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Member since: 22.09.2009

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    • E.L.F Cream Eyeliner / Make Up / 20 Readings / 19 Ratings
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      29.08.2011 21:00
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      If you've tried everything else and given up, try this.

      Eyes are the windows to the soul they say, and from the amount of eyeliners on the market it's clear that the majority believe this to be true. But so many eyeliners irritate, give you a messy line, or simply slide down your face an hour after putting them on making it look as though you have some horror-movie style dark circles that only a sleep deprived scream queen could be proud of.

      Having tried many many liners, from discount brands to the expensive luxury liners, I've faced these disappointments many times and thrown away countless eyeliners. And then Eyes. Lips. Face bought out their cream eyeliner and I thought at only £3.50 it was worth just one last shot so I ordered the black.

      The liner itself comes in a very sleek looking black box that makes it look as though it should be sold by Lancome or Mac, then you pull out the little square pot and the classy packaging continues. It's not just simple, it looks elegant rather than cheap with a simple black lid and white writing on.

      One problem at this point, it does not come with a brush, so make sure you have an angled liner brush ready so you can try it out as soon as you get it. I resorted to a fine paintbrush from my art box as I couldn't wait.

      The liner itself has no real scent which is good for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, and looks exactly like those gel ones you get in a pot. That is until you actually put it on. Unlike the gel liners where without perfect precision and firmness you can end up with it looking transparent in some sections as your skin shows though this cream liner goes on easily without having to worry about how much pressure you are using to apply it, whether you press hard or soft you will get an opaque line of whichever colour you have chosen.

      It goes on smoothly even when using the tiniest amount and the cream texture stops it from dragging along the lid as you apply which tends to causes those little jagged bits in your line. and best of all this dries quicky so that you can get on with whatever other make-up you want to wear that day. I'd say mine was dry in less than a minute and to be fair I'm quite liberal with the liner!

      The liner lasts well, even though I wear glasses and that normal means death to eyeliner in an hour or too, by the end of the first day I checked my liner and it was still where I had put it that morning, still looked clean and fresh and had not irritated my eyes.

      Then stupidly I fell asleep with it on, I know I know, naughty Stacey. But to my surprise when I woke the next morning, other than where I had rubbed my eye in the night, the liner was still there. It wasn't as perfect as the day before but it still looked pretty darn good - think the perfect rock chic lived in liner look and that's what it was.

      It came away easily with my Liz Earle cleanser and hadn't even irritated my eyes overnight, a very good sign as some liners will leave a red irritation mark on sensitive skin if left on too long.

      This liner has since become my staple for going out, and I've found that you can even use it as an eyeshadow so long as you blend it well before it sets giving you a slightly sheer smokey eye look that before would take me ten minutes with three different powder eyeshadows.

      It's a bargain product that works well, I have sensitive combination skin and have not had a single problem with this and have gotten compliments on how it looks so good on and must have taken lots of time or skill to do. Don't tell anyone it took neither!

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      29.08.2011 20:29
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      Christmas relaxation in a bomb

      It seems wrong to talk of Christmas items so early in the year but it won't be long now before Lush bring out their 2011 Christmas range. Hopefully this 2010 item will be back again to warm and soothe the frazzled senses over the Christmas period.

      Cinders was named as such because of it's firey colour and the fact that it has popping candle in to make it crackle like a fire - which in the classic fairy tale Cinderella is the place where poor little Cinders has to sleep at night after doing all the work - so there is a nice little Christmas link there what with Cinderella being a classic panto these days.

      It smells warm and fruity, the main scents are orange and cinnamon. To me it smells like a hot toddy without the alcohol element. It's warming without being overly heavy or too deep and strong a scent. The fizzing and crackling is quite fun, like fire or little fireworks in the bathtub and it crackles for quite some time after you get in the bathtub.

      I'm not sure if it's supposed to do this but I found that this was fantastic for aches and pains, and the traditional sore throat and blocked nose that comes from the cold festive season. It's also wonderful for helping you get a good nights sleep as the cinnamon is warming to the skin and very calming on the mind as you relax in your Cinders bath.

      These were a great price at £1.95 per ballistic (I believe that was the price though I may have it confused with So White), they look small but they pack a punch so don't go crazy and put two in like I did the first time - blimey that was a strong bath!

      I'd say that Cinders is suitable for both men and women as it is a very unisex fragrance, and certainly appeals to men as after Christmas in the Lush sale my father legged it with one of the Cinders I bought - which he said was very good on his joints (He suffers from back problems and athritis).

      Lets hope it's back for this Christmas so we can all have a warming, soothing, orangey bath once more that smells of Christmas.

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    • redspottedhanky.com / Internet Site / 10 Readings / 9 Ratings
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      29.08.2011 20:14
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      Never again I'm afraid, sometimes the big companies are big for a reason - they're good at their job

      I tend to be drawn to the little underdog companies. I don't know why but there is a certain satisfaction at not giving your money to the big, well-known, heavily advertised companies. However this is the one underdog I really cannot root for.

      I've used them several times, they are okay for basic journeys though I find my ticket never comes until the day before it is needed which quite frankly is cutting it fine. But when you get to more complex journeys just forget it, their FAQ is useless and too basic, the mixdeck that you use to pick your tickets is convuluted and unclear, and their customer services department have two setting - ignore your e-mails resulting in you having to pray to the big guy that you've understood their website, or when it all goes wrong they decide to e-mail you, not explain why their website makes little sense on complex journey purchases and use the incorrect suffix when addressing you even though they have quoted your email where you have used the correct suffix before your name (Which may not seem like a big deal but smacks of unprofessionalism and you would never get this with nationalrail or thetrainline who actually go to the effort of making your custom feel appreciated when you e-mail them and never ignore e-mails).

      Sadly after my most recent encounter with them I will never be using them again, as nice as it is to support the underdog, sometimes he needs to be taken to the vets and put out of his misery. Stick with other more well-known websites for your ticket purchases to avoid hassle and get better service (And in all of my cases the exact same price tickets).

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    • General / Discussion / 63 Readings / 60 Ratings
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      28.04.2010 00:31
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      Time could have been better spent, but this was more enjoyable.

      So, still working away at my next review, writing an OU assignment and sorting out stuff for work tomorrow - what better way to while away time where I could be productive than with a lovely random quiz :) (Any excuse not to study!)

      1. Which do you prefer - shower or bath? And why?

      Shower, it is better for the environment and for some reason I always feel cleaner having had a shower rather than a bath.

      2. What do you swear you'll never do?

      Drink Hock ever again. For those who don't know what that is, it's a German "wine" (a word I use in its loosest meaning because quite frankly the best use for it would be to clean paintbrushes!). Bad experience when I was young...I still don't remember much of Christmas day that year.

      3. What's the most embarrassing thing you ever done?

      Flashed a guard at Buckingham Palace...yes it was stupid, but it was just a bit funny.

      4. What is your favourite quote?

      Hmm, either "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Martin Luther King or "I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bull****. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are." Bill Hicks

      5. What was your favourite holiday? And why?

      Haven't exactly been on many - but I went to Australia when I was 11 years old and it was fantastic. I got to spend time with my maternal grandparents who hadn't seen me in the flesh since I was about a year old. And I saw everything Adelaide had to offer. And got to hold a koala - still have the photo of that. That holiday was the first time I really got into photography.

      6. What was your favourite childhood toy?

      My Ninja Turtles :D

      7. Do you have any pets?

      Sort of, my little brothers ex-girlfriend bought a hamster while they were together and we've kept him. So he's kinda mine. Crazy animal, makes dog like noises in his sleep and likes to chase me round the kitchen!

      8. Savoury or sweet?

      Depends totally on my mood - right now sweet.

      9. Hot or cold?

      Cold, because cold means my eczema and hayfever aren't driving me mad and I don't have to make sure that I have 2-3 layers of factor 30 sunscreen on to prevent burning! Not that there's anything wrong with sunshine of course.

      10. What's your favourite drink?

      Coffee, Mountain Dew or Cherry 7UP (Sucks that you can't buy anything buy 330ml cans in a few rare stores)

      11. What's your favourite food?

      Much like Garfield, Lasagna :D

      12. Who do you hate the most?

      Don't hate anyone, but there are a few people I greatly dislike.

      13. Do you have a crush on someone? If so, who?

      Gerard Way, Robert Downey Jr., Morrissey...not exactly going to work out with any of them now is it!

      14. What is your favourite colour?

      Probably purple.

      15. What did you do last night?

      I watched Glee whilst chatting with a long lost friend from uni, did some prep for my OU assignment, and got a virus on my laptop, gave up and went to bed annoyed!

      16. What's your favourite thing to do?

      Sketching.

      17. Favourite movie, TV Programme, Book?

      Currently Near Dark (Great vamp flick), Dexter, and Lucky Man by Michael J Fox (which I've reviewed on here).

      18. Who's your hero?

      There are many - Michael J Fox for his determination and fight to help others with Parkinsons whilst still cracking a joke or three. Bill Hicks for telling the truth, being funny with it, and being brave enough to keep going even when people didn't like what he said. Jon Stewart for blending comedy and news in such a way that it is accessible to all and every person who has fought against injustice regardless of cost.

      19. Favourite song of all time?

      A Case Of You by Joni Mitchell.

      20. Have you ever had a supernatural experience?

      Not that I know of.

      21. Favourite Sound?

      Lawnmowers on a crisp bright Sunday morning as the breeze blows through your window.

      22. Favourite Smell?

      Ylang Ylang.

      23. Favourite place to be?

      Layston Church - it may be run down, take a while to get to and possibly be turned into a house next year (god no) but it is still the most beautiful and serene place.

      24. Happiest moment in your life?

      Probably recently when after a year of being unemployed and desperately applying to anything and everything I was offered the job I'm in now. Working and never having to visit the job centre ever again is an amazing feeling.

      25. Saddest moment in your life so far?

      In the job I'm in I've had to say goodbye to a lot of lovely people, I couldn't say one passing was sadder than another but they have been the saddest moments of my life.

      26. What is your dream job?

      Journalist for SFX...a girl can dream.

      27. What would be your idea of a perfect date?

      A fun time with someone who likes me for who I am, faults and all. Wouldn't matter where we went or what we did, just that would be enough. I'd love a romantic date as I've never had that...actually can't remember the last time I went on any sort of date whatsoever...even with my ex...jeez, moving on to the next one!

      28. What are your favourite Newspaper/ Magazine?

      SFX, Rock Sound, The New Humanist and The Independant.

      29. Which celebrity do you like the most?

      Michael J Fox, but Alexander Skarsgard comes a very close second.

      30. Do you have any siblings?

      One brother.

      31. Have you ever been in hospital? If so, why?

      Yep, X-rays as a kid, severe asthma attacks. Fun times.

      32. Have you ever broken a bone or had stitches?

      Yes on the broken bones, no to stitches.

      33. Do you believe in Angels/Ghosts/Demons?

      I don't know.

      34. Are you superstitious?

      Nope.

      35. What colour eyes do you have?

      Bluey greeny grey...never really known, everyone says different.

      36. What colour hair do you have?

      Bright pink.

      37. What religion are you?

      Atheist.

      38. If you could change 1 thing about you, what would it be?

      Get rid of the scars on my legs from eczema, they're not that visible but I know they're there, and that's enough to make it a problem.

      39. If you could change 1 thing about your personality, what would it be?

      Probably fix the problem where in really serious situations I have the urge to laugh or make a joke...once referred to as the Giggleloop on Coupling.

      40. What is your biggest fear?

      Being alone.

      41. Do you have any regrets? If so, what are they?

      Not learning to drive when I was younger, going to have to start that now :( I also regret not putting certain girls in their place at secondary school (Have seen to that with one of them though!) and giving up so much for a guy. I've learnt from all this, promise :P

      42. Have you ever been in love?

      Yes, tough emotion that one. Noone ever thinks to tell you that it will be hard at times.

      43. What's the most important thing to you in the world?

      Doing the best I can for myself and others in the short time we have on this planet.

      44. What is your most treasured possession?

      My autographes, my comic books or my plushie Nintendo 1-up mushroom.

      45. What's your job?

      I'm an activities co-ordinator in a care home.

      46. What's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

      Dear god is it sad that I can't think of anything....nothing beyond the normal hug you when your down sort of thing...wow...

      47. What's the worst thing anyone has done to you?

      Treated me with less respect than you'd give roadkill.

      48. Dream car?

      1971 MG Midget, British racing green.

      49. Favourite celebration?

      Halloween, it's about fun.

      50. Where do you hang out?

      The pub, the book store, the comicbook store...randomly around Buntingford sometimes...weird question.

      51. What School did you go to?

      I can only remember the ones from Harlow onwards (We moved a lot when I was young). So lets see....Pear Tree Mead, Brays Grove, Ralph Sadlier, Freman College. Then it was off to actual college :D

      52. What/ Who annoys you?

      Everyone in those celeb gossip magazines, people who have no respect for the old, those with mental illness or who stereotype based on looks. Wasps are also rather annoying :P

      53. Do you recycle?

      Yes, obsessively.

      54. What's your favourite sport?

      Ice-skating or basketball.

      55. Who was the last person to upset you?

      The jackass that keeps hacking my email and ebay accounts to con money out of people for 3D tvs. Grrrrr...

      56. What are your hobbies?

      Art, writing, books, walking, photography, films, comic books, music, video games.

      57. What was the last joke you heard?

      "It's not unprecedented, having to carry around your papers. It's the same thing free black people had to do in 1863!" - Jon Stewart on Arizona's harsh new immigration law. Very satirical and very true.

      58. What is the best joke you've heard?

      Hmmm, can't really remember. Lets just say the whole Relentless set from Bill Hicks.

      59. What's the worst joke you've heard?

      Man walks into a bar, ouch.

      60. Name 3 places you have been on holiday:

      Adelaide, Isle of Wight, Belguim.

      61. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

      Hopefully happy with whatever I'm doing.

      62. Favourite Season?

      Autumn, bright crunchy leaves under your feet, still wam enough to wear t-shirts outside, and long days with nothing but heavy rhythmic rain pelting down making everything smell fresh and clean and cool.

      63. What's your favourite website?

      Facebook or illwillpress.com - home of foamy the squirrel :D

      64. What's your favourite shop?

      Play.com, all the geekiness, none of the queuing. IRL it would be Forbidden Planet in London.

      65. What's your worst habit?

      Things having to be in the right place.

      66. What's your favourite animal?

      Penguins!

      67. What is your ultimate fantasy?

      A holiday! lol

      68. Can you cook?

      Yes, trying to learn more though.

      69. What is the last lie you told?

      "No we don't have any elastic bands". Don't ask but it was at work and for a good reason :D

      70. Favourite flavour ice-cream?

      Cherry.

      71. Favourite take-away?

      Papa Johns pizza...who don't deliver to my town *cries*

      72. What do you hate doing the most?

      Introductions to essays...the rest is fine but that damn intro.

      73. What do you like doing the most?

      At the moment listening to music, because I don't have time for sketching.

      74. If you were a Super Hero what would your name be?

      Super Sprite!

      75. What is your favourite name?

      Nick or Anastacia, also love the name Vincent.

      76. If you were an animal what would you like to be?

      Butterfly.

      77. What would your animal name be?

      What? I don't know...Bob? What on earth is an animal name?

      78. If you could go back in time, what time would you go to?

      The 80's, to go see The Cure with all the New Romantics and Goths :D

      79. Any person alive or dead - who would you meet?

      Bill Hicks, without a doubt.

      80. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

      As much fun as Japan would be, I'm pretty happy in Herts, UK.

      81. Favourite musician(s)?

      That list would take too long to write.

      82. What was/is your nickname?

      Over the years it's been Midge, Stace, Angel...don't really have a nickname now. But the bus driver is so used to seeing me he now calls me princess!

      83. Have you been to college?

      Yes.

      84. What is the wildest thing you've ever done?

      See answer to question 3, doesn't matter what colour I dye my hair - nothing will top that.

      85. Can you play an instrument?

      The keyboard a little, the recorder, and am relearning the harmonica.

      86. What's your favourite Disney Character?

      Wall-E

      87. Favourite theme park?

      The one in Southend, probably isn't there anymore.

      88. What size feet are you?

      3-4

      89. If you were King/Queen for a day what 3 changes would you make to the world?

      Stop world poverty, end wars for good and focus our efforts on things that are productive rather than destructive.

      90. What is your favourite Night Club?

      Club 85 in Hitchin.

      91. Name one thing that most people don't know about you?

      There isn't really anything, kind of an open book - people wanna know something I tell them, nothing to hide!

      92. When was the last time you cried? And why?

      Last week when someone passed away.

      93. If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?

      That everyone be happy, healthy and fulfilled.

      94. Would you ever have plastic surgery? If so, where?

      No.

      95. What are you most ashamed of?

      See answer to question 3.

      96. What pet would you love to have?

      An alsatian.

      97. Blondes/ Brunettes or Red heads?

      No preference.

      98. If you won the lottery what would you spend the money on?

      I'd be boring, pay off mine/family's bills. Have a party, go on holiday. Buy a place for me, a place for my folks...get that MG I want so bad. Then put it all in a low risk high interest account and try to only live off the interest if possible depending on the jackpot, leaving the rest free for donations and things.

      99. If you could have a super power/ ability, what would it be?

      I want to be master of time and space, like Hiro in Heroes!

      100. Did you enjoy doing this quiz?

      Not bad, used up some time I was meant to be studying!

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      • Monk - Season 1 (DVD) / TV Series / 77 Readings / 72 Ratings
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        19.02.2010 12:13
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        The flawed genius in his first outing.

        Amidst the slew of CSI and Law & Order spin offs there is Monk. A show about a highly flawed yet brilliant man who solves crime, and does so in the strangest of ways. This show ran for 8 seasons and was a huge factor in the success of the first US network that ran it. Here we're looking at the first season, where we begin our journey into the maddening world of Monk.

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        What Is Monk About?

        Monk is a crime-based drama series that focuses on its namesake, Adrian Monk. He's a brilliant ex-detective who is able to solve the most impossible cases, partly due to his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But of course, things aren't simple. His OCD not only aids him in cases but also hinders him in everyday life, and coupled with his extensive list of phobias it is no wonder that the only way he can function is with the help of an assistant. His assistant/nurse Sharona pushes him to do things he would otherwise have run from and helps him live a vaguely normal life (well as normal as it could be for him). Though no longer a cop, Monk and Sharona frequently work with the San Francisco police department with his former Captain Stottlemeyer and colleague Disher. Each episode focuses on a different case except for the occasional two-parter episodes, but the case that runs through all the episodes - and in fact all the seasons - is the unsolved case of Adrian's wife Trudy's murder.

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        Who Is In It?

        There are four main characters in the series and over time the viewer will get to know them in great depth.

        Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub): Monk used to be a detective for the San Francisco Police Department, where he became known for solving tricky cases with ease due to his OCD. In his first two weeks on the job he got through several partners because they couldn't deal with his "eccentricities". But after the death by car bomb of his beloved wife Trudy, which Monk believes was meant for him and therefore it was his fault, he had a complete nervous breakdown. He was dismissed from the police force at this stage and became a recluse; unable to leave the home he and his wife had shared together. It was only with the help of Sharona that he became able to leave the house and decided to fight to get reinstated and get his badge back, even though his OCD has become worse since being widowed. With Sharona at his side with wipes at the ready, he now works as a private detective occasionally doing consultancy work for the SFPD.

        Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schramm): Monk's nurse and assistant. Sharona is also a single mother with a deadbeat ex-husband who is always letting down their son Benjy. She pushes Monk to attempt things he wouldn't ordinarily do and if it wasn't for her influence and support he would probably still be locked in his house. She often gets infuriated with Monk, especially as she is expected to carry 4-5 packs of cleansing wipes with her at all times to satisfy his need for cleanliness. Sharona is the calming influence that Monk's busy brain needs, though you shouldn't let her behind the wheel of a sports car - ever!

        Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine): Captain of the SFPD and former partner of Monk. He also gets irritated by Monk's problem but rarely pulls him on it because they are not only former colleagues, they are friends too. He has immense respect for his friend Monk and is always amazed by the tiny details he observes and the way he solves cases. He is married to a woman who makes independent films, they are complete opposites and that is most noticeable when they argue.

        Lieutenant Randall Disher (Jason Gray-Standford): Always referred to as Randy rather than Randall. Randy is a young lieutenant who is very eager to solve crimes, but his willingness to jump in head first tends to get him into trouble - and mocked. On more than one occasion he has been talking about a possible suspect only for Stottlemeyer to have to tell him that that person cannot be a suspect because they have been dead for several years...he seems to always miss that line in the notes bless him.

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        Episodes

        The first season of Monk ran for 13 episodes, each being approx 45 minutes long.

        Mr. Monk And The Candidate: Part 1 - In this first episode the viewer is introduced to Monk and his strange ways as he is called in to help the police investigate an attempted assassination involving a mayoral candidate and the death of one of his bodyguards. Mr. Monk believes there is something more to it and goes out of his way to figure out what is going on.

        Mr. Monk And The Candidate: Part 2 - In the concluding part of the season and show-opener, Monk continues to hound certain people in his investigation of the attempted assassination before coming to a surprising conclusion as to what really happened.

        Mr. Monk And The Psychic - When a woman comes off the road in the middle of a stormy night and a psychic known to the cops as a fraud finds her body seemingly by the power of mystical forces, Monk is drafted in to prove the psychic wrong. He has his own suspicions about the accident that caused the driver to die, and stages a psychic event to lure the culprit into confessing.

        Mr. Monk Meets Dale The Whale - A female judge calls 911 telling them that Dale Biederbeck is about to kill her. Case closed? Well no, seeing as he couldn't possibly have moved due to morbid obesity...but a witness places him at the scene. Monk has his own axe to grind and is determined to prove Dale guilty to get payback for events from his past.

        Mr. Monk Goes To The Carnival - When a cop is arrested for murder on a Ferris wheel at the travelling carnival, Stottlemeyer enlists Monk to prove that his colleague and friend didn't do it. Cue several trips to the carnival for Monk, accompanied by Sharona and Benjy. His compulsions almost stop him from investigating the case but his desperation to get reinstated to the police force drives him on.

        Mr. Monk Goes To The Asylum - After committing a rather strange act Monk is sectioned in the local psychiatric hospital where he encounters many weird and wonderful people, including a man who claims he sees Santa Claus. But after learning of the recent history of the hospital he turns detective once more and tries to solve a case that was closed years ago.

        Mr. Monk And The Billionaire Mugger - Sharona ignores Monk after another cheque from him bounces. Until he pays her wages she refuses to help. A suspicious crime involving a mugger who turns out to be a billionaire is on the cards but with Sharona refusing to help Monk he panics and goes back to trying to solve his wife's murder. Meanwhile Sharona finds that though her new job actually pays, it just isn't the same.

        Mr. Monk And The Other Woman - After a lawyer and his assistant are murdered, and the prime suspect winds up dead too, the finger of blame points at beautiful neighbour Monica who had been fighting with one of the victims for several years. Monk is called in but the case becomes far from simple when they develop a mutual attraction. She seems perfect for him, but is she?

        Mr. Monk And The Marathon Man - Monk is excited to meet his hero, a Nigerian runner who is taking part in the San Francisco marathon. But after some issues with a buttoned shirt things don't go to plan. But he gets another chance when during the marathon a woman is murdered and the lead suspect has been tracked by electronic chip running the race and never missed a checkpoint.

        Mr. Monk Takes A Vacation - Monk goes to the beach with Sharona and Benjy, but it turns into work when Benjy witnesses a murder. But when no body is found and no trace of foul play, people believe that Benjy was mistaken whilst he and Monk try to solve the crime. During the stay Monk also finds out exactly how many bodily fluids are in his room and a team of cleaners get a lot of work to do.

        Mr. Monk And The Earthquake - An earthquake hits San Francisco leaving Monk in a state of shock and panic. But there isn't time to waste as the police find a body after the quake, but it wasn't the quake that killed them. The murderer has used the quake to cover the killing up, but with Monk on the case will that work for long?

        Mr. Monk And The Red-Headed Stranger - Guest-starring Willie Nelson, Monk investigates when Willie's manager is murdered. The only witness to the shooting is a blind woman who claims that she knows Willie did it because she heard him. But Monk is both unsure of the witness and determined to prove that he isn't guilty because Trudy was a dedicated fan.

        Mr. Monk And The Airplane - Monk is tricked into taking a cross-country flight by Sharona who is going to visit family. After managing to get onto the plane he drives everyone crazy with his questions and worries. Worse still Monk has become absolutely convinced that one of his fellow passengers who is sitting a few rows away has murdered his wife and is travelling with a look-alike. He gets little help from Sharona who is busy trying to talk to Tim Daly, and when a flight attendant destroys what he sees to be key evidence all looks lost. Will he solve the crime no-one knows has been committed?

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        Why Should You Watch Monk?

        You should watch Monk if you are bored of the other crime-based shows on offer. Monk is different because the main character is so heavily flawed it makes it a lot more interesting, and his flaws aren't self-induced like the sex-obsessed alcoholic cops that have previously been seen on TV.

        This is great family viewing as it has a lot of comedic elements to it to stop it from becoming too dark a show. Though the cases are all homicides most of the gore is left to the imagination - rarely do you see a dead body or large amounts of blood. Kids will like this because they'll find Adrian funny; adults will like this for the murder mysteries and the development of the eternally flawed man.

        If you enjoy House there is a good chance that you will enjoy Monk because there are similar elements in the two. The unsolvable puzzle, the humour that breaks through the darkness and the breaking of the rules by the flawed main character.

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        Final Verdict?

        I first caught this show airing in the early hours on BBC2 during a bout of insomnia and this show didn't help that one bit! The reason was because the show is so interesting and funny that I was no longer trying to get to sleep and was instead eagerly awaiting Monk's immortal line "Here's what happened".

        And this is why I would recommend Monk, it is compulsive viewing (though pardon the pun there!). The cases are interesting because at the start of every episode they seem unsolvable because there doesn't appear to be any evidence. In some cases the viewer is shown at the start who did what which makes you watch for clues even more thoroughly. But the tiny details that Monk picks up on are surprising and things that you'd never notice normally.

        Which is another part of the appeal, Adrian Monk is not normal by any definition of the word. But it is all of his flaws that make him hugely lovable and endearing. Seeing the pain in his face when he has to touch someone, knowing as soon as someone moves something he'll have to move it back - well it's just saddening and sweet all at once. His past is told to the viewers because he hasn't moved forward from it, and his wife Trudy's death is very important to who Monk is at the point the series begins.

        The death of Monk's wife is an interesting thread that runs through the entirety of the show, he is always trying to crack the case and solve her murder when he can. His devotion to finding out why she was killed makes you want to know what happened, was it really all his fault because the car bomb was meant for him or was it something else. And there is always to question of whether his OCD symptoms will ease when he does finally put the case to rest.

        The rest of the cast is fantastic, Stottlemeyer is like a father figure to Randy and that shows through much of the time. He's also like family to Monk, having seen him at his best and worst and the actor playing him conveys the difficulties in their relationship well. Randy is a funny character, clearly meant as the butt of many a joke he is a good guy, just one that gets things wrong a lot. But as the season goes on (and the show itself) he does mature and rely less on his Captain for support. Sharona is a great character to watch, she balances the madness of her employer Monk with not only sanity but with bravery and courage. She is a very strong female character who seems to be able to cope with anything most of the time, though she does have her bad moments too so the writers have realised to balance it out so she doesn't seem to be Wonder Woman.

        All in all, if you enjoy crime shows but would like to see one that focuses more on the crime-fighters rather than the crimes, this may be the show for you. The characters change and grow because it is important to the story that they do so, otherwise it would be a stale procedural crime show. You'll be able to watch this with both grandparents and kids without too much trouble or offence caused and perhaps judging by the questions that can be found online relating to the show, you or those you watch with may have some questions about Monk's various problems and seek enlightenment into mental issues. It is a funny and clever show that highlights OCD in a new way, with Monk's oft-repeated line "It's a gift...and a curse" showing that there are both good and bad sides to his condition.

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        DVD Information/Extras

        Season 1 is presented on 4 disks running to 568 minutes and comes with a small set of featurette extras - though with each featurette being between 3 and 5 minutes long it isn't exactly overly generous with the extras.

        The featurettes are titles as follows and are all pretty self explanatory:
        Mr Monk And His Origins
        Mr Monk And His OCD
        Mr Monk And His Fellow Sufferers
        Mr Monk And His Emmy Award-Winning Performance
        Mr Monk And His Partners In Crime

        They are nice little featurettes but when you add them up they amount to less than 25 minutes in total so it is not worth buying the DVD just to see the extras. However the season itself is well worth the price currently on Amazon which is a few pennies under £9, though if you really want to save some money and are sure you will want to watch further seasons there is a box set of season 1-6 on Amazon too for £29.97 which is excellent value compared to the single season box sets.

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        • Review of the Year 2009 / Discussion / 63 Readings / 59 Ratings
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          02.02.2010 12:27
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          It wasn't the greatest year, but things will get better.

          Having read JJJJ's wonderfully well-ordered review of the year I thought I'd give it a go in the same way.


          What did you do in 2009 that you have not done before?

          I stood up for myself and decided not to take s*** like I usually do. Before then I was pretty much a walkover, always have been really - but one person just pushed me to my limit and enough was enough.


          Did anyone close to you give birth?

          Almost, but thankfully not as it would have been far too early.


          Did anyone close to you die?

          No, and I am eternally grateful for that as there were two very close near misses.


          What countries did you visit?

          None, very boring but sadly due to the person I was with and his work, travelling wasn't an option. You could argue I could have gone without him but that just wasn't worth the hassle believe me. Plenty of travel planned for 2010/11 though :D


          What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

          Stability. Whether that is in home life, work life or love life. Some stability would be wonderful as last year was one of uncertainty.


          What dates will you remember from 2009?

          14th February, when I was let down again by the man I loved. 26th July, the last time I saw him before he was deployed by the AAF. 22nd October when we parted ways, and the 23rd October when I bit the bullet and signed up to start my OU degree.


          Did you suffer illness or injury?

          Other than the usual coughs and sneezes, I sprained my ankle and suffered a rather lengthy bout of depression.


          What was the best thing you bought?

          A signed Dogs D'Amour vinyl LP from my favourite little record place that was closing down. It was 50p and I hadn't even realised until I got home it was signed.


          Whose behaviour has merited celebration?

          Michael J Fox, who after writing two fantastic autobiographies spent his time (and still does now) raising awareness for Parkinson's and trying to work on a cure. His attitude and his books are truly an inspiration. And in personal life a family friend who has beaten the odds and is still with us, even though the outlook was so bleak, and he's still smiling and laughing and joking in the most embarrassing way. And on dooyoo itself dooyoo'er kenjohn merited celebration, his dignity and good nature in the face of pain should be a lesson to us all. Rest In Peace Ken.


          Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

          In personal life sadly quite a few people have made me feel that way. In the public eye I would say that the behaviour of Jan Moir, the "writer" who decided to say dreadful things about Stephen Gately so shortly after his death both appalled and depressed me. He was a good man and neither he nor his family deserved to hear her opinions on the matter of his death.


          Where did most of your money go?

          Hmm, other than boring things such as eating and going to job interviews? Well my comic book and vinyl collections have expanded massively, and a lot probably went on bus fares to places so that I could indulge in my love of photography. And a worrying amount went on buying Lucky Charms cereal.


          What did you get really excited about?

          Going to an F1 day at Silverstone, applying to start my degree, eating Lucky Charms cereal and watching many geeky shows (Moonlight, Flash-forward, Dollhouse, and True Blood).


          What song(s) will you remember from 2009?

          Undisclosed Desires by Muse, That's How People Grow Up by Morrissey and Paparazzi by Lady Gaga, to name but a few.


          Compared to this time last year are you... happier, fitter, or more productive?

          At the start of 2010, I'm happier, fitter and more productive. A lot of change happened last year, mostly that I had no choice in. But I've got some goals for the future and I'm determined to succeed at them.


          What do you wish you had done more of?

          More travelling or more gigs would have been nice; I didn't have any chance of doing that last year which was a real shame.


          What do you wish you had done less of?

          Giving up things for someone else, you shouldn't do it to the extent I did. It was very stupid.


          What was your favourite TV programme?

          Probably True Blood, I watched it all on DVD with my ex and then watched it all again when it came to air on Channel 4 and enjoyed it immensely both times. The Big Bang Theory comes in a very close second as that brought a lot of laughter to my life at times when there was little to laugh about.


          Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year?

          No, don't really hate anyone. I can be angry at people but it's very hard to hate- to do that takes up a lot of your time and emotion and is just seems like a waste.


          What's been the best book of 2009?

          Well it didn't come out in 2009 but that was when I finally got around to reading Brokeback Mountain, and it was amazing. So short but so packed with emotion.


          What was your greatest musical discovery?

          Alison Krauss. I've listened to her music in the past but never really paid much attention, but I finally got around to listening properly. And she is just amazing, heartfelt and strong all at once.


          What did you want to get in 2009?

          More comic books and the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series.


          What did you want and didn't get?

          If I said I'd sound horribly emo.


          What is your favourite film of the year?

          That would be a tie between Avatar and O'Horten, both brilliant for different reasons.


          What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

          I got woken up ridiculously early with a phone call and then spent the day chilling out and taking photos in the countryside that surrounds my town. I was 23.


          What political issue stirred you the most?

          Hmm, I don't know if it counts as political as Scientology consider themselves to be a religion, but they stirred me the most, as they have for a good few years now. I read with interest as other countries politicians and governments debated their legitimacy as a religion.


          Who was the best person you met?

          Last year was more a year of goodbyes to people I knew than hellos to people I was meeting, so I don't think there is any way I can answer this one.


          Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009?

          Don't give up everything for someone else, chances are they will neither appreciate it nor do the same for you - ever. And you will end up feeling cheated and like you've missed out on a lot.


          So in short, not the greatest year, I loved; I lost and got terribly hurt. But here's to a new year and a new start. Hopefully next years review will be a much more upbeat one.

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          • More +
            15.01.2010 18:07
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            Embrace the geek side!

            The show people would never have believed could be a hit from its basic premise is back, and it's gotten geekier and more brilliant. Before the first season aired I'm sure many people would have declared it would be a total flop and put money on it being axed part-way through, but it defied low expectations and with its great writing and quirky characters and situations has managed to get better with each and every episode.

            ---------------------------------------

            What Is The Big Bang Theory About?

            The Big Bang Theory is about a group of four very smart guys who work at the local university, CalTech. Their lives consist of video games, comic books and sci-fi until the beautiful Penny (Who is of normal intellect) moves in next door. What follows are attempts to flirt, date and generally interact socially with Penny and others in the world with varied results.

            Penny has now ingratiated herself into the group and is considered a good friend by all of the guys (even Sheldon in his own funny way). Sheldon has gotten crazier, if such a thing is possible, Wolowitz is still striking out with the ladies and trying to be a bad Jew (which is a strange hobby but one would suspect it's to try and upset his mother), and Raj is still mute when a pretty girl is close by.

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            When Is The Second Season Set?

            The second season starts straight back where we were in the season finale with Leonard and Penny coming back from their laughable dinner date. Sheldon has been yelling about tangerine bicycles and Raj and Wolowitz have set up a way to spy on the couple as they come back from their first date.

            ---------------------------------------

            Any New characters?

            Of course we still have our main 5 characters taking centre screen - but there are a few reoccurring characters (some new and some introduced in the previous season) in this season.

            Dr Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert): First seen in the first season as a work colleague/booty call of Leonard. She specialises in high energy physics and is rather similar to Leonard in clothing style and the fact that she too wears glasses. She dislikes Sheldon strongly and takes every opportunity to mock and belittle him. After her few liaisons with Leonard she moves onto Wolowitz in this season and uses him as a trophy/arm-candy which he doesn't mind too much once he realises that it means a woman is using him for sex.

            Dr. Stephanie Barnett (Sara Rue): A doctor and surgical resident, she starts out in the second season as Wolowitz's date but progresses to being in a serious relationship with Leonard. Sheldon likes her because she completes their landing party (He needs to lay off the Star Trek) and is apparently the only one of Leonard's dates he has ever found "tolerable". She did her internship at the hospital in Texas where Sheldon was born and for a short period ends up acting like his personal physician, much to both her and Leonard's annoyance.

            Barry Kripke (John Ross Bowie): An unpopular colleague of Leonard and Sheldon, Kripke is an arrogant character who loves to upset everyone by proving himself to be the best, driving Sheldon insane. He has rhotacism, so r's and l's sound like w's when he speaks (So when he says his own last name it comes out as Kwipke, which could be seen as cute if he weren't so much of a jerk). He and Sheldon end up as rivals during the season though it's clear there has been a lot of unfriendly competition between the two in the past. He manages the seemingly impossible - to make Wolowitz look like a catch to Penny.

            Stuart (Kevin Sussman): Owns the comic book store that the guys go to on a weekly basis. He is a geek like the guys but sets himself apart because he is a great artist, a graduate of a design school, and actually knows how to talk to women - ensuring he snares himself a date with Penny, much to Leonard's disgust. Stuart has an extensive knowledge of comic books that rivals Sheldon's - which leads to long drawn out arguments about comic books.

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            Episodes

            This second season is longer than the first, with 23 20-minute episodes instead of 17 as in the previous.

            The Bad Fish Paradigm: So as you'll remember from the last season, things ended with Penny and Leonard on a date - disappearing from the restaurant they had planned to eat at because Sheldon was yelling at the chef about tangerine bicycles. They come home to the apartment building to finish their date where unbeknownst to them Raj and Howard have installed a webcam and are spying on them (partly out of curiosity and partly from jealousy). The guys make Leonard believe that the date didn't go as well as he'd thought whilst Penny worries about something from her past that she thinks will make her less appealing, but made the big mistake of telling Sheldon this secret. As we have all come to expect from Sheldon by this point he goes into meltdown, acts even odder than usual and then moves out into both Raj's and Howard's (Lucky them!). But in the end everything comes out and Leonard manages to say completely the wrong thing, winding up with a door slammed in his face- he may be booksmart but that's where his smartness ends it seems.

            The Codpiece Topology: The guys go to a Renaissance fair, with Sheldon in a hilarious costume (That comes with a back-story), and see Penny with a new man. Jealousy takes over and Leonard decides to try and make her jealous by getting back together with one-time bed mate Leslie. Sheldon gets evicted to the stairwell to play a N64 emulator and tells Penny of his woes that Leonard is dating his sworn enemy. But for once Sheldon rises above his usual madness and decides to give his approval of the relationship, which turns out to be a waste of time when a lack of shared beliefs turns out to be a deal-breaker for Leslie (We are not talking religious beliefs here!).

            The Barbarian Sublimation: Geekiness is catching it seems, as Penny gets obsessed with an online RPG game Age of Conan after telling Sheldon all of her woes whilst waiting for a locksmith to open her apartment after locking herself out. The guys get pretty worried about Penny's new obsessive game-playing and try to get her back to normal by signing her up to an online dating website - if only she would get the Cheetos out of her hair and put on some make-up! But sanity is quickly regained after an online meeting with Wolowitz that shocks her to her core, and normality is once more restored.

            The Griffin Equivalency: Raj gets into a list of important up-and-comers in people magazine making the rest of the gang extremely jealous and complaining about not being in the list themselves. Leonard stops them in their tracks though he will soon come to regret doing so as the fame and new respect at work goes to Raj's head, ending in a drunken embarrassment of a date with Penny and an angry video call from his parents. Completed with a short cameo from Charlie Sheen (Star of Two and a Half Men - another show from one of TBBT's writers) and Raj's first ever sober words directly spoken to Penny, this is an episode where you will see the evil Raj could cause if he wasn't so damned shy!

