Out Of The Unknown – Come Buttercup, Come Daisy, Come…? Review (or ‘A Very Gentle Seeds of Doom’)

May 21, 2015

My brother got the Out of the Unknown boxed set last year as a Christmas present. At a not inexpensive – by 2014 standards at least – £60, it’s one of these sets where you’re effectively buying it blindly in the hope that its reputation is well deserved, rather than buying it knowing it’s good.

I suppose in those situations it’s better to get it as a gift so that if it turns out to be crap, you can at least take solace in the fact that you didn’t waste your own money in the process!

Believe me, that was the only upside of me getting the boxed set of the anaesthetic-like Six Feet Under. *shudder*

Anyway, we watched a couple of episodes back in January, but neither of them were particularly entertaining. Indeed they were pretty dull if I’m being blunt about it. And on that note, the Out of the Unknown DVD boxed set slipped to the back of the queue.

But of course, the thing about a series like that is that all episodes are unique. For anyone who doesn’t know it, Out of the Unknown was a science fiction anthology series from the late 1960s/early 1970s; a sort of British version of the Twilight Zone if you like. So maybe those first two episodes were just poor representations of what is widely regarded as one of British television’s hidden gems.

When you see pictures of her nowadays, you realise that the actress Surrane Jones has aged fantastically well, considering this was made in the late 60s.

When you see pictures of her nowadays, you realise that the actress Surrane Jones has aged fantastically well, considering this was made in the late 60s.

So I demanded we give it another try.

And thankfully, it turned out that the next episode I watched was good. And so was the one after that.

With that in mind, I’ve got back into watching them. And I want to review them.

It occurs to me that my largest readership base comes from Doctor Who fans, and this might well be something Doctor Who fans would be interested in. Maybe it’ll encourage you to buy the boxed set? Maybe it’ll make your mind up for you that you shouldn’t bother. Or maybe you’re a big fan of the show and you’re keen to see how my opinions tally with yours.

Whatever your reason for reading, I hope you enjoy them.

And while I’ll go back to review the ones I’ve already seen at some point down the line, I’ll start with the one I most recently watched; ‘Come Buttercup, Come Daisy, Come…?’

Out of the Unknown – Come Buttercup, Come Daisy, Come….? Review: What’s This One About?

The local fishmonger, Henry Wilkes, has a passion for tropical plants, and grows them in his back garden. His wife, friends and colleagues find his obsession a tad over the top, especially considering he talks to them and gives them all names.

But as it turns out, the plants are able to communicate back to him.

Things are not all that they seem.

Thoughts – A Very Gentle Seeds of Doom

Ok, so there are going to be plenty of call-backs to Doctor Who in these reviews, as there are obvious parallels to be drawn considering both shows are British Science fiction from the 60s and 70s.

In this case, we have a story that’s pretty similar to the Seeds of Doom in that it’s a man who is obsessed with plant life to the extent that he values it way ahead of animal life. He’s not a lunatic like Harrison Chase though; he’s just a normal guy, a gentle guy.

And while the plants aren’t Krynoids that could take over the world given half  a chance, the ones on display here are menacing in their own way.

Being able to draw these parallels helped my enjoyment of this episode because I was able to get an idea of what was going to happen and anticipate it in advance, but even with that in mind, it still has to stand on its own merits.

And it does.

The Pacing

I think the greatest strength of this episode is the pacing.

It works as a story that builds up in a gradual and engrossing way to draw the viewer in.

Look at him; shooshing the plant while he does 'stuff' to it. The deviant.

Look at him; shooshing the plant while he does ‘stuff’ to it. The deviant.

At the beginning there are just a few small nods to the situation that will unfold. The plants are wild but under control and Wilkes is a happy man. The little nods to Wilkes mindset are on show with him being unhappy at his shop assistant eating a sandwich with vegetables in it, but nothing major. Similarly, Wilkes’s wife’s story starts slowly too. She’s a little bit unnerved staying at home all day but isn’t quite sure why.

And then when the local Doctor makes a house call, he remarks that he finds that there’s something peculiar about the garden but isn’t sure what. I suppose the viewer is supposed to think that it’s because Wilkes’s garden is full of plants that shouldn’t be able to survive in British climates without a greenhouse, but as it would turn out, it wasn’t that.

