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Member since: 31.03.2007

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      13.11.2011 14:09
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      Best ribs this side of the states

      Now I have been to Damons more times than I can remember - and for many years made a school girl error - not getting the ribs. Once I realised my mistake there was no going back.
      Damons is an institution for Lincoln Diners. It is in a great location on the bypass for people coming from outside the city and is a quirkily designed building with the roof meant to look like the bones of a rack of ribs.
      Inside it is designed with posters of old films and Hollywood stars from the golden age of the silver screen and when you walk in there is a cocktail bar in front of you. I'm not sure id this still the case, but for a number of years the drinks were significantly cheaper if you bought them from the bar yourself than let your waiter get them.
      If you go before 7pm there is always a selection on hot nibbles, such as chicken wings available for you to help yourself to at the bar and they do an amazing selection of cocktails.


      Damons is open for breakfast, which is a selection of pastries, pancakes, bagels and things like bacon and sausage, all for under a fiver.
      When you sit down at lunch or dinner you are giving warm bread rolls, and with your meal you get the choice of a baked potato or chips and a side salad, beans, coleslaw or peas. Damons is famed for its onion loaf, which is a mountain of delicious deep fried onion rings, and obviously for its ribs.
      When we go we normally have a starter combo platter where you can choose from things like fried mushrooms, potato skins, scampi or chicken wings (to name a few) then you can share it. Other starters are your pretty standard prawn cocktail, crab cakes, garlic ciabatta kind of things.
      The platter is around £12 and suitable for four adults and the individual ones work out at around £5 each, give or take a couple of quid.
      Then onto the mains - as you would expect from an American themed place - you can choose from burgers, fajitas, steaks and seafood, but there are also British favourites like bangers and mash and gammon, although I have never known anyone go to Damons for them. The big selling point is the BBQ ribs. For the meat lover you can have a full rack, or if you are less hungry you can opt for the regular sized rack. The meat just falls apart and is absolutely delicious, and you shouldn't feel worried about having sauce all over your fingers and mouth because everyone else does too. You are given a basket and handwipes to deal with the left over bones and sticky fingers.
      If you want to try the ribs, but don't know if you could manage a whole rack of them why not try the combo menu, where you can try a smaller amount with a portion of scampi, chicken wings or chicken breast cooked in a variety of different styles, such as teryaki or cajun. This is also around £12.
      I can honestly say I have never had a dessert at Damons because I am always so full but often see ice cream sundaes passing me by as well as chocolate cheesecakes and apple pies - all for around £4.
      There are veggie options obviously, although I wouldn't think as a vegetarian you would want to see the amunt of meat on offer in this restaurant!
      There is also a children's menu and kids get some activities to keep them occupied whilst you are eating.
      The service is generally good, but very speedy, and they always offer you a comments card at the end of your meal where you can win a free meal. I have never had any problem with the service offered personally, although it does sometimes look a little chaotic, wit everyone running all over the place.
      If you ever drive by Damons, or live near it, the smell of those ribs wafting around is absolutely mouth-watering. Unfortunately for me, I am registered at the gym about 500 metres away so often am tempted to undo all my good work.
      Price wise, Damons is incredibly reasonable for what you get - you eat for free if it is your birthday, kids eat free before 6pm for every adult going with them and over 60s get a 25% off discount (my parents were given the discount even though they are only in their mid-50s..They didn't complain though.) We go regularly as a filling meal is around £15 per person. On your birthday you also get a free chocolate cake with sparklers, although the cake has gone down hill a bit over the years.
      The toilet facilities are always spotless and you never have any problems with parking as there is a free allocated car park right outside. They also offer a takeaway service which I think entitles you to a 30% discount if you collect your order.
      If you are looking for a family friendly place to eat where the price is reasonable, the food is tasty and you don't need to get dressed up, or necessarily book in advance (although for birthdays and big parties it is advised) Damons is the place to go - although if you live in Lincoln you probably already know that.
      For more information : www.damons.co.uk

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        06.01.2009 17:16
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        Great hotel

        For the most part of summer 2005 I was based in Birmingham, and my lovely bosses picked the Malmaison hotel to be my home away from home. Of all the places I have been fortunate enough to stay in this has to be one of my favourites.

        Location:
        I was told this hotel was located in the mailbox, which instantly confused my dopey head. A hotel in a mailbox? Only the mailbox is a designer shopping mall home of Hugo Boss, Bang & Olufsen, Armani and DKNY to name a few. (You always know a highbrow shop when they don't put the prices in the window.) This sets the tone for this hotel. As soon as you walk through the door to this place and enter to dark wood and leather sofas this place screams class. Apparently the name the mailbox comes from its origins as a Royal Mail sorting office in the 60's. It is about a 10 minute walk to all the main shopping, eating and drinking establishments in Birmingham.

        Checking in:
        At the reception desk I never had any trouble checking in. The staff were friendly, informative and told me about things like coming back in at night. (They have added security at night, meaning you have to swipe your room key to get back in the entrance.)

        The room:
        I have stayed in a number of these rooms now and they are all beautiful. The calming brown and beige colour scheme, large beds, thick wooden doors and white bathrooms are perfect for relaxing in. The rooms come with coffee making facilities, a bath and shower, sky tv, cd player and room service.
        The room was always immaculate when I came back to it in the evening.

        The restaurant:
        The meals in the restaurant are absolutely lovely. They are about £15 to £20 for a main course and I recommend anything from the chargrill menu - the steaks are delicious. The bar offers some scrummy cocktails and is well worth a night in testing them.

        The facilities:
        On site there are boutiques, a spa and a gym. The spa is the most relaxing place in the building - the scented candles and treatments are worth a look if you have had a stressful day.

        Cost:
        The rooms vary from about £90 to £250 per night. The malmaison range does offer a number of special offers so if you can get hold of one of these it can be worth going.

        Overall:
        As I said above I really enjoyed this hotel. It is in a prime location for Broad Street so even if you don't want to eat in the restaurant, you aren't ever far away from a good place to eat. The rooms are spacious and relaxing with great facilities. I wouldn't suggest using the tea making facilities - it is about £4 for a cup of tea!

        With the town centre location it is good to know they employ added security measures.

        The only real problem is that with it being in the middle of Birmingham parking is very expensive. You must park in the Mailbox which is £15 per 24 hours. If you don't need you car I would suggest getting the train and using taxis.

        This is a lovely hotel, that isn't pretensious and has a great range of people in it. The staff are lovely and always happy to have a chat. I checked out of the hotel one day and had left my mobile phone in the room - the cleaners had rung my home number to leave a message and were prepared to post it to me - I did realise and go back before I had driven all the way back to Lincoln though.

        The hotel is 4* and I would recommend any of the malmaison range from my time staying in Birmingham.

