TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: OXYGEN (2017)

Image result for doctor who oxygenDoctor Who: Oxygen (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 45m) ∗∗∗∗  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Charles Palmer; w. Jamie Mathieson; ph. Mark Waters; m. Murray Gold.  Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Kieran Bew, Justin Salinger, Peter Caulfield, Mimi Ndiweni, Katie Brayben. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole answer a distress call in deep space, and find themselves trapped on board space station Chasm Forge. All but four of the crew have been murdered – and the dead are still walking! Tense episode benefits from a strong script and Capaldi at his best. The plot is a thinly diguised allegory for corporate greed with its cast of zombified workers having been exploited by the “suits”. The visual effects are very impressive and there is a cliffhanger ending that adds a twist. [12]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: KNOCK KNOCK (2017)

Image result for doctor who knock knockDoctor Who: Knock Knock (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 45m) ∗∗∗∗  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Bill Anderson; w. Mike Bartlett; ph. Damian Bromley; m. Murray Gold.  Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, David Suchet, Mariah Gale, Mandeep Dhillon, Colin Ryan, Ben Presley, Alice Hewkin, Bart Suavek, Sam Benjamin.  Bill is moving in with some friends and they’ve found the perfect house – so what if it’s strangely cheap to rent, and the landlord is a little creepy? The wind blows, the floorboards creak, and the Doctor thinks something is very wrong. What lurks in the strange tower at the heart of the building – and why can’t they find any way to enter it? This effective variation on the haunted house plot is a perfectly paced and creepy episode with Suchet excellent as the mysterious Landlord. Capaldi and Mackie are making a great team with their interplay and banter. Great visual effects and make-up. [12]

TV review – PRIME SUSPECT: THE FINAL ACT (2006)

Prime Suspect: The Final Act (TV) (2006; UK/USA; Colour; 182m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Philip Martin; w. Frank Deasy; ph. Julian Court; m. Nicholas Hooper.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Stephen Tompkinson, Laura Greenwood, Eve Best, Gary Lewis, Katy Murphy, Frank Finlay, Tom Bell, Robert Pugh, Brendan Coyle, Robbie Gee, Russell Mabey. Approaching retirement, Jane Tennison investigates the murder of a missing girl. But the cracks soon begin to show as Jane struggles with an alcohol problem and the death of her father. Final installment in the series is a relentlessly downbeat affair. Mirren delivers a superb performance and the production values are excellent and authentic. There is the occasional contrivance and the finale seems rushed after over three hours of twists and turns. But this is still an absorbing last hurrah for one of TV’s great detectives. [15]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: THIN ICE (2017)

Image result for doctor who thin iceDoctor Who: Thin Ice (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 44m) ∗∗∗  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Bill Anderson; w. Sarah Dollard; ph. Damian Bromley; m. Murray Gold.  Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Nicholas Burns, Asiatu Koroma, Simon Ludders, Tomi May, Guillaume Rivaud, Ellie Shenker, Peter Singh, Badger Skelton, Austin Taylor, Kishaina Thiruselvan.  London, 1814. The entire city has turned out for the biggest Frost Fair in decades. But beneath the frozen Thames, revellers are disappearing, snatched through the ice and pulled into the depths where a terrifying monster lurks. Will the Doctor and Bill stop the slaughter before they too are dragged into the icy waters? Fun episode with superb production values capturing London in the early 19th century. The story is no great shakes and lacks any real tension, but there is nice interplay between the leads and enough spirit to make it entertaining. [PG]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT: THE LAST WITNESS (2003)

Prime Suspect: The Last Witness (TV) (2003; UK/USA; Colour; 195m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Tom Hooper; w. Peter Berry; ph. Larry Smith; m. Rob Lane.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Liam Cunningham, Oleg Menshikov, Ben Miles, Robert Pugh, Mark Strong, Velibor Topic, Barnaby Kay, Tanya Moodie, Rad Lazar, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Olegar Fedoro, Sam Hazeldine, Frank Finlay. Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison’s investigation of the murder of a Bosnian refugee leads her to one, or possibly two, Serbian war criminals determined to silence the last witness to a massacre a decade before. Political intrigue rather than murder mystery is the theme for this installment. The subtext of war crimes committed in Bosnia adds an emotional layer. Mirren continues her excellent run with this character. The camera work is a little too flashy at times, but cannot detract from another absorbing tale. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT 5: ERRORS OF JUDGEMENT (1996)

Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgement (TV) (1996; UK/USA; Colour; 208m) ∗∗∗∗  pr. Lynn Horsford; d. Phil Davis; w. Guy Andrews; ph. Barry McCann; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Steven Mackintosh, David O’Hara, Marsha Thomason, Ray Emmet Brown, John McArdle, Julia Lane, John Brobbey, David Norman, Gabrielle Reidy.  Following an intemperate act at the end of THE SCENT OF DARKNESS, Tennison is assigned to Manchester CID, where she investigates the murder of a drug dealer that she believes was committed by a local gang leader and folk hero known as “The Street”. Excellent installment changes both the locale and the formula and is a battle of wits between cop and villain. Mackintosh and Mirren spark brilliantly in their scenes together. making for riveting viewing that helps us to forgive the rather cliched discovery and standoff finale. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT: THE SCENT OF DARKNESS (1995)

Prime Suspect: The Scent of Darkness (TV) (1995; UK/USA; Colour; 105m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Brian Park; d. Paul Marcus; w. Guy Hibbert; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Christopher Fulford, John Benfield, Richard Hawley, Stuart Wilson, Tim Woodward, Stephen Boxer, Stafford Gordon, Joyce Redman, Pip Donaghy, Marc Warren.  A series of brutal sex murders disturbingly similar to the pattern of Superintendent Jane Tennison’s first major case leads to the awful suggestion that she may have caught the wrong man the first time. This installment focuses on Tennison’s reaction to the doubts raised and Mirren is excellent as ever as her character descends into paranoia and increasing alcohol dependency as she tries to prove her initial judgement was correct. The wrap up is a little too neat and swift after the investigation takes one wrong turn after another once Tennison is suspended.  Otherwise, this is a solid mystery and a nice conclusion to the three movies that made up the fourth series of this consistent cop drama. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT: INNER CIRCLES (1995)

Prime Suspect: Inner Circles (TV) (1995; UK/USA; Colour; 102m) ∗∗∗  pr. Paul Marcus; d. Sarah Pia Anderson; w. Eric Deacon, Meredith Oakes; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Jill Baker, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Craig, Richard Hawley, John Benfield, Phillada Sewell, James Laurenson, Thomas Russell, Jonathan Copestake, Anthony Bate, Ralph Arliss, Nick Patrick.  Tennison, on loan to another jurisdiction, is sent in to investigate a murder of a country club manager. At first glance, it looks like a fairly obvious sex murder, but the facts suggest otherwise. As Tennison investigates, she uncovers a link to the ongoing situations within the local municipal government, and uncovers a possible political scandal which proves to be much larger and darker than she anticipated. More conventional mystery with familiar sub-plots of corruption and internal politics added to the mix. Whilst the mystery is satisfactorily played out the script feels a little generic and therefore the production lacks the edge of earlier stories in the series. Mirren remains superb though. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT: THE LOST CHILD (1995)

Prime Suspect: The Lost Child (TV) (1995; UK/USA, Colour, 101m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Paul Marcus; d. John Madden; w. Paul Billing; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck. Cast: Helen Mirren, Beatie Edney, Robert Glenister, Lesley Sharp, Tracy Keating, Richard Hawley, Jack Ellis, David Phelan, Stuart Wilson, John Benfield, Tony Rohr, Mark Bazeley, Chris Brailsford.  Supt. Tennison orchestrates a search for an abducted baby, but events take a turn for the worst when personal emotions cause complications. Emotive and dark episode due to its themes of child abduction and paedophilia. Again, the performances are uniformly excellent – notably Glenister as the prime suspect in question. Mirren continues to give a commanding portrayal of her career detective. The hostage resolution is tense and well-staged. Only some heavy-handed posturing in the script detracts from an otherwise excellent mystery drama. [15]

TV Review – PRIME SUSPECT 3 (1993)

Prime Suspect 3 (1993; UK; Colour; 207m) ∗∗∗½  pr. Paul Marcus; d. David Drury; w. Lynda La Plante; ph. David Odd; m. Stephen Warbeck.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Tom Bell, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Struan Rodger, Mark Strong, Terrence Hardiman, Andrew Woodall, Richard Hawley, Philip Wright, Mark Drewry, John Benfield, Terence Harvey, Ciarán Hinds, Kelly Hunter.  Assigned to a Vice squad, Detective Jane Tennison investigates a child murder and discovers a sinister link to the police. Another intricately plotted crime drama in this quality series. It lacks the intensity of the first two stories, but the controversial subject matter and political manoevering helped by excellent performances all round make for another well-made mystery. [18]