Trust Me… it’s worth watching


When a nurse is fired for whistle-blowing, she has to take drastic action to provide for her and her daughter.
Catherine Hardacre (Jodie Whittaker) was a good nurse in a crumbling healthcare system. However, whilst trying to carry out her duties with integrity, she rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way, and this eventually cost her her job. In a bid to prove herself, she steals the identity of an old friend and poses as a doctor in Edinburgh, away from her home town of Sheffield, with the big question being this – how long can she survive in the huge lie she’s spun?

When I saw that the BBC was bringing out yet another medical drama, I rolled my eyes so hard that they nearly fell out of my head. I just wasn’t feeling it. Of course, my mum had said the words, ‘Oh, that could be quite good,’ which basically translates to, ‘We’re watching that whether you like it or not,’ so I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. However, as much as it pains me to say it, mum did us a favour with this one. It was actually quite a bit better than I thought it would be, which has been a hard thing to say with new BBC dramas of late.

Doctor Who fans have a lot to look forward to if Jodie Whittaker is half as good as the Time Lord as she was as Cath here. You got a real sense of the desperation her character was experiencing, and this got better as time went by and the whole lie she was living unraveled. I liked the other characters who were placed into her story too. Andy Brenner and Brigette Rayne, played by Emun Elliott and Sharon Small respectively, both piled the pressure onto Cath, and were two figures who I think really enhanced the story. They were well written into it, and that is probably one of the things that made this show as good as it was.

The characters weren’t the only thing that was well written. The actual storyline itself was very good, and ratcheted up the tension nicely. There were so many things that could’ve gone wrong for Cath, and it was because of this that you could never be sure of when things were going to come crashing down for her. The short run of the show (which consisted only of four hour-long episodes) massively helped this side of things. This allowed so much scope for when exactly Cath could be found because it would’ve been very easy to make a story to fit. It was nice for them to not drag the show out until viewers zoned out for once.

On the whole, I enjoyed watching Trust Me. It was a lot better than I had thought it was going to be. This was largely down to the wonderful lead performance, but also the terrific writing that went into creating this show. Not only did it make for great prime time viewing, but with a bit of luck it has marked a turning point for the BBC after a string of productions that have been less than brilliant. If you didn’t catch the show, I’d recommend you rectify that as soon as possible because it was well worth seeing.

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In The Dark is another mediocre offering from the BBC 


In The Dark is a TV show that was brand new this year. It follows Detective Helen Weeks (MyAnna Buring) as she embarks upon two separate case in two two-part stories. I have to be honest and say that I was not overly impressed by this programme. It was only watchable at best, which was quite disappointing considering the amount of talent boasted by the cast.
Before I get into any real slating of the show, I’ll quickly cover the main performance. The obvious place to start is with MyAnna Buring, who was the main draw for me here. I’m a fan of her work due to Ripper Street and the characters she has always seemed to portray – I’ve never been able to accuse her of playing meek women, and that’s why I like her work so much. In that respect, I should’ve been all over her as Helen here, but something just didn’t click for me. I don’t think that’s down to Buring’s performance though. Much of this show was held down by the script, which was very clunky in multiple places, quite often losing rhythm at key points in the story. And, as is often the case, good actors were brought crashing to the ground by it.

In The Dark was adapted from a series of books which just didn’t seem to translate very well to the screen for how many problems this show was laden with. The biggest issue as I’ve pointed out already was the script – it was very unnatural in places. It just seemed knock the pace of the show for six at some of what were supposed to be the biggest points in the two stories. When it makes audiences sort of recoil a bit, I think that’s a sign that something isn’t up to scratch. You just knew that this wasn’t the way people really talk, and it took a huge amount away from the show.

I’m not even entirely sure how to feel about the story. Both seemed to be quite generic plots that could just as easily have been part of any other show crime show. There just wasn’t anything particularly special at all about either tale, and as for the ending to the second case? How about we just ignore the fact that it tried very hard to give us an edgy finish that absolutely did not float my boat? I just don’t understand why you’d try and do that when the majority of the rest of the show up to that point had been something of a shambles.

