior version of The Royle Family but two series later, it has descended into a wonderfully-written and brilliantly-acted comedy. Not only are the characters funny but they’re also very realistic. There’s a Steve or Laura in every person’s life. Much like Parks & Recreation, the show has a lot of heart. For every laugh you make, there’s always a moment where you’ll go ‘Aww’.
The show’s third series delved deeper into Steve and Becky’s relationship. We got to see how their relationship came about in “The First Date” as well as their first ever argument in “The Proposal”. In addition to this, Steve became ten times more lovable when he had an emotional but rather brief bonding session with his father in ‘The Christmas Special’. Also, the supporting characters - Shelly, Laura, Dan became far more fleshed out in this series.
Standout episodes: “The Proposal” and “The Christmas Special”
Parks & Recreation
Not a lot of today’s sitcoms are funny and heartfelt but this is what makes Parks & Recreation so special. The show can make you laugh but warm your heart at the same time. It’s essentially Gilmore Girls (another show I loved) but without the fast talking and melodrama. The reason why Parks & Recreation is superior to other sitcoms is because of the superb writing and acting. I look forward to watching the absurd adventures the disparate citizens of Pawnee have.
The fourth season was excellent with Leslie’s campaign for city councilman against Bobby Newport (played by the hilarious Paul Rudd), the return of Louis C.K’s character Dave as well as Andy and April’s sweet relationship serving as major highlights. The fifth season, which began three months ago, however has been rather rocky but heck, even with its’ mediocre episodes, Parks & Recreation is still hilarious and ahead of the crowd.
Standout episodes: “The Comeback Kid” (it has the greatest sitcom scene ever), “The Debate”, “Win, Lose or Draw” and “Ron and Diane”
I only discovered The Middle this summer and I’m so glad I did. I’ve never been a huge fan of family sitcoms but I thoroughly enjoy The Middle as it’s a solid comedy with likable characters and relatable situations. The Hecks come across a little stereotypical (too-cool-for-school older son, geeky daughter etc.) but that doesn’t matter too much as they’re so funny.
I really don’t understand how Patricia Heaton hasn’t won an Emmy for her role as Sue Heck yet. I love the whole cast but Patricia is the glue behind this stellar show (other than the writing obvs).
The third season was incredibly strong and although stunt casting in sitcoms can sometimes get rather tedious, the guest appearances for the third season actually worked, with Ray Romano, Whoopi Goldberg and Norm MacDonald providing lots of laughs. Eventhough there’s only been a few episodes, the fourth season is just as strong, heck (no pun intended) it’s even better.
Standout episodes: “The Year of The Hecks” and “The Hose”
Arrow is a surprisingly good drama and this is coming from someone who never cared for the Green Arrow comic books. The show is very well plotted thus far. I really like the way the writers have incorporated procedural elements with serial stories. Also, Stephen Amell excels as Oliver Queen. I know the die hard Smallville fans weren’t so keen on him as they wanted Justin Hartley in the role but Stephen nails the core of Oliver in every episode. He’s an extremely expressive actor.
The midseason finale - “Year’s End” showed exactly why Arrow is so good. The showdown between Oliver and the Dark Archer was exciting and although the warehouse scenes were a little too awkward, overall the episode was very well written and left me wanting more (HURRY UP JANUARY 16th).
Standout episodes - “Pilot” and “Vendetta”
I very rarely watch one-off dramas but I decided to give One Night a go as I liked that it starred Jessica Hynes, who was one of the leads in Spaced (If you haven’t watched this sitcom yet, you need to buy the DVDs off Amazon as it’s one of the funniest comedies to come out of the UK). The first episode was a bit confusing but everything became much clearer in the subsequent episodes when the events were interlinked and the lives of the characters were explored in more depth. Although, it wasn’t a proper series, I enjoyed it far more than Girls and The Newsroom (two shows I also liked watching this year).
I won’t give spoilers as I strongly recommend everyone to watch the four episodes on iPlayer. What I will say is that One Night is a gripping four hour puzzle. Sad and a little frustrating, but incredibly worth it in the end.
Standout episodes: “Carol” and “Alfie”
Very Important People: Although it wasn’t outsanding, Very Important People was the only comedy I watched multiple times this year, just so I could laugh again and again. Terry Mynott and Morgana Robinson are excellent comedians, especially Morgana. Her impressions of Amy Childs, Natalie Cassidy, Cheryl Cole and Fearne Cotton have had me in hysterics.
Girls: For those of you unaware of Girls, it’s a funny show written and produced by Lena Dunham and it revolves around four female friends living in the Big Apple. Think Sex & The City without the superficiality or The Inbetweeners
without the douchery with female characters instead. I watched all ten episodes in one sitting and each one felt like a hilarious independent film with its’ great storylines and witty one liners. As a pop and hip-hop enthusiast, I also loved the inclusion of songs like Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own”, Dragonette’s “Fixin To Thrill” and Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One”.
The Newsroom: It’s not for everyone but it’s definitely for me. Aaron Sorkin, the show creator was criticized throughout the summer for making a series too ‘unrealistic’ and his response was “Who cares? It’s entertainment”. So many critics are being way too harsh on this show and completely forgetting that it’s a well-written show. The characters are quirky, the acting is very good and the storylines deal with not only issues in the news but with the values underlying the production of it.
