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The Sopranos: A Hit is a Hit (Review)

A Hit is a Hit works a lot better than Boca, despite the fact that it’s structurally quite similar. It introduces a bunch of new characters and concepts to the series which don’t really extend beyond the episode in question. Massive G never appears again, and the pending lawsuit he threatens is never discussed in any later episode. It’s a light stand-alone tale coming towards the end of a season which has dedicated so much time and effort to building a full-formed world.

However, A Hit is a Hit doesn’t feel completely disposable. Part of that is down to the wonderful B-plot in which Tony finds himself struggling for acceptance among more the more reputable members of his neighbourhood, but it’s also down to the fact that the main plot feels like develops the themes of The Sopranos a lot better than Boca did, and that Christopher’s character arc feels like a logical progression rather than simply “an issue of the week.”

Ain't that a shot in the head?

Ain’t that a shot in the head?

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Homeland: Season 1 (Review)

In many respects, Homeland feels like a more character-oriented version of 24. The comparison makes sense, beyond the spy games and the paranoia and the espionage, if only because of massive overlap between the production staff on both shows – with Howard Gordon, Sean Callery and Chip Johannessen working on both projects. I don’t think 24 gets enough respect as an exploration of the post-9/11 zeitgeist, probably due to its admittedly pulpy nature. Homeland feels a little bit more restrained, and more firmly grounded. The show is anchored in two fantastic lead performances from Claire Danes and Damien Lewis, and the series works best when it’s centred around the two main characters, driven by their issues and their demons.

Nicholas Brody and his “great big bushy beard!”

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Case of Mr. Pelham (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Due to circumstances outside our control, tragedy will not strike tonight. I’m dreadfully sorry, perhaps some other time.

– Hitchcock’s introduction; well, at least he apologises

The Case of Mister Pelham picked up the series’ first Emmy nomination, with Hitchcock himself nominated for outstanding direction. It’s not too hard to see why, as The Case of Mister Pelham is a wonderfully compelling piece of television, a psychological character study masquerading as a supernatural mystery. In many ways, it feels like the best episode of The Twilight Zone that was never an episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s sharp, cleverly constructed, and features and astounding central performance from Tom Ewell as the eponymous Mister Pelham. What more could you want?

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