        (Sorry if you have already read this, but I accidentally posted it in the wrong place and don't know how to delete it)

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          06.01.2009 17:04
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          Get up close and personal with one of Africa's most beautiful animals

          Where it is:
          Ngulia Lodge is in the middle of Tsavo West Safari park in Kenya. Tsavo East and West combined creates the largest game reserve in Kenya and offers a different range to the Masai Mara. Also unlike the Masai it is easily accesible from Mombasa via road (about 2 hours.) Tsavo West is thicker with dense vegetation compared to the east which is more dusty and barren. If you are planning to do a safari from Mombasa you will need to go for longer than 2 days to have time to do both Tsavo East and West, but this hotel is only a 15 minute drive from the rhino sanctuary - the only place you are going to see them as they still need to be protected from poachers.
          The rooms:
          The rooms were pretty basic. A tiled floor, a bed and a bathroom with bath and shower. Electricity was only available between 1-2pm and from 6pm in the evening. We think this is because the hotel runs on solar power. Also if you are doing a safari you will be out in the morning and late afternoon anyway. The rooms were clean and had mosquito nets over the bed, however these were a bit past their best. Overall in the hotel there are 52 rooms, all with balconies. These overlook either the watering hole or the vast savannah behind where the animals can come up to the room to graze. The baboons even used the balcony to walk along to get to the watering hole. Bottled water isn't provided in the rooms so remember to get one from the bar before you go to brush your teeth!

          The food:
          As we were only at the hotel for one night we only got a sample of the food. It was served buffet style with an assortment of fresh fruit and juices, cereals, pastries and fried breakfast too. Lunch and dinner were also a buffet, with a range of salads, hot dishes such as moussaka and traditional dishes such as Ugali (maize flour boiled up to make a paste - it is a kenyan staple and tastes a bit like mushy rice!) Deserts were available but I gave them a miss - partly because they always seemed to be shaped like various body parts! All food is included but you have to pay for drinks - a round of 4 drinks works out at about £6
          Service:
          As you will find if you go anywhere in Kenya, the level of service is impecable. To begin with you will wonder why they are making jobs for themselves, but after a couple of days you begin to embrace it. I for one have become a right lazy cow because I am so used to people running aroound after me! You do have to get used to the fact that as soon as your knife and fork are down your plate is taken away, even if other people are eating, and the fact you won't be allowed to carry your bags, put your mosquito nets on, pour your own drink. They are all however really badly paid (about £20 a week) so it is advised to give a tip of 100 schillings which is 75p.

          Booking:
          If you are doing a safari it is likely to have been booked through a travel agents or through the safari tour operator. I can't see any reason why you would choose to come here and not be part of a safari party as there is nothing else to do there!
          Entertainment:
          There is no tv in the room and you obviously can't go out for a walk so the only options are either sit in the bar or go for a swim. The swimming pool was very small but seemed clean, and on a hot day would definitely be worth taking advantage of. However we went in African winter (July) so were cool enough at about 30 degrees. At night it is nice to watch the watering hole as all the elephants come in to drink from it and they also strap a goat leg to a frame next to the bar so leopards come in most nights to eat. You can get some amazing pictures here as it is only about 6 feet away. You can hear as it crunches though the bones, so not good for the squeamish! As you have to get up at about 6am to be out on the next safari drive it is probably easier to spend time in the lodge catching up on sleep.

          Wildlife:
          If you don't like creepy crawlies I would not recommend this lodge. We had about 3 lizards in our room (they were more scared of us though) and when I went to sit on my balcony saw a bug flying around that was about the size of my fist! I screamed lke a girl and ran away. It is also advised that you don't feed the animals as they are wild and likely to bite and scratch you.
          Overall:
          This hotel was ok. I wouldn't fancy any more than a night there - and being absolutely knackered diverted my attention from the lack of things to do. The views from the hotel are spectacular and if you see the leopard that close up it is definitely worth it

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            31.08.2008 20:43
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            Brilliant cult show

            Director:
            Paul King

            Written by and Starring:
            Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt

            Rating:
            15

            Number of episodes:
            6

            Released:
            2008

            Overview:
            Androgynous clothes horse Vince Noir (Fielding) and jazz/ stationery fanatic Howard Moon (Barratt) go about their third series of adventures in a surreal world where the moon talks and they live with a shaman called Naboo (played by Fielding's brother Michael) and his familiar - a talking gorrilla called Bollo.

            Episodes:
            Eels - In the third series the duo have taken over the shop Nabootique. Whilst Vince is busy tagging celebrities for his "celeb-radar" Howard is struggling to sell his special brand of elbow patches. As Vince goes out to try and tag part man-part flamingo Pete Neon, Howard encounters, green-faced Victorian henchman the Hitcher who threatens to kill him if he doesn't come up with 1,000 euros by midnight. He is forced to dabble in prostitution with "a geezer in a dress" to try and save himself. It also has a very catchy song that you don't want to find yourself singing to yourself around Tesco (trust me)

            Journey to the Centre of the Punk - Vince has decided to become a punk and become the frontman of band Terminal Margaret. But after he accidentally swallows a piece of Howard's jazz record voodoo scat (laced with the blood of a jazz musician) Howard has to be zapped into miniature form and kill the rogue jazz cell before it's too late for Vince. The most genius bit of this is clearly through Noel Fielding's love of dressing up. He plays some red blood cells, an immune system, Amy Winehouse style secretary, rogue jazz cell and disco clad brain cell. Plus the classic punk performer of the song "I did a shit on your mum."

            The Power of the Crimp: Is absolutely my favourite episode - throughout the other series the duo have often got involved in random little acapellas (about soup, sticklebacks and pancakes) ad this episode goes into that. Vince starts being copied by Lance Dior who then befriends jazzy Harold Boon. Clearly put out Howard and Vince try and come up with new ideas to get back their gig and TV show on BBC3, but are forced into a crimp-off to prove they were its true creators.

            The strange tale of the crack fox: Having thrown out a mountain of bin-bags around the back of the shops, Vince sets about removing them only to discover the crack fox - who used to spend his time punting with a tennis rat and racist badger, but became more akin to partying in London gay clubs. He gases Vince and steals a bottle of Naboo's Shaman-juice, the most powerful potion ever. Vince must get the bottle back with the help of a tramp and Howard's bin men friends, before the crack fox takes over the world and Naboo is executed.

            Party - It is Howard's birthday so Vince persuades him to have a party. Howard dons a man-girdle to try and impress the ladies before being upstaged by Vince. After he gets caught in a cupboard with an extreme calendar model ( the head shaman's wife) he must convince him he is in love with Howard or be beheaded.

            The chokes - Howard is trying to impress a documentary maker by trying to showcase his skills at a variety night hosted by Vince. He seeks the advice of actor Montgomery Flange to help him secure the part. Meanwhile Vince is busy trying to make his legs thinner so he can perform with The Black Tubes who will only let him sing if he has thin enough legs to fit inside a pair of skinny jeans. However things go wrong when recovering alcoholic Sammy the Crab is given beer by the band and goes on the rampage in the club.