I’ve enjoyed so many singles this year, but here’s a list of the five singles that really stood out for me.
1. Girls Aloud - Something New
Amazing. Triumphant. Spectacular. There are so many superlatives to describe Girls Aloud’s comeback single. Although the band’s reunion has been a bit of a flop, they got it so spot on with “Something New”. Xenomania’s production feels fresh and the girls (particularly Nadine) sound great.
Favourite line - ‘Cause we’re the leaders of the pack, so you better watch your back.’
2. Frank Ocean - Thinkin’ Bout You
Frank Ocean’s debut LP Channel ORANGE really reignited my love for R&B. Sure, it isn’t exactly a hook-driven album but the production is so sharp. Like Lana Del Rey, Frank is a fantastic storyteller and his songs feel like short films. The track I enjoy the most off Channel ORANGE is “Thinkin’ Bout You”. The three words that best describe this track are: meaningful, sensual and classy.
Favourite line - ‘In Southern California, much like Arizona, my eyes don’t shed tears, but, boy, they bawl when I’m thinkin’ ‘bout you’
3. Lana Del Rey - Ride
Lana Del Rey is an exceptional artist. I can’t imagine how dull the year would have been without her dulcet tones, stunning videography and excellent music. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Born To Die as well as her catalogue of leaks, however “Ride” is the track that resonates the most with me. The song’s message is that life doesn’t always get better but you’ll just have to stick with it regardless. Sure that’s a bit depressing, but five minutes of Lana’s utterly gorgeous voice set to an orchestra of strings kinda puts my mind to ease. The track just oozes vintage class.
Favourite line - ‘Dying young and I’m playing hard, that’s the way my father made his life an art. Drink all day and we talk ‘til dark, that’s the way the road dogs do it.’
4. Gabrielle Aplin - The Power Of Love
It’s very rare for me to like a cover more than the original but Gabrielle Aplin’s take on the Frankie Goes To Hollywood classic is hauntingly beautiful. Her soft vocals really compliment the song’s emotional lyrics. The sheer beauty of this track gives me goosebumps and sends shivers down my spine.
Favourite line - ‘Dreams are like angels, they keep bad at bay, love is the light, scaring darkness away.’
5. Usher - Climax
I’m not a massive Usher fan but this song is sultry, steamy and claustrophobic in the best way. The production is so stunning, it isn’t overpowering and does not distract the listeners from the lyrical content. Usher’s vocals are immaculate, I was really surprised at how good his falsetto sounds.
Favourite line - ‘I’ve fallen somehow, feet off the ground. Love is the cloud that keeps raining down.’
As you may know already I absolutely love television and because I love television so much, I’ve decided to make a top five list of my all time favourite television characters.
At the top spot is Steve from Him & Her.
What is Him & Her? Well, It’s a beautifully acted, wonderfully written and incredibly funny sitcom that revolves around a young British couple who are madly in love but do nothing other than laze about in their confined council flat. I’d describe the show as a romcom version of The Royle Family.
Russell Tovey, who is best known for his dramatic roles in Being Human and Sherlock Holmes, plays Steve (the character is so cool, he has no surname). Steve is a playful and idiotic lad who is unemployed and has no desire to work, no dreams and no goals. Now I bet you’re wondering why I love the character. Well, Steve has a heart of gold. He values love and friendship over materialistic things and he’s an innocent soul. He’s not malicious or foolish, he’s just a nice guy.
Whereas other ‘laddish’ characters are immature and only care about one thing - SEX (*cough* The Inbetweeners *cough*), Steve is a little different. First of all, he’s not obnoxious and his relationship with Becky is based on love and not lust. From the way he looks at her, it’s obvious how much Steve cares for Becky. The pair work so well together and are the reason (other than the great writing from Stefan Golaszewski) why the show is a critically acclaimed hit.
As you may know already I absolutely love television and because I love television so much, I’ve decided to make a top five list of my all time favourite television characters.
At number two is Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation.
In just three short years, Parks & Recreation has become the most smartest and funniest sitcom on television. The show’s executive producer Michael Schur is the complete antithesis of ‘television populist’ Chuck Lorre as he creates three dimensional characters, uses hilarious jokes as well as writes heart-warming storylines rather than resulting to cheap gags, constant stereotypes, old fashioned plots and just overall banality.
The show’s setting of Pawnee consists of a rather disparate bunch. There’s the no-nonsense mans’ man Ron Swanson, the dimwitted but kind-hearted Andy Dwyer, the dry humoured and apathetic April Ludgate, the sarcastic and slightly cocky Tom Haverford, the health conscious and ‘literally’ keen Chris Traeger, the workaholic Ben Wyatt, the unlucky-in-love Ann Perkins, lovable loser Jerry Gergich and super hilarious Donna Meagle.
However, the character I like the most is Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler). Perky, persistent and positive are the three words I’d use to describe the show’s protagonist. She’s the mid-level bureaucrat who never gives up, whether it be in her professional career or personal life. Although the characters on Parks & Recreation are fictional, Leslie Knope genuinely makes me want to better myself. I really admire her constant enthusiasm, hard work ethic as well as cheery spirit and I therefore strive to have some of those great qualities.
Leslie Knope is a woman, who is very ambitious, very strong and very intelligent.