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Posts Tagged ‘ TV ’

Tis The Season To…

Christmas, it comes earlier and earlier every year. This I know for a fact, you see I work in retail which means that I’ve been singing along to classics such as Baby It’s Cold Outside for weeks now. Hell our “Christmas Shop” has been open since September 1st and no your eyes are not deceiving you, September 1st folks!

So, just how have I managed to survive all these years in retail and the ever advancing onset of the festive season without morphing into the Holiday’s most notorious villain? It all comes down to one phrase, a phrase you might just recognize: “If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em”

These days I take the time to organise a number of treats both big and small for myself and friends to enjoy together in the run up to Christmas. Often these “treats” are not even remotely related to the Holiday season which I have never been overly precious about but revolve around eating, drinking and laughing. Then again eating, drinking and laughing has always been the very definition of Christmas, at least for me. Point is, it doesn’t really matter what you do this Christmas as long as it makes both you and yours happy. Believe me it’s much easier to tolerate all that joy to the world and peace on earth malarky once you give yourself a reason to smile.

I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of traditional and not so traditional things for you and yours to do in the run up to Christmas. Here’s hoping this is enough to get all you Bitter Bettys out there in the Christmas spirit this year…

… Get Your Skates On;

Can you think of anything more festive than ice skating? Yes, it’s embarrassing, yes, you’re going to look like a severely impaired newborn foal out there and yes you will fall over but you know what? You’re going to laugh like never before and what in this world provides a better bonding experience than humiliation? That’s right, nothing! Besides is there anything cuter than slip sliding across the ice and being held up but that guy you’ve been swooning over for months? We all need a cliché or two in our lives!

Check out Dundrum On Ice

Opening Hours:  Monday – Friday; 3pm – 8pm.

Saturday – Sunday; 10.30 am – 9pm.

… Drink A Cocktail Or Three;

When it comes to Christmas I’m a woman divided one part of me fantasizes about cable knits, woolly socks and a boozy hot chocolate sipped by the fire whilst reading Pride and Prejudice while the other swoons over the glitz and glam of the party season. You know what I’m talking about folks, the sequin dresses, the strappy heels, and of course only the most potent of cocktails. Luckily I know how to satisfy both of my festive personalities. Leaning toward a night out? Then you’ve got to try Dublin’s own Vintage Cocktail Club which not only boasts an impressive array of cocktails – including Rested Manhattans, Mojitos, and Dark & Stormy’s to name but a few – but also delivers on its promise to show you a truly unique night on the town! For those of you in the mood for a cozy tipple beside the fire then check out this recipe featured on my blog Your Ethereal Feast which yields what might just be the best winter warmer ever!

Vintage Cocktail Club, 15 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

… Host Thanksgiving Dinner;

I’m very lucky because I’ve been seeing a rather lovely American boy for a number of years now which means that I get to celebrate Thanksgiving or what I like to call “stuff yourself stupid day.” American or not there’s no reason you can’t get involved too. Why not throw an impromptu dinner party for your friends? To make it really special and slightly more grown up (23 years of age and I’m still using the term “grown up”!) simply pay attention to detail when it comes to your table! It’s amazing just how big a difference the little things can make and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Simply pick up some pretty napkins, light some candles and perhaps add some flowers. For winter I really like muted tones with metallic accents as they’re chic, sophisticated and unlikely to clash with anything in your apartment! If the mere idea of throwing a dinner party is something you feel overwhelmed by simply get your friends involved and ask each person to bring just one thing they feel confident making and if most of it does end up coming straight out of a microwavable container who the hell cares? It’s your party and you can fake it if you wanna! Oh and while you’re at it why not pull a Christmas cracker or two? Just because the pilgrims didn’t have them doesn’t mean we shouldn’t!

For super chic kitchen and tableware check out Avoca which has locations across Ireland and on Suffolk Street in the heart of the city.

… Dress Like The Last Member Of Wham;

Who can forget George Michael in the now infamous video for Last Christmas? For years we ridiculed the man for wearing that sweater but it’s time to come clean, he had it right all along. There really is nothing better than a motif sweater this festive season guys. Why not head to my own personal high street hero, Topshop, where you can choose between this, this and this. I think you’ll agree that all three are absolute gems and will have you channeling your inner George in no time!

