September 24, 2011

Unpopcult Reviews Spooks ep2 & Strike Back ep 6 + 2006 Sparkhouse, etc Reviews

If you like me are not concerned about spoilers(it's only fiction) here are reviews of Spooks ep 2 & Strike Back ep 6.  Sounds as though someone bites the dust at the end of Spooks ep 2.  Not surprising when you consider writers have only 4 more eps to go to snuff out as many characters as possible before the final curtain.  The reviewer at Unpopcult finally begrudgingly found one of the SB eps 'not bad'.


Past post: Sept, 2010: Laura said...

And now, for some whiplash to a couple weeks ago... I tried that salmon/couscous dish that RA spoke of(at least I think it's the one), since I'm a bit of a 'recipe whore'. I love trying out new stuff, and am always on the lookout for a good meal.

Mighty tasty! I substituted a green chili for a red one (less spicy), and had to dig back in my memory banks to realize that "fresh coriander" is really cilantro, but it was a very good meal. And ridiculously easy! Our man has good taste.
September 30, 2010

Back in 2009, after first watching my Christmas gift ‘North and South’ and then realizing I’d seen heart-thumper Mr Thornton as Guy of Gisborne on bbcA - I did the obligatory internet search - the following was one of the first writeups to pop up….excerpts:
> “Hello, everybody, and welcome to the year 2006 …

.Let's jump right into this week's write-up -- the first official Boyfriend of the Week for 2006. Go team!

It all started about a year ago, I'd say. That's about the time I began to get two or three emails a week from various women all over the world insisting that I get my hands on a copy of a BBC miniseries called North and South. The star, they said, was going to make me weak in the knees. He was perfect Boyfriend material. He was the man of my dreams.

The more emails I got about the series, the more intrigued I became. But, alas, there wasn't much I could do about it -- it was a British TV thing that was simply not available here in the States. Finally, however, after months and months of sighing disappointedly every time I got one of those emails (and replying with, "I'd love to, but I'm IN AMERICA! Land of the free, home of the brave, terrain of the people who do not get the BBC"), the movie hit Netflix. Two disks, four hours total, no sweat. I started part one on a Friday evening around 9pm figuring I'd just watch the first two hours and head for the hay. Suffice it to say I was up WAY past my bedtime that night.

The "perfect Boyfriend"? Understatement of the year! (An exclamation that doesn't carry quite as much weight when it's only a month into 2006, I realize, but that's neither here nor there.)

The man's name is. . .Richard Armitage. The miniseries is. . .a lot like Pride and Prejudice. The upshot is. . .I'm ga-ga over a Brit. Again. ..

The first thing I saw with Richard in it was, of course, the aforementioned North and South. …that's the storyline the movie focuses on, of course -- the proud and haughty Mr. Thornton clashing with the equally proud and stubborn Margaret, with them both ultimately succumbing to their much-resisted mutual crushes.
..Other than this series, though, I was pretty limited in terms of access to Richard's work.
.. I got a package in the mail containing all kinds of awesome stuff. So, here, for your perusing entertainment, is the lowdown on the.. collection, in order of how much I liked each thing, favorites first: Sparkhouse (2002) -- This little miniseries is about two teenagers, Andrew and Carol, who have been madly in love with each other since they were twelve. It's the classic "other side of the tracks" story, as Andrew's upper class parents do everything they can to keep him from seeing the lower class farm girl Carol. Easy to understand, really, given the fact she's an utter lunatic who has a tendency to set their house on fire. But love is blind, and, apparently, it also comes encased in fire retardant asbestos, and so the two decide to run off and elope. The night before their planned nuptials, Carol decides to finally tell Andrew a horrible secret. But the whole thing backfires when it turns out that Andrew is, in short, a total butthead. Aghast and confused, he leaves her at the altar and runs off to college a day later.

