Review – Riviera Season 1


When a billionaire businessman dies in an explosion on a yacht, it is up to his new wife to figure out exactly what happened to him.
Georgina (Julia Stiles) is the wife of the super rich Constantine Clios. When an explosions engulfs a yacht party that Constantine is attending, he dies and Georgina is widowed. It is in these dark times that she learns her husband’s riches were maintained through violence, deception and murder, and Georgina must do things she never thought she would in order to protect the family she married into little over a year before.

Riviera is the latest big budget show to be brought to us by Sky Atlantic, and it is also the latest show to not really deliver all that was promised. I’ve to be honest and say that I’m not entirely sure how to feel about it. It started well, but then it dipped, only to pick up again with two episodes remaining. I guess I expected better from the channel because they show so much potential with all their promos.

One of the main things I struggled with was the fact that I didn’t really like any of the characters. To me, none of them were that interesting. One thing I had read about the show was that Georgina, played by Julia Styles, would undergo a Michael Corleone-esque transformation (no points for guessing why I decided to watch the show). There were times when I could see this, but it wasn’t until quite late on, and even then it didn’t seem to be that enduring. It felt more like they tried to make the character of Georgina like that, but it simply didn’t work for her. And because that character wasn’t very engaging, I struggled to connect with the performance from Stiles. Anyone could have played Georgina, and the same could be said for all the other main characters. There was simply no one who I’ll look back on and say, ‘You know what they were great in? Riviera.’ In a sentence, the dull characters made for dull performances.

There also seemed to be some real pacing issues with this show. It started off brilliantly, and I think it was one of the best first episodes I’ve seen in a while. It really set the show up nicely with all the intrigue and the questions it raised. But then it never made use of much of what it set up in the first episode. The plot became very drawn out over the next handful of episodes before picking up again in the last two. This was a huge issue because there were ten episodes in all, so I watched about 7 weeks of nothing, but like an eejit I stuck with it because I thought the first episode was awesome and they would surely make use of the foundations at some point soon. I think one of biggest reasons it seemed to drag on so much was because it started on so many different possible strands and ended up losing itself (and me) along the way. Ultimately, the real problem was it didn’t really know what story to follow, so tried to tell multiple ones all at once.

All in all, Riviera wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. Looking back now, there wasn’t much that I actually liked about it, and I’m not fussed whether it returns for a second season or not. I can’t say that I’d recommend the show because it just wasn’t nearly as good as it’d looked to be. The characters were the biggest downfall because they could’ve been it’s saving grace, however they were all so wooden and as a result gave you nothing to cling on to. The bottom line is, there was potential here, but not for the first time with a film or TV show, it was wasted.

Review – Big Little Lies Season 1

The perfect lives of three mothers of first graders unravel, resulting in murder.

When Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) moves to Monterey with her son Ziggy to escape her past, she is quickly befriended by Madeleine Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon), who introduces her to Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman). Together, the three become a formidable trio amongst the rest of the mums at their kids’ school, especially in the wake of a playground incident after which, Ziggy is witch hunted by the other children and parents. What unfolds is a tale of ex-husbands, second wives and school yard scandals, all in between the little white lies that they all tell to uphold the fronts each of these women present to the world.

I’d heard a lot about Big Little Lies following it’s premier in the U.S. a couple of months ago, and seeing it would be shown soon after on Sky Atlantic, I thought I too would give it a spin, although I hadn’t expected it to be my thing at all. I was, however, proven wrong, and thankfully so, because here I am now sharing what a wonderful show it was with you.

The three lead performances here were tremendous. Woodley, Witherspoon and Kidman were all as brilliant as each other in their own special ways, but I have to say that the latter name mentioned just pipped the other two for the title of best performance in this series. If there is a god, or any sort of higher power in existence, Kidman will be nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Celeste Wright. Celeste was such a complex character, and in each of the seven episodes that made up this mini-series more and more was revealed about her. There were so, so many layers to this particular character, and for her alone I was willing to return for the next instalment each week.