Anyway, you might have gathered by now that I wasn’t sold on In The Dark. I don’t think it’ll be making a return, but if it does I shan’t be watching it. It was a huge disappointment considering what could have been done with it, and I think I’ve pointed out in previous reviews that I really hate seeing wasted potential in whatever I watch. So much more could’ve been done with this, but in the end, it failed to deliver.

It might be a tad over-ambitious, but Fearless was still a good watch


A human rights lawyer with a reputation for defending lost causes sets out to prove the innocence of a man accused to murdering a 14 year old girl.
When Emma Banville (Helen McCrory) is asked to look into the conviction of Kevin Russell by his partner, she agrees to take on the case due to the huge miscarriage of justice she feels has taken place. As she begins to root around, she not only ruffles the feather of Detective Olivia Greenwood (Wunmi Mosaku), but she also discovers that Russell’s conviction was part of something far greater. Determined to prove his innocence, Emma goes to every length imaginable, putting a huge strain on her personal life, but also potentially putting herself in danger.

So, the latest big drama offered to us by ITV came in the form of Fearless. The show, starring Helen McCrory as the lead, had a mixed response initially, and start with looked set to be another in a series of shows that promised the world yet failed to deliver it. Thankfully though, I can tell you now that, at least from where I’m standing, this actually turned out to be one of the better shows the station has produced in a while.

While there were a number of high profile British stars in this show, and one face from slightly further afield, there is no denying that this was McCrory’s time to shine. She owned every scene as Emma, and it was always when she was on-screen that this drama was at it’s best. She just had such a presence, and she provided Emma with an air of determination that couldn’t be ignored by the audience or those she was pitted against in the show. Wunmi Mosaku had the same sort of vibe about her in her role, as did Robyn Weigert (also known as Jane from Deadwood). In fact, this was a very female-centric cast and storyline, which we seem to be seeing more and more of. The character of Emma Banville was an excellent part, and the other two were pretty good as well. It’s good to see mainstream British TV making this transition at long last!

As I’ve already mentioned, this seems to be a show that divided viewers. Personally, I wasn’t sold on the first episode at all, but stuck with it anyway. I have to say that I’m glad I did persevere because Fearless really picked up in the second episode. After this point, the story didn’t suffer as many pacing issues, although some did still crop up from time to time, mainly when McCrory was not on-screen. There were a lot of intricacies woven in, and you got a snapshot of Emma’s personal life without it becoming another huge subplot. I think the problem a lot of people had was it was set out much more like an American-made TV show, and so was more slow-burning than other shows you usually get here. Again, British TV is gradually introducing more shows of this nature, but I think it’s going to take audiences a while to get used to it. 

One thing that did cause me some issues however was some of the camera work. It was most noticeable during that first episode that already had it’s issues, but at points later on it reared its head again. It was really unsteady in some shots and was very off-putting. As the show went on, I didn’t take issue with it as much – whether this was because I got used to it or because the story improved, I don’t know. What I do know is to me that didn’t feel like the style of filming that worked for the programme.

On the face of it, Fearless was bit of a mixed bag. It certainly had its share of good and bad points, but I thought that, in the end, it did okay. There’s been better shows, but there has also definitely been a hell of a lot worse. The thing to take from this is how it differed from what is generally shown – how it opted for a narrative over its six episode run as opposed to a more formulaic plot, and how it gave most of its time to female lead characters. There’s plenty to be improved upon, but Fearless definitely took it’s first step in the right direction. Will it return? Who knows? But I wouldn’t be too disappointed if a second season did come my way.

Tuesday Top Ten – TV Shows That Aired In 2016

While I may have watched more films in the cinema in 2016 than I have done any other year, I also found plenty to watch on the small screen last year as well. In no particular order, here is my rundown of my top ten TV shows that aired new episodes in 2016. Any older series that I may also have seen last year will not be featuring on this list – that’s for another day…

10. Rillington Place


This period drama that took a look at the murders committed by John Reginald Christie at 10 Rillington Place during the 1940s and 50s did really well in my book. Tim Roth was magical as the lead character, and was supported well by Samantha Morton as his wife Ethel. I really enjoyed this three-part mini-series, and would certainly recommend it to people.

9. The Night Manager


It seems a long time has passed since this TV adaptation of John Le Carré’s novel of the same name was on our screens. It provided us with Sunday night viewing that BBC1 hasn’t been able to match since it finished. Since then, the show has aired all over the world I would imagine, and has won numerous Golden Globes. I clearly wasn’t the only one impressed with this one.

