Category Archives: TV

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (2016), Season 1

I watched this on the recommendation of a colleague. It consists of eight 45-minute episodes, for a total of six hours, and tells a interestingly convoluted story involving time travel, body-swapping, a hippie cult and the FBI.

I thought it was sort of OK. I suspect I would have liked it rather more if it wasn’t called Dirk Gently, because it has very nearly nothing at all to do with the Douglas Adams books that it is supposedly based on.

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Watch Rick and Morty

A while back, I read a tweet that said something like “Rick and Morty has more ideas in a single episode than most series do in a whole season”. (I wish I could find that tweet, but I can’t.) [UPDATE! Chris R found it, and here it is!]

That claim caught my imagination, so I watched the first season. You should watch it, too.

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The Good Life (1975-1978)

The Good Life is the archetypal 1970s British sitcom: a pleasant story about likeable people doing nice things. The story is negligible. (90% of it happens in the first episode, where Tom quits his job on his 40th birthday to go self-sufficient with his wife, Barbara.) When there is conflict, it’s quickly resolved.

Cast of The Good Life. Left: Tom and Barbara Good (played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall). Right: Jerry and Margo Leadbetter (played by Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith).

So it ought to be dismissable fluff; and in a way, it is. But it’s delightful dismissable fluff, and that makes it very easy watching.

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Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection

I watched the first episode of this program tonight. Verdict: disappointing. It’s clear that Blumenthal truly is an extraordinary chef, and must have unique and valuable insights into how cookery works; but In Search of Perfection doesn’t tell us what they are.

In the first episode, he cooks bangers and mash (followed by treacle tart). There is a lot of messing about visiting pig farms and suchlike before we get down to business. He makes his own sausages by what seems a ludicrously over-complex method that involves toast stock. There is lot going on; but we never find out why any of it is going on.

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Butterflies (1978-1983)

Butterflies is a very strange TV series. It ran for four seasons across six years, totalling 28 episodes of about half an hour each: and in those 28 half-hours, almost nothing happens.

It’s billed as a comedy, and it does have some funny moments. But there are long, long stretches that could not be described as remotely humorous — for example, passages in which the viewpoint character wanders through a public park, inwardly monologuing over how predictable her life has become. There is a laugh track, which is sometimes unbearably inappropriate.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (TV Series)

I read John Le Carré’s classic spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a few months ago, and found it difficult but brilliant. (The same can be said of most of his books).

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Back in 1979, the BBC made a highly regarded TV mini-series adapted very faithfully from the book, starring Alec “Ben Kenobi” Guinness as protagonist George Smiley. I was keen to see it, and to compare it with the book.

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Stranger Things: well worth watching

If you’ve not yet seen the Netflix series Stranger Things, I recommend it — especially if, like me, you grew up in the 70s and 80s, with the films of Steven Spielberg and his contemporaries.

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Here are a few reasons.

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