… Laugh Your Ass Off;

Aw yes, Christmas, that time of year has come again when comedians everywhere get set to release and tirelessly promote DVD’s of their latest and greatest performances! Sure, they’ve brought us lots of joy in the past but why not skip the DVD this year? After St Stephens day it usually sits there gathering dust anyways. Oh but don’t skip the inappropriate laughs, chuckles and cackles instead catch your favourite comedian live! This year I’m going to take in a little Michael McIntyre but if he’s not your kinda guy then why not head on over to Vicarstreet.ie where you can book a little quality time with comedians such as Neil Delamare and Tommy Tiernan?

Vicar Street is located on Dublin’s Thomas Street.

… Treat Yourself;

Ok ok, so Christmas is about giving but whoever said you couldn’t give to yourself? The best gift is the one (or should that be ones?) you give yourself. To ease your conscience, however, I’ve found some super stylish and super affordable pieces such as these three gorgeous party dresses (pictured here, here and here) from Warehouse all of which will undoubtedly carry you through the festive season and beyond. Better still if you pick up the December 2012 issue of MarieClaire you’ll receive a further 20% off all full priced items. You’d be losing money not to am I right? And hey if you’re feeling generous you can always pick up a little something for your mom, sister or best friend too!

… Bake Yourself Fat;

Face it, no one likes Christmas cake, it’s heavy, it’s outdated and we only ever started making it because we didn’t have anything better to work with. Aw but gone are those dark days of old. Today we have innumerable options when it comes to sweet treats that everyone will find palatable. Check out just a few of my most popular and perhaps more importantly tried and tested recipes here, here and here which are featured on my blog! If you find you’re still jonesing for something a little more festive then click here to explore what is perhaps my favourite foodie blog of all time and where you’ll find all sorts of festive goodies including gingerbread apple upside down cake and roasted chestnut cookies.

… Trim Your Tree;

I’ve had my own apartment a number of years now and year after year people seem surprised when I tell them that yes I am putting up a Christmas tree. I guess it is a lot of bother when you can take it all in without the hassle just by heading back to the parents place but for me Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the frustration and eventually the relief that comes with putting the tree together and untangling those damn fairy lights. What really makes the process special, however, is the thought of breaking out those ornaments originally bought to mark a special time in my life. I have for example a bauble that represents the first year I moved in with my fiancé and another ornament given to me last Christmas by my future mother in law which is incredibly dear to me. I cannot wait to bust out these trinkets alongside my fiancé this Christmas so we can enjoy a little trip down memory lane together. Why not start your own collection or pick out a special ornament to give a loved one this year? Sentimental, soppy, sad, call it what you will but these are the things you’ll cherish for years to come.

I love these glass initial baubles €6 from Anthropologie!

Time For A Few More Fabulous Suggestions?

Why not have a T.V. marathon? Pick a day, any day, to just sit on your butt and watch the entire lastest season of your favourite show. Friends, Sex & The City, Top Chef America, Dexter, Breaking Bad whatever it may be. The only rule is this; no leaving the couch!

Compile a Christmas playlist! And no it doesn’t have to be full of the usuals such as Driving Home For Christmas just lots of upbeat songs that are going to get you in the mood to dance around your house a la Cameron Diaz in The Holiday.

Speaking of which, watch The Holiday, Love Actually or some other form of Christmas tripe! Snow infused visuals help!

Get crafty and by this I mean channel your inner artiste no matter what your ability. Make a sock puppet for your Dad, a necklace for your mom or a card for your friend. There’s something about doing it yourself that just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and from what I hear that’s how Christmas is supposed to make us feel.

I do believe that’s your 12 days of Christmas sorted! You can thank me later folks…!

By Kerrie Mitchell

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Top Five Comedy Shows You Must See Before You Die

All of the television programs on this list are made in Britain and feature British/Irish actors and actresses. That’s not being elitist, at least intentionally, against American comedy, which is often very good (Ted, Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation spring to mind) but usually has the tendency to be very direct. Humour in this region of the world is more often much more subtle and much funnier as a result and few other television shows over the past decade exemplify that particular brand of humour more so than the following five:

The IT Crowd

Have you tried turning it off and back on again? Written by Graham Linehan (also involved with Black Books and Father Ted), The IT Crowd follows the adventures of geek genius and socially awkward Maurice (Richard Ayoade) and the laidback and rather unlucky Roy (Chris O’Dowd), two IT guys under the supervision of the somewhat clueless Jen (Katherine Parkinson), relationship manger and head of the department who actually knows nothing about IT. Much of the humour comes from internet and computing in-jokes, Jen’s complete lack of knowledge concerning computers (of which Roy often takes advantage) and her attempts to build a bridge between the basement dwelling IT department and the rest of Reynholm Industries which leads to Roy and Maurice’s many awkward and failed interactions with those from the higher levels.