Gradually, the story develops into something altogether more sinister. At first, we see that the plants are more wild and full of movement than you might expect. Then – off screen – they appear to pull the troublesome child that lives next door – who torments Wilkes with his slingshot every morning –  off the wall to attack him (although it’s only hinted at; the idea is that perhaps he fell off the wall). Then they appear to eat his wife’s dog, although again it’s not shown on-screen and left unresolved as to whether or not that happens. And after that? Well I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it.

Meanwhile, over the course of the episode, Wilkes behavior becomes more erratic and unusual. It’s solid stuff.

But the fantastic reveal for me, the moment that the penny drops for the characters in the episode, is when the Doctor – visiting again after Wilkes’ wife takes a turn for the worst – realises exactly what is peculiar about the garden; that there are no birds. Of course, that’s the point that the viewers realise that the plants are eating them.

It all builds up to quite the climax, and without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it (which I imagine will be most of you), it’s left on a frustratingly brilliant cliffhanger that would never be resolved.

Superb.

The Old British Actors Checklist

It seems as though every episode of Out of the Unknown has a host of British character actors that any Classic Doctor Who fan is bound to recognise.

In this episode, 60s and 70s Doctor Who mainstay Bernard Kay shows up as a detective. Huzzah.

Other than him, look out for appearances by Eric Thompson (Gaston from The Massacre), Alan Haywood (Prince Hector from The Myth Makers), Nigel Lambert (Harden from The Leisure Hive) and well-known faces of British Cinema, Patsy Rowlands (Carry Ons) and Jack Wild (The Artful Dodger from Oliver).

Random Observations

  • I’ve deliberately not touched upon the sub plot of the Wilkes’s mysterious botanist pen-pal, Mr. Pringle. I think if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth letting that play out without me spoiling it. However, if you have
    What a wee shite. If the plants had eaten him it would have been well deserved

    What a wee shite. If the plants had eaten him it would have been well deserved

    seen the episode I’m sure you’ll agree that it was very well done, and left on just the right amount of mystery.

  • From the file marked ‘Things You Take For Granted Now That Weren’t There At The Time’, Wilkes’s assistant makes coffee using a boiling pot of water rather than a kettle. Oh how times have changed.
  • And yet they have a fridge, which seems at odds with what these modern documentaries about food and gadgets through the ages would suggest.
  • Considering when this was made, the special effects for the plants are very good. Obviously it’s shot on film and therefore holds up quite well in terms of picture quality too.
  • It’s also odd – and I’m mainly basing this on Doctor Who of course – to see outside broadcast footage from that era shot on videotape.
  • Before we go any further, I have to make mention of the theme music of Out of the Unknown, which is basically the incidental music from episode one of the Keys of Marinus. Epic!
  • It’s obviously not the done thing, but I’d have cheered if the plants had eaten the little boy. He absolutely deserved it, the wee shite.
  • There’s a funny ‘Of The Time’ moment where the Doctor asks in passing if Wilkes was messing around with another woman. It’s not that he’d have been fussed either way, but he just wanted to know.
  • Meanwhile there’s an altogether more sinister scene where Wilkes ‘tickles’ his plants, while telling them to be quiet and that everything was going to be alright. Maybe it was a Yewtree he was doing that to?
  • Though reviews of individual episodes of Out of the Unknown are few and far between on the internet, I did read one that suggested this one was bogged down with soap opera style interaction between the characters, and didn’t spend nearly enough time on the plants. I totally disagree. By keeping the plants to a minimum and focusing on the changing behaviour of Wilkes and his wife, I thought it all held up as best as it could have.
  • The only thing that was unbelievable – even within the context of this episode – was that Wilkes’s character refused to eat any vegetable and would get deeply upset at seeing parsley used for decoration. Unless he was getting slowly more insane, he couldn’t possibly have lived his life like that for however old he was.
  • And speaking of how old he was, both Wilkes and the guy playing the Doctor were in their mid-40s when this was made. Wow. Tough paper rounds.

Out of the Unknown – Come Buttercup, Come Daisy, Come….? Review: Final Thoughts

On then whole, this was a thoroughly enjoyable episode, perhaps even to a surprising degree.

I’m sure most of you would assume a science fiction anthology show would be based around stories set in outer space of the far future, but this one – set as it is in suburban 1960s England – worked just fine.

