Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Broadchurch Series 3, Episode 1 by Chris Chibnall (2017)

On the basis of last night’s episode, Broadchurch has gone beyond mere crime drama to something gut-wrenching, humane and deeply empathetic, rivalling the moving portrayal of grief in its first season.

Season 2 was something of a disappointment in the muddled way it portrayed Britain’s legal system and tried to blend Joe Miller’s trial with the Sandbrook case in Alec Hardy’s case. This was the polar opposite: taut, focused and emotionally charged. Writer Chris Chibnall has very sensibly chosen to return viewers to the Wessex coast for a new storyline that requires no active knowledge of past seasons, a storyline which shocks and engages right from the off.

Two things particularly impress about Chibnall’s approach. The first is leaving words unspoken and scenes unseen. In an age where so much poor TV is sunk by flat, over-earnest dialogue or gratuitous violence, the decision to open with tight, unfussy camerawork framing the bloodied, tear-stained face of Trish Winterman (an outstanding Julie Hesmondhalgh) in the aftermath of a sexual assault speaks volumes.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

On the diachronic development of German pronouns of address

The contentious topic of correct application of the German pronouns of address is one that will be familiar to any student of the German language. In the cocoon of the classroom, the mistakes and confusions that arise are either insignificant at best or humorous at worst; but, once in the German-speaking world, the ramifications for incorrect usage are somewhat more serious. As it says in Hammer’s German Grammar and Usage, “consciousness of the need to use the ‘right’ [pronoun of address] is still very strong”[1]. The current ‘model’ – put very simplistically, du for singular and ihr for plural informal address, with Sie expressing formal address whether singular or plural – has by no means always been the case, but has in fact changed several times over the centuries and remains in a state of, if not exactly flux, at the very least continued development. In examining what factors have led to the diachronic development of the German pronouns of address – from Old High German’s 8th century origins to the modern day – we will arrive at a fuller understanding of this curious sociolinguistic aspect of the German tongue and gain an insight, in turn, to a “Spiegel der Sozialgeschichte”[2].

Monday, 20 February 2017

On the BBC's 1979 production of William Shakespeare's "Henry VIII" (1613)

Last night I saw Shakespeare's "Henry VIII" for the first time, which was quite the experience. It was the old BBC version from 1979 produced as part of the infamous 70s Bardathon. It stars John Stride (hitherto unknown to me) as Henry, with Timothy West and Claire Bloom (both very much known to me) as Cardinal Wolsey and Catherine of Aragon respectively. It also stars a young David Troughton, a young John Rhys Davies, a young Roger Lloyd Pack, and a "City of Death"-era Julian Glover.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Top 10 Moments of "Class" Series 1 (2016)

Following its recent airing on BBC One, let’s take a look back at the first season of Class.

Here are our 10 favourite moments from the Doctor Who spin-off’s first season…

10. Miss Quill and the Number 55 to Oxford Circus

This cracking climax from Episode 3, ‘Nightvisiting’, saw Katherine Kelly’s inimitable Miss Quill commandeer a vehicle (specifically, a double-decker London bus) and use it to drive straight through the vines of the creepy Lankin, severing its connection to Tanya and saving the day. It’s a dynamic moment to top off an excellent episode.

9. “This Is A Song For The Lost”

Season finale ‘The Lost’ isn’t perfect, but opens in stunning style with April’s folk song, sung with real folk musician Jim Moray and perfectly establishing the melancholic tone of the series that follows. Class makes no secret of the fact that it’s in large part about grief, and the way the song is played over the death of Ram’s father Varun – and later April herself – is particularly effective.

This article was originally written for CultBox.co.uk. You can read the rest of it here.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

5 ways to improve "Class" (2016-) if it gets a second season

When the latest Doctor Who spin-off series was first announced back in October 2015, the initial reaction ranged from scepticism to outright hostility.
By the time Class launched online on BBC Three last autumn, following a promising trailer and confirmation that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor would be appearing, fans seemed slightly more welcoming.
However, the eight episodes failed to attract viewers on BBC iPlayer and by the time it belatedly arrived on BBC One last month, the channel buried it in the schedules with late-night double-bills (finishing past midnight) and a shameful lack of publicity. Inevitably the BBC One ratings were dismal even compared to the slot’s usual averages.
The cast of Class and the show’s creator, YA author Patrick Ness, have openly discussed hopes and plans for a second season, but the show’s only hope of a recommission at this point rests on an extremely positive reception when it airs on BBC America in the US in April.
Worryingly, the fact that BBC America has sat on the episodes for over seven months before airing them, having initially announced Class as a prominent fixture of its 2016 line-up, hints at a similar lack of faith in the series that’s been demonstrated by the BBC in the UK.
While the first season was definitely flawed and allowed significant room for improvement in many areas, it’d be a great shame if it was all we saw of Class – and not just because we’d never get a resolution to that Weeping Angels cliffhanger.
The forthcoming departure of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and Class executive producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin need not necessarily impact whether or not we get more Class. After all, RTD-era spin-offs like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventure both continued into the Moffat/Smith era with continued success.
However, if Class does get a second season in 2017 (or, more likely, in 2018 unless the greenlight comes very hastily from BBC America this spring), here are five ways the show could develop…
This article was originally written for CultBox.co.uk. You can read the rest of it here.

Friday, 10 February 2017

4 things we need from the next Doctor

One of the most subtle and gifted actors to take on the role of the Time Lord, Peter Capaldi has been terrific at the helm of the TARDIS over the past four years.
But before 2017 comes to an end, he’ll be handing over the mantle to someone else. The new Doctor will see their first full season, under new boss Chris Chibnall, transmitted in 2018.
But what are the most important qualities in any new Doctor? What will Chibnall be looking for?
We suggest that the next Doctor should be…
This article was originally written for CultBox.co.uk. You can read the rest of it here.