… Carol, in the meantime, has lost her father and is about to lose her farm too. Ever practical, except for when she's attacking cars with axes (long story), she makes a decision -- knowing she can't have Andrew, she decides to marry John (played by Richard), the sweet, shy man who worked for her father and who she knows A) is in love with her and B) has some money she can use to keep the farm afloat. John's ecstatic, but also incredibly jealous of Carol's old feelings for Andrew. And Andrew, despite the fact THIS IS ALL HIS FAULT FOR BEING A TOTAL BASTARD, goes ballistic with jealously himself. Commence torturous misery.

As I was watching this series, I spent half my time yelling at Andrew for being such a pansy, half yelling at Carol for not realizing how much better John is, half yelling at John for marrying Carol who is too stupid to realize that Andrew is essentially Ashley Wilkes in a pimpled disguise, and half wondering where my high school math teacher went wrong when it came time to teach me fractions. 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 equals. . . oops.

However, despite all the yelling, or maybe because of it, I absolutely loved Sparkhouse. It's the classic sweeping romantic tragedy with lots of rain, misery, unrequited love, and passion. Truly a delight -- you know, in that sorta-makes-you-want-to-kill-yourself kinda way.

Things learned about Richard: cute in hats, gorgeous in dirty sweaters, lovely with shaggy hair and stubble, makes an unbearably sexy underdog. Wears well the sweet, fumbling, doofus type. Call me head-over-heels.”<  [See The Golden Hour and Between the Sheets review below]

(Boyfriend of the Week continued....The Golden Hour (2005)

This was my second favorite of the Richard Armitage things I watched, primarily because it was one of the few that featured him in a starring role. And, even better, it was a medical drama, and anyone who knows me knows I'm a total sucker for those (I'm still watching ER, after all, even though I have no idea why).

"The golden hour" refers to that critical time period after a trauma -- the hour that can separate life from death for a victim. Here, Richard stars as the head of a fleet of helicopter medics and boy, does he ever look great doin' it. I also watched a couple of episodes of two other medical shows (Doctors and Casualty), where Richard had brief guest spots, and I found all three of these very interesting in terms of how different they were from their American counterparts. It appears that medical dramas in England are less about blood, guts, and cracking open chests right on camera, and more about personal relationships, internal or emotional struggles, and other, somewhat deeper stuff. Radically different. Better? In some ways. Not quite as exciting, I would say. But pause for a moment to ponder the significance of this fact -- what does it say about our respective cultures? Also, I confess I laughed out loud at some of the dialogue. This was my favorite line: [said from a medic to a traumatized victim who's just had part of a building fall on his leg] "Your leg looks a bit of a mess, but we'll get it sorted out." I swear, had she next busted out with the Mary Poppins song "A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down," I would not have been at all surprised.

Things learned about Richard: Gives good mouth-to-mouth, manages to look sexy in an orange jumpsuit (no small feat!). Sounds totally dreamy when he says stuff like, "Get a BP, STAT!"

Between the Sheets (2003)
This was another love-based series (those frisky Brits!) featuring Richard in a solid, supporting role. And wow, here's another one that says a lot about the differences in our cultures. Here, our most popular shows focus on murder, blood spatter, and violence. There, it seems to be less about killing people, and more about SEX. I'm not even sure they could get away with showing this series on the FX channel, and I've seen some wild, wild things on Nip/Tuck, ladies and gentlemen. This show, though, is about (of all scandalous things) a sex therapist. During the day, she's counseling an older couple, the wife of which is the classic prude and the husband, the classic philanderer. The therapist gets the woman to begin exploring her own sexuality more, by reading Lady Chatterly's Lover and looking at her naughty bits in the mirror (a la Fried Green Tomatoes). Meanwhile, she working at convincing the husband to begin exploring his sexuality a little bit less. At home, however, things are not all love and rockets. Her partner, played by a clean-cut Richard Armitage, is in the middle of a scandal involving a young, vulnerable woman who is claming he sexually assaulted her. Does our sex therapist believe Richard is innocent? I ain't tellin'. Which is too bad, as most of you guys are Americans who will probably never get to see this show. Nyah nyah, suckahs!