There’s no real need to watch Out of the Unknown in any particular order, so if you did fancy giving it a try, this would be a great starting point.

Recommended.

Remember to buy my books, focusing on my reviews of Doctor Who from the 1960s through to present day. You can read more about them here

 


Football Manager 2016 Scottish Research Team Vacancies

May 14, 2015

 

FMScotland

It’s that time of year when I recruit Assistant Researchers for the new edition of Football Manager.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s needed/expected from you and what’s involved in the process.

What’s Needed In An Assistant Researcher?

To be part of the Scottish Research team, you should fit the following criteria…

1. Regularly Watch The Club You’re Researching

Being a fan of the club you’re researching is the number one priority and it’s essential. There really is no point in emailing me to say “I’m a fan of Club X, but if that’s not available, I could always research Club Y or Club Z as I’ve seen them play once or twice”.

We need fans who have seen these players play week in and week out over the course of the 2014/15 season and have an in-depth knowledge of those players’ strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, we need information that goes beyond the first team. Who’s in the development side? What positions do they play? Which players are highly rated and have the potential to go far?

Ultimately if all you can provide is the basics based on checking out football websites, we have that covered already.

2. Basic Knowledge of IT

As a researcher, you have to be able to download files, unpack them from Zip/RAR files, open a file using a data editor and email it back to me afterwards.

It’s 2015 and you’d think this would be something everyone would be able to do, but you’d be surprised…

3. A Mature and Objective Outlook To Your Own Team

You’ll be rating the players at your club in direct relation to all the other players/teams in the Scottish league, so there has to be an acceptance – especially in the lower leagues – that your team aren’t Barcelona and your star striker doesn’t have stats comparable to Lionel Messi.

4. A Knowledge of Football Manager

You should be comfortable with Football Manager and how the data is presented in the game.

5. Communication and Deadline Keeping Skills

Though the work we’re asking you to do doesn’t take up much time at all – a few hours here and there from now until September – it’s still important. So you need to be able to reply to emails and – crucially – meet the deadlines that are set.

Every year I’ll get one or two researchers applying for research positions who just decide “Sod this, I can’t be bothered to hand in a file” without telling me, leaving us in the lurch at deadline time.

What’s Involved In The Process?

If that doesn’t scare you off, here’s what’s actually involved in the process.

1. Rating Players

As you’re familiar with the game, you’ll notice that when you open up a player’s profile there’s loads of information there, from player attributes like how good a tackler he is and how much pace he has, all the way through to contract details and how tall he is.

That’s your job. We need your help getting this information into the game.

2. Providing Club Information

Similarly, you’re responsible for making sure your club has the right kits, up to date and accurate stadium information, a reasonable estimate on financial info like sponsorship income and debt, and accurate information on club records like All Time Top Scorer and highest received transfer fee.

3. Keep Me Up To Date With Player and Staff Transfers

Between now and the release of Football Manager 2016, there will be a load of transfer activity at your club, whether it’s players coming in or moving on, staff changes, or a member of staff moving jobs internally. Again, this is information you need to provide us.

What Do You Get?

All Assistant Researchers get their name in the credits and a free copy of Football Manager 2016 as thanks for taking part.

That is unless you provide really crap info…

But that’s only ever happened once or twice.

What Research Positions Are Currently Vacant?

Right now, we’re looking for researchers for the following clubs…

Albion Rovers
Annan Athletic
Arbroath
Brechin City
East Fife
East Stirlingshire
Hibernian
Livingston
Peterhead
Queen of the South
Queen’s Park
Ross County
Stenhousemuir

How Do You Apply?

If you’re interested, email me at officialfmscotland@gmail.com and let me know what club you’re interested in researching.

If the club you want to research isn’t listed there, it means that club currently has a researcher, so please don’t email me asking if it’s available. If any other research positions for Scotland become available, I’ll advertise them on twitter @sgmilne

Also, I have nothing to do with the research positions at other countries, so please don’t email me to let me know you’d love to do some research for clubs in Burundi or Swaziland.

 

 

Remember to check out my books, available on Amazon, here.


Movies – Spooks: The Greater Good Review (or ‘Spooks: The Greatest Hits’)

May 8, 2015

Like I just explained in my review of the Spooks TV series – which you can read here – sheer coincidence led to me finishing watching the show the day before the follow-up movie hit the cinemas.

