THAT WAS THE BOX – March 2016 (Week Three) | TV Reviews
‘STAG‘ (BBC2 – BBC IPLAYER)
Apologies for my absence last week, but boring things like work and life got in the way; but it did mean I couldn’t bring you an update on episode 2 of ‘Stag‘, BBC2’s new comedy drama about a bunch of irritating men who go away on a stag hunt, for a stag do, and end up being the hunted ones themselves.
The three-part series came to an end this week with a couple of twists I would not had foreseen, had I not read a review that accidentally forgot it contained spoilers. So, if you have not watched it all up until now, desist on reading further because I don’t like to spoil things for people.
I have to say the disguise of the killer was bloody terrifying. That hairy, non-descript monster looked pretty real at first and I thought the Fairmoor legend was actually real. I think it scared me so much because it reminded me a bit of Sasquatch from the ‘Bionic Man‘, which used to have me hiding behind the sofa. Although looking at it now, it was clearly just a very tall man in a hairy suit, but I was only about five! It was only when Ian found the monster’s lair – which contained rather feminine items, and an iPod playing Ed Sheeran, that it seemed all was not as it appeared. It turned out the hunter was not the gamekeeper at all, but a beautiful woman called Sophie.
Added to the twist was that she was actually shagging Johnners, who had promised to leave his fiancé for her and cut her into The Guernsey Scheme, the money-making scheme that was binding the men together. Johnners was a bit of a wrong’un, murdering Ledge, and watching his other friends die, just so he could get a bigger share of the pot. Unfortunately for him, when Ian caught up with him in the refrigerator of the local pub, and strung him up so he would talk, the placement of a Morrisons carrier bag upon his head, prevented him from seeing Sophie enter the room, just as he was dismissing her and claiming he wouldn’t touch her with a barge pole and he’d been leading her on all along. Sophie was a psychotic former soldier and this drove her over the edge, and her response was to send Ian on his way while she fed Johnners into the giant mincer.
I really enjoyed ‘Stag‘. It was very funny in places and terrifying in others. The final twist at the end wasn’t so surprising, given that Reece Shearsmith is a fairly big star and his character, Wendy, just sort of ‘died’ and that was it. But I still don’t know if he was working as an undercover cop to reveal the Guernsey Scheme, or he had other motives. But an ambiguous ending can be a good thing because then the audience can make their minds up for themselves.
I just feel sorry for the little dog. He got left behind, standing by the phonebox, waiting for Cosmo to come out. I hope someone rescued him in the end.
‘BEHIND CLOSED DOORS‘ (BBC1 – BBC IPLAYER)
The thing I found saddest about this programme was that there were absolutely no surprises. It followed Thames Valley Police’s Domestic Abuse Unit as they attempted to prosecute three men accused of assaulting their partners. In an ideal world, a woman would be attacked by her partner once, and that would be enough for her to dump him and report him to the police. This isn’t the case. It can take up to fifty episodes of violence before a woman will pluck up the courage to report him, and even then the certainty that she will not withdraw her statement, isn’t high. Domestic violence isn’t the same as being attacked by a random stranger in the street, it is being abused over a long period of time by someone you are in love with.
First case was Sabrina, and it started with her 999 call, where she had thrown her mobile under the bed while her partner, Paul, was battering her. Police arrived to find her face black and blue, where he had assaulted her for six hours. Disturbingly, she thought he was going to kill her and the attack was so vicious, she prayed for death to come to stop the pain. Paul tried to make out to the police that she had been attacked by a drug dealer, and claimed that as he was being led out of the house, she was crying that he’d done nothing wrong. Funny, because when the police checked the footage, Sabrina was saying nothing of the sort. But Sabrina is known to Thames Valley and has a history of retracting her statements, so they can’t be sure she won’t do it again.
Then there was Helen, a woman who had been in a relationship with a man called Lawrence, who had beaten her both mentally and physically, to the point where she was lying to the police about seeing him (CCTV proved different) and indeed it was easy to be taken in by him. The Lawrence who was initially affable and easy-going when being interviewed by the police, was different to the violent bully Helen had described. It was only after his final arrest and we saw him being aggressive towards a female officer that we got a glimpse of the monster he turned into and had beaten Helen. In all fairness to her, she had tried to escape him, leaving Lincolnshire and coming down south to live with her dad, but Lawrence continued his abusive texts and leaving horrendous voicemails. Every time Helen thought she was going to get justice, he was released on bail, and a little thing like being told to keep away from her wasn’t going to put him off, so he continued to pester and threaten her.
