TV – Years and Years Review

June 27, 2019

With so many top quality TV shows available to us in such high volume, it’s only natural that we simply don’t have time to watch them all. It’s a lovely problem to have, but it is still a problem.

Between that and the modern urge to binge-watch rather than stick to a one episode per week viewing schedule, it becomes very easy to forget about certain shows.

Before it was broadcast, I became aware of Years And Years, the latest BBC Drama from the pen of ex-Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T. Davies. I had every intention of watching and yet I forgot, until after the last episode was screened.

Had it not been for some articles appearing on my social media feeds about it, the chances are it would have just passed me by completely.

But thankfully, those articles did remind me, and over three nights, I watched all six episodes.

And I’m so glad I did.

Years And Years Review: What’s It About?

Starting in 2019 with the birth of one of their own, it’s about the Lyons family from Manchester and how all their lives progress over the next 15 years, in the face of technological advancements and a changing socio-political environment.

Years And Years Review: Who’s In It?

Oh it’s a who’s who of British TV stars, many of whom have previously worked with RTD on other projects, including of course, Doctor Who. There’s Russell Tovey, Rory Kinnear, Anne Reid, Jessica Hynes, Emma Thompson and many more.

Years And Years Review: Is It Any Good?

Considering the talent involved it’ll come as no surprise that I enjoyed it; in fact, I thought it was very good, and even a little bit worrying.

By that, I mean it pulls no punches about where our society currently is and how easily things could change for the worse.

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone yet to see it, but RTD takes a very ‘Worst Case Scenario’ view in his writing about how things may change in the near future, with global conflicts, economic unrest, refugee crises, food shortages and on a UK level, how easy it would be for the public to be caught up in the cult of personality with our politics.

It makes for very dark viewing, but it’s entertaining and hopefully wakes some people up to the dangers that – as a result of their votes in future elections and/or referendums – they could prevent in the future.

If I was to criticise the show, it would be for two things…

The first is that I think it’s maybe one episode too long. While each member of the Lyons family has their own story that unfolds over the 15 years, they all sag a little bit at different points. I think that if I hadn’t binge-watched the show, and instead had kept to one episode per week, I might have got a little frustrated by the pace in the middle.

The second is that the last episode became maybe too detached from reality and instead felt like a season finale of Doctor Who. Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining, but it goes back to that ‘Punch-the-air-tastic’, “Everybody lives, Rose!!” style of Doctor Who writing that in this show felt a but far fetched. You could have easily imagined David Tennant’s Doctor taking the place of Jessica Hynes character at the detention centre, for example.

But those are mild criticisms, and there was plenty about Years and  Years that did hit the target. For example, I loved that the advancements in technology were presented as having happened, but not in such a way that the show became about them. I also thought the little nods to the changes in how and what we’ll be eating were brought in.

Most of all though – and again I’m keen not to spoil anything – I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Celeste and Murial. The way it completely changed over the course of the series summed up RTD’s strength as a writer. It was subtle, but heart-warmingly executed.

On the whole then, if you’ve not seen it, then make sure you do, and if you have seen it, did you agree with me?

As always, any opinions are welcome.


Mhairi Reviews Rumbles Part 6 (or “Watching The 1999 Royal Rumble With My Non-Wrestling Fan Girlfriend”)

May 25, 2019

The Attitude Era is in full swing and WWE is at the height of its popularity in 1999.

But that year’s Royal Rumble is widely considered as one of the poorer ones.

I have to admit at the time I really disliked it because it felt like a waste of the talent. For the first time, they never bothered to announce who was in it and the whole layout of the match felt overly scripted. You could argue that just about any Rumble match feels scripted, but I don’t think there’s ever been one so obviously set out into 4 distinct acts. First there was Austin vs McMahon, then a build-up of low card people to be eliminated by Mabel (who was then taken by the Ministry), then another buildup of mid-card talent to be eliminated by Kane (who was captured by the orderlies) and then DX and Austin vs the Corporation to finish.

What I would say though is that 20 years later I think it’s aged quite well, and is a far more entertaining watch than the 1998 Rumble which felt so clogged up.

As always though, it’s not about what I think, it’s about what my non-wrestling fan girlfriend Mhairi thought…

In the pre-match video package, Mhairi expressed concern that the Undertaker “never has anything good happen to him“. Based on how he’s done in Royal Rumbles, she has a point.

“Oh no, The Fink is looking old these days”

#1 – Steve Austin: “He’s got a sparkly vest. Thank god he’s changed into his pants; those jean shorts were not working for him.”

#2 – Vince McMahon: “Oh, put the oil down Vince. He’s got a weird body; a very big neck crease but he needs to work on his core. He looks like his head has been put on the wrong body. He’s sucking his stomach in.”

Vince McMahon may have big muscles in most places, but his saggy core didn’t impress Mhairi

“Is it back to 2 minutes or are they just putting people out there whenever they feel like it like last time” – We listened to the Something to Wrestle With…Bruce Prichard Rumble 1999 podcast a few days after this and it turned out that yes, they just sent people to the ring whenever they fancied. It ranged from 1m10s to 2m50s.

#3 – Golga: “Hahaha. Who’s he? The crowd love him. That’s Earthquake? Sexy gimp mask. He’s gone already?!? I’m so disappointed. I’ve just got him back and now he’s gone.”

Austin and McMahon leave the ring: “I hope the next person just has to come out and stand there.”