            The Euclid Alternative: Sheldon causes trouble when Leonard starts working graveyard shifts at the University to finish an experiment, meaning he isn't around to give Sheldon a lift into work. After driving Penny, Wolowitz and Raj completely mad to the point of wanting to throw him out of the moving car they gang up and make him go get a driving license. But things are never that simple with Sheldon, and after upsetting the DMV and showing that he's an awful driver he comes up with a perfect solution - moving into his office whilst Leonard is working nights.

            The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem: Sheldon gains an admirer in the form of Ramona Nowitzki, a grad student who becomes obsessed with him and somehow gets into his life with Sheldon completely oblivious to her feelings for him. Though he isn't particularly annoyed by Ramona things take a turn for the worst with Halo nights abolished, Battlestar Galactica gone and Penny warned off under the mistaken belief that she wants Sheldon for herself. Finally he sees what has been in front of him the entire time and gets to work trying to dump a girl he never asked out! His method of dumping is not only blunt but rather hilarious, but things don't go back to normal for long.

            The Panty Piñata Polarization: Penny's cable TV is cut so she ends up watching America's Next Top Model at Leonard and Sheldon's. All is fine (and the boys are rather enjoying drooling over the models) until Penny gets banned from the apartment for such horrors as sitting in Sheldon's seat and sending him e-mail humour. This starts a petty and silly war between the two of them ending in Penny's washing being hung on the telephone wires outside the apartment building (Thus giving this episode its strange title). Leonard, increasingly fed up of his friends antics gives Penny the ultimate weapon against Sheldon. Meanwhile Raj and Wolowitz are trying to discover the location of the house featured in America's Next Top Model using every ounce of technology they can get their hands on - including NASA satellites. The question is, even if they do get to the house do they really stand a chance of getting in - and getting close to - a house full of beautiful women?

            The Lizard-Spock Expansion: Wolowitz meets Dr. Stephanie Barnett (Sara Rue) and is instantly in love, offering that she can drive the Mars Rover if she agrees to come out with him. But things go very wrong, the Rover ends up in a ditch, Wolowitz has to destroy all evidence that they were there and caused the crash, and Stephanie meets Leonard and takes a real shine to him. Now they are dating, and Wolowitz is leaving ridiculously stalker-like messages on Stephanie's answer machine, Leonard tries to figure out how to break the news to his friend. It all comes out of course and Wolowitz, decidedly hurt, decides the pair is dead to him until an offer near the end of the episode changes his mind.

            The White Asparagus Triangulation: Sheldon, happy with Leonard's new choice of girlfriend, is beginning to worry that the relationship is doomed to fail because "history suggest" that it will - sweet perhaps but his real reason for worrying is that now they finally have the doctor they needed for their landing party (Stephanie is McCoy in his eyes). He tries to get advice from Penny, but as always manages to alienate and insult her in his efforts and drives Leonard crazy with his attempts to "help". After an escape attempt to the cinema, where Sheldon STILL manages to find the couple, things escalate and end up with Leonard getting stitches and crying in front of his new beau. Fearing the tears may have destroyed their relationship, and therefore Sheldon's landing party, Sheldon decides to hack into Leonard's Facebook account with pleasant results.

            The Vartabedian Conundrum: Things are moving fast for Leonard and Stephanie, with both Sheldon and Penny pointing out that she has clearly moved in - unless of course he picked out those floral bedspreads and put away his much beloved bat-single of his own free will. Sheldon decides that this change means that Stephanie can be treated as his own personal doctor for his hypochondriac tendencies which is bad, but worse is when Penny walks in wearing skimpy P.Js and needing coffee - it turns out Stephanie has no idea who Penny is. After Stephanie buys Leonard some hideous trousers made of a "wool/fire-ant blend" he decides things are moving far too fast and tries to tell Stephanie that they shouldn't live together. Meanwhile Sheldon's paranoia about the ringing sound in his ears is reaching new heights when he sneaks into the hospital to get tested for anything and everything, but has still not gotten to the bottom of it. Stephanie has a little fun at Sheldon's expense in this episode that leaves Sheldon having to stay silent and resorting to using a talking computer to convey his thoughts - but he really should use spell check before asking for honey.

            The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis: It's Christmas time and Sheldon is bleating on about why trees shouldn't be put up for Christmas as we aren't pagans and why gifts aren't gifts but social obligations! Whilst he has his Christmassy meltdown Leonard is developing a man-crush on dashing scientist David Underhill who has asked him for some help with something. But the man-crush dissipates when Leonard realises that there is an attraction between Penny and David. Sheldon spends the episode trying to figure out a Christmas gift for Penny, roping Raj and Wolowitz into helping before coming up with a perfect and logical plan to make sure his gift will be right. This is all fine until Penny shocks him with the most amazing and rare thing he could ever want, leading him to panic and realise that his logical plan now doesn't work and ends with a wonderfully funny and sweet scene where he tries to give her something that is worthy of the gift she gave him.

            The Killer Robot Instability: After an off-hand comment from Penny about his love-life, Wolowitz becomes depressed - so much so he backs out of a robot fighting competition he and his friends have entered. Whilst Sheldon indulges in a one on one match with his nemesis Kripke, Leonard sends Penny over to Wolowitz's house to apologise for her earlier remarks - making use of the favour she owed him from the pilot episode when he came home trouserless. After a long talk and some advice, Wolowitz gets the wrong idea and is subsequently punched for his actions, something Penny has clearly wanted to do for quite some time. The outcome of the one on one battle is revealed and Penny says the wrong thing.

            The Friendship Algorithm: Bless Sheldon, today he's designing a formula for making friends, after thinking that in order to get use of the open science grid computer he will need to be friends with Kripke. After being told no several times Sheldon tries to figure out how it is that people make friends, finding a children's book in a local bookstore very useful - and has to be dragged out of the store by Leonard when he befriends a small girl in front of the security camera! After creating a flowchart and finally getting Kripke to meet with him, Sheldon finds out that he has wasted a lot of time trying to befriend Kripke - which is good news for Raj as he was going to be replaced by Kripke in the group had Sheldon gotten his way...though saying that, this means he's now stuck with Sheldon again, perhaps not all good news then.

            The Financial Permeability: Penny needs money to pay her rent, and Sheldon does the nice and sensible thing and lends her the money so she doesn't get kicked out. Sheldon is completely calm with this, as he sees it, she needs money, he has money, and she'll give it back when she has money of her own. Penny however becomes quite strange with it all and gets tetchy when people bring up the subject of money. Leonard tries to help (so that she doesn't implode at this point) and finds out that her giant ex-boyfriend Kurt, who pantsed Leonard and Sheldon in the pilot episode, owes her a fairly large sum of money. He takes it upon himself to get the money back for her but after a meeting with Kurt and a sharpie pen it looks like she'll never get it back. By the end of the episode Penny is able to pay Sheldon back but she never knows that it was Leonard that got Kurt to repay her, with the giant meathead taking the credit himself to get back into her good books. After this Sheldon sings a minstrel song about Leonard after mentioning them earlier in the episode.

            The Maternal Capacitance: Run! Leonard's mother - Dr. Beverly Hofstadter - calls and wants to visit her son. Unlike Sheldon's sweet but firm mother, Leonard's is a cold and distant woman who never allowed Leonard to celebrate his birthday (as referenced previously in the series). Penny unfortunately meets the famed psychiatrist and neuroscientist in the apartment lobby and is grilling on her way up, ending up in tears as she presents Leonard's mother to a clearly uncomfortable Leonard. But not everyone is upset by her visit, Wolowitz enjoys stirring things by asking continuously about her two other more successful children and Sheldon develops a frighteningly good rapport with her, leading to them talking about intimate matters and then playing Rock Band together. Revenge is had by Leonard in part when he tells his mother about Raj's muteness problem and Wolowitz's living arrangements and are rather upset when she diagnoses the pair as being in an ersatz homosexual relationship (though to be fair, she makes a very good point with this diagnosis). Later on Penny and Leonard decide to talk about Leonard's mother over a variety of alcoholic beverages, with some surprising things being mentioned before they begin playing drinking games that get more and more intimate.

            The Cushion Saturation: Paint-balling is both a pleasure and a problem in this episode, where a game of paintball leads to attraction between Wolowitz and Leslie Winkle, and a single paintball pellet in the apartment shot by Penny causes disaster when she stains Sheldon's much-loved couch cushion. Penny and Leonard then try to fix things, by getting it cleaned and turning it over - but Sheldon notices there is something wrong even when he doesn't vocalise it. Penny finally gets the cushion cleaned at a dry cleaner, but as it takes a week Sheldon becomes lost and despondent that his seat is not there. When the cushion finally comes back Sheldon goes into a sulk and refuses to sit on it, leading to a shocking revelation from Leonard about another constant in Sheldon's life. Whilst the cushion conundrum continues, Wolowitz and Leslie's sexual relationship continues at his home - with funny exchanges between her and Wolowitz's overbearing but never seen mother. But all is not well, and Wolowitz soon realises he's being used by Leslie for sex and as a trophy...though is upset at being a trophy soon wanes. The episode ends with another paintball game that becomes truly ridiculous when Sheldon seeks revenge on Penny, Penny shoots Sheldon, Leonard shoots Sheldon in defence of Penny and they essentially knock themselves out of the game before even fighting the opposing team.

            The Terminator Decoupling: The gang go on a train trip to San Francisco for a conference (Sheldon refuses to go any other way even though a plane would be faster). But things heat up when they see that Summer Glau, a famous sci-fi star is in their carriage. What started as sheer excitement turns into lengthy debate when they realise that one of them should go up to her and say something. During this Sheldon realises that he has forgotten his flash drive that holds a paper he's written that he wanted to show to Nobel Prize laureate Dr. George Smoot, and begrudgingly enlists Penny to go into his room, find it and e-mail it to him. But he can't simply ask her to find it and then relax, he spends the episode giving her exact instructions that she must adhere to because as Sheldon says "No-one goes into my room". Whilst Sheldon drives Penny mad once more, Wolowitz tries to think up a good line to approach Summer with whilst Raj is already chatting away to her whilst holding a beer. Wolowitz cruelly points out to him that his beer is non-alcoholic, rendering him mute once more to get his chance with her. Sheldon presents his paper to Smoot, and is asked something we would all like to ask him.

            The Work Song Nanocluster: Penny is excited about the attention her hand-made hair barrettes are getting and has been asked to make some for a small store to sell, but after consulting Sheldon for help with her manufacture process it becomes a much bigger thing with an online store and the geeks helping in the assembly line to make the Pennyblossom hair barrettes. All is fine until Leonard adds a one day rush option based on the fact that Amazon has one (Little remembering that Amazon is a large company with thousands of employees) and a one day rush order for 1000 comes in. with everyone working through the night they try to get the order done to get bad news when they complete the order. During the all-nighter they give Sheldon coffee, with absolutely hysterical results involving a Flash costume and a banana.

            The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition: When the residents of the apartment above Leonard and Sheldon move out, a pretty actress names Alicia moves in. Like Penny she is attractive, of regular intelligence (compared to our geeks) and an actress - but she is actually getting acting work unlike Penny. Alicia isn't very nice though and flirts with the geeks to get them to do everything she wants them to. Jealous and lonely, Penny tries to win back her geeky friends by buying them Chinese (And fulfilling Sheldon's crazed wants with regards to condiments), learning science jokes (Though she doesn't get that it's insulting) and offering to watch Battlestar Galactica. Penny manages to keep hold of Sheldon but the others still can't be swayed, leading to a useful but accidental piece of advice regarding queen bees from Sheldon. Howard gets one of his dreams in this episode when there is a catfight between the two girls over them, and Sheldon shows just how innocent he is when he remarks about Alicia and a TV producer jumping up and down on the bed upstairs.

            The Hofstadter Isotope: Penny goes with the guys to the comic book store to try and find a gift for her nephew's birthday. Whilst the guys flick through comic books Penny and comic-bookstore owner Stuart hit it off, much to the annoyance of Leonard who believes that he and Stuart are so similar it doesn't seem right that she end up with Stuart rather than him. Whilst Penny and Stuart are off out on a date Leonard asks Wolowitz to take him to a bar that has women, and what follows is an embarrassing reminder of why Leonard and Wolowitz can't get girls and proof that just because Raj can't talk doesn't mean he can't be a hit with the ladies! Sheldon, who decided against going to the bar, accosts Penny and Stuart when they get back from their date and manages to monopolise Stuart's time with an argument about who should assume the role of Batman in the fiction time following Batman R.I.P. This goes on for some time in which Penny gives up and falls asleep on the couch, thereby ruining the end of her date with Stuart and stopping them from getting intimate as they may well have. Leonard really does need to thank Sheldon for that.

            The Vegas Renormalization: When Leslie Winkle ends her relationship with Wolowitz he becomes sad and depressed. Raj and Leonard, trying to cheer him up, take him on a road trip to Vegas to gamble and meet women. When nothing else works the pair decide to hire a prostitute for Wolowitz, getting her to pose as a single Jewish woman (Something Wolowitz rarely finds) to boost his confidence. Whilst this is going on Sheldon, who stayed behind, has found that he has locked himself out of the apartment and the building manager won't be back until the following day. Penny ends up having to take him in and they have a meal, attempt to converse, and then sleep (with him in the bed and her on the sofa because he couldn't fit on the sofa). Leonard then gets a shock when Sheldon leaves Penny's apartment and tells him what they did the night before and how he know understands what "friends with benefits" means!

            The Classified Materials Turbulence: The gang are back at the comic book store, where Wolowitz is buying everyone comic books to celebrate his space toilet being used on the latest craft to be launched. Whilst there Stuart asks Leonard for advice about his second date with Penny, which Leonard doesn't really respond to as he wants it to fail - but when Stuart asks at the apartment once more just before his date Leonard tries to sabotage their date by telling him to go slow. Feeling terrible about trying to ruin the couple Leonard goes the next day to apologise but finds out that his advice wasn't as wrong as he'd thought, and that after straying from the advice he was given Stuart found out something that ruined the evening and any hope for a third date. At the same time, Wolowitz is panicking - it turns out there is a small error with his plans meaning that instead of flushing waste into space, after the tenth flush it will be flushed back into the actual craft! He, Raj and Sheldon try to figure out how to fix the fault using items that will already be on the spacecraft, but with time against them it's the final moments of the episode that will reveal whether or not they manage to do it.

            The Monopolar Expedition: The University can now breathe a sigh of relief, Sheldon has been given a grant for an expedition to the magnetic north pole to prove the validity of string theory. After thinking it through he decides to go but asks the guys to come with him as his team - who are flattered but terrified of the idea of being cooped up with him in a confined space for 12 weeks, though Raj believes that these three months will earn him a much better reincarnation in his next life (A well-hung billionaire with wings is his belief). With the whole trip being very last minute the gang get straight to work preparing themselves, including spending time in the Cheesecake Factory's walk in freezer to get used to the cold. Penny is upset by the thought of Leonard being gone for three months but does her best to hide it, helping them best she can and continuing her insulting conversations as usual with Sheldon (Even reminding/threatening that the Cheesecake Factory's freezer locks from the outside after he insults her). She gives Leonard a slanket as a going away gift and hugs him for what seems to Leonard to be a very long time, after asking what this means and being told it just meant for him to have a good time Leonard goes away sad but ready for his trip. But behind Penny's closed door she whispers her true feelings as he walks away in a rather sad moment for the pair. The season finale ends with the gang at the North Pole, with Leonard sitting in his slanket and Sheldon already driving the others mad to the extent that Wolowitz asks for an icicle to kill him with because they don't have time for a crossbow!

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            Why Should You Watch This?

            Honestly I suspect that if you watched the first season of The Big Bang Theory this question will not even cross your mind, it is a very addictive show. But for those new to the show, you should watch this because it is a funny, quirky show that takes a different look at highly intelligent people that is neither cruel nor insulting.

            The characters, for all their many flaws, have become more endearing as time has gone on. Their quirks and foibles are not only tolerable but funny, and watching as these socially inept men try to integrate themselves into the outside world may be frustrating, but will have you rooting for the geeks every time (Even Wolowitz!).

            They have started to move into more obvious territory in this second season, such as Penny falling for a smarter and more attractive guy, but they have done it in a way that doesn't seem old and tired as it could have. Amazingly the on-again off-again relationship between Leonard and Penny hasn't fallen into the boring trap of becoming a Ross and Rachel disaster, which for someone who was driven mad by that the first time Friends was aired is very welcome.

            The Big Bang Theory is a funny show that has managed to make itself seem entirely plausible with great acting and wonderful scripts, it doesn't rely on old tried and tested ways of being funny by pinching from other comedy shows and doesn't talk down to it's audience.

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            DVD Information & Extras

            Season 2 of The Big Bang Theory has a runtime of 536 minutes, contains the full 23 episodes and three nicely presented extra features and is spread across 4 disks. As with the previous season, this is a certificate 15, though could be enjoyed by younger teens unless you take offence to mentions of sex or merely of subjecting your child's pure mind to the madness that is Sheldon Cooper.

            The extra's run to 35 minutes and consist of two featurettes and a gag reel:

            Big Bang Theory: Physicist To The Stars - A short featurette on the show's science consultant, Dr. David Saltzberg who checks facts and contributes to the funny and intelligent dialogue in the scripts. He makes this piece easy to understand whilst enlightening us further on some of the science used in the show. He is a funny and lovely guy, and hopefully for season 3 they'll give him an even longer featurette.

            Testing The Infinite Hilarity Hypothesis: Longer than the previous featurette, this one features the cast talking about how their character has changed throughout the show and what impact that has had on the show itself. It's a fun and enjoyable watch, but when you consider that this was given 5 minutes more time than David's piece it seems like they may have made a bit of a mistake - David's featurette should have been the longest!

            Gag Reel: Ever wanted to know what happens the first few times Sheldon attempts one of his madly lengthy diatribes? Well here it is in all of its glory, along with screw ups by the rest of the cast. A good giggle for 10 minutes that proves that though the cast make the script look effortless in the final take, it does take work!

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            Final Verdict?

            For me, this show is a breath of fresh air in a sea of samey dross and never-ending repeats of older shows (E4, I am looking at you when I complain about that). There is no real way to compare it to another comedy show as nothing has really been done in the same vein - the closest show to it is The IT Crowd which has taken more of a surreal take of geeks rather than TBBT's more realistic look.

            As previously mentioned in my review of the first season, you know you are in for something good when the opening theme starts (For those who missed that one, it is by the Barenakedladies and can be seen in full at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBAjIgjPebg ). It is catchy and educational and on more than one occasion I've found myself singing it to myself. Perhaps a sign of madness but I prefer to put it down to a great choice of music. It's the only real music that is ever in the show, which makes it all the more important that they got the song perfect.

            The characters have developed during this and the previous season, and though their maturing has moved slowly, it is nice to notice the subtle changes in each of the characters. Leonard has become more realistic, Wolowitz is even more determined to prove himself - both as an equal to Sheldon and as a romantic prospect for any woman he meets, Raj has embraced his muteness and has found it works to his advantage at times - and interestingly it turns out that his problem doesn't need alcohol to fix it, and Sheldon...well he hasn't become any less neurotic, but he is nicer to Penny and more welcoming of her, which leads to attempts by him to expand his social circle on a few occasions.

            The newer characters to the story have been of interest, Dr Stephanie for instance proves that just because you are very smart doesn't mean you have to be a complete social outcast like the guys, and for a little while looked like she could be a more permanent fixture in the show. Leslie has become a lot more likable in an odd way, mainly because she is a smart and independent woman who enjoys driving Sheldon bananas. Kripke is irritating and truly arrogant, making Sheldon look like a good guy more than he usually does.

            But of all the new characters, the most interesting is comic-book store owner Stuart. Leonard is right to be so annoyed when Stuart asks Penny out on a date because the two of them are amazingly similar and it makes him question why he and Penny aren't together. Stuart's only real difference is that he has quite a few more social skills than him, and it seems to make him see that if he does really want to get the girl, he needs to work on himself - not on Penny like he attempted to do after their first date. It's the first time Leonard has acknowledged that perhaps the reason they aren't together is because he clearly isn't ready for it.

