Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Death in Paradise, BBC One (by Red Planet Prize finalist Robert Thorogood)

Here's an Orange review of last night's first ep of Death in Paradise on BBC One.

There's obviously been a lot of interest in this series from a screenwriting point of view, as it came about through its creator, Robert Thorogood, getting the opportunity to pitch the idea to Tony Jordan via the Red Planet Prize.

There's a short article by Robert here, as part of the press pack for the series.


About 15 minutes into tonight's first episode of Death in Paradise, my mind was already beginning to drift towards the kettle. As London copper DI Richard Poole (played by Ben Miller) reluctantly arrived at an idyllic Caribbean island to help investigate a murder, we were battered over the head with every cliché imaginable about uptight Brits and laid-back islanders. 

But then something quite remarkable happened. A contemporary TV detective actually started to do a bit of detective work! Poole looked for clues and made razor-sharp deductions, rather than crawling into a whisky bottle and sulking about his disintegrating marriage or that terrible thing that happened to his sister when they were kids.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Holy Flying Circus (Monty Python docudrama, BBC Four)

Monty Python's Life of Brian has become such a part of the furniture that the furore that surrounded its release back in 1979 seems incredible. Holy Flying Circus, BBC Four's “fantastical re-imagining” of the controversy, was an imaginative, energetic and highly entertaining trip back to those troubled times.

The film, written by Tony Roche (The Thick of It) and directed by Owen Harris (Misfits), admitted to the viewer at the start that “Most of what you are about to see never actually happened”, before launching into a witty mixture of drama, animation and characteristically surreal detours. 

Holy Flying Circus recreated the unpredictable feel of the Pythons' work perfectly, with the viewer never sure what exactly in what direction it was going to veer off on next.

The Comic Strip Presents: The Hunt for Tony Blair (Channel 4)

Just catching up with a couple of recent reviews for Orange.

It's a little-known fact that telly critics like to have tattoos to commemorate their favourite TV moments. And, as I sit here in the bath dictating these notes to Heinrich, my secretary, I can see '2 November 1982' scrolling down the inside of my thigh into the bubble bath.

Obviously, you don't need me to remind you that was the day Channel 4 launched and “alternative comedy” landed firmly in our laps, courtesy of the Comic Strip team and their cracking Enid Blyton spoof Five Go Mad in Dorset.

Now, 29 years later, at least some of the team have reunited for The Hunt for Tony Blair – “a special '50s-style fugitive film noir spoof” in which Tony Blair (Stephen Mangan) goes on the run to clear his name after being accused of murder.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Hidden, BBC One (Philip Glenister, Thekla Reuten)

Here's a review of last night's first part of Hidden what I wrote for Orange .

Watching it from a writing point of view, I really liked the way the flashbacks gradually rolled out to introduce bits of exposition that informed the present-day action. Very neatly done by writer Ronan Bennett.

From its opening montage of apparently unrelated scenes, it was obvious that Hidden – a four-part conspiracy thriller – was going to require a bit of attention. As it turned out, the opening episode struck a nice balance between intrigue and clarity, luring the viewer effectively into a shadowy world where very little might be what it seems. 

Hidden stars Philip 'Not Gene Hunt' Glenister as Harry Venn, a down-at-heel London solicitor. In true noir fashion, his world is turned upside down when a mysterious femme fatale – lawyer Gina Hawkes (Thekla Reuten) – turns up at his office and offers him a job.