#4 – Droz: “He does just have to stand there. Go on son, do some push-ups. Oh he’s got a nipple ring; that’ll hurt when it gets pulled.” I’m guessing if it ever was pulled, Droz didn’t feel it…

#5 – Edge: “Is that Triple H? Ooooh he’s just a big face. And a very big mouth. But he’s got some funky velvet trousers.”

#6 – Gillberg: “It’s shit Stone Cold. Don’t write this but is there something mentally wrong with that guy?”

“I know this is all predetermined but the character Vince McMahon plays is the worst type of person you get. Prick. I don’t like him”

#7 – Steve Blackman: “Oh it’s him again. He’s hard as fuck.”

Austin is attacked in the women’s toilets: “Oh no, Stone Cold is dead. To be fair he’s acting that very well. He should be in the movies instead of The Rock.”

#8 – Dan Severn: “Oh dear. He’s sweaty. He’s got a tough moustache. Why is he wearing a t-shirt?”

I explain Severn wears a T-shirt because he doesn’t have a good body: “Aww that’s not fair. The big Japanese guy didn’t have a good body but he still just wore a nappy.

#9 – Tiger Ali Singh: “Didn’t See him; they’re too busy loading Austin into an ambulance. Is he really hurt? No? Well they are fair going for it with the acting”

“Prediction: Stone Cold will come out towards the end of the match and everybody will lose their shit”

#10 – Blue Meanie: “Woah, fucks sake. So (Severn) has to wear a T-shirt but that flabby bastard gets to wear a crop top? That’s hardly fair”

#11 – Mabel: It’s 600lbs Mabel. He looks fucking angry. He’s not wearing a colourful outfit anymore”

Jerry Lawler: “That guy is as wide as a door”

Mhairi: “That’s a really unkind thing to say”

 #12 – Road Dogg: (Mhairi watched Road Dogg’s intro at the start of the PPV) “Oh great…him. I do not like him. Cocky little shit.”

Speaking of cores, Mhairi couldn’t understand why Dan Severn had to wear a t-shirt to cover up his body but Blue Meanie could wear a crop-top

The lights go off: “Is this the Undertaker coming in” (she’s getting the hang of this)

“Oh no; those guys are hurting Mabel. What did he do”

“Oh I see Paul Bearer is back by his side; the treacherous bastard”

“Does the Undertaker ever suffer eyeball damage from rolling his eyes back like that? I can’t do it, and I’ve tried”

#13 – Gangrel: (Who I’ve shown Mhairi before. Upon hearing his tune she starts swaying to the music) “Oh look it’s your boy, the happy vampire. The chubby vampire. I think he needs to stop eating so much. Look at his neck”

Gangrel is eliminated: “Back to Sunnydale for you.”

#14 – Kurggan: “Why do they keep changing the wrestlers’ characters? He looks simple now, but the crowd seem to enjoy him”

#15 – Al Snow: “Is that guy just trying to copy Mankind?”

#16 – Goldust: “Yeah it’s Goldust. And he’s back to Classic Goldust; none of the weird shit like last time”

“I’m really enjoying the crowd this year; it’s full of weirdos just pointing at things”

#17 – The Godfather: “He’s cool. Pimp Daddy.”

Once again I remind her that’s Papa Shango: “Yeah Poppy Shongo”

#18 – Kane: “Undertaker is coming out again. Who’s he recruiting now? Oh wait, it’s Kane; I don’t like him. He’s a betrayer”

“Yeah, Road Dogg is gone”

“Oh no, Poppy Shongo is gone too!”

“Kane looks like a member of Slipknot” (I don’t know what that means)

“Whatever happened to Virgil?”

#19 – Ken Shamrock: “It’s your boy; Chamrock. Oh he’s a scary looking bastard”

“Oh great, that arsehole Vince McMahon is back, in his sweats”

Vince: “Austin isn’t coming back.”
Mhairi: “Yes he is.”

#20 – Billy Gunn: “He’s only got one shoe on. Go on Mr Abs. That’s what it says on his bum hole.”

Michael Cole: “We’re waiting to hear on the condition of Stone Cold”
Mhairi: “He’s standing backstage waiting to come back out”

#21 – Test: “His name is Test? That’s just stupid.”

Austin returns so Mhairi fakes excitement: “Oh my god, I didn’t see that coming.”

“There’s a lot of crotch-punching going on this time. I don’t like it”

#22 – Big Bossman: “It’s Big Bossman. Oooh he’s gone all goth with that outfit. And he’s lost weight. And I like his music. Yeah”

Mhairi wasn’t a fan of Chyna or how Mark Henry literally ran over the top rope when she ‘eliminated’ him

On Billy Gunn and Test: “Those two blonde guys in the corner are just obsolete now Austin is in.”

#23 – Triple H: “I like his music too but I don’t like him. Prick.”

#24 – Val Venis: “Who’s he?” (I explain his gimmick) “Brilliant. I hope he has sex in the ring”

“Why did Vince call his son ‘Shane McMahon’ rather than ‘Shane’? Bit formal isn’t it?”

#25 – X-Pac: “It’s that scrawny awful Kid. He’s got a beard now though so he’s gone through puberty.”

#26 – Mark Henry: “Brilliant nickname. Suits him. He is sexual chocolate”

“Is Big Bossman meant to be in the SAS now rather than a prison guard?”

#27 – Jeff Jarrett: “Oh Jeff Jannett. He looks like Kiefer Sutherland in the Lost Boys. And look at (Debra’s) big ol’ fake titties.”

