TV

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Almost Royal

27 Aug 20143 stars

Amy Hoggart and Ed Gamble star in a gentle, Royalty-mocking romp

It’s easy for us all to say it in hindsight, but you’d have thought that the Americans would have seen regal siblings George and Poppy Carlton (heirs to the throne, albeit way, way down the list) coming a mile off. Sacha Baron Cohen had already made US…

Black Sails - Season 1

26 Aug 20142 stars

The swashbuckling series is a po-faced Pirates of the Caribbean knock-off

Black Sails is prequel of sorts to Treasure Island following the lives of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and John Silver (Luke Arnold) 20 years before Robert Louis Stevenson's pirate adventure. But this is no salty sea yarn for the kiddies: there's far…

The Sopranos: The Complete Series on Blu-ray

26 Aug 20145 stars

A chance to revisit the majestic TV series that reshaped the small-screen form

With the tragic death of James Gandolfini last summer, any prospect of more Sopranos episodes or the much-discussed movie died with him. So, what we are left with is a mere 86 episodes of majestically written, acted and produced television, which only…

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: BJ Novak of the US Office on debut short story collection One More Thing

15 Aug 2014

'There’s a story in my book called “Regret is Just Perfectionism Plus Time". That’s how I feel'

If you’ve ever watched the US series of The Office, BJ Novak’s face will be instantly recognisable as obnoxious temp Ryan Howard. A producer, writer and actor on the show (he landed the gig aged just 25, after producer Greg Daniels saw him at a comedy…

The Killing and Ripper Street: two shows revived by the post-TV age of video on demand

15 Jul 2014

With streaming services fast becoming the norm, network cancellation is no longer the final curtain

The US remake of The Killing might not have had the same cultural impact as the Danish original (which sparked the UK obsession with Nordic Noir) but was still an absorbing atmospheric crime thriller. Transposing the action from Denmark to Seattle with…

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Amy Pascale - Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe – A Biography

15 Jul 20144 stars

A refreshingly candid look at the man behind Buffy and Marvel's Avengers

With his genre-changing series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon shaped the face of television in the 1990s. Nearly 20 years on, having written and directed 2012’s The Avengers, which became the third highest grossing film worldwide, he now plays a…

Utopia

8 Jul 20144 stars

Dark, compelling and addictive Channel 4 series combines conspiracies, bleak comedy and violence

David Fincher is currently working on an American adaptation of Utopia for HBO. And you can see why Dennis Kelly’s thriller would appeal to the director of Se7en and Fight Club, with its mix of conspiracies within conspiracies, bleak comedy and graphic…

Interview: Jackass/CKY star Bam Margera on Nikki, Novak and watching Titanic alone

24 Jun 2014

'I'm Peter Pan with credit card. Nothing can become everything – and repeat!'

First record you ever bought? I didn't buy it, Phil [Bam’s father] did. It was Metallica Master of Puppets for $8 at Kmart. I had to cry til I got it. Last extravagant purchase you ever made? Giving away millions of dollars / meeting nine assholes…

Weir's Way: The Collection

23 Jun 20144 stars

Tom Weir's natural and social history travelogue remains an epic and unmatched view of Scotland

Author, broadcaster, explorer, environmentalist, World War II veteran, subject of tribute songs named after him by Edinburgh’s indie-pop group Aberfeldy and Aidan Moffat alter-ego L Pierre, and pin-up man for knee-high socks, bobble hats and other…

Adam Buxton brings Bug to Glasgow and Manchester

17 Jun 2014

Five facts ahead of pop culture commentator's music video ‘analysis’ nights

1: Some people will always see Adam Buxton as one half of the archetypal studenty double act, Adam & Joe. And that’s fine, because they were totally brilliant. 2:But Buxton has had some success all on his lonesome including one series of Channel 4’s The…

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Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: A guide to the work of John McGrath

10 Jun 2014

The timely, Independence-themed work of the political playwright is given a festival retrospective

John McGrath was one of Britain’s most prolific writers, directors and producers. Born in 1935, he was a passionate socialist theatremaker. He’s particularly noted for setting up theatre company 7:84 in 1971, which became known around Scotland and…

Game of Thrones: Season 4

9 Jun 20145 stars

‘The Sopranos in Middle Earth’ keeps living up to its name

What would make you stop watching Game of Thrones? Some might have thrown in the towel at the end of season one after Ned Stark lost his head in King’s Landing. Others probably waited until the truly horrific (yet beautifully directed and acted) Red…