            For me personally, the stand out episode in this season is The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis. It features a rather dishy physicist who rides a motorbike, but that isn't the biggest attraction. This is the best episode in my opinion because it features Sheldon heavily, and he is not in his usual environment. He spends most of it either complaining about Christmas trees (Because they are a pagan tradition that has nothing to do with Jesus) or desperately trying to figure out a Christmas gift for Penny, ending up with an oddly logical theory - because the only way he could cope with it was to make a hypothesis! But it is the closing moments of the episode which make it so brilliant when you see the look on Sheldon's face when he open's his gift from Penny, and his actions afterwards are not only mad and funny, but ever so sweet and proof that if he tries real hard, he can act like a human being.

            There have also been some nice references to things in our own real world, with Summer Glau of Firefly and The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dr. George Smoot guest-starring as themselves, and reference to Sam Kass's version of Rock-Paper-Scissors which reduces the chances that the game will end in a tie - his version, Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock can be found at his website www.samkass.com/theories/RPSSL.html - though since it's mention on the show Sam has been driven crazy by fools e-mailing to say that Sam has stolen it from The Big Bang Theory. Clearly some fans cannot read, as the post contained the game and it's rules is from January of 1998 prompting him to post the following notice at the end of his original post:

            "Notice: If you saw this on the Big Bang Theory and are about to accuse me of ripping off them, please look at this site [archive of Sam Kass's website], note the dates, and ponder the implications."

            So just in case you don't feel like opening another browser window - though you should because Sam Kass has a very interesting website, these are the rules for Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock:

            Scissors cut Paper
            Paper covers Rock
            Rock crushes Lizard
            Lizard poisons Spock
            Spock smashes Scissors
            Scissors decapitates Lizard
            Lizard eats Paper
            Paper disproves Spock
            Spock vaporizes Rock
            Rock crushes Scissors

            This version of Rock-Paper-Scissors is much more fun than the original and would have been lesser known had it not been for the Big Bang Theory, which just shows that you can learn something from the show, even if it's not to do with physics!

            So, to sum up. Season 2 of The Big Bang Theory has surpassed the excellence of the first season with ease and is most definitely worth buying. This is a funny show that is different to the norm, and with a nice amount of extras and a longer run of episodes it is clear that the network who commission it have realised they are onto a winner. Season 3 is now airing in the UK on E4 and season 4 was commissioned at the same time as the third so it will be on our screens for some time - so pick up the DVD and enjoy laughing at some intelligent yet crazy comedy.

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              10.12.2009 18:16
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              The dramamatic doctors just keep delivering.

              Returning for a third season, Nip/Tuck - the show about plastic surgeons in Miami is back with bigger cases, bigger shocks, and an ending to beat the two previous finales. The story arc about The Carver is in full flow with victims still coming to McNamara/Troy and the police are no wiser as to who The Carver really is. Tune into season 3 to find out the identity of the attacker who has plagued Miami for two seasons, playing havoc with the minds and bodies of the beautiful people.

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              What Is Nip/Tuck?

              As covered in my two previous reviews, Nip/Tuck is the US drama about plastic surgeons Sean and Christian and their lives inside and outside the clinic. Sean has to cope with his on-again/off-again wife Julia, his young daughter Annie, and playing a father figure to stupid Matt even though as we all found out in the last season, he is not Matt's biological father (Honestly looking at him is it any wonder?). Christian is coping with the aftermath of the season finale where The Carver was waiting for him and the pair are trying to figure out their friendship and working relationships again after so much has happened.

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              Are There Any New Characters?

              As always there are a few newcomers to the cast, and Quentin Costa has become a main fixture. Our newer cast members are as follows:

              Ariel Alderman (Brittany Snow): Matt's latest girlfriend in his run of psychopaths and weirdoes is no less strange than those that came before her. They initially bond over a hatred of plastic surgery - his reason being because Sean and Christian are surgeons, her reason is because she doesn't like that people can hide their heritage and pretend to be "normal" (She makes these comments in reference to a number of Jewish girls that have had nose jobs at their school). Yes, you've probably guessed from that sentence, she's a hate-filled racist - if you aren't Christian and Caucasian, she hates you. And of course she gets Matt wrapped up into her and her family's way of thinking.

              Abby Mays (Rebecca Metz): Oh Rebecca, why why why. Rebecca is one of Christian's patients and makes the mistake of asking what she needs done whilst Christian is raging inside about Kimber, he is cruel and mean to her. Yet she comes back and has treatment and then goes on a date with the surly doctor, ending in one of the most embarrassingly humiliating sex scenes ever involving a paper bag. Even after this encounter she comes back again, is she a glutton for punishment or so much more?

              Cherry Peck (William Belli): Cherry is a transsexual whom Matt meets in a bar and starts flirting with, unaware of her pre-op status. It isn't a date that ends well for Cherry, but later in the season Matt starts to see that it's the person inside that counts, whether they are a pre-op transsexual or not.

              Kit McGraw (Rhone Mitre): The smoulderingly sexy Kit is a detective from England who has been drafted in to help with The Carver case, she's known for being good at her job and turns one of our lead characters heads - but there is something a little strange about her.

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              Episodes

              Momma Boone: After the attack in the second season finale, Sean struggles to run the business alone and looks for a new partner whilst Christian tries to get over his debilitating and soul-destroying ordeal at the hands of The Carver. Julia decides to finally make a decision over her marriage to Sean, and Kimber has to make a big decision too. Sean meanwhile has to operate on a morbidly obese 600 pound woman who needs her skin surgically removed from the couch it has moulded to, and Kit McGraw makes her debut as a detective investigating The Carver.

              KiKi: An odd patient is under the knife in this episode, work is done to remove a facial scar on a female gorilla whose appearance is frightening her would-be suitors. The new doctor at McNamara/Troy Quentin Costa (Last seen in episode Sean McNamara when he performed surgery on Sean) arrives to stand in full-time for Christian whilst Sean performs surgery to remove gang tattoos from the face of a man who wants to go straight. Matt finds out the truth about Ava (From last season) and takes out his anger on a transsexual he meets in a bar. Bad move Matt, as usual.

              Derek, Alex And Gary: Karma works fast in Nip/Tuck, and Matt is attacked by a group of transsexuals after his disgusting attack on one innocent person in the previous episode. One day he'll learn, but in the meantime Julia, Christian and Sean argue over what to do with him (I have a few suggestions guys). Christian, clearly feeling better, is having trouble with his three-way relationship with Kimber and Kit- especially when one of the lovely ladies invites Quentin into their arrangement and Christian realises he isn't just interested in the girls. This episodes case shows that it isn't just the bright that go to college, the patients are three frat boys - two of the boys faces have been glued to the behind of another.

              Rhea Reynolds: Matt just can't stop being a complete jerk when he files a restraining order against Sean, prompting the CPS (Child Protective Services) to start investigating. They could take Annie away for Matt's actions. Christian and Quentin operate on another Carver victim but there's something that doesn't quite fit about her story. In a much sweeter case, Sean meets an elderly woman who wants surgery to look young again in the hope that her husband who has late stage Alzheimer's will recognise her.

              Granville Trapp: Rhea is back, sort of, and Christian is under suspicion as The Carver strikes again. Kit is hot on his tail suspecting that his own attack was self-inflicted to put others off the scent, but also manages to do something amazing for Christian by reuniting him with someone from his past. In the midst of all this Sean operates on a man with AIDS who doesn't want to look in the mirror and see the ravages of the disease on his face every day.

              Frankenlaura: Clients aren't exactly banging the door down to get work done by McNamara/Troy after the news of Christian's arrest becomes public knowledge, so the pair carries out pro bono work for the Miami police. The case is to take apart a dangerous necrophiliac's plaything, constructed from parts of murder victims. Gina is back and has a business opportunity for Julia, creating a spa complex that could use the same client base as the surgery.

              Ben White: A man comes to the clinic wanting his leg amputated, even though there is nothing physically wrong whilst Sean begins working for the FBI performing surgeries on those going into witness protection - his first case being a mother and son hiding from the mob. Julia and Gina set to work on their new business, marketing a face cream to Joan Rivers whom they want to advertise it made from something a little unusual.

              Tommy Bolton: Sean makes a huge mistake in letting two of his patients stay at his home when he barely knows them. The problems of lust eh. Christian has a lot on his plate as a tense meeting with his mother doesn't go as planned and also operates on a very mature young man with Down's Syndrome who would like a nose job so that he can look more like the rest of his family. Quentin and Julia give into their mutual attraction whilst working on combining the spa and surgery to share clientele.

              Hannah Tedesco: An identity crisis is to be had when Sean thinks about giving up his own life and running away with his patient who is in witness protection and then wonders if he should come back to McNamara/Troy. A facial transplant operation that could put the clinic on the map is about to be performed, but just before starting Christian finds out something about Quentin that puts the entire operation in jeopardy and a housewife comes to the clinic asking to be made to look like Kimber after her husband refuses to have sex with anyone but the replica doll featured in the second season.

              Madison Berg: In a disturbing episode Matt manages to find a girl that likes him, and who is against plastic surgery. Sounds fine but her reasoning leaves a lot to be desired believe me, especially when Matt meets her polite, well-mannered but insane family. Sean makes up his mind over who he wants to be and where he wants to stay and Christian and Kimber panic and doubt their relationship.

              Abby Mays: After the previous episode Christian is angry and determined to move on but he is clearly not in the right place to be speaking to anyone with low self esteem when he vents his frustrations on a client who wants to be made beautiful and then debases her further in the bedroom. You will hate Christian right now. Sean becomes worried about Matt's relationship with Ariel and walks in on Quentin being very unprofessional with a male patient - if that's not bad enough the patient is married and will lose their job if this is found out. Like Sean wasn't angry enough about Quentin being with Julia, this is just the last straw.

              Sal Perri: Run and hide, Julia's mother is back in town to see the spa and as you'd expect, she has nothing good to say about the business or her daughter. Julia flips at this point and tells her to leave on the first flight out and never come back, but after that plane crashes during take-off has Julia really said something she will regret? Her, Christian and Sean end up working at the crash-site on the limited number of survivors, with Julia finally getting to experience surgery first-hand after all her training and Sean and Christian operate with stresses of their own.

              Joy Kringle: Ho ho ho a professional Santa and Mrs Claus are today's patients, who are her for surgery to make them slimmer and thus a better role model for children in this age of growing obesity. The surgery on Santa and Mrs Claus is a success, but during her lipo treatment the surgeons find something tragic and strange. Julia collapses at home whilst Matt and his girlfriend get very angry at the school nativity scene and decide to do something about it, and Ariel gets some startling information about her family's past.

              Cherry Peck: Kimber has been found in a bad way, and Christian is determined to fix things with her in more ways than one. Sean is blackmailed into doing free surgeries on transsexual Cherry once he's told of Matt's involvement in her disfigured face before asking Julia to move back in with him. Kit interrogates a new suspect in The Carver case and finds out something shocking.

              Quentin Costa: In the shocking season finale that wraps up The Carver story arc that has run over two seasons The Carver is working faster than ever, attacking an entire sorority house and Quentin. It's clear to Kit that the attacker is getting desperate but with no new leads panic sets in. Matt goes to break up with Ariel, but her and her father have other plans for him and transsexual Cherry - forcing Matt to commit a heinous act. Meanwhile Julia discovers the truth about her unborn baby who she's been having nightmares about and The Carver is unmasked before he can attack again, with the identity and reasons for the brutal attacks being a shock to everyone. This is not a finale to miss!

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              Why Should You Watch This?

              If you watched the previous season then you will have to watch the third to find out who The Carver is (Though if that's all you want to know and aren't interested in continuing watching just watch the final episode of this season - very little else will make sense but your curiosity will be satisfied). But there are other reasons to watch this season, the characters are surprisingly still developing on screen - which is a shock as often a character will stay the same no matter how many season into a show you are.

              In this season there is a lot more focus on Julia and Sean living separate lives so thankfully there is less arguing between them, and it's interesting to see where their separate lives take them - Julia with her spa and Sean not really knowing what he wants at one point. Julia has always seemed like the one without a plan before this season so to see her be so determined and organised is a nice move. It's as though she's better off when they are apart and he falls to pieces without her. (Which if you heard about research that suggests that men live happier lives when married actually makes a lot of sense and isn't as fantastical as it may have seemed).

              And for those that hate Christian - and that's not exactly a small chunk of the audience - we get to see the unthinkable, he gets his heart broken. And though yes, you do feel a little bad for him, it is rather satisfying to see him hurt the way he hurts others. But this move also makes the character more likeable, as you can see how broken up he is and what a tragedy it has been. Sadly that sympathy won't last when he meets Abby; he once again shows that deep down he is a jerk (Not the word I'd like to use but I've already had to censor the title).

              Matt features heavily again, and with his friend in prison you'd hope he'd see sense and go straight. But once again proving that he is the stupidest teenager in Miami, he makes a dumb decision. As infuriating as it is to see him jump from one ridiculous mistake to another without taking responsibility, he is made to see the error of his actions a few times in this season - to the extent that his entire view of people changes after meeting Cherry and Ariel's family.

              New viewers to Nip/Tuck stop reading - season 3 is not for you. There is no way you will be able to catch up with everything that happened in the previous season so please, for the sake of your sanity, go pick up season 1 (Or 2 at the very least) and begin from there. Honestly if I had started watching at season 3 I probably would have given up because so much of what went on in the previous seasons is important to things now.

              As always there is a lot of sex, violence and surgery - so not for the faint of heart. But in this season we also have the continuation of The Carver's mutilations, which are unpleasant viewing, and the slow indoctrination of Matt into a very white supremacist way of life. This is not for younger viewers or for anyone who doesn't want a heavy-going show, as the subject of racism is going to come up a lot from a very different angle to usual as Matt becomes embroiled into being for it.

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              Final Verdict

              This third season was exciting viewing for me as I desperately wanted to know who The Carver was, having watched the last season and the carnage The Carver caused. It gets a little murder mystery at times as the finger is pointed at practically everyone but unfortunately I figured out who The Carver was a little early on into this season. However it seems the writers had counted on this happening with some viewers who were watching far too closely and still made sure there was one final shock in store for the unmasking finale - the reasons for the crimes and how they were carried out was not something anyone could have expected and truly left me open-mouthed as I watched.

              The newer characters were once again an interesting mix; there were certainly no two characters that were alike. The actor playing Cherry was a great choice and played the part well, really making me feel emotionally for the character and wanting justice for her. It was also nice to have a Brit character as it made a change from the usual American accent, and getting Joan Rivers to appear again was a wise move. She was funny as hell and helped the spa story progress, which without her may have become stale.

              For me, the most interesting part of the third season other than The Carver's unveiling was its in depth look at appearances and not judging by them. This for a show about plastic surgeons was a slightly strange choice to make, but made for compelling viewing.

              After all if we were to judge characters by their appearances what would we see: firstly Julia always seemed to be the woman who couldn't get it together, Christian was a heartless fiend, Sean was completely unflappable, and Ariel's family appear to be a nice regular American family. But as the saying goes "never judge a book by its cover", and that can be applied here. Appearances, which are important in plastic surgery because aesthetics are what is most important, mean nothing in the third season. In fact judging others by them leaves you surprised shocked and disgusted with regards to the above characters. Pretty much every character in this third season is hiding something you wouldn't have expected by looking at them, and not only does it make you see things differently in the world of TV but it should be a gentle reminder to do the same in the real world.

              I would recommend this season of Nip/Tuck as nothing is as it seems and over-thinkers and philosophisers will love dissecting everything that goes on here. It's not simple but when has it ever been simple in Nip/Tuck?

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              DVD Information & Extras

              Season 3 consists of 15 episodes totalling 675 minutes approx spread over 6 disks. As always it's rated 18 - and this is not a rating for the sake of it, Nip/Tuck is strictly for adults. Sadly no special features, but seeing as it only costs £9.98 on Amazon for so much viewing that isn't the biggest issue.

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              • More +
                02.12.2009 10:44
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                Embrace your inner geek!

                A comedy show about physicists? Really? How can a comedy about geeks be funny, unless there is someone being mean to them/about them? Well that's where The Big Bang Theory comes in, smart and funny with highly intelligent characters; this show has succeeded at making a comedy with geeks for main characters work. So much so that it is already set to run for at least 4 seasons.

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                What Is The Big Bang Theory About?

                The Big Bang Theory is about a group of four very smart guys who work at the local university, CalTech. Their lives consist of video games, comic books and sci-fi until the beautiful Penny (Who is of normal intellect) moves in next door. What follows is attempts to flirt, date and generally interact socially with Penny and others in the world with varied results. Every episode is different to the last, with the only real thread through them all being Leonard's love for Penny. Plus there is the addiction of fun titles for each episode, made by a blend of scientific theories and something from the episode itself.

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                Who Is In It?

                Leonard Hofstadter, PhD (Johnny Galecki): With an IQ of 173, Leonard is one of our lead characters. He got his PhD when he was 24 (Which his room-mate believes makes him inferior) and works as a physicist at the university. He collects action figures (otherwise known as collectables to sound more grown up), loves Battlestar Galactica and occasionally listens to emo soft rock. He desperately wants to be with next door neighbour Penny but finds it hard to make his feelings known. In the series he is the source of a lot of sarcastic and dry jokes and is the voice of reason in the madness.

                Sheldon Cooper, PhD (Jim Parsons): Leonard's room-mate Sheldon has an IQ of 187 and was a child prodigy. College started when he was 11 and he has 2 PhD's and a Masters, which makes him feel immensely superior to his friends. His mother, a devote Christian, claims that god gave him his brains and often dismays at his odd behaviour. Sheldon has many social problems, from an obsessive need for things to be in a certain routine to a complete lack of understanding when it comes to things such as modesty, irony or sarcasm. He is a huge fan of Doctor Who - specifically getting up early to watch it on BBC America. He's one hell of an oddball but is absolutely hysterical to watch; he truly doesn't fit into the human race and doesn't want to.

                Penny (Kaley Cuoco): Blonde and beautiful, Penny is Leonard and Sheldon's next door neighbour in their apartment block. Far from being the dumb blond that could have been written, Penny is your average person - and to be fair when it comes to social skills and pop culture she has got every smart guy in this show beat. Originally from Nebraska, she aspires to be an actress but whilst she waits for that dream to come true she is a waitress/bartender at the Cheesecake Factory. She thinks Leonard and Raj are sweet, that Howard is creepy and that Sheldon is a complete loon. All fair assumptions!
                Rajesh Koothrappali, PhD (Kunal Nayyar): Raj is from New Delhi and works as a particle astrophysicist at Caltech with the rest of the guys. Raj has his own problems, other than often wanting to kill Sheldon. He cannot speak around women, his shyness renders him mute - except when he has found temporary cures in drinks and drugs (Though he does once speak with Penny in the room without aids like these). Due to his muteness he is often forgotten about in the group - once everyone went to bed and turned the lights out whilst he was still sitting there.
                Howard Wolowitz, M. Eng (Simon Helberg): Howard, generally known by his last name, is a Jewish engineer who still lives with his mother - a woman we never see but boy do we hear a lot of her. He doesn't have a PhD, which Sheldon likes to point out often, but he does has a Master's degree in engineering from MIT and builds things that go into space - something he tends to point out a lot too. Wolowitz believes himself to be a ladies man, but he's cheesy and offensive pick up lines tend to upset women rather than attract them - including Penny who has on occasion called him a creepy little man. Think Austin Powers with worse lines, worse dress sense and much worse hair! (Deep down he is a good guy though).
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                Episodes

                This first season consists of 17 episodes that run for 20 minutes each (Yes really, they are short - apparently American TV channels love advertisements even more than UK ones!