#28 – D’lo Brown: “Oh he’s smoooooth. A funky little bastard. Why do all the wrestlers come out with women”

“Oh there goes Test. Shit name. And 1-2-3 Kid”

#29 – Owen Hart: “Boooo. But I feel I can’t say anything bad about him now since you said he was your favourite wrestler”

Me: “What about the fact he’s only a few months from death”
Mhairi: “Nah that doesn’t change my opinion on him”

#30 – Chyna: “She’s fucking scary. I mean look at her. Her boobs are weird. Why is there a woman in there anyway?”

She eliminates Mark Henry: “Oh that’s so fake. She just let go of him about a meter away from the ropes and he ran over the top himself. Shit.”

Austin eliminates her: “Good”

“Steve Austin is my pick now seeing as he just wins all the time now. And it’ll be really annoying if he doesn’t win considering all the buildup”

“How is Owen even still in it after they fucked over his brother? Where’s his loyalty?”

“Why are the commentators obsessed with Steve Austin’s blue eyes?!”

“Oh shit, it’s the Rock with a brown shirt on”

“He’s going to distract Austin and McMahon is going to throw him out, right?”

That happens

“See. Shite”

Mhairi’s Final Thoughts: Her impression was similar to how I felt when I first watched it. Too stagey and focused on McMahon and Austin. Not her least favourite one though.

Previous Mhairi Reviews Rumbles

1993
1995
1996
1997
1998


Mhairi Reviews Rumbles Part 5 (or “Watching The 1998 Royal Rumble With My Non-Wrestling Fan Girlfriend”)

May 19, 2019

Next up in our journey through the years is the 1998 Royal Rumble.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of this one, as it’s just not that well structured. It just seems as though everyone is just standing around waiting for Steve Austin to arrive and eliminate everyone, and while he was obviously going to win this Rumble on the march to his first world title, it would have been nice if they tried to present some form of opposition too him or at least did some other stories. Yes, Owen Hart was bizarrely attacked by Jeff Jarrett on his way to the ring but that made no sense and if I recall correctly, it wasn’t even followed up on.

So yeah, this one was a bit of a means to an end, and a damp squib.

But what did Mhairi – a non wrestling fan in a wrestling fan’s world – think?

#1 Cactus Jack: “Who’s that? Mankind? I prefer him this way. He’s got snazzy leopard print boots.”

#2 Chainsaw Charlie: “Bloody hell, that guy is a nutter.”

They hit each other with chairs. “Oh that’s just stupid. Calm the fuck down Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

#3. Tom Brandi: “Tom Brandi eh? I’m guessing he’s from Italy based on his panties”. Wow…well observed.

#4. The Rock: “He’s in early. He’s definitely got better looking with time”

#5. Mosh: “Who’s this tough bastard? He looks like he’d bite your ear off”

Funk misses a moonsault:  “Whey, minter”

#6. Phineus Godwinn: “Whey, Hillbilly. It’s not the main one but he’ll do. Oh his tune is weird, it’s gothic country music”

Mhairi continues to have absolutely nothing to say about Faarooq.

7. 8-Ball: “It’s shit Stone Cold Steve Austin”

Cactus Jack is eliminated: “Oh no, see you later leopard print boots”

#8. Blackjack Bradshaw: “Ooft look at that moustache. He’s come straight from the porn set”

“Don’t Go Messin With a Country Boy is the catchiest of the wrestling themes”

#9. Owen Hart. “Booooooooo. Why is he still here?

Jeff Jarrett and Jim Cornette attack Owen Hart: “Yay, that guy just attacked him. Who’s the boy in the suit? He just walloped the fuck out of him with a frying pan”. Cornette is famous for his frying pan.

“Ha, look at those children all upset”

#10. Steve Blackman: “It’s Wolverine! Oh no, it’s a guy called Steve Blackman. Bloody hell though, he looks hard as fuck. And he’s built. But then if he is Wolverine…”

#11. D-Lo Brown: “Is he related to Bad News Brown? No? Awww”

#12 Kurggan The Interrogator: “Fu-cking-Hell he is scary. He looks like a serial killer. And he’s not blinking. Wolverine looks tiny next to him”

#13 Marc Mero: “Who’s that guy? And why is he coming out with cat woman. He looks too cheery to be in this. Why’s he boxing? Wrong sport mate.”

On Sable: “She looks like she’s got some big fake titties”

#14. Ken Shamrock: “It’s the guy with the tune you always play”. Yes, Ken Shamrock’s theme is very much part of my workout playlist.

Kurggan goes out: “Noooo, the serial killer is out. It was fun with him in it”

“The two minutes goes quick. It’s like they are just making it up as they go along”

#15. Thrasher:He just looks like the other one. I bet he’s not going to be in for long”

On Marc Mero: “I think Muhammad Ali needs to to calm the fuck down. He’s just standing on his own, skipping”

#16. Mankind: “How is that allowed? Has he just gone for a shower and come back? That’s cheating.”

#17. TAFKA Goldust: “Goldust! He’s got a new outfit.! He’s wearing women’s underwear! That’s not a good idea. Is he going through his Miley Cyrus phase or something?”

On Marc Mero: “What’s Apollo Creed up to? He’s just faffing about in there”

#18. Jeff Jarrett: “It’s the guy who beat up Owen Hart. I like this guy. He’s a bit show-offy but that’s ok. I hate Owen Hart”

Marc Mero’s showboating was a highlight of sorts.

