Man VS Bee: How To Completely Destroy A House In A Matter Of Days

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A novice house sitter, played by Rowan Atkinson, goes to war with a bee.

I thought this had moments of wholesome light entertainment but ultimately felt let down by a lack of clear plot progression and by a lack of character growth. I understand that this program seemed to want to mimic the older dynamics of something like Tom And Jerry and as such the show couldn’t have ended the man and bee learning to get along, yet I think it would have been better if the series had ended with a peace between the two and an unlikely friendship. As it stands Atkinson’s lead doesn’t grow at all from the first episode to the final, which in my mind is an issue, but maybe I am asking too much.

However, something I will commend this show for is the episode length. I think that often Netflix series can run on for far too long and become tedious by the end, but this show tries to get around that by having its episodes on for little over ten minutes in most cases adding to the binge effect of the show and creating a nice breezy pace.

Moreover, it is nice seeing Atkinson back on screens he is always very welcome and brings a great deal of heart and humour to the series. His character is very easy to warm to.

Overall, fun to a degree but the writing stops it from ever being truly great.

Pros.

The episode length

Atkinson

The wholesome fun

Cons.

The ending

It reaches a point where it feels repetitive

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Peaky Blinders: A Fundamental Misunderstanding, Perception Vs Reality

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about why I believe the final series of Peaky Blinders was not only a great series in its own right but also how it was a fitting end point for the program,  as well as how some of the criticism on social media seems to lack a fundamental understanding of what the series was as well as the style of its creator.

I watched the most recent series of this show through a number of trips to a friend of mine’s house, we both enjoyed it, but after most of the episodes I would check online and see a lot of negative buzz and hate, with the finale being the only real exception. The criticism would all say base things like ‘oh remember when this was a gangster show’, or ‘when did the show become so boring’. To these complaints I would say you were watching a different show altogether, Peaky Blinders did have gang aspects to it, but the fundamental drive of the series was Thomas Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, as a character and exploring his psyche.  For every street set gun battle, there was a quite conversation done to execute a subtle social twist.

The shows broad themes are a huge reflection of that, with the ideas of the pursuit for power and the supernatural steering the series towards more philosophical fare. Yes, within this drift the series featured a gun battle or two, but I would never say it was just a ‘gangster show’, or even that that was the show’s main focus, some people it seems got far too hung up on these aspects.

To further prove my point one needs only look at the series creator Steven Knight who is known for introspective fare like Locke and Hummingbird, which in the latter’s case does feature some action thriller elements, but is front and centre a drama, as is Locke. Fundamentally, I think many thought of Peaky Blinders simply as a badass action show that gave them a reason to wear a flat cap in real life to try and be a part of it,  when it reality it was always a drama series that featured action elements. In that vein I can’t see how the final series was anything other than a fitting conclusion as it delivered on all aspects of what it was striving to be as a show.  

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Behind Her Eyes: The TED Talk On How Not To Do A Twist

Written by Luke Barnes

Behind Her Eyes is a supernatural thriller series directed by Stephen Lightfoot based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Pinborough. The plot revolves around a love triangle at a local doctor’s clinic that becomes more dangerous due to the fact that one of the trio can astral project.

This was billed as Netflix’s most recent must binge series and I did, and honestly I have to say it is kind of a mess. The first few episodes start the show off on a strong note, there is a keen sense of place and characters and the hint of something more at play- a supernatural element. However, as the series rushes to its end, things quickly start to come apart.

The last two episodes of the series feature a number of twists that I believe ruin the show. The generic erotic thriller themes of the first few episodes are made more interesting by the tease of something more supernatural going on, and boy do you get that in the last two episodes. Sadly, when we do start dealing with the ideas around astral projection it is boring, poorly thought out and leaves more questions than answers.

Overall, the series does have moments of promise, but it throws it all away at the end.

Pros.

Some early intrigue and the tease of something more

Cons.

It quickly becomes generic

The twist is not very good

The astral projection stuff is riddled with issues

It derails itself

1/5

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Doctor Who (Season 12): A Season Of Extremes

Doctor Who is a British science fiction show that has just completed its 12th season; which my review today will be covering. The plot of the show centres around a time traveling character called The Doctor (played by a multitude of actors over the years, but is currently portrayed by Jodie Whittaker), who goes on various adventures through time and space.

The last time I talked about this show I suggested that it was on the decline, beyond hope, but having now finished the latest series I am slightly more optimistic about it. The finale, the Tessla episode and Frankenstein episode I thought were good, the rest well I will get to them. Having good episodes is a step up from season 11, where they were all either incredibly forgettable or bad.

What’s more in these episodes were the writing is stronger and more Doctor central Jodie Whittaker’s portrayal of the character is better. When she is playing it straight her version of the character works, it doesn’t when she is manically talking to herself, or showing no empathy towards the companions. Speaking of which, an opinion of mine that hasn’t changed is that the companions this season are terrible, they have nothing to do, no personality, and only serve to steal focus away from the Doctor; BBC if you’re listening kill off one or two of them and give Jodie Whittaker and the Doctor more time to shine. I was really hoping in the season finale that they would have killed a few of them off, but they don’t have the balls anymore for real stakes where characters might die.