There was Jemma was who was beaten to a pulp but her ex boyfriend Dwayne, who cried like a baby when he was being interviewed. Unlike the other women, Jemma had no feelings for Dwayne and just wanted rid of him, and it was reassuring to see that some women were able to walk away. It was horrendous when the liaison officer was having to tell Jemma’s young son what to do if Dwayne came back to attack them. No child should have to endure something like that. Also worrying was the fact that Swayne had been on the police’s ‘radar’ for some time in respect of attacking other women. Why hadn’t he been prosecuted before then?
Eventually Paul pleaded guilty to ABH (even though he almost killed Sabrina) and she bravely went to see him sentenced. The sheer hold that these men have over women was plain to see when Sabrina left the court in floods of tears, saying how, in the dock had been the man she’d fallen in love with, and she wanted to hug him and tell him she would be there for him when he left prison (he got two years, but would serve mere months because of time on remand). Thankfully, by the end of the programme, she had moved on with her life and decided she didn’t want anything to do with him.
Lawrence went on the run to America, but when he came back was given a short sentence and a fine. We can only hope it’s over between him and Helen and she’s learnt her lesson. But as she said, he was a drug to her, and even though she said she no longer loves him, how many times do drug addicts claim they’re never going to touch the stuff again.
Dwayne was sentenced to seven years, and both Jemma and her kids were delighted that he would be out of their lives from now on. The only worrying thing is, is that in all three cases, these were young men, who, if they don’t get the help they clearly need, will go on to form new relationships and who’s to say there won’t be more Sabrina, Helen and Jemmas?
‘INSIDE OBAMA’S WHITE HOUSE‘ (BBC2 – BBC IPLAYER)
Is it really only 7 years since Barack Obama was elected to the White House? It feels like forever. As a Brit, watching from the outside in, it seems he’s had a tough job and has done his best, but has failed to deliver on his promises of great change in America. This four-part series, gives an insight into maybe just why he hasn’t achieved his goals. It also fills me with sadness to watch a man who is dignified, intelligent and a statesman and to know that his successor is likely to be a madman with bad hair and a desire to alienate everyone who isn’t a rich, white American man. The thought of President Trump is terrifying and a shocking indictment of America’s political morality, that being rich is enough to warrant you the chance to become the most powerful man on earth.
Anyway, back to the documentary. This first episode looked at Obama’s first one hundred days. In America, a president’s first 100 days is a sign of how he is going to do for his entire term (over here we’d consider it a settling in period), and when we watched the Obamas all smiling and happy at his inauguration, little did we know that he was aware he had inherited a financial disaster. The global economic meltdown was about to happen, and with Bush gone, he was going to be the one to try to stop America slipping into the sort of depression last seen in the 1930s. For a president who had been elected on a promise of hope, and the mantra of ‘yes we can’, the fact that unemployment was rising, major companies were shedding workers by the thousands and banks were on the verge of being nationalised, he must have felt like throwing his hands in the air and giving up.
Here in the UK, David Cameron faced a similar problem, but of course, the answer over here is just to take money away from poor people and bail the banks out (ooh politics). Obama was determined to get the country working again, by spending to accumulate. Roosevelt had done something similar with the New Deal, and it had worked. But the bitter Republicans, sulking because they had been depleted, dug their heels in and wouldn’t budge in agreeing for him to produce a fiscal bill to get America moving again.
Then of course was his declaration that Guantanamo Bay would be shut down after one year and here we are seven years on and it’s still there. Once again, every time Obama tried to do something, he met opposition. By the end of his first 100 years, the American nation had begun to lose faith in him and the man who had seemed like a saviour was just proving to be another politician.
I do have a couple of questions though. Why did Beyonce seem to mime at the inauguration dance? We all know she can sing. And did Obama’s people sort out Henrietta Hughes’ housing problem or was it all for the cameras?
Next week sees the thorny issue of Obama-care. I might have to avoid that one. As a staunch supporter of the NHS, watching Americans object to a free and fair healthcare system for all, will make me shout at my TV and I have to watch my blood pressure!
In case you’ve missed it….
‘Thirteen‘ continues to be one of the most gripping dramas I have seen in a long time. Had it been on BBC1, I think it would grip the nation as much as ‘Happy Valley‘. What is really going on inside Ivy Moxam’s head? Is she protected Mark White? Is Mark White who we think he is? Is Phoebe, the snatched girl actually her daughter? So many questions. It’s absolutely fab. All three episodes are on BBC iPlayer, or it is repeated a week later on BBC2 at 9pm Sunday. I can’t recommend it enough.