“Awww, Owen Hart is back out. Boooooo”

“That’s a busy ring; some fucker needs to go”

#19. Honky Tonk Man: “It’s the Honky Tonk Man. Brilliant, he’s still on the go. And he’s got one of those cheeky nipple tops”

HHH eliminates Owen Hart from the outside: “Yeah, get him out. Beat him with a crutch”

Owen falls running backstage: “Ha, minter”

#20: Ahmed Johnson: “It’s the guy with the wedgie from last year. Terry Crews. Oh he’s lost a lot of muscle. And he’s forgotten to take his anti snore strip off.”

#21. Mark Henry: “Smiley black man. I like him”

#22. Nobody: “Is this going to be like the year Randy Savage didn’t show up”

Jim Ross: “This is only Honky Tonk Man’s second Royal Rumble appearance”

Mhairi: “No it’s not, it’s his third”. Poor show when Mhairi knows the product better than the lead commentator.

#23. Kama: “He looks like he should have been in prison”

I remind her once again he used to be Papa Shango

“Who? I don’t know who Papo Shango is”

This time I urge her to find a photo of him

“Honestly, I don’t know who that skull faced Mexican is”

#24. Steve Austin: *fake scream* “He’s here! That little trickster.”

Jim Ross on Austin: “No more Mr Nice Guy”

Mhairi: “No he’s not. He’s trying to choke a man to to death with his vest”

#25. Henry Godwinn: “Yeah!! It’s my boy. Wait that is my boy isn’t it? He’s got a different top on so I can’t tell. Wooo, Don’t Go Messin With A Country Boy”

Vader: Reliable and Smooth, apparently.

#26. Savio Vega: “Oh no, the guy with the kind face has fallen in with a bad crowd. Has he joined a gang? Look at the amount of hair on that guy’s back who he’s with”

#27. Faarooq: “Faarooq.” This is the second year in a row there has been no comment whatsoever on Faarooq.

As Austin and Rock fight outside some women scream: ”Those women are living it. I bet they are soaking”. Oh crumbs.

#28. Dude Love: “How is this allowed? He can’t come back again. Oh no, he’s eliminated Pornstache (Bradshaw)”

#29. Chainz: “Shit biker. Is Undertaker not in it?”

“What about the dentist or the Jew?”

#30: Vader: “Good old Vader. Unlike Goldust he’s consistent with his costume. Reliable old black and red. Look at him schmoozing on down to the ring. Oh yeah baby”

“Noooo, Honky Tonk Man is out. I don’t understand why he’s a bad guy”

I explain his gimmick is that he’s a deluded Elvis impersonator.

“Well that doesn’t make him evil”. Good point.

“It’ll come down to the Rock and Steve Austin. Austin will win” 

“Yeah, I got it right”

Mhairi’s Final Thoughts: She basically agreed with me. The ring was too busy, not enough happened and the outcome was predictable.

Previous editions…

1993
1995
1996
1997


Mhairi Reviews Rumbles Part 4 (or “Watching The 1997 Royal Rumble With My Non-Wrestling Fan Girlfriend”)

May 6, 2019

Next up in the series is the 1997 Royal Rumble.

Even though it was a year where business was at its most perilous for the WWF, 1997 is possibly my own favourite year in wrestling, mainly thanks to the Bret Hart/Hart Foundation storyline and the way things slowly became more reality based. It was an exciting time, with an ever changing roster and a – pardon the pun – raw feel to it.

That being said, the 1997 Royal Rumble still feels a little bit away from that, mainly due to some of the odd hangovers from 1996 like Fake Razor Ramon and Diesel, and the over-reliance on Mexican wrestlers throughout the show.

Indeed it’s the Mexican wrestlers who bring the Rumble match down for the first half. Things build to an exciting finish in the end though, making it probably one of the better ones up to this point.

Wait though, it’s not my thoughts you’re here for; it’s  my non-wrestling fan girlfriend Mhairi’s.

Here’s her as-live comments while watching the 1997 Royal Rumble match.

Before it started, Mhairi wanted it noted that she really doesn’t approve of the Rumble match going on second last. I think we can all agree on that one…

#1. Crush: “That’s never Crush is it? He looks totally different. And he’s been joined by some sophisticated black men in tuxedos.”

#2 Ahmed Johnson: “Ooh he’s got droopy boobs.”

“They are just touching each other’s bums. Now Ahmed is on his knees in position for some you know what. Saucy.”

Mil Mascaras is “Part Man, Part Disco Ball” according to Mhairi. Meanwhile she just considers Owen Hart a prick.

#3. Fake Razor Ramon: “Oh what, there’s no countdown?. And it’s Shit Gaston. Wait, that’s not the same guy. That’s so shit.”

Ahmed eliminates himself : “Woah, where’s Terry Crews going?”

#4: Phineus Godwinn: She starts singing ‘Don’t Go Messin with a Country Boy’. “Wait? That’s not the Hogfather. I don’t care. His manager is cool. Oh that’s Hillbilly Jim? The one who sings the song? He’s the man.”

“Why is the countdown not on for this match? This is depressing me; I need to be primed and ready for a new guy coming in.”

#5. Stone Cold Steve Austin: “Woooo!! Stone Cold from the Broken Skull Ranch!!”

They’ve got the clock fixed by this point, so Mhairi is content.

“Oh shit, Phineus is gone. Booo”

#6. Bart Gunn: “Oh he’s oily. He must love himself.”

“Stone Cold is doing press-ups. Fucking legend. Give him a bar so he can do some clean & presses”

#7 Jake Roberts: “Oh got even bigger. He’s put on so much weight. Look, his leggings don’t fit! There’s no way he’s only 42. He’s not sexy anymore. Oh no, he’s gone!”

