Ramble 01 – Netflix and kill

Inside No. 9 is back on TV and the first episode ‘Zanzibar’ was amazingly clever and very funny. Based around the characters staying in rooms on one corridor of the Zanzibar Hotel (on the ninth floor obviously) it was a bedroom farce delivered in a rhyming Shakespearean style. The management of the movement of the characters through the scenes, the snowballing of misunderstandings and the ultimate complex resolutions along with some canny breaking of the fourth wall was a tour de force of what makes Inside No. 9 one of the best comedy programmes on British TV.

Siggy and I also watched Mindhorn which arrived a week or so ago on Amazon Video. Starring one half of The Mighty Boosh, Julian Barratt, Andrea Riseborough (Black Mirror) , Russell Tovey (Him & Her – see later) and a bunch of other well-known faces from British comedy, this is the story of a washed-up actor who used to play a detective on TV and has to reprise the role to help solve a murder case on the Isle of Man.

Things are predictably not as straightforward as they seem – for one the prime suspect – Tovey’s insane character who believes Detective Mindhorn is a real character – is innocent. From the way Barratt explained it to Adam Buxton on his podcast I was expecting Mindhorn himself to be unhinged and indeed by the end of the film he does rather give that impression.

There’s a small role for Steve Coogan who may have been a better choice for the lead, and an excellent performance from Simon Farnaby who is a familiar face from The Mighty Boosh and also more recently The Detectorists (available on Netflix) as a dutch stunt man and love rival. Barratt gives a thoughtful but ultimately rather tame performance as the titular character and the film lacks some verve.

Also on Amazon, we finished watching Preacher Season 2. We didn’t find it as entertaining as the first season and storylines seemed to be stretched out to fill 45 minutes when they could have been compressed in 30 minute episodes with little loss. It’s problem that is inherent in the second series of Sense8 on Netflix which I am still trying to get through on my own (because Siggy refused to watch it once we found out the show got cancelled).

Pacing is not a problem with Narcos my new favourite show on Netflix. I binged Season 1 over the holiday period and can’t get the face of Pablo Escobar out of my mind as a result. Based on the events in Colombia during Reagan and Bush’s war against the drug cartels it is a fascinating story told from the point of view of the DEA, Colombia’s politicians and police, and the cartel leaders with a focus on the complex character of Escobar. I think it’s comparable to The Wire in terms of it’s balanced approach to the subject matter and tight plotting.

Also on Netflix and on a lighter note, Siggy and I have enjoyed Ben Elton’s Blackadder reboot, eh-hem sorry Shakespeare comedy, Upstart Crow starring (the other) David Mitchell and we’re also enjoying Plebs – both of which we missed when they were on ‘proper TV’. We’ve also started watching Him & Her, but I’m not sure how long we can keep watching a show about a young couple when they never seem likely to leave the flat – we got enough of that back in the day with Game On.

And if that wasn’t enough television, now we’ve finally finished Preacher, Siggy has agreed to start watching Peaky Blinders with me. Along with Narcos, Peaky Blinders has been recommended to me time and again when I’ve asked people what their favourite shows on Netflix are. The first episode was pretty good and I look forward to really getting into it. I hope we’ll like it as much as we did Taboo although obviously it covers a different time period. We’re both secretly eager to see Tom Hardy make an appearance.

I’m planning to go and see The Last Jedi again at the cinema with a friend who hasn’t seen it yet. As preparation I watched The Force Awakens with him – as he (can you believe it??) hadn’t seen it. I’m actually enjoying the film a bit more each time I see it, and it was interesting watching it again after learning what I did watching The Last Jedi – it puts a new spin on some elements of the film and also I could relax with the thought that ‘nothing in this film really matters… snigger…’ because it’s mostly dismantled by the events of the next episode. Hurrah! He enjoyed The Force Awakens immensely, unless he was just being polite, so I hope he enjoys The Last Jedi.

I’ve also done quite a bit of reading since I last wrote a post and the last book I finished was Zero K by Don Delillo (reviewed on a separate post). Before that I blazed through Sharpe’s Company by Bernard Cornwell and Nothing to Lose by Lee Child. Both of these books were excellent. In Sharpe’s Company it was great to see the much-hated but indestructible Hakeswill back to make trouble for Sharpe and in Nothing to Lose the sense of an unfolding mystery is great and the end truly explosive.

There’s also been lots of time for PlayStation action. Unlike my TV viewing habits, in which I like to mix things up, I’m a monogamous gamer, so I’ve been eeking out progression on Star Wars Battlefront II like a points addict. I’ve lost track of where I’m up to – all four soldier classes are ranked in their thirties now, I’ve unlocked all the star cards, and got the ones I am using up to purple or blue.

I’m certainly getting my money’s worth out of the game, although I really need to spend more time playing the Starfighter Assault mode. With the FPS modes, it’s got the point where I feel I have the time to properly explore the maps and have figured out, through trial and error, the best way of defending or attacking the objective targets. I’m slowly working my way through each classes’ 500 kills challenges and regularly keeping up with the Last Jedi season’s challenges.

It was great to see a new bunch of rookie players arrive on the game over the festive period and fun to kill them all! Lots! But I’m sure they’ll all be kicking my arse within a few weeks. It was a surprise to see some level 52 and 53 players pop up over Christmas too. I’m not sure if they’ve just concentrated on developing the Assault class (both were Assault) or whether they were involved in beta-testing. Despite all the maxed cards they must be carrying, they still die the same if you shoot ’em enough…

 

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