The best vampire TV shows

4 Jun 2014

As the final series of True Blood airs, we profile the best vampire series and where to watch them

Of all the classic monster legends, vampires have captured the pop culture’s imagination the most. From Bram Stoker's Dracula through Nosferatu, The Lost Boys and Twilight, much like the bloodsuckers themselves, the myths refuse to die, being…

Quirke

22 May 20143 stars

Gabriel Byrne stars in this tedious miniseries about a detective in 1950s Dublin

What is it about certain fictional cops and medics that we can’t know their first name? Quincy and Columbo never revealed them, while Endeavour was only unleashed as Morse’s given forename in book number 12. And here we have Quirke, the latest gruffly…

'We explicitly wanted this type of discussion about national identity, heritage and guilt' - Benjamin Benedict on Generation War

20 May 2014

The German WWII mini-series provoked debate about the country's role during and after the war

In terms of popular culture, we're so used to seeing the events of World War II through Allied Forces eyes. But what about the lives, hopes and dreams of those who fought for Germany? This fresh viewpoint is what makes German mini-series Generation War…

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24: Live Another Day

6 May 20143 stars

It’s groundhog day for Jack Bauer and co

All hail to our favourite TV torturer and flawed saviour of the US realm: Jack is back! But only partly so. 24 is now really 12, with this ninth series cut down in episode numbers by 50%. So, in 24: Live Another Day, we’ll experience half the adrenaline…

24 things you might not know about 24

2 May 2014

The real-time Kiefer Sutherland actions series returns for the London-set Live Another Day

1 Kiefer Sutherland wasn’t the only actor considered for the role of Jack Bauer – Richard Burgi was also in the running (although Burgi did appear in 11 episodes of the first season). 2 Other interesting casting choices that didn’t happen: Katee…

Warren United

22 Apr 20143 stars

Johnny Vegas, Darren Boyd and Morwenna Banks voice ITV4's hit-and-miss cartoon football comedy

The big pitch for this new animated sitcom about football and family from Baby Cow is that it’s here just in time for the Champions League Semi-Finals and Brazil World Cup. My guess is that people looking forward to those particular events won’t need a…

TV review: Mad Men - Season 7

18 Apr 20144 stars

The 60s ad drama returns with the 70s on the horizon

The world of Mad Men has always been rich with visual metaphors. You only have to look at the opening credits to see a central character who has no identity (faceless and blank, his back to us most of the time) falling through the sky and out of…

Review: Fargo - TV series

18 Apr 20144 stars

Coen brothers classic gets a brand new life on TV with Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton

For the first ten minutes you’ll wonder why the heck they bothered. The fears of anyone who couldn’t get through a day during the mid to late 90s without watching, thinking or breathing the Coen brothers snowy cult classic, Fargo, appeared to be…

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Mad Men, True Detective and the rise of the TV auteur

9 Apr 2014

Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Fukunaga ensure the seminal cop noir remains true to their voices

In last year’s Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, author Brett Martin charts this period, posits that 1999 kicked off a third golden age of television, and says that the…

New Worlds

31 Mar 20144 stars

Follow-up to The Devil’s Whore ramps up the carnage and injustice

‘It’s a world where you’d be going to one of the new Restoration plays or a lecture at the Royal Society, walking past bodies in gibbets and heads on poles.’ New Worlds co-creator Peter Flannery discusses the inherent tensions of 1680s England ahead of…

Mammon

21 Mar 20143 stars

A gloomy, turgid Scandi TV drama that doesn't measure up to Borgen, The Bridge et al

It was probably only a matter of time. Those clever Danes and Swedes may have dominated the recent Nordic TV explosion towards these shores, but now Norway is giving it its best shot. The seemingly acclaimed Mammon is a sibling drama against the…

TV comedy series The Walshes marks new direction for Graham Linehan

12 Mar 20143 stars

Graham Linehan’s new show steers away from the daft and broad work which made his name

After The IT Crowd had turned itself off for the last time, we all wondered what its creator Graham Linehan would do next. Not long after dusting himself down from an ambushed Radio 4 spat with The Guardian’s Michael Billington over his stage adaptation…

Shetland

10 Mar 20144 stars

Dougie Henshall simmers away as a Spanish-Scot crime-solver

Given the Shetland Islands’ close kinship with Scandinavia (it was a Norwegian province until the 15th century) does this returning crime show count as Nordic Noir? When Shetland first arrived last year, it was dubbed ‘the Scottish Killing’, but such…