#8: British Bulldog: “Wooo, British Bulldog. He’s got some fuzzy boots and slicked back hair!”

He attacks Austin: “He won’t be going to the Broken Skull Ranch will he? Then again, he’s dead”. Oh that’s cold…

Flash Funk: Definitely brought the Funk

#9: Pierroth: She dances to his tune until she sees him. “Who the fuck is that guy. A Mexican wrestler? Get him out”

#10: The Sultan: “Where’s he from? Dubai? Look, he’s dressed like a genie”

Jim Ross says on commentary: “Remember, both feet must touch the floor.”

“Yes, we know”

#11. “The Legendary Mil Mascaras”: “Never heard of him. Look, he’s part Disco Ball”

#12: Hunter Hearst Helmsley: “Booo it’s Triple H. That smug bastard”

Sultan is out: “Oh no, The Genie.”

#13: Owen Hart: “Booooooooooooooo. I really don’t like him. He thinks he’s better than everyone else with his ugly face”

“I don’t like British Bulldog now if he’s friends with Owen Hart”

#14. Goldust: “Aww shit, Goldust is it in it! He’s going to beat HHH”

“Why does (Jim Ross) keep telling us the rules? It’s not complicated. And why would he think the wrestlers don’t know them? I’m sure Goldust knows he has to stay in the ring”

#15: Cibernetico: “Pfffft. Nice pants mate.”

 #16. Marc Mero: His entrance was overshone by the Mil Mascaras eliminating himself so when asked for comment, Mhairi says “Ach He’s just a generic wrestler, but he’s got a moustache”

#17: Latin Lover: “What’s with all the Mexicans? He looks shit”

#18. Faarooq: There was a distinct lack of interest in Faarooq. Rather than even acknowledging his entrance Mhairi asks…

Henry Godwinn has become a firm favourite, but initially Mhairi was concerned about the “Menacing Thug” walking behind him

“Is Earthquake in this? Aww. Tugboat? No? Aw come on”

“Terry Crews is back. I knew he wasn’t eliminated”

#19: Savio Vega: “Saudi Arabia? Oh wait, it’s the kind faced Puerto Rican. The kind of guy who’d give you accurate directions to a church”

“Is that Owen Hart out? Good; I really hate that prick”

Jerry Lawler says: “Wow, how many guys has Austin eliminated?

Mhairi replies: “About 5. It’s not that impressive. That being said, he’d better win this. He deserves it for all the times he’s had the fuck kicked out of him.”

#20: Jesse James: He was eliminated before Mhairi could say anything other than “See you later, Country.”

#21: Bret Hart: His music hits before Mhairi sees him but Steve Austin looks scared on the screen. “That’s wonderful acting from Stone Cold. Who is it? It’s Bret Hart. And he looks like he’s been rolling around in Ronseal”

#22: Jerry Lawler: “Wait, is he going in? Brilliant. Did he forget? Ha, he’s out already”

Jim Ross comments that Bret Hart hit Steve Austin “south of the border”

“I think you’ll find Mr Commentator that he headbutted him in the cock” 

#23. Fake Diesel: “Oh yeah, Big Daddy”. I tell her it’s the fake Diesel. “It’s the same guy. He’s just as tall. Stop trying to confuse me”

“Oh wait, it’s not him is it?”

#24: Terry Funk: “He’s not as cool as his brother. Is Dory Funk in this too? The guy with the underpants, cool jacket and the cowboy hat?”

“I hope Bret Hart doesn’t win. I’ve decided I don’t like him either”

#25: Rocky Maivia: “The rookie. Oh wait, is that The Rock? He looks so young. And small. And with hair”

“Fuck You Bret Hart. You overly-serious weirdo. Well he is! He didn’t play along with the Bushwhackers”

*As a big fan of theirs, Mhairi watched the Bushwhackers’ Hall of Fame speech yesterday and was left deeply unimpressed by Bret Hart’s lack of interest in doing their Bushwhacker March. I thought that was about as animated as Bret Hart could have got, to be honest.

#26. Mankind: “Who’s he? What’s he meant to be? I don’t understand his gimmick at all”

#27. Flash Funk: “Mmmmmmhmmmmm. He’s cool. Black Elvis. He really is funky”

“How has nobody broken their neck on a piledriver? They have? And lived? That can’t be right. When I was growing up I was told if you broke your neck that was it. That’s why I’ve always been very careful not to break my neck.”

#28: Vader: “It’s Vader, or as they seem determined to call him “The Man They Call Vader”, so they presumably don’t get sued”

Bret Hart’s stoic lack of enthusiasm for doing the Bushwhacker March has forever tainted him in the eyes of Mhairi.

As the countdown starts for #29: “Is the Hog Farmer in it? What about the Dumpster? Or the Dentist? Or the Jew?”

#29. Henry Godwinn: “Yeah!!!!!!! Who’s the big thug behind him? Is that Hillbilly Jim again? Yeah!!!!” Yeehaw”

#30: The Undertaker: “Is it Undertaker? Cool. It’ll take him 10 minutes to get down there’s. He’s going to fuck up Vader isn’t he?”