            DVD Extras
            A making of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew. Don't expect anything too serious though - there are clearly a lot of in jokes on set.
            Publicity - A behind the scenes look at the tv and radio promotion for the series. Worth a watch, but not the best thing on the two discs.
            Deleted scenes
            Mint Royale promotional video
            Clips of all the musical performances cut straight from the series
            Out takes, which are pretty funny
            The trailer used on the BBC to promote the new series
            Audio commentaries from Barratt, Fielding and Rich Fulcher, who plays a number of characters in the show - again this is full of in jokes and full of nonsensical noises. But can be quite funny and an insight into the train of thought in creating such odd characters

            Overall:
            I only got into the Mighty Boosh at a very late stage and felt I had to start watching it to understand what my were going on about and to see whether tabloid regular Fielding deserved all his coverage.
            And to be honest, when I first started watching I just didn't get it at all. But, having stuck with it and acceped it just makes no sense I have come around to love it.
            Having watched all three series now I can say this is my favourite - it is the darkest by a long way and the characters are brilliantly written. My favourites are probably the crack fox and the moon, who are probably as different as you can get.
            This is not your conventional sit-com, it features the most bonkers storylines ever and will always break off into a song halfway through a scene (all written by Barratt.)
            This is definitely the best series and although at times seems to be indulging the duo's love for dressing up in mental outfits it is still worth a watch. I would advise going into it with an open mind, not expecting to understand any of it and prepared to give more than one show.
            Plus watch out for the film next year.

            Cost on Play.com - £12.99

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            • More +
              26.04.2008 20:18
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              One of the best British sitcoms of recent years

              Written by:
              Simon Pegg & Jessica Stevenson (or Hynes as she now is)

              Starring:
              Simon Pegg (Run Fat Boy Run, Hot Fuzz)
              Jessica Stevenson (Shaun of the Dead, The Royle Family)
              Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Kinky Boots)
              Mark Heap (Green Wing, Stardust)
              Katy Carmichael (Coronation Street, Cutting It)
              Julia Deakin (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead)

              Originally shown on:
              Channel 4 from 1999 to 2001

              Cerificate:
              15

              Running Time:
              Disc 1 and extras - 210 minutes
              Disc 2 and extras - 217 minutes
              Disc 3 (all extras) - 84 minutes

              Plot Summary: Daisy and Tim are a pair of stoners, who both become homeless and meet in a cafe. After getting to know each other whilst house hunting, they pretend to be a couple so they can get a flat, owned by alcoholic Marsha who lives above them.
              They must pretend to be together, whilst dealing with their disfunctional best friends Twist and Mike as well as angry artist Brian, who lives in the flat below them.

              Characters:
              Tim Bisley (Pegg) - Tim is a wannabe graphic artist who dreams of creating his own comic one day. After his girlfriend Sarah cheated on him with his friend Duane he was made homeless and met Daisy in a cafe and decided to move in together. Is best friends with Mike and is often seen skateboarding or on his playstation. He is a Star Wars nut - but only the three originals, he has issues with George Lucas about the latest films.

              Daisy Steiner (Stevenson) - Daisy is a wannabe writer who basically can't be bothered to do any work. She has a boyfreind who lives in Hull and spends her days finding excuses not to write anything.

              Mike (Frost) - Mike is Tim's best mate who is a self confessed weapons expert. He was thrown out of the TA for stealing a tank and trying to invade Paris and runs his days like a military operation.

              Marsha (Deakin) - Marsha is the chain-smoking, alcoholic landlord, who continuously argues with her teenage daughter Amber. She used to have an 'agreement' with Brian over the rent but he is now petrified of her.

              Twist (Carmichael) - Twist is Daisy's best friend and Uber-bitch who works in fashion (the dry cleaners.) She dissaproves of pretty much everything Daisy does and has a soft spot for Brian.

              Brian (Heap) - Brian lives in the flat underneath and is an artist who deals in anger, pain and aggresion. Until Daisy and Tim move in is reclusive, but they bring him out of his shell.

              Episodes:
              Series 1
              Episode 1 - Beginnings - Daisy decides to move of her squat and meets Tim, who has just been dumped by his girlfriend. They pretend to be a couple to be able to rent a flat.

              Episode 2 - Gatherings - They decide to hold a party to get to know the new neighbours (and paper boy) but things don't quite go as well as they had hoped.

              Episode 3 - Art - Daisy decides to get job, and after an unsuccesful interview at women's magazine "Flaps" decides to tag along to see Brian's ex partner man/woman installation artist Vulva (played by David Walliams.)

              Episode 4 - Battles - Daisy gets dumped after admitting to her boyfriend she has been cheating on him and after letting it slip to Marsh asks to get a dog to try and save her imaginary relationship with Tim. Meanwhile Tim is off playing paintball with Mike and gets teamed up with Duane - his ex friend who stole his girlfriend.

              Episode 5 - Chaos - Colin, the new dog, gets kidnapped and the group must join forces to save him from an animal testing facility - A Team style. Twist also starts to realise her feeling towards Brian.

              Episode 6 - Epiphanies - After Mike almost dies in an eskimo rolling incident the group decide to go out to a rave to help cheer him up. We also meet Tyres - Tim's bike courier who is a rave-aholic and will dance to anything, he is up and down with drup-fuelled mood swings and fails to believe Tim and Daisy are just friends.

              Episode 7 - Ends - Tim agrees to meet his ex Sarah to find out she has been dumped and debates whether or not to go back to her. Daisy finally gets over her writers block and Brian takes Twist on a first date - to Marsha's annoyance.

              Series 2
              Episode 1 - Back - After Daisy sells a few stories and inherits some money she decides to travel around India - on her return finds that Mike has moved into her room, and some sinister looking Matrix baddies are after her. Leading to a showdown in the pub.

              Episode 2 - Change - Tim gets sacked from his job at a comic store for shouting at a kid over Jarjar Binks and the Phantom Menace, so he and Daisy head down to get their benefits, with differing levels of success. Brian is also suffering from writers block and Mike moves in with Marsh after her daughter Amber storms out.

              Episode 3 - Mettle - Tim and Mike build a robot to go on robot wars, but it is sabotaged by Mike's TA buddies so they can get on the show instead. Brian is invited to do an art instalation at a swanky gallery, but it doesn't quite go to plan.

              Episode 4 - Help - Tim gets a call from his dream employers Darkstar who want to see his portfolio. Unfortunately he has a drawing of the big boss with the words "I'm a massive wanker on it" so must get it back before he loses the best chance of his career. Daisy and Marsha decide to get fit and Brian gets a visit from his mum who thinks he is a lawyer.

              Episode 5 - Gone - Tim becomes worried his new girlfriend Sophie is cheating on him so Daisy takes him out on the lash to forget about it. However they lose their house keys, get into a scrap with a group of lads over some drugs and Mike loses their dog Colin.

              Episode 6 - Dissolution - It is Daisy's Birthday so they are going out for a meal, but Marsha catches Tim kissing his new girlfriend in the garden and feels she has to tell Daisy that he is cheating on her.

              Episode 7 - Marsha decides to sell the house, Daisy decides to move to Colwyn Bay and Tim's girlfriend is moving to America. He must try and stop it all before he ends up with no home, no friends and no dog!