Spaced

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have proved their humour can translate onto the big screen with the hilarious and successful ‘Hot Fuzz’ and zom-rom-com classic, ‘Shaun of the Dead’. But it was on the small screen where they had one of their first successes with Spaced on Channel 4, which Pegg co-wrote and co-starred with Jessica Stevenson. Centred around Tim Beisley (Pegg) and Daisy Steiner (Stevenson) who pretend to be a happy couple in order to meet the prerequisites of the ideal flat on 23 Meteor Street, the show follows the pair as they attempt to navigate love, life and work (or lack thereof) combined with one another’s less than usual friends; would be soldier Mike, tortured artist Brian from downstairs and the lonely landlady, Marsha, rarely seen without a cigarette in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. Known for its rapid fire editing, frequent pop culture references, subtle humour and eclectic music, Pegg and Stevenson pitched it as a cross between “The Simpsons, The X-Files and Northern Exposure.” And it works.

The Office

Famous around the world, The Office, stars Ricky Gervais’ most recognisable character, David Brent, as a manager of Slough paper merchants Wernham Hogg, chosen to be the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary. The comedy lies in Gervais’ flawless portrayal of a man desperate to be accepted, who confuses respect with being well liked, mixed in with an awkward and often inappropriate sense of humour. His lieutenant Gareth is clueless and obsessed with his time spent in the Territorial Army and is perpetually locked in a mini-war with Tim, an unpretentious and good-natured sales rep, whose witticisms and actually funny jokes make him almost the complete opposite of Brent. Despite Brent’s obnoxious and often mystifying personality, Gervais manages to inject some poignancy into the character and more often than not we end up sympathising with him. If you like cringe humour (99 per cent of the series), then boy is The Office the show for you.

The Inbetweeners

What can you say about this non-typical coming of age show about four completely different yet normal English teenagers? Subtle probably isn’t one of the most often used words. One word should bring back a host of memories for those who have seen it yet may elicit confusion from those who haven’t – clunge.

Sexual and general awkwardness? Check. Lewd teenage jokes? Check. Rip roaringly funny dialogue and story lines? Double and treble check. Not one for the easily offended or those who have forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager.

Black Books

Like the IT Crowd and Spaced, Black Books comes under the category of ‘good things come in unfortunately small doses’. With only two seasons, and a handful of episodes, by the time you’ve finished watching all of them (not too long after you’ve started, who needs to go to work anyway?) you’ll certainly be left wanting for more.

Dylan Moran stars as the heavy smoking and drinking Irish misanthrope Bernard Black, who runs a second-hand bookstore despite the lack of any apparent desire to actually sell any books. Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey) is Black’s assistant and flatmate who in reality is little more than a slave and whom Black refers to varyingly as ‘Gandalf’, ‘Bigfoot’ and ‘Genghis’ while his best and friend, Fran (Tamsin Greig) runs a shop next door selling odds and ends which is endearingly referred to as “a load of wank.”

Cue lots of dark and sometimes puerile and wine related humour.

Honourable Mentions

Father Ted – Father Ted isn’t mentioned in this list because it has a list of its own – the five best television comedies named Father Ted, all of which are occupied by Father Ted. There’s not much else to say about Ted, Dougal and Jack which hasn’t already been said. Perhaps the classic show can be summed up with a quote from Fr Dougal McGuire, oftentimes the bane of Fr Ted’s existence.

(Dougal has trouble remembering his prayers)

Father Dougal: Our Father, who art in heaven…

Father Ted: (sternly) Hallowed.

Father Dougal: Hallowed be thy…

Father Ted: Name!

Father Dougal: Papa don’t preach…

Father Ted: Dougal, you know you can praise God in other ways.

Father Dougal: Oh yeah, like that time you told me I could praise him just by leaving the room.

Father Ted: Yes, that was a good one all right.

And, of course, who could forget kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse?