“I think Austin will win but I hope it’s Undertaker. He’s been very unlucky”

“Calm the fuck down Undertaker; don’t you dare punch Black Elvis”

Undertaker eliminated Godwin: “I guess Undertaker goes messin with a country boy”

“Imagine being Undertaker’s wife. You wouldn’t want to get into a domestic with that guy would you?”Austin gets eliminated “Oh no. Oh shit. Oh what! Oh wait, he’s back and he’s won?! How are they letting him away with that? That’s bullshit, I wanted Undertaker to win”

On Bret Hart’s post match tantrum “See, that’s why no one likes him. He’s a whining bitch”

Mhairi’s Final Thoughts on the 1997 Royal Rumble Match: “This one was definitely one of the better ones we’ve seen. Too many Mexicans though. And I wanted Undertaker to win.”

Previous Mhairi Reviews Rumbles articles..

1993

1995

1996


TV: Russian Doll Review (Spoiler Free For Anyone Who Hasn’t Seen It)

February 6, 2019

Some people read reviews after they’ve already seen the subject matter to find out whether or not the reviewer shares their opinions, while others do so having not seen it, in the hope of finding out if something is worth their time.

Seeing as Russian Doll only released on NetFlix on Feb 1, I’m going to take the view that more people who read this will fall into the latter category.

As such, there won’t be any spoilers, so you can read on without fear. I’ll try to be succinct.

Russian Doll Review: What’s It About?

In true Groundhog Day style, it’s about a woman who dies on her 36th birthday and then repeats the day over and over again, dying every time. Can she find out why?

Russian Doll Review: Is It Any Good?

It won’t come as any shock to regular readers that I love the premise to Russian Doll, and though the setting, the story and some of the characters take a while to warm to, it turns out to be an enjoyable show that brings a fresh take to the Groundhog Day format.

It also does a good job of switching between dark comedy, science fiction and some rather thought-provoking drama on mental health and stability.

That being said, as with just about any Netflix show – or any streaming show in general – there is a lull where it seemed things were being dragged out a bit. I get the feeling some of the stuff NetFlix does could work better as a movie, or even just 4-6 episodes of story told in a swifter manner, but while I found my interest drifting around the episode 5 or 6, it’s fair to say that it picked up by the end and finished strongly in a manner that wasn’t as predictable as you might have expected.

It was definitely well done in that regard and certainly doesn’t need another season, even though we’ll probably get one. Or two. Or five.

In terms of the cast, I’m not especially keen on the lead actress Natasha Lyonne, as she essentially plays the part with exactly the same characteristics as she does Nicky in Orange is the New Black, but you get used to her after a while.

And I have to say – and some of you will already have read these thoughts on my Facebook/Twitter pages – I was very surprised to see Burt “Paulie from Rocky” Young in it. I genuinely thought he died about 4 years ago. So that was nice.

Anyway, to finish it off, I’d recommend Russian Doll. At 8 episodes it maybe does run a little too long for the amount of story there is, but it’s not going to take you too much time to get through it.

Give it a go and let me know what you thought.


Doctor Who – Resolution Review (or “Lin’s Going To Prison”)

January 2, 2019

To be blunt, Doctor Who in 2018 was a disappointment.

If you missed my reviews, most episodes could be summed up as having lethargic plots that lacked threat and usually ended with the villain not getting its comeuppance, grating incidental music, a Doctor without a character to speak of,  and too many companions, resulting in not enough for any of them to do.

It’s not that the episodes were awful – indeed a small number were good – but after I’d finished watching them I had no real desire to watch them again.

All very insipid.

2019 has one solitary episode to change things, in form of Resolution.

And as much as I tried to avoid spoilers, I was aware that it would somehow involve the Daleks.

Hopefully that would at least fix the lack of threat…

Doctor Who – Resolution Review: What’s This One About?

A Dalek mutant, out of action since the 9th century, has woken up in 2019 Sheffield.

And Ryan’s dad has shown up too.

Thoughts – Much, Much Better

To get straight to the point, I thought Resolution was great. It was much better than any episode from the 2018 season, not only because it was well written, but because it had the very spirit of post 2005 Doctor

Oh just check his pulse for fuck’s sake!

Who at its heart.

You’ve got a contemporary setting, a proper Doctor Who monster that you can invest in, a Doctor that had to actually work hard to vanquish that monster, some domestic drama and character development, and a tie in to the occasion it was broadcast on.

The addition of Aaron was an important one as it gave both Ryan and Graham some purpose outside of just being there to ask the Doctor to explain the plot. Now sure, Aaron didn’t seem quite the deadbeat dad that he was made out to be in previous episodes (I was expecting a proper cad like an extended family member of mine who shall remain nameless), but on the whole I thought he worked well in the episode.

Unfortunately, Yas still had very little to do and could easily have been left out altogether.

And as for the Doctor? Definitely Jodie Whittaker’s best performance to date. Not only was her Doctor finally challenged, but she also came across as a character in her own right, rather than a David Tennant knock-off.

How To Use The Daleks Correctly

I have to admit I was initially a bit disappointed to hear that the Daleks were coming back, although I did warm to it towards the end of the last season because of the poor quality of monsters and villains we saw in 2018.

That being said, I thought the use of one single Dalek made for a far better story than we’ve come to expect from them.

In terms of how they have been used, this is definitely the most effective and enjoyable Dalek story we’ve seen for a long time.

Aaron is as bemused as me about Ryan calling Graham “Gramps”

By giving it a character and having it – as an individual – be responsible for each act of menace that it committed, then more is invested in seeing it defeated.

And it always helps to take the Dalek out of its casing to add to its personality.

What definitely worked was the way it used Lin to get around, and Charlotte Ritchie acted her part very well.

Furthermore, the makeshift Dalek casing – though perhaps a little too good considering it was made by Lin – was a nice touch.