8. Silent Witness S19


Seeing as it’s been on our screens since 1996, I don’t think you need me to tell you too much about Silent Witness. Obviously I haven’t been watching since the very beginning (I wasn’t born then), but it is a show I’ve looked forward to seeing every year since I started watching about four or five seasons ago. I have no real explanation for why I enjoy this show so much – there are a number of reasons for why I love it as much as I do, that’s all I can say.

7. Peaky Blinders S3


I got into this show as it started it’s second season and it became a favourite straight away. The excessive violence and creative use of language are always something I enjoy seeing, but there are other things that Peaky Blinders has always had going for it. Firstly, we get to see Cillian Murphy in the lead as the delightful Tommy Shelby, and then we get a whole host of big names alongside him – Tom Hardy and Sam Neill are just a couple. The performances are brilliant, the sets are tremendous, and overall, the show is a winner from start to finish. 

6. The Five 


With a story that came from the mind of acclaimed thriller writer Harlen Coben, The Five sounded promising. This was another mini-series that was very impressive. The story was phenomenal, and I, nor anyone else who watched it with me, had a clue about who did what right until the very end. What more could you want from a crime thriller?

5. The People Vs. O.J. Simpson


I don’t really know what reception this was met with. What I do know is I was really looking forward to seeing it, and when it came to sitting down and watching it, The People Vs. O.J. Simpson went way above my expectations. Some of the performances here – specifically Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clarke, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran – were mind-glowingly good. This one didn’t focus so much on the person who may or may not have committed the crime, but more on the drama that unfolded in the courtroom and lawyer’s offices behind the scenes. Compelling stuff!

4. Ray Donovan S4


Another show i got into as the second season began was Ray Donovan, and as I write this I am waiting to find out where season five will pick up. This most recent season of the drama that revolves around the life and work of L.A. fixer, Ray Donovan, was, in my eyes, the best to date. Ray’s work and family life clashed this time round, which raised the stakes massively and made it unbearable waiting for a new episode each week.

3. Ripper Street S4


One of my favourite shows to ever exist is Ripper Street. When BBC cancelled it after season two, I signed every petition going and even wrote a letter to the head of whatever to tell them what a terrible decision they had made, and when it was announced that the show was being decommissioned for seasons three, four and five… well, you can imagine my reaction. Season four was fantastic as always, but dealt us a blow at the end that I’m still not quite over, and I don’t think I ever will be.

2. The Missing S2


The highly anticipated second season of The Missing arrived late in 2016 and was actually far better than it’s predecessor. I hadn’t been that excited for it, but was pleasantly surprised by what was actually presented to me. The story was excellent and with some real British acting heavyweights in two of the lead roles, plus Tchèky Karyo returning as Julien Baptiste, the performances weren’t half bad either.

1. The Night Of


One of the biggest, most talked about shows from last year arrived at some point around September or October I think. The Night Of won me over when I saw the face of The Wire‘s Michael Kenneth Williams in the preview, and I’m glad I saw him then because I may otherwise not have watched the show. A perfect example of what can be achieved with solid storytelling and acting is one of the greatest compliments I could give this show, and with talks of season two starting before it had even finished this one, I am looking forward to it’s return.

So there’s my list of my top ten shows that aired in 2016. Some great newcomers, the return of old favourites and a few pleasant surprises would be a great way to describe last year’s TV for me. How about you? What are your thoughts on these shows? What would have featured on your list? As always, let me know! It’s nice hearing what you guys think.

Rillington Place – If these walls could talk…

A three-part story about infamous serial killer John Christie and the murders that took happened at 10 Rillington Place during the 1940s and early 1950s.

Quite who Reg Christie (Tim Roth) is is something that is hard the ascertain. The man has a checkered history, evident in the strain in his relationship with wife of fifteen years Ethel (Samantha Morton). After he finishes a spell in prison, they move to Rillington Place – the place where many sinister goings on are to take place over the coming years.

When I saw BBC’s preview for Rillington Place, I was aware that there was a man who looked a lot like Tim Roth in the lead role. As it turned out, I was right with my guess at who the actor was, and when this was confirmed I knew straightaway that I would be watching this three-part drama after being very impressed by his work in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. It turns out that he impressed me yet again with his work here, so I was glad I took a gamble on this period-set mini-series.