 Misfits – Though not necessarily and solely a comedy in the strictest sense of the word – there’s plenty of drama and tear inducing moments to be found in this super-powered series – anybody with a sense of humour could rarely be found dry eyed (in a good way) when Robert Sheehan took to the screen as the loveable Irish rascal, Nathan. Filthy minded, with poor hygiene and worse morals though not without emotion, Nathan took all the laughs and transcended the series from shadow sci-fi to supreme comedy drama. No matter how serious or touching the moment, one could be assured that Nathan would turn up sooner or later with an absurdly obscene comment to ruin it.

Sample quote from Nathan (When asked whether community service has changed him) – “I think I’m taller.”

The Story So Far: The Walking Dead

Next up on our TV recap is AMC’s The Walking Dead, a series that on paper had no right to become as popular as it has, but has now consecutively broken all viewer ratings records two years in a row. Let’s see what makes it so good.

SOME SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD BELOW

In 2005 Robert Kirkman unleashed his seminal comic book series The Walking Dead on the world and it was instantly lauded with praise for its attempts to bring originality to the genre as well as the string focus put on the characters by the writer, usually preferring to give us scenarios of human survival rather than destruction. When Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) optioned it for a television series then there was hesitancy from fans as to whether or not he could pull it off, especially given the extremely envelope pushing nature of the series. Low and behold here we are now with a third season round the corner and, so far, no punches pulled.

We begin the series following police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who has been in a coma for the duration of the zombie outbreak after having been shot on the job. Straight away the viewer connects on a strong level as we know just as much (or little) as Rick does. It doesn’t take long for him to realise something horribly catastrophic has happened and thus sets out on his primary quest, to find some sort of safety and to hopefully find his wife and child in the process. Much like the comics, season 1 follows the trend of focus on family matters, mankind’s destructive tendencies and the logistics of survival and only sporadically intersperses these moments with gore filled scenes of undead carnage. This approach alienated some casual viewers however as many tuned in for just such moments, wanting to sherk character development in lieu of the more squeamish scenes. By the end of this pilot series it was a case of “job done, now do more”. It wasn’t a perfect start, but it assured the majority that this show could work.

Season 2 hit screens after a near year long wait and in the time that had passed, many things had changed. Behind the scenes of the show, Executive Producer and Showrunner Darabont was at odds with AMC, his grand vision for the show not sitting hand in hand with the networks grand vision of what cheques they wanted to write. It has now transpired that Darabont even had a more adventurous premiere episode for the season that would have flashed back to the outbreak and show any and all amounts of carnage, but he was not able to get the budget for it. Alas it would transpire that Darabont left the show before the first half of the season had aired, and many wondered what that would mean for the shows future. The first half of season 2 had brought about many elements from the comic that fans had screamed for, but had also taken a somewhat slow approach too, something that clearly fit into Darabont’s grand vision. Without him, could the show pick up again? As it happened, yes, yes it could.

Producer Glen Mazarra took over as Showrunner for the second portion of the season, and fast paced is the name of his game. The second portion of season 2 is so far, some of the best television ever seen. In The Walking Dead’s own unique style, characters are picked off mercilessly (seriously, if this continues to adhere to the formula of the comics, don’t get too attached to anyone!). This is the biggest selling point of the show, literally nobody is safe. The final two episodes of the season brought about a hectic finale full of loss and destruction, culminating with an ominous shot of a famous location from the books, the prison. In the original story, this is the setting for some of the series most intense and game changing moments. Hopefully RTE will pick up the new season soon enough so Irish viewers can join in but for now you would do yourself a disservice not to watch this fantastic two seasons of television.

The Walking Dead Season 1 + 2 are available now from all good retailers and Season 3 will hopefully kick off soon on terrestrial TV

Breaking Bad: The Story So Far

Unfortunately a slight snag has presented itself in our coverage of the Autumn TV lineup in that the European air dates have switched back to a more old school fashion, meaning us lowly folk won’t see any of these TV shows until the New Year most likely. With that in mind what we’ve decided to do is write up some retrospective reviews on what has come so far in some of the top series we recommend, starting this week with AMC show Breaking Bad. *SOME SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1-4 OF BREAKING BAD BELOW*.

