‘Hooten and the Lady’ review: More well-staged action and charming characters in Episode 4

The adventure comes not a moment too soon this week, with the call to action from Lady Alex (Ophelia Lovibond) helping Hooten (Michael Landes) extricate himself from a sticky situation with a gang of Bolivian mobsters.

Summoned to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan by Penny McQuinn (Joanna Scanlan), the pair are soon on the trail of an ancient scroll purportedly written by the Buddah himself. To ratchet up the tension they are against the clock, as thanks to a charming local custom, Hooten is poisoned as motivation to return with the prize.

Accompanied on their perilous trek thought the snow-capped mountains by a taciturn giant named Hildigao, ensuring that Hooten keeps to his word and returns to settle his debts, the wise-cracking adventurer’s worsening condition makes the journey even more dangerous.

As the poisoning slowly robs him of his faculties, it also becomes the prompt for some great gags, with double vision repeatedly threatening to send him off the cliff edge and making an already hazardous rope-bridge crossing a heart-in-your-mouth moment.

This week’s episode also offered us a further glimpse into Alex’s home life as we briefly met her seemingly long-suffering boyfriend Ed, played by Jonathan Bailey (BroadchurchW1A), at the start and end of the tale. We are yet to find out anything substantive about him though, so fingers crossed he does not turn out to be a wrong’un.

For her part, Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of ItNo Offence) is hilarious as Penny – the beautifully mannered and quite PC Brit abroad, who has gone semi-native living amongst the villagers in the “eighth happiest country in the world”, but still retains her sense of identity. She is another guest star we would love to see return at some point.

Thanks to the …

‘The Great British Bake Off’ 2016 recap: Week 7

We’re now getting to the last course, the final furlong – indeed, it’s time for desserts, as we knock out one more baker, clearing another space on the gingham altar in time for the quarter finals.

The first task this week is to whip up a roulade in such a way, Mary suggests, that it should put one in mind of a Catherine Wheel. Before the sparks fly, however, Paul is concerned about size. ‘You’re not going to get it into your mouth,’ he promises, looking like the plumber in that DVD movie you’ve certainly never watched. He considers. ‘I might. Most people won’t.’

Selasi is the only baker using butter in his mix, while Tom is making a Millionaire’s Roulade. Benjamina is making a Pina Colada roulade. She assures Mary that it’ll have a good rum kick to it, which earns her an approving wink. There’s a short sequence of Tom repeatedly attempting to pick up an oven tray which he already knows is hot, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about how good he is at listening to the facts.

Jane and Selasi fundamentally disagree about the correct way to roll a roulade (Jane says that it should go long ways, so that you get more slices). Candice is prepping a ‘crowd pleaser’, which she is somewhat – but only slightly – nervous about: ‘Look at the smile on her face,’ Mary says with undisguised admiration. ‘She knows it’s good.’

Tom, in a reasonably rare show of humble pie, mutters to himself ‘This is Week Seven. Good enough is not good enough any more,’ Andrew and Candice – who might well be the ones to be last bakers standing – are both trying out a passionfruit curd. Andrew has faith in his dad’s curd, …

‘Victoria’ Episode 8 review: Jenna Coleman’s royal drama concludes with ‘Young England’

Eight episodes in, and Victoria still hasn’t invented the Victoria sponge.

I suppose the queen has rather more pressing matters on her mind in this episode; namely, the tiny royal growing in her belly, and crackpots at every turn.

Not even queens are safe from Those Dudes who simply have no sense for when it’s time to admit that she’s not interested and it was jolly well time to move on the first time she didn’t answer your disconcerting love letter.  Captain Childers, at least, was a reasonably polite persistent creep with no grasp of reality.  Could have been worse, albeit still gross.

I can see why Bert would be worried, but really, there’s nothing less appealing to a woman than an over-over-protective gentleman.  It’s not as though Vicky doesn’t already have to rage constantly over the tendency of so many of those around her to smother.  It must have been so claustrophobic.

Meanwhile, Uncle Cumberland is now also Uncle King of Hanover, and what an unpleasant fellow he continues to be.  Indeed, this wouldn’t be ‘Episode 8 of 8’ without some serious-business climactic drama, and oh dear, there’s an assassination attempt while Victoria goes out for a ride with Albert, and while it seems the young man responsible was receiving orders from Evil Uncle King of Hanover all along, even that turns out to be too simple a conclusion.  Doesn’t stop him being a miserable bum, though.

Also meanwhile, Mr. Francatelli has been offered his own establishment, and lovely Nancy considers whether to stay on as Vicky’s stylist, or go on a new adventure with her handsome pal.  After all, he sure is smitten, and I can see the appeal of hooking up with a gentleman who knows how to make a good trifle.

I do like a good …

‘Poldark’ Season 2 Episode 6 review: Merry Christmas, everyone!

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas! Comes earlier every year, doesn’t it?

It’s been announced that ITV’s Victoria is getting a Christmas special in December 2017, but Poldark is the drama that’s bold enough to bring you Christmas in October, just like all the big shops do. No Christmas trees though, because as history buffs will know, Prince Albert hasn’t brought them to ITV yet.

