Spirited TV Review


Suzy Darling (Claudia Karvan) has taken her two children and left her arrogant and self-centred husband, Steve Darling (Roger Corser). They move into an apartment in the same building as her dentist practice, the practice she’d taken over from her father. Little did she know that it was haunted by the spirit of English punk rocker, Henry Mallet (Matt King). Whilst everyone thinks she is crazy for suddenly up-and-leaving her husband and now talking to herself (or so they think), Suzy is falling in love with this most unlikely and most un-alive man.

There is no doubt that Claudia Karvan is one of the best things to hit Australian television screens. She has played a variety of characters, but this is my favourite so far. Suzy is an intelligent, educated and independent woman who realises that her choice of partner is not ideal and does something about it. When things get tough, she finds ways to pull herself through. And she can have fun. Just after I finished high school, a few friends and I became regular audience members at the Cheeseshop comedy nights at the Prince Patrick Hotel in East Melbourne, and we loved the comic stylings of Matt King. Eventually, I left the country and when I returned, Matt King wasn’t around so much. It’s been a delight to have him pop in various television shows, including Skins and Peep Show, but nothing has suited him as much as Henry Mallet.

My only real gripe is that some of the supporting characters were over-the-top and that took away from the reality of the show. Spirited only had two seasons, but that was the perfect length to ensure that the story was wrapped up and it avoided jumping the shark.

Arrested Development -TV Review


It’s going to be a big call, but I think that Arrested Development may well be the best television comedy I’ve watched. Hmm, could that statement actually be true? If it is not definitively true, it is close. I just love it.

The show follows Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) as he attempts to run the family company after his father George Bluth Senior (Jeffrey Tambor) is jailed. Michael is trying to save the family business from the clutches of his money hungry family, mother Lucille (Jessica Walter), sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and brothers Gob (Will Arnett) and Buster (Tony Hale).  At the same time, he is single-father to teenager George-Michael (Michael Cera), who struggling with an inappropriate crush on his cousin, Maeby. Maeby is struggling with the ridiculous marriage between her parents, Lindsay and Tobias (David Cross).

It is wonderfully clever. From the strange love affair that Buster has with his mother’s friend Lucille (Liza Minnelli), who is referred to as Lucille 2 (or possibly Lucille Too), to the attempts Tobia makes to get away from his career as an analrapist (combination of analyst and therapist) and break into acting following Carl Weathers.

Despite critical acclaim and lots and lots of award nominations and wins, the show was cancelled after the third season. For years, there has been a rumour of a film to come, and looking at the IMDB entry, it shows that director Mitch Hurwitz has said there is no movie deal yet. However, there has been a fourth series which is to be released in one block on Netflix in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Latin America, Brazil and the Nordics on May 26, 2013. No mention of Australia. I’ll keep my ears open.

Hatufim (Prisoners of War) Film Review

This is the Israeli series which inspired the US series Homeland. Three Israeli soldiers were captured whilst on a secret mission in Lebanon and have been missing for seventeen years. Finally, the Israeli government negotiates a prisoner swap and they are returned home. One, Amiel (Assi Cohen), has died and his remains are returned for identification and burial. The other two Nimrod (Yoram Toledano) and Uri (Ishai Golan) are skinny, fearful and traumatised, and need to find their way back into society. Amiel’s sister, Yael(Adi Ezroni) has been keeping vigil losing her parents on the way, and learning of her brother’s death tips her into a mental breakdown. Uri has returned to the love who promised to wait for him, Nurit (Mili Avital), but whilst he was away, she married his brother and bore his son. Nimrod returns to a daughter who is out of control, a son who was born after he was captured and a wife, Talia (Yael Abecassis) who has spent seventeen years campaigning the government for his release.

It is a very different series to Homeland. Firstly, the focus in this series is how the two men try to fit back into the world despite their deep trauma. There is suspicion about whether or not they have turned against the Israeli government, but this is far less of a focus. Secondly, these two men seem far more traumatised. I thought that Damian Lewis played the trauma of Nick Brody extremely well in Homeland; then I saw this. These two actors are horrifically skinny and the fear that is almost constantly behind their eyes seems so real. Even when it seems that they are going well, they can snap.

I don’t think that this series is better or worse than Homeland. They are telling similar yet quite different stories. Personally, I prefer Hatufim to Homeland, and I thank SBS for bringing yet another fabulous series to my attention.

Blackout – TV Review

Christopher Eccelston plays Daniel Demoys, a local council representative in a city somewhere in the UK. Ignoring his wife and children, he is on a downward spiral of drink and drugs until he wakes up one morning after an alcohol-induced blackout and suspects he may have killed a man. The three-part series follows Daniel as he tries to rebuild his life whilst discovering a conspiracy that leaves him little room to maneuver.

I enjoy these British series. Often the writing is strong and watching them feel like reading a good book; complex, with multiple storylines and requiring concentration. However, I felt that Blackout tried to cover too much. Just as I felt I was getting a grip on one plotline, another jumped out. By the end, I think they had all been tied up, but I wasn’t drawn in enough to be compelled to watch the second two episodes. I did watch them, but more for my compulsion to finish what I have started rather than any strong attachment to the series.

The one thing that I did enjoy was the appearance of actor Andrew Scott, who was magnificent as Moriarty in the BBC series of Sherlock. He played a police man who was not going well in his career and whose marriage had broken up. Scott’s performance gave the character a feeling of subtle instability. I think I’m going to need to tag his IMDB page to see what comes next.