                Pilot: The two brilliant but socially inept physicists have a new neighbour to deal with when the beautiful (and single) Penny moves into the apartment across the hall from them. After an awkward first meeting it's clear that Leonard has fallen for her, but Sheldon points out some flaws in his plan. Of course Leonard doesn't listen and the pair end up going to Penny's rather large ex-boyfriends place to pick up the TV he refuses to give back, ending in embarrassment and Leonard owing a call to Sheldon's mother!

                The Big Bran Hypothesis: Sheldon's OCD tendencies get the better of him (No change from usual there) when he and Leonard bring over a package for Penny and sees her home. In a Monica from Friends-type scenario Sheldon uses the spare key to her home to tidy her home, prompting outrage from Leonard who eventually gives in. Penny isn't so pleased when she wakes up, in fact she wants blood. Leonard does too once he is told how she knew it was them. After a "talk" with Raj (More like a talk at Raj really) Penny sees things differently and there is some very strange cuddling and sniffing between Raj and Wolowitz because of her.

                The Fuzzy Boots Corollary: After seeing Penny with a date outside her place, Leonard becomes melancholy and emo over matter, which involves sighing a lot, singing badly to soft rock and contemplating buying a cat. Sheldon, in desperation to not have a cat points out to the emo physicist that he never asked Penny out so he hasn't be rejected. This leads to an awkward dinner where not only does Leonard make excuses over why the other guys haven't turned up, but ends up with Leonard bleeding after a table gets in his way.

                The Luminous Fish Effect: The ever tactful Sheldon gets fired after he insults his new boss. Refusing to apologise and ask for his job back, Sheldon's unemployment and boredom leads him into further madness than usual - deciding to create glow in the dark fish, driving Penny nuts by tagging along on shopping trips and making experiments out of breakfast foods. This prompts Leonard to call Sheldon's mother as a last resort and the devoutly Christian lady has to solve it all.

                The Hamburger Postulate: The gang are driven barmy by Sheldon's complaining when they switch from their usual burger place to the Cheesecake Factory where Penny works. Respite comes in the form of Leslie Winkle, a female scientist who needs a new cellist for her quartet. But after practice things heat up and Sheldon rushes to Penny's door to find out what a neck-tie on a doorknob means, though after hearing a comment from outside Leonard's door no explanation is really necessary.

                The Middle Earth Paradigm: It's the group's first real social outing when Penny invites the boys to her Halloween party, though costume choices cause problems more than once. Wolowitz, Leonard and Sheldon attempt to talk to Penny's friends whilst Raj hides out on the couch terrified. The ex from the first episode turns up rather scantily clad and after a confrontation Leonard and penny end up back at his place with her lamenting why can't all men be like Leonard - to which he replies sadly "Because the human race wouldn't survive".

                The Dumpling Paradox: A friend of Penny's from back home turns up and somehow is seduced by Wolowitz - it's his lucky day! Whilst they are busy doing lord knows what Penny sleeps at Leonard and Sheldon's, disrupting his inane early morning routine and making him miss the first 25 minutes of Doctor Who! With Wolowitz "otherwise engaged" Penny joins the rest of the gang for Halo night with hilarious results. Sheldon is not pleased with this new arrangement but is more concerned by what will be done with the extra dumpling on Chinese food night.

                The Grasshopper Experiment: Raj is distraught when his parents arrange a blind date for him, even though they must know that he cannot speak in front of women. A saviour arrives in the form of Penny who is bartending to earn extra cash and tests out her skills on the guys, with a surprising result. Unfortunately the date isn't fantastic and she leaves with someone astounding after all that happens, upsetting Raj and his parents (especially when they talk to him whilst he's still a bit drunk).

                The Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization: There are fights a plenty in an episode where Leonard finds a letter inviting him and Sheldon to do a presentation in the bin. Sheldon has decided that if he doesn't want to do the presentation then no one will be doing it, infuriating Leonard and spurring him on to go and do it by himself. Penny gives fashion advice and tries to fix things between the warring physicists but manages to strain things further, culminating in an all out fight at the conference.

                The Loobenfeld Decay: Don't ever ask Sheldon to lie for you. Leonard is about to learn this the hard way when in making up a little white lie to get out of seeing Penny's awful singing performance in Rent it turns into a multi-faceted Oscar worthy performance involving a hired actor. Sheldon's paranoia that Penny will find out the original lie by logging onto the University's website is truly laughable. But will this lie work out any better than the first one?

                The Pancake Batter Anomaly: Penny comes back from a visit home and mentions in passing that her family was sick, putting super sensitive Sheldon onto red alert for germs. Too little too late as Sheldon does get sick and due to previous illness the guys run and hide in the local cinema because of "Code Milky Green" - clearly this has happened before and they aren't willing to be anywhere near the even more irritating than usual Sheldon. Penny gets dragged into the mess when he turns up at the Cheesecake Factory exclaiming to customers that they're all doomed and somehow ends up with her putting him to bed and singing "Soft Kitty" to him. When Penny finds out that the guys ditched him and left her to do everything she is understandably mad, but the way she finds out is rather funny.

                The Jerusalem Duality: Jealousy ahoy when Sheldon meets a teenage prodigy who is smarter than him. To make himself feel better he decides to "help" his friends by going to their labs and criticising everything they do before flipping out and deciding to aim for the Noble Peace Prize with his latest idea designed to bring peace to the Middle East in the maddest way possible. The guys have a plan to restore whatever sanity Sheldon used to have and succeed somehow, but their plan makes them question themselves in relation to the teenager's social skills.

                The Bat Jar Conjecture: The gang plan to compete in the annual Physics Bowl but when Sheldon takes over and gets too big for his boots they decide to kick him off the team, replacing him with one of his foes. Sheldon builds his own team from a more unlikely source and compete, but Sheldon's ego deals a huge blow. Penny, increasingly fed up with arguments over who is smarter, ends the show with her own test of who is smartest but due to some serious difference between her and the boys, the quiz is a lot tougher than the Physics Bowl ever was.

                The Nerdvana Annihilation: Before bidding on eBay you should read through the listing carefully - something that Leonard fails to do and so ends up as part owner of a life-sized actual prop from the film The Time Machine. But after blocking the stairwell when Penny is late for work, harsh words are said leading Leonard to start packing away his collectable action figures to sell off. Whilst Raj and Wolowitz argue over who will get ownership of some of Leonard's rarer figures, Sheldon does the right thing and talks to Penny to fix things with his room-mate.

                The Pork Chop Indeterminacy: Did you know that Sheldon has a twin sister? No, wait, don't run and hide - she is NOTHING like Sheldon. So much so that all the guys are fighting over her with Sheldon having no clue what is going on and Penny rescuing the poor girl. After some sneaky shenanigans and a punch to the crotch Sheldon decides to let his sister date whoever she wants, with each of the guys attempting to woo the lady. In the meantime Raj has been trying something new to help his crippling shyness, he's in a drug trial that is supposed to help with these sorts of anxiety - perhaps it'll be just the thing for his turn to woo.

                The Peanut Reaction: After finding out that Leonard never had a birthday party, Penny decides to throw him a surprise one and enlists the help of Sheldon, Raj and Wolowitz to help. But Sheldon complicates thing further by not buying a gift and after much persuasion from Wolowitz and Penny he winds up at an electrical store and gets distracted by others. Wolowitz makes a big sacrifice for Leonard (well, more for information on Penny's more easy friends) in order to keep him distracted but when it overruns due to the time spent in hospital Leonard gets the greatest gift of all.

                The Tangerine Factor: Penny's latest boyfriend gets dumped after she finds very private details about their sex-life on his blog, prompting Wolowitz to scour the entire web searching for it to feed his obsession with Penny. Leonard tries to help Penny but his advice backfires and gets him into trouble leading to the big question of a date from Leonard. Both worry in the days leading up to the date and for some reason decide to ask Sheldon for dating advice (The man who prefers Klingon Boggle to women!) that involves Schrödinger's cat. To stop the episode getting too mushy and romantic, there is also the side-story where Sheldon asks to be taught Mandarin because he's certain that the tangerine chicken he orders from their usual restaurant is in fact being made with oranges - he should have practiced more because his insistent ramblings about tangerine bicycles could get him locked up.

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                Why Should You Watch This?

                You should watch this because it is a quirky little comedy that deserved more fanfare on release than it got. It is funny without being cruel and doesn't talk down to the audience when it comes to the science talk - they even have a science consultant on the show to make sure what they are saying is correct (even if it isn't always entirely understandable).

                The characters in the show are all very different, but oddly all also manage to be funny. Sheldon and Leonard are basically the modern day geeky Odd Couple, with Leonard being pretty laid back and sensible (Though he has a tendency to overanalyse tiny little moments) and Sheldon as the neurotic and obsessive compulsive guy who would honestly be happier if the entire world's population disappeared and left him all alone.

                There isn't a huge important story arc to this show, which though important with many means that you can dip in and out of this show if you want and not miss too much. The main stories throughout are the guys trying to learn how to be more sociable (Well, everyone but Sheldon), and Leonard's love of Penny from afar. Of course not having any huge complicated story arcs could mean that this won't hold the viewers interest but it really manages too because you can't help but wonder what these crazy guys are going to do next. And most importantly, when will they finally kill Sheldon? (As funny as he is he is also completely infuriating)

                If you like American sitcoms and are bored with the repeats on TV at the moment, try watching The Big Bang Theory. It's a funny show with a lot of big words and some weirdly endearing characters that you'll root for.

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                Final Verdict

                I came across The Big Bang Theory by chance whilst channel hopping when it was first shown on E4 and thought I'd give it a try as I was fed up of watching repeats of Friends, this turned out to be a great decision as the show is very funny and compelling viewing.

                I can't claim to understand everything the characters say when it comes to the science talk, but on a few occasions the show has prompted me to Google something - especially when it came to the mention of String Theory. The dialogue, though complex and fast paced, is still put in a way that seems kind of understandable on a basic level.

                I love all of the characters, which is a rarity because usually there's one character I just do not like that much. But they are all so varied and flawed it was hard not to fall in love with them - even creepy Wolowitz and screwball Sheldon. They also have some great reoccurring characters and since they started the show they have managed to get some great guest stars in (I wait impatiently for the third season featuring the legendary Lewis Black - youtube search him if you haven't a clue who I'm on about, any Bill Hicks fan will LOVE him).

                Even the theme tune is great in this show; it references the changes in the universe since the Big Bang (so yes, it's geeky). It's done by the Barenakedladies - think back boys and girls and you should be able to remember them! It is catchy, clever and just doesn't get old. It was even voted as one of the five most effective TV theme tunes and the extended full version has also been released as a single. (For those curious about why I love the theme song, here it is on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBAjIgjPebg )

                In conclusion The Big Bang Theory is one of my favourite comedies and this DVD didn't disappoint. I've been able to watch episodes several times and still notice something I hadn't before. I would recommend this to anyone bored with stale repeats or feeling that lately there has been little comedic gold on the TV, and especially to geeks of any kind. It's funny to see some of their madness in yourself and to be able to laugh along without feeling like they are saying it's wrong to be this way.

                The show is essentially a lesson in being yourself, they are all fine the way they are so long as they open up to others and new experiences. So sit back, watch this, and embrace your inner geek.

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                DVD Information & Extras

                This is 17 episodes long as previously mentioned and it is spread across 3 disks. It features English, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Polish and Finnish subtitles so caters to a wide selection of Europe.

                It's rated as a 12 certificate and is a nice comedy that isn't overly uncomfortable to watch, with little bad language, no nudity but mentions of sex often (presumably because the gang generally aren't getting any!). If you're bored of watching repeats of Scrubs and the never-ending recycling of Friends this is a show to try - the comedy isn't shocking but is still very funny, and the characters are loveable but different to those in other comedy shows. It will appeal to teens and adults alike and is perfect family viewing unless you're prudish on the subject of sex - though if that's the case you probably aren't letting your kids watch Friends or Scrubs either as the level of talk about sex is very similar. There are no overly mean characters in this show and jokes are not made cruelly at the expense of other characters - even though Sheldon does come in for a lot of ribbing with his obsessive ways. Sarcasm is a main comedic feature as is wacky situations.

                Extra's-wise (having found that there were some when I finally peeled off the barcode label the store had stuck on the back) it's not exactly plentiful but it is a nice addition:

                Quantum Mechanics Of The Big Bang Theory: A Behind-The-Scenes look into geek chic. This is a 17 minute feature with cast and crew over the huge risk they took in making a comedy focussing on physicists, why they did it and why it is so funny.

                This can currently be bought from Amazon for £10.98 (Or £10.99 on Play) which is very good value even with the lack of extras, though if you are unsure about risking that tenner channel 4 is currently repeating the first season on weekdays at 10:30am, so tune in or set the VCR.

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                  House- the cranky rude drug-addicted doc you will soon grow to love!

                  Just five years ago another medical drama from across the pond made a splash on UK viewers, this time featuring one of our own fine actors in the form of Hugh Laurie - previously known for his comedy work with Stephen Fry and his part in classic show Blackadder. This has now become one of Laurie's defining works, earning him and the show nominations and awards.

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                  What Is House?

                  House is a medical drama set in the US at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. It revolves around grumpy but brilliant Dr. House and his team as they try to figure out cases that more often than not involves racing against the clock to save a life. House will only take cases that interest him, which is known throughout his hospital and others which means that the strangest cases that no-one can figure out get sent to him to diagnose.

                  House was created after one of the creators was inspired by a column written by a doctor in the New York Times and there are many references to Sherlock Holmes throughout the show as Dr. House's treatment of those around him was based on Sherlock Holmes' own strange coldness. They originally pitched the show as a CSI-style medical drama, which they most definitely succeeded with creating.

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                  Who Is In It?

                  The main casting for this show is smaller than many popular US shows, though that's partly because the main premise of the show is to get a new patient and save them so that they can send them home.

                  Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie): The cantankerous lead character Dr Gregory House is an odd one. He's insanely smart with a deep love of music and driving people insane. House walks with a cane and takes a lot of Vicodin in order to carry out his day, the reason he walks with a cane is not fully explained until late in the season but we do see others around him berate him over his use of prescription painkillers like tic-tacs. Gregory is divorced, though he still loves his wife with all his heart (But due to something from the past also deeply resents her) and lives alone. His only friend is Wilson, and other than that he has no social life. Patients generally tend to love or hate him - they love him because he is infamous for being able to treat cases no other doctor can figure out, and hated because he has absolutely no bedside manner and will tell everyone and anyone of how stupid they are.

                  Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard): House's only friend Wilson is a kind-hearted man who cares about his patients and is the hospital's head of Oncology (Wilson's specialty). His friendship with the grumpy doctor is a little different from the norm, most of the time it's about arguing and playing head games. He's married and loves to upset House on those few occasions he can manage to win, and is the first person the team will turn to when they can't get House to listen to them.

                  Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein): As the woman in charge Cuddy spends a lot of her time chasing after House to force him to do his clinic hours or to take on cases. There is a lot of sexual tension between the two of them though neither would care to admit it. Cuddy is single and looking for love, she wants to settle down and have a baby but with a high-powered job and a liability like House on the staff it's amazing she gets time to sleep let alone date. She's straight-talking and stubborn, a lot like House but with a truck-load more tact.

                  Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison): The only woman on House's team, she is a very compassionate woman due to her own past tragedies and also has some unresolved sexual tension with House. As the only woman in the room most of the time she fights back as much as she needs to in order to be heard. House likes to joke about Cameron when it comes to dating and sexual matters, but she gives as good as she gets and impresses him with her confidence.

                  Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer): Chase is a lot like Wilson, which is probably why they get on so well and why House enjoys trying to mess with Chase too. He will work through the night if he needs to for a patient even if he's supposed to be off and is a level headed voice of reason in the team.

                  Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps): The final member of the team, and the only African-American, he has to put up with a lot of crap from House who likes to send him on break-ins when trying to figure out what's wrong with a patient. Everyone there and watching knows it isn't due to racism which is probably why he hasn't tried to kill House yet. Foreman lives in a very black and white world of stereotypes, as show with his heartlessness towards a homeless woman early on in this first season. As far as he's concerned there is good and there is bad and there's nothing in-between. Though a cut-and-dry view of the world can be okay in other jobs it is not helpful in the moral and ethical confusion which is the hospital, and there are many times that Foreman clashes with House over his behaviour. If only he could see that all the things he hates in House aren't that far removed from Foreman's own personality traits.

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                  Episodes

                  Pilot: Kindergarten teacher Rebecca Adler is having a bad day, whilst teaching her class she starts to talk in gibberish rather than words. The children laugh thinking she is being funny, but when she falls to the floor and begins convulsing it becomes a case for Dr. House and his team who must figure out what is causing her symptoms before she completely deteriorates.

                  Paternity: A high school lacrosse player who suffers from night terrors and double vision comes into the hospital seeking help. He baffles the team and with House now proposing a retinal biopsy that could permanently blind the boy the race is on for his team to figure out other ways to treat him.

                  Occam's Razor: A college student goes into shock and collapses during a wild night of sex with his girlfriend (Probably not the reaction she was hoping for) and becomes a mystery at the hospital, his white cell count keeps dropping and there is no improvement with IV fluid. Meanwhile at the clinic House is truly infuriated by the walk-in cases, as is the norm.

                  Maternity: A virus spreads through the maternity ward infecting the newborn patients of the hospital. House has to do the unthinkable and test different babies for different diseases in order to try and save the majority. Will his risky treatment pay off or is there about to be a huge hospital scandal in the papers?

                  Damned If You Do: Clinic hours again for House, but his usually irritating duties are pushed aside when a nun comes in with red and swollen palms. Believing it to be an allergy she's given a shot to calm the swelling but then goes into cardiac arrest which Dr Cuddy believes is down to House giving too high a dosage. To both prove his innocence and save the young nun he runs a battery of strange treatments and digs into the sisters' life past and present.

                  The Socratic Method: An episode about families where a schizophrenic mother with DVT arrives with her overly protective son, suspecting that not only is the mother lying about her drinking but that the son is over-medicating her, House takes her off of all her meds and has the team break into their home and search for answers.

                  Fidelity: A patient with symptoms of a rare African sleeping sickness only transmitted sexually comes in, but when both she and her husband claim that they have never been unfaithful House and the team have to make up their own minds before the patient ends up dead.

                  Poison: After toxins send a boy into convulsions and hallucinations during a high school exam the team begin testing for known toxins and treating him. However when the tests come back clear and the boy gets worse his mother steps in and stops them from proceeding with further treatment until the CDC speak to her.

                  DNR: House gets a welcome surprise in the hospital when famous jazz trumpet player John Henry Giles is admitted for breathing problems. However House takes things to far and winds up facing a courtroom for ignoring his DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order and refusing to accept his patient dying a slow painful death without looking into more experimental treatments.

                  Histories: A tearjerker episode that shines a light on the problem of homelessness, a homeless woman collapses at a rave house and is admitted. Foreman decides that she is clearly faking her seizures in order to get food and a bed for the night but after being bit by the patient and her vanishing House and the team have to track her down uncovering her tragic past and a deeper look at Foreman and Wilson.

                  Detox: A Porsche ends up in a bad way after the drivers boyfriend begins coughing up blood. As the bleeds continue House and the team attempt to discover the cause, but due to a challenge by Cuddy, House has accepted a bet that he can stop taking Vicodin (and if he does he doesn't have to work in the clinic for a whole month) and as his cravings get more and more severe so do his treatments for the bleeding boy.

                  Sports Medicine: A pitcher with a drug-addicted past and a bizarre case of brittle bones intrigues House after he breaks his arm in an unpleasant scene shooting a commercial. House thinks that as always, his patient is lying and is still on drugs. House also has to deal with clinic patients having lost the bet and decides that if he must do clinic hours, he will treat people as fast as humanly possible.

                  Cursed: If an Ouija board predicted you were going to die you'd probably just laugh it off, if only House's latest patient could do that. He's admitted to the hospital with a fever and a strange rash and it is presumed to be a simple case of pneumonia, but all is not well and what looked like a simple case turns into a medical conundrum where the answer could be anthrax, allergies, an autoimmune disease...or worse.

