TV Round Up: Time, Travel and Things That Go Bump In The NightPosted: June 3, 2015
Okay, so it’s TV round up time again, a quick catch up on the TV shows that I’ve enjoyed, most of which have been binge watched while cwtched up with MWG. Let’s crack on:
The Enfield Haunting
What It’s About: In the late 1970s a family are tormented by a poltergeist in Enfield, much of it seemingly centred around Janet (Eleanor Worthington Cox), the young girl who lives there. Paranormal enthusiast Maurice Grosse (Timothy Spall), to investigate and he confirms there is something going on.
Reinforcements arrive in the shape of suave writer Guy Lyon Playfair (Matthew Macfadyen), who is initially skeptical and fears that Maurice, recovering from personal tragedy, may be too invested in Janet and her family. What is really going on? Is Maurice going to be able to help, and is his obsession with the case going to derail his home life?
Why I Like It: I don’t buy the “Based on Real Events” stuff, but this is still a well done and creepy horror series. The tension is built up beautifully and there’s a definite sense of unease throughout.
MWG’s not great with horror so there were lots of jumps and shrieks of fear as we watched it, and she got scared too. What sets it above is the fantastic performances, particularly Spall who is sensational in capturing the damaged, fragile Maurice who does his best to reassure the kids but is quickly out of his depth. Macfadyen is also great as the smooth, cocky Playfair and the child performances are pretty strong as well.
What It’s About: 1945, and married couple Frank and Claire (Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe) travel to Scotland, trying to reconnect after being separated during the Second World War. Claire visits standing stones and is cast back in time to 1743, where she becomes embroiled with Scottish rebels and meets Frank’s sadistic ancestor Black Jack Randall (Menzies again), a British army officer.
For her protection Claire is married to Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a Scottish rebel who’s smitten with her and proves quite gentle with her. Can Claire get back to ’45 and, as she gets to know Jamie, does she really want to?
Why I Like It: The premise is a little bonkers, and it shifts gears alarmingly in places (there’s some daft humour before things get seriously dark towards the end of the first season), but it’s an engaging drama and the characters are pretty well done. It zips along at quite a pace and is filled with action and incident, and the writing is rather fine at times. Credit also to Balfe and Heughan, who do extremely well in their lead roles.
Peter Kay’s Car Share
What It’s About: When the supermarket they work for starts a car sharing initiative colleagues John (Peter Kay) and chatty Kayleigh (Sian Gibson) are buddied up. Despite seeming to not have much in common they begin to warm to each other with each episode being about a different day of their commutes.
Why I Like It: The set up is simple and most of it takes place within the confines of John’s car, but the writing is wonderfully observed and full of laugh out loud lines. It also helps that Kay and Gibson are excellent in their roles, real and natural and bouncing off each other to great effect. I hope it returns for a second series as this is the best thing Kay has done in years.
A Young Doctor’s Notebook
What It’s About: In 1930s Russia a doctor (Jon Hamm) is confronted about irregularities in his morphine prescriptions, and given his old diary. The diary tells of his early career, when as a young doctor (Daniel Radcliffe) he practiced in a small, isolated village hospital. As he struggles to manage his patients and the isolation, the doctor’s older self appears to him, offering advice and conversing with him.
Why I Like It: The tone is messy, but works for me. The young doctor’s life is filled with farcical events, awkwardness and jet black comedy, while the older doctor’s story is much darker. What works for me is Hamm’s sarky comments to his younger self. Originally smug and superior these start to become angrier and more serious as he is forced to confront his past failings and flaws.
The second series gets incredibly dark, and there are times when your sympathy for the young doctor waivers, but it’s here the conceit works, as the older doctor reflects are disgust while also capturing the bitterness and regret that consumes him.
The performances are strong and it’s entertaining, mixing comedy and tragedy expertly, at times it’s a tough watch because of just how unlikable Radcliffe’s character becomes, but for the most part it’s a well crafted gem. And Radcliffe deserves praise for taking on such a challenging role and capturing the selfish tunnel vision of an addict.
I’m quite glad that MWG nagged me to watch this as it didn’t really appeal but fair play, it was a solid pick and I enjoyed it a lot.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.