Archive | DVD RSS feed for this section

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple

23 Jul

missmarple Joan Hickson stars as the titular character in this Agatha Christie television series made in the 1980s. Featuring three murder mysteries, this three-disc collection opens with the three-part Body in the Library, where Miss Marple is called in to help after her friend Dolly Bantry discovers the body of a peroxide blonde young woman in her house. However, it is not until a second body turns up that the case takes an unexpected turn.

In The Moving Finger, Miss Marple visits the seemingly peaceful village of Lymston to investigate a nasty case of poison pen letters. Is it a local gossip venting her spleen or is the motive far more sinister?

In A Murder is Announced, the townsfolk are amused to read a notice in the local paper announcing that a murder will take place next Friday at 7pm. However the party game turns terrifying when a real corpse turns up, and no one seems to be telling the truth.

Compared to more recent productions, this series looks a little dated but at 400 minutes of playing time, it certainly offers good value. Described as the “definitive Miss Marple”, Joan Hickson seems born to play the spinster detective, with her faded blue eyes and deceptively fluffy exterior.

While recent Miss Marples including Geraldine McEwan and Julie McKenzie have won accolades, Hickson is probably the only actor to boast of receiving a letter from Christie herself, expressing a wish that she play the coveted role.

PG, 400 mins, BBC

Advertisements

The Adventures of Tintin

22 Jul

tintin_series The red-headed reporter with a nose for trouble may have received a 3D Hollywood makeover in 2011 thanks to Steven Spielberg, but many of us still fondly recall Tintin’s humble comic book beginnings, brought to life here in this animated DVD series.

Created by Belgian comic book artist and writer Herge between 1929 until his death in 1983, Tintin’s adventure stories took eager young readers into the ancient tombs of Egypt, the snowy peaks of Tibet, in search of pirate treasure, and even on a rocket to the Moon. By Tintin’s side was his trusty terrier Snowy, who, let’s face it, was often more astute than Tintin at sensing danger and getting the pair out of scrapes. Tintin’s cantankerous seafaring pal Captain Haddock was always ready to join Tintin on his missions, and the team often found themselves having to rescue their absent-minded scientist friend Professor Calculus, while hapless twin detectives Thompson and Thomson were never far behind.

For kids, growing up with the Tintin stories was a fascinating way to learn about foreign countries and ways of life, and while some of Herge’s depictions were later deemed culturally insensitive or outright racist, behind every story is a genuine interest in broadening the reader’s horizons.

tintin_series_picSeveral live action adaptations of Tintin’s adventures have been made over the years, with varying success, but there is something comfortingly familiar about the bright colours of Herge’s original drawings, which are faithfully animated in this series. Spread over five discs, 21 of Tintin’s classic escapades are brought to life, including The Secret of the Unicorn, The Calculus Affair and Cigars of the Pharaoh.

There’s no doubt the most recent big-screen version will be far more exciting and eye-popping than these old-fashioned cartoons. However, if Spielberg’s uncannily lifelike rendering of the eponymous hero makes you a little nostalgic for the original, this series is for you.

G, 1991, 39 x 30 min episodes, Madman

Poh’s Kitchen: On the Road

22 Jul

pohkitchen_road Welcome to the decade of food worship! With the celebrity chefs storming our TV screens and the sexification of food production, the ability to wield a ladle has taken on an almost God-like status. Amid all the breathless hype and name-dropping, Malaysian-born artist-turned-chef Poh Ling Yeow emerges as refreshing as sorbet.

In this entertaining and educational series, MasterChef Australia alumna Poh hits the road to mix with chefs, foodies and farmers in fabulous locations around Australia and overseas.

Poh’s adventures include an expedition with an abalone diver in South Australia, cooking with beer in the Australian Alps, learning how to bake sourdough with an artisan baker in Tasmania, and exploring the thrilling food scenes in Singapore and Thailand.

pohkitchen_road_picPoh whips up a dizzying array of dishes in this series, but don’t worry, her recipes can be perused at leisure on her website, along with tips and techniques.

What makes Poh’s Kitchen so enjoyable to watch is her natural exuberance and zeal for cooking, and her willingness to try anything; whether she’s jumping on a horse in Western Australia’s remote East Kimberley or swallowing a Coffin Bay oyster fresh out of the ocean, she does it with her trademark wide grin.

Fresh and fun, this series is highly recommended for foodies and amateur cooks keen to dive into new things.

Twentysomething – Series 1

22 Jul

twentysomething Jess (Jess Harris) and Josh (Josh Schmidt) are best mates in their 20s living a crazy life together in Melbourne. While their friends are busy studying, climbing the corporate ladder and settling down to have kids, Jess and Josh only live to party.

After the pair are kicked out of their sharehouse they embark on a series of harebrained schemes to try to stay afloat – including taking backpackers on “alternative” tours of Melbourne, running an erotic house-cleaning service and finding lost dogs for reward money.

Shy Josh is occasionally reluctant to throw himself behind Jess’s kooky plans, but her sheer force of personality drags him into the most ludicrous of situations, with occasional help from ditzy friend Abby (Leah de Niese, Offspring).

twentysomething_picThere’s a lot to like about Jess and Josh – Josh’s sweet humility is the perfect foil to Jess’s brash vivacity. Hamish Blake is adorably scruffy as Jess’s old flame Billy, who returns from a trip abroad to try to woo her back. Simon Russell is spot on as Josh’s snobbish older brother Nick, who pesters Josh to get a “proper” job and invest in property.

While Jess and Josh portray unreliable kids to whom the idea of commitment is anathema, in real life, this series grew out of years of dedication and hard work to bring their ideas to fruition. Written by Jess Harris, the series began as a low-budget, one-cameraman affair on Channel 31. Luckily the ABC, as it has done before with shows such as The Marngrook Footy Show, recognised the pair’s talent and invited them to remake the show with a bigger budget.

The DVD extras reveal that the bond between Jess and Josh is real: the pair have been friends since they were 14, while Jess picked Hamish Blake for the role of Billy as they are also good mates. Extras also feature deleted scenes, a drinking game and a peek at the original Channel 31 version.

With sparkling dialogue and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, this six-part series reflects a universal phenomenon that any young person who has ever dreaded the question, “What are you doing with your life?”, can relate to.

M, ABC, 198 mins

QI – Complete series 1-3

22 Jul

Image What Caravaggio did on a tennis court? What would you do with a pencil and a lesser anteater? If you just can’t get enough of this zany quiz show hosted by the absurdly intelligent Stephen Fry, this DVD comprising the first three seasons is guaranteed to tantalise the grey matter and tickle the funny bone.

Points are awarded to panellists who give correct or interesting answers, while points are deducted from those who give incorrect or pathetically obvious answers. Which generally means that regular sidekick Alan Davies racks up about minus forty points during each episode, with his impish inability to restrain himself from blurting out the wrong answer, or as Fry describes it: “rushes headlong like a puppy into the wall of ignorance.”

Drawing on some of the world’s most interesting comedians and personalities, the variety of witty panellists who grapple with the tricky questions include Bill Bailey, Hugh Laurie, Rob Brydon, Top Gear‘s Jeremy Clarkson and Australian comedian Julia Morris. Each episode has a theme and while the panellists often embark on rambling tangents, quizmaster Fry always brings the conversation back on topic with a wry remark and a sardonically raised eyebrow.