                  Control: As the new head of the hospital board tries to make themselves known throughout the episode House meets a seemingly confident female executive who is hiding a fragile heart - that is actually broken. The problem is that she can't get the transplant that will save her because she self harms and suffers with bulimia.

                  Mob Rules: House covers the case of a Mafia man who has collapsed before taking the stand, when he figures out the cause of his problem House has to question something about the mobster that could get the pair of them in deep trouble if found out. Back in the clinic a guy looking after his younger brother comes in when there is a blockage in his nose, with surprising results.

                  Heavy: An obese ten year old girl suffers a heart attack, and the girl's mother begs the team to look past her weight to figure out the true cause, leading House to believe that the little girl's weight is a symptom rather than the cause of her current medical issues. Meanwhile new head of the board Vogler throws his weight around, trying to force House to fire one of his team. Finally in the clinic we see that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder when a woman with a huge tumour on her ovaries refuses to have surgery to remove it for fear that she will be unattractive without it, leading House to really put his foot in it with some obvious comments even the viewer is thinking!

                  Role Model: House has to think about politics and scandal when an African-American senator who is running for president collapses during a fundraiser. House has to give the man some very bad life-altering news which would destroy his campaign but the patient is determined not to believe it is the truth. Vogler is still determined to make his presence felt and tries to force House to give a speech in favour of a drug made by Volga's company - you can bet House isn't planning to do what is expected.

                  Babies & Bathwater: Babies are the hot topic when one patient refuses to have treatment for cancer fearing the harm it will do to her unborn baby, whilst another couple at the hospital are arrested after it is found out that they have had their baby on a raw vegan diet (the parents seem oddly surprised that a baby would get ill from this). Elsewhere after all of House's insubordination recently Vogler wants House fired - Will Cuddy finally be free of the stress that is Dr Gregory House?

                  Kids: There's a meningitis outbreak in the hospital and while all the doctors are working to help the patients House finds himself drawn to one patient whose symptoms don't quite match, though everyone else believe he just has meningitis like the rest of the patients House is determined to figure out the cause and treatment that will save the young race drivers life.

                  Love Hurts: Today's patient is certainly a little odd - a 21-year-old who after appointments with many holistic doctors suffers a stroke. This would be a cut and dry case if it wasn't for one rather large question - was the stroke caused by the holistic medicine or by his dominatrix girlfriend? Also up for discussion is House's date with team member Cameron, will it be a complete disaster or the start of a beautiful romance...like anyone really needs to ask.

                  Three Stories: Here is an enlightening episode where House covers a class filled with medical students and decides to tell them three case studies about leg pain, bizarre as it is the students learn that they will have to work hard to be better doctors and House's team learn about House's past and a little of why he is the way he is. Unfortunately for House this isn't his only activity of the day; his ex-wife comes into the hospital and asks him to treat her new husband. Awkward!

                  The Honeymoon: The tests on Mark (House's ex-wife's new husband) have come back clear, there is apparently nothing wrong with him and he happily checks out of the hospital and away from House. But Stacy refuses to believe there is nothing wrong and implores House to help. With a little wine he manages to get him back into the hospital but is House taking out his anger at ex-wife Stacy on Mark?

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                  Fun Facts About House

                  For those who enjoy this sort of thing here are a few lesser known facts about House:

                  - When Hugh Laurie made his audition tape he had to do it in a hotel bathroom whilst he was shooting for film "Flight Of The Phoenix" - it would later be likened to a Bin Laden video due to the low light and odd surroundings.

                  - Bryan Singer thought that Hugh Laurie was American until told otherwise.

                  -Other people going for the part of Gregory House were Denis Leary (Thank god they didn't go with him otherwise I'd never have watched) and Patrick Dempsey (You know, the guy in the L'Oreal adverts - the unspeakably gorgeous one!).

                  -House's apartment number 221B is a sneaky reference to Sherlock Holmes' address.

                  -Dr. Robert Chase was not originally written for anyone other than an American; Jesse's agent persuaded them to rewrite the character as Australian for his client.

                  -The image of a Vicodin bottle was supposed to be in the opening title sequence but Fox were not happy with this featuring.

                  -If you go to Housecharitytees.com and you're lucky you'll be able to snag a t-shirt with a classic line on with the proceeds going to the charity National Alliance on Mental Illness (Though they are limited edition so if there are none now, check back every now and then as they like to raise money for the NAMI as much as possible).

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                  Why Should You Watch This?

                  If you enjoy mysteries, puzzles and piecing together clues you will enjoy House. This could be likened to CSI in the way that a case is presented, clues are searched for and a conclusion is made. The difference here is the cases involve live people and the killers aren't people but diseases.

                  There are plenty of characters to love and care about with pasts that unfold throughout this and the later seasons. The relationships between the characters are all rather different and go through strains as they would in real life, though in real life I'm sure someone would have had House fired by now!

                  This show could have been boring if the only focus was on the patient, what was wrong with them and treating them. But in this show you see the history of the patient, both good and bad, and more importantly the characters in the series are given well-written pasts that the viewer is privy to as the seasons go on. In many medical shows there isn't much focus on the doctors themselves and their personal lives or flaws, but here they are allowed to be as important as the cases.

                  The main reason you should watch House is for the title character Dr. Gregory House. He's arrogant, self-serving, drug-addicted and mean, but also witty, smart and determined to save his patients. For all his flaws, and he has some huge ones, he is an immensely lovable character. Though just reading a review about it won't show it, you really have to see him in action to see why he is so appealing.

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                  Final Verdict

                  When this show began I was ready to watch in curiosity - partly to see if Hugh Laurie could play a straight role with an American accent well as I had known him for his comedic roles. It was also appealing that it was different to the biggest medical drama at the time (ER).

                  Upon watching this I was surprised and overjoyed to see that Hugh Laurie really is an amazing actor who can play more than just the funny man. His American accent wasn't cheesy and was very believable, as was his insanely flawed character that is so rude but so wonderful all at once.

                  Almost instantly I was hooked on the show and wanted to see what would happen, not just with the cases but with the doctors too. It was clear that there was more beneath the surface of these characters and I was happy to wait to find out the mad, bad and sad things that had happened in their pasts. And I sat (and still do sit) glued to the screen waiting for the moment when House turns his head to the side or his eyes glint and you just know he's figured out the case. It's always something tiny and seemingly insignificant that gets his attention and its fun to try and figure out what it will be that gives away the diagnosis - more often than not I've been wrong but I've enjoyed it nonetheless.

                  This show isn't cold and clinical, and though they use a lot of medical jargon it's made very clear to the viewer what they are talking about. They even got to the effort of running scripts by several people in the medical profession before filming to make sure they are correct. This is an emotional show that makes you feel for all it's characters, and has had me reaching for tissues to dry my eyes when I've gotten a little weepy (Especially the episode Histories where there are many sad stories told - including the heartbreaking one by the patient). There aren't many shows that can make me shed a tear but this one has managed to a few times every season, I think that is a sign of great writing and fantastically emotional dialogue and performances by the actors.

                  In conclusion if you love a good mystery - whether that be Columbo, Sherlock Holmes or CSI - or have a fondness for medical shows, this is a show you should catch. Currently season 4 is showing on freeview channel FIVE US but unless you have watched the previous seasons I'd recommend you buy the DVD and catch up, because you find out more and more about the characters as time goes on it may not make as much sense if you throw yourself into the fourth season.

                  I loved this first season and it now has pride of place in my huge DVD collection, hopefully this might persuade a few more people to make the same decision (Especially as it's come down in price on every website and can be had for around £8-12).

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                  DVD Information & Extras

                  The first season of House is 22 episodes long and is spread over 6 disks. There is 926 minutes approx of viewing including the small array of extras on the final disk. The season is rated at a 15 though to be honest if it's shown to younger viewers I don't think it will do much harm unless they are a little squeamish or not mature enough to understand some of the moral dilemmas that crop up - if that's the case they are going to find this show boring because it won't make too much sense, though they'll enjoy watching House insult people. This has very little violence and nudity, bad language is used but I've heard much worse.

                  The DVD extras are rather short on this first box set, which is a shame but the extra's chosen are good.
                  Dr House: In depth look at the title character House with interview footage and classic clips.

                  Medical Cases: A look back at the medical cases featured in the season with commentary and interview from the shows medical consultant/writer. For anyone who wonders about how close to reality these medical shows can be if done right, this is a feature to watch.

                  The Concept: A short interview with the makers of House talking about how they came up with the idea for the show.

                  Set Tour: Look behind the scenes of the hospital with a guided tour which shows how much really has to go on backstage for filming to take place.

                  HOUSE-isms: A piece featuring clips from the season of House-isms, those lines that are so quintessentially House. It's interspersed with commentary from the entire main cast. This is a fun short piece to watch that will make you laugh.

                  Casting Session With Hugh Laurie: A 7 minute piece about casting with Hugh Laurie, it's nice to see him talk in his real accent and speaks candidly about getting the part.

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                  • Heroes - Season 2 (DVD) / TV Series / 59 Readings / 58 Ratings
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                    30.11.2009 10:46
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                    "...who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." C. Reeve

                    Heroes Season 2

                    Heroes became a worldwide phenomena after the first season ended with fans clamouring for the next season to air, wanting to know what would happen to their favourite characters, what tragedy would befall them this time round, and after the teaser at the end of the season finale why on earth was Hiro in Feudal Japan?

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                    What is Heroes about?

                    Heroes as ever is about the lives and struggles of a group of people with special abilities/powers that set them apart from the average human being. As established in the opening season, not all will use their powers for good - and they won't just use them against others with powers, they are willing to hurt innocent people with no idea that these abilities exist.

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                    Why Is The Second Season So Short?

                    As I mentioned previously, after the first season of Heroes aired there was widespread anticipation for the second season, some fans were evening likening it to the new generations Star Trek. And in terms of fan love and obsession they pretty much hit the nail on the head with that likening. Unfortunately for Heroes however, as they write and film at the same time (usually only writing 2-3 episodes ahead of what they are filming and often doing rewrites on the set) the writer's strike was a real blow to them and the second season. With the writer's out of action the series length had to be cut and they finished up the episodes they could. In a fortunate way there was one simple way to give the season a conclusive ending by changing one small moment where the drop of a vial could change the world as we know it. But they never planned for the second season to be only 11 episodes in length, due to unforeseen circumstances however there was little they could do - many shows just stopped mid season when the strike happened and as no-one knew when it would end that would be far too risky a move for a burgeoning show. So if you keep this in mind it's a lot easier not to feel hard done by with the shortness of the season.

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                    Where Is Heroes Set?

                    Heroes is set in two main places for this season, firstly as always it is set in America, and also Japan. The difference now is that rather being based in present day Japan we are transported back to Feudal Japan where Hiro has landed smack bang in the middle of battle. There are also large scenes in Ireland during this season plus a few trips south of the border to South America.

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                    Who Is In Heroes?
                    A new season means new characters, we've already been introduced to the main players but as the world of special people widens, we meet even more amazing and sometimes frightening people. We also have Sylar coming to the fore as a main character in this season but as he was previously covered in the first review I'll be focusing on characters who either didn't appear or were given only a brief glimpse.

                    Kensei (David Anders): The legendary Kensei is Hiro's very own hero, having heard the old tales of his epic fights and love story when he was a child. He meets Hiro in Feudal Japan and enlists his help in wooing the beautiful Yaeko. It's hard to categorise him as a good guy or bad guy, though he has a very mercenary-like was of working he has genuine feelings for Yaeko and wants to make her happy. But he doesn't exactly live up to the pedestal Hiro has had him on since childhood and certainly isn't what he expected.

                    Angela Petrelli (Cristine Rose): Mother of Peter and Nathan, she enjoys being one of the rich and powerful in New York. She loves both of her sons immensely but she often shows favour to Peter, infuriating Nathan who is the successful one. A mysterious woman with power and influence all of her own, she has the ability to dream the past, the future, and even get into others dreams and change them.

                    Bob Bishop (Stephen Tobolowsky): Robert Bishop is a slimy character, he is one of the people who set up The Company 30 years ago and spends his time giving them the money to be able to carry out their objective. Is he rich? Well, sort of. His power is that he has the ability to change objects into gold - an alchemist in the 21st century is certainly a useful person - especially when running world-wide tracking operations and building prison cells that could probably hold Superman if need be.

                    Elle Bishop (Kristen Bell): Daughter of Bob Bishop, Elle is a very confused young woman. It's hardly surprising as from birth her father began training her to work for The Company and spends the rest of his time putting her down. No moment of Elle's life has been anything close to normal and she is constantly seeking her father's approval. She has the ability to control and manipulate electricity - allowing the special effects team to have a lot of fun when she lets her powers loose.

                    Maya Herrera (Dania Ramirez): A young woman who along with her twin brother is trying to escape across the border into the US in search of help with her problematic new power. Through flashbacks the viewer gets to see the destruction Maya once caused and why she is so desperate for a cure. Her ability is that in intense emotional situations her eyes will turn jet black and she emits poison that affects everyone but her. Do not upset this girl!

                    Alejandro Herrera (Shalim Ortiz): The twin brother of Maya, he is very protective even though it's clear with her ability she can protect herself. He has suffered great tragedy in his life, not unconnected to the reason they are running. He has an ability too, but his could save lives - he has the ability to stop Maya from poisoning people, appearing to almost absorb it from her when he touches her.

                    Maury Parkman (Alan Blumenfeld): Maury is the estranged father of Matt Parkman, he left when Matt was just 13. Another founder of The Company, he believes that those with abilities are superior to those without and makes this very clear throughout. He, like his son, is also a telepath - but with time and training his powers are far stronger and better developed allowing him to read memories, make people do his bidding and also manipulate the world around them until they are in a kind of waking nightmare. He is known as "the Nightmare Man" by a young and powerful child and make no mistake; this is a man up to no good.

                    Molly Walker (Unknown): Introduced during season one (If you remember exactly where well spotted!) Molly Walker is a young girl who is highly sought after by both good and bad. The reason for this is her ability - she can track down and see every other person with abilities using the power of her mind. With her on side the good could assemble a larger team to save the world, but if the bad get their hands on her they will use her to construct this own rival group who would probably wipe out those without abilities for not being good enough. There is only one person with abilities that she doesn't want to look for, and that's Maury (The Nightmare Man) Parkman - but he's looking for her.

                    Adam Monroe (Cannot divulge identity as it will spoil things): Another of the many mysterious founders of The Company, Adam is a man most definitely in the grey area; his power is the same as teenage cheerleader Claire. His cells regenerate at a pace so fast that he can't die - except of course with the removal of his head as mentioned in my first review.

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                    Episodes

                    So a short run of 11 episodes this time around, but still have a running time of 42 (approx) minutes without adverts. The first two episodes were shown on BBC2 back to back as in season 1.

                    Chapter One "Four Months Later...": Its four months since the events at Kirby Plaza and things have changed significantly for the heroes. The Bennett's have moved to a new place to stay safe but whilst Claire is starting at her new high school she discovers that she isn't as alone as she had thought. Meanwhile her father Noah and Matt Parkman have teamed up to try and take down The Company with Noah's inside knowledge. Matt also has a new "family" in the form of Molly and Mohinder, who is co-guardian of the girl with him. Nathan is in a very dark place following the Kirby explosion whilst a confused hero ends up in Ireland, Kaito and Angela are sent information about their deaths and new characters Maya and Alejandro are on the run wanted for murder. Just another quiet day in the Heroes-Universe as you can see.

                    Chapter Two "Lizards": Mohinder takes a trip to Haiti to treat someone believed to have been infected with a new and dangerous virus and is surprised to see he knows the patient. Back in feudal Japan Hiro is attempting to teach his hero Kensei to make sure that he lives up to the stories told to Hiro as a child. Claire manages to mess up fast in her new home when another student sees her regenerate, will her secret be out?

                    Chapter Three "Kindred": Back in New York Mohinder starts to set up his new laboratory in a familiar setting and finds a bad omen for another of the heroes. Our confused hero stuck in Ireland helps new friends and starts to think that perhaps remembering who they are isn't that important. Hiro is still trapped in the 17th century getting increasingly tired of trying to make Kensei the legend he should be whilst in the present day Maya and Alejandro have gotten to Mexico but it isn't smooth sailing.

                    Chapter Four "The Kindness Of Strangers": Micah, now staying with relatives for safety, tries to win the hearts of his family by using his powers to impress them. It means that questions have to be asked about his powers, especially by Monica who is struggling with the fact that she doesn't seem to be like everyone else anymore. Matt continues his investigation into a sad murder and gets a confession from an unlikely source and Claire finds romance with someone who sweeps her off her feet.

                    Chapter Five "Fight Or Flight": Peter is afraid of losing love whilst Matt and Nathan try to find Maury, with trouble just around the corner for our flying hero. Mohinder takes Molly to The Company hoping to find someone or something that will help keep her safe not just from the world but from the terrible nightmares she's been having. A new hero finds their abilities for the first time in Texas; will they turn good or bad?

                    Chapter Six "The Line": Vengeance is on the cards when Claire decides to take the head cheerleader down a peg after refusing her a place. Mohinder is placed in an ethical dilemma when The Company ask him to test a vaccine on a blossoming hero he convinced to visit him in New York. Hiro falls for someone that could change world events if he gives in and Noah and the Haitian seek out Issac Mendez's last paintings, but they don't plan to just ask nicely.

                    Chapter Seven "Out Of Time": Peter ends up in a future time New York in which a virus has killed most of the world, as things fall into place in his mind once more the image of his mother Angela tells him to go back in time to prevent the virus getting out. Claire's beau meets Noah and it isn't a happy event as West realises where he recognises Noah's horn-rimmed glasses. In the past Hiro attacks the camp alone after falling out with Kensei whilst in the present another founder of The Company with a familiar face shows up.

                    Chapter Eight "Four Months Ago": By now we've all come to know what episodes with these titles mean, we're off to the past now to see what happened in the lives of the heroes after Kirby Plaza. Our South American newcomers are just coming into their powers as disaster strikes on the biggest day of Alejandro's life. Niki is in rehab - well The Company's version of rehab, they are giving her medication to control Jessica but when Niki stops taking the pills she doesn't have only Jessica to contend with.

                    Chapter Nine "Cautionary Tales": You should never pick up a hitch-hiker, and Maya and Alejandro would have done well to remember this as they travel with Sylar - who seems like a nice (albeit a tad creepy) man. Hiro gets back to the present, but faced with news of his father's death travels back to save him. Matt's abilities get stronger but these new facets to his telepathy are difficult to accept. Claire and Elle end up in a stand-off, both being used as bargaining tools by loved ones.

                    Chapter Ten "Truth & Consequences": In a tense penultimate episode Peter and new friend Adam find a founder of The Company who has long since given up the cause and find out where the virus that will wipe out the planet is being held. Sylar surprisingly does some good in helping Maya control her deadly power but it's not enough to make her brother trust him. Niki goes back to New Orleans to get Micah, but after his backpack is stolen things don't work out as simply as they could have whilst Hiro seeks revenge and Claire decides to tell the world about her powers to try and defeat the people responsible for her loss.

                    Chapter Eleven "Powerless": The season two finale is a busy one as always. In Odessa, Texas the two groups of heroes seeking the virus meet, with Nathan, Matt and Hiro desperate to get Peter to believe them when they say that Adam is not a good man. Niki tries to save a relative whilst Maya and Sylar find Mohinder and finally Sylar's true colours are revealed. Someone thought dead visits the Bennett's and Claire is asked to stay quiet. What is Sylar planning to do now he has found Mohinder? Will the virus get out? Will Peter see that he has made a terrible choice? Who will live and who will die in this final episode of Heroes season 2?

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                    Themes/Storylines Running Through Heroes

                    As always Heroes is a tangled web weaved of many separate stories and themes. Some are still running from the previous season but have been added to and some are completely new.

