Richard Madden

Oasis E1 “Pilot” (Amazon Prime), and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

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Last week I wrote about Sneaky Pete, an Amazon Prime original show that had gone through the ‘pilot season’ of being selected for a full ten-part series commission based on viewers’ comments and ratings. Another previously reviewed series, Bosch, also made it to series based on positive fan response compared with tepid critical reaction, and thank goodness it did.

This year, science fiction drama Oasis is one of five new pilots up for consideration. Set in a dystopian 2032, the story centres on Christian chaplain Peter Leigh who receives a request to travel to Oasis, Earth’s first off-world colony. Said to be located on the far side of the galaxy, the method of travel is not explained. When Peter arrives he finds that the person who asked for him to come – the colony’s founder, billionaire David Morgan – is missing, and no one knows why he wanted Peter there in the first place. Meanwhile the workforce is starting to experience hallucinations and an escalating number of serious and even fatal accidents that suggest the new world is rejecting their presence. Eventually Peter discovers a clue as to Morgan’s whereabouts and travels deep into the wilderness, where he makes a bewildering discovery in a cave… Read the rest of this entry »

The Take (a.k.a. Bastille Day) [2016]

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bastilleWhen this thriller was released in cinemas in April it went by the title of Bastille Day, but its story of bombings and racial riots on the streets of Paris became uncomfortably close to subsequent real life atrocities in France and it was even pulled from theatres after the Nice attacks in July. The home media release of the film was delayed and a new title, The Take, applied – all of which is really very unfortunate. Not only does that change cut the DVD release off from any positive word-of-mouth it might have garnered during its box office run, it also leaves it with a dull and unmemorable new name that makes it look like every other bit of sub-standard direct-to-video fare out there. Which is really rather unfair. Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones S2 [Blu-ray]

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If you recall my review of season 1 you’ll know that by the time I finally started to watch Game of Thrones I was already several years behind the on-air broadcasts. That was partly due to my cable provider not providing the Sky Atlantic channel on which it is shown and the fact that the DVD/Blu-ray releases are almost a year behind, together with my initial disinclination to spend money buying a show I was far from convinced that I would like since I’ve never had much of a taste for fantasy. However, the word-of-mouth buzz for Game of Thrones finally made me crack, and of course I was besotted with the whole thing from the minute I saw the first scenes set in the frozen wastes beyond the Wall. After finishing the first season boxset I committed myself to pressing on and watching the rest of the episodes in very short order.

got-2-cverThat … hasn’t happened, to be entirely honest with you. Some shows simply demand to be treated with respect, and like a fine wine require time to breathe to get the best out of them, rather than being binge-watched like the TV equivalent of a McDonalds Happy Meal. Hence it was over a year before I finally got through with my rewatch of season 1 (which was even better than the first time through, incidentally) and at last cued up the first disc of the second season boxset starting at the beginning of March. Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones S1 [Blu-ray]

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It’s quite possible that in years to come, when I’m asked to name the greatest TV series of all time, one of the first titles to pop into my head and be hard to oust is HBO’s Game of Thrones. It might just be one of the most dazzling accomplishments of the small screen of all time; and indeed even judged as a motion picture it would still stand proudly among the all-time greats.

Now I know I’m horrendously late to the party – about two years overdue to be precise. That’s partly because I don’t have access to the satellite channel that exclusively airs the show in the UK, and have to wait instead for the DVD/Blu-ray boxset release a year down the line. There was then a further delay to my starting to watch the show as I wasn’t entirely sure that I was even that interested in what looked to be standard fantasy/sword and sorcery fare. Ever since we were force-fed The Hobbit as a set text at school (when too old for it) I’ve not taken to the genre, only getting around to finally reading The Lord of the Rings books a week before the Peter Jackson films came out. While I surprised myself by greatly enjoying both books and films, it didn’t fuel any further interest in the fantasy field – a little Tolkien goes a long way, and all the other books in the field seemed to be pale imitations with the same line-up of wizards and magic, giants and dwarves, elves and goblins and orcs that simply left me cold.

The trailers for Game of Thrones did little to convince me that this series, based on George RR Martin’s best selling series of books, would be any different: even the casting of Lord of the Rings star Sean Bean to once again swing a broadsword around seemed to confirm that this was just another Middle-Earth wannabe. And yet I kept hearing so many good things about it that in the end I was persuaded to part with the cash for the Blu-ray set of Season 1 once the prices came down, albeit now two years after it had originally aired in the US. “Come on, prove me wrong,” I thought defiantly as I put the first disc on; and never have I performed such a rapid volte-face as I have here, falling in love with the show within the first seven minutes as it totally overthrew my lazy expectations with a vivid, compelling and utterly cinematic horror zombie sequence set in the frozen tundra. Not what I was expecting at all: I was (and remain) totally hooked. Read the rest of this entry »