Unlike at your nearest supermarket, the festive goodies are being kept out of sight in Poldark: Demelza’s so worried this’ll be Ross’s last Christmas for a while that she’s squirrelling food away in a secret space, much like a squirrel would do. Meanwhile, against her wishes, her husband’s doing the same; bunging barrels of contraband under the floorboards, all so he can fill his ‘Keep me out of debtor’s prison’ jar. It’s a big jar.

To use the proper financial terminology, Ross is really on his arse this week. And yet he’s oddly inured to the idea of having to leave his wife and rarely-seen child and go live in debtor’s prison.

He’s too busy smouldering at the bereaved Elizabeth and making his own financial sacrifices trying to keep her solvent. It’s another one of those vexing Ross-isms that straddles the boundary between noble and reckless, and veers toward the latter given Ross’s breeches-tightening attraction to Elizabeth. It wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t consistently ignoring his own wife, but there’s more than simple restitution at play in selling off his Wheal Leisure shares and anonymously giving the profits to Elizabeth, even if Ross himself won’t admit it.

Maybe she could use some of the money to buy a better portrait of Francis, because that one she currently has looks nothing like him.

Ross isn’t the only one whose concentration is fixed on the …

‘Conviction’ review: Hayley Atwell stars in new US legal drama

For all the fans of the crime and punishment genre, a new television series can be seen on ABC every Monday night called Conviction.

The series takes place in New York City with Eddie Cahill playing the part of Conner Wallace the district attorney creating a new unit known as the Conviction Integrity Unit and wanting Hayley Atwell playing as Hayes Morrison to head the new unit. This new unit will go through old court cases to determine if any of the prosecutions put innocent suspects in prison.

Morrison is not interested in leading the team but due to her scandalous activities of the past put her in the right position for being blackmailed. It does not help that she is the daughter of a former president and her mother is running for the Senate.

Even her law school credentials that show she was top in her class cannot overshadow her bad behavior. Wallace knows what triggers to pull to get her to do just as he wants or he could spill the beans on all of her sleazy background and even recent discolored activity. Due to wanting to keep a lid on her reckless behavior, she concedes to lead the team. Of course, there is more to their relationship or was at one time which puts an awkwardness between the two along with a few heated scenes.

On top of all this that makes you wonder about the past and just how bad Morrison truly is, you get caught up fast in the action of the team as they must investigate and resolve each case in only five days. As the clock ticks, you will be on your seat wondering if the case will be solved or if the side activities will be hindering the investigations.

Morrison’s team of …

‘Doctor Who’ reviews round-up: Autumn re-releases from Big Finish

This autumn has seen a few audio Doctor Who re-releases from Big Finish.

First the epic 50th Anniversary series ‘Destiny of the Doctor’ in new packaging, and secondly a bunch of hard to find tales under the banner of ‘Short Trip Rarities’.

‘Destiny of the Doctor – The Complete Adventure’

Originally appearing monthly throughout 2013, this gently linked series features an adventure for each of the first eleven Doctors, narrated by an era appropriate reader.

Produced in the Companion Chronicles format, with a primary narrator plus an additional voice actor, the stories fit well within the eras they represent; the Second Doctor’s tale concerns a base-under-siege, while the Third Doctor is accompanied by UNIT and the Fourth Doctor’s story is in the vein of a Douglas Adams script.

Across the months, Nev Fountain’s Sixth Doctor tale ‘Trouble in Paradise’ was a highlight, both highly entertaining and gloriously silly, while ‘Enemy Aliens’ starring Eight and Charlie, evoked the energetic spirit of the TV movie. In a rare trip into the Eccleston era, the series also took us on an adventure with Nine, Rose and Jack, throwing the trio into a vivid comic book-story set in the 23rd Century environment of New Vegas.

Released before Big Finish broke through their contractual time lock and were allowed to play with post-2005 elements, the series was a partnership with AudioGo – who then held a licence for new series related content.

At CultBox, we covered most of the tales during their original release but sadly the schedule rather fell foul of AudioGo’s financial problems, which ultimately led to its demise. Consequently, a couple of the later titles, plus the accompanying documentary had become hard to come by.

With a stellar cast list of DW luminaries reading- Carole Ann Ford, Frazer Hines, Richard …

‘Doctor Who’ spin-off ‘The War Doctor’ Volume 3 review: ‘Agents of Chaos’

Agents of Chaos is the third, three-disc boxset in Big Finish’s War Doctor series, with John Hurt once more in role as the Doctor we never knew existed.

This Doctor Who set takes the story deeper into the Time War and for the first time this version of the Doctor feels more capable of the grim decision making that prompted him to cast off the name Doctor and become the warrior.

The three stories also feel like they occur in the middle of a war where the two enemies are becoming used to each other and are attempting guile and intrigue rather than the race to super-weapons we have had before.