The story was very simple, yet also very complex, if that makes any sense at all. If you strip the story back to the very basics, it is essentially a whodunnit, only the thing here is we don’t know a) who the killer is or b) who the victim is, so already it’s a small twist on the traditional. Add then the numerous points of conflict that arise throughout the course of the seven episodes and you struggle to come to a definitive conclusion on what the motive might be as well, which scuppers any chance of you being able to come up with a very shortlist of suspects. It was very refreshing to see the story told in this way, and while I had my guesses at who had ended up dead as a result of the many chains of events shown in the series, I was never exactly sure of who, how or why until the dying moments of the finale.

So, despite my initial scepticism, I have to say that Big Little Lies may very well be one of the best new shows of 2017, if not the best. I am going to be keeping my eye out for the book from which the story was adapted for the screen, because while I was very impressed by this series, I have an inkling that there is even more to be taken from the book, which is the case more often than not. What makes this so intriguing is the way the story is told, but just as important are the performances that deliver us this story. If you’ve not seen Big Little Lies, I would urge you to watch it, as it may very well be one of the greatest things you’ll watch this year.

Review – Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life

Set almost a decade after the original series ended, this mini-series follows the Gilmore Girls through four seasons of change.

I’m hoping that you will have read my review of the original Gilmore Girls series so that I don’t have to explain the concept again here. All I really want to do with this is tell you how much enjoyed this revival, and how I felt it measured up compared to the original series.

All of the performances were great once again. It’s amazing how everyone came back into the show after nine years away and managed to channel the characters that they had all worked so hard on for seven years. Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel did of course return as the infamous Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore and Scott Patterson as Luke Danes. The revival very much centred around these four characters and how they all interacted with each other now. So much has changed since the show first aired, both in the show and away from it, most notably the passing of Edward Hermann who played Richard Gilmore for the entirety of the original series. I do honestly think that these four especially did a terrific job of not only bringing their roles back to life, but also in paying tribute to those who unfortunately didn’t live to see this reunion happen.

The way the writers incorporated storylines from before into this worked really well. There were a few famous faces from way back in the early 2000s that made short appearances here and again, it was great paying homage to their contributions to the show. What was also really nice about this was the fact that so many people have gone on to big things after starting out here – one name that comes to mind is Jared Padalecki – and that they still found time in their now very busy schedules to come back to film small segments for this. I think that just shows what an impact this show had on everyone who was part of it over the years.

As I was watching the revival, I experienced some really weird feelings. The original series was obviously filmed and aired throughout the very early stages of my life, so everything that happens in those episodes, all the significant events that get mentioned throughout the first seven seasons, I have lived through (granted, quite often this happened without my knowing at the time). Similarly, all the changes that have taken place since then have also been part of my lifetime. Where I’m going with this is it’s strange watching this and looking at everything that has happened in my lifetime, which at only 18 and a half years is a relatively short period of time, and just seeing how much has changed. It was so weird seeing iPads popping up all over the place, and that Luke’s Diner had wifi. However, it was also nice seeing that despite the advancements that had taken place, the people remained largely the same.

I’d also just like to mention how well everyone seems to have aged before I finish this review. Considering I went from an episode that aired in 2007 one night, to something that was filmed last year the next, everyone changed so little! A couple of the cast members have aged particularly well if you ask me, but I won’t go into that too much as I’ve taken enough of your time already.

So, as the Gilmore Girls move into a new chapter of their lives, I have to say that it was really great to see what had gone on since the series finale ten years ago. Finally, Luke and Lorelai are together, and Emily has gotten a bit more bearable. As for Rory, she’s not quite sorted yet, but I’m hoping that future episodes will see her right as well. I know there have been mixed views on Gilmore Girls – A Year In The Life, but I have to admit that I loved it. Everything I enjoyed about the original series was there, plus you got to see how the citizens of Stars Hollow had evolved to deal with the technological advancements that have also taken place over the last decade. I would happily watch this entire show again, but I think what I really want is more episodes – I’ve not had enough yet!