Breaking Bad is not like anything you’ve ever seen. This is a hyperbolic statement much overused when someone describes a favourite movie/series/album etc but it is completely relevant and appropriate when it comes to this show. We follow the exploits of a high school science teacher, Walter White, who already has it bad enough working two jobs to pay the bills when he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Lost in the throws of disbelief and shock, Walt seems to be a soft and unspoken man ready to accept his fate and succumb to his illness, until fate brings him to Jesse Pinkman. Jesse is a former student of his and Walt is surprised to find that this average to poor student has seemingly turned himself into a reputable producer of Crystal Meth, or “cook”. With some leverage over him, Walt offers Jesse too choices: be turned in to the D.E.A or allow Walt to join him and together they can clean up producing the much sought after high. If that much already sounds crazy, you’ve no idea what you are in for as the series progresses. Looking back now, I don’t think I could actually watch the first season with half as much interest as I did originally, given how much bigger and bolder the show has become five years later. Walt’s journey brings him to dizzying heights, turning a small scale operation producing a couple of thousand dollars per cook into a conglomerate yielding millions…. And of course back again. Walt and Jesse leave a slew of bodies and relationships in their wake as they work toward the ultimate goal of total domination over the rest, which includes average street thugs right up to the Mexican cartel. Oh and did I mention that Walt’s brother in-law is the D.E.A agent leading the charge to eradicate Walt’s special “Blue Ice” methamphetamine? What makes the show work is how well it knows it is insanely over the top. The writers, and particularly showrunner Vince Gilligan, write it in such a way that they are always looking for the most outlandish resolution to a plot thread, yet still always manage to ground the show in some sense of reality at the same time. Quite simply there never has been and never will be another show like this on television, and the icing on the cake is the perfection of the casting, Malcolm In The Middle veteran Bryan Cranston commanding in the lead as Walt, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul playing perfectly as Walt’s wife Skylar and his partner Jesse respectively, the two polar opposite sides of his life. Particular mention also must go to Dean Norris as Walt’s family nemesis in the D.E.A as well as Giancarlo Esposito as the ice cold Gus, who has one of the best character arcs of the show. If you’re looking for something different, there is no other option, this is the show for you. The first half of the fifth and final season has just ended on the states and the second half doesn’t kick off until next summer so now is the perfect opportunity to catch up, with recent episodes airing on TG4 and as of Monday, the first four seasons are all available on DVD. As Pinkman might say, there’s no excuses yo!

The Newsroom Season 1 Review

Warning: Spoilers for The Newsroom Season 1 below

Every once in a while a TV show comes along that, from the first second, feels different from all the rest. HBO series The Newsroom is one of these shows. From the writing mind of Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing, A Few Good Men), the show follows the hustle and bustle of a network news programme, hosted by anchor-man in need of reinventing Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). Opening episode “We Just Decided To” introduces us to McAvoy as he sits sandwiched in a bickering session on a televised debate. His lack of interest coupled with him seeing his liberal and empowered ex in the crowd prompts him to answer an audience question with a scathing and all too factual rant about exactly how far America is from the top of the global pile and just how far the nation has slipped. This sets us up for the theme of the series, McAvoy is an anchor in need of rejuvenation and with the help of said ex, played brilliantly by Emily Mortimer, he and his crew embark on the task of bringing the real news to the American people.

With Sorkin at the helm one thing that was always a guarantee with this series is that the dialogue would be sharp and witty as they come. What he also manages to achieve however is he skirts any and every cliché whilst also steering far enough way so as not to entirely fall into their traps. Yes, McAvoy is the gruffy grump anchor who we can see as the series continues is slowly but surely going to unfold. Yes, there’s a Ross and Rachel scenario in the form of Jim and Maggie (both played, once again, with absolute aplomb by John Gallagher Jr. and Alison Pill). And yes, there is somewhat fantastical moments of hilarity and stupidity that are of course out of place in the realm of reality, but they make for fantastic television. But this is a show that feels different, how is that so with all these clichés floating about? See, what The Newsroom does so well is that it always stays aware that it is a TV show. It is set in a world where all the elements of pop culture exist. References fly about to the likes of baseball flick Rudy and that other HBO show Sex and the City and given that it is set in a TV studio, the show is allowed a certain meta quality. Any moment that seems too cliché can always be written off as a subtle nod/dig at other shows, whether it is or not.