Roth, as you know by what I’ve already said, was tremendous as Reg, and I’d probably say that this was the best performance I’ve seen by him. He had a presence on-screen that made you feel uneasy just watching him walk into a room. When it came to his character’s speech, Roth has said that he went for an Alan Bennett-esque dialect, which I have to say was very effective in making the character complete. There was something very chilling about the way he spoke, and how calm he remained in every situation. He absolutely nailed the character if you ask me, and delivered a masterclass in acting with every minute of this drama.

Samantha Morton was equally as good as Ethel. It was hard to know which side she was on throughout the whole thing, which I think showed very well how torn her character was. What I really liked about Ethel though was the hidden power she possessed. She was the only character in the story who could make Reg lose it, and we saw this a couple of times. Morton did a terrific job of showing the most important aspect of Ethel, which was that she was essentially an abused wife, and although this was apparent from the beginning, it became much clearer as the story played out.

The storyline for Rillington Place was a retelling of the events that played out there in the 40s and 50s. What I had expected of the show was quite different to what I got – I thought I would have seen far more of the murders happen, but as it was, this was not the case. Was I disappointed by this fact? Not really. The performances more than made up for the lack of action that took place on-screen which I think is one of the biggest complements they each could get.

On the whole, Rillington Place is a short drama full of top-drawer performances. The cast provide plenty for you to be entertained with, and the dark subject matter of this show makes it the kind of period drama that I think those of us who prefer not to look back on the olden days through rose-tinted specs can fully appreciate. If you like Ripper Street, as I am also a huge fan of, then Rillington Place will definitely be right up your alley. 

Why you should watch Band Of Brothers


The story of Easy Company and their missions in WWII, from Operation Overlord to V-J Day.

This is the story of ‘E’ Easy Company, the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, stretching from the first days of training right up to the end of World War Two. During the early hours of D-Day, they parachuted behind enemy lines to support the landings at Utah Beach. They then went on to liberate Carentan, and then parachuted into action in the midst of Operation Market Garden. The tale ends with the closing of the war after the company liberates a concentration camp near Hitler’s mountain retreat.

It would appear that I’m on a mission to watch some of the greatest TV shows ever made at the minute. After The Wire, I attempted Oz but couldn’t get into it, and while looking to see if Boardwalk Empire was being re-run anytime soon, I noticed Band Of Brothers was being repeated. After seeing the ratings, I decided to give it a spin. What an excellent life choice I made!

The story of Band Of Brothers is a retelling of events undertaken by Easy Company throughout WWII. I should think the plot was very reflective of the real thing due to the script being passed to the veterans portrayed in the show before production began. I do feel that it was handled very sensitively, and that the production team really wanted the heroes whose stories they were telling to have an active role in the mini-series. I found it very touching how each episode was introduced with a short commentary from the real Easy Company soldiers. this really authenticated the programme for me, and I would say that this is the reason the series was so well received. The short introduction to each episode served to remind how each me never of the company was just an extraordinary man doing extraordinary things.

Acting for a show like this has to be good in my opinion as it stands to provide a tribute for all of the lives affected by the events. I can’t say I can complain about the quality of the performances on show here. A couple of stand-outs include Damian Lewis as Winters and Donnie Wahlberg as Lipton. Both provided rip-roaringly terrific performances as they truly revealed the characteristics of these men that got them and their troops thought the war.

The show also introduced a number of today’s biggest stars. Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Andrew Scott and Tom Hardy – the latter of which was actually awarded his first screen credit – all played significant parts in the series. Obviously now, due to their many successes, these are all household names, but at the time when the show was first aired, the anonymity of many of the show’s cast would have worked very well in it’s favour as audiences would view the actors only as their characters, and not as Michael Fassbender or Tom Hardy playing soldiers if you know what I mean.

All in all, I would highly recommend watching Band Of Brothers. It is a truly fantastic series that is well worth committing to. The authenticity surrounding the story is what makes the series stand out, and also means that it would be great for anyone who is interested in history or WWII. That was y excuse for recording the show. “It will benefit my education” – always works a treat!