Things learned about Richard: has a great butt, looks good all cleaned up. Annnnnd, I mentioned the butt thing, right? Because, boy howdy, there are a couple scenes in this one where he isn't wearing any pants. Or anything else for that matter. And not only did I not cover my eyes for those scenes like I probably ought to have, but I confess to actually rewinding a couple of them. More. Than. Once. Don't tell my Mom (hi, Mom!).      [R: more to come]

Comment Caps from May, 2011:
MsG68 said...
Glad to have you back up and running!
I have never seen this interview! How did I miss that?!
Thank you for posting :)
enjoyed the Snickers revelation (man after my own heart) and the all-night clubbing! Never quite had him down for that...the man is full of surprises.

Musa said...
Snickers Bar for me!…
Thanks for posting the interview, I hadn't seen it before either - not that I've seen all of his interviews. I'm now dreaming of dancing all night with RA in Budapest, or Zermatt, or anywhere he wants to living room...anywhere :)
I wonder too why he thinks Sophia Loren would battle it out with Kate Moss, wouldn't be for the food! I like the fact he likes older women LOL

Sue said…
I'm not so sure Richard is a neat freak, I think he can be pretty untidy most of the time. The sort of person who would read a script while drinking coffee and eating, ending up with stains all over the paper. (My one pet hate!) I remember a journalist saying that Richard did an interview and when it was time to take some photo's went off to change into a new shirt (it still had the fold marks where the pins and cardboard had held it in place). My guess is that he had no clean shirts to wear and simply bought a new shirt instead of washing and ironing an old one. (Naughty boy!)

Fascinating article follows about the real inhabitants of Highclere Castle(Downton Abbey) but outrageous conclusion reached by her biographer. Reading the following speculation by him, led me to wonder “does he consider Florence Nightingale to be an arch-manipulator who enjoyed having control over men?”…

EXCERPT:  “‘Almina enjoyed looking after invalids,’ explains William Cross.(Biographer)

‘She loved having control over men. She was an arch-manipulator.’

She opened a series of nursing homes in London, but remained incapable of managing her finances: she considered it ‘bad taste’ to send bills to less affluent patients.

A woman after my own heart - missed this Lucas/Jo vid until a few moments ago.  An on-screen matchup between those two characters was another one of those situations for an RA character where writers just didn't seem to be tuned into the audiences vibes.  Were there any other situations where we felt sorely disappointed with the plot as written - let us count the ways:)
1)  Not giving Guy & Marian a brief time together and instead plunging the RH characters into a long-lost brothers storyline.  2)  Destroying the heroic character Lucas North for what reason?  Last gasp of desperation as the show was winding down to the final curtain?  Why did our hero have to be the one branded with the scarlet letter T for traitor? and of course 3) as mentioned above - failure to write romance on or off the grid at least temporarily for the Lucas/Jo characters? C'est la vie...happily there were many character plots that  did indeed have our enthusiastic blessing.  You win some, you lose some comes to mind:)   

Really need a translator BUT American ingenuity instead scurried over to Babelfish to translate the Spanish lyrics to English, because curiosity almost killed the Lucas North fan.  If a kind Spanish speaking person reads this, please leave a comment telling me whether this translation is anywhere near the true meaning of the Lucas/Jo background song lyrics above(very doubtful)...Babelfish says:
"Does it look like love? It must be for me. Will you walk or love? That face gives life? It must know how to love and not hide. Does it pretend to be love ? It’s a mystery. You must know how to love."


Sue said...

Very sorry to see the character exit Spooks last night. Personally I think his hairdresser should have got the jab for giving him a side parting! They used the old Russian technique it seems for which they are renowned. Strange how truth can be stranger than fiction isn't it. Our PM David Cameron seems to be cosying up to Putin, despite the FSB (or KGB back then?)killing someone on British Soil. Seems some politicians would sell their granny for the sake of the economy.

A strange idea occurred to me last night (no not dreaming of Richard's finely honed buttocks again). I wonder if the BBC have considered making a spin off to Spooks with all new characters (or the ones left over from the old series - which won't include Harry)do you think? They did it when the lead actorin Waking the Dead wanted too much money and the ratings were falling by creating Body Farm. Wouldn't be at all surprised if Lara Pulver didn't get the opportunity to head a new series in a similar vein. She'd make a good section chief or even sit in Harry's old chair. Stranger things have happened after all. Maybe they could even reincarnate Lucas North!Now that would be awesome!