Where The Newsroom really excels is how, like Scrubs before it, it does have moments where it makes the viewer want to work in this place based solely on the programme. Seeing the banter and humour that comes with the job coupled with how reactive and emotionally connected the crew will get to the right story, one can’t help but think this really is a great place to be a part of. The finest episodes to exhibit this quality are “I’ll Try To Fix You” and “5/1”. In the former, Will becomes wrapped up in a smear campaign being undertaken by a trashy magazine and the majority of the episode is filled with humour at Will’s expense. Then all of a sudden, the news breaks of the shooting of Gaby Giffords and suddenly all the smaller issues are thrown out, the crew unites and strives to make sure only the truth makes it to their audience. Yes, it does all happen to the strains of Coldplay’s Fix You, but there’s Sorkin skirting those clichés again. The latter, “5/1” is one of the episodes I had been most looking forward to seeing the show tackle, that being the death of Osama Bin Laden. Given the subject nature, there was always a risk of this story being treated far too patriotically and come across as pure cheese. On the contrary, it feels incredibly real. There is real joy in the characters as they hear the news, there is a more real sense of them trying to get the show right than there was for any other story and now that I think of it, I don’t even think I caught a glimpse of the stars and stripes once in that episode. Quite simply, “5/1” is one of the finest episodes of television ever seen. Fact.

One issue with the show, and it is one that does prevent it from being perfect, is that being based on a news programme, there is always the sense that the writer is taking the opportunity to force their opinions on a mass audience. It can’t be denied that the general theme of the show is that the Republicans have let themselves go and the party is a disgrace. Whilst it isn’t exactly littered with Obama praise either, this message got through even to myself who has zero knowledge or interest in American politics. Whilst it doesn’t hinder the series in any major way, it can’t be denied that it is still there all the same. A small gripe I suppose though and definitely only a minor blemish on an otherwise flawless series.

Thankfully, The Newsroom has been renewed for another season and, trust me, once you finish these ten episodes you will be salivating for more. It is an old school show in a modern world and more of it could only be a good thing. An absolute must see.

Autumn Line Up Preview:Series-ously Good Shows

Summer is winding down and the cold nights are one the way. The only solution, flick on the TV and get settled into some of these fantastic shows coming your way from September!

The Walking Dead

What started as a six episode pilot season has now gone on to become a global phenomenon. The Walking Dead is based on the 101 issue (and still going) strong comic book series by Robert Kirkman and as TV goes, it is definitely one of the least likely to be universally accepted series around. It follows a band of survivors trying to survive a world ravaged by a zombie apocalypse, with the alternate spin on the formula being that TWD focuses on how the survivors manage more so than any gruesome flesh eating violence, though there is plenty of that too. Acted with aplomb by Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Callis and especially Norman Reedus, the writing on the show is a step above the standard TV fare and will surprise most viewers at how dramatic it can be. We are now on to the third season, boasting a new record 13 episodes, and things are about to start moving quicker and meaner so now is the time to catch up and prepare yourself for The Walking Dead!

Starts October 14th

The Office

With all the doom and gloom of a zombie apocalypse you may be in need of some comedy. Have no fear because everyone’s favourite paper company is back on our TVs this autumn! The Office follows the exploits of the wacky and slightly offbeat staff of Dunder Mifflin (-Sabre) paper company and has proven over the last few years to really be its own beast apart from its British original. Gervais’ version of the show was regarded as great situational deadpan humour but Greg Daniels and his crew decided to take a more obvious and exaggerated (let’s just say American) approach to the idea and have in turn created their own universe that no longer has any real ties to the original series, but exists tremendously on its own all the same. Last season was the first without loveable dunce Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) and it is no secret that the series definitely felt the loss, but with the fast moving conclusion to the last season and the hope that the writing crew has now learned to cope without Carrell to write for, this ninth season will hopefully bring back the show’s former glory.

Starts September 20th

Supernatural

It’s hard to believe that we’re on to the eight season of this show. Along with The Wire, Breaking Bad and more, Supernatural is in that elite club of critically adored shows that just couldn’t find strong enough viewerships. Since about the third year, there had been constant hints and rumours that the show would be finished. Yet here we are, eight years on the go and now moving to a Wednesday night anchor slot. The plot of Supernatural follows the Winchester brothers whose family business is “saving people, hunting things”. All those stories of things that go bump in the night? They’re not stories! Sam and Dean spend their time hunting and killing demons, ghosts, vampires, shapeshifters and more, all the while each season dealing with a major season long story arc to boot. It is incredibly well written stuff, playing on the real friendship between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki to provide fantastic moments of humour, as well as incredibly heavy hitting moments of grief and tragedy. Season 8 has a little work to do after an only slightly disappointing last season, plus there are plenty of loose ends to tie up, but this is a show that always comes through, no fear.

