Dad’s Army (2016)

Ⓒ DJ Films
Ⓒ DJ Films

Director: Oliver Parker Cast: Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Blake Harrison, Daniel Mays, Bill Paterson

Following on from the hugely successful TV series of the 1960s and 70s, new actors take on the roles of Captain Mainwaring and the Home Guard of Walmington-On-Sea during the Second World War. The film is not a remake, but a new story: the group are informed that a German spy has arrived in the town, and in their usual haphazard way they find out who it is and take on an impending German invasion.

While I was not even close to being alive when the series originally aired, Dad’s Army was (and still is) a pretty much permanent fixture of the Saturday night TV schedule as I was growing up, and it’s one of my favourite TV shows. I had set my expectations low for this film, as there was no way it would live up to the original. But I have to say it did a pretty good job. While it was obviously was not the same as the old classics, it had the same kind of jokes and most of the actors did well to sound like and even adopt the mannerisms of the original characters. Toby Jones I thought sounded almost exactly like the original Captain Mainwaring, and delivered his lines in the same way. The only character I would say I was disappointed with was Tom Courtenay as Jones, who wasn’t really that similar to the original- a particular shame as Jones is my favourite character.

The plot was pretty rubbish but the film was still clever in its humour, with some hilarious one liners as well as some intelligent subtle laughs just like the old TV show. It’s by no means an absolute classic but I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the rest of the audience I was in the cinema with as evidenced by their raucous laughter. Those who have never seen or didn’t enjoy the original series (if that type of person exists) probably wouldn’t really get it, but I think for fans of the series it’s worth a watch.

3 stars

Desperate Housewives (2004-2012)

Ⓒ Cherry Alley Productions
Ⓒ Cherry Alley Productions

Creator: Marc Cherry Cast: Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria

In a seemingly boring suburban neighbourhood, four housewives experience daily drama- lies, betrayal, fights, and even murder.

So I’ve just finished some serious marathon-viewing of Desperate Housewives, because Amazon Prime announced they were taking it down so it was a race to watch it all in about a month. And I did it just in the nick of time (although I didn’t watch every single episode, I’ll admit). One way that I judge TV series is how I feel when it’s finished- it’s not uncommon to get attached to the characters so that when the series finally ends it’s like you’ve lost a friend (I’m talking to you, Friday Night Lights). Although I loved the characters and did care about them when I was watching it, now it’s over I don’t really feel to bummed out about it, I guess there wasn’t really that connection that great writing brings. But, I did love the series- there were of course some periods of silliness that are inevitable when a show runs for so long, but on the whole the storylines were good. I liked how there was one particular storyline for each season, while there was the over-arching plot of the lives of the main characters across all eight seasons.

The characters were perfectly cast, not only the main four but also their husbands, children, and other minor neighbours. In fact, I think the wider cast of permanent minor characters really brought the whole thing together and made it more realistic; the main group of four don’t live isolated lives just with the occasional other person popping in when it’s convenient for the storyline, but encounter permanent neighbours on a daily basis.

I think it’s obvious to say that the show is targeted at women, but I have to say the my dad caught a few episodes and did laugh on a number of occasions. It’s inoffensive, with very minimal violence, and while it’s not totally identifiable, the series offers a sense of escapism.

4 stars

The Office, US (2005-2013)

Ⓒ Reveille Productions/NBC
Ⓒ Reveille Productions/NBC

Creators: Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant Cast: Steve Carrell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, B.J Novak, Mindy Kaling

The Office is a mockumentary following an office branch of a paper company, Dunder Mifflin, based in the north-eastern USA. The blundering office manager Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) is joined by a number of employees of varying ability (most are pretty useless), and hilarious situations ensue.

As a fan of the original British version of The Office, I had put off watching the American version for a while, partly because I was worried it might ruin the original, and partly because I feared it might actually be better- a superior American remake is not something I usually like to admit to. However, I should have started watching this sooner. While the British version is more cringe, this version had far more laugh-out-loud moments; each series actually seemed to go in different directions. so it would be unfair to compare them too much. In this version, I found the characters more likeable and (mainly due to the longer and more numerous seasons) viewers get far more involved in their storylines. Whenever I watch an episode, I feel like I’m seeing old friends again. Michael Scott appears on the surface to be a total moron, but he’s actually very capable and always has good intentions, as well as integrity. Similarly, there is more to Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) than meets the eye: a frustrating co-worker is actually a moral and intelligent friend to many. The same goes for the rest of the office characters: each has their own depth of personality that is allowed to unfold and reveal itself over the 9 seasons. The writing is clever in that it keeps the show light-hearted while giving viewers a glimpse of tender, relatable and realistically human moments between characters without being overly serious.

Unlike many TV series, there is no particular “worse” season; the writing is consistent, and the comedic moments keep coming. The episodes are short with self-contained storylines, which makes The Office perfect for a quick work break as well as an easy-to-watch option for a TV marathon.

5 stars