                    Claire's Identity: This has changed somewhat from the first season's take, now Claire has tracked down her real mother and found out the identity of her father. She knows more about herself but all the while she has had to begin anew again when the Bennett's move to a new town. Her struggle has changed from just trying to figure out who she is to also make sure she hides that for the sake of herself and her family and fits in at a new school with very different people.

                    Hiro's Maturity: Taken to a new level now, with Ando back in Japan and Hiro lost in feudal Japan he has had to learn how to look after himself quickly or he'll get an arrow in the back. He's found love once more but has to struggle with the fact that if he gives into this temptation he could change the entire world. He is faced with a situation where if he gives in and is selfish he could have everything he wants, but if he does the right thing he must look on from afar knowing that his unselfish act has kept the world as it is. After losing Charlie this is a difficult decision, one that his father would never have left up to him had he had the choice.

                    The Company: The Company are still rather confusing, are they bad or are they good? Well at times it seems they are trying to fix things, certainly their original motive seems to have been for good. But many members of The Company have gone too far, and it seems that if it isn't burnt down and rebuilt from the ground up they will become more corrupt and evil.

                    Sylar's Quest: The scalp-slicing serial stealer of abilities is back, and this time he is a lot more methodical about getting what he wants. That glimmer of goodness briefly seen in the first season is gone here, he has moved up a notch into calculating evil, and as you watch this season you can see him becoming darker and less human.

                    Saving The World: It's a hero's job to save the world but this time it is a lot more pressing than before. In the previous season the world wasn't going to end but it was going to become dark and filled with destruction. This time it really will be the end if a virus that will destroy 93% of the world's population leaving a desolate wasteland for a planet is released. The trouble is in not working together some of the heroes have become manipulated into believing that they are saving the world, with two separate teams it is a race against the clock to see who will get to the virus first.

                    Roots: The character's roots are delved into more thoroughly in this season, Claire finds her birth parents, the founding of The Company is made clear, the legend that is Kensei is begun (under Hiro's teaching) and Matt's father is finally introduced showing us where Matt's powers could end up. Roots are very important in this season which even gives a little attention to the natural disaster of Katrina in New Orleans, when Micah goes to stay with relatives they are his newly orphaned cousins who lost their mother in the disaster.

                    Family: The importance of family is clear throughout the season with Nathan hitting rock bottom after Kirby Plaza and stupidly pushing his family away from him for quite some time when all they wanted was to help him, and Micah finding solace with his extended family whilst Niki is in The Company. Claire tries to keep her secret in order to protect her family and the twins have no-one but each other after the wedding from hell and stick together through thick and thin for as long as they can. These bonds are so important during the season, and as shown through the dysfunctional relationship of Elle and Bob Bishop, they can make or break a hero.

                    Trust: The idea of trust is looked at in great depth, particularly in the case of Maya and Alejandro - they trust each other implicitly but whilst Maya trusts Sylar her brother stays wary and tries to warn her that her trust is misplaced. Another misplacement of trust comes in the form of Peter's belief in Adam, travelling with him in search of the virus believing that everyone else is wrong and it will be them that will save the day. Kensei also learns a valuable lesson about trust when he sees a stolen kiss between Hiro and his true love, turning him bitter and cynical which will never change. This season asks the question time and time again, who should you trust?

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                    Why Should I Watch Heroes?

                    Of course fans of the first season will be watching, this is a given as everyone wanted to know what happened after Kirby Plaza. But this season isn't just for those who watched hooked throughout the first, if you found that 23 episodes were just too much to commit to and it went on too long this season may be an easier one to watch. Also to those who just entirely missed out on the first season letting it pass them by, you'll be able to watch this without too much confusion as the characters are still developing and there are many flashbacks to help guide you.

                    If you are a sci-fi fan you should watch this as it has a great impending apocalypse storyline (as does the third season) and some very cool special effects, a comic book fan is going to watch because it is fast paced with lots of stories all at once just like most comic books/graphic novels and deals with a host of rather cool superpowers, and finally geeks like me are going to watch this not just for the aforementioned reasons but also because it is well-written, well acted, and has so many interesting themes that you can discuss it for a very long time and not get bored.

                    Of course if you aren't into sci-fi, comic books or are just plain geeky (which usually means you like both sci-fi and comics) this may not be the show for you. But I'd still say give it a watch, because not all of the story is about having superpowers - as mentioned in the themes there are a lot of things that you would find in any good drama, it's just there is a slightly different slant on them here. At the very least if you watched the new Star Trek film tune into an episode with Zachary Quinto (Aka Spock) to see just how good an actor he is, as Sylar is one of the best villains I've seen on television in a very long time.

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                    Final Verdict

                    For me, though the season length was disappointing it was understandable, and the storyline made up for the lack of episodes. It felt like it was more action packed due to this as there was less time to build the story. As always I loved the casting, though I wasn't that keen on the new characters Maya and Alejandro - but I feel this may have been because there was very little time for them to develop in 11 episodes.

                    The newer characters meant that some more powers were seen, and I loved seeing Elle's - she can certainly make sparks fly. Well, less sparks and more like lightning strikes! Her relationship with her father was an interesting addition, most characters we've seen have spent their lives hiding their powers from loved ones or only just finding out about them, but with Elle and Bob he knew all along and spent his time trying to shape her into The Company mould.

                    The incidental music, by the same duo as last time, was nicely done. Not so bland as to be easy to ignore but not so overpowering as to make you lose focus on the story itself. They also didn't make the music so loud that you have to strain to hear the dialogue, a problem I have had with a few shows (The Bill, I'm looking at you on that one - don't ask why I was watching, I was just rather bored!).

                    I do think that it is a real shame that the writer's strike cut the season short as it meant that the story had to be changed. As you will see on the DVD special features they do include the alternate chapter eleven and the alternate ending which show that this was going to be an exciting story if allowed to continue. Still I can't blame the writers or any of the makers of Heroes because they didn't start the strike.

                    This season, though in some ways not as exciting as the first (probably because it was no longer a new concept having seen the first season already) was a good solid second season and I hope that it will continue for a long time - I want this to be my generation's Star Trek, even though that means in 20-30 years I'm going to be embarrassing my kids with it whilst they whine about who it isn't 3D or being directly beamed into their brain - or whatever other mad thing happens to TV then!

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                    DVD Information And Extra's

                    The 11 episodes and extras are spread over 4 disks totalling 474 minutes with the extras at an additional 126 minutes. It's rated a 15 mainly due to violence so if you have younger teens who are mature enough to handle that but you don't want them seeing nudity and sex this could be something for them - though I'd still suggest watching it yourself first as the scenes in the future with the virus are pretty horrific and could cause nightmares for more sensitive young'uns.

                    As always, this is a generous section on the box set - this time getting its own disk!

                    Audio Commentaries: On each disk there are audio commentaries for each episode featured on the disk with cast and crew giving their thoughts and anecdotes.

                    Deleted scenes: Straight from the cutting room floor to your TV set, there's nothing too major on these but they are still a nice addition to watch.

                    Heroes Season 2 A New Beginning: A piece about season 2 of Heroes, nothing spectacular but a very interesting watch for those who want to know everything about the season.

                    Kensei Documentary: A lovely piece to add to the DVD, it shows us the story of Kensei and the legend of him that Hiro grew up with. It also features "professionals" telling us about the history. An insight into why Hiro loved him so much and why it was so important that the story not be changed.

                    The Drucker Files: A rather in depth piece that won't be for the casual fan, Drucker is a complete mystery and this makes that clear.

                    Genetics Of A Scene - The Anatomy Of The Cherry Blossom Scene: A how did they do that moment, this looks at the scene where the cherry blossoms in 17th century Japan distract you from everything else for a short time.

                    Genetics Of A Scene - Maya & Alejandro Run From The Police: Another how did they do that dissecting the scene in which the twins flee the police and how they set it up and made it look the way it did.

                    Genetics Of A Scene - The Final Scene: This was of interest to me as I had wondered how they had done the final scene - which I would describe but it will spoil the end. Good to look at afterwards if you wondered how they managed to make things happen.

                    Alternate Ending And Alternate Episode #11 - Fairly self explanatory and shows where the season was supposed to have been heading had the strike not gone of for so long. Good to see but also a little sad because it would have been a cool storyline to follow had they been able to do so.

                    This season's boxset gets 4.5/5 stars - it was a short but sweet season which would have lessened the score further but the DVD extras make up for it as we get to see what they had planned.

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                    • More +
                      25.11.2009 18:19
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                      More of the same but better.

                      You wouldn't think that after the first season things at McNamara/Troy could get any more exciting or action-packed. But with Matt's paternity in question, Julia and Sean's marriage completely in tatters and Christians ex's coming out of the woodwork with problems that he can't just hide from things have managed to get even more interesting. Add to that the mysterious Carver who is raping and disfiguring beautiful women with no obvious motive and you have the second thrilling season of Nip/Tuck, where the fun has only just begun.

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                      When/Where Is It Set?

                      Things haven't changed too much, we pick up pretty soon after the first season at the time of Sean's fortieth birthday. The clinic is still in the prettiest part of Miami and none of the main characters have disappeared (Or been replaced by other actors as has been known to happen).

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                      Anyone New?

                      As with the first season, there is an almost endless stream of patients that comes in but we also have a few big characters that are either brand new to the story or who appeared in the first season and have now moved into much bigger storylines.

                      Kimber Henry (Kelly Carlson): We've seen her since the pilot episode but Kimber really comes into her own now. She is Christian's ex/current girlfriend - depending on the episode as these two fall into bed with each other far too much. She was a model and now works firstly as a porn star before moving behind the camera to work as a producer. A complete narcissist and cocaine addict, Kimber needs a lot of reassurance about her looks which is never helped by Christian.

                      Gina Russo (Jesselyn Gilsig): A former member of the same SA group as Christian, Gina is an anger and bitter woman who can never take the blame for anything that she does wrong. Even after she gives birth to a child that is very clearly not Christian's she continues to be nasty to him, often using her child to get what she wants from him knowing how much he loves baby Wilber.

                      Ava Moore (Famke Janssen): A life coach who cares more about helping her own life than those of her clients, often manipulating and using them sexually. She is originally hired to help Sean and Julia's troubled marriage and Matt's bad grades but after seducing Matt and revealing a huge secret it is clear she is not one of the good guys. She is also the step-mother of very bitter teen Adrian Moore.

                      Quentin Costa (Bruno Campos): The plastic surgeon hired to fix Sean's face after he was attacked by The Carver, he is originally from Atlanta, is devilishly handsome and openly bisexual.

                      The Carver (I'm not going to tell you as that would ruin season 3!): A masked attacker who rapes his victims and then slashes their faces on either side of their mouth to resemble macabre smiles. He will attack many characters during seasons two and three before being revealed.

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                      Episodes

                      The second season has 16 episodes, a whole 3 more than the first season. The running time is still about the same and these too were shown in a post 10-pm timeslot on channel 4.

                      Erica Noughton: Sean hits the big 4-0, but that is nothing to worry about compared to the spasms that have begun in his hand. Julia's mother Dr Erica Noughton comes to Miami wanting a face lift, and causes stress due to things she did at her daughter's wedding (well to be precise it's who she did that is the problem). Meanwhile Christian is trying to be a good father to the baby that isn't his, but hires a nanny based on looks rather than her CV - something he comes to regret when he finds out how she has been getting baby Wilber to sleep.

                      Christian Troy: Christian's sex-life hasn't gotten any more mundane since the first season, but after one sneeze during a sexual act leaves him with a broken nose perhaps he'll learn. Sean's shakes almost disfigure a patient whilst his son Matt finds out that his part in the hit-and-run is known after his friend Henry is arrested for rape. Christian's nose finally gets fixed when he has Sean operate without anaesthetic so that he can help him medically and confidence wise. Will that shaky hand ruin the pretty face of the philandering doctor?

                      Manya Mabika: A Somalian model wants a clitoral reconstruction so that she can have orgasms after having been put through traditional female circumcision as a young girl, though the procedure is experimental and may not work the doctors proceed. After the operation Christian decides to help test it out but when he fails to get her to orgasm believes that there was something wrong with the operation (Because of course, it couldn't have been his sexual skills could it?!) but after some advice from a woman finds that his skills weren't as perfected as he had once thought. Sean meets life coach Ava Moore who suggests that Julia's stress inducing mother could be the cause of her problems (No, really?!!) and Christian turns out to be a better parent to little Wilber than Gina.

                      Mrs Grubman: Annie enters early puberty, panicking Sean and Julia as they realise that they are getting old and need to stop acting like children. After finding out that Gina has begun custody proceedings against him, Christian wines and dines ex-girlfriend Kimber who has been lined up as a character witness against him, in the process finding out that she is in a mess and addicted to cocaine. What will Christian do to get Kimber on side in order to gain full custody of Wilber?

                      Joel Gideon: Proof that you shouldn't talk on the phone and drive, Sean causes a serious car accident when doing exactly that in this episode. Though he is unharmed his outlook on life seems to have changed dramatically - he's gone a bit adrenaline junkie. This is fine until he tries to get Matt to eat a potentially lethal form of sushi in a Japanese restaurant, prompting Julia to take Matt and walk out. Perhaps the episode's patient, Joel Gideon, will be able to snap Sean out of it when he comes in to have the dead tissue from his nose removed so that he can go back to the mountain that caused this damage and climb it again.

                      Bobbi Broderick: Sean gets a stalker when he operates on Bobbi, a mature lady who had liposuction done in order to better compete for a job selling clothes at Saks but wasn't happy with the results. This isn't the only problem in Sean's life however as after hiring life coach Ava to help Matt with his problems she starts playing games with him, offering sex for good grades. He of course becomes obsessed with this older woman and stupidly gets arrested outside her home, causing Christian to have to help him and ends up getting tangled up in Ava's madness himself. The best part of this episode is patient Allegra Calderello, who after burning her lips off in a kitchen accident is bemused to find out that the best skin to replace them with comes from her other set of lips - this is highly amusing because her husband is a very old-fashioned Sicilian - therefore in order for the operation to go ahead Allegra gets the doctors to pretend the skin has come from elsewhere.

                      Naomi Gaines: In the start of a reoccurring plotline, Sean performs surgery on a model that was raped and slashed across the face by a serial attacker called The Carver. Bobbi continues to make Sean's life hell and at the McNamara house there is a very awkward dinner with Ava and her teenage son Adrian, where all the secrets that have been kept so far just come tumbling out.

                      Agatha Ripp: Another pro bono case comes into the clinic by the name of Agatha Ripp, a prostitute who inflicted stigmata style markings on herself and not only wants to repent for this but also asks the doctors to convince the church shelter she stays at of this fact. Julia tells Sean news that rips him in two, causing him to lash out at Christian and throw Julia out. Christian's day doesn't get any better when Liz gives him some awful news regarding the selfless act he performed recently.

                      Rose And Raven Rosenberg: Following the revelations of the previous episode Sean and Christian make plans to separate their practice and partnership for good, but that has to be put on hold for a very special operation - teenage conjoined sisters who are joined at the forehead who need separating because one needs chemo. The operation is not a success by any standards and Sean and Christian, smarting from this fact share a night with a prostitute who looks just like Julia. They are later bought to their senses by the twin's mother, who makes them see that not being alone is important.

                      Kimber Henry: In sharp contrast to the heart-breaking story of the conjoined twins, the clinic's latest patient is Christian's ex Kimber, who is now a very famous porn star. Upset with the vagina on the sex doll about to be distributed in her image she asks the doctors to correct it, with Sean taking this much too far. Julia meets a handsome stranger but after it turns out that he has a very strange fetish and thought she was a hooker Sean has to save her. A writer also comes to the clinic asking for breast implants - he is writing a book about the experience.

                      Natasha Charles: Christian is very attracted to new patient Natasha, who blind since birth would like new eyes as her own do not look like everyone else's and make her feel less attractive. Julia gets breast implants after seeing Sean with porn-starlet Kimber and her mother Erica finds out that since the separation things haven't been easy for her daughter and takes it upon herself to try and make Sean see this. Her help is too late though as Julia falls through a glass door after OD-ing.

                      Julia McNamara: Julia has surgery to fix the scars on her face caused by the glass of the door she fell through and also asks for her implants to be removed. While she is under her mind wanders into an alternate reality where she marries Christian instead of Sean, and the whole experience makes her realise exactly what she wants.

                      Oona Wentworth: Christian has a run in with scalpel-jockey Merrill Bobolitt after her finds cases of women severely disfigured due to his cheap botox treatments from the back of a salon. But Bobolitt's antics run to far more dangerous procedures and once Christian discovers to the full extent of the operation he is kidnapped and faced with the mad doctor trying to steal his face to replace his own.

                      Trudy Nye: Kimber asks for an operation to change the love line on her hand after visiting a palm reader - I suppose that's one way to cheat fate! Christian decides to break up with blind ex-patient Natasha and the doctors are shocked when a patient comes into the surgery asking for her nose to be fixed after it was broken years before by her husband, who is soon to get out of prison. After finding out that not only did he abuse his wife but also his child to the point of death Christian refuses to have anything to do with the operation he wants to make his face different so he can hide from his past.

                      Sean McNamara: Sean becomes the latest victim of The Carver when he is attacked by the masked fiend, whilst Gina has some news for Christian that could mean the end of his playboy days for good. She is HIV+, forcing him to have to trace every lover he's had and little Wilber and his biological father (Because after all, what are the chances Gina will do the right thing and tell them). Kimber has moved from the front of the camera to behind it as she starts a new career directed porn films and gives Christian comfort and support when everyone else has left him.

                      Joan Rivers: In the season finale featuring guest star Joan Rivers as herself, things come to a head. Joan Rivers comes to the clinic wanting all of her previous surgeries reversed whilst Matt and Ava are planning to run away together after Matt steals some pills from the clinic for Ava. Thankfully Christian finds out and confronts Ava, finding out that the pills weren't for depression and that Ava is hiding a big secret from everyone. Sean, Christian and Ava decide to find out more about Ava and stop Matt from leaving with her. The victims of The Carver seem to be being left in an even worse state than previously, and Escobar in dream tells Sean to kill him. After everything is resolved, and not all in a happy fashion Sean settles down to sleep with a loaded gun awaiting The Carver, but will the attacker come back to get Sean when there are so many other targets?

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                      Why Should You Watch This?

                      Simple enough reason is that if you watched and enjoyed the first season you'll enjoy the second, it is more of the same sex, confusion and surgeries. In this season however there is the added intrigue of the serial attacker menacing the beautiful people of Miami, this gives the second season (and the third as it continues through) a continuous storyline even though it is often running in the background rather than the foreground. The problems that both surgeons face have certainly gotten more complicated with Christian now desperate to be a father to the child he feel in love with before even being born, and Sean trying to keep his confidence and prove his worth. If you enjoyed watching the characters in the first season then seeing their progression will interest you.

                      For those who are newcomers to the show, the second season is not somewhere I would recommend you begin. Though you will be able to pick up on what's going on so much happened during the opening season that it's going to make it more difficult to keep up. I'd suggest watching the first season to get up to speed (Or if you are desperate to jump right in at least read reviews/episode guides for the first season to catch you up on important events.

                      As with the first season I wouldn't suggest this as viewing for anyone under 18 or squeamish, it has a lot of sex in it - and we're talking kinkier stuff than you would usually see on TV. Also with the introduction of The Carver anyone who is very nervous of seeing people with their faces slashed should probably skip both this and season three - you will see up close The Carver's victims. Which for horror fans like myself isn't that big a deal but I know plenty of people will not like viewing this and young teens shouldn't be watching it. Don't say I didn't warn you!

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                      Final Verdict

                      For me this season tops the first due to the intertwining storylines and the introduction of the mysterious attacker. It again raises ethical and moral questions as you watch and makes you really think about how far you think it is right to go in the pursuit of beauty and happiness.

                      This second series had a lot more sad and heartbreaking moments than the first which made me feel more connected to the characters involved that before. The patients are even more varied too, and it was good to see main characters as patients in the story.

                      The alternate reality bit during Julia's episode was a bit silly I have to admit, but it was appealing to see how she fared when married to Christian rather than Sean in that drug-induced world - pretty much proving that no matter what she has she wants the other option! So you can stop worrying about whether she will have a happily ever after because if this season is anything to go by she will never be happy with what she wants and will always be chasing something new

                      The reoccurring characters from the first season that were picked to become main players in this one were very well chosen, Dr. Merrill Bobolit shows you the path McNamara/Troy could have taken if they didn't work together or have Liz around to kick their backsides, Kimber was the best choice of ex to bring back as a big character because she is just so messed up bless her, whilst keeping Gina around showed how it isn't always the father who is a bad parent - Gina shouldn't be allowed to look after a pet rock whereas Christian really does try.

                      This season made me see many of the characters in a different light and therefore gave them more depth, the surgeries performed during the show were more complex and experimental than previously and the wider range of patients allowed for more interesting stories to be told - the stigmata one was very good viewing.

                      In essence the second season of Nip/Tuck is more of the same but with more depth and variety (and a horrific mystery attacker to ponder). The first season seems a little shallow in comparison but that's no bad thing.

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                      DVD Information And Special Features

                      The second season can be bought for £9.98 on amazons website, a search on play.com came up with only an expensive region 1 version so amazon is your best bet. The 16 episodes are spread over 5 disks which total to 720 minutes approx. Now unless I need my eyes testing again my copy doesn't have any special features - a shame but if I didn't already have this season it wouldn't put me off buying at such a low price.

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                        25.11.2009 12:34
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                        Take care and have fun!

                        Having not been on holiday in about 6 years this may seem like a mad topic to write on, but as I'm planning a few trips/weekends away for 2010 I have been thinking about exactly what I need (and don't need) to take.

                        1- Travel Insurance/EHIC card. This is pretty important as even though the hope is that your holiday is going to be perfect, there is always a chance that something will happen. Making sure you have good travel insurance and if you are travelling in the EU a valid EHIC card (Which can be applied for online or via a form from the post office) can be the difference between an accident/injury being an inconvient moment and a holiday-ruining disaster!

                        2- Underwear. It sounds stupid but whilst you're thinking about clothes for going out of an evening, lazing on a beach or going for a short hike there's always the chance you are going to forget the most important thing - underwear! If you are travelling somewhere where your bags won't be with you all the way there make sure to put a few spare undies in the bag you are carrying on, because if your bag gets lost you've at least got the basics. Don't forget socks either for that matter.

                        3- Any medicines you may need. As an asthmatic with hayfever and ezcema this is an absolute must. You may be travelling somewhere where you need a prescription to get your medicines otherwise or they may not even stock the things you would usually take. Better to take your own that risk taking something you've never taken before in case of reaction. If in doubt talk to your pharmacist before you go and make sure that you have extra's of any prescription items you take on a regular basis.

                        4- Clothes. Pretty obvious but the choice is yours whether you take old stuff you don't want to keep or the latest expensive fashions. Not only will that depend on whether you think you can trust your airline to keep your bag safe but also will depend on the kind of holiday you are going on and where it is. For instance I have friends who often go to the US and Italy, they pack clothes that they aren't bothered about keeping, take those to wear whilst they shop for much nicer ones (at cheaper prices) then take the old ones to the launderette before donating them to a shelter or Goodwill. No extra baggage charges but a whole new lower priced wardrobe!

                        5- Your own toiletries. If you are staying in a hotel they will of course provide these but I have often found there isn't an ingrediants list on the shower gels and shampoo's, as my allergies will appear as horrible red rashes and hives it just makes sense to decant my own products into little bottles and bring them along. Yes it's a bit messy but I'm safe in the knowledge that I won't have a reaction and that the shampoo isn't going to do something hideous to my heavily coloured hair!

                        6- Hand sanitiser. You may be travelling a while, not always have access to a sink or be in a country where it is recommended you boil water before use. In all of these instances a bottle of hand sanitiser is a great thing to have to ensure your hands are clean and you aren't putting yourself at risk of any germs you may have been in contact with.

                        7- Phrase Books/Guides/Maps. These are essential as though in many countries you will come across people who speak English it is good manners and a lot more interesting to learn a little of the local language. It will also be much appreciated by the local people who often have to put up with those who seem to think that just talking louder and slower is enough. A guide book will help you explore hidden places you wouldn't have originally thought of visiting, which will be less tourist packed and a map is fairly obvious. Though these days if you have a flashy phone you can download maps to those or even use satnav.

                        8- Local currency and an emergency card. You will want to buy stuff, eat, visit places so youwill need cash. Get it before you go as it will be cheaper and you won't have to worry that they've run out. Also these new pre-paid credit cards that you can top-up with funds are a great idea to keep on you for emergencies, they are secure and only have what you have topped them up with. There are many of these cards now and some can even be used abroad. Search sites like MSEto find out the best deal.

                        9- Camera, spare SD cards and batteries. Everyone enjoys taking holiday snaps, even if they are horridly blurred due to the fact that you fell over whilst taking the photo due to low amounts of blood in your sangeria stream! make sure before you leave you have your camera, enough spare batteries for the entire trip as not all brands will be as good and the well-known ones may be pricier abroad and spare cards if your camera takes extra memory.

                        10- A fun-loving laid back attitude. Things are not going to go as plan, you can plan every single thing and something will happen that you didn't expect, a laid back attitude will stop these moments feeling like they have completely ruined your holiday. So the hotel has taken your bags to the wrong room, you've forgotten your underwear (Even though I've already reminded you), you get sick after eating something or hungover after a night out - just smile and remember that this is a time to relax and see what happens, it my not be 100% perfect but you are away from work in a place where having fun is your only job. Stressing about the little things will not help so why bother doing it?

                        For anyone off on holiday soon reading this, enjoy your trip - I look forward to remembering these ten steps when I go abroad next year.

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                          24.11.2009 10:42
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                          Exciting, interesting and eye-opening.

                          Nip/Tuck is a medical show with a difference. Unlike Casualty, The Flying Doctors and all the other medical dramas we are accustomed to seeing this is a very different look at the medical profession. Definitely not family viewing, thus why it got a late slot on channel 4 when it was shown here, this show is still drawing in viewers now who eagerly await the final season of the violent and sex-filled show.

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                          What Is Nip/Tuck About?

                          Nip/Tuck follows the lives of two plastic surgeons who own a clinic in Miami, Florida called McNamara/Troy after its founders. The two surgeons have various different personal problems which quite often affect or get in the way of their work, with sometimes worrying results. Each episode focuses on one main patient who has come into the clinic and becomes the title of that episode. Far from just being about botox and boob jobs, there's a wide range of surgeries performed and for many different and sometimes heart-warming reasons.

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                          Who Is In It?

                          As this is primarily set in a clinic there are characters coming and going throughout every episode so here the focus will be on the doctors and those outside of the clinic.

                          Dr. Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh): One half of our duo of doctors, Sean is so tightly wound it's a wonder he doesn't explode into orbit. He's bored with his life, which consists of work and going home to his family and is suffering from a mid-life crisis. Oh woe is me, a wife, kids, huge house, nice car and a big balance. It is sometimes hard to feel bad for Sean but once the character grows on you you'll feel a lot more sympathy for him. In the midst of his marriage breakdown he gets his heart broken by a patient and has to make a big decision to put her happiness first.

                          Dr. Christian Troy (Julian McMahon): The other half of the clinic comes in the form of the dashing sex addict Christian Troy, he and Sean have known each other since college and are like brothers to one another. Christian does have feelings, but he keeps them so deeply buried that he seems cold to most who meet him. He's not well liked by his ex's that he has loved and left usually within a night and in all honesty needs to grow up because the playboy lifestyle will only work for so long. His past has played a huge part in who and what he is now and when that is uncovered his character makes perfect sense and you will feel so awful for him.

                          Julia McNamara (Joely Richardson): Married to Sean and also went to the same college as him and Troy, she gave up all of her dreams in medicine when she found out she was pregnant with Matt, then along came daughter Annie and her only role in life became being a mother and supportive wife to the man who was living out her dream. She resents how much she's given up for her husband and children and desperately wants to get back into medicine, all of which causes extra tension in an already warring house. Maybe she married the wrong man at college?

                          Matt and Annie McNamara (John Hensley and Kelsey Batelaan): Sean and Julia's two children. Matt is a troubled teen that seems to have a knack of getting into trouble whilst Annie is the quiet and very observant younger child who sees what is going on with her parents.

                          Liz Cruz (Roma Maffia): Funny and witty, anesthesiologistLiz is always on hand to make Sean stop worrying, yell at Christian for sleeping with yet another woman and pretty much make sure the clinic doesn't collapse in all the madness. She is the rock of the clinic and when she isn't running around after the doctors she is trying to fix her troubled love-life. If only the woman of her dreams would come along and they could live happily ever after.

                          Escobar Gallardo (Robert LaSardo): Escobar is a Miami drug lord who after seeing something the doctors did that wasn't very professional, blackmails them into giving him huge amounts of their weekly takings and any operations he wants for anyone. He threatens not only Christian and Sean, but also Sean's family - which may seem like a harmless thing to do to the weak-willed doctor but Escobar finally makes our moralistic medic snap and seek revenge.

                          Dr. Merrill Bobolit (Joey Slotnick): A fellow student from the same medical school as Troy and McNamara, but unlike the dynamic duo Merrill wasn't exactly top of the class. He does however make a lot of money at his practice, he's even more well-known than the McNamara/Troy clinic and has billboards bearing his face scattered around Miami. The reason for this is that he has absolutely no scruples and will operate on anyone who wants surgery without counselling them against it or telling them to look at other options. He's just in it for the money.

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                          Episodes:

                          In this first season there are 13 episodes at about 60 minutes long each. These were aired in a post-10pm slot in the UK on channel 4 due to the violence, scenes of surgery and explicit sex.

                          McNamara/Troy: A mobster turns up offering to pay a ridiculously huge sum of money to the two surgeons if they give him a new face. Christian decides to accept the money and angers Sean whilst putting them both in grave danger. At home things aren't any better for Sean, his marriage is in tatters and he's going head-long into a mid-life crisis.

                          Mandi/Randi: Twins come into the clinic both wanting surgery to make them look different, but will this backfire? Sean tries to flirt with Grace but she flatly rejects him, (Not a great start to his attempt to live like a single man) but accepts an offer of a job at the clinic. Christian is having naughty thoughts about someone close to him and Matt, worried about what his girlfriend thinks of a certain part of him, decides to tackle it with a bottle of vodka and some nail scissors.

                          Nanette Babcock: Julia and Sean have to have a serious talk with Matt after they discover what he has done. A potential patient is ruled out of having surgery when she is found to not be as mentally stable as she thinks whilst Christian offers "favours" to a rich widow who plans to file a malpractice suit against the clinic after Sean forgets to make sure he's got all of his surgical tools on the tray when closing up.

                          Sophia Lopez: Christian has a cunning plan that doesn't impress Sean; he wants to make the clinic the number one choice for porn stars seeking surgery with the help of surgeon Merrill Bobolit. Sean meets transsexual Sophia Lopez, who has ended up with problems following a botched backroom surgery.

                          Kurt Dempsey: A man in love comes to the clinic wanting the duo to make his eyes look Asian, sounds mad on paper but he has a very sweet reason for wanting it. Christian decides to try and deal with his addiction to sex, which ends up in a rather unhelpful place with fellow sex-addict Gina, and Julia finds out she is pregnant which is a light to the touch paper of her fraught relationship with Sean.

                          Megan O'Hara: Both doctors are being naughty boys today as they carry on inappropriate relationships with patients. Someone is upset with Christian and is getting back at him in a public way. Matt finds himself in a guy's complete fantasy but when you are more in the way than anything else it turns out it isn't quite as sexy as the idea seems.

                          Cliff Mantegna: In helping his sex addiction Christian goes to a very private swinger's party - great idea no? Whilst at Sean's house news of his son Matt's threesome becomes a very uncomfortable and hilarious intervention with all three families meeting under one roof to discuss it. Julia also makes a handsome young friend in Jude when studying, but what will Sean make of it when he finds out?

                          Cara Fitzgerald: Matt seems to think that visiting the girl he is responsible for almost killing makes up for what he did whilst Grace thinks that Sean may be carrying on a relationship with Megan O'Hara. The doctor's make a huge mistake when they remove an incriminating birthmark from a priest, leading to a dangerous face-off in a church and uncovering a lot about Christian's traumatic childhood and why he is the way he is.

                          Sophia Lopez II: Love is in the air for Sophia and a member of the clinic, giving Sophia doubts about the gender reassignment surgery that is shortly scheduled. Bartering is apparently back in with Christian trading Kimber, his on/off girlfriend for fellow surgeon (and downright cretin) Merrill Bobolit's rare Lamborghini. If ever you needed a reason to stay single girls...but don't worry, Kimber has some vengeful payback plans up her sleeve that involves handcuffs and a lipstick.

                          Adelle Coffin: During his recertification exam Sean starts feeling the pressure as the cadaver head he is working on comes to life and won't shut up about his dying lover Megan's urge to commit suicide. Will he manage to get recertified or will Christian be working on his own for a while? And will dying Megan get the release from pain that she wants so badly? Make sure you've got the Kleenex handy in this heartbreaking but beautiful episode.

                          Montana/Sassy/Justice: In an interesting episode that makes you question ethics the male persona of a woman's multiple personalities forcefully demands an operation for one of the other personalities. And Christian's life changes as Gina tells him that he's going to be a father. The girl that Matt nearly killed returns to school apparently unaware that he was the driver that hit her and an awkward love triangle forms between her, Matt and his friend Henry who was also in the car.

                          Antonia Ramos: The doctors are blackmailed by Escobar, who has been keeping a big secret for them. They are now stuck doing his bidding, removing heroin-filled breast implants from Escobar's naive drug mules who think they are on the road to stardom in Hollywood. Lovable and wise transsexual Sophia is in turn befriended by Julia and shunned by every other woman at the local gym and Christian's bank account, already low from the payments he and Sean are having to make to Escobar, is getting dangerously low coping with pregnant Gina's demands.

                          Escobar Gallardo: Is the cosmetic clinic turning into a veterinary clinic? Well that's what one man seems to think as he offers to pay obscene money for a cosmetic procedure on his show dog. Talking of dogs, after trying to force the doctors to move into organ harvesting for him he gives them another option - he wants a brand new face. Escobar is given a new face by Sean, though Escobar will not be having the last laugh in this climatic finale to the first series.

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                          Why Should You Watch Nip/Tuck?

                          If you prefer your drama more adult themed than some of the popular British fare and have a strong stomach then this is a show that could be a winner. Nip/Tuck is a very well-written show that deals with ethical and moral dilemmas alongside more odd moments that show you just how different we all are - as soon as Sean and Christian ask the patient "Tell me what you don't like about yourself" you see how no matter how beautiful we may think a person is, if there is something they don't like (and in this show they tend to have a very good reason for their dislikes) they feel desperately ugly. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

                          This has a mixture of characters you will love or hate - or in the case of Christian love AND hate. This is another show where they picked actors based on talent rather than how big their name was already and this shows that you don't have to be well-known to be arresting in your performance.

                          The soundtrack features big names played on the theatres stereo during operations, and more often than not the songs picked are brilliantly telling about either the patient under the knife or the feelings of the doctors at the time. Using big name songs in this way is rather fun as it's a very different way to bring music into a show - the rest of the time you won't notice the music that may be playing in the background of a shot.

                          Of course being set in Miami the people you see on screen are for the most part annoyingly beautiful, not something to watch when you're having a bad day as you will feel worse about your appearance seeing all of these gorgeous toned bodies on screen.

                          This is rated as an 18 certificate and definitely isn't recommended viewing for anyone under that age. I also, as with True Blood, wouldn't recommend this for watching with parents and certainly do not have this on if there's any chance your friendly neighbourhood vicar. Aside from the very graphic surgical scenes where you will see a lot more of the patients than you will probably care to there is also a lot of violence, drugs and bad language.

                          And oh did I forget that sometimes Nip/Tuck is more soft core pornography than medical drama? Yes, you will see a lot of sex - and not just the usual either, threesomes, orgies and more are shown here. This is an explicitly sexual show and though it is woven into the storyline and isn't just there for the sake of it this does mean that it is not suitable for anyone under 18.

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                          Final Verdict?

                          This was a favourite show of mine back when it first aired, and though I haven't caught up with the last two seasons yet still has pride of place in my DVD collection. I love medical dramas, and when this was shown it was just such a shock to see such a grown up take on the genre where they didn't censor anything from the viewer. In many shows the surgery scenes are kept to a minimum and when you do see what they are doing it quite often looks very fake. This wasn't like that and you feel like you have an all access pass to the O.R. That means it's not the best thing to watch whilst eating a meal but it is thoroughly engrossing and engaging when you do watch. It is truly fascinating to see surgery in that much depth, and much of the time you get to see the patients afterwards when they get their check-up giving you closure on that character and their story.

                          Though not a huge fan of plastic surgery watching this showed that people don't just want surgery to look pretty. Many do and in this they seek out alternative doctors such as Bobolit who is more than happy to oblige. But Sean and Christian take on cases that aren't based solely on attaining the perfect body that the magazines push, these patients have deeper reasons for the surgeries they want and it shatters the myth that the only people that want surgery are shallow and vain. Most of the patients in Nip/Tuck are anything but vain, they just need help.

                          Nip/Tuck sucked me in from the first episode and since then I have watched the exploits of doctors and patients at this clinic with great interest. Yes sometimes I have to watch surgery scenes through my hands because they are so horrific, or cringe as Christian has very energetic sex with another woman in some mad position. But they are integral parts of a very complex show and it wouldn't be the same without these moments. I've laughed and cried whilst rewatching this first season again and probably will again next time it's watched. If you are looking for a new medical fix since the end of ER and aren't squeamish, try Nip/Tuck - more gorgeous people saving lives, just in different ways.

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                          • General / Discussion / 47 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                            23.11.2009 18:30
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                            Always look on the bright side of life!

                            Having just posted a review in the Room 101 section I really wanted to balance thingsout and end the day on a happy note so here are some of the best things in the world right now!

                            1- Music. Yes okay the X factor is currently being on but 2009 has been a year in which Muse, Morrissey and Green Day have released excellent new albums for fans to enjoy. As sorry a state as the top 40 chart can be at times a quick dig about the new releases in you local HMV can bring you a new musical love that you'd never have picked up before. Last year I'd never have thought I'd own and enjoy albums by a country star like Taylor Swift or Dance/Pop like Lady Gaga but there they are in my collection. It may seem like because there's too much music there isn't anything good, but if you look a little harder you'll find something new that will make you smile.

                            2- It's an ever changing world politically. America has begun a new era with Obama elected, France has a man with a supermodel/singer as a wife and we are in our final months of the current PM's reign. It is a huge time of change and upheaval which is very exciting. More people seem interested in politics and what is going on around the world and this now awareness will hopefully ensure that things will change. Change is good!

                            3- The recession. Yes you heard me. There have been many awful things about the economic crisis such as bankrupcy and job losses of course, but look at the smaller things that have happened due to it. People are being more sensible about their spending and less wasteful, cookery programs on tv no longer go on about truffle oil and are instead focussing on things the general public will not only eat but will also be able to cook easily, cinema takings have gone up as it's a reasonable cheap treat out (which means that chances are some of that money have goen towards british films and film-makers), and christmas doesn't seem to have been as overly commercialised as it has done in previous years. People are spending more time with their children/loved ones doing simple things and talking instead of always having to go out and spend a fortune.

                            Plus now when you find a bargain you brag about it, if you find a hidden gem in a charity shop you boast - before people were more interested in showing off how expensive an item they had bought was, not how much of a great deal they had gotten on something. There has been a definate shift in the mentality of most people with regards to shopping and it's nice to see people proudly showing off the wonderful things they have found second hand. The embarressment has gone and that makes me smile so much.

                            These are three of the things that make me smile right now, hopefully they make you smile too or at the very least it's given you a little insight into another way to look at things.

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