The Couch Potato Report

THE HOUR is fantastic!!!

The Couch Potato Report – February 11th, 2012

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report – two more great British TV shows, the return of Harold and Kumar, and a timeless love story.

There are very few people who produce television shows in North America who do so with the consistent quality of the British. Whether it is CORONATION STREET, DOCTOR WHO, the modern re-telling of SHERLOCK – or many others I could mention – the majority of the shows that air on British television are incredible!

Okay, let me mention one more, just because THE HOUR is now available on DVD and blu-ray…and this show is fantastic!!

THE HOUR is a drama set in England during the Cold War about a brand new television newsmagazine show – called The Hour – and the journalists and employees who are trying to produce something they can be proud of….namely a show that gets the truth on the air, in a day and age when the truth couldn’t always be presented, due to British government laws.

The main characters – a journalist, the show’s host and the producer – are constantly fighting off management and politicians, some of whom may actually be spies for the Soviet Union.

This show is a thriller that combines politics, espionage, romance, and the making of a television show in 1956.

The first two episodes of THE HOUR start off a bit slow, because the characters aren’t immediately likable and are so serious about their jobs…but as the six episodes unfold their relationships to each other are explained, the people to root for becomes clear, and the tension between what is the right thing to do and the right way to do it builds, and it hooks you.

It sure hooked me, and I highly recommend it!

I also highly recommend DOWNTON ABBEY…and I didn’t think I would. I thought this dramatic series about the Crawley family and their servants – that began in SEASON ONE in the years leading up to World War I – would be too uptight and stiff for me.

Another British period drama about wealthy people and their staff…I wasn’t interested at all…and then I watched it…and I loved Downton Abbey!!

SEASON TWO of this show picks up as the war is affecting everyone in the fictional estate of Downton Abbey as many loved ones are being called to fight…while others left behind wait for word from the front about loved ones gone missing and hurt in battle.

As the war goes on, it hits closer to home as the Abbey becomes a convalescent home for injured servicemen, and some of the well-to-do aren’t too happy about that.

Both seasons of the show offer class battles, period settings and costumes, and many great conversations about life and love in the world, as it exists at Downton Abbey.

No, I didn’t think I would care at all…but DOWNTON ABBEY is engaging, involving, and entertaining….and yet another exceptional piece of work from some of the most talented people making television today…the British.

Well done, I say…well done!!

With the best of this week’s brand new releases behind us, we have arrived now at three that are for fans only…if you don’t absolutely love these franchises, then stay away from these ones.

And I mean absolutely love…as if they are your favourite, over and above all else.

For instance, if you think Harold and Kumar are the be-all end-all slacker slash stoner buddies – over Cheech and Chong, Wayne and Garth, and Bill and Ted – then A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS is for you.

Casual fans should stay away from this third film in the series, because it is a mess…a random series of scenes put together and called a movie, with the occasional goal to maybe make us laugh…but mainly the so-called story here exists to get the estranged buds good friends again.

Filmed and released theatrically in 3D, A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS plays to the camera too often, and even if you see it with that third dimension, it doesn’t put it to good use, it just panders to the audience through it. Look, and egg flying right at you…duck…sorry, I don’t think so!

I liked the first film, didn’t care for the second one at all, and this one…well, it offers a few laughs, has an occasional witty inside joke, and the scene in claymation starts off strong, but for the most part I just wanted it to end. Even Neil Patrick Harris obligatory cameo couldn’t save this one.

Skip it!!

The ROBOT CHICKEN franchise has given me plenty of laughs over the years…but the frat boy, sophomoric humour in the show is starting to wear thin…especially in their third STAR WARS themed show. Yes, look, it is yet another STAR WARS parody…haven’t we had enough of these already?!

I guess not.

I did laugh out loud a few times at ROBOT CHICKEN – STAR WARS III, but not often enough to recommend it to anyone other than huge fans of the franchise.

And seriously…haven’t we had enough send ups and parodies of the STAR WARS universe?!


The final release I have for fans only…for people who absolutely love these franchises…is the latest release in THE TWILIGHT SAGA.

In this one, Bella and Edward get married, and when she ends up pregnant, their unborn child poses a threat to the Wolf Pack and the people of Forks.

If you love THE TWILIGHT SAGA, there is nothing that I can say about BREAKING DAWN – PART ONE that will change your mind. If you are a casual fan and are wondering about the quality if this one, directed by Academy Award winner Bill Condon – who also gave us GODS AND MONSTERS, KINSEY and DREAMGIRLS – well, it isn’t as good as the first film in this series, but it is a vast improvement over both NEW MOON and ECLIPSE.

However, some of the effects here are still laughable…especially anytime Jacob and his crew turn into werewolves…now that is funny stuff…but Twihards don’t care about that, and so to you I simply say: enjoy!!

Finally this week is a movie I love, featuring people I love, and a story that I love, and still touches me every time I watch this movie…the 1970 Academy Award winning LOVE STORY.

Directed by Edmonton born filmmaker Arthur Hiller LOVE STORY stars Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw as a young couple who meet and fall passionately in love…despite the social and financial barriers that threaten to come between them.

Love conquers all in this love story…well, almost all.

LOVE STORY is new in HD on Blu-ray this week, and it remains one of the most beautiful , romantic and heartbreaking movies ever made…and if there is a more beautiful woman in the world than Ali MacGraw in this movie, I haven’t seen her.

LOVE STORY is a tremendous film!

The still heartbreaking LOVE STORY, THE TWILIGHT SAGA – BREAKING DAWN – PART ONE, the occasionally funny ROBOT CHICKEN – STAR WARS III, the rarely funny A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS, SEASON TWO of the very entertaining show DOWNTON ABBEY and the exceptional British series THE HOUR are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

Johnny Depp stars in the THE RUM DIARY, based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson; ANONYMOUS suggests that someone other than William Shakespeare wrote all of his plays; the two socially awkward, heavy-metal-music-loving teenage delinquents BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD are back, and Spike Lee’s MALCOLM X is new on blu-ray.

I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.

For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!