              DVD Extras:
              Out takes
              Trailers
              Commentaries
              Cast & Crew Biographies
              Deleted Scenes
              Homage O-meter
              Raw footage
              Documentary "Skip to the End"


              Price:
              £9.99 from Play.com
              £11.95 from dvd.co.uk

              Overall:
              I was a real late comer to Spaced - it came out at a time when I was more interested in going out on the lash than staying in on a Friday night. But after the recent success of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I thought I would give it another go.
              And I wasn't disappointed, granted the second season is unmeasurably better than the second, but it is still very funny.
              If you are familiar with Pegg and Frost's work since (with Director Edgar Wright) you will know the pop-culture references to horror films, star wars, computer games and even blockbusters like Jurassic Park. Although some of these maybe a little dated, like Robot Wars, many still stand up today and give it a different feel to any other sit-com before or since.
              There are some generally hilarious lines in Spaced and a lot of the jokes are physical comedy too, and this is often seen as an introduction for Shaun of the Dead a few years later.
              I feel the first series episodes tend to end rather abruptly and could do with an extra 5 minutes or so on the end, but the ones in the second series seem to be more well rounded (I suppose this is the benefit of a two year hiatus.)
              The characters are brilliantly written and even though they are all sociopathic layabouts, you want them all to have a happy ending and have Daisy and Tim hook up. Except maybe Twist -who is brilliantly awful.
              The DVD extras are a bit hit and miss, the documentary on disc 3 is by far the most interesting special feature, and the outtakes are also very good. But I think the biographies and deleted scenes are a bit of time filler as far as I am concerned.
              The Homage-O-meter is also very good and is great to see all the nods to other shows and films.
              Unfortunately it doesn't look as though the proposed third series will happen after Frost revealed it was only a ploy to keep hopeful fans pleased.
              I think this is definitely worth a watch, although the series do seem really short, only being 7 episodes long each.
              Not wanting to give too much away but the ending is a bit of a cop-out and looks as though it was deliberately left open for something more.
              I would say if you love any of the main actors in this, who have become movie and comedy stars in their own right I would give this a go. Likewise, if you are a bit of a pop-culture junkie you will pick up on much of the hidden comedy. If you like more family based comedy with more obvious humour then I probably would give it a miss.

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              • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (DVD) / DVD / 34 Readings / 33 Ratings
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                20.01.2008 19:43
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                Film that not many people know about, but is worth watching

                Director:
                Shane Black (Lethal Weapon series)

                Starring:
                Robert Downey Jr (Zodiac, Good Night and Good Luck)
                Val Kilmer (Batman Forever, The Saint)
                Michelle Monaghan (The Bourne Supremacy, Mission Impossible 3)

                Production Year:
                2005

                Running Time:
                103 minutes

                Certificate:
                15

                DVD Extras:
                None

                Cost:
                Play.com - £4.99

                Plot overview:
                This is very complicated so try and keep up. Harry (Downey Jr) is a thief, who accidentally ends up being taken to Hollywood after his partner is killed and when escaping stumbles into an audition. He is swept off to LA to audition seriously for a police drama film and is paired up with Private Detective Gay Perry (Kilmer) to learn the trade. When in LA he meets childhood friend Harmony (Monaghan) who is an aspiring actress there. Harry and Harmony both shared a love of old Johnny Gossamer spy books as kids, which comes in handy when her sister kills herself, Harry and Perry witness a murder, then a body is dumped in Harry's shower. So the three of them must dump the body before they are implicated in a murder, then solve who the body is and the connection to the suicide before they are killed. See I told you it was complicated.

                Overview:
                This is one of the smartest and most different films to come out of Hollywood for years. Harry's character narrates and it is very jumpy along a timeline - sometimes it stops in between frames to explain a point he has forgotten. But even though this takes a few minutes to get used to it all ads to the charming film noir style.
                This is the perfect role for Downey Jr as the petty thief turned wise-cracking detective. He is witty and incredibly funny, and despite everything that is thrown at him (including losing a finger and urinating on a corpse) you are routing for him.
                It is also nice to see Kilmer in an unusual role for him as the overly camp Gay Perry.
                I only stumbled across this by accident as I hadn't heard much about it, but I am so glad I did. This combines gangsters, romance, comedy, and an element of a thriller.
                Not to give too much away the ending is slightly predictable, but this is still done in a mickey taking way.
                This is not one of those films you can just have on in the background - you do really need to concentrate on it, there are two or three different things going on at any time but I suppose this means it is watchable again and again.
                It is rammed with laugh out loud comedy, cringe-worthy moments and clever twists and turns
                The only real downside to this is that there are no DVD extras which is a bit of a shame for such a modern film.
                Just so you know this does have a lot of swearing, violence and nudity in, so if you are offended by this I would maybe give this a miss.

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                • Enchanted (DVD) / DVD / 32 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                  20.01.2008 14:50
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                  Silly, funny family film.

                  Director:
                  Kevin Lima (102 Dalmatians)

                  Starring:
                  Amy Adams (Talladega Nights, The Wedding Date)
                  James Marsden (Hairspray, X-Men)
                  Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy, Sweet Home Alabama)
                  Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, Elizabethtown)
                  Timothy Spall (Harry Potter, Oliver)

                  Production Year:
                  2007

                  Certificate:
                  PG

                  Running time:
                  107 minutes

                  Plot outline:
                  The film starts as all good Disney films do, the opening of a story book, then going into a cartoon world with lots of singing and little animals. Giselle (Adams) is looking for her perfect man and get her "True love's kiss," so when she meets Prince Edward (Marsden) they fall in love immediately and lan to marry the next day. However, Edward's stepmother, Queen Narissa (Sarandon) has other plans as she fears Giselle will steal her crown. So on the wedding day (disguised as an old woman of course) throws Giselle down a magic well that transports her to New York - a place where there are no Happy Endings. When Edward discovers this, he follows her, alongside Giselle's chipmunk friend Pip and Edward's friend Nathaniel (Spall) who is secretly working for the queen.
                  In New York Giselle befriends Robert (Dempsey) a single father and divorce lawyer who is less than impressed with Giselle's innocence.

                  Overall:
                  This film is just what you expect it to be sweet, a little predictable and good family fun. However unlike the older Disney film this is really funny and has things in for the adults. Obviously putting child like characters into New York is going to result in a level of chaos.

                  Amy Adams is great as Giselle,a girl who is simply seeking true love and some of the song and dance sequences are ridiculous but very funny. I would say that James Marsden completely steals the show as Prince Edward. He is a dumb, macho man who is desparate to return his bride to Andalasia and has no idea what is going on at all in the city. In order for him to find her, he has to rely on a chipmunk that is unable to speak in the real world, and will Nathaniel desperate to sabotage his plans and kill Giselle, the odds are stacked against him.

                  As family films go I would recommend this thoroughly - you would think it was aimed for little girls wanting tobe princesses, but there were grown man sat laughing next to me. It makes fun of itself and is genuinly enchanting - it has something for everyone and I look forward to seeing the DVD extras when it comes out later in the year.

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                  • Elf (DVD) / DVD / 45 Readings / 38 Ratings
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                    16.01.2008 16:24
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                    The film that put Ferrell firmly as an A-list star

                    Director:
                    Jon Favreau (Zathura)

                    Starring:
                    Will Ferrell (Old School, Anchorman)
                    James Caan (The Godfather, Misery)
                    Zoeey Deschanel (Failure to Launch, Hitchhikers Guide)

                    Production Year:
                    2003

                    Running Time:
                    97 minutes

                    Certificate:
                    PG

                    Plot:
                    Buddy the Elf isn't like the other Elves - He is 6 feet tall, and is distinctly lacking in the toy making skills of all the others. So one day he is told by his father than he is in fact a human, who crawled into Santa's sack and ended up staying at the North Pole being raised by the elves. Buddy also learns that his real mother had died and his father lives in New York and is on the naughty list!
                    So Buddy heads off to New York to me his real family and chaos ensues, as people struggle to come to terms with his Christmas spirit and childlike qualities.
                    This comes in handy when Santa crashes in New York and needs a hand in taking off before getting caught and exposed!