Finally, this season is a season of extremes, those bad episodes I was talking about before are really, really bad. Is it an improvement in quality to go from a season of really boring bland episodes to then have a season where every episode is either good or awful? Current year Doctor Who seems to love giving lectures, there are multiple moments in multiple episodes where the Doctor looks into the camera and gives us a talking to about one thing or another and it just annoying, really annoying. Good science fiction is escapism, the audience doesn’t want to constantly be reminded how bad they are and how humans are destructive terrible creatures, yet Doctor Who never got the memo clearly.

Ps. This is only a minor thing compared to the other things I’ve talked about here, but can the Doctor go back to visiting other planets please? I understand they might not have the budget for it, but to set every episode on Earth, or Earth like locations is just lazy and it loses all the appeal of the Doctor being able to go anywhere in time or space.

*Also, I am not even going to go into the timeless child twist, because we would be here all day if I did.

Overall, a step up from the woeful season 11, but this show is still bad in a lot of ways, critical ways, and has a long, long way to go to even be half decent Who.

Pros.

Some strong episodes that actually feel like Doctor Who.

Whittaker has some moments of greatness.

Cons.

The companions other than Bradly Walsh, are annoying, devoid of personality and worse of all distracting.

Whittaker also has some terrible moments.

The lectures and the complete lack of subtly.

2/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Office: Humour In The Day To Day

The Office is a British mockumentary sitcom created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The premise of the show is a film crew recording the day to day activities of an office in Slough, within the office we have larger than life characters such as David Brent (Gervais), as well as a will they won’t they romance centered around Tim (Martin Freeman), and Dawn (Lucy Davis).

For many of you reading this when I say The Office, you would think of the American TV show of the same name, but the Ricky Gervais version of the show was the one that inspired it. Recently I have been re-watching The UK Office, and it got me thinking, there is something special about this show, something that stands the test of time, and I am going to try and find out what it is.

I think the most obvious answer of what makes this show special is it relatability, working in an office is something that is very familiar to a lot of people, but I think it is more than that. The awkward cringe comedy the show is known for is again something a lot of people can relate to, we have all done something cringey in our lives, or we have all seen someone else do something cringey and thought to ourselves ‘please stop’, this again makes this show relatable, as we can see ourselves in the characters.

What’s more, Gervais seems to be very good at hiding emotion and depth behind cringey and unlikable characters. David Brent is not likeable, he wants to be, but he isn’t, that’s the joke. However, despite all the bad things he does across the run of the show you still want him to be happy, in the final episode when he finally seems like he is happy and other laugh at him and try and take it away, you feel for him, you feel connected to him in a way.

The romance of the show works in a similar way, you really root for Tim and Dawn to get together, even when it seems like they won’t. The show teases us the audience with the idea of them getting together many times, but it doesn’t give it to us; this then makes it all the more satisfying when they do.

Overall, I think the reason this is such a special show is because it isn’t outlandish or ridiculous, it is every day and ordinary.

Written by Luke

After Life: Life After Death

After Life is a British black comedy-drama series created by Ricky Gervais. The premise for the show revolves around a man who has recently lost his wife and is trying to find a reason to not kill himself and to carry on. Through the season Tony (Ricky Gervais), comes to terms with what he has lost and tries to find the ability to be happy again.

Tonally this show is pitch dark, almost uncomfortably so at times, but that is the point. If you’re previous expose to Gervais was in something like The Office or Extras then you will be familiar with the style of comedy this show aims for, though I would say for the most part this program is more of a drama then a comedy. As the subject matter is quite extreme it won’t be for everyone, but if you stick with it, there is something wonderful being said.

This show approaches the character of Tony as having already died, not in a literal sense, the worst possible thing in life has already happened to him and he is just waiting until he can die for real, as such he has no cares left in the word and sets out to tell it like it is because what does anything matter. There is a good example of this early on when the character is mugged and he says he won’t give them his wallet and when the mugger threatens to stab him he says go on then or something to that end, this shows a man with nothing left to lose, just trying to think of a reason to carry on.

The first and last episodes nicely juxtapose each other, as in the last episode, for reasons I am not going to say for the sake of spoilers, he finds a reason to be happy again. He falls out of the all-consuming depression he has been in and does something to make himself happy again. I love the tightness of the writing, his arc is wrapped up in a season; obviously he is not fully moved on from his wife, but he has grown a hell of a lot as a character since the beginning of the show.

All of this makes me beg the question why are they doing a second season? There is nothing left to tell.

Overall, if this sounds like the sort of thing you would enjoy then I recommend you check it out as there is a lot of good on offer here, do I think there is no need for a second season and that it will inevitably be worse? Yes, a thousand times so, but I will just have to wait and see on that front.

Pros.

Asks some important questions.

How it deals with loss.

The heart.

The comedy.

Cons.

It can be quite hard to watch at times certainly not for everyone.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke