Stuart’s Week In Entertainment – Playing Catchup With Films, Games and TV Shows

It’s been a while since I did a ‘Week In Entertainment’ so I’ve got plenty of catching up to do.

Here are the highlights of what I’ve been watching and playing lately…

Films

Didn’t get round to doing a review of it, and it’s a bit late now, but I recently watched the BBC Film, My Week With Marylin. 

Made in 2011, it’s the story of when Marylin Monroe came to the UK to film The Prince & The Showgirl in 1957.

As a direct contract from Lincoln, I found this biopic to be an interesting and well told story that made me actually want to find out more about the subject.

Better than Lincoln

Better than Lincoln

Michelle Williams is excellent as Monroe, capturing her spirit perfectly, rather than coming across as someone trying to act like someone else.

A film well worth your time.

Television 

Argh, so much to get through.

So I’ll go through the shows I’ve watched one by one…

Big Bang Theory: Still the most consistent comedy on TV, the Big Bang Theory has been firing on all cylinders again lately. I’d say the best part of the show remains the dynamic between Penny and Sheldon, and it’s nice that they’ve focussed a little more on that in recent episodes. Not just that, but they’ve actually gone in for some character development, which is rare for a sitcom. The scene where Penny corners Sheldon on his relationship with Amy added some depth to Jim Parsons’ character, and that can only be a good thing. As a minor warning though, the most recent episode contained some ridiculous spoilers for the third season of the Walking Dead, so if you’ve yet to see that, beware…

Castle: I’m currently half way through the Fourth Season and loving every minute of it. Castle manages to blend the classic ‘One Episode Whodunnit’ formula with some nice humour and great characterisation. I must admit that the “Will they/Won’t They” aspect of Castle’s relationship with Beckett has probably been stretched to breaking point, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the show. The cast all work well together, and – crucially – the writers manage to come up with fresh and interesting mysteries each week. If you’re a fan of crime dramas or mysteries, this is a great show to take a chance on.

Community: The ‘Meta’ comedy is back at long last, but the first episode was a bit hit & miss for me. Once again, I think they have gone too far with the autistic side of the Abed character, and while I got a great chuckle from the Muppet Babies parody, the Hunger Games sub-plot left me a bit cold, while the “This is the beginning of the end” theme was too self referential. Then again, could we expect anything less from Community?

Girls: I gave this supposedly good HBO comedy a shot, and it left me a cold. I think the fundamental problem with it is the lead character/writer/director/producer.

You can just tell that anyone who chooses to combine all four of those roles, especially when they aren’t exactly well-known in the first place will be a spectacular mix of self-assurance and self-loathing, and that’s certainly how she comes across.

The problems with Girls are many. It’s not particularly funny, the characters are all mostly unlikeable, it’s bleak and – worst of the lot – the main character can’t help but get her kit off in every episode.

I have a couple of problems with that. First of all, the nudity isn’t necessary to the plot, really. If you compare it to the aforementioned My Week With Marylin, which suggested nudity but didn’t need or use it to get the point across, Girls comes across as wanting to use nudity to make it stand out.

The second point might seem a bit off, but I don’t care. The human body can be a nice thing to look at, but Lena Durham’s body is not. She’s fat and covered in tattoos. Yes, I’m sure you’ll read this and think “Oh, I bet you wouldn’t be complaining if it was a hot woman with a nice body”, and if I’m honest – if anyone is honest – that’s probably true to some extent. But it’s the same with women. I’m sure a woman would rather watch a bloke with a tight and toned body getting his kit off than someone who looks like Onslow off Keeping Up Appearances.

But I suppose that’s at the root of this whole thing isn’t it? She’s getting naked to prove some sort of point borne out of insecurities about herself that she’s trying to deflect as being problems that we have with seeing her naked. A quick google

I'm enjoying Up All Night, but I can't see it lasting without a character so fundamental to the plot as Christina Applegate's

I’m enjoying Up All Night, but I can’t see it lasting without a character so fundamental to the plot as Christina Applegate’s

search for the term “Why does Lena Durham insist on getting naked” comes back with scores of articles on the subject. It’s a mixture of people saying “Put your tits back in love” to “Ra ra ra, we love you sister. Why should it always be attractive people who get naked. Stick it to the man”.

To me, if the reason for it is so obvious, it makes it seem even more pathetic.

I don’t think I’ll be going back to watching Girls any time soon, and I should point out once again that it’s not just because of the nudity, but because it simply isn’t that good, even if it does paint a more realistic view of modern life than most shows. We watch TV for escapism, not to be reminded about how terrible life can be.

How I Met Your Mother: You know my thoughts on the decline of How I Met Your Mother, and things seemed to reach a nadir in the run up to the episode where Barney & Robin get engaged. But you know what? It’s actually improved a bit since then. Dare I even suggest I enjoyed some of the recent instalments. Of course, Mosby is still a sociopath, but hey, that comes with the territory.

Modern Family: On a similar note, Modern Family – which had been on a creative decline throughout the whole of 2012 – has improved dramatically as well. Sure, the show would be better if they killed of Luke, who can barely talk let alone act, but episodes like the New Years Eve one were actually very good; as good as the show was in its early prime.

Parks & Recreation: Sadly it’s not going to be three for three, as Parks & Recreation is in a rut that it’s struggling to get out of. The characters are becoming more like caricatures – especially Andy and Leslie – and it’s becoming a bit of a struggle to stay interested in. The episode where Andy was bored at work and pretended to be a detective looking for clues was insultingly bad. He’s becoming near enough retarded now. And there’s not enough Ron Swanson either.

Up All Night: I think I might have got on board with this one a little bit too late. The sitcom starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett is not hilariously funny, but charming enough and worth a chuckle. The problem with it is the character of Missy (Jennifer Hall) who is another one of these over the top, cartoon-like characters. My understanding is that she gets written out at the end of the first season though, which can only be a good thing.

While I’m enjoying it, I can’t see it lasting much longer. With a shift from a single camera format to a more traditional multi-camera-in-front-of-a-studio-audience affair, as well as the departure of the main character, it just won’t last.

Shame.

Room 101: Always worth a watch, but the BBC need to make better use out of Frank Skinner. Bring back Baddiel & Skinner: Unplanned

Weekly Wipe: I like Charlie Brooker, but he’s beginning to be very repetitive. Oh yes Charlie, we know that you’re a sulky git, but stop recycling the same jokes and hating for the sake of it. Whatsmore, please realise that the funniest person on your show is you. Drop your excruciating mates like Barry Shitpeas and Doug Stanhope, please!!!

Games

Lately, my gaming has been consumed with three things.

Borderlands 2: This is my current ‘Campaign Game’ of choice. Looks fantastic on my PC and plays well, but I can imagine it’ll get boring long before I’m finished. Sometimes games just try to be too big for their own good. I like the satisfaction of actually finishing a game, knowing it’s been completed from beginning to end, but with the likes of this and Skyrim, it just isn’t going to happen.

Some might think that’s good, but for me it’s bad.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2: My weekend afternoons when I’m not at the football are consumed with playing this online with my mates. We’ve got a group of seven of us, and so the multiplayer shenanigans are aplenty. But what’s great about this

Addiction!

Addiction!

game is that you can add AI controlled bots to flesh out your party. So even if a few of us can’t make it, we can still have epic sessions without having to play with the sort of person who is on it for 11 hours a day and removes any of the fun by being too good.

Candy Crush Saga: The Facebook game everyone is playing. Yes, I’m hooked. I have the tune burned into my mind and when I close my eyes all I can see are the bloody candy ovals on the board. This is what it must be like to be addicted to drugs.

It’s a good game, and a simple one, but what I must applaud the makers for is the business model. I personally won’t spend any money to buy power-ups to beat a level, but there are millions upon millions of people playing this who will.

So when you hand over your spondulix out of sheer frustration, take a moment to think about the genius of the people making the game; they forced you into it and you didn’t even realise.

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