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Turned off by new sci-fi effort

IT was a busy Easter Bank Holiday weekend in TV-land but little in the way of Easter eggs on show, bar some live chicks hatching at some stage in what looked like a leftover scene from Springwatch. It culminated with Games of Thrones returning to screens on Monday night but I won’t start there.


I’ll go back to Friday night as I, once again, got lured under false pretences to give yet another JJ Abrams-related show a look. I don’t know why I keep letting my hopes raise ever so slightly when one of these ‘next best thing’ programmes come along, as they are only ever dashed against the satellite dish.

Sky One has been plugging Revolution relentlessly over the past few weeks and it hasn’t had terrible reviews State-side, so I thought maybe this time the sci-fi planets were about to align. Alas, not so, which is a shame because it began promisingly enough – the lights literally went out on the world in spectacular fashion as jumbo jets started falling from the sky. After a cracking opening, it all began to get very pedestrian as we were flung 15 years into the future where, as people tried to adapt to a world without electricity, social and political structures had collapsed with many areas now ruled by militias.

When Charlie Matheson’s dad is killed (he has some magical USB key that could potentially help turn the power back on) and younger brother Danny is abducted by a sinister militia crew, Charlie goes on the road to find uncle Miles (Billy Burke), who is conveniently a former US marine and together they open a can of whoop-ass on anyone who crosses their path as they attempt to get Danny back. Sound exciting? It’s not, I assure you and the action had slowed down so much by the end of the second episode that I could safely declare defeat and take a vow to never get excited about this type of programme again.

Another man having a problem with technology was Dr Who on BBC on Saturday night. Matt Smith’s madman with a blue box came out of exile from a 13th century monastery where he had decamped to since the Christmas special and went straight to work tackling the monstrous demon that is the internet.

With the WiFi on the attack and new companion Clara (Jenna Louise Coleman) finally in tow after two false starts, the episode was, in effect, just a brilliant marketing ploy by the British Tourist Board. Modern-day London looked well in the sunshine, with all the top tourist spots on display, even having the latest addition to the skyline, The Shard, as the HQ for the bad-guys. The good Dr was back to his upbeat best after some considerable wallowing since the loss of Amy and Rory and Clara is proving to be a tech-savvy smart-alec sidekick, which is looking good for the series.

I also tuned into the two-part Labyrinth on Channel 4 on Saturday and Sunday night but I can’t really come up with a compelling reason why I wasted those four hours of my life. You see, I’ve read the book on which it was based; in fact, I’ve read a surprising amount of Kate Mosse’s output. Surprising because I’ve never actually bought any of her books but they somehow seem to end up on my bookshelf and I pick them up when looking for mindless distraction. It’s squarely in the De Vinci Code arena on the trail of the Holy Grail but Mosse’s tome, which flits between the Crusades against the Cathars of 1209 and the more modern secular v Catholic Church problems of 2005, was not done any justice here and what I remember to have been a relatively well-written book plodded along with all the interest of a limp handshake before descending into an incoherent mess.

Alice Tanner turned into a doe-eyed, simpering woman who only seemed to own thigh-skimming dresses and inappropriate footwear for traipsing around a very hilly and cobble-stoned Carcassonne, lover-boy Will was a non-entity and I almost keeled-over as a grown-up Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), now lord of Carcassonne, embraced his dying ‘old’ friend telling him he’d be missed – a rather hard concept to buy into when one is 25 and the other 65. On the plus side, Jessica Brown Findlay swapped the corsets of Downton Abbey for medieval attire and it suited her. She played the character of Alaïs with ease as did Irish actress Katie McGrath in the role of evil sister Oriane, although it wasn’t too much of a stretch from her previous role as Morganna in Merlin – she really has that sneer down to a fine art.

Which brings us to that other quasi-medieval drama of swash-buckling swordsmanship and ladies in fine clothes plotting in dark corners. The opening episode of Game of Thrones season three was one filled with journeys. Dropping us straight into where last season broke off in a flurry of zombies in various states of decrepitness walking towards The Wall, Sam is floundering around before his old muckers in the Night Watch catch up with him; Jon Snow reached the camp of Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds in tough form), where he got his first glimpse of the giants and got a mocking from Tormund Giantsbane; a sea-ravaged Davos made his way back to Dragonstone only to be flung behind bars for his efforts by Stannis, while Daenerys has arrived at the slave city of Astapor trying to secure an army for herself, also running into the former commander of the Kings Guard, Barristan Selmy. The look on Jorah’s face on that revelation was priceless.

The scenes in King’s Landing were as enjoyably macabre as ever. Tyrion’s attempt to regain some status at court resulted in an excruciating encounter with his father, as Tywin (Charles Dance at his utter best) unleashed all his hatred ten-fold on his son. There was also the beginnings of an interesting power-play between Cersei and Margaery, who is clearly going to be nowhere near the pushover the now discarded Sansa was. The episode belonged to Bronn though who, along with Tyrion and Tywin, is clearly getting the best of the material. Jerome Flynn looks like he’s having a ball because of it.

All of which means I’ve run out of space to review The Village, which began on BBC on Sunday. Suffice to say it began with a 12-year-old boy at the beginning of the First World War and his amazing ability to be in places he shouldn’t be, including perving on women in the local bathhouse.  But more on that next week.

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