First up is David Llewellyn’s ‘The Shadow Vortex’. Set in 1961 East Berlin the Cold War is in full force and parallel to the East-West stand-off the War Doctor comes hunting Dalek Agent Lara Zannis played by Neve McIntosh, more familiar to Doctor Who fans as Madame Vastra.

The story spins the machinations of the Dalek Time Strategist against the more prosaic world of the KGB and MI6. Supporting characters are well-realised, and if there is a complaint it is that the story is confined to a single disc.

No such complaint with the next pair of stories, which form a linked pair. Andrew Smith sets out the scene in ‘The Eternity Cage’ and shows us why he should be considered the master of the Sontarans (of course played by Dan Starkey). Denied the chance to fight in the greatest battle of all, the Sontarans have lured the Time Lords and Daleks to Rovidia determined to take their place in the war.

To the side of this the War Doctor has his own agenda – a rescue mission in the company of street urchin Kalan (Josh Bolt, who is …

‘The Out-Laws’ review: Hit Belgian TV drama is quirky and outrageous

The appeal of this darkly comic Belgian drama lies in its quirky characters and outrageous plot, revolving around a formidable foursome of sisters who conspire to kill the husband of their fifth sister, the long-suffering Goedele.

Jean-Claude Delcorps is a nasty piece of work and as the narrative progresses, we learn more about how he earned this nickname “De Kloot” (no prizes for guessing the translation.) The list of people he has wronged increases with each episode, to include not only his relatives but also his neighbours, co-workers and even the owner of the local Chinese takeaway.

These incidents are shown in flashbacks, as we know from the outset that Jean-Claude ends up dead, we just don’t know whodunnit, or how, but the more we learn about him, the more there is to despise. His hobbies include making anonymous crank calls for his own amusement, including a tip-off to the police which results in his friend being arrested. All four sisters have their own reasons for wanting to kill him and we share their anguish when their failed attempts have unfortunate repercussions.

Jean-Claude’s death is being investigated by two life insurance men and suspicion soon falls on the sisters. They carry out a series of interviews in the hope of finding a reason to avoid paying out on the policy, as this would be the last nail in the coffin for their cash-strapped company.  When one of them takes a fancy to Bekka, the youngest of the five sisters, this adds further complications to the tangled web of intrigue.

The script is strong enough to overcome the minor setback of having to follow the dialogue through subtitles, and when the characters start cursing, it’s entertaining to hear how many Anglo-Saxon swear words find their way into in the conversation.

The …

‘Red Dwarf XI’ Episode 4 review: ‘Officer Rimmer’ is another strong entry

In ‘Officer Rimmer’, an act of cowardice committed by Rimmer gets mistaken for an act of bravery and results in him being promoted to the rank of officer.

Naturally the power goes right to his head, to the annoyance of the rest of the crew, and access to a high-tech bio-printer gives Rimmer the ability to fill the ship with endless copies of himself.

Following a very funny scene in Starbug’s cockpit, with Rimmer describing his recurring dreams that are definitely nothing to do with sex, this episode launches straight into the action, as the crew encounter an unusual ship in a tricky situation.

The ship rather efficiently bio-prints crew members as and when they’re needed, and we get a cracking visual gag when the printer jams and leaves the poor man it produces with a face on top of his head. As the Cat puts it, he looks like he’s “wearing a toupee made of face!” This is a nice example of new, real-world technology (in this case 3D printing) giving rise to new sci-fi ideas in the show.

‘Officer Rimmer’ is really Chris Barrie’s episode from beginning to end, and once Rimmer gets his undeserved promotion he’s at his insufferable best. The concept of multiple Rimmers is something we’ve seen before in Red Dwarf (most memorably in ‘Rimmerworld’ from Season VI and ‘Blue’ from Season VII) but it’s never been as technically impressive as it is here. The officers’ club packed with Rimmers, including a disgruntled waiter and a barbershop quartet, is a particular highlight.

Although it’s undoubtedly Chris Barrie in the spotlight this week, the rest of the crew get some great lines along the way too. One standout moment sees Lister discover that his own body is on the bio-printer’s database, because he once “flogged his …

‘Our Girl’ Season 3 confirmed for 2017

The BBC has ordered a third season of Our Girl.

The army drama returned to BBC One last month and Season 2 concluded on Wednesday night.

Buy Season 2 on DVD on Amazon here.

Coronation Street star Michelle Keegan, who replaced original lead Lacey Turner, will return as Georgie Lane in Season 3 next year, the BBC has confirmed.

Keegan commented: “I’m so happy that we’ll be back for another series as I think there’s definitely more stories to tell with Georgie. The reaction to the show has been overwhelming and I’m really thankful to everyone who’s watched and supported it.”

She added: “It was an amazing experience filming with such an incredible group of people and I can’t wait to do it all over again.”

Our Girl creator Tony Grounds recently revealed: “While the British Army is out there in the world, there are more stories to tell. [Our Girl] can go on for as long as the British Army can.”

Buy Season 1 on DVD on Amazon.

Buy 2013’s feature-length Our Girl special on DVD on Amazon.

Watch the Season 2 trailer…

Are you looking forward to Season 3? Let us know below…