                    Characters
                    Buddy the Elf (Ferrell) - Buddy is a child in an adults body, he is sweet and naive and doesn't believe there is any bad in the world - especially not in New York. He lives on a diet of sugar and loves nothing more than singing, holding hands, cuddling and anything to do with Christmas.

                    Walter (Caan) - The ruthless publisher who unknowingly fathered a child 30 years ago. Has a wife and young son, although does not really pay them much attention and is definitely not too impressed when Buddy turns up.

                    Jovy (Deschanel) Jovy works in a department store and is initially unimpressed by Buddy, but she soon warms up to him, despite catching him in the ladies changing room.

                    Emily (Mary Steenburgen) Emily is Walter's long suffering wife who thinks the opportunity to bond with his long lost son is fantastic. She instigates Buddy moving in and welcomes a playmate for their son Michael.

                    DVD Extras
                    Kids on Christmas
                    Deck the Halls featurette
                    Santa Mania featurette
                    Christmas in Tinseltown featurette
                    Trailers
                    Elf Jukebox
                    Deleted and additional scenes
                    Making of and behind the scenes documentaries
                    Buddy's Adventure Games

                    Overall:
                    I first came across this film when I went to the cinema to see it with my mum. We were the only people there without a 5 year old child, which had me slightly worried, but I absolutely loved every second of it.
                    The film is silly and clearly based at young kids and this is summed up with a mix of burp jokes and visual comedy which Ferrell is perfect for.
                    It is sweet, innocent, family fun that has some genuine laugh out loud moments that are obviously going to occur from this scenario (later capitalised on by Enchanted.)
                    The casting and script are spot on, and it is a credit that a mix of well established and up-coming actors wanted to be in this, although I am still quite glad they have all declined a sequel, which I think may have ruined a great original story.
                    Everybody I know has this in their collection as a film to watch throughout the year as a simple, funny, morale boosting movie.
                    The DVD extras aren't great, but they again are aimed at young children, some of the featurettes and documentaries are quite interesting but nothing to write home about.
                    You can pick this up for about £3 or £4 from supermarkets and places like play and amazon and it is a real investment that is easily the best Christmas movie from the last 10 years or so.
                    I'm fairly certain that as my generation grew up with Santa Claus the movie on television every year, our kids will grow up watching this one

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                    • American Dad - Season 1 (DVD) / DVD / 27 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                      14.01.2008 22:03
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                      You will love Stan Smith and his mad family

                      Certificate: 12

                      Year: 2005
                      Starring:
                      Seth MacFarlane ; Wendy Schaal ; Scott Grimes ; Rachael MacFarlane ; Stephen Root ; Eddie Kaye Thomas ; Patrick Stewart ; Ron Livingston ; Gina Gershon ; Matthew Lillard ; Bill Murray ; Billy West ; Josh Groban ; Natasha Melnick

                      Special Features:
                      Audio commentary
                      'Behind The Scenes' featurette
                      Deleted scenes
                      TV spots

                      This programme is the reason I used to always be tired on a Monday morning. From the creators of Family Guy, BBC 2 decided to put this brilliantly written cartoon on incredibly late on a Sunday night! It revolves around Stan Smith - the hugely patriotic/ borderline psychotic CIA agent and his family - comprising of his bored housewife Francine, Nerdy son Steve, Eco warrior daughter Hayley, oddle effeminate alien Roger who saved Stan's life at area 51 and Klaus - the goldfish with the brain of a German Olympic Skiier! This is a clever, witty show that many people will have missed due to poor scheduling,but this box set contains the first 13 episodes of series 1 - the second half is available for about £15 in most places. If you like The Simpsons and Family Guy this is for you - it has jokes on every level. There is almost 5 hours worth to treat yourself to here with one of the most annoyingly catchy theme tunes ever!

                      Episodes:

                      1. Pilot - Stan tries to help Steve win the heart of Cheerleader Lisa ( Carmen Electra) by rigging the school election. Francine puts Roger the alien on a diet so unable to leave the house he bribes Hayley to smuggle in sweets in exchange for doing her homework.

                      2. Threat Levels - After accidentally drinking toxic waste and being told they only had 24 hours to live, Francine is forced to reassess her life - so decides to get a "hobby" in real estate. Disgusted that she now earns more money Stan decides to make homeless men fight in order to regain his manhood.

                      3. Stan Knows Best - Hayley comes home with green hair so Stan decides to shave her haid in her sleep. She decides to move in to her boyfriend Jeff's van and become a stripper to pay for her school tuition. In Hayleys absence Steve persuades Roger to pretend to be his disfigured sister (after a kinky chlorine accident) in order for him to pull a girl.
                      4. Francine's Flashback - Stan forgets his wedding anniversary so wipes what he thinks is 20 hours of Francines memory. When he realises he has actually wiped 20 years and she has no idea who he is he has to make her realise her love. Meanwhile Steve gets a date and persuades Roger to go along with her hideous friend

                      5. Roger Codger - After an argument with Stan, Roger falls into a stress induced coma. So Stan throws him in a skip. When Roger wakes up he tries to make his way home but inadvertly gets put on a bus with a OAP's day trip. When the CIA realise Roger is on the loose Stan must get their first before Roger tells who has been hiding him.
                      6. Homeland Insecurity - Francine holds a block party but Stan ruins it when the new Iranian neighbours show up and he detains them for terrorist activity.

                      7. Deacon Stan, Jesus Man - In an attempt to outdo his Nemesis Chuck White, Stan uses potato salad made from Rogers breast milk to win over the community and become the Church deacon. Roger accidentally gets Steve Pregnant after a mouth to mouth incident.
                      8. Bullocks To Stan - Whilst trying to get a promotion Stan tells his family to be nice to his boss Bullock (Patrick Stewart.) Hayley gets a little too well acquainted and a shocked Stan tries to break them up by making Jeff more assertive. Bullock is devastated and decides to have Jeff killed.

                      9. A Smith In The Hand - Stan takes offence to Steves sex education class so decides to teach him himself. He teaches his son that masturbation will be punished with melted eyes and hairy hands and the best way to avoid this is by hobbies. Following a soldering iron incident Stan must apply lotion to a very sensitive area.

                      10. All About Steve - Stan realises his son is a geek so decided against taking Steve to a father-son ball game. When a terrorist threat written in Elvish comes in it is down to Steve to save America
                      11. Con Heir - Stan realises the man he thought was his father has died and that his real father is a super CIA agent. When the FBI turn up looking for an International jewel thief Francine gets suspicious

                      12. Stan Of Arabia (Part 1) &
                      13. Stan Of Arabia (Part 2)

                      Following an argument with Francine Stan uproots the whole family to Saudi Arabia. As Francine refuses to do what he says Stan gets a second wife, Roger gets sold to a Sheik, Hayley falls in love with a "Suicide bomber" and Steve sees God in the desert.