So while most Spooks fans out there have had four years to mourn its loss from our screens and look forward to the movie, I’ve had less than 24 hours. Indeed, I had no idea it was even being made into a movie until last week.

To that end, with the TV series as fresh in my mind as possible, what did I think of Spooks: The Greater Good?

Read on…

Movies – Spooks: The Greater Good Review – What’s This One About?

  • An escaped Middle Eastern terrorist who plans on setting off a bomb in London!!
  • A CIA plot to undermine MI:5!!!!!
  • Sir Harry Pearce under suspicion!!!!!!!!!!
  • And a handsome young operative who helps save the day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yup, this is Spooks: The Greatest Hits.

My Thoughts

It’s really quite simple; this came across like a random episode of Spooks. There was nothing hugely out of the ordinary about it apart from it looking like it was made on a higher budget (which made it look like

Peter Firth was obviously not deemed sexy enough to be on the cover.

Peter Firth was obviously not deemed sexy enough to be on the cover.

they’d moved offices and finally got a staff of more than 5 people).

And while you could say that’s an overly safe and unadventurous hand to play, it still works.

People who like Spooks will like this film.

I certainly enjoyed it, as it kept a strong pace throughout and had no obvious lulls, leading to an exciting – if not unpredictable – conclusion.

But there were a few aspects that could have been better.

For one thing, I have no idea how the disgraced Oliver Mace (Tim McInnerny) was not just back, but back as the head of MI:5. That didn’t make sense and they didn’t bother to explain it.

The other thing was that it could have included more characters from the show’s past. That’s quite difficult since most of them are dead but it would have been better for me – as someone who has just finished the show – if the character of Will was replaced by Dimitri. I know that Kit Harrington has name value as an actor, but he’s not especially better than the actor who played aforementioned Spook.

It was good to see Malcolm back though, even as a token gesture.

But returning to my issues with the TV show which I brought up that review, it seemed to me that – spoiler alert – the character of Erin Watts was brought back solely for the shock value of killing her off. The writers must have some undiagnosed blood-lust issues.

Thankfully Harry survived though, and with the movie finishing like just any random episode, there’s room for it to be brought back again on TV or on the big screen.

And I’d be happy enough if that was the case.

 

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TV – Spooks Seasons 1-10 Review (or ‘A Show Weighed Down By An Over-Reliance On Shock Cast Changes’)

May 8, 2015

Life is full of little coincidences.

As an example, I started watching the BBC spy drama Spooks in late February when I signed up to Amazon Prime, and as fate would have it, I finished off the last episode of the final season yesterday, one day before the Spooks movie, Spooks: The Greater Good – which I only found out existed last week – was released in cinemas.

This has put me in a possibly unique position of seeing the movie at the tail end of one continuous run of episodes without a break.

And I’ll get to what I thought about that movie in my next article, but for now I thought I’d share my thoughts on the TV show, and whether you should watch it, or indeed whether my opinions reflect those of you who have already seen it.

TV – Spooks Review: What’s It About?

Running from May 2002 to October 2011, Spooks is a show about the MI:5 branch of the UK’s Secret Service. In each episode the cast must thwart potential attacks on British soil from enemies at home and abroad.

My Thoughts – The Highs and The Lows

Over its 86 episodes, Spooks was a show of peaks and troughs, both in terms of episode quality and characterisation.

Now you might think that’s an obvious thing to say, especially considering Spooks really had only two main plots – stop a terror event in Central London or prevent a political figure from being assassinated – but spooksthere were definitely some seasons that were better than others.

The high points for me were Seasons 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7. They offered either the most diversity, the best guest cast (without question the most well-known guest actors appeared in the show’s early days) and the best season long story arcs.

The worst were Season 3 – a season so bogged down by the geopolitical landscape of the time that I almost gave up on it, with pretty much every episode being about Muslim Extremism  – and the last two.

Why the last two? Well it’s not that the storylines were bad – although in Season 10’s case it certainly wasn’t great – but rather that the show had become tired and had worn itself out trying to replicate the shock value that made it famous in the first place.

Explosive Cast Changes – A Case Of Diminishing Marginal Returns

I’m sure that even if they didn’t watch it at the time – like me – most Brits who were adults back in 2002 were aware of the events of the second episode; the events that put Spooks on the map.

In that episode, Lisa Faulkner’s character Helen – who the public no doubt thought was going to become a focal point of the show due to the actress’s celebrity – was killed off in the most brutal fashion imaginable. In an undercover operation gone wrong, she had her face plunged into boiling chip fat and was quickly put out of her misery with a bullet to the head. People at the time were shocked by it, and they still talk about it to this day.

That death had the maximum shock value.

But from the third season onwards, the deaths and sudden cast departures kept coming at pace. Sometimes they’d even bring in a character’s obvious replacement before they actually killed them off. It became a bit tiresome.

By the time Season 9 made way for Season 10, it almost turned into parody, with characters being killed off for the sake of it.

The emotional impact of character deaths and departure became less and less to the point where it wasn’t just lost, but replaced with annoyance and even contempt for the laziness of it all.

By Season 10 there were only two characters left that you could care about, and they killed one of them off too, just for good measure.

Because of that lack of emotional investment by the end, I didn’t feel particularly sad to have finished it.

And that’s frustrating.

Final Thoughts

Spooks is a good show that’s held back by the repetitiveness of certain plots and the over-reliance on shock cast changes.

From the point of view of a binge viewer – which anyone who hasn’t seen it will ultimately become if they do give it a go – it did have the ‘I have to watch one more episode before I go to bed’ feel about it, but only sometimes.

And not enough times for me to feel sad to have finished watching.

So overall, I’d recommend you try it, but bear in mind that it has flaws that prevent it from being a truly great TV show.

You can read my review of the movie – Spooks: The Greater Good – here

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Movies: The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review (or ‘Exactly What You’ve Come To Expect’) Spoiler Free

April 23, 2015

I was interested to look back on my review of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and see that I gave it a glowing review.

Clearly time has not been kind on my memory of it, as my lasting impression seemed to be that it turned into one long CGI Destruction Porn sequence, just like pretty much every Superhero movie has become.

But hey, it’s the initial impression that’s probably the most clear, and it’s for that sort of scenario that this blog was started in the first place.

Anyway, I was a little apprehensive going to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron today, as I thought that what I remembered the first movie being would be repeated again here.

So was I right?

The Avengers: Age of Ultron Spoiler Free Review – What’s It About?

Tony Stark’s idea to launch a new artificial intelligence – Ultron – to work towards world peace backfires when it reasons that peace can only be achieved if humanity is wiped out.avenge

The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review – Who’s In It?

Pretty much every protagonist from the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the exception of Pepper Potts and Thor’s girlfriend (I forget her name). Both are name checked and given ropey excuses for not being there.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review – How Highly Is It Rated?

Generally speaking it gets 4 stars from the critics, and high scores from the legions of fanboys.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review – Analysis

There are two ways of looking at this I suppose.

On the one hand, if you’ve never seen any of the MCU movies before, you’d end up feeling a little bit lost in terms of characterisation. In The Age of Ultron, the only characters to get even the slightest bit of development and are anything more than puddle deep are Ultron, Hawkeye and Black Widow. Beyond them there’s just this assumption that you know enough about the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, SHIELD and The Incredible Hulk to be able to fill in the blanks for how and why they act the way they do.

Also, you could watch it and think that there’s only enough plot to fill half of the 142 minute running time, with the other half devoted to the aforementioned Destruction Porn of seeing another couple of cities being destroyed during over-long fight scenes.

But I’m not daft. This is a sequel, so knowledge of the subject matter is presumed and therefore those complaints are invalidated to an extent.

Having seen all the movies leading up to this, I knew enough about the main players to have a proper handle on their characters, and similarly, I also knew what to expect in terms of the plot to action sequence ratio.

It is what it is, and knowing that, I was mainly pleased with how this movie turned out.

I liked the extra attention given to Hawkeye and Black Widow, and I thought Ultron – though not exactly unique – was an enjoyable enough villain.

It was also good that the plot wasn’t as predictable as you might expect, with one character’s heavily foreshadowed death turning out to be a red herring.

And what surprised me most was that it was well paced, with the action spread throughout rather than it just being all storyline in the first half and all action in the second. This meant that despite running for 142 minutes, it didn’t drag.

The only real criticism I would have is that a lot of the humour misfired. It just wasn’t as funny as the people who wrote it probably thought it was.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review – Final Thoughts

The Avengers: Age of Ultron delivers what it promises, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Therefore, if you enjoy movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then you’ll enjoy this and should give it a go.


10 Wrestling Storylines That Would Make Football More Interesting

April 18, 2015

One thing you’ll read people say when their team is going through a bad patch and they are in the huff is that football is fixed.

Now you could argue that the importance of finance means that the sport is no longer anything even closely resembling an even playing field, but at the same time it’s not actually pre-determined. The authorities aren’t corrupt and the referees don’t really cheat.

But imagine a situation where they were? Imagine if football was a pre-determined, scripted form of sports entertainment like wrestling is? Would that be more fun if we didn’t actually know it was faked? Maybe it would be.

At the very least, it could arguably be more fun.

Here are ten examples of wrestling storylines that could work if football was scripted.

Disclaimer: These are all fictional scenarios based upon wrestling storylines and any resemblance to anything that may or may not have happened in reality is purely coincidence.

1. The 90th Minute Heel Turn

Picture the scene; two teams are battling hard to get the winning goal in a match at the end of the season. It’s 0-0 with one minute left. The home team’s most popular player has the ball at his feet and is pushing all his teammates forward. Then suddenly he turns around and kicks the ball into his own net. And then, to make matters worse, he takes off his shirt to reveal he’s wearing the away team’s top underneath and has

In this battle royal, The Big Show removed his red Raw T-Shirt to reveal he was wearing an ECW one. He then defected to the Extreme Brand.

In this battle royal, The Big Show removed his red Raw T-Shirt to reveal he was wearing an ECW one. He then defected to the Extreme Brand.

actually signed a pre-contract agreement with them.

Can you imagine how angry fans would get? A license to print money for the rematch next season.

2. Twin Magic

The premise is simple. A team has two identical twins playing for them who keep swapping on and off the pitch behind the ref’s back. Pure panto. Pure entertainment.

3. The Heel Ref

Just imagine a referee who deliberately cheats players out of free kicks and penalties, sends players off for nothing, ignores perfectly good goals, openly favours one team over another and blindly ignores the fouls committed by certain players.

That’s something that’s never happened before. Ever.

4.  The Invasion Storyline

So two sets of players are in the tunnel waiting to go out onto the pitch and then suddenly a team from a different league/country jump them all from behind and make their way onto the pitch instead, declaring that they have crossed the divide to take over the league.

That team then routinely does run-ins during other league matches, vandalises team buses and changing rooms and even take prize youth prospects hostage.

In the end, one team from the league stands up to them and defeats them in a Loser Leaves The League match.

5. The No Disqualification Match

There’s a deep-rooted rivalry between two teams. Matches in the past have resulted in a lot of yellow and red cards and the referees are struggling to control the players.

Ah the corrupt referee. If there was one of these in a scripted football world, it would be great, as long as he got his comeuppance.

Ah the corrupt referee. If there was one of these in a scripted football world, it would be great, as long as he got his comeuppance.

So to settle it once and for all, the teams agree to a No Disqualification match where fouls and offsides don’t count.

Mayhem ensues.

6. The Manager Changes Dugouts At Half Time

Remember when Mr Fuji turned on Demolition and went with the Powers of Pain at the 1988 Survivor Series? That could happen in a scripted football world.

Just before half time, a manager might inexplicably sub off their two best outfield players and the goalkeeper, replacing them with rubbish kids who don’t even play in those positions (and I bet nobody has EVER tried that in Football Manager…)

After those players rough the manager up a little, he ends up sitting in the away team’s dugout for the second half and plots his team’s downfall from there.

7. The Young Apprentice Storyline

At the beginning of the season, a team’s most experienced pro introduces a young starlet from the youth team into the starting lineup as his protegé. As the season develops, they form a great bond but around January they start to have a few arguments on the pitch. They patch things up each time though and shake hands, much to the crowd’s delight.

Then, at the end of season Player of the Year Awards, when the experienced pro goes up to collect his award, the youngster attacks him from behind with a chair.

The storyline is resolved in a crossbar challenge contest where the loser’s contract is torn up.

