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First Night DVD Review

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For many of us, Richard E. Grant will forever be Withnail (Withnail and I, 1986), a character that brought his sharp comic timing and plumy sense of outrage fully to the fore. He has of course been busy ever since, but sadly has yet to recapture the spark of that tortured creation. Given the affection consistently shown for alcoholic thespian Withnail, it is hardly surprising that many consider it to be a once in a lifetime role and performance.

Well, whatever else it may be, the character of Adam in woeful opera world meets vanity project rom-com First Night does not come close to providing Grant with the chance to be able to scale those heights again.

Focusing on mega-wealthy businessman Adam’s attempts to impress his friends and associates with his cultural knowledge, First Night follows the frustrated amateur opera singer’s attempts to stage Mozart’s opera Cosi Fan Tutte in the grounds of his country estate. Helping him in this incredibly trivial exercise is Sarah Brightman’s (yes, that Sarah Brightman) Celia, a conductor with seemingly zero internal life or any motivation other than to smile at Adam. Brightman’s visage – particularly her eyes, with the permanently surprised look of the Botox fan – is truly a sight to behold, and may well be the most entertaining element of the entire film.

Joining the leading pair are a rag tag bunch of musicians and drama queens, most of them seeming to take the plot of amateur production a little too literally. Of these extraneous characters, most are forgettable, but a storyline involving the young director of the piece suddenly realising he is gay (presumably dreamt up as a ‘humorous’ plot device) manages to simultaneously bore and irritate, and the construction remains thoroughly unsympathetic.

After a bizarrely slow start, a flash of gratuitous nudity and a smattering of class obsessed gags and a touch of slap-stick, it soon becomes clear that we’re in British seaside postcard territory. All the clichés of the privileged make an appearance, from horse riding, opera, stately homes, servants and stern housekeeper (Eastenders’ Tessa Peake-Jones).

After a thoroughly overlong running time nearing two hours, the only really amusing thing about this lacklustre offering is that there were people involved who thought that the idea of a rich industrialist presenting an opera in his estate would garner an appreciative audience in recession hit, austerity afflicted Britain. Of course, if it was, you know, any good, it might have helped! One to avoid.

Released on DVD September 2012 | Review by Robert W Monk

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Reviews

Dave Saint Show, The (UK Play 2000, John Thomson, Alexander Kirk)

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UK Play Logo

The Dave Saint Show was a comedy about a useless heavy metal DJ on a local radio station. As was usual with with shows on extra terrestrial channel UK Play music videos were interspersed throughout the show.

production details
UK / UK Play – Channel X / x30 minute episodes / Broadcast 2000

Writers: Alexander Kirk, Simon Messingham / Script Consultant: Stacy Herbert / Music: Steve Cripps, Dan Mendford / Costumes: Pookie Russell / Producer: Jim Reid / Director: Mark Mylod

cast
JOHN THOMSON as Dave Saint
ALEXANDER KIRK as AK
KATE LOUSTOU as Jeneane

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Game of Thrones Season Six Opener reviews from around and about

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Assorted reviews from the interweb of the season six opener for Game Of Thrones.

Game of Thrones is back, with a premiere full of shocks, bloody acts and creepy reveals – but no definite answer about the fate of Jon Snow.

Season six is the first time the TV series has moved ahead of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, so even dedicated readers have no idea what will happen. Reviewers say the first episode, The Red Woman, resolved some of the cliffhangers from the last series, but also has a few shocks in store, including one very creepy reveal involving a leading lady.

“The tension was incredible,” says Ed Power in the Daily Telegraph.

Season six opened with the camera swooping low over Castle Black and pausing on noble Jon Snow after his bloody run-in with the traitorous Night’s Watch.

“Alas, the Bastard of Winterfell (Kit Harington) was, for the time being at least, staying very dead indeed,” says Power. This was confirmed by “a haunting close-up of his waxy visage and the pool of scarlet arranged like a skewed halo”.

Short of spelling out: “He’s dead!” in huge flaming letters, the writers couldn’t have driven the point home harder, adds the critic, who asks whether this was “a sadistic riposte to fans” who have waited a year to see if their heart-throb will return or “a sleight-of-hand intended to make his eventual reappearance all the more dramatically satisfying”.

Christopher Hooton in The Independent writes: “The last season of Game of Thrones didn’t so much end on a cliff-hanger as a splat on the beach below. Jon Snow is unequivocally dead,” or so we’ve been repeatedly told over the past few months.

However, he adds, the sheer amount of screen time given to his body “suggested more than just a ‘funeral then we all move on with our lives’ narrative”.

With the “obligatory Jon Snow death check” out of the way, this episode was mostly about setting up the playing field for the rest of the season, continues the critic.

Indeed, it was “a sombre, sturdy opening”, says Matt Fowler on IGN. While “not a high watermark for the show”, the series’ opener resolved some cliff-hangers and included “a big creepy reveal regarding Melisandre right at the end”.

It also set up the pieces on the chessboard and managed to touch upon just about every character in the ensemble, says the journalist, a much easier task these days, “now that the herd is so thin”.

Yes, it was a “table-setting episode”, says Daniel Fienberg at the Hollywood Reporter, as premieres are supposed to be. The episode did what it needed, putting this mammoth locomotive back on the track.

Being Game of Thrones, however, there were a few shockers, including some gory violence and nudity that is “more shocking in its narrative ramifications than its gratuity or titillation”. And while the answer to Snow’s wellbeing comes quickly, says Fienberg, “it needn’t necessarily be permanent, because what things are?”

Source: The Week

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Columbo Series Three Region 1 DVD Review

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Distributor: Universal Home Entertainment

Certificate: Not Rated | 11 Hours and 24 minutes
Available to buy

Extras: Yes

ANYONE IN IT WE KNOW?
Peter Falk, Martin Sheen, Vincent Price, Deidre Hall, Jackie Cooper

WHAT’S IT ABOUT THEN?
The Columbo releases from Universal are now upto the third season and of course by now it is full steam ahead as Columbo really hits its stride, of course the basic premise of the show dictates that we know who the killer is right from the get go but by the third season the audience was lapping up the way the Superlative Peter Falk as Lt Columbo doggedly pursued

his villain who were always lulled into a false sense of security by Columbo’s grubby mac, battered old car and down at heel demeanour, all tactics designed to throw the suspect off guard before he lets them know that he knows they did it.

Spread over two double sided discs this nicely put together set features all 8 feature length season three episodes, Columbo’s cases include the mysterious death of a well known author, a country singer who is prime suspect in a murder case, he also finds time to uncover police corruption and political skullduggery. Columbo also always managed to attract a high level of guest and this series includes the legendary Johnny Cash in the episode Swan Song as well as the likes of

Jose Ferrier, Vincent Price, Martin Sheen, Dana Elcar and Robert Culp. A classy slice of 1970’s Tec TV Heaven, Columbo always entertains and should be on any Classic TV fans must have list.

ANY SPECIAL FEATURES?
There’s a great bonus episode from the series Mrs Columbo (which many have claimed isn’t a spin off from Columbo but having now seen an episode it clearly is) this is called Murder Is A Parlour Game (from 1979) and features Kate Mulgrew as Kate Columbo, journalist on a small local paper and married to a never seen Lt Columbo, she investigates when a suicide case appears to be murder, the excellent Donald Pleasance guest stars, this is great fun and is hopefully a precursor to the whole series getting a release.

Please note: This article predates the published date and is from the old HTML version of Memorable TV and is part of our From The Archives collection.

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