                      Overall:
                      I never really got into the whole Family Guy thing but after I accidentally stumbled across this programme I was hooked. It is irreverant and totally bonkers and for me the only serious rival to the Simpsons (I know I am alone in that Family Guy/ South Park fans!)
                      There are some brilliant one liners and the scripts are brilliantly written. Roger the Alien's desperate attempts to escape the house are brilliant and the dynamic between the completely disfunctional family just works.
                      Stan Smith represents everything we find idiotic about Americans, he is gung ho, trigger happy and assumes everyone foreign is a terrorist, but in spite of this he is hilariously funny - and what other show are you going to get a fish with the brain of a horny German skiier!
                      If you haven't seen this and have a silly sense of humour then this could be for you. If you were a fan of Family Guy though you might not like this.

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                      • Benefit BadGal Lash / Make Up / 24 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                        13.01.2008 15:58
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                        Feel the benefit of good make up

                        I am fairly new to Beneft products but fell in love with the Moon Beam 'bronzer' so when it came to looking for a mascara I thought I would give it a go. I have a really good 'day-time' mascara but was looking for a more dramatic effect for night time.

                        The packaging:
                        Benefit usually have a classic, vintage 50s look to its packaging but for some reason this mascara does not follow suit. It comes in a black and hot pink box with the tube in similar style.

                        The tube itself is a standard cylinder with a silver-look handle.

                        The effect:
                        My night time make up is usually liquid eye-liner and false lashes (a la toned down Winehouse) but this mascara eliminates the need for the falsies. It lengthens and gives a clump free effect. The brush is quite large so covers smoothly and evenly. The colour of the mascara is a rich black colour.

                        Disadvantages:
                        There aren't many problems with this product. It isn't waterproof so I would not recommend it for swimming or a sad film. If like me you are prone to rubbing your eyes it can come off quite easily, leaving a big black smudge across your face.

                        Price:
                        I paid £14.50 for a 8.5g tube. You can get this cheaper on ebay but I wouldn't suggest you buy anything off ebay going near your eyes.

                        Availability:
                        Benefit is quite easy to get your hands on - most large department stores and Boots will have a counter and you always get a free sample when you buy something.

                        Overall:
                        For what I want this for I can't fault it. A dramatic wide-eyed 50s look is achieved using this mascara. If you have thinner lashes you are able to layer it on as it doesn't clump.

                        I am a bit of a Benefit convert and would recommend any of their products. They may be more expensive than you would usually pay but they last ages and are really effective.

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                        • More +
                          12.01.2008 21:37
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                          The original and best!

                          Release Year in UK:
                          2006

                          Certification:
                          15

                          Running Time:
                          990 minutes! (Approx)

                          DVD Extras:
                          Audio commentaries from the writers, director and cast
                          Alternative/deleted scenes
                          'Making A Scene' featurette
                          'Making Prison Break' featurette
                          'If These Walls Could Speak: Profile Of The Joliet Correctional Center' featurette
                          'Beyond The Walls' featurette
                          TV spots

                          Plot:
                          Lincoln Burrows has been falsely accused of killing Terence Steadman - the brother of America's vice president. He is sentenced to death and sent to Fox River Prison to see out his days. Convinced of his brother innocence Michael Schofield (they have different surnames because one took the mum's name the other the dad's) commits armed robbery and gets sent to the same Prison.

                          An act of stupidity I hear you say. Oh no! Schofield, who is a structural engineer, has had the plans to the Prison and has had a tattoo of them (in the form of a gothic drawing) over his entire torso and down to his wrists! As you do. Every detail has been accounted for he just has to get them both out before the execution day.
                          Whilst this is going on on the inside, arguably the more interesting stuff is going on outside. A childhood friend of the brothers is trying to get Lincoln off as he protests that he didn't do it. She begins to discover a series of events - including one that the body buried wasn't that of the supposed murdered man. The CIA under the order of the vice president are sent to stop her uncovering he truth, even going to the length of murdering the mother and stepfather of Burrow's son LJ.

                          Characters:
                          Michael Schofield (Wentworth Miller) - In an attempt to save his brothers life from death row (for a crime he didn't commit - no really, he didn't) Schofield commits an armed robbery to get himself sent to prison. This sounds like an act of sheer madness until you realise he has the plans of the prison tattooed across his torso. Now all he must do is assemble a motley crew to aide his and his brothers escape.

                          Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) - Was accused of killing the vice Presidents brother due to some falsified evidence and sentenced to death. He was forced to give up his dreams as a teen, when his mother died in order to raise his brother Michael.
                          Dr Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callis) - The Prison's doctor who (understandably) fancies Schofield.

                          Sucre (Amauray Nolasco) - Schofields Cell mate - inside for stealing in order to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. Needs to escape as she is pregnant and his cousin is making a move on her.

                          C-Note (Rockmund Dunbar) - Is a former soldier who was sent back from Iraq after being set up for bringing in dodgy goods. His family still think he is in Iraq.

                          T-Bag (Robert Knepper) - A real nasty piece of work - is the result of his uncle/dad raping his mum. Is in jail for kidnapping, rape and murder of men, women and children and Blackmails his way into the gang - but strangely I fancy him like mad! Don't know what that says about me.

                          Abruzzi (Peter Stormare) - Is a Chicago mob boss who is in jail for murder. Promises a plane nearby if he is involved in the escape. Has violent tendencies and isn't afraid to do the odd toe amputation to get his own way.

                          Charles Westmoreland (Muse Watson) - An old timer who is rumoured to have a secret stash of money from a famed $5million robbery. Has to get out to see his daughter who is dying of cancer.

                          Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney) - A childhood friend of Schofield and an ex girlfriend of of Burrows. Is a lawyer who goes on the trail of evidence to get Burrows cleared

                          LJ Burrows (Marshall Allman) - Burrow's son who has had very little to do with his father. Has to go on the run with Veronica after his Mother & Stepfather are murdered and he is framed for it.

                          Episodes:

                          1. Pilot
                          2. Allen
                          3. Cell Test
                          4. Cute Poison
                          5. English, Fitz Or Percy
                          6. Riots, Drills And The Devil
                          7. Behind The Walls
                          8. The Old Head
                          9. Tweener
                          10. Sleight Of Hand
                          11. And Then There Were 7
                          12. Odd Man Out
                          13. End Of The Tunnel
                          14. The Rat
                          15. By The Skin And The Teeth
                          16. Brother's Keeper
                          17. J-Cat
                          18. Bluff
                          19. The Key
                          20. Tonight
                          21. Go
                          22. Flight

                          Overview:

                          When this programme was launched I couldn't open a magazine, go past a billboard or listen to a radio without Prison Break being mentioned. But there was one thing that put me off- it was on Channel 5 - purveyors of such classics as naked jungle, touch the truck and late night porn - so I didn't really think anymore about it! But then all my friends started telling me I HAD to watch it or be ostracised from talking to them. I picked it up about 10 episodes in an instantly was hooked (hence having to buy the DVD boxset to see the first few episodes.)
                          Although I think this is cleverly written I can't help but laugh sometimes at Michael Schofield's broody, squintiness and overly complex dialogue (Dawson's Creek anyone ?) The characters are all brilliantly rounded and have genuine reasons to want to escape - other than the fact they don't want to be in Prison anymore. The back stories are full and even though these characters aren't meant to be likeable you can identify with most of them

                          Even though there is a lack of female roles here, the two women in the show are strong, intelligent professionals who also happen to be impossibly good looking and fresh in every crisis.
                          The detail of this prgramme is amazing - down to every bolt, screw, drain and second. It really is an incredibly complex programme and deserves all the credit it gets - anyone that says American TV is dmbing down needs to have a look at this.