Talking of Spooks I saw a full page advert in this mornings paper for MI5 operatives. Can you believe that!!!!!

RiCrAr said...

Hi Sue, I find it difficult to believe PM Cameron would sincerely be cozying up to Putin. Yes, he's no doubt currently scratching his back for strategic national purposes, but I'd wager Cameron is keenly aware nothing the ruskie says or does is trustworthy. Something tells me once our Pres O is voted out of office next Nov, relations will return to the traditional coziness between UK and US - then there will be no need for your politicians to pretend they want to be closer to Russia.

I've not seen Spooks, ep2 as yet but know of which character you speak. I was very surprised to read that turn of events on twitter. He joins Lucas and all the other departed Spooks alumni.

Which character might bite the dust in ep 3? They'll probably start dropping like flies for the final eps.

Will be interesting to see if your spinoff intuition comes to pass.

RiCrAr said...

p.s. See latest post for the link to a Nicola/Peter interview where she says she felt for Richard when he was told his Lucas character was not who he seemed to be for 2 series. She had much empathy with his struggle to turn his brain into reverse.

Sue said...


Just listened to the interview which mentions Richard when he found out he wasn't who he thought he was. I'm guessing Richard wasn't very chuffed when he found out about it. Pretty crazy if you ask me. (Which nobody did of course!)

Actually I have a theory as to how the scriptwriters may exit Harry, if I were them I'd have his own son pull the trigger on him for an added twist of fate. (RiCrAr, have you seen Harry's Russian son? He's played by actor Tom Weston-Jones and I think he looks quite like a young RA (even walks like him). He's even played alongside Julie Graham as did Richard!

Here's a link to show what I mean.

To be honest I think politicians from any country are all as bad as each other. I know we are all lead to believe that it is always the bad guys like Russia who do underhand things, but I guess we are all the same underneath the skin. We also cosied up to Colonel Gadaffi when it suited us and some of those arms now being used against the "Rebels" are probably manufactured here in England. The truth is we need Russian gas and they've got us by the short and curlies. (And they know it!)

I can't believe that there isn't a niche somewhere for a series like Spooks, maybe in a slightly different format (to include the SAS as in SB)and modernised but I think the BBC are barmy if they don't continue with it in some form or another.

As for where I'd get an RA tattoo, I'm afraid it would be somewhere a little naughty, then I could always get RA to autograph it for me! (Well it's a good as an excuse as any surely?

RiCrAr said... usual Sue, you've given me a great chuckle:)

So you are the other vote for a tatt on the inside thigh? Although in my case, that definitely wouldn't be discreet considering there's Mr R to consider. Perhaps on top of my scalp...ouch!! If I was single, the inside thigh for sure. Maybe 'RA' in same color as his eyes and within a deep red heart outline that's surrounded by golden flickering flames(neat trick). How in the world could all that fit on my barely there thighs?? *coughs* teehee...
runs off for a cold beverage *fan, fan* :)

I agree wholeheartedly that the Russian people are the same as all humans on the globe, but not that their politicians are equivalent to ours. They're dictators ruling over an oppressed society. The freedoms you and I share are simply not available for the Russian people.

Putin to my mind is a modern-day Stalin. He's already killed many of his political opponents and journalists as well who didn't obediently follow his dictates. They're the best example of why socialism doesn't work. The "let's share everything" philosophy in practice actually breaks the population into classes. There are the Kremlin bureaucrats who have a comfy lifestyle and everyone else - the masses who struggle to survive.

Yes, I did see Harry's Russian son in the first ep and made note he's good looking. Thx for the link, I'll take a look.

I've decided to order the Spooks10 dvds for dh as a Christmas gift. He enjoyed S7,8,9 and I'm sure would enjoy seeing how Harry bids adieu to the grid.