Brexit UNIT and the Continuity of Alien Invasions

The absence of UNIT helped Resolution. If they’d been involved, it would have taken away from the more personal confrontation between the Doctor’s group and the Dalek.

So I have no problem with that.

And as a single joke for the benefit of the casual viewer on New Year’s Day in the current Brexit Shambles environment, having UNIT disbanded because of budget cuts was fine. In fact, the scene was handled pretty funnily.

However – and I say this hoping not to be as churlish as the reviewer in the example I’ll come to below about WiFi – the line about there being no alien invasions recently made no sense on a greater level.

There’s Lin, happy and smiling as the Doctor leaves, not worried about the possible multiple life sentences coming her way

Even as a Doctor Who geek, I get confused sometimes because I think the show itself gets confused.

Where are we on people knowing about alien invasions? I’m afraid I don’t have a flow chart to hand.

They’ve definitely hit the reset switch a couple of times, and I can accept that because it wouldn’t do to have the general population be aware of all the different worldwide invasions that have happened; that would take away from the writing of the companions.

But surely world leaders and UNIT are still aware of them somehow? Even as recently as The Woman Who Fell To Earth, there was an alien invasion on a small scale.

So it doesn’t make sense that UNIT were disbanded, and that’s without bringing up that they are a United Nations organisation rather than a British one…

And even though I hoped not to, I know I do sound churlish. Sorry, not sorry!

Random Observations

  • It would be easy for people who only want to be negative to say that Resolution works because it has a single Dalek, rather than how that single Dalek is written. But then I would counter that argument with Into the Dalek; it was bang average. Yes, I know that some other Daleks showed up at the end, but you get my point.
  • Even as someone who actively hopes the Daleks are used less than they are, I think you’ve got to give credit where credit it due. If you replaced this individual Dalek with any other alien, the chances are the episode wouldn’t be as good. Ultimately there’s a reason that the Daleks are the most enduring alien monsters, not only in Doctor Who but in any TV show or movie. They are distinctive, they carry menace and they just have that certain something about them.
  • I’ve seen some people pick on the joke about the WiFi going down, calling it a cheap gag. I even read one reviewer say something like “Families don’t actually spend time together on New Years Day, actually. So there! Actually!!!!”, but I had mine over for a New Years Day steak pie and we all watched it together. Also, it’s a joke that could work any day of the year. So stop being so bloody dour!
  • In the traditional ‘Goodbye in front of the ranch house’ scene at the end, Lin was all smiles. Surely she’d at least be sick with worry that she was about to be arrested for internet hacking, speeding, assaulting (at the very least) two police officers, stealing a police car, impersonating a police officer, trespassing at a secret weapons development site, assaulting a member of their security staff, theft and murder? It’s not like it would be easy enough to explain away, and local police officer Yas doesn’t seem interested in staying behind to help sort things out from her end.
  • It’s a shame that the world’s best ever microwave was destroyed like that.
  • I’m not sure how the Doctor thought that opening the TARDIS doors would only remove the mutant Dalek rather than both it and Aaron?
  • I see Aaron was as confused as I have been over the last few months about Ryan calling Graham ‘granddad’. Rightly so.
  • There was a brief moment where I thought the Doctor was going to be able to resolve the issue with the Dalek peacefully. If that had happened I’d have thrown a brick through my TV.
  • I’ve just came up on my twitter timeline (@sgmilne for those who use Twitter) that some papers are running a story about how people were offended by the UNIT/Brexit gag. Here’s an example tweet:wtf I can’t believe they had a dig at brexit during that episode. I take it back that is single handedly one of the worst doctor who episodes ever.” Jeeeeeeeeesus Christ. What a world we live in. People need to just cheer the fuck up and stop letting their political leanings ruin their lives.
  • The current Doctor definitely has a tendency to overuse her sonic screwdriver. Using it to check whether that guy was dead rather than simply checking his pulse was a bit much though.
  • Ok, hands up how many of you shouted “Blackpool” when the Doctor replied to Yas asking where they were going next.

Doctor Who – Resolution Review: Final Thoughts

I thought Resolution was a proper Doctor Who story; the sort of story that Russell T. Davies would have been proud to have written.

As far as I can see it’s the sort of story that the public want from the show, and after such a disappointingly bland 2018 season, it was very welcome.

Thankfully, it also showed that Chris Chibnall is capable of writing a good episode on his own, which has made me more positive for next year.

Alas though, not everyone will have enjoyed it, whether that’s people who have decided it was bad because of a Brexit joke (those people desperately need to get a grip) or people like my mum who in spite of sitting in a room with four other people who enjoyed it, simply said “That was a load of shite” as the credits rolled.

Ah well, you can’t win ’em all.


Doctor Who – The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos Review (or “The Worst Episode Title In Television History”)

December 16, 2018

Throughout its rich history, Doctor Who stories have often had some pretty catchy names.

Whether it’s the punchy one word titles like ‘Blink’, ‘Inferno’ or ‘Terminus’, titles that use lines of dialogue from the scripts like ‘State of Decay’, ‘Full Circle’ or ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’ or even ones that just take a good old fashioned Ronseal approach like ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’, ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ or ‘The Sea Devils’, the chances are you’ll remember them and be able to identify them easily.

I bring this up because the final episode of the current season of Doctor Who – The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos – has the worst episode title in the entire history of the show. There is no debate. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I haven’t come across a worse episode title in any TV show.