Starts October 3rd

Revolution

The first newbie on the list, Revolution is the brainchild of Eric Kripkie who previously created Supernatural, and produced by J.J Abrams. The show is based in a post-apocalyptic world where an unknown event has rendered all modern technology useless. A world without the internet, all shudder together now. We follow the Matheson family who possess and item which can reverse the effects and possibly explain what caused them to begin with, but they must avoid the pursuit of the warlords and militia that rule the territories. It’s a series that could go either way, but Kripkie knows good TV and Lost showed us all that Abrams is the same. Hopefully this one has legs and gets a decent viewership.

Starts September 17th

666 Park Avenue

Featuring the return to our screens of Lost star Terry O’Quinn in this exciting looking supernatural mystery series. It follows the new management at a building complex, the occupants of which all appear to be harbouring something sinister. The aforementioned O’Quinn plays the owner of said complex who, it would appear from promotional material anyway, is the Devil-like creature who is pulling the strings of the whole operation. Pre-release information has been coming very slowly and thinly but it is all only adding to the intrigue and this should hopefully be a very exciting show, if done right, in the vein of Stephen King’s finer novels.

Starts September 30th

Community

Last but not least is a show in desperate need of some TLC. Community follows the exploits of a group of eccentric, to say the least, characters all attending Greendale Community College. What set the show apart from the very first episode was its ability to dedicate each episode to a particular pop culture phenomenon or movie series, whilst retaining enough affection for the subject matter at times to avoid out and out parody. It has been bandied about by NBC so much that each year a new series was debated right down to the wire, with season three even being put on hiatus half way through. Yet the critics still heap the praise and a fourth season will be airing, albeit with two new showrunners stepping in in place of original head honcho Dan Harmon, who was removed under shady circumstances on the studio’s part. Here’s hoping studio intervention hasn’t ruined something wonderful and Community still has all the charm that has made it one of the most rewarding shows airing for its fans

Starts October 19th

Along with these shows, which we will be reviewing weekly on Irish News Review, there are many others worth a watch that have wrapped up mid-season, such as True Blood, The Newsroom, Breaking Bad. Others that definitely get our thumbs up are The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and the fantastic Modern Family.

Hit and Miss for Abbott

By the time you read this we will be two episodes and counting into the new Paul Abbott offering Hit and Miss (Tuesdays at 10pm on Sky Atlantic). Starring Academy Award Nominee Chloë Sevigny and set in the very un-Hollywood Manchester its unusual fare. Not least because the very glamorous Sevigny plays a sexy assassin in the north of England, it’s that she plays it with the help of a prosthetic – not a limb but a penis. And what a prosthetic it is, if we hadn’t been given enough glimpses in the first episode (shower scene) we were given two more opportunities in episode two (bath scene and a bizarre scene involving yet another prosthetic – a Cyrano De Bergerac style nose).

In the first episode the penis was definitely the star of the show. Sevigny seemed ill at ease in the role and rocking a very dodgy ‘Oirish’ accent for which she has already apologised for, the story being that Mancunian tones were too difficult to master so she compromised with some ‘begorrah and bejaysus’. She has also gone on record as saying Manchester was the grimmest place she’d ever been – it shows on screen. Mia her character is pre-op (as if we hadn’t already noticed) and suddenly discovers she has a son she never knew about. An old girlfriend has died naming Mia as the sole guardian of her 4 children. This all happens within the first ten minutes, the rest of the episode is devoted to introducing us to the pantomime villain of the piece, the landlord of the small holdings where the family live and raise a smattering of farm animals. It is implied that that the children’s mother and the landlord had an ‘arrangement’ regarding paying rent, and as Mia spurns his advances the back rent must be paid in full or the family will be evicted. Cue a beat down by Mia and the landlord is left bloody and vowing revenge, this he vows to his secret girlfriend none other than one of Mia’s new charges.

By episode two Mia firmly has her feet under the table as she seems to have a sense of duty to the children on the holdings even though the older two children seem to resent her, tellingly referring to her as the ‘Cock in the Frock’. All this Mia seems to take stoically but we don’t understand why- the depth of feeling Sevigny is trying to convey is just not there. Overall the two episodes didn’t spark and this might be down to the fact that Abbott while creating the series is not a writer on it, in comparison to the first three series of his other noted creation, Shameless. The show was at its most daring, provocative and funny when Abbott was also credited as a writer.

It remains to be seen if the remaining four episodes of the series emerge from the shadow of the prosthetic, sharpens up its dialogue and dares to become provocative in its own right.

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