8.  The Authority Angle

Imagine the governing body of a nation’s football association is run by an unpopular, clueless tyrant who seems to have no interest in giving fans what they want, makes incredible decisions under the excuse of doing what’s “Best For Business”, kowtows to the TV stations who show their product and openly favours the biggest team in the league who are seen to be protected against all sanity because they are “The Face of the Company”.

Remember when Mr Fuji turned on Demolition and teamed up with the Powers of Pain DURING a match? That'd be fun in football.

Remember when Mr Fuji turned on Demolition and teamed up with the Powers of Pain DURING a match? That’d be fun in football.

Imagine…

9. The Returning Legends

More Rocky than wrestling, what if a club brought a team of legends out of retirement for one last run at the Championship/Cup.

In a scripted world, they would end up getting to the final, only to lose to an up and coming team, thus passing the torch.

They would then go off into the sunset.

10. The Referees Go On Strike

Wait…that did happen!!

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TV: Daredevil Review (‘A Slow Burning Triumph’) – Spoiler Free

April 16, 2015

I tend to start my reviews of Superhero movies with “I like Superhero movies”, but in spite of that, I’ve never been especially fond of Superhero TV shows.

The likes of Arrow, The Flash and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left me so underwhelmed that I never bothered to watch anything more than one or two episodes. They seem dodgily acted, not especially well written and often weighed down by existing lore that we should apparently know but might be unaware of.

So there was always a risk that Daredevil might not grab me, especially considering the bad reputation the movie had.

Thankfully that didn’t turn out to be the case

Daredevil Review – Spoiler Free Thoughts

As it turns out, I really enjoyed Daredevil.

The problems I outline above don’t apply to it much at all.

Yes, it helps to know that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, New York was badly damaged by the events of the first Avengers movie, and that the nature of the rebuilding works and organised crime in Hell’s Daredevil-Netflix-LogoKitchen are spawned from that, but that’s all.

Even if you hadn’t seen that film, it spells it out for you anyway.

Beyond that, Daredevil exists in its own world, and it rooted in a more realistic setting than some of Marvel’s other offerings. None of the characters possess cosmic powers or are mutations. Daredevil is just a blind guy who has built his other senses up to make his lack of sight a non-issue. Meanwhile, the Kingpin is just a powerful underworld crime figure who isn’t intent on destroying the universe and doesn’t wear any daft costumes.

So that’s all great.

Moreover, because it’s written like that, then the entire nature of the show becomes more adult than you usually get from Marvel.

As part of that, the fight scenes come across as grittier and more realistic. Instead of the explosive, cartoon-like ‘violence’ of the movies, the director seems to have made a conscious choice to approach Daredevil more like The Raid. For those who like that sort of thing, the fight scenes and the action sequences in general are well produced and meticulously executed.

But for me, the more – indeed the most – enjoyable aspect of Daredevil is the characterisation.

You come to expect drama like this to have characters with very clearly defined positions. One is all good, the other is deep-rooted in evil. Look at the Captain America movies as an example of what I mean. He is the good old All-American boy fighting off against the evil German with the red skull for a head. You know who is right and who is wrong.

Daredevil is different. The team behind it have made a conscious decision to make the character of Wilson Fisk – The Kingpin – someone who you could have sympathy for. His means might be questionable, but his motives appear to have some good in them, and his background is one you might feel empathy towards. On the other hand, the part Daredevil plays in proceedings is often questioned, not only by his friends but by the man himself.

By setting the story up to be less black & white than the norm, it made it a lot more interesting for me.

And I should also note that part of the credit for that must also go to the actors involved, and especially Vincent D’Onofrio as Fisk. He makes every scene he’s in a delight.

Finally, I would say that by releasing all episodes on NetFlix in one go helps the viewer enjoy the show more. Or at least it helped me.

Without question, Daredevil is a slow burner which builds a story over almost 13 hours of television. But that allows it to come to a satisfying and enjoyable conclusion. If it was on for only one episode per week, you might think it moved too slowly, with some episodes not advancing the overall story-arc much, but by having episodes available in bulk, you can watch it over the course of a week and get a greater appreciation for what each one is trying to achieve.

I wouldn’t suggest trying to watch it all in one day, but I absolutely would suggest watching it.

Because it’s well worth your time.

It’s a slow burning triumph.

 

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