                          It is gory and graphic at times, but this is a story involving some very nasty people - and by the end of the series at least 2 characters are missing limbs so if you are squeamish watch from behind a cushion.
                          The only annoying thing about this is that whenever there is an ad break on the tv it has a running shot through the prison - which could easily have been edited out as it breaks the story up every 10-15 minutes.

                          The DVD extras are ok - the making of featurette and the look around the actual prison are interesting but the rest are just standard features. Only some episodes have audio commentary and if I'm being honest the highlight was the in depth documentary on the tattoo - its origins, its design, the process of putting it on etc etc.
                          I do have to warn you if you buy this don't start watching it after about 8pm. You will be up all night watching it - I would suggest a Sunday in bed to get through the 16 hours of episodes! I don't want to give too much away but this show is now in series 3 so don't expect everything to be nicely tied up at the end of this boxset - and don't expect everyone to make it to the end - including some of the main characters!!

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                          • Heroes / TV Programme / 26 Readings / 21 Ratings
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                            12.01.2008 20:49
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                            Brilliant series!

                            Created by:
                            Tim Kring (Crossing Jordan, Chicago Hope)
                            Starring:
                            Ali Larter (Legally Blonde, Final Destination)
                            Hayden Panettiere (Raising Helen, Racing Stripes)
                            Milo Ventimiglia (Shes All That, Rocky Balboa)
                            Masi Oka (Scrubs)

                            Running Time:
                            45 minutes
                            Series so far:
                            1 and a half! (Stupid American writers strike!)

                            Broadcast on:
                            BBC2, BBC3, the Sci-fi Channel during the week
                            Streaming on internet sites such as www.heroesstreaming.com
                            Official website:
                            http://scifi.co.uk/heroes/

                            General plot outline:
                            Several people across the world discover they have supernatural powers such as flight, invincibility, and time travel. They must master their powers and help each other before a nuclear bomb destroys New York, and the mysterious killer Syler gets to them.

                            Characters:

                            Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) - A cheerleader from Texas who has discovered she is invincible. After several tests of her new powers (by jumping off a crane, walking through fire, crashing a car) she decides to try and keep a low profile and get through school. She is adopted but her father is a sinister figure who is involved in chasing the "heroes"

                            Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka ) - A Japanese officer worker who can bend space and time and therefore teleport across the world and through time. A geeky character who embraces his new status as saviour of the world.

                            Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) - Moved to New York City from India after his father was murdered for his research into "heroes." Has to work out how to locate them before serial killey Syler does.

                            Niki Sanders (Ali Larter) - A Las Vegas internet stripper who is 30 grand in debt to a gangster. Lives with her son Micah, but is in hiding from her escaped prisoner husband who was sent down for murder, but escaped. When she looks in the mirror her reflection is a darker version of herself. Often blacks out and finds bodies ripped limb from limb around her

                            Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) - A nurse who keeps dreaming he can fly. His brother is running for congress and Peter is seen as a burden on the family. His power doesn't appear to flying though - he can channel other powers - it is his brother who can fly.

                            Isaac Mendes (Santiago Cabrera) A heroin addict artist who wakes up having painted images from the future. He paints Claire, Niki and Peter even though he has never met them and even a nuclear bomb exploding in New York. He even writes a comic book documenting Hiros journey

                            Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg)
                            A police man who can hear peoples thoughts. Gets promoted after using his skills to find a little girl. Also uses his powers to fix his failing marriage and to track down Syler.

                            Episodes

                            Series 1
                            Chapter 1 - Genesis
                            Chapter 2 - Don't Look Back.
                            Chapter 3 - One Giant Leap
                            Chapter 4 - Collision
                            Chapter 5 - Hiros
                            Chapter 6- Better Halves
                            Chapter 7- Nothing To Hide
                            Chapter 8 - Seven Minutes To Midnight
                            Chapter 9 - Homecoming
                            Chapter 10 - Six Months Ago
                            Chapter 11 - Fallout
                            Chapter 12 - Godsend
                            Chapter 13 - The Fix
                            Chapter 14 - Distractions
                            Chapter 15 - Run!
                            Chapter 16 - Unexpected
                            Chapter 17 - Company Man
                            Chapter 18 - Parasite
                            Chapter 19 - 0.07%
                            Chapter 20 - Five Years Gone
                            Chapter 21 - The Hard Part
                            Chapter 22 - Landslide
                            Chapter 23 - How To Stop An Exploding Man

                            Series 2
                            Chapter 1 - Four Months Later...
                            Chapter 2 - Lizards
                            Chapter 3 - Kindred
                            Chapter 4 - The Kindness of Strangers
                            Chapter 5 - Fight or Flight
                            Chapter 6 - The Line
                            Chapter 7 - Out of Time
                            Chapter 8 - Four Months Ago...
                            Chapter 9 - Cautionary Tales
                            Chapter 10 - Truth & Consequences
                            Chapter 11 - Powerless

                            Opinion:

                            I had heard good things about this show but wasn't prepared to wait for it to arrive on BBC2 - so I started streaming it off the internet. I wasn't too sure after watching the first episode, but decided to give the second one a go - before I knew it I had watched six back to back. Like my other favourite shows Lost and Prison Break this really hooks you in with amazing characters and a great storyline. Unlike these shows though, the odd happenings are completely explained and viewers are given an end point thanks to Hiro's ability to jump through time.
                            The characters in this show are brilliant - Peter Petrelli is sexily mean and moody, Claire the cheerleader is likeable and genuine and Hiro is just about the most lovable character you will find on television.
                            It really hooks you in from the second episode and draws you in with a cliffhanger at the end. The way the characters interlink are clever, and it is difficult to know who is good and bad at times.
                            The way the show is shot is really artistic - as you would expect with a superhero tale it is in the style of a comic book.
                            If you are a fan of American drama shows you will really enjoy this - it has been beating both Lost and Prison Break in the ratings.

                            Series 2 opinion and some spoilers
                            Like any diffifult sequel/ second album/ series this starts off to be a bit of a stinker. The writers seem to have just culled some of the less popular characters and this isn't explained properly until quite late on - they also seemed to be aware that the writers strke was going to cut them off mid flow, so made a deliberately short series, but I am somewhat cynical of this!
                            Also an unexplainable are the introduction of some new characters (Veronica Mars firing out electricity, a girl who can bleed out her eyes and kill people and a girl who can immediately copy anything she sees - one annoying, one excellent and one absolutely rubbish, I will let you work this out for yourself.)
                            So the bomb hasn't gone off, so what problems do we give our heroes - are they all still alive - and what is Hiro getting up to 400 years ago?
                            Well I am not giving too much away to say that this series focuses very much on the parents who are hiding a dark secret and how each character is dealing with the events of Kirkby Plaza.
                            There is also the worst Irish accent you will ever hear in the second series and the first 6 episodes are a bit boring to be honest, but from episode 7 there is an absolute monumental twist which carries it through quite brilliantly until the end. If you can't wait to the summer to watch it on BBC2 give it a go on the net - it is worth it once it picks up momentum.

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                            • Come Dine With Me / TV Programme / 35 Readings / 33 Ratings
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                              09.01.2008 20:25
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                              Come Dine with me is a hidden gem

                              Come Dine with Me is a hidden gem in Channel 4's schedule. It tends to be on at about 5pm every day over a week but it is in between series at the minute - I have heard it might be moved to an 8pm slot but I can't see Channel 4 giving up this prime slot every night of the week!

                              So what is it?
                              Come Dine with Me is a 30 minute programme following the preparation of a three course dinner party - not that exciting in principal, but add in alcohol and £1,000 and it all becomes very interesting.
                              Each week the viewer is introduced to five amateur chefs who all live in and around a city. Each one will host a meal at their home throughout the week and will be marked out of 10 by the other four. By Friday the top scorer wins the grand.
                              The show starts with a quick recap and then goes into the menu of the night's chef. This is then destroyed by the other four contestants who bitch and look down their noses at it.
                              Then we are shown the cooking process, which is normally accompanied by a complete breakdown or copious drinking by the cook.
                              Then the guests arrive and while the cook is putting the finishing touches to their feast, the guests get to snoop around their houses.
                              At the end of the night the contestants mark their overall night - not just their meal, but the atmosphere etc - out of 10 in the taxi on the way home, apart from the last night when it is done tucked away in the bedroom somewhere.

                              So why watch it?
                              You can guarantee the producers have picked the five most opinionated and kooky people in the town, so adding that to alcohol just guarantees at some point there will be an argument.
                              Honestly this is total car crash viewing! My absolute favourite was one where a woman from Bristol lived in a huge mansion and had shop mannequins dressed up in suitable attire in every room. She served up for her pudding a glass of grapes - utter mental genius. I think that may also have been the week when a mother of five got so drunk she had to have a nap half way through the meal after getting stinking drunk.
                              But believe it or not this is not the best thing about the whole show, that honour goes to narrator Dave Lamb, who provides a hilariously sarcastic and dry voice over.
                              This is by no means a regular cookery show but that is a good thing. It is funny and will make you feel better about yourself no end.
                              If you are interested in cooking some of the recipes from the show they are available on ceefax and from the channel4 website at www.channel4.com/food, but I think they are only on the site for the week of that show.

                              If you are brave enough to you can apply to go on the show by emailing comedinewithme@granadamedia.com for an application form

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                              • imdb.com / Internet Site / 54 Readings / 50 Ratings
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                                30.12.2007 01:03
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                                Film and TV Bible

                                Before I start talking about this site I must warn you this page is highly addictive and you can easily waste a day at work browsing through it.

                                What is it?
                                In my head IMDB (the Internet Movie Data Base) was created in a similar way to the Guiness Book of Records - to solve arguments in pubs. It is pretty much a database of every film ever made (this may not be totally accurate) but it features the director, stars, length, synopsis, photos and awards to name a few categries of information.
                                In addition to this you can search for a film, star or even character name and it will give you a comprehensive list of the closest matches. It is so infuriating on some searches where you spell something slightly wrong and it totally draws a blank.
                                For a film things such as trivia and awards are also available as well as the links to all the actors pages - this is where I lose so much work time.
                                Every actor has a trivia section - for actors like Tom Cruise this is quite lengthy - for example each of his wives is 11 years younger than the last - but obviously this site has a lot of people on so not all have trivia. My mate has managed to get on it for driving a car at some event - random.
                                On top of all this trivia is a link to spouses/ best friends/ other films etc so if you are anything like me you will go "Oh my god I never knew she went out with him, and now she is married to him etc .." and so the day is wasted ( a similar game can be played on facebook.)
                                The site is really well organised and photos are put into the actor's/ film's/ award ceremony's album so it can be tracked down from just about anywhere.
                                In addition to this wealth of information you can use it to see who was born/ died on your birthday, what are the top films at the cinema and news of all the latest celebrity misbehaviour.

                                Where is it?
                                www.imdb.com

                                Overall:
                                If you are a movie geek or just like celevrities this is brilliant. It will give you an insight into upcoming movies, where they are filming it and who has signed on/ been sacked on the first day.
                                It also gives you the chance to get involved. By registering, which is a free process (and you never get junk email from them) you can rate films, discuss things on message boards and even add trivia about films and stars.
                                It is also handy if you want to go into the depths of film nerdiness and read quotes and spot gaffs in your favourite films - which I admit I have done.
                                If you like films, or are ever watching one and can't work out who someone is - this is the site for you.
                                It is easy to navigate, jammed full of information of films, tv shows and even day to day life in Hollywood. Give it a go, but be warned it is highly addictive!

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                                • I Am Legend (DVD) / DVD / 40 Readings / 36 Ratings
                                  More +
                                  29.12.2007 12:24
                                  Very helpful
                                  (Rating)
                                  9 Comments

                                  Advantages

                                  Disadvantages

                                  Wait for it on DVD or sky

                                  Director:
                                  Francis Lawrence (Constantine)

                                  Starring:
                                  Will Smith (Independence Day, I Robot)

                                  Production Year:
                                  2007

                                  Running Time:
                                  101 minutes

                                  Certificate:
                                  15

                                  Plot (Contains slight spoilers):
                                  The film starts with a TV clip of Emma Thompson as famous scientist Dr Crippin, who announces that she has found a cure for cancer - in the form of virus. Cut to three years later - everyone in the World, except Robert Neville (Will Smith) and his dog Sam.
                                  They patrol the streets of New York hunting for deer and trying to avoid the animals that are roaming the city, presumably escaped from the zoo.
                                  We follow his life - going to the video store, waiting for survivors to meet him and playing golf. Then going home and bolting his windows when it got dark.
                                  SPOILERS
                                  So he isn't alone - but what is it out there? Well it turns out that whilst most people just died because of the virus some evolved into violent zombie like monsters who can not go out in light because it burns their skin.
                                  Oh and they eat humans.
                                  So Robert must keep out of the way of these monsters whilst working on a cure.

                                  Overall:
                                  Now don't get me wrong - I love Will Smith and I believed he only picked good films. I Robot - brilliant, Independence Day - classic and I will gloss over Wild Wild West. Understandably I was quite looking forward to this. The trailers looked great and the concept of the last man on the planet looked like it could be very good.
                                  However nowhere does this say it is a zombie movie - in fact the American version of 28 days later (I know it was a book before and was probably written before that came out.)
                                  The special effects are honestly quite poor for todays age and the animals are clearly not there - as with the monsters.
                                  On the plus side it is real jump out of your seat scary at times and Will Smith does what he does best - the all American hero trying to save the World. You can identify with his anguish and slight nuttiness after being on his own for 3 years and there is one moment which is genuinely heart wrenching.
                                  But there is one sequence with a Shrek film which actually made me cringe.
                                  Also the city scapes are pretty impressive and it is quite odd to see New York completely empty with only animals roaming and grass growing through the roads.
                                  I think the premise of the story is a good one, it just isn't very well executed - we learn the back story of the virus and about Robert's family through dream flashbacks, and they portray a real sense of pre-apocalyptic fear and could have done with a few more to explain why Robert was so determined to find a cure.
                                  if you need a Will Smith or zombie fix go back and watch I Robot or 28 Days Later.
                                  Overall I would say wait for the DVD release and rent it!

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