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Non-Review Review: The Christmas Chronicles

The Christmas Chronicles is corny, clumsy, cheesy. It is more than a bit naff, to the point that it frequently seems to run on naff.

It is not especially inventive or creative with its premise, and often seems to have opted for the easiest manner of jumping from one set piece to the next. The Christmas Chronicles is incredibly broad, to the point where it even includes a weird castration joke about a computer-generated elf wielding a chainsaw in what had been (up until that point) a completely non-lethal. The film takes a fairly standard Christmas movie premise – what if a bunch of kids have to work with Santa to save Christmas? – and goes through the motions with it.

No Claus for concern.

Truthfully, that is about enough. It isn’t just that Christmas is a time for generosity and cheer, it is that Christmas is also a time to welcome very simple and very striaghtforward entertainment designed to be consumed by families with across a broad range of ages, in varying degrees of consciousness and sobriety. There is a time and a place for the broadly-drawn hijinx that drive The Christmas Chronicles, and Christmas itself would seem to be it. It is an affectionate old-fashioned family movie throwback to a time when emotional arcs could be drawn in crayon and a handful of creative juxtapositions could sustain a film.

The Christmas Chronicles pulls it off. Just about.

Filed by letter.

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Doctor Who: Ghost Light (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Ghost Light originally aired in 1989.

Sir, I think Mister Matthews is confused.

Never mind, I’ll have him completely bewildered by the time I’m finished.

– Gwendoline and the Doctor may as well be talking about the audience

Ghost Light is rather infamous as the “impossible to follow” story from the final year of Doctor Who, the episode that doesn’t quite make sense or fit together as well as it should. Although there’s an element of exaggeration here, there’s also a grain of truth. As with Silver Nemesis, there’s a sense that Andrew Cartmel’s approach to three-part adventures is simply to structure a four-part story and start whittling it down.

Of course, there’s one massive difference between Ghost Light and Silver Nemesis. While Silver Nemesis was a retread of ground that had been covered with more skill and thought in the season premiere, Ghost Light is something altogether different. As difficult as the episode is to piece together – and it’s far from impossible, even if it requires an increased level of engagement from its audience – it is quite brilliant.

Shine on, you crazy survey dude...

Shine on, you crazy survey dude…

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Immatürity for Charity, Tonight, 9.30pm, RTÉ 2

Christmas is often the time to indulge your inner child, so Immatürity for Charity seems perfectly suited for a post-holiday comedic treat. I had the pleasure of checking out a preview of it last week, and it is deliciously juvenile. It is, as the title suggests, a decidedly low-brow comedy sketch show, the kind of thing that could easily grate if it weren’t handled with the right amount of skill and enthusiasm. Luckily, writer (and star) Domhnall Glesson and director John Butler have done an outstanding job. Not all the sketches included are absolutely pitch-perfect, but the beauty of sketch comedy is that if you don’t like what you’re watching, well… another will be along shortly.

Domhnall Gleeson - IFC

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the m0vie blog launches Zombie Week!

Halloween is next week! And, for those of you living in the States, that heralds the premiere of Frank Darabont’s The Walking Dead. So, we’ve decided to run a themed week leading up to the premiere. Each day between now and next Sunday, we’ll be reviewing a particular zombie film – some classic, some modern; some American, some British – and running a host of zombie-related fun. In fact, before the premiere, we’ll be reviewing the second full year of the comic book it’s based upon, The Walking Dead. Be sure to check it out. It’ll be dead fun.

Bring out your undead!