Putting aside that there wasn’t actually a battle, what sort of name is Ranskoor av Kolos for a planet? Sure, I’ve taken the piss out of Terry Nation in the past for his on-the-nose planet names like ‘Aridious’ and ‘Mechanus’ but at least they are memorable. I can’t see anyone rolling ‘Ranskoor av Kolos’ off their tongue any time soon, can you?

Of course, a name will only get you so far, hence my use of Terminus above. Regardless of the quality of the title, what matters most is whether the episode is any good.

So how good was The Battle of Thingamajig?

Doctor Who – The Battle of Somethingorother Review: What’s It About?

The Doctor and her pals once again tangle with the dude from the first episode. It’s the return match nobody asked for.

Thoughts – I Fell Asleep

I cannot argue that The Battle of WhatsItCalled looks good. The cinematography throughout Season 11 has been of a very high standard, and they’ve done their bit going to various different locations in a bid to

Oh my god it’s…erm…what’s his name from the first episode. I can’t believe it. What storytelling!!!

make each episode look distinct.

Similarly, costume design and lighting has been great too. The incidental music is an abomination, but that’s just my own personal opinion.

But that is just style. What about the substance?

Put simply, in this case I fell asleep.

Yes, I’d had a busy day and yes I’d eaten a lot of food, but it was 8pm when I watched it, not 1am, and quite frankly if it was an interesting episode I’d have stayed awake and alert.

But it was neither of those things, and so I dropped off for a good 20 minutes.

Then it took me until today (Friday) to summon up the will to even bother watching it again for the purposes of this review. And I didn’t enjoy it much this time either.

So what’s the problem?

It just wasn’t interesting. It involved the Doctor and chums walking about and handling things in a flat and tension free way. Yet again there was no threat to speak of, yet again the villain was vanquished fairly easily and yet again as an episode written by Chris Chibnall it was all just one-note.

I just found it all dreadfully dull, and judging by the general reviews, I’m not the only one.

And like I said above, I don’t think anyone had an appetite to see “Tim Shaw” make a reappearance. Tim Shaw Mania did not sweep the nation.

Wait, That’s The Finale?

If The Battle of Racoon and Kodos was just another episode then I’d maybe be a bit more forgiving, but it’s the end of a season. Surely they wanted to go out with a bang?

Now I’ll hold my hands up and say that when I heard this season wasn’t going to have a story-arc to speak of, I thought it would be a refreshing change. Indeed, I think I might have said as much in some earlier reviews or on social media. In the past, story-arcs have overpowered the individual episodes and led to finales that have perhaps been a bit too unwelcoming to the casual viewer. Plus some of those story-arcs (and I’m looking at you, River Song) have just been annoying.

But this season proves that they do have their place, because that episode showed that it was no way to end a season.

I read Ian “I’m NOT watching this season” Levine’s comments on the season after he…erm…watched every episode and he says it’s the weakest end to a season ever. To be fair, as someone not shy to use hyperbole he was always going to exaggerate, because you can’t argue that Time Flight was a powerful end to Season 19, or The Kings Demons ended Season 20 on a high, but as far as Nu Who goes, he is bang on.

Along with many of the other issues people have with this season of the show, hopefully Chris Chibnall will learn from it going forward.

I’m not going to hold my breath though.

“I Don’t Like Her”

Less specific to the episode – because there is so little to say about such a dreary affair – I think it’s worth commenting on Jodie Whittaker’s performance throughout the season.

Alright Charles Bronson, calm the fuck down

Taking everything into consideration, she’s been ok but not great.

I think it’s fair to say that it took four of the first seven Doctors at least 10 weeks to fully embrace the part, some of them longer. Actors do need to find their feet in the role and I’d like to think that come her second season, she might be a bit more comfortable.

However…

She is, so far, the weakest Doctor since the show returned, and yes, that could be down to her having an altogether weaker run of episodes than her counterparts. But it’s also worth noting that casual viewers I’ve spoken to have all said the same thing; “I don’t like her”.

Why? Because they still see her as someone who is trying to hard to be quirky and to replicate David Tennant. It’s a criticism I’ve brought up before, and after 10 weeks, it’s disappointing that it’s still valid.

They also have said to me that they don’t think she plays the part as naturally or as commandingly as the likes of Peter Capaldi or the aforementioned Tennant.

It’s worth noting that everyone who has said this to me has been a woman…

I’ll just say that I do think the quality of the writing helps determine the quality of a Doctor, but as an actor, she’s not got the gravitas to match her predecessors since 2005.

Random Observations

  • All of a sudden, Graham turned into Charles Bronson from Death Wish. I’ve liked Bradley Walsh’s performances throughout but I thought his take on that was a little subdued.
  • They nicked part of the plot from The Pirate Planet
  • Unlike just about every episode of the season, I didn’t think there was any chuckles to be had. Disappointing.
  • As nice as it is that they traverse the globe looking for splendid filming locations, I’d sooner they did it locally and produced more episodes.
  • Nothing really came of those patches they wore on their heads, did it? If you’re going to make a big deal about something early on, make use of it appropriately.
  • Guess who didn’t really do anything in this episode? Did you guess Yas? Clever you.

Doctor Who – The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos Review: Final Thoughts

Rarely has an episode of Doctor Who filled me with such withering apathy than The Battle of Rocky Road.

It might have looked good but it was the personification of dullness, and certainly unbecoming of a season finale.

They really must do better in the next season.

But can they? It’s a worry.

Hey, at least the Daleks are supposed to be coming back; that’ll be